abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2014-12-17 05:02 pm

Kingdom university: hurrah for Flintheath and its splendid event

This was actually over a week ago now, so my post is a bit late.

We'd booked early for this year's kingdom university, taking advantage of the lovely Buckden Towers in Cambridgeshire. This proved to be a Catholic centre with an associated charity to support the restoration of the space, and a very handsome space it was. See pics on the (somewhat dated) charity website.

Booking early we scored an 'apartment': a private room with adjoining bath and tiny self-catering kitchen. If I were spending a week on retreat there I'd be very happy to ensconce myself in it. The building is clearly 16th c or earlier, with wonky walls and angled doorways where the doors don't fit, but it was very cozy, and I was very, very glad of a hot shower and a real bed after a full day.

We were blessed with a glorious sunny early-winter day: warm in the sun, which shone all day, cool in the shade, bright and crisp. It was mild enough to take our midday meal in the Tudor-style knot garden and enjoy her highness' court, where [livejournal.com profile] jahanarabanu was made kingdom artisan for the coming year. HE [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy, Lord Raconzy and HG Fiona were all there to welcome her, as previous winners.

My highlights were taking part in fencing authorisations, where we had 3 fencers (1 from Thamesreach and 2 from F'heath) successfully authorised in single sword.

This process brought home to me that expectations of authorisation varies across the principality: this process was different again from the previous authorisations I've witnessed.

The scriptorium had classes all day. [livejournal.com profile] nusbacher had 2 keen students, and Katherine's illumination class had at least 6 people in it, though they ran short of time to actually finish their pieces (Kat says: 3 hours minimum, anything less doesn't work). But wow: 6 people learning to outline, ink, gild and paint in one afternoon. Awesome.

My own class was small but perfectly formed, and provided just the range of experiences and opinions on how to scribe that I'd hoped for.  Artists are so opinionated!

I laughed out loud watching each of us demonstrate our preferred way to draw straight lines: of 3 scribes you got 4 opinions on how to use a ruler...

I got only a glimpse of the bestiary themed arts and sciences display, but apparently [livejournal.com profile] badgersandjam and I managed a 3rd place as a populace-choice item in the display: pretty good for some plain calligraphy that isn't yet illuminated!

I had included a plain text (eg. printed) version so folks could read it without having to struggle with early Gothic hand.

Robert had a rapt audience for 3 hours in the afternoon, puttering with his pewtering moulds. He'd successfully arranged for his moulds, tools and gas burner to reach the venue (OMG heavy!) without actually being hauled by us on the train(!) which meant he could demonstrate and work using his actual tools, not borrowing or jury-rigging some substitute.

This class was not for raw beginners but for people who were familiar with the carving and casting process and I think the people who attended were just right.

It included J, [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy's other half who has taken to pewtering like he was born to it, as well as Yann who had done some other metal casting (he's since posted his first piece based on what he learned!), and G, a Thamesreach newcomer, who is an experienced maker-of-things and loves the technical business of 'how do you do that?'.

I wandered into Robert's class late in the afternoon to find a great sprawl of moulds and tools across every flat table surface, and every one of the attendees were still there, still absorbed in the work.

I was amused to find the 3 of the Dutch attendees in his class. Polderslot has 2 of the most active pewterers in the kingdom in it. I'd thought they would have had their fill of pewter. We'd done casting just the month before at the event.

When I mentioned this, Snorr said, 'Simeon can demonstrate, but he's not a teacher', which I thought was typically honest, and a compliment to Robert. His teaching skills just keep getting better.

While HG Sir Jonathan had won the Holly Monarch tournament, he and his family weren't staying for feast so he passed his monarchial duties (handing out gifts) to Lord Walter, a gent recently returned to Drachenwald from a stay in Atlantia, who worked hard to distribute the many many gifts.

I was charmed when he approached me, said 'I'm not supposed to ask, so I hope you'll just accept this gift', and I found written on it 'for a young lady'. Very sweet! My gift was a very long string of glass beads.

