The beautiful lettering painted on the windows of Café “Het Molenpad” was one of the first works with “Amsterdamse Krulletters” I could identify and photograph back in 2004. “Het Molenpad” is on the Prinsengracht, separated a few meters from the location of the building were the Public Library used to be located. Two or three years later, I started to be more systematic and take pictures of every window with krulletters, so I came back to this café with a better camera and, to my despair, discovered that the place had been renovated and the old lettering was gone. The pictures I had were not good enough and I couldn’t include them in my book.
A couple of months ago Thijs Kerkhof, owner of “Het Molenpad” contacted me and told me he still had the old lettered glass and that I could take it if I wanted. Wonderful! I had always regretted what happened to this window because the work was in a very good condition and hadn’t been “restored” by less skilled painters – like many of the windows in Amsterdam. So I collected the 28 kilos glass and brought it to Kunst en Zo where Theo van Steijn prepared a strong frame for it.
Now this gorgeous sign painting work is hanging on a wall at ReType’s headquarters. It makes me very happy to watch it every morning. Ramiro Espinoza.
Ramiro has recently given a workshop introducing to copperplate calligraphy to the Amsterdam Sign Painters Guild. It was a great Saturday spent among home made walnut ink, oblique holders and vintage pointed nibs. Thanks to the ASG crew for the hospitality and the great company! (More pictures of the even can be seen at in Flickr’s account.)
Our typeface Laski Slab –designed by Paula Mastrangelo & Ramiro Espinoza – has been awarded with the highest prize of the Hiii Typography contest. Needless to say we feel deeply honored for receiving it. Thanks a lot to the jury and congratulations to the rest of the winers.
What are the origins of the exuberant swash letters that can be found on the windows of many of Amsterdam’s most traditional bars? Who painted them? Was it a collective creation, or the work of a lone gifted sign painter? How old is this style?
For almost a decade Ramiro Espinoza thoroughly researched the refined, swirling lettering style, examining every surviving example in Amsterdam, Maastricht and Ghent in an effort to answer these questions. He compiled his findings in De Amsterdamse Krulletter – The Curly Letter of Amsterdam, a comprehensive, lushly illustrated and beautifully produced (bilingual English–Dutch) book. With its publication Ramiro hopes to raise awareness for this little-known chapter of the Dutch graphical tradition, bringing it into the present and making the lettering style relevant again.
The text is by Ramiro Espinoza, with an introduction by Jan Middendorp. Photographer Rob Becker documented all the known existing windows in the three cities in beautiful black and white, in order to capture the ambience and context in which the curly script flourished. More than merely a visual essay on the Krulletter, Rob’s photos also constitute a true artistic homage to the Amsterdam ‘brown’ cafés.
Kerning fonts is a tiring activity that can put a big stress on your extremities. Following the advice given at Robothon conference by Andy Clymer, we are experimenting using MetricsMachine and an USB’s game pad with the help of the universal driver USB Overdrive. It works like a charm. We specially like to have a handy way to flip the selected pair when checking kerning symmetry. The next kerning work at Retype is much probably going to be performed with this method.