5 min read


An abecedarium is an alphabet that arrays letters in order, often presenting each typographic design alongside a word and picture that begins with that letter and represents it. “A is for apple,” for example, calls attention to the form and shape of the A just as it does to the illustrated fruit alongside it.
(from Cornell University Library's website)

I was drawn (an occupational hazard) into creating some letters and sketches during a long and wandering phone conversation, so rare and so welcome! I found myself scribbling letterforms and illustrating them with foods evoked in our delicious conversation, in a little blank book whose pages were made with elephant poo paper - poopoopaper.

An artist friend had gifted me this book, its cover embellished with a paste made of her reprocessed Ph.D. draft-thesis writings, mixed with dried flower petals from congratulatory bouquets - so cleverly poetic. Recycling too.

Its cover, a paste of reprocessed Ph.D. draft-thesis writings, mixed with dried flower petals from congratulatory bouquets.

I've always been a big fan of ABC books, especially those with twisty-ness, and what a lovely word to describe such books – abecedarium – how evocative, and so well spelt out – and abecedarian speaks to beginner's mind – "one learning the rudiments of something"

... and always felt meh about the image references (A for apple, B for bat, C for cat, D for dog, really? – meh) While I see the value of local reference, things you might actually encounter in real life, I felt there had to be room for some different qualities to the mix.

I've enjoyed the food-themed direction of the telephone doodles, and I like the shift to Indian cultural reference for describing English-language letters... the most usurping of all languages (it speaks to a very dark C-word history whose repercussions linger on).

It got me imagining searching across the globe for far-flung foods and cross-cultural references, perhaps a map for context... maybe it's a series of books one roaming letter at a time!

  • A for Akni, A for Azuki, A for Apfelschorle
  • B for Baba Ghanoush, B for Blintz, B for Briouat… etc.
  • (The book of X might be a wee bit thin :-)
  • A mashup of geographies, foods, letterforms and wanderlust?

The Alphabet Superset

As serendipity would have it, a co-creator in the Brainstorm Road workshop pointed me to Alphabet Superset, launched by Struthless. In a nutshell...

Make something every week for 26 weeks, around 26 topics of your choice, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet - medium, style, output size, and theme stay fixed.

It had just gotten underway, and I jumped onto the alphabet train, to further curry up this half-baked idea, and I've caught up with the B car - woo woo!

Off on another wild train ride - I'll be making letters and sourcing recipes from near and far. I can see that there's going to be an abecedarium section coming to these pages soon...

Edit: I started an A–Z section for the Alphabet Superset project – here

a stellar reference

ABC3D, by Marion Bataille

ABC-3D by Marion Bataille, is a favourite, I bought it for my son when he was in this zone. A 3D pop-up book with some miraculous paper engineering that brings magic to turning the page - for like-minded book nerds, here's a short video

As always, thanks for reading – and for indulging. Bon Appétit!

moon sketch
M is for Moon (fragment)