I'm now contemplating how to change them so I'll be more likely to wear them - they'd make a nice string of 3, but I may tweak the bead choices.

The feast by Lady Auriana and Lord Gyles was very impressive, particularly her efforts to ensure everyone with food sensitivities got something to eat.

The ball itself ran long: HE Margaret even said she was surprised folks were still dancing, and was taking requests as her dance list was run out. I had a splendid time, and we even danced one of my all time favourites Rostibolli 'for those who know it', and [livejournal.com profile] nz_bookwyrm managed to fake his way through!

The other treat, aside from the classes, feast, venue, apartment and great company? was getting home midafternoon on Sunday with enough time to recover for work.
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2014-12-05 01:33 pm
Entry tags:

Prepped for Yule Ball

All shire fencing kit sent to Yule Ball by the Blessed Folks Who Own Vehicles (BFWOV).

This week I ran 2 mock authorisations for 2 fencers who wanted to attempt authorisation at Yule Ball.

This was helped by one occasional fencer rolling up - someone neither of the new fencers had tried to fight before.

We ran through the authorisation routine, and covered some things they would not have seen at all - melee conventions, rules of engagement, death from behind.

So out of that, one person decided she wants to practice more first before trying to authorise, which I think is really smart for her, and she can go and enjoy the rest of the event.

One person is going ahead with authorisation, marshals permitting.

All scribal bumf packed - light duty this time, as my class doesn't have a handout.

In fact relies heavily on other people showing up to take part. If noone shows up I'm bunking off to head to another class!

All scroll blanks packed, to hand off to [livejournal.com profile] badgersandjam.

Bestiary is packed, along with cover sheet and plain text. I'm curious to see peoples' reactions to a work in progress - I've never put one on display before.

Clothes packed. I waffled over what to pack and settled on my plum gown with fur border, because it hangs so well when dancing. :-)

Robert packed feastgear, including our shiny new treasures from TORM. Wait til you see them!

I'm really looking forward to this event. I love kingdom universities anyway, and it's been years since one was in the principality.

Hope we can pick up wine for the trip en route...though I don't know where I'll pack it.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
2014-07-03 10:06 pm

Recent scroll: Lindquistringe for Viscountess Lena pt 1

Going on a scroll's journey...

Scroll is in Latin, and uses a 12th c Romanesque letter with just a little bit of gold.

Sorry they're not as sharp as I'd like. Looked perfectly sharp when I took them!
cut for longish photo post )
abendgules: (scribing)
2014-03-23 10:43 pm
Entry tags:

V brief update on the weekend

Scriptorium on saturday in Oxford: very fine,  small but perfectly formed attendance. Mixed results on teaching quill cutting, splendid class by [livejournal.com profile] nusbacher on writing in textura quadrata - enough so that I want to try it again.

[livejournal.com profile] badgersandjam was her usual thorough self and ensured it ran smoothly. With the small crowd we wrapped up early-ish, though still managed to miss a train by about 3 minutes and had to wait 25 mins for the next one.

Travelled back w/ her highness and HE Siobhan her lady in waiting, and it was very convivial.

Sunday we were visited and visiting: first by a NZ mate R who dropped off some packing cases; second by Nicholas who is preparing a fine Yule ball and happily walked off with about 12m of lovely linen for banners; third we threw ourselves out the door to meet [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy and J and Gwennie at Paddington station for a pint and dinner, which worked very well.

G has grown, of course, and her 3 and 4 word sentences are perfectly understandable even to non-parents, which is pretty awesome. The whole process of watching someone learn a new language must be absorbing.

Robert and Joel spent the better part of an hour chewing over stone moulds for pewter-casting, and their foibles, and we rounded out the meal by fondling Ary's glorious new coronet and admiring the beautiful work by Baroness Estrid. Gwen explained it goes on Mommy's head (or was possibly asking if she was going to wear it), but Ary declined to model it in the pub.

We left them at Baker St on the Bakerloo line, where they both remarked on how helpful Londoners are with buggies...at least on weekdays. Less so on weekends.

