July 10, 2023 – I finished panel 2 of the Tennyson Tetrapytch project this week with less trouble than I had on Panel 1. You may remember that I had a second form for the small rubricated initials, built with random leads and slugs, adding up to the same height as the form with black type. This ultimately proved problematic since each lead or slug is imperceptibly oversized in thickness, so the total adds up to more than the black type form. I had to go back and carefully adjust and measure each “line” thickness. In the end, I was able to work it out, but it was a royal pain. To eliminate this problem, I tried a combination of 6 and 12-point slugs (which theoretically add up to the line height of 18 points), but the total form was still slightly oversized due to the incremental size difference. In the end, I had to find enough 18-point slugs to set up the entire form, and it worked.
Overall, the second panel looks like this:

Am I making this up as I go along? Well, sort of. Although each panel design has been laid out on paper in advance, they’re all works in progress until I set them in type. Even then, I may reprint it if I don’t like it enough.

Since I’ve completed two panels, I should probably discuss the field backgrounds a bit.

Each one of the panels is based on a specific part of the four-part poem, and each panel’s background field uses design elements to reflect themes from that part of the poem. As an example, the recurring theme for Panel 1 (shown above) is “Four (gray*) walls, and four (gray*) towers, overlook a space of flowers.” It’s easy to find several instances of the “four towers” surrounded as they are by what are commonly referred to as Fleurons (aka “printer’s flowers”).

*As I’ve previously mentioned, I first printed the panel with a gray background – and found it too monochromatic. I then reprinted it with a green field to suggest the “Long fields of barley and of rye.”

Panel 2 is intended to evoke a blue mirror, referencing the line “And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue.” You will also notice that some elements carry over from panel to panel, which is a function of both design and intent.

Please check back for the final two panels and how I finally arrange them on a wall – right now, that is very much a work in progress.