Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Wordy

I'm no good at math, but I have always loved word puzzles. When I was a kid, I could take a 24-hour road trip from Michigan to Florida with just "The Big Book of Cryptograms" to occupy me. (Five children and two adults crammed into a 1970's Ford station wagon -- whoo hoo, good times.)

Don't you find it interesting that no matter how much time passes, the stuff that fascinated you as a child doesn't ever really fade, it just becomes more pronounced?

For instance, right now I'm on a pangram kick. A pangram is a sentence that contains within it every letter of the alphabet. Here's the most famous one (you probably remember it from typing class): 

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

Well, I've started writing and embroidering a series of pangrams about 21st century life. Say, for instance, Queen Elizabeth were to drink one glass of tipple too many and start fantasizing?

(Study for Pangram "Queen Elizabeth", 2012, by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.
Cotton, thread. 8"x 10". SOLD.)

The work above was part of the recent "Incognito" show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. (I'm working on a bigger version now.)  Future pangrams waiting to be embroidered include subjects like Isabella Blow, Michael Fassbender, Gwyneth Paltrow, Balthazar Getty and more. (And maybe Nicky Minaj too -- she has rather a good name for pangrams because it takes care of 'j', 'k', and 'y' in one fell swoop.) 

I sold another embroidery in the "Incognito" show as well. Talk about the past pushing its way into the present -- this one is based on a word puzzle I came up with in college and have been playing ever since. The goal is to transform a four-letter word into its exact opposite by changing just one letter at a time. To challenge myself even further, I set myself the task of having each new word along the way add to the meaning so that it's not just a string of nonsense, it's a poem.

Here it is. It's called "The Journey From Love to Hate":
(By Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, 2012. Cotton, thread. 8"x 10". SOLD.)

There's going to be an embroidered series of these "Four Letter Words" too. (My next upcoming group show is in July at the Marine Contemporary Gallery in Venice -- details to come.)

Do you have any word games that you like to play?



Joanna said...

This is right up my ally! I work with Alzheimers patients and we often do word play games to exercise their brains. I call your word change game "word ladders". We also do word lists like words that start with home (homework, homerun, homesick...). Another favorite game of ours is taking a famous persons name or holiday and seeing how many different words we can create just using those letters.

Serenknitity said...

I have to admit I've become addicted to Words With Friends and was caught playing it at a grand dinner the other night by the host *hangs head in shame*. The phone on the table is the kind of thing I'd really lecture my kids about, too.

Tricia Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tricia Rose said...

I love mangled Franglais of the 'pas de lieu Rhone que nous' variety - my favorite is to send birthday greetings:
Epée boeuf des tuyaux,
Epée boeuf des tuyaux,
Epée boeuf dédit Lisa -
Epée boeuf des tuyaux!

Maturity? I'm working on it.

pve design said...


Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Tricia Rose: Love that so much!

PVE: Oh, me too. When we meet, we shall play. :)

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

I love this! I am a scrabble lover as well. Can embroidered naughty limericks be far behind, Lisa??

noreen said...

i also love word games. my family plays "boggle" and "taboo". "taboo" is fun because you need to make your teammates say a word, ex. "diamond", but you can't say other words "baseball, jewelry, etc." also a second grader in my class came up to me and said, "did you know that "racecar" is the same forward and backward?" word play is fun!

also your art is really funny and wonderful!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well, I'm fairly addicted to the NY Times Crossword. I actually look forward to it landing in my drive at dawn when I turn out the light to sleep. Sad, no? Husband and I play Words With Friend, as much as 7 games going at once. But pangrams! You are on an entirely higher floor my friend!

helen tilston said...

Hello Lisa

I love your piece featuring the Queen and Mick Jagger. I have no doubt she would laugh if she saw it.
You will have me thinking of pangrams and what a perfect puzzle when found waiting unexpectedly.
Wishing you much success in your upcoming art show

Helen xx

Jeanne Henriques said...

Love these Lisa! I am still working out how to needlepoint my sons's name across his Christmas stocking. I won't mention how long I have been trying to do that.

Our family is addicted to the App.. Turbo Text Twister. If you love words, and have an iPad or iPhone...all I can say is beware. Your word world will be taken to new levels.

Jeanne :)

AMK said...

First, I wanted to comment about Lisa's embroidery, but started reading the comments....AND was so relieved to find that my Words with Friends addiction is not an aberration! Pamela Terry and Edward's comment was a huge relief :)

But, Lisa, how does one find out about your work, the shows, and what might be available? I love what you are doing on many levels.

Anonymous said...

hahaha! @ Tricia I love Franglais. On my trip to Paris a few years back, my friend and I put to practice any words that we came across. Our first words were "premier etage" (first floor, learned once we hit the lobby of the hotel) so from then on, EVERYTHING was potentially "premier etage"... "oh look, that's a lovely premier etage!"

Needless, to say, I made a French friend and named her "Choc' olate E'clair" ha!

@ Lisa, I like playing the same 4 letter game as well though I had never thought of making it a poem, I shall try! Have you played it with the Scrabble slam cards? It's an awesome game!!


ABG said...

Hi! I am also from Michigan & took long car trips to Florida as a kid. I usually read Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Today my BF & I <3 the NYT Crosswords which you can play online with a pal or a stranger. Also check out The Rex Parker Blog about xwords which is SO witty. Last but not least let me introduce you to Moot ( a great word game out of Canada! The MootGuy will send you random word questions for free ( It is VERY fun!

Unknown said...

I love your embroidery and was at the Incognito event where you sold the "Love to Hate" piece. I didn't know it was you and am so happy to find out. Yeah, I thought it was wonderful and spent a few minutes with my friend discussing its cleverness.

Susan S said...

Your piece, "The Journey From Love to Hate" is brilliant and all the rest are fascinating as well! Do you have to rack your brain or do they just pop into your head?

There's Boggle that's always been a favorite and the popular Banagrams and Appletters. My newest game is called Haikubes, 63 cubes to roll and create haikus. But beware: When playing with a gaggle of "hens", it can soon become x-rated! ;)

Frances said...

I love word puzzles, too, and it's great to see what you are doing with them.

Wonder how many word puzzles I could not solve, let alone set?

Best wishes.

Miss Cavendish said...

Fun idea! I don't want to sound like a copyeditor (which I am :-) ), but you might want to double check the spelling of Nicki's first name in advance; don't think there's a "y." But her middle name is Tanya!

Helen James said...

Lisa you amaze me!!!
I also love pangrams, word searches, crosswords, anagrams, and i love your Art x x

maria c-ham said...

If you like pangrams, please read Ella Minnow Pea. Its about a town that starts to outlaw certain letters as they fall from their pangram statue.


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