Robert suggested that regular commuters both sympathised with people trying to negotiate the tube with a buggy, AND would also be well motivated to keep people moving, to reach their own trains. So they are self-interestedly helpful.

We've both stepped in to lift one end of a buggy up and down stairs and escalators, to save some perplexed parent the awkward decision of whether to take the kid or the luggage first up a flight of stairs.

On the weekend, you're just stuck with tourists who are trying to manage a trip themselves; they don't have the same urgent priority to keep moving to get to/from work.

Today Robert hauled many of our broken down cardboard boxes from the attic, and assembled them. He even filled two with one shelf-full of paperbacks.

The move is really happening - though I'm not committing the address to memory til I have a contract in hand.

Even with the move, however, Monday the Gaming Night continues at least this week, and it looks like will continue at our new digs - at least once we have chairs and a table to sit around.

Haggis has been a determined lap hunter today; seeking a lap and gazing up at me expectantly for loves. Either she really missed me on Sat or she can feel the change in the air.
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2014-01-09 03:28 pm

A writ for the kingdom artisan

Working against the clock, I didn't have time to take pictures - but [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy did a lovely job. It looks even better in her pictures than I remembered it when I made it.

This writ was to mark HE [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy's winning the kingdom arts and sciences competition. She is thus the kingdom artisan for the coming year. It's not really an award from the Crown because they didn't choose her - the judges did. So it's more a acknowledgement of her accomplishment.

To find a medieval example text, I used two texts from Henry V's chancery, one where he is similarly giving his royal assent to a decision made by others (the church making someone a bishop) 1417C81/1364/41Signet of Henry V , and another where he delegates an appointee's commission to his recipient 1417C81/1364/36Signet of Henry V, leaving the fine details for a trusted clerk to figure out.

12th night is also called Epiphany, so I used that description as a date, rather than the exact calendar date - there's only one 12th night per anno societatus.

The calligraphy is a bit wobbly, but the overall effect is what I was after - something fine and businesslike, little fuss and muss. I fell back on a fine metal nib, not a quill, for this piece - I'd spent a lot of time trimming my existing nibs to get them finer, but could not get any finer than just under 1 mm - it's ok, but not as fine as I wanted.

I hold one of the copies of the kingdom seal, and have used it regularly over several years; the other seal is my own, made by my lord Robert for me last year. It's made of silver, and has my arms and a motto from the opening of the gospel of John ('In the beginning was the word'), and Ary's pictures show them both beautifully.

Robert spent well over an hour fiddling with hot and cold beeswax to get a really good impression of these two seals - he deserves the credit for the way they turned out.

One of the things I make for regalia is small purses, modelled on (surprise!) surviving seal bags and reliquary bags. They use up scraps of velvet and silk, and are finished with embroidery floss fingerbraid and beads.

So for the first time, I had a seal bag handy...to really go over a seal. Unfortunately I couldn't fit a second bag over my own seal and fit it all in the package for mailing! so I wrapped it in card and crossed my fingers for transit.

The seal cord is silk fingerbraid, by HG Alessandre Melusine, a narrow wares mavin, who keeps me stocked on request.

Text reads:

By þe kyng and quene Worshipful fader in god.   Fforasmuche as we haue vnderstande that our Welbeloued roial sister Aryanhwy merch Catmaael is chosen kingdom artisan,   Wherof we hald vs wel agreed and therto we yeue our assent Roial and we wol wel þat ye do make vnder our greet seel a Commission to þe same Aryanhwy suche as ye þenke resonable and necessarie for þe goode and care of owre gildes and craftsmen to be not longre than one hoole yeare.
Yeuen in oure chastel Attemarke at holie Epiphanie AS XLVIIJ vnder our signet

Ary writ

Lovely closeup of the kingdom seal - you can even see the custom addition of cat fur in the velvet behind the seal...

kingdom seal

View of my own seal, threaded on a scrap of scribbled-on vellum.
Genevieve seal

Nice view of the text. Proofreading it afterwards, I had to squeeze in the year - whoops.
text and signature
abendgules: (winter arabesque)
2013-12-30 02:22 pm

Low key Christmas round ours

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: (Romanesque_Initial)
2013-10-19 07:32 pm
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Mystery initials from my new love, the Arnstein Bible

This week I discovered the extent of a collection in the British Library that I'd dipped into before, but hadn't examined carefully.

