Woohoo! I was able to do the Golden Rapier Scroll for my friend Engracia Madrigal. It was an effort put together by many to surprise her with awesome.
Engracia has a Spanish personna, and is the cadet of Alys MacIntoisch. Alys was awesome and provided me a couple of different options, and Alys particularly like this one:
I forgot to take many pictures at each step, but did a little better with some of the details.
The first step was Alys wrote the words, then Rhi translated them into Spanish, then I took the tiniest nib I had and wrote the words in Spanish.
El 11 de febrero, en el año cincuenta y uno de la Sociedad, en Nuestra Corte Real en Concordia of the Snows, Nosotros, Brion el Rey y Ana la Reina, ante un conjunto suficiente de señores, caballeros, maestros, compañeros, buenos ciudadanos del reino, otorgaron y dotaron a Engracia de Madrigal de la Order of the Golden Rapier, junto con todos los derechos, privilegios, inmunidades, obligaciones, beneficios, y subsidios que le corresponden, tanto como se han dotado a cualquier otro miembro de la Orden antes mencionada. Nuestra concesión y dotación a la mencionada Engracia, habiendo sido examinada y plenamente comprendida por Nosotros, es por la presente aprobada, encomendada, confirmada, ejecutada y ratificada, y Nos comprometemos a guardar, observar y cumplir todo lo mencionado en ella, y cada parte de ella, realmente y eficazmente. Además, renunciamos a todo fraude, evasión, falsedad y fingimiento, y comprometemos, por Nosotros mismos y por Nuestros herederos y sucesores, que no violaremos la concesión y la dotación arriba mencionada, ni ninguna parte de ella, en cualquier momento o en cualquier manera. En la atestación y corroboración de la cual, firmamos Nuestros nombres a ésta, Nuestra carta.
On 11 February, in the fifty-first year of the Society, in our Royal Court at Concordia of the Snows, We, Brion the King and Anna the Queen, before a sufficient assemblage of peers, knights, masters, companions, nobles, and good citizens of the realm, granted and endowed Engracia de Madrigal with the Order of the Golden Rapier, along with all rights, privileges, immunities, obligations, benefits, allowances and entitlements attendant thereupon, as much as have been endowed to any and all other members of the aforenamed Order. Our grant and endowment to the abovesaid Engracia, having been examined and fully understood by us, is hereby approved, commended, confirmed, executed, and ratified, and we promise to keep, observe, and fulfill all the abovesaid that is set forth therein, and every part and parcel of it, really and effectively. We further renounce all fraud, evasion, falsehood, and pretense, and avow, for ourselves and for our heirs and successors, that we shall not violate the above-stated grant and endowment, or any part of it, at any time or in any manner whatsoever. In attestation and corroboration whereof, we sign our names to this our charter.
Words by Alys Macintosich
Translation by Rhiannon the Curious
Calligraphy and Illumination by Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova
At this point you can see the tiny words, which I covered in frisket paper so that I would not make a mess. You want to know WHY I did this? Because the first draft of this scroll met with an egregious ink accident. If any of you heard the cries of "OH NO!" on FB, that was it.
So the frisket paper, which is very shiny and ugly, went over the words to cover it from my mistakes. I highly recommend it.
Above you can see the design for the illumination and the OGR. The OGR is designed after my original Athena OGR pin because I wanted Gracie to have one of mine, even if only painted and inked.
Details of the left "E". I decided that as a design element I would put a lot of swords everywhere I could. It delighted me to figure out ways to put the swords into this design. The large letters were EL as the first letters of the scroll wording, and referenced back to the original exemplar.
Right side "L" with swords, flowers and decorative elements.
Inking, so much inking. Inked in the Two initials, the decorative elements, started the many, may swords. There are 23 swords including the OGR pin.
I mixed up some Verdigris which made a beautiful green. Used the glass plate, muller and added gum arabic to make pigment. Painted away. I could not find a red period pigment that I really liked, so fell back to the purple red Holbein goauche that is my all time favorite.
Ultramarine as the blue for the OGR pin for the win. Finish detailing with ink (Higgins Eternal) and a crow quill pen and done.
