Quietfire Design's
Techniques Gallery

Lettering/Stamping in a Circle*
©2009 Suzanne Cannon

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Items you will need:


Letter the words you wish to use in a straight line.

Measure the length of your baseline in millimetres.(Using mm makes it easier to plug into the equation!)
My line length was 190mm.


We need the radius of the circle so we can use it with the drafting compass.

Returning to your highschool math, the equation for calculating the circumference of a circle is

c = 2(pi)r

We know the circumference (c) is 190mm and we know pi is 3.14, so if we flip-flop the equation we get

r = c/2(3.14) or 190/6.28 = 30mm

Set your compass along your ruler, from point to pencil tip, at 30mm and draw a circle in the middle of a sheet of practice paper. This is your baseline.

*I'll be darned if I can get pi to show up in html!

Position the point in the middle of your paper and draw the circle which is your baseline. Don't make it too dark, you're going to have to erase it later!

If you want, you can add a waistline to your circle.

I was using a #2 Mitchell Roundhand nib which makes Italic letters 10mm high, so I added 10mm to my compass setting, placed the point at the same center point as for the first circle and drew the waistline.


The trick for making lettering in a circle successful is to treat each piece of the circle as though it was a flat line.

Effectively your baseline will be changing with every letter. This does call for compromise in some letter forms!




Rotate your paper as you work.

Practice lettering in a circle several times before your final piece. I wasn't so successful with my first couple of practices!!

The letters were blended using a pointed brush to load the nib. Once the lettering was completed and the gilding was done, I used a kneadable eraser to get rid of the lines.

The butterfly was stamped and the gold highlights were added using Jerry Tresser's gold size and 23.5K gold

For rubber stampers, the same rules apply, you just don't have to do the lettering:

Make your circle and treat each part of the circle as a baseline and stamp your letters upright on that small baseline. You'll get better with practice!



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