They're a group of books from Arnstein, created in the late 12th century, and they have some of the richest and most cheerful and engaging dragons I've seen.

This group includes the Arnstein Bible, MS Harley 2798 and MS Harley 2799 and its friends the Arnstein Passional MS Harley 2800, Harley 2801 and Harley 2802,  plus assorted hangers on from the same source: Harley 3045, called Hrabanus Maurus, and several volumes of Gregory the Great - clearly so great he went on at great length, or at least was popular to copy: Harley 3052, Harley 3053, and about four other Gregories that have only a couple of interesting figures online.

I'd used one figure from this group before, and while I'd printed off several images from the first bible, for some reason now these figures and shapes have really caught my eye, and I'm thinking more about how to do them effectively.

The calligraphy hand in the first book is my favourite - it's all 'protogothic' but while the artist is identified as the same, I don't think the same scribe worked on all of these. The hand in the Passional, book one, has a different letter height, and looks blockier and stiffer to me - it's still the same letterforms, but I think a different person was behind the pen.

Here's the initial I used this winter: a cheerful dragon for a U/V letter, perfect for Sir Vitus as recipient. I like him so much I may use him again. Teh clicky takes you to the big version...

Zoomorphic initial

This is what has prompted my question to the Dragon scribes list about how to draw spirals: I'm certain there's a knack to it, I just don't know it yet.

So I've started an A-Z index of letters for this group of manuscripts, copying the URLs for the large images, sometimes with notes. There's a glut of Ps, probably fault of St. Paul. But enough Ds, Ms and Fs to keep me busy for years.

There's even some initials that are a bit of a mystery - there's not enough context to guess what they should be, no matter how funky they look.

Any guesses? M? O?

Zoomorphic initial

Here's another; Q on its side? D tipped over backwards? scribal error turned into decorative filigree?

Decorated initial

This could be an H, an I or J, or K: could work for any of them...
Decorated initial

Here's a T (pretty obvious) - what's less obvious is that the critters appear to be hanging the man. The comments say the animals are sheep, but they could just as easily be goats, I think.

Inhabited initial

For the Hbranus Maurus, the artwork is in the same style, but perhaps the patron spent more, or the artist got a grant from the Arts Council or something - the colours are bold, crisp, deep where before they were mid-tone, and sometimes uncoloured. It also includes several acrostics (poems where the lines downward form text as well as across).

Text page with initial

See? deeper hues, and three shades of each colour to create depth. And gold, some of them. And silver, which is unusual. And external penwork (dots, outlines). And whitework. Each line-item of art style costs more.  The later ones also appear to have fewer dragons, and more foliage instead.

And yet, I like the light-touch versions of the same shapes and foliates better somehow. Or at least, I don't automatically love the full-fat painted-in ones most.

Anyway: I'm enchanted. It's hard to feel angry when looking at great art.
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2013-09-29 09:39 pm
Entry tags:

A wee taster

Snippet of a scroll for presentation at Crown. This is part of my resolution to use quills, except in dire need for speed.

This piece doesn't have the sharpest thin lines, but it's good overall. I just couldn't get the thin lines continuously.

hedgepig crop
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2013-09-12 09:02 am
Entry tags:

Also on Dragonscribes - when cats keep scribes (or librarians) company

Photos from a historian's study of Croatian business documents - Flickr

Story written up in April.

Cheers [livejournal.com profile] dr_zrfq! I posted it to Dragonscribes too.

Cat paw prints on a medieval manuscript

Cats and scribing, what's not to like? Beats work any day.
abendgules: (callig_cats)
2013-07-05 12:39 pm
Entry tags:

Glue and other gilding topics from Natural Pigments

I think I've heard of this source before, but haven't explored it for shopping as it's US-based. But their articles and forum look very useful.