I was very happy with this scroll. The calligraphy was uniform, small and happy. While this wasn't a flashy scroll with a lot of gold leaf, I am very happy because it has so much detail. While it harkens back to the original, it does stand on its own.
Marguerite is a great friend of mine, very dear to me, and I was asked to do her scroll. I was going to go all out.
In conference with Alys MacIntoisch, we delved into her personna of a Scottish reaver, and while Alys made beautiful words in the original Scots, I dove into the Aberdeen Beastiary.
In all of its late 15th century Scots glory
Brion, by rycht off armes kynge off the Est, and Anna, by the same rycht Quhene, to the justiciaris, schireffis, prouosts and thir baillieis and the reste of owr ministeris and faithfull subgectis to quhom thaise present lettiris sall cume, greitings. Know that it is the intencioun of owr will that Marguerite inghean Lochlainn sall be and heirby is raisit and eleuaitit to the Ordoure off the Pellican, with all richtis, privelegis, frensches, essys, and fredwmys appertinent thairvnto, to hawe and to hold the saim freelie, fully, paisibilly and withoutin perturbacion or distroubelance. So we ordour yhow, and eche of yhow, firmlie and vnder threit off the appropriat penaltie, that yhow schold not imputt ony wrang, greifance or injustis or impose ony impediment or vexacione on the forsayde Marguerite in the exercese off the said-foure richtis, privelegis and frensches, essys, and fredwmys, or permitt thais thingis to be imposit on hir in keipyng with the tenore off owr grant and intencioun declarit abuf. In testymony off quhiche matere we ordainyt thais owr letteris to be made patent and proclaimit in owr councel at Bergental on the thryd day off December in the fiftie-fyrst yhere off the Societe.
In modern English
Brion, by right of arms king of the East, and Anna, by the same right Queen, to the justiciars, sheriffs, provosts and their bailies and the rest of our ministers and faithful subjects to whom these present letters shall come, greetings. Know that it is the intention of our will, as set forth herein, that Marguerite inghean Lochlainn shall be and hereby is raised and elevated to the Order of the Pelican, with all rights, privileges, appertaining thereto, to have and to hold the same freely, fully, peacefully and without impediment. So we order you, and each of you, firmly and under threat of the appropriate penalty, that you should not inflict any evil, annoyance, injustice or impose any impediment or aggravation on the said Marguerite in the exercise of the rights and privileges aforesaid, or permit these things to be inflicted on her in keeping with the tenor of our grant and intention declared above. In testimony of which matter we ordered these our letters to be made patent and read aloud in our council held at Bergental on ___ December in the fifty-first year of the Society.
Links for the Aberdeen https://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/ms24/f35r
Examples of the hand used: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/ms24/f34v
The Aberdeen Bestiary is a lavish and costly book with illuminations containing gold leaf and exquisite detail. It was written and illuminated in England around 1200. The tracing of this manuscript shows that in 1542 it was listed in the inventory of the Old Royal Library, within the Westminster Palace. The library had been assembled by Henry VIII, to give a home to manuscripts and documents that he had rescued from monastaries that were dissolved during his reign. Henry VIII, received professional assistance from John Leland with the library to catalog these books and the Aberdeen Bestiary was listed as No.518 Liber de bestiarum natura. The book itself is 300mm high and 210mm.
During the summer I had purchased a piece of vellum, just a little bit bigger than 300mm high and 210mm, so I decided to go all in. I have never done a scroll on vellum before, but this was worth it and I was willing to gamble that if it went to hell, I would start up again on perg, my old standby.
I was not disappointed. Vellum was lovely to work on. Pricey, but lovely.
I decided to do gold leaf also. I have struggled in the past with gold leaf, and this one was not perfect, but I am getting better. So I did up the design, first in pencil, and then in pen and ink (using my trust crow quill pen and Higgins eternal ink) and laid down the mordant first, then the gold leaf. As you can see, I wanted to include the elements of the two households of Marguerite, Sharc Pit and House Lochleven, and the Lady of the Rose badge as well as her own badge. In the center I placed the Pelicans. The story of the Pelicans in the Bestiary was very interesting. It told of the Pelican and her Brood, then the Pelican killing her Brood, and finally the Pelican plucking her breast to resurect her Brood. There were very religious overtones to this story, but both Alys and I really liked the idea of a Pelican who would be tough enough to take her own Brood out, but then revive them.
