abendgules: (winter arabesque)
Highlights were: a great feed at Vitus and Isabel's house on Boxing day (including their family, Ozbeg and Katherine, and Paul and Anne), a visit with Sir Nasr and Countess Ellie on the weekend, and not doing very much at all for a few days.

Neither of us feel up to much: I'd hoped to get a handle on a backlog but the lure of the sofa overwhelmed me. Closest I came was some bookmarks for the giftbasket and a single work for Coronation. Happy with those, fairly, but bummed at low volume.

The cleverest thing I did was fine-nib pen trials. I can now reliably trim my quills to about 1 mm width, which is small but not very small. I spent some time trying to get a smaller nib from my current pens, and decided that it will take more practice, and I shouldn't try to trim nibs when under a (self-imposed) deadline.

So: setting aside the quills, I went back to my boxes of nibs and tried out a whole range of fine pointy nibs, a mix of old ones and ones I'd bought and never used.

Managed to get quite surprising results from them - ones that look like sharp points actually generating serifs like a 'round' hand nib, albeit tiny ones.

Since I did this in one long sitting, I could feel the difference between nibs: some were soft and springy some were hard and thin. Still don't know why you might choose a soft nib over a hard one, but at least I could feel the difference.

Am hoping to scribble some more with pens alone in the next few days.

One comfort: the cosmetic smellies that Lady Ynes left with us got good reviews at Christmas. At our gift exchange I gave out bags of 'red damask powder', left with us by Ynes. I also made 'Spanish leather' following S Pointer's recipe in her book - a sort of scented paste that you rub into soft leather to serve as a small flat pomander. It's rich and earthy and dense smelling, very different from a modern perfume.

We also still have 'nightcap powder', which I think has changed a bit since Ynes left it with us, but stll is delightful and I made new bags for our linens to tuck into our pillows.

I like all these scented items, but perfume is so individual it's hard to predict who will like what, so I didn't oblige anyone to take anything in our gift exchange.

Over the break, I found myself stressed by not getting things done that I'd promised myself over the holiday: no cards, no decorating, a lot less crafting. Just don't have the energy.

However, if tomorrow at work is like today, I can sit and write post-Christmas cards practically all day. Assuming a gale doesn't blow me over on my way to work. This has to be the gustiest and rainiest Christmas I've seen in England.

Also: disappointed with the Doctor. The 50th anniversary was brilliant, and this was a strained anticlimax in comparison.
abendgules: (Oooops)
...is very happy, having unwrapped a 10kg box of carve-able stone from J, [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy's other half.

It's beautiful white with pale brown striations, and silky smooth to touch and already cut into workable blocks. The most tedious part of doing moulds is squaring off.

It's not quite soapstone, but some type of stone suitable for carving that J can find very affordably in DE. They used it at Raglan, to make the hourglass token for their Highnesses, for Duncan and Eibhilin's 'make something cool at the event' challenge.

Robert, gloating over his new treasures:  'I'm importing stone from Germany for pewter casting...just like in period!'

So he's set for the holiday.

I've received my delivery of further soapy supplies, so I can make still more soaps and toiletries, but now with added colours and textures. My friends will be very, very clean this year.

We also got our Bah Humbug shirts in the mail - Wychwood brewery has the best label art going, and I love their silly shirts. My real favourite is of the Wychwood elves roasting a reindeer at Christmas time, saying 'ho ho ho...' in their typical mischievious way...

So we're both wearing the shirts at work today.
abendgules: (slope)
Ok, I'm taking a liberty, because some of these 'days' have overlapped in real-time - so I actually did the research over two days, not just one, and did some shopping on the same day as I did some research. It's my blog, and my challenge.

Yesterday after skiving out of work in the mid afternoon I took myself to my favourite shop, Cornelissens, for a Christmas treat.

I'd been resisting buying the specialist gilding equipment for a long time - looking for homemade bodge-fixes instead, because I'm not a gilder, I'm a calligrapher, right?  - but I've decided I don't want to fight with my tools. If they'll make the difference between frustration and success, I'm willing to spend some money.

My stocking included:
- a glass muller: I was sold on this when Mistress Oriane asked 'what are the lumps in your gesso?' and truthfully I had not done nearly as much grinding as is suggested in 'the gilded page'. So today's project is to Get It Right, or at least follow the instructions.

I was surprised to find that the Cornelissens mullers are made individually, so they vary even within the small med and large designations. So the staffer brought up three for me to fondle, and number 2 was a perfect fit for my hand. It was striking how different it felt in my hand.