All about animal glue, from Natural Pigments

Blurb about rabbit-skin glue, yet another binder to try

Articles about gilding, from Natural Pigments
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2013-07-05 12:24 pm
Entry tags:

Gesso de Bologna - anyone got a gilding recipe?

Last weekend Robert and I made our way to the Vitus-haus to enjoy an afternoon of folding canvas pavilions, restashing the medieval-camping trailer and sword work on the pell. (Ok, we don't get out much.)

So we did all these things - us, Ozbeg and Katherine, Earl Paul and Lady Anne, Isabel and Vitus, and alternately helped and held up by assorted children.

It was a beautiful afternoon, so a fine time to be out of our own house and in someone's garden and you never go hungry in this crowd. The BBQ groaned under the weight of sausages, marinated chicken parts and chicken livers (way better than I expected), and Saturday is ice-cream day for the kids.

And I had a fine intro to two-hand sword with Paul, who is quite knowledgeable in matters two-handed-sword related, particularly the distinction between German and English styles. He's got all the fancy names for positions down pat, and can explain why you move from one position to the next in a very clear way with his usual cheery enthusiasm.

I was talking over illumination and gilding with Katherine (who is starting illumination, and was trying out different mixes).

Vitus over heard me talking about what gesso is made of. 'Oh', he says, 'you should use Gesso di Bologna for the filler, like I did when I was priming this box with gesso and bone glue'.

(It stank, said Isabel, even from the garage you could smell it...)

'Sure' says I, whenever you have a load of gesso di bologna, let me know. It's very expensive and you get huge quantities, when you only need tiny amounts. (Cornelissen's smallest quantity is 1kg, when I might need a teaspoon's worth at a time.)

He stares at me, then reaches down (he's standing in the garage as we're reloading the trailer) and picks up a 5kg bag of gesso di Bologna.

Apparently when you're Vitus, you buy it on the Internet from a German source in industrial quantities. Why am I not surprised?

So now, on top of every other esoteric ingredient for gilding, I have a lifetime supply of gesso di Bologna...and so does Katherine. I helped myself to some Ziplocs and we each made off with about a cupful, earnestly hoping neither of us got stopped by the cops carrying a bag of white powder.

SO: does anyone have a recipe for gesso that uses this stuff? how is it different from plaster of Paris, or is it suspiciously similar? Anyone got any success stories?

Since Ozbeg doesn't travel w/out his iPad, I was able to point Katherine to the recipe's of Mistress Yvianne's, which are almost identical to Mistress Oriane's. Both these call for slaked plaster vs the Bologna powder; Oriane uses coffee sugar rather than honey (less control over what goes into honey), but otherwise quantities are very similar.

This isn't directly related to my 30-day challenge, but it's part of the Great Gilding Project which may yet take off again.
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2013-06-10 03:20 pm
Entry tags:

Weekend of quill-wrestling

Slow start to today. I blame the weekend.

I spent much of the weekend trying to get quills to work, again.

I have successfully cut and used quills in the past for calligraphy. What I realised after watching some footage of someone use a quill on BBC, though, is that my quills are quite stiff - the footage showed a very long nib flexing beautifully as the writer's hand started to draw the pen downward into a straight stroke. And I realised that while the stiff quill nibs work, a softer nib might work better.

Looking closely at my nibs, I realised my pens were getting short (ie getting closer and closer to the feathery bit of the feather), where the hollow tube of the quill gets thicker. So my nibs were thickening, possibly adding to their stiffness.

I grudgingly hauled out my supply of quills and looked through what I had to hand.

I'd dried quite a number of quills at least two? three? years ago during my last round of quill-keenness, and had started cutting them, but not used them. So I pulled them out to see what kind of shape they were in.

The answer? Brittle, that's what shape they were in.

