Runic alphabets


Elder Futhark (2nd to 8th centuries)

 The Elder Futhark, used for writing Proto-Norse, consists of 24 runes that often are arranged in three groups of eight; each group is referred to as an Ætt. The earliest known sequential listing of the full set of 24 runes dates to approximately CE 400 and is found on the Kylver Stone in Gotland, Sweden. Most probably each rune had a name, chosen to represent the sound of the rune itself.


Rune UCS Transliteration IPA Proto-Germanic name Meaning
f f /f/ *fehu “wealth, cattle”
u u /u(ː)/ ?*ūruz aurochs” (or *ûram “water/slag”?)
th,þ þ /θ/, /ð/ ?*þurisaz “the god Thor, giant
a a /a(ː)/ *ansuz “one of the Æsir (gods)”
r r /r/ *raidō “ride, journey”
k k (c) /k/ ?*kaunan “ulcer”? (or *kenaz “torch”?)
g g /ɡ/ *gebō “gift”
w w /w/ *wunjō “joy”
h h ᚺ ᚻ h /h/ *hagalaz “hail” (the precipitation)
n n /n/ *naudiz “need”
i i /i(ː)/ *īsaz “ice”
j j /j/ *jēra- “year, good year, harvest”
ï,ei ï (æ) /æː/(?) *ī(h)waz/*ei(h)waz “yew-tree”
p p /p/ ?*perþ- meaning unclear, perhaps “pear-tree”.
z z /z/ ?*algiz unclear, possibly “elk“.
s s ᛊ ᛋ s /s/ *sōwilō “Sun”
t t /t/ *tīwaz/*teiwaz “the god Tiwaz
b b /b/ *berkanan birch
e e /e(ː)/ *ehwaz “horse”
m m /m/ *mannaz “Man”
l l /l/ *laguz “water, lake” (or possibly *laukaz “leek”)
ŋ ŋ ŋ ᛜ ᛝ ŋ /ŋ/ *ingwaz “the god Ingwaz
o o /o(ː)/ *ōþila-/*ōþala- “heritage, estate, possession”
d d /d/ *dagaz “day”

Anglo-Saxon runes (5th to 11th centuries)

Main article: Anglo-Saxon runes
Anglo Saxon Runes

The Anglo-Saxon Fuþorc: The futhorc are an extended alphabet, consisting of 29, and later, even 33 characters. It probably was used from the 5th century onward. The expanded alphabet features the additional letters cweorth, calc, cealc, and stan. These additional letters have only been found in manuscripts. Feoh, þorn, and sigel stood for [f], [þ], and [s] in most environments, but voiced to [v], [ð], and [z] between vowels or voiced consonants. Gyfu and wynn stood for the letters yogh and wynn, which became [g] and [w] inMiddle English.

“Marcomannic runes” (8th to 9th centuries)[edit]

Marcomannic Runes

A runic alphabet consisting of a mixture of Elder Futhark with Anglo-Saxon futhorc recorded in a treatise called De Inventione Litterarum, ascribed to Hrabanus Maurus and preserved in 8th- and 9th-century manuscripts mainly from the southern part of the Carolingian Empire (Alemannia, Bavaria).

Younger Futhark (9th to 11th centuries)[edit]

Main article: Younger Futhark

The Younger Futhark: long-branch runes and short-twig runes

While also featuring a runic inscription detailing the erection of a bridge for a loved one, the 11th-centuryRamsung carving is a Sigurd stone that depicts the legend of Sigurd.

The Younger Futhark, also called Scandinavian Futhark, is a reduced form of the Elder Futhark, consisting of only 16 characters. The reduction correlates with phonetic changes when Proto-Norse evolved into Old Norse. They are found in Scandinavia and Viking Agesettlements abroad, probably in use from the 9th century onward. They are divided into long-branch (Danish) and short-twig (Swedish and Norwegian) runes. The difference between the two versions is a matter of controversy. A general opinion is that the difference between them was functional (i.e., the long-branch runes were used for documentation on stone, whereas the short-branch runes were in everyday use for private or official messages on wood).

Medieval runes (12th to 15th centuries)[edit]

Main article: Medieval runes

In the Middle Ages, the Younger Futhark in Scandinavia was expanded, so that it once more contained one sign for each phoneme of the Old Norse language. Dotted variants of voiceless signs were introduced to denote the corresponding voiced consonants, or vice versa, voiceless variants of voiced consonants, and several new runes also appeared for vowel sounds. Inscriptions in medieval Scandinavian runes show a large number of variant rune forms, and some letters, such as s, c, and z often were used interchangeably.

Medieval runes were in use until the 15th century. Of the total number of Norwegian runic inscriptions preserved today, most are medieval runes.

Dalecarlian runes (16th to 19th centuries)

Main article: Dalecarlian runes

The Dalecarlian runes are a mix of  runes and Latin letters developed in the isolated province of Dalarna in the early 16th century and remained in some use up to the 20th century.

OHP Transparencies

There are different types of OHP transparencies:

  • Smooth finish on both sides: meant for simple writing or drawing –  smearing or marker pen
  • Textured surface on one side: different types for inkjet, laser and screenprinting. These give a more varied line and/or hold ink better on the textured side.

Overhead Projector Transparency slides were a Happy Accident discovery in a number of ways, first in Part 4 Experimental Book: Anon, then in Assignment 5: Letter O .

Layering to intensify colours and/or juxtapositions

My original intention in experimenting with OHP transparencies was to see if they intensified the colours either in themselves and/or when overlaid on top of paper copies of the same images. In general this was the case. But I also found that reversing the transparency image and/or putting it on top of another image could lead to very interesting juxtapositions and/or new ideas for the image that could then be further scanned and reprinted.

