Talisman and Lithium Flowers | Skillshare Projects

Shuku Li

Choral conductor / Fledgling Calligrapher



Talisman and Lithium Flowers


The paper made the calligraphy a whole lot easier and far less splodgy - except that because I accidentally smeared the ink on the 'New' before it could dry, there was a smudge. I tried to fix the smudge, but I should've left it as it is, because I think it looks worse. :P With this paper, the problem of overly splodgy ink from a fresh-dipped nib is actually not a problem at all. I suspect it has to do with the thickness of the paper too; this is closer to Bristol board.

Other than that, I'm surprised I've actually completed this! I probably will redo it at some point in life when I feel a bit more confident with the pent, but all things considered - and the skills I really didn't have as a calligrapher 2 weeks ago, I think this is a good start to hopefully better things.


Things that worked:

1. Diluting the sumi ink so it faded out to a shade of grey

2. Changing the paper

3. Working in the graphic design (although that too leaves much for improvement)

Things that didn't work so well:

1. Layout for last few lines from 'Lithium Flower' onwards - if I redid it, I'd do it with more space at the bottom to balance things out

2. Last line with Yokko Kanno's name in it - definitely needs a few spaces down to make it look less cramped

3. Getting sick right before final project is due, although that could possibly be contributed to Act of Nature rather than intention

4. I rather like the way the words work on my mockup draft better, but that's a design preference

Overall, I am really, really glad I joined this class, and I've learned so many useful things. Thank you Bryn for your patience! I plan on joining your next class for sure!

Before Final Project:

So apparently paper matters more than I thought it would. I'll have to pay attention to that; the change of paper to what I intended for the project actually made writing a lot more easier than previously imagined. 



Diving into the actual layout and practicing the whole quote. Wound up with a jarful of very interesting purplish coloured water from red water colour + black sumi ink, and experimented with trying to use it for writing. I rather like how it turned out, including diluting the sumi ink so it shaded out to a sort of grey.

I'll definitely need to change the paper. After erasing lines a few times, the surface got a little fuzzy when I started with the calligraphy. It is digital cartridge paper which at least doesn't bleed; the paper I have in mind is more of a thick, Bristol board-like thing. That needs testing to see how it holds up against sumi ink; it definitely works for technical pens and the like.

Also, note to self to leave sumi ink to dry for a longer time, otherwise splodge at bottom might occur again.



Write SLOWER, apparently, and some things iron out - although not by much. Most of me already thinks this project is going to look like a huge disaster with no saving. Adjusting sitting position and paper is also important. Am beginning to think I've learned to write all wrong from first grade one.

It's getting better but not better enough - at least, not for the project. Or maybe the perfectionist-within is making this a lot harder than it should be. Capital letters? Stiiiill elusive. 


UPDATE Later on 1st Feb to catch up from weekend of sick:

There must be a Goddess of Lousy Calligraphy Doom. Must. Because I am channelling her right now effortlessly. Although it's taken a little bit of experimentation to figure out that yes, the splodgy problem is a combination of too much ink AND the paper I'm using, which is good to know but still not much of a help in the Execution Process. Thank you so much for the splodge tip, Bryn! It's definitely helped...although my writing still sucketh like a vacuum cleaner. More practice needed.


UPDATE: 1st Feb

The layout for this has been a bit of a challenge - probably because my brain doesn't function in straightforward ways and will not go from Point A to Point B without thinking, 'How about if I detour this line along this way to see what will happen...' etc. (Falling sick hasn't helped any either but at least today I'm going to make a concerted effort to GET THIS DONE.)

I wanted to see if I could manage to letter in the quote and incorporate line art of a sort (instinct leftover from handlettering days), or at least make it look less... line-y?

Attempt 1:

The direction of it worked anyways, but still wasn't too happy with it. Which led to...


Attempt 2:

Which I like better, but still need to figure out spacing issues (especially the script at the bottom), and aaaall that kind of good stuff in order to make it work properly. Am also trying to figure out how to include some of the Talisman Words, but so far don't quite have a clue yet.


UPDATE: 26th Jan

Practice #1 (and the mess that resulted). Getting used to the pen = lots of adjustments to the way I sit, and the way I move my arm. Layout for project still in the works (it's starting to feel a bit like an impossible nightmare, but there's got to be a way around it somehow.)


UPDATE: 24th Jan

Mostly so it's easier for me to access, but also in case anyone was ever interested in looking at some of the inspiration material I've researched, such as the mechanised butterfly and spider dresses, and the absolutely gorgeous dancing drones. Translating this into calligraphy is going to prove -extremely- interesting:


23rd Jan

Choosing a quote's actually been pretty hard - there's quite a few that I use on a regular basis that apply to various situations in life, such as Nero Wolfe's classic, 'No man was ever taken to hell by a woman unless he already had a ticket in his pocket or at least had been fooling around with timetables.'

What I've finally settled on is an odd combination of part of a Yoko Kanno song, 'Lithium Flower', and a personal talisman project from half a year ago. The song lyric is:

she's just so something new
a waking lithium flower
just about to bloom

and it's from the Ghost in the Shell spin-off series, 'Stand Alone Complex'. It resonates because my nickname is Major Kusanagi, the protagonist of the series, and also because the last year has been one of immense life changes. So a lithium flower - explosive, powerful, full of potentially destructive energy - is actually really apt. 

I used part of the quote for my hand lettering class (which got interrupted due to work and sickness), so I thought I might resurrect it again and see how it would play out, this time in calligraphy instead. 


Another image that's been inspirational for this is a biometric sensor dress a friend photograped at an exhibition, that was made of luminale eletrical threads. I'm not sure how I'd incorporate that same eerie, luminous feel in calligraphy but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to getting my head around:


The Talisman part of it is a project that I initiated to help me get through said year's life changes and to battle a really bad bout of depression that was becoming rather alarming. I had several of my close friends and relatives give me three words each that they associated with me, so I could read them to myself daily and battle the negativity raging inside my head. I wound up with words like:

Tenacious, strong, loyal
Fierce, inventive, industrious
Bold, intricate

and I ended up setting the entirety onto a copper bracelet to wear. 

I thought setting it down in calligraphy might make some of the words less concept and more real (if that makes sense). I'm not sure how I'll combine it with the Lithium Flower, but I figure I'll have fun trying to make it work!


Please sign in or sign up to comment.