However: they are long, and much thinner-walled than my working quills. So I've set aside my previously-working quills, and even thrown one out(!), in favour of working to develop thinner-walled, flexible nibs....

Cue a great deal of trimming, scraping, scooping, poking, testing, and cursing.

Some notes:
- quills are handed (winged?) so that right-wing quills sit best in the left hand for writing and vice-versa.
- they are also not perfectly round, they're oval, and the oval shape means you should check how the pen wants to sit in your hand, *before* cutting the barrel. It's clear now that I'd not taken this into account in my earlier attempts, which would explain why I found it hard to keep the earlier quill at the right angle, when it wanted to sit differently in my hand.
- I'd taken a cue from Mistress Caitlin de Courcy about how she cuts her quills - rather short. She has a steady supply of swan feathers from birds in Edinburgh, which gives her a selection of quite large-barrelled quills. My own supply isn't quite so plentiful, and so with narrower barrels, I may have to cut my nibs differently.

....well, might have just found the source of some of my problems. Should have RTFM earlier...

The manual in this case is Edward Johnston's book about Writing Illuminating and lettering. Johnston is responsible for the 'revival' of calligraphy as an art at least in England. It's a huge book, and I've extracted pages 51-85 which are mostly about pens, positioning, etc. Pp 51-60 is about cutting quills and reeds.

I just realised...I've been trimming the points of the nibs the wrong way, sloping the wrong way. No wonder the damned things didn't work. I wrote one scroll 3 times, cursing the whole way through two, because the pens weren't working smoothly. I had a deathgrip on one to such an extent my forearm is still sore today.


I feel like an idiot.

Ok, well, that answers my questions about getting quills to work. Move along, nothing to see here.
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
2013-06-05 03:04 pm
Entry tags:

Dropping hints like bricks....

pity my birthday isn't for months yet.

Tod's Stuff - pen knife

I'm cutting more quills and finding my scalpels aren't quite right anymore. Drool...
abendgules: (scribing)
2013-02-04 08:50 pm

30 day challenge, day 22

Posted one item from Investiture to Dragon's Scribes. A second one is TBA.

Generally pleased with it, and the photos don't show up the flaws of the gilding. :-)

I think I'll do more in this hand, because it was a real delight to practice.

Work is full-on this week while my mgr is away. Knackered.
abendgules: (ohnoes_omg)
2013-01-28 12:23 pm
Entry tags:

Can't talk busy workin'

Having a brain again means I'm actually paying attention at work and doing work, not surfin'.
So fewer posts.

Annoying trip into deepest East End London to pick up a package from FedEx; it's amazing how a company dedicated to convenience is so crap at being convenient.

Excellent scribing on the weekend, looking forward to doing more callig, and some gilding, for delivery this week.

Also spent an afternoon with the splendid Teddy, working with his smocking device.

He and his beloved have a wonderful house in W'don, tailored to them, stuffed to the gills with their treasures of reenactment, Far Isles, and cons of every flavour, reflecting their love of fine clothes in every setting.

They also share the house with a mature gentleman cat named Edward. Sigh.

On the smocking we had mixed success, broke a lot of needles, but the end result (sometime next month) will make my sweetie the belle of the ball...eventually! Hopefully in time for Crown.
abendgules: (downhill)
2013-01-25 12:42 pm
Entry tags:

bits and pieces

I'm now feeling more human, as in functional and thinking, rather than just walking, talking variety. Coughing mostly limited to morning, and far less serious.

This bout reminded me that my dad suffered from lingering coughs for years and years, long before his most frail years.  I wasn't terribly sympathetic at the time - Dad was a hypochondriac of the first order so giving any time to his ailments was risky (one of those vexing people who, if you said, 'how are you?' as a greeting, he'd tell you, in detail!) - but as I'm aging, I'm remembering him.

Dad was a longterm smoker, and lived with smokers, like the rest of his generation. He grew up in an industrial region of NE England, long before anyone considered occupational health, and then lived through WWII. I've always thought his asthma and emphysema (now called COPD) was life-related, rather than genetic.

