Some people have asked why I invented a language. My first response is: "It’s fun and challenging." But it also has the potential of being an expressive art form, such as painting or sculpting. The roots go back several decades. When I was a child, I divided the garden into plots representing as many countries as I knew. It’s amazing how miniature structures, streets and cities made of mud and shards, painted in poster colors can feel absolutely real to a child. To enhance the whole, I made alphabets to let the cultures speak. The kingdoms, sultanates, and wild territories from that garden of long ago have inspired my direction to this day.

I remember an illustrated book we had on ancient Egypt. The hieroglyphs on the pages were a treasury of inspiration. Like Ali Baba in the cave, I stole into the book, dipping my hands into the linguistic repository. Zigzags, curves, and the silhouettes of gods... I copied some of them onto mini scrolls for my cities. I also invented other scripts, simple codes, which brought a sense of diversity and exotic flavor to the mini civilizations.

The buildup to Tapissary

As I grew older, my understanding of the varied possibilities of languages deepened. Language creation took on the aura of adventure. I hunted down unusual shapes and extraordinary grammars at the library, gathering them into my notes. These accompanied my own linguistic inventions, for as much as I enjoyed borrowing from other languages, the vast majority of my symbols are original to my imagination... newcomers to the family of language. Like a mad scientist, I grafted unlikely concepts atop one another, yielding outlandish creatures. I began developing a system, for example, where grammar was a digestive structure that would feed on its own vocabulary, and leave the debris of the well expended words beyond the sentence. I also surgically embedded one noun inside another to show subject/object interconnectedness. In other regions of the language, numerous declentions weighed down the grammar like a hippopotamus out of water. Eventually, I discarded the complex in favor of economy. But I kept the right to retain certain unconventional aspects in my language (such as the cyclic grammar) which I couldn't have done were I to present Tapissary as an international language. Since this is not the case, I have the advantage of being able to develop a personal style of grammar that can break from convention.

In the late 70’s, I was exposed to Sign Language of the Deaf. This opened the flood gates. My love of hieroglyphs since childhood now met another kind of picture language made in the air. I remember going to the library at school, too excited to concentrate on homework, I got some paper towels from the restroom to scribble down notes. Hieroglyphs based on Sign Language, ancient Egyptian, my other invented languages and pictures flowed without effort onto the towel. Three decades and 8,000 hieroglyphs later, I still enjoy adding to Tapissary.

My philosophy formed the hieroglyphs, while temporal associations shape my cyclic grammar. Tapissary celebrates its 32nd anniversary this year in 2009. It has accompanied me for most of my life, and has been used to record journals, decorate pottery, write scrolls, and present language-art exhibits. It is a place where I can take ideas and stretch them over, around and through the blocks of linguistic shape. Tapissary is a malleable substance with a soft finish ready to make changes, not a hard one that is unwavering and breakable. Has Tapissary ever been in a finished state before? Yes, several times during its existence. But it also undergoes major shifts in sync with my own life lessons.

Some of the techniques I use to create my celloglyphs (hieroglyphs).

First I should explain that my hieroglyphs are called celloglyphs. ‘Cello’ (pronounced: che-lo, like the stringed instrument), refers to Ventiçello, my miniature village also included on this site. Even though Tapissary predates Ventiçello by a decade, when it came time to decide on a name for my linguistic population, the merging of the two seemed predestined.

The pages that follow illustrate some selected processes I use to make celloglyphs:

1. As Tapissary is a picture language, much of the vocabulary is based on renderings of pictures. Notice how ‘chair’ is a simple silhouette of a chair seen from the side. The pictures can also describe abstract concepts. For instance, ‘gravity’ is a celloglyph showing a ball falling in 3 progressive stages of its descent, like a mini animation clip.

2. Pictographic Language borrowings. It’s rare that I make an exact copy from another language. Usually, I take a character and reshape it to fit the style of Tapissary, while retaining a good shadow of the model. On rare occasion, I copy it faithfully. The word for ‘foot’ for instance is exactly the same in Japanese as Tapissary. The same holds true for the word ‘life’ which comes directly from ancient Egyptian.

3. American Sign Language borrowings. Most of the original celloglyphs were inspired by Sign Language. I simplified the movements and hand shapes into a loose shorthand.

4. Collaging celloglyphs to form a new meaning. This is where I have most fun. I merge the essence of two or more celloglyphs to tell a little story. To cite an example illustrated on one of the pages to follow, ‘ears’ resting on ‘stairs’ yield a new celloglyph meaning ‘greet’. The ears show my dog at the top of the stairs... which is the way he always greeted me when I came home, barking and wagging his tail. There are three examples of the story telling method contained in the following pages. Combining celloglyphs to make a new one is the most common device used in Tapissary’s vocabulary building. The bulk of my celloglyphs are such hybrids.

5. Indigenous celloglyphs. Apart from the borrowings listed above, most of my celloglyphs come directly from my head, without reference to other languages.




1977年で、学校で聾者の言語を習いながら、私はその手語の動き形から、書いたヒエログリフを作り始めました。 その頃すぐ後で、古代のエジプトのヒエログリフや黄道帯や漢字のような字的な言語から、 私の変形を加え始めて、簡単な絵画も書いていました。 日本語で、漢字やかなが使えて、私のではヒエログリフや’”タピセリのかな”を見える。けれども、比べる時には、慣用句が少し違います。日本語の単語では、二つの漢字は一つの言葉によくなる。タピセリ語の場合は、一つだけのヒエログリフは一つの言葉になります。タピセリ語の中で、8000ぐらいのヒエログリフがあります。





The illustrated pages in this section come from a brochure I'd made in 2004. In July '07, I rewrote the text seen on this page.

Click on part one, part two, or part three above to see the examples