Blog Archive

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back in the saddle

I'm part of a re-enactment group that focuses on the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Our members get award certificates that are handmade rather than printed off, by people called "scribes" who do their best to make their pieces look like pages from medieval manuscripts.

I was an active scribe from spring 2000 till about summer of 2004, I think; then I did calligraphy privately for an art exhibit at the TAF gallery up till July of 2005; then I stopped. Partly I was a little burned out on all the scribing - as a volunteer activity, most people may only work on a piece every couple of months or so, and I was working on them weekly - and partly some political garbage happened to friends of mine, such that I just didn't have the heart to sit at the table and pull out the ink and the pens.

That changed recently, when I was requested to create a certificate (aka "scroll") for someone who had just earned one of the highest awards it is possible to receive in our organization. I guess three years away was long enough, or the leisurely deadline was easy enough, or I just like the recipient a lot. I dunno; all I can tell you is that I'm at the table again, I have more bare space showing than I have in years (clutter + mosaics = what color is this table, anyway?), and I'm trucking along on the thing.

It's interesting, I didn't really stop to realize it till now, but I'll be pushing my envelope with this specific piece in more ways than one. I'll be using an alphabet that I've never really worked with before, apart from some half-hearted practice waaaay back when I was teaching myself lettering from as many different time periods as possible; I'll be using an illumination style that is also something I rarely do; I'll be working on a larger sheet of paper than I've ever attempted; and for the first time, I'll be using the copper leaf that my husband got for our anniversary last year (7th is the Copper Anniversary (he got a solid copper outdoor firebowl)), in addition to the gold leaf I have. Come to think of it, this will be only the second time I've used more than one type of leaf on a piece. Usually I just use 23K gold, but I did one other piece with 23K and with "white gold", which I think is 18K. I know it's alloyed with silver, since it tarnished over time.

Gilding is entertaining. Precious metal glitter in your hair and a whole lot of holding your breath, because the least exhalation will send an entire 3-inch square floating across the table - I'm just glad I've never sneezed while gilding. But if you're into fussy little details, aka Little Fiddly Bits, then gilding is the ultimate exercise in patience and obsessive focus.

As for the actual piece, I'm being intentionally vague with my description because the actual piece is meant to be a surprise and I don't want to take any risk of blowing it before I've actually finished it and handed it over.

You wouldn't think cutting a sheet of paper to size and marking it with margins and borders would take so much effort, but I spent close to two hours on just that this afternoon. Note for future reference: Fresh Blades In All Cutting Implements Are Your Friends.

And for those who have never done anything like this before: Respect The T-Square. Measure Fifteen Times, Mark Once or Twice Just To Be Sure, Cut Once.

I haven't felt this perky in ages; I just wish I could get that stupid song out of my head... "I'm BACK IN the SAD-dle a-GAINNN..."

No comments:

Post a Comment