An H&FJ Type Tasting

Typefaces: Sentinel and Gotham

We keep a running tally of the interesting media in which we’ve seen our fonts used, from corrugated cardboard to topiary. The designers who choose our fonts often share their more startling experiments on our Facebook page, including more than a few typographic tattoos. But with the holiday season upon us, things have taken a decidedly gustatory turn.

Designer Luke Elliott kicked things off over Halloween with his Gotham jack-o-lantern, to our knowledge the first example of in-gourd typography featuring an H&FJ design. An anonymous designer followed over Thanksgiving with a beautiful collection of Gotham cakes that revealed the challenge of inlining a sans serif, in fondant no less. The latest contribution to the genre came last night, with designer Zach Higgins tweeting his exploration of the Sentinel Light Italic lowercase z rendered in toast. We’re left to wonder if our graded faces, such as Mercury Text or Chronicle Text, might provide designers with micro-fine control to adjust the relationship between color and burn. Please help us with this important research and share your findings. —JH

For Immediate Release

October 25 has been designated World Pasta Day, and as part of typography’s contribution to this important initiative, we’re pleased to share the following: an excerpt from the typeface “Nr. 941. Dubbelmittel (corps 28),” as it appears in Berlingska Stilguteriet Stilprof, a type specimen book from the Berlingska type foundry of Lund, Sweden, circa 1900. It is a dimensionally extruded ring accent, shaped like a piece of rigatoni.

This concludes our contribution to World Pasta Day. See you in 2011. —JH

Type Night at Delta House!

Describing the sand casting method for making type, Rob Roy Kelly quotes eighteenth century printer Christian Friedrich Gessner thus:

“The ingredients of casting sand are fine sand, to which is added calcinated baking-oven glue, the redder the glue the better. This mixture is finely pulverized and passed through a mesh sieve. Thereupon the mixture is placed upon a level board. The center is hollowed out and good beer is poured into the cavity — much or little according to the sand used. This is well stirred with a wooden spatula.”

Both H&FJ’s recycling bin and our expense reports are testament to the importance of “good beer” in the type design process, but to have this connection documented in the literature? The potential tax write-offs are positively off the chart. —JH

Adventures in Kerning, Part II

Typeface: Verlag Book

A kerning table, which makes special allowances for characters that don’t fit together naturally, can reveal a lot about the personality of its designer. Every font pays special attention to the pair Va, but the font that includes Vr suggests a familiarity with French (vraie) or Dutch (vrou). Pairs like Wn or Tx hint at an even broader perspective (Wnetrzne, Poland; Txipepovava, Angola), and the designer who kerns the ¥4 has presumably spent some time thinking about finance. Including ÅÇ is the mark of someone who’s trying too hard: these letters don’t nest together naturally, but nor do they appear together in any language.

When I first learned about kerning, mystifying to me was the presence of Yq in almost every one of Adobe’s fonts. Adobe’s early faces sometimes neglected far more common pairs, or even whole ranges of the character set — many fonts didn’t kern periods, dashes, or quotation marks — but Yq was ever-present. When I met him in the early nineties, Adobe’s Fred Brady hinted at why: located in northern California, Adobe’s designers often had a thing for viniculture, and one of the world’s most famous dessert wines is produced by Château D’Yquem.

We’ve included Yq as a standard kerning pair ever since, though I’d never gotten to see it in action until yesterday. Here, in the window of Sotheby’s on Bond Street, is our Verlag typeface, Yq kern and all. There are kerns obscurer still that we’re waiting to see in public, though I don’t suppose I’ll be seeing the 9th century Old English word wihxð (wax) in the window of Sotheby’s anytime soon. —JH

Typographic Gifts for Designers, Part 3

Much nattering takes place on this blog about the distinction between lettering (letterforms rendered for a particular situation) and fonts (sets of type designed for reproduction.) Edible lettering is an ancient tradition, but edible fonts may be something new: our designer Sara Soskolne discovered this marvelous set of Movable Type in Chocolate, created by Sandra Kübler and Christine Voshage.

I have to commend the duo for including a broad character set, including accents and punctuation. (The Droste company, which makes the chocolate initials given to Dutch children for Sinterklaas Eve, doesn’t produce even the letter I, presumably because it’s challenging to design a chocolate I that matches the weight of the M or W.) As we know, children are a stickler for fairness, especially when it comes to chocolate, just as typographers are a stickler for fidelity, especially when it comes to chocolate. —JH

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