I used permacol as the mordant. It was very thick in some spots. One of the things I will improve is how to maintain a better overall consistency. At this point, I started zooming and forgot to take pictures.
Above is a close up of the gilding.
One of the difficulties with using vellum is well, it curls. So I would tape it down, and then when I un-taped, curl again. So when taking pictures, you can see the curl of the paper. The lines are straight. The calligraphy is getting better, but I am still missing some of the feel of the medieval text. At the end, at the point of In testymony, my letters starting getting larger. I realized after that my hand was getting tired. Next time I will notice that and take a break. I had chosen to do a very small hand, and I'm hoping to add pictures that give you the scale. If I were to guess, two lines above are about the size of a dime.
The painting beginning. With period pigment, ultramarine, which I had made up ahead of time. Each layer, first the base layer of blue, green, red, pale peachy color for the Pelican and her Brood, then overlay ofmore color on top. I did not take enough pictures at this point. I also used mosaic gold to compliment the gilding.
Closeup of the illumination.
Finished product, complete with detailing within the pelicans. A lot of white work went into this.
Reflection - tiny is awesome. I need to take more pictures. I need to take better pictures. A little more consistency, and I'm going to get some feedback from people I know on how to make the even bigger jump of making it look even more medieval looking, but also professional finished.
This is the story of the twenty four hour court baron scroll. I have a good friend Lottieri Malocchio who was getting a Court Barony, but something got lost in the translation on the scroll assignment, so I didn't end up knowing about it until Wednesday night for a Saturday event.
So, quick! To the Bat Cave!
Some quick research and I find this: A German woodcut of a drummer dated 1525-1530, part of a series of fifty woodcuts picturing Landsknecht soldiers.
No time for fuss, or muss. I get a picture of Malocchio, and I'm off. Within 24 hours, I produce a pen and ink version which is a little bit more 16th century Italian Master of Defense.
Pennsic was fun, art-wise. The weather, as everyone is aware, sucked and was very accurately described as "The War in Satan's jockstrap".
I taught classes for the first time, which was fun, but a little stressful. The stressful part was being aware of time. Normally, during Pennsic, I am aware of daytime or nighttime, eating time or fighting time. Not much else. I needed to be more aware of hourly time, which brought me out of my medieval mindset. I also brought my iPhone to use to keep time for the 2 minute, 10 minute and 15 minute poses. I think I would like to get an hour glass in different sizes.
Class number 1: Figure Drawing Salon
Draw from live models in medieval poses. Practice your sketching, get feedback, or just relax and work on your drawing. Bring drawing supplies.
I had wonderful models, Mistress Anastasiia Gutane, Master Ruslan, Master Lucien, and Mistress Aldreda for the two sessions. The first session was Peace week on Thursday, and the second was during War week on Wednesday. It was an excellent idea to space them out. Aldreda mentioned that she had a website that gave advice on using models, and I am hoping that she can pass that along because that will help me in making good use, and treating my models well.
I also ran a second class which was Portraits on Friday of Peace Week which was:
How to draw portraits of people. What are the specific things that you need to look for that changes a base portrait in order to "read" as a specific person? This class will guide you in the development of those skills. Bring drawing materials, pencils, pastels, charcoal and paper of your choice. Some limited supplies will be available
Student working on portrait of Master Feral.
Student working on portrait of Sir Antonio.
Student working on portrait of Viscount Alexandre.
Master Ruslan and Mistress Anastasiia.
As well as doing classes, I was teaching a friend from a neighboring camp about painting. Mary and I have been trying to get together to do this for a while, but she lives way south and I live way north, but we were finally living within 15 feet of each other. So I dragged out my supplies and I taught her some painting. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon during peace week and it made more sense to her (I hope) in person.
The other artsy thing is that I am working on during Pennsic is my Artifacts of Life entry for 2017. This year I decided I wanted to make an artist palate like the ones that I have seen in the self portraits of many Italian renaissance painters.