- a gilder's pad. The staffer started describing the destinctions between the 'economy' and the 'professional' pad, and I told him I'd only ever planned to buy the economy one. (Honestly, he was struggling to explain the difference - AFAICT it was nicer finishing nails round the edge). I could have made one, but that would cost me more in time and fuss than the £27 it cost me. If I ever get to gild a wall, I'll make a bigger one for myself.

- a thick gilder's tip, the specialist brush that I saw all the cool-kid gilders using on YouTube.

- starter pack of loose gold. This is not really a bargain, you're better off buying a standard pack and sharing it, but I wasn't clever enough to plan that. If I finish this pack, I'll know I'm keen enough to buy more.

- more titanium dioxide dry pigment. I found some watercolour version, but am sticking to dry til I get a working gesso, then I can play with the recipe to find out what can change.

- a bunch of 15ml containers. I'm finding our small-container supply stretched as I mix and collect bits, and we can only consume so much mustard in tiny pots.

Why am I blogging on Christmas Day?  Because our Christmas is spent very quietly at home.

If you don't own a car, and get out of London on 24 Dec, you're stuck in the city for 2 days, because the Tube doesn't run on 25 Dec, and the near-traditional Boxing Day Tube strike is on 26 Dec. (Given the flooding this year, lots of people are stuck in crap places anyway - I'd rather be at home.)

So we take advantage of it, and hole up with food, drink, holiday TV (Dr Who! Her Majesty in 3D!) and crafts.

It's the best holiday imaginable.

On Boxing Day we're headed to Sir Vitus and Lady Isabel's house for a feed, but til then...gild on.
abendgules: (catching snowflakes)
...England is a awash with flooding. I'll have to watch the Peanuts Christmas special on YouTube, and the Grinch too, for any white Christmas fill.

Hoping to stop pretending to work and slip out of the office soon, and go shopping in person rather than online. 

For this holiday crafty wish list:
- get more gilding tools to improve gilding results, hopefully today
- finish lining a hood
- start a new cardigan on the needles
- make more smellies as gifts
- optional: start laying out new bodice for German undergown

I have to rein in my instinct to start a half-dozen new projects - I get so wound up at the prospect of a few days uninterrupted crafting that I tie myself in anxious knots over what I could do, and end up frozen, unable to decide what to do first, and only manage to do the boring routine stuff like housework.

If I can settle to just a handful of projects, I have more chance of actually finishing them, and thus avoiding further rebukes from UFOs round the house.

I've actually had some FO results - finished a smock, finished some knit garters - but somehow they're anticlimactic compared to starting new.
abendgules: (Oooops)
Got a good start on the pouches this weekend, getting eyelets into two of four, and braiding cords for three, so I may actually be able to knock the current batch off the list.
Pouches are a perpetually-renewing project though - I've now made them in leather, fabric, and knitting. I suppose I could weave one from scratch for a change (NOT).

Also got the calligraphy done on the cards, but didn't get any illumination done.

Did have a happy evening surfing the BL site, finding nearly an entire alphabet of very do-able Romanesque intials.

There's a particular style, c. 1150-1225 ish, England and N. France on sacred books, that uses bold plain colours, some very beautiful arabesque flourishes, but very little 'finishing' (no outlining, no knotwork, no gold). The accompanying hand is late Carolingian, early Gothic-ish, well within my repetoire.  The sweet AoA I did last month is typical. This could become another 'workhorse' hand for scrolls for me.

I even found a scholarly text about this art style, focusing on MSS from 11th and 12th c Northumbria - a snip at £70 from Boydell and Brewer.
abendgules: (catching snowflakes)
 Today I'm thankful for my sweetie Robert.

I'm thankful most days for him, but I'm especially thankful at Christmas, to live with someone who is entirely happy having a quiet Christmas, untroubled by travel, family commitments, shopping, baking, and generally living to excess.

My favourite kind of Christmas is one spent on a sofa thickly spread with books, the cat, and mince pies with sherry, and this suits Robert too. 

After many years of feeling trapped by obligations to family and gift-giving, this is a huge relief.
abendgules: (scrooge)

...we'll see if it's successful, by how long the ornaments stay undisturbed. They're strung on cuphooks stuck into the frame of the staircase.



...and the reason for the cautious approach:


abendgules: (catching snowflakes)
...somewhat delayed report, since I took most of the holiday off from the computer.

The mid-Dec heavy weather followed us from Ottawa to Halifax. Originally due for a 2pm flight, we arrived to find it was delayed to 4pm...then 6pm....then cancelled. We spent the afternoon sitting in the pub drinking wildly overpriced beer, reading, nalbinding, and watching the wind whip the snow around. It was a very Canadian scene.

 
abendgules: (hunh?)
 This working for a living lark has serious drawbacks. Going back to work after hols is one of the biggest. I feel like a slug on downers. 

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