Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A quick list

Of things that I have been lucky enough to try out and work on over the last few years, not in order of when or how big, but as I can recall them. Do I have pictures of all of them? of course not.

Paper and parchment: Letters and packages, woodcut prints - devotionals, medical drawings

Cloth: Borders - painted, fenestrals - cloth windows, wall hangings, table covers, helmet flags, banners, badges. Painted, printed and or gilded. Cloth includes: silk, linen/hemp and wool.

Wood: pavises - made from scratch and painted and gilded, boxes painted and gilded.

Food: subtleties, paste work, gilded, marchpaine

Areas I want to explore:

Verre Eglomise - gilding on glass then scratching out the design with painting on the back, the link shows a third party file for a 16thc example at the V and A. Earlier examples do exist, process is much the same.

Crests - for funerary achievements or for tournament, fascinating area calling for all the skills available, painting, sewing, carving, modelling etc.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Mini gallery

This might be redone due to me getting used to this medium.

For more images click on my gallery link on the right hand column>>>>>>>>

Zodiac man, late 15thc, early 16thc, from York Barber Surgeons

Letter and package, commission, parchment and conservation paper, oak gall ink, sealing wax

Commission, banner, vermillion, lamp black, antique linen, silver leaf

Commission, badge, antique linen, genuine azurite, gold leaf

Brasil and its wonders.

The batch of 'rose colour' is now drying in a ceramic dish as is the weld yellow. The rose colour is more like a purple pink.

With the excess brasil bath I dyed some silk, I added a little weld to boost the red a bit, let it steep in hot water for a while and overnight in the pot, the result is a vibrant red, it is now drying on the line.

As I don't like wasting anything, the silk will be used as a basis for gilded badges and devices.

Brasil dyed feathers:
There are medieval sources for dyeing feathers, I tried this last year, with the ubiquitous brasil and the reds were fine and visible but what was surprising was that the feathers whilst faded considerably in my she window have retained a fair amount of the colour. I will aim to reproduce this in the summer, conducting a control test by having some wrapped and hidden, the other half exposed to sunlight, pics will be posted.

Why dye feathers? 
Plumes for helmets and crests, presumably for other decorative use - possibly food subtleties
A fragment of text in the Cennini treatise mentions dyed quills for quilling, but nothing more than that tantalising snippet.

I will also try other colours, but not being a dyer will most likely rely on:
reds, yellow and black. I don't have the kit for woad etc.

I have just realised that the 16thc Booke of Secrets -  also mentions quill dyeing, interestingly only the three colours listed above, see here.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Ok, so I wont be winning any blogger of the year awards, seeing as my last post was in late 2007. 

Above images show a textile sample with gilded device and a paper sketch, with gilding, both sent to client. I will try to get client's permission to post an image of the flag in situ.

I was in the shed today and mused about the blog and for some reason thought it was only a few months ago. I was wrong. 

A brief recap on the projects mentioned:

Helmet flag for UK client, went well, I still have reservations about the way he wanted the flag to fly, I don;t think it looked right in that context, in others it might have done.

The US client was over the moon with the purple silk with modelled gilded figures, (click here) I confess to having been rather proud of that project and saw it very much as a labour of love and gladly put my all into it. I wanted to manage the project from a soley modern design led method. Agree brief with the client, sent samples of the idea to the client to agree style and content, plus samples of the intended silk, have design approval, finish project. As it happens there was very little different in that approach to the medievals, ok they didn't have to sort out UPS and send what was a simple job in medieval terms half way across the globe. But the agreement of ideas and style with an acceptance of the artist's personal touch goes way back. As a trained graphic designer it is nice to know that some things have not changed. 

Other projects have included more written reproductions, a few pilgrim letters and some work for the Salt Museum, Northwich, Chester Writers Exhibition, where I was asked to produce and source a number of items that a literate (in the modern sense) late 14thc person might have. It appears that one iteration of Gawaine and the Green Knight was written in the Chester region, hence the request. The items included: pens, wax, paper, written items - namely a page from GatGK and two pen knives, one blunt for visitor handling and the other sharp for use. Both made by the late and very talented John Buttifint, who died last summer (2008) after a long battle with cancer. A finer man you could not want to have dealings with, a superb cutler and someone who relished a real challenge. It was an honour to attend his funeral, in my view a good way of saying goodbye, swapping stories and also renewing old acquaintances. 

I am one of the many lucky people who own some of John's work, knives that are meant to cut, I cut pens and prepare my food with his items and by so doing I remember a decent man and a fantastic craftsman.

Back to weld. I have to send the rest of an order to a client, namely some weld reacted with chalk, to make a yellow colour. Fine, I boiled up some weld and alum and decanted the liquor, I then had the brain wave of making another batch with the leavings, to eke out the colour, I do think like a medieval chap sometimes, save, save, save. So I promptly provided some fresh pee and boiled it up. I left the mixture to steep on a low heat and went to chat to the next door neighbour about his back.  A while later the wife pops her head out and says the mixture is boiling over. I return to the kitchen and the wife complains that the house smells of urine.....oops. She was lucky it was fresh pee, the aged variety as is oft specified is a much headier brew. The yellow was good, although not for the client, for my own 'personal use'.

I have also dyed my new Sally Pointer statute cap, not being a dyer but being a nosey git I tried the old oak gall dye and to be honest was happily surprised with the result, I had to double dye it and the end product is a deepish blue grey, the first dyeing was more a purplish blue grey. There are some areas where the wool has gone very black, mainly because I did not have a pan big enough and I see areas of better steepage. The hat will get well used over the next few years, it will be interesting to see how the dye reacts to sweat and light etc and if the wool degrades appreciably. 

The best thing is I now have enough ink to last me about 8 lifetimes, anyone want some?