I worked with Gaius in camp, our resident wood worker, and took a piece of wood he had lying around and I started shaving it down with a hand plane. Gaius is a really good instructor in that he shows the stroke needed, and then hands the person the tool, while watching. He then adjusts his student's grip, the tool's bite, and the angle as needed to help the student succeed. I worked for about an hour, shaving down the wood until it was as smooth as I wanted it to be. We clamped it down and then made a hole with another hand tool of destruction. I'll have to check with Gaius as to the name of the tool, but it was a tool that makes a oval rather than circle hole. I, then, shaved the edges for a rounded edge rather than a square edge.
The piece needs some hand sanding, and I even might use a hand plane to make it a little thinner. After that, I will need to oil or varnish it. I've already started digging up research on that here on what the vikings did and here on a blog about woodworking using medieval methods and here on the Smithsonian Museum Conservation site as well as looking through my notes on Cennini.
First my re-enactment piece, then the Research pictures.
Caterina von Hemessen, 1548
`The East Kingdom Calendar project is a fundraiser for the royalty fund. I did it last year, and was asked again to do it this year. The website is here.
The assignment for the 2017 calendar - signs of the horoscopes and I decided that I would love to do Scorpio, my own sign. Many calendars of the period of time that I study (500 AD to 1600 AD) have illuminations of the astrological symbols as well as labors that occurred during that calendar month. I was assigned October, and Scorpio. I was provided with some research that Gundormr provided to assist all the artists on this prjecct, and also did my own digging.
The medieval visuals for Scorpio showed me that sometimes the artists really didn't know what a real scorpion looked like, and so the representation was on a spectrum of somewhat like a scorpion, or more like an ugly, black bug or a dragon-like creature with pincers for good measure. Dragons came up frequently. Sometimes a fierce dragon, sometimes a dragon biting its own tail, and sometimes a two headed dragon. I collected a variety of medieval visual representations of Scorpio and started to decide what elements I would like to incorporate in the calendar. The calendar has very particular requirements as to size and includes wording on each month. So step one, the examples.
Horoscope of Prince Iskandar, grandson of Tamerlane, the Turkman Mongol conqueror. This horoscope shows the position of the heavens at the moment of Iskandar's birth on 25th April 1384. The scorpion looks like a modern day horseshoe crab than a scorpion.
Close up of the scorpio portion of the Horoscope of Prince Iskandar, grandson of Tamerlane, the Turkman Mongol conqueror. This horoscope shows the position of the heavens at the moment of Iskandar's birth on 25th April 1384.
De Sphaera (The Sphere). Astrological book of Lombard origin. Illustrated by Cristoforo de Predis (1440-1486), 1470. Representation of Mars with the zodiac signs of Aries and Scorpio. This was my second favorite picture, and the picture of Mars in all his red glory might just find a place in a future scroll.
Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry, 1412 - 1416, French gothic. Scorpio looks more like a scorpion, but I didn't want to do a whole horoscope, just focus on the one sign.
Scorpio, Book of hours, Italy, probably Milan, ca. 1473, This has a nice color scheme, but this is the epitome of black bug. What is interesting is that another artist for the calendar project chose this exemplar but for Libra.
Manuscript from 1447, Italian, Fazio degli Uberti, Dittamondo II. This is an interesting one, but the color scheme seemed too faded for a calendar assignment. Here we start seeing the Dragons being included in the text.
Illustrating the entry in a herbal for the plant called plantain, a man defends himself from a scorpion and a dragon-like viper (adder). Plantain was said to cure the bite of both creatures. This composition was interesting and had some potential. As with the previous manuscript, we see a scorpion and a dragon.
Above: Astronomical treatises [Sufi latinus], Scorpio, 1250-1275, Italy, possibly Bologna.
I found several examples where a dragon was used in place of a scorpion. There are additional ones here : www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=lansdowne_ms_383_f002r
and here www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_50000_fs001r
Drawing by Theodoros Pelecanos, in a 1478 copy of a lost alchemical tract by Synesius
The Hunterian Psalter, England, C. 1170, Zodiac, Sign of Scorpio, Folio 5v. Two headed dragon.
