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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

30 August 2006

Sally's DragonFly

This is the Stumpwork Dragon fly I sewed for Sally for her birthday.

The cool thing is that you can move his wings around and bend them into different shapes since they are metallic organza ribbon sewn into florist's wire.

Unfortunately I only have a scanner -not a digital camera, so you can only just see one of his eyes (bead) and his body is of fluffy grey fibre. It looks like it could be made of ... I don't know ... in this scan. And the metallic thread of the veins in his wings hasn't come out very much. Need that camera!

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The Second Coming - Partial "T"

On the vertical stroke of the T, the bottom four 'swirls' have been completed with highlighting and shading.
The two above have had a little yellow (for highlighting) laid down as preliminary highlighting.
You can see this clearly by clicking on the picture above.

I'm currently working on the horizontal bar of the T. It needs brightening. Hard work with the swirls so tiny, and not being able to touch the blue, or else I'll end up with green (yellow + blue) mixed in the red (which equals mud colour)

I've finished the pen flourishing for the majuscules (capital letters) at the beginning of each verse as well.

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28 August 2006

The Second Coming - Bottom Margin finished, except for outlining

I still have to outline it.
I've decided that I'm going to use a fine pigment marker.
I could use a brush (or a mapping pen, which has a very very fine nib) but the chances of 'wobbles' are much higher. I don't know how many colours are in this illumination, but there are quite a few. If I have to re-touch the edges, going right through the palette again, I'll go nuts!

I've received some commentary, which is just great.

Kit pointed out that
  • the 'cones' on top of the leftmost and rightmost flowers didn't line up (now fixed)
She very kindly printed out a copy of the work and took it to show her teacher, June Francis, a published calligrapher.

June said that I was doing everything correctly, but commented
  • the margin was designed to go into a book. The margin extending over to the right past the text would therefore run into the gutter of the book. Since I am doing a single page, I should have shortened the length, especially of the bottom margin, to end more or less where the text ends on the right hand margin
Oh well. I'll know for next time. I remember having some thoughts about the length of the bottom margin but I wanted to include all of the 'cone flowers'.
  • that the ascenders and descenders seemed a bit short.
I agree. I wrote it using 1 mm A/D to 4 mm x-height. I arrived at the 1 mm A/D height because I'd measured the x-height in 3 contempory documents, and this was the ratio used. (Note - of hand written scripts, not the text of the printed Gutenberg Bible). The normal ratio of x height to A/D in Gothic Textura Quadrata is 5 or 6 n.w. : 2 n.w. (Harris, Calligrapher's Bible, and Lovett's Guide to Calligraphy).
A lesson in using judgement as well as design information from historical exemplars!

The final scan of the bottom margin only will show it with outlining. Kit is very kindly sending me up a suitable pen.

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23 August 2006

The Second Coming - Bottom Margin minus the green

I've done a lot of work since the last scan - almost finished the bottom margin :-)

I still have to
  • highlight the green bits with forest (dark) green and yellow,
  • paint the 'cone' of the flower on the rightmost side in shades of purple - I'm saving that up
  • outline the whole lot in a very fine black line
I'm undecided whether I will wait until I can buy a 0.1 sized pigment marker pen and cheat in doing the outlining, or do it with atiny brush and paint, which is how you are supposed to do it, but takes a lot longer.
Using the brush is true to the historical process and will also increase my skill at making fine lines, whilst driving me mad as I do accidental little wiggles and have to fix them up and re-touch the other colours.

Click on the image to see a larger version

Then I can start on the "T" with the swirls on the inside, that runs down the side of the poem.

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15 August 2006

The Second Coming - bottom margin, base colours and some shading

I've been busy over the weekend .....

This is where the red base has been laid down, and shaded in dark red and yellow.
The pink base has been laid down.

Now some of the shading of the pink parts has been done, and the blue and gold base have been laid down.
It's gold paint, as opposed to the beated gold leaf that forms the little pointy bits shown in the original scan of the piece. It will be shaded, the same as the other colours.

The instructions for the shading are taken from the Gottingen Model Book, written by Cennino Cennini, in the um, 15th century? I have both the original Italian and modern English versions of the workbook.
He used shell gold (arum musicum) rather than gold paint, which is the scraps from gold leafing well ground and then made up into a paint using a binder.
I have some shell gold myself - but it costs a fortune ($50 odd for a piece the size of a button - you need one heck of a lot of scrap to make a little bit of shell gold - it's way more expensive than the leaf.) I am saving it for special projects. I will paint a gold/blue acanthus one day using it to see how Cennini intended it to really be, but not today.
Then, they used it because it was paint that could be further worked upon (ie shaded), as opposed to gold leaf with it's shiny finish, because they didn't have any other gold paint available. You can press patterns into gold leaf, or tint a colour over the top if you really really wanted to, but not shade it in the way that these acanthus are. In modern times, we have gold gouache (All my paints are gouache) which I can use instead of the shell gold.

I really want to get these pictures bigger. They are about half life size. I'm saving large detailed files in Photoshop, but this seems to be the biggest picture size that Blogger will allow. It's a pity that the shading can't be seen in more detail here.

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13 August 2006

The Second Coming

To repeat the mail I sent out the other day, only this time with the scans in-line ......


I've completed the gilding and outline on my big calligraphy piece - "The Second Coming"

The gold isn't burnished yet (the base isn't properly dry yet!) but you can see that it's pretty shiny already.

The writing is "The Second Coming" by YB Yeats ("Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold") I had to write it out 4 times before I got it fitting properly in the margins and without mistakes in the words! Argh!

It's about twice the size in real life as shown on the screen.

I have yet to do :
  • the poem heading, (flourished 'he Second Coming'). The "T" of the "The Second Coming" is that big letter that runs down the left hand side.
  • finish the red and blue florishing of the first letter of each verse. I couldn't do it until now, because gold will stick to paint. I could only do the bits that were far away from the bits that were going to be gilded
  • burnish the gold

and .... the fun bit -
  • paint the margin!

The original that I've taken the margin from is

I've already done some work in this style. - the muticoloured, shaded acanthus. They are those wiggly leaf things. The flowers are, um, weird flowers that come with the acanthus. of my favourite styles.
You can see two acanthus in closer detail below in a work that I did last year. Below that is just one of them, blown up.

The detail above shows the colour blending in more detail

I'm going to start on the painting first, coz I like doing it the best.

This is the section I'm starting on (in the original).

The Gilding

It's been a nightmare, because it's winter.

I originally used some of Kaz's gesso, but it wouldn't dry even after about 5 days. It showed no signs of drying. One good thing about summer - good gilding weather.

After advice from the Scribes, I switched to Wills Quills quick gesso. Unfortunately, I've laid it on too thickly, and am having trouble doing any burnishing because it's kind of 'squidging' under the burnisher, even after a week to dry. It's just too thick. I should have laid it on in multiple layers. Oh well - live and learn.
I also committed the cardinal sin (I know now) of trying to put some gilding mix over existing leaf, to do some patching. what was I thinking? Now I have plastic coated gold leaf that won't take any more gold leaf. Thankfully I only did a little. I have to scrape back two points and re-do them.

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