Ampersand another thing…

I was asked last night how often I update my blog. I couldn’t think of a word that meant “seldom, but only while I’m stupidly busy: when I’m less busy… more often”. In retrospect, maybe “erratically” would have been a good response. & so, to atone for  my neglect, in the words of Blue Peter, here’s one I made earlier

I really think that the ampersand is underused, underrated, undervalued, underappreciated, &, well, underloved.

{Bark chip ampersand, by Sarah France, via the blog The Ampersand, via Behance, via FFFFOUND! }

Once upon a time, & was deemed such a natural part of the alphabet than when children recited their ABCs, they concluded with “et per se and“. As in, ‘X, Y, Z… and, for that matter “and”, because it too is a letter’. After time, this was garbled into “ampersand”, in much the way that L, M, N, O, P becomes elemenopee in the mouth of a 5-year-old. Now I know all this to be true not only because of the eternal font of unvalidated wisdom that is Wikipedia, but also because I was told the same story by the other most authoritative of unauthoritative sources, My Father, years before the internet was around to sully our ‘Did You Knows’ with false folklore.

& so… here are some ampersands… &c.

MUST HAVE! A deluxe carrying case for an ampersand! { more adorableness by Marc Johns }

Ampersand cushion at loremandipsum‘s etsy store (sold out, but they still have CHOUETTE ampersand tees for sale!) { via FFFFOUND! }

Handmade clay ampersand by Lestaret { via NOTCOT }

Ampersand cookies (“They exist.”) { via The Ampersand again }

Veer did have these rockin’ ampersand cufflinks, once upon a time. Blogger’s remorse: I should have posted these when I first saw them on NOTCOT (a long time ago), but instead filed it away under “For When There Is More To Say On The Topic Of Ampersands”. So now (and for a long time) the Veer merch shop has ceased to exist, and  by necessary deduction, also ceased  to have the cufflinks. It’s probably for the best. I was always tempted to the verge of covetousness by unshippable Veer merchandise. [ EDIT: Veer store most certainly does exist at the above link. Ampersand cufflinks for all! (er, if you live in North America) ]

& on that note, it’s back to work.

Font Poetry: Starting a meme

Confession: I have fallen head over heels in love with the delicate, poignant, meaningless poetry of typeface samples.


Designer: Nikola Djurek.
Print Foundry: OurType.
Found: via FFFFOUND!, via AisleOne

Mainly this calls for no effort from me, and is therefore a greedy, parasitic indulgence on my part. But sometimes the prettiest words need to undergo a bit of picking and choosing to turn them from Joyce into something bite-sized, like Bashō. Case in point: this sample grid for Gotham Narrow from Hoefler & Frere-Jones could be a ballad of epic proportions…


…but I like it better paraphrased into this charming little verse:

Push dress medium powder hyperion,
Fine Irish resin bloom;

Gotham Narrow (abridged)
Designer: Frere-Jones (from the original Gotham, circa 1930s)
Print Foundry: Hoefler & Frere-Jones
Found: via Seannamon

Now, as far as filler text and typeface samples go, typographic poetry runs rings around the quick brown fox, and has far more individual character than the oft-repeated, famously nonsensical lorem ipsum.

It did get me wondering, though: Who chooses the content of these beautiful little odes? Is it a matter of science and reason, or just a happy mish-mash of randomly chosen words? Can someone from the world of typography please put an end to my ignorance?


Patent/Patently/Patent Leather: A clear and obvious etymological connexion

I am currently studying Intellectual Property law, so I tend to have patents on the brain. And today, my good friend The Cool Chick and I both realised that whenever we say “well that’s patently obvious”* (which is quite often), we are both visited by a mental image of shiny patent leather shoes. Being kindred etymology fanatics, we then decided that it would be particularly awesome if all three words shared a common derivation… and indeed they do!

[ click screenclips for full detail, while giving yet another appreciative round of applause for the Oxford English Dictionary]


Where it all begins.

Lying open, unobstructed, readily accessible, obvious.

Circa 13th century, from the Latin patere (to lay open), then Littera Patens — meaning “open letter”— via the Anglo-French lettre patente.

In law, when one applies for the registration of a patent in relation to a process, one discloses all the material details for public inspection, in return for a time-limited monopoly (the letters patent) preventing others from using said process. Once that monopoly lapses, the use of said process is thereafter unobstructed: readily accessible and open to the public. (Wikipedia has a satisfactory layman’s summation).


Knowing the origin of ‘patent’, the adjective-to-adverb process is plain for all to see. Patently obvious, even….

Patent leather

Seth Boyden did not invent patent leather, but he did invent the now-common process that gave leather a shiny, ultra-gloss finish and sturdy form, and he certainly did patent it. [[Edit: Boyden did not formally patent his process — thank you, kind commenter — but the process associated with his name is the one that became cemented in footwear history.]] Add immediate popularity, and the subsequent need for a shorthand appellation, and it was only a matter of time before people started referring to it as patented/patent leather.

From all the above, I think it is clearly, unobstructedly, openly, publicly obvious why both The Cool Chick and I associate blatancy with fashion accessories (and vice versa). And, as the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland would say, the moral to THAT story is: always trust an etymological hunch.

* Yes, it’s a tautology.

Too Busy To Blog

{ Speech Impediment by Dr Tempau on flickr }

What can I say? I’m currently juggling the penultimate semester of  combined Journalism & Law undergrad degree; copy editing The Full Bench, UTS Law Students’ Society’s law journal; writing magazine features and editing online content for Specifier three days a week; immersing myself in yoga every day except Sunday; rocking on with my party people as many nights as I can; all the while managing a full-blown chronic internet/twitter/facebook addiction. Oh, and because I also like to snatch a couple of hours’ kip each night, there isn’t SO much time leftover for blogging. So if there’s not much Proof (v.) of Liv around here, remember that being busy forms the basis for a temporary ebb, not a permanent impediment.