Close up of The Hunterian Psalter, England, C. 1170, Zodiac, Sign of Scorpio, Folio 5v
For extra points, I am subscribed to a blog called Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts and is published by the British Library. They post about calendars on a regular basis and recently on August 22 did a "Which Star Sign Are You?" on their blog. I was able to use this website to do more research on calendars and styles.
I decided that I loved the two headed dragon in The Hunterian Psalter. I set up my pictures, reviewed the text and decided I needed to amend the text to include that scorpio appears as a large scorpion or dragon. I would need to edit the text down to fit into the space I was allocating for the words.
The text ended up :
"Scorpio appeareth as a large Scorpion or dragon. She is Fleumatik, ruleth ye Priue Parts of Men and Women, and indicateth Subtelte and Deceite. When the Mone is on the hunt for the Scorpion, She will seke Nouelte when She needeth to be more dependable, and She might ende vp dronk or in a destitute state. If Iupiter wandreth bi ye Scorpion, then one mai loke to Ipocrisie, possiblie Bitraiel." Text by Master Christian von Jauergk.
The other adjustment is that I could not use gold leaf for the project (because gold leaf does not photograph well and so we are asked not to use it)and would have to substitute.
I printed the words and used a sheet that THL Geffrei Maudeleyne provides. This is the first time that I used this sheet, and it can be used as long as credit is given.
Layout, line drawing on pergemenata.
After many practice runs, calligraphy laid down. On one of the test sheets I made the entire layout complete with illumination so that I could lay down tests of the colors, inking, etc.
Mixing Rublev Roman black, and some Hematite. I ended up using the black, but not the Hematite. I mixed the pigments by taking the ground pigments, grinding them a little finer and then adding a little bit of water to moisten the pigment, followed by a couple of drops of gum arabic as the binder. I then mixed in more water to the desired consistency and placed the pigment in the shells that I had been collecting for some time.
Color matching. See the test sheet with color matching in the middle, and then the test sheet on the left is available for laying the color down and checking how well it is mixed, if adjustments need to be made. This is the messy part of art that many don't see.
Cleaned up artwork, inking in the illumination. I used a crow quill pen and Higgins Eternal Ink.
Laying down base layer of dark green and starting the greys.
I ground up some yellow ochre (same process as above, extra grinding, adding water, then gum arabic) and laid down a lovely shade of yellow. Not quite gold leaf, but it made for a nice contrast against the green and gold.
Now for the lovely details. This is where the roman black came in. The roman black is post period to the time period that I am studying, however, it is also closer to period pigments than just a nice processed black out of a tube of Windsor Newton. I felt that the substitution was acceptable, and am working on acquiring lamp black or bone black for experiments later.
Close up of detail of two headed dragon. Note that there is some blending, but use of the period technique of small hatches (not cross-hatching, that is not found in the exemplars that I have reviewed) to apply the shading.
First layer of detailing on illumination.
Closeup of hatching technique, and layering.
Addition of the red pigments on the initial "S" and on the dragon. Three different shades of red employed for the details of the wing. Dark greenish black filigree in the green interior around the dragon. Paint the dragon's toenails black. More subtle shading of the entire dragon, building up color, shades, nuances of bone and muscle.
Finished piece. Light circle details in the gold circle, highlights and deepening of the dark areas. Application of eraser in all areas.
I have noticed that I need to take a step back while working, as there are flaws that I see from afar that I do not see when nose is two inches from the work. My calligraphy is improving, however, I still need to work on my spacing. Even six months later from when I was working on this in July, I can see improvement in my calligraphy in my current pieces that I do not see here. I also need to work on my technique of not so bumpy circles, which is the first thing that jumps out at me when I look at this illumination now. I will be researching some techniques, and also practicing inking in and painting in cleaner edges. I love the dragon. I think that the body of the dragon is some of my best shading work.
All in all, I am proud of the research, which I think is much more in depth than previous work, and that the level of painting is getting better and better, but I see still see places where I can improve.
With a very short window to complete the task, I was given an assignment for Doroga Voronin's Silver Rapier. I told the signet that this would be easy peasy because I know Doroga, and he unwittingly supplied me with all the documentation that I needed. :-)
A quick jump over to Doroga's webpage at blackbirdsandblades.blogspot.com/
and I was off and running. Doroga has research materials for La Verdadera Destreza, and I downloaded some original artwork and the translation of the rapier manual.