Printing on the ‘wrong side’

My first ‘accident’ was that I could not remember which side to print on, and automatically assumed it would be the smooth side. This produced some really interesting blurry puddled images as the ink did not dry immediately, but moved around on the slide.

Accidental smears

The second related accident was that I did not realise the ink was not dry and many of the images were placed on top of each other. This led to smearing on either the slide and/or the image on which it was placed. In some cases this led to very interesting textures and/or juxtapositions.

Distressed images

As I played around with the images, some invariably became scratched. This produced some interesting ‘distressed effects’. It also opens the possibility for scratch drawing.

Working on both sides and overlaying

This is a further possibility that can yield atmospheric effects. Media like oil pastel can be made grainy or smeared. In ‘Letter O’ this was not so successful in smearing. But these techniques can be further developed. Either drawing on both sides, laying one OHP on top of the other and/or digital compositing.

If the slides are slightly separated then it is possible to get a 3D effect and create depth.

Concrete poetry

Source: edited from Wikipedia. References to be followed up and expanded as part of my exploration of experimental typography.

Google images

You Tube

Concrete, pattern, or shape poetry is an arrangement of linguistic elements in which the typographical effect is more important in conveying meaning than verbal significance. As such, concrete poetry relates more to the visual than to the verbal arts and there is a considerable overlap in the kind of product to which it refers.

It is difficult to define:”a printed concrete poem is ambiguously both typographic-poetry and poetic-typography” (Houédard). Works cross artistic boundaries into the areas of music and sculpture, or can alternatively be defined as sound poetry, visual poetry, found poetry and typewriter art.

Despite blurring of artistic boundaries, however, concrete poetry can be viewed as taking its place in a predominantly visual tradition stretching over more than two millennia that seeks to draw attention to the word in the space of the page, and to the spaces between words, as an aid to emphasising their significance.



Shaped poetry was popular in Greek Alexandria during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE.

15th and 16th Century church

Jewish and Islamic calligraphy

creation of images of natural objects without directly breaking the prohibition of creating “graven images” that might be interpreted as idolatry.

  • Micrography: Hebrew-speaking artists created pictures using tiny arrangements of Biblical texts organized usually on paper in images which illustrate the text used.
  • Islamic calligraphy.

France 19th and 20th century

  • ‘poems’  simplified to a simple arrangement of the letters of the alphabet.
  • Louis Aragon, for example, exhibited the sequence from a to z and titled it “Suicide” (1926)
  • Kurt Schwitters’ “ZA (elementary)” has the alphabet in reverse
  • Catalan writer Josep Maria Junoy (1885-1955) placed just the letters Z and A at the top and bottom of the page under the title “Ars Poetica”
  • Dutch typographer H.N. Werkman in 1920s progressed to using the typewriter to create abstract patterns (which he called tiksels), using not just letters but also purely linear elements.
  • ‘typestracts’ of the concrete poet Dom Sylvester Houédard during the 1960s.

Post-war concrete poetry


During the early 1950s two Brazilian artistic groups producing severely abstract and impersonal work were joined by poets linked to the São Paolo magazine Noigrandes who began to treat language in an equally abstract way. Their work was termed “concrete poetry” after they exhibited along with the artists in the National Exhibition of Concrete Art (1956/57). The poets included Augusto de Campos, Haroldo de Campos and Décio Pignatari, who were joined in the exhibition by Ferreira Gullar, Ronaldo Azeredo and Wlademir Dias Pino from Rio de Janeiro. In 1958 a Brazilian concrete poetry manifesto was published and an anthology in 1962.


Houedard: inspired by 1962 publication in The Times Literary Supplement of a letter from the Brazilian E.M. de Melo e Castro. His work was  produced principally on the typewriter but approximates more to painterly and sculptural procedures.

Ian Hamilton Finlay :Ian Hamilton Finlay’s concrete poetry began on the page but then moved increasingly towards three dimensional figuration and afterwards to site-specific art in the creation of his sculpture garden at Little Sparta.

Ian Hamilton Finlay sculpture in Stuttgart, 1975; the word schiff (ship) is carved in reverse and can only be decoded when it floats reflected on water (Wikipedia)

Edwin Morgan Edwin Morgan’s experiments with concrete poetry include elements of found poetry ‘discovered’ by misreading and isolating elements from printed sources. “Most people have probably had the experience of scanning a newspaper page quickly and taking a message from it quite different from the intended one. I began looking deliberately for such hidden messages…preferably with the visual or typographical element part of the point.”

Eugen Gomringer considered that a poem should be “a reality in itself” rather than a statement about reality, and “as easily understood as signs in airports and traffic signs”.

Henri Chopin’s work was related to his musical treatment of the word.

Kenelm Cox (1927-68) was a kinetic artist “interested in the linear, serial aspects of visual experience but particularly in the process of change,” whose revolving machines transcended the static page in being able to express this.

Bob Cobbing, who was also a sound poet, had been experimenting with typewriter and duplicator since 1942. Of its possibilities in suggesting the physical dimension of the auditory process, he declared that “One can get the measure of a poem with the typewriter’s accurate left/right & up & down movements; but superimposition by means of stencil and duplicator enable one to dance to this measure.”

American Minimalist artist Carl André, beginning from about 1958 and in parallel with his changing artistic procedures.

Tom Phillips  visual artist, who uses painterly and decorative procedures to isolate them on the page. In A Humument he explores unintended concordances of meaning.



Typographic Art

Typography Artists Google

Visual and Concrete Poetry

David Daniels

The Gates of Paradise alternative site

Typographic portraits




Illustrator Type on a Path

Abduzeedo Tutorial

Creative uses of typefaces

Bembo’s Zoo  : really fun animates flash site of making text into animal pictures

Letter arr deer antlers

Antler art

Inkbot design