I have befriended glyphs. My fascination since childhood with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the writing system of Japan intrigued me with their picture-like qualities. In 1977, I was learning American Sign Language whose dance-like vocabulary enjoys an emphasis on where we are in space. This inspired me and suddenly I had a clear goal in mind for my own picture language, and the confidence to sustain it through ample growing pains while creating Tapissary.

With some eight thousand glyphic characters (called çelloglyphs), Tapissary owes much to the above mentioned languages with my own pictures comprising the bulk of the vocabulary. After all, I’m an artist and have used my language in exhibits, illustrated journals, miniature cities, videos, and practically speaking... shopping lists. With this cast of of thousands of glyphs, along with markers showing physical placement, and the cyclic grammar which throws on a layer of ‘personal lighting’, Tapissary might be considered a language portrayed as performance.

Recently, after having had the honor of appearing as one of the language creators in Britton Watkin’s 2017 documentary “Conlanging, the Art of Crafting Tongues”, I discovered to my delight, that some people have taken an interest in Tapissary. Because I’m preserving the original Tapissary website, I decided to set up this website to keep you current. My friend Evelyne Okonnek, who is a writer and fellow artist, is helping me organize the content so it will be more user friendly.

Please take a look around. All art related entries, including my clay village called Venticello, fall under the EXHIBITS AND FILMS tab. Language related entries with a 900-word starter dictionary can be found by clicking the LANGUAGE tab. I hope you enjoy the tour, and may the glyphs be with you!

Steven Travis

September, 2018


SHOPPING LIST. I need many sweet potatoes. Remember to get lots of lemons. See if they have fresh ginger. Lettuce. Tomatoes. Vinegar. Toilet paper. Sponges for the kitchen. Remember to bring your wallet.



Please note that since the introduction of the fiction cycle in 2018, I have been focusing on polishing the dynamic between the new cyclic duality. The Graduated cycle which I invented in 1987 finally gets its companion and this has sparked a new identity for the grammar which will take me some time to organically compose and assimilate. The language itself remains mostly intact, however I will not be updating the changes here often, as this is a time of experimentation. Much of this website will eventually be renewed to accommodate the changes, but I will wait until a clean presentation is ready. I apologize for the delay. Until then, I hope you enjoy the info on the website, as the largest part of traditional Tapissary will be preserved in the metamorphosis underway.

David Peterson gave Tapissary his annual Smiley Award. He lays out the basics of the language in a very clear manner. To see more about it, click here:  NEWS

David Peterson gave Tapissary his annual Smiley Award. He lays out the basics of the language in a very clear manner. To see more about it, click here: NEWS


Why do real languages change? They must, because the cultures that shape them also change over the centuries. A language is like a mirror, and this is never more obvious than for an invented language since it comes directly out of the mind of its creator. Were someone to ask me, ‘Why do you waste so much time inventing a language, when you can learn a real one that has practical use? (in fact I do speak French and bits of other languages). After all, it has been shaped by millions of people and absorbed all that history along the way’. There is no way I could, or would even want to compare my own work along those lines with such giants. These aspects of real languages fascinate me, and I’m well aware how they exist due to communities and nations, many having millions upon millions of speakers and reaching way back in time. Each user participates in the living of that language, and may be the influences which cause it to evolve. In contrast, I am but one man. Ironically, this gives me another kind of advantage. While I cannot claim that Tapissary was formed by communities, language creators have something a real language can never possess; individuality at its grandest scale of one. The inventor has total control, and no matter what he or she does, it will be a self-portrait of their sense of curiosity, creativity, and their preferences. Personally, I think of Tapissary not so much as a language – though it functions as one – but more of a statement. And like real languages, mine changes with time – while remaining recognizably Tapissary – and it is currently under heavy construction as of this writing in December 2018. This cannot be helped, because as I gain experience in my life, new interests arrive. Some of them are absorbed into the portrait.