I decided that I would have the art look like a page from a rapier manual, and enlisted help from my housemate, Rhiannon, to translate the work into Spanish.
I know this extremely gentle, talented, man, however, I wanted more information on him and his persona in order to fill things out a bit. So I checked into the East Kingdom Wiki, no entry. I checked FB, yup, there, a few pictures. I pulled those to give me some inspiration. The pictures I have seen of Guthfrith is with a hat, so I am looking for his style of clothes and a fashionable hat. One of the things that I have pointed out for portraits is that there is sometimes one thing that will read X person. In this case, a particular style of hat will identify Guthfrith. I then did a general Google search on Guthfrith, and finally came up with some background on the Barony of Ruantallan's page, where Guthfrith and Isobel are Baron and Baronness. www.ruantallan.eastkingdom.org/our-baron-and-baroness/
"Our personas are firmly rooted in late fifteenth century England these days (despite the C10th Danish name Guthfrith…hmmm). Guthfrith has a wide range of interests including heavy, rapier and siege combat, archery, woodworking, metalworking and miscellaneous A&S. Isobel’s main passion is C15th costuming, but any A&S and particularly anything that creates more C15th ambience is fun (Isobel also looks forward to acquiring a longbow and learning to shoot things more accurately). Occasionally you may see us disguised as sixth century Anglo-Saxons." from their Baronial page.
Since this is for a Golden Rapier award, I first looked into rapier manuals. The Arma is one of the best resources for fechtbuch's.
I was looking for English, maybe Danish, but just getting some ideas.
I started with Talhoffer's Fechtbuch, which is a German Manuscript, and has three different editions, one dated 1443, one dated 1459, and one dated 1467.
Edition 1467 had several pictures of rapier fighters with hats.
Th 1459 edition one also had some nice pictures, and was subtitled "Fight Earnestly". I found pictures again with hats page 196 through page 200. It is a pdf download, so be aware. There are some nice equestrian pictures in there, so I need to note that for future reference. Some of the pictures are pretty gory, with chopped off hands, chopped off heads, and blood spurting. I won't be using anything from those.
There is also I33, one of the earliest known rapier manuals, German on sword and buckler from 1295.
And Durer's Fechtbuch from 1520.
After reviewing them, I decided to go with Talhoffer, plate 23, but use elements from I33 for shading, painting in a different way than I have done in the past, more watercolor shading, rather than true gouache painting that would happen in illuminated manuscripts.
I wrote the wording. My procedure is to type it up on the computer, print out two copies and then practice. I print two copies because I often mark up one with how many characters, how many lines, notations on where I started and stopped. I did a few practice runs and then did the layout for the scroll. I wanted to have the Golden Rapier prominent and center, words at the top and fighters at the bottom.
I had wanted to experiment with the lovely, looping ascenders and while they are not perfect, I'm happy with the consistent height. More practice is needed.
Inking up the Golden Rapier and the figures using a crow quill pen and also Higgins Eternal Ink.
Once I started my painting, I just forgot to stop and take pictures along the way. I'm still working on taking pictures that have appropriate lighting. I have received some hints from camera savvy friends, so hopefully future photos will be clearer. I used mosaic gold for the gold in the Golden Rapier, and lapis lazuli from a batch of period pigments that I had and a lapis lazuli that I had greyed out a little more for the left hand fighter. I also used permanent white, yellow ochre and payne's grey (all Windsor Newton brand) for the rest of the paints. I always like the way that the ultramarine pops. The paper was the opaline vellum that I bought at Pennsic last year. It is closest to vellum without the price and I like how it takes just about anything without buckling. I highly recommend it and will be picking up some more this Pennsic.
Closeup of figures.
I liked the way this came out, it is detailed, but you really have to look carefully for the details. My calligraphy is improving, but I still need more practice for better period looking spacing. As I said earlier, I need to improve my photography. :-)
Orlando and I have been friends for a very long time. He was made an OGR shortly after I was, and it made me very happy to get his assignment.
