This is a bit off the beaten path of Calligraphy with the high-speed drill, yet there is a current lesson in it.

I worked in promotion and production at WFAA TV from mid-May, 1969 to Labor Day, 1972.   I was 8 years into my Calligraphy experience when I began my work there.

This was done as a retirement gift for an extraordinary man, Norvell Slater, who worked at the WFAA TV AM-FM Studios in Dallas, Texas.  I knew the man from when I was a child, listening to his HYMNS WE LOVE on the AM station in the 50s when I lived in Hugo, OK.  Norvell retired at the end of 1972 and this was my gift to him at his retirement party.

The 8 in the circle was the WFAA TV, Channel 8, logo that was a red 8 in a black circle.  It was plastered everywhere.  My idea was to include every employee at the facility into the logo we all knew so well.  It was a bigger challenge than I realized at the beginning.

I went to HR and got a list of every employee.  Then, one of the art department guys drew a perfect, light outline pencil drawing of the logo.  My first task was to find every name that had no letters with descenders in the lonnnng list.  No f, g, j,p,q, or y.  Those names were to make up the clean, inside of the circle and the ovals in the 8.  I put all the radio staff in the outside circle of the 8.

At this point, I have no idea or recollection exactly how I determined the size of the pattern for the artist to draw.  There was not time to do a draft of such an ambitious project.  Planning was far from perfect; the size of the letters was mostly consistent after the radio staff was finished.  Somewhere in the process I realized the random spacing I began with for most of the names had to change.  The spaces were all filled and I still had names!  Well, you don’t have to look too closely to see that some folks got pinched and squeezed, and shoehorned into tiny spaces hardly worthy of their importance in being on the list.

Norvell got a crisp, photographic reproduction on heavy, thick paper.  I kept the original and still have it.

How does this relate to engraving a heap of words?  Draft, draft, draft!  When you have a lot of copy, likely never in a shape such as this, you must make a box on flat glass that would be the size of the finished engraving.  Engrave it enough times, partially, to know the bur you select will, indeed, fit all the words in the chosen space where it must go.

If you lived in the Dallas area during that time, and you qualify for Social Security, you may recognize a few of the names.  Most are probably gone to the great broadcasting studio in the sky.  Many are still with us.  Seeing some of these names brings up cherished memories of one of the best times of my life.  So far.

And now I’ll be back after this brief commercial message.

The next Ken Brown Engraving Workshop is April 13-16.  We don’t do anything nearly this complicated!

See you back here in a day or so.

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