Updated July 2014
There's a few entries that have no links - when I find a picture I'll post it. I'm astonished I could have missed so many.
( Years of scrolls!Collapse )
- Current Mood: creative
All about animal glue, from Natural Pigments
Blurb about rabbit-skin glue, yet another binder to try
Articles about gilding, from Natural Pigments
- Current Mood:intrigued
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.
- Current Mood: amused
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.
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 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.
- Current Mood: relieved
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.
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.
SO: I have no idea what the issue is. It's as if the gesso has mass and body, but no stickyness at all.
- Current Mood: artistic, sort of
I haven't used a quill in some months, but I really wanted these pieces to be as completely medieval-made as possible (didn't quite make it, the size and transfer gold are modern, though the gold is real). The results weren't as smooth as they could have been with a metal nib, but frankly I was pleasantly surprised they were as good as this.
One silly mistake: I use my slope almost all the time for scribing, and I forgot you need a flat surface to lay the size on the parchment, otherwise it pools at the lowest point. So I can see a pool of size in the foot of the P, where it gathered overnight.
One very cool aspect: Robert made me an inscrbing tool for making lines in parchment.
Somewhere, I've read, that the lines you see in manuscripts aren't pencil - they're silverpoint. The scribes used a silver-tipped 'pencil' to indent the lines in the parchment. What you now see is the effect of tarnished silver embedded in the parchment, which has turned dark with years. But initially, you would not have seen it.
So Robert took a piece of broken arrow (lots of them in this house) and inserted a nail in one end, to create a slightly blunted point. It's sharp enough to make a line, but not so sharp that it breaks the surface of the parchment.
You can just see the shade of these lines on the pic.
There's a large space at the bottom, so that it could be folded and sealed, as well as signed. I'll have to ask Matthewe to bring it to an event, to ensure this happens, because I know I didn't manage to convey that before it was given out.
ETA: link to the full text on Robert's wiki
- Current Mood: hopeful
To my great annoyance, the picture of the whole scroll is poor, though you can see the gist of it: I was finishing just before packing and running out the door to catch a train, so I didn't take the time on the pictures. It looks lopsided, because I was shooting from an angle, trying to get the shine on the gold.
The closeup of the initial was good, and you can see the texture of the parchment well.
The large word KNOW is on purpose, not a scribal goof - it's modelled on a 16th c grant of arms from the English college of heralds, that doesn't use capital letters to start sentences, but uses large 'miniscule' letters instead. Proper names are capitalised though. In the photo I have in a book, there's no sign of periods to end sentences either but the photo may simply not show them.
Again, the slopey-ness of the text is from the angle of the picture, not in the original. Honest.
- Current Mood: pleased
SO: freshly armed with beautifully finely-ground gesso, I tackled my next round of samples.
And I get a new problem.
Mistress Oriane had reminded me of working 'wet into wet' on gesso, rather than waiting for the gesso to dry before adding a new layer. This technique is important in other arts where you want to get a smooth even coating, like silk painting.
So I'm carefully doing the lines on my samples wet into wet, and very carefully keeping the rectangular areas wet with gesso for an even coat. It's a thinner gesso than before, but still workable. We're going swimmingly.
Then I leave it to dry... and come back to what looks like a volcanic surface. Sigh.
The pics are a bit blurry, but I think you can see the bubbles in the rectangles.
When I'd read about bubbles, I thought scribes had meant tiny pinhole bubbles that happen whe you mix something quickly and get air trapped in the mix.
These bubbles are not pinhole bubbles. I think they're from the surface buckling under the gesso layer, as it's drying, and the gesso pushing up while retaining its surface tension (rather than leaking outside the area).
Unfortunately, by the time I reach them, they're dry and brittle. and crack when you touch them. They are not fixable with a fine pin.
The lines of gesso are fine - no extended surface area.
I'm sure this is a positive development, somehow.
I no longer have gritty gesso. I now have fine gesso, that doesn't bleed, which is good. It draws nicely in lines, which is also good.
But it needs...something. I'm not certain what. I wonder about re-wetting them, to see if they'll soften and sink.
Because it's not a complete loss, I'm thinking of sanding off the rectangles and recoating these areas.
Has anyone else fixed bubbles like this? Sanding? rewetting? starting over?
I'm sooooooo glad these are not commissioned scrolls. I'd have packed it in on day 2 if I was under a deadline.
- Current Mood: somewhat vexed