I dove into Orlando's time period by looking at his East Kingdom Wikipage and speaking to his lovely lady over the internet to get some preferences. I was able to pull his arms off the wiki and also find some pictures of him. My research needed to focus on Italy, mid15th century to mid 16th century. I also could do something fencing related with manuals, because Orlando is known for his By the Book Tournament at Pennsic, and his research in period rapier manuals. I started the research wide at first and then narrowed it down to some specific examples that would work.
I was able to find the following:
Italian Renaissance Manuscript collection in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library: ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/irm
The Sforza hours which is housed in the British Library and accessible at Turning the Pages
Visconti Book of Hours
The Bible of Borso d'Este
I decided that I liked the Bible of Borso d'Este the best. The Bible was commissioned by Borso d’Este (1413–71), the first duke of Ferrara. The manuscript was completed between 1455 and 1461. The original is here: https://www.wdl.org/en/item/9910/view/1/56/.
The page that I chose to use as an exemplar for the scroll here: www.wdl.org/en/item/9910/view/1/56/
READY TO START
Here is what research looks like for me. I tape every single idea/source/example on my mirror, along with a picture of the recipient.
We start with the finished product. Words by Alys MacIntosich.
Materials used: Opaline velum, #6 Mitchell Round hand Square Nib (super tiny), Princeton Art Monogram 20/0 paintbrush, a Vienna 0 paintbrush and an American Painter 1 paintbrush. I used Holbein Cadmium Red Purple, Holbein Dark Green, Windsor Newton Ultramarine, Windsor Newton Permanent White, Windsor Newton Payne's Grey, Mosaic Gold for the achievement, and Gold Leaf and a dog's tooth burnisher.
The slide show shows the journey to get there. This project took approximately 32 hours not counting the time to do the research.
I started the gold leaf on a humid day. I did not expect that, and in the future will a) plan around the weather better, or b) put the AC on while I do the gold leaf. This was the first piece, for me, that had this much gold leaf. Even though it did give me some trouble, I bent it to my will and prevailed. I wasn't as happy about the inking around the gold leaf, and I would have liked to make that cleaner. I also have some ideas on how to do the gold leaf even better the next time. Practice, practice, practice.
I also would put more of the inking up front. I was worried about messing up the gold leaf, which led me to hold back on the inking which I am far more accomplished at. This led to having to work around the gold leaf, and then when I had to erase all the pencil marks. The erasing was laborious as I did not want to erase over the gold, as that would dull it and ruin it. It took me over an hour and a half to ink the architectural/floral elements and two hours to erase.
I am very happy with this particular piece. The amount of detail that I was able to get into the flowers, leaves, and floral elements definitely gave the piece layers which made it look more like the medieval equivalent. I was pleased with how I could tie together the inking detail with the signature lines. The gold did shimmer and had the right effect, subtle but hinting at wealth.
I also tried Yellow Ochre mixed with permanent white which seemed to blend and give me the right look. I was not looking to replicate a black hour illumination or scroll, but an artistic rendering which made the art look like a white line block print.
Next step was sketching out the figure, the placement of the words and the silver rapier. Many people don't include the messy bits, but I think it is important to include those to show people that the process can be messy and it is an important step.
Next step: Write the words. I used Alys' Mad Libs for Scribes and away I went. The calligraphy was going to be more of an issue, so I mixed enough paint up (yellow ochre and permanent white) with extra water to get the right flow for the "ink" and then painted the paint on my dip pen and start practicing. As you can see I practiced in white, mosaic gold and the yellow ochre paint.
Now the process pictures. I sketched everything out lightly in pencil. First the words, then the banner, then I started the figure. The difficult part with black paper is that it soaks up the paint quite a bit, so all of these marks/lines/hatching needed to be painted at least twice and sometimes three times, as it would fade instantly with just one coat.
Final piece, with crown signatures and medallion given for the award to Magdalena.
Reflection: I was inordinately proud of this work. I think that this is one of my better pieces by far. I still need to improve my calligraphy but I am much more confident in it than I have been in the past. I think I might also balance out the legs a little more, giving the right sided leg more detail.
My avocation is artist. This is where I leave art, the process of art and my discoveries.