Similarly, his father was a painter and decorator, and worked with all the best chemicals for that purpose that the 20th century could create (lead paints, solvents, etc) with little concern for his breathing, and unsurprisingly he was short of breath in old age.

Returned to the gym this week, testing the waters cautiously for coughing fits. Haven't keeled over yet.

Am still working on my 30 day challenge, but have taken time to do commissions. I'm expecting to incorporate gilding into at least one.

Even though I've not mastered authentic gilding, the main upshot of the 30 day challenge for me is that I'm not afraid of it anymore; afraid of getting it wrong, and afraid of using the wrong stuff. I've now seen that both the authentic stuff works (for flat gilding) and the easy-peasy one-step gilding sizes, and I can use what works, as needed. 

This is a good thing (TM) since I've long avoided exemplars with a much gilding, and have grudgingly used gouache as needed to accommodate any. I can now do better, and am free to choose those exemplars that include gilding without fear.

Ok it's not fear like fear of the dark or something - more that I don't like biting off more than I can chew artistically, and falling short (though this is a tried-and-true method for lots of folks, and guaranteed to teach you lots).

I'd much rather do something well within my capability, and do it really well. I generally avoid human figures, a lot of naturalistic details, and complex shading on this basis.

But adding gold to the repetoire, even in small quantities, opens up loads more options. 

Last weekend we went to the Hobbit, and I started a review, but now that I have a brain, I'm actually working at work, rather than blogging, so it's not finished.

Short version: The Hobbit - a disappointing journey. 

abendgules: (slope)
2013-01-22 10:02 am
Entry tags:

30 day challenge day 21 - relief!

I'm counting this as a day, since it makes a big difference.

At the shire meeting, Mistress Oriane asked about my progress, and I complained about my dry non-sticky gesso.

She said she'd been working on a batch herself, and had had to double the sugar(!) to get it to a sticky state - something in the conditions here are different, that require a different mix. 

Relief! and I said so, as I'd thought it was just me.

'It probably is just you' said [livejournal.com profile] nusbacher helpfully. What are friends for?

SO: I go home with intent to either add a teeeeeeny amount of sugar to the current gesso (I was thinking dissolving some sugar into the water, then letting a new gesso button soak in it)...I'm not quite up to knocking out a new batch of gesso, not without at least trying to salvage what I have.

But hurrah - if Oriane has to change her old-faithful gesso recipe to work in southern England, I feel much better.
abendgules: (slope)
2013-01-19 09:03 pm
Entry tags:

30 day challenge, day 20

Well, it's gilding, but not as most people know it.

Tried another button of gesso today - just 3 drops of water this time, and let it soak, and then worked with a brush to dissolve it. Had a really smooth consistency, with no bubbles or lumps.

Painted it onto some samples, let it dry. Tried lots of breathing on it, then transfer gold...nuthin'. Nothing stuck, except a tiny fringe around the edges in one corner. It was dry dry dry.

I added a layer of gum arabic on top, and reapplied the transfer gold.

This mostly worked, at least after a few tries; it sometimes took several applications to complete the cover.

As usual the pictures don't convey the project very well. But basically, it's fairly flat gilding but not as flat as if there were no gesso at all. It's not mirror finish, but is reasonably even, no lumps and fairly straight edges, that can be smoothed a bit more with a knife.

It is not perfect - one patch on one of the rectangles wouldn't take gold, not for nuthin'. I painted over it with more gum arabic, and tried again, and filled the patch, but I can see it.

I have no idea if this gesso + gum arabic has any basis in medieval practice.

jan2013 005

jan2013 001

On this one, you can see a bit of 'bleed' on the right-hand piece, on the right bar. I don't know how this happened, because neither the gesso, nor the gum arabic, appeared to bulge when I applied them. The bulge appeared only after I applied the gold, and the gum arabic seemed to have spread as if going through a hole. I scraped off most of it, but the unevenness remains.

jan2013 004

SO: I have no idea what the issue is. It's as if the gesso has mass and body, but no stickyness at all.