The Modern Book of Hours Continues – pages 90 and 91

To my calligraphy friends near and far! Here is a little update on the Modern Book of Hours that I am working on. It is a book about the Passing of Time, Seasons, Seasons of Life on into Eternity. The pages shown below are pages 90 and 91.  In this blog post, I will give you a little glimpse of the process. More in future blogs. As some of you might know, my client commissioned a 144-page book project, that has taken me quite some time. Each facing page is to match and be as intricate as possible. It is a picture book, where each design can stand alone. (Reproductions are available). I will be making a Collection category of The Book of Hours images on my website in the near future. A few are posted in my SHOP now.

Now for the process…

The first image is the completed page. Calfskin with tiny strokes of watercolor and 23k gold powder applied and burnished.

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My client typed the wording that he desired and indicated whether it would go on the right or the left page. It was my job to imagine the creative layout for the illustration and calligraphy.

A pencil rough was the first step of the process. It took 2-3 years to conceive of all of the designs. In their intricacy, I would email them to my out-of-town client and he would ask for adjustments, I would rescan and when we settled on the design, I would file it away in my computer for future reference….it would then be transferred onto calfskin for the final gold and color work. On the right, below, is a sample of the pencil sketch with it’s final on the left.

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Below is what the calfskin looks like when I purchase it from Pergamena. It’s manuscript vellum, which I prefer for book projects. It is much finer than what I call Parchment (which I use for Broadsides or work that will be framed).

Full calfskin aka Parchment or Vellum

Full skin which is cut down to page size

Once the skin is prepared, I attach it to a board so it will lie flat while I paint it. By the way, the tape on the upper page/board, is typically not there. The skin had pulled away from the staples, so I taped it with Artists Tape. One mistake on my part was to have the pages cut down too small. As you can see, there is only about 1/8″ margin where the staples sit. I would have liked to have 1/2″ or more margin, which would later be trimmed off of the page. I thought I could get away without hydrating and mounting the skins, but after painting page 3, I realized that stretching the skins would give me a much better result in the end.

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Initially, I made a little paint chart, which helped me to stay on track with my colors. I’m not using all of them on the chart, but these little floret porcelain pallets will show you how I can go back and repeat similar colors on subsequent pages in the book. Using the same blues and greens, etc. gives some continuity, to a unique book.

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Below is page 91 in progress. Lettering still to be lettered. The 24k gold powder, which was burnished to give it some shine, was also debossed to create shiny little dots on the gold. The more detail the better!

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The little container with the lid, on the right, is the liquified 24k gold powder. I add distilled water and then a tiny drop of clear Elmer’s glue to help it adhere to the page. Pictured is one of my miniature Kolinsky hair brushes. This one is a 4/0. Very tiny. There is a line of ‘miniature’ brushes in the Series 7 line, which I found to be extremely helpful in getting the detail. (Many other pages have raised gold on a gesso base).

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And here you can see the agate burnishers. I use any of the 4 on various projects, but on this small page, I used the curved burnisher that is the second one down and the pointed one on the bottom for debossing the dots.

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And once again, below, is the final page. You have to angle the light just right to catch the glint of the gold. The pages will be removed from the boards and I will flip them over for pages on the opposite side. On to the next pages, which will have lettering to resemble Hebrew, wording from the Song of Solomon and the bust of a man and woman facing each other in ornate cloaks. Stay tuned!

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A Modern “Book of Hours” on Calfskin with 23k Gold Leaf

Have you ever lettered and painted on genuine calfskin? Laid 23k gold leaf on a handmade gesso base? (Italian recipe). For over 5 years, I’ve been working on a very detailed, modern day Book of Hours – 144 pages in all.  Creating miniature designs with these materials, the best of the best for a calligrapher, has been a delight!

BookOfHoursOne Christmas, when I was wondering how I was going to manage financially, a new client took an interest in my work. He is a lover of handmade books and asked me to make his third. It’s a book of quotes that speak to Ron’s heart and soul…that celebrate Time, Seasons of the Year, Season’s of Life and Eternity. This unique, one-of-a-kind little book is about 6.5″x 9″ in size and only the facing pages completely harmonize with each other. A high end ‘picture book’ of sorts. “Make each page as ornate as you can conceive,” he said. “This project is a gift,” I said, “I’m grateful.” The pages are ornate, but I think if I went as far as my mind could truly conceive, I would never finish. Applying the tiny little strokes with my Winsor Newton Miniature brushes takes hours and hours. A labor of love, for sure!

One of my specialties is Flourishing. I just love working the lines/shapes until the design says ‘extra special.’  Below, see the first page of my client’s
personally authored quote about TIME, enhanced with modernized italic flourishes. (There are 3 additional pages to his thoughts.) He is quite the Renaissance man.

TimeIsLifesVitalCoinThe roundel design below is at the end of the first chapter, pondering Time. Recently, calligraphy guilds have asked me to teach workshops focused on ‘flourishing in the round.’  Come join me sometime!

GodShakesHisFistThere are about 30 more pages or so between the little roundel and the title page to the Seasons chapter that you see below. This is one of my more lively pages–it was lots of fun to think up all of the little seasonal details. (The horizontal gold bars on a page indicate the beginning of a chapter.)

ThereIsNoSeason2A previous article in my Blog shares a bit more about the Book of Hours. Also,
The Greater Cincinnati Calligrapher’s Guild met in my studio to check out my initial progress on the book and to discuss gold, vellum and design. Thanks for taking a look! I’ll post more designs in the future….

 

 

The Season of Love

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! This is a wonderful time of year for a calligrapher. Gentlemen and ladies alike come with their proposals and poems of love, so I know first hand of some of the current Cincinnati romances! Letters, flourishes, colors and gold or silver… you can help me design something unique for your special someone!

Above is my Grow Old Along With Me print, by Robert Browning.  My Falling In Love GREETING CARD was reprinted in November (it’s a best selling print, too) and I restocked some favorite Valentine Cards for Son, Wife, Mom and special Love’s.  Papers that my PRINTS are reproduced on have been upgraded to Fine Art paper from the Archival smooth paper!  Inks colors are vivid and the detail precise. Your loved ones can keep these fine art calligraphy prints as long as they like.

As always, call me to set up a shopping day and let me help you pick out something unique for the people you love!

Gold Leaf Event

This past Saturday I had the privilege of hosting the Cincinnati Book Arts Society (CBAS) and the Greater Cincinnati Calligrapher’s Guild in my studio for a show and tell!  I demonstrated a gold leaf technique and showcased two of the handmade books I’ve been creating.   The Book of Hours –as mentioned in an earlier post and a Baby Book (that I’ll feature in a later post).

 

Pictured below is my dining room table – where I displayed some of the vellum off cuts  I’ve been using to work out color and painting techniques for the book.

 

Book of Hours -Hour Glass Border in progress. See Portfolio > Books for finished work

Below I am laying gold leaf. (My glasses broke the day before–looks almost like a monocle.) I lay my homemade gesso on fine art paper or calfskin, let it dry and then blow on it to humidify. Then the gold is quickly laid on the gesso, touched up and burnished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are a few of the guild members that came to see my studio!   I would love to have you too…..come and visit sometime!

 

Book of Hours

This is page 30 from a project that I’ve been working on for 3 years or so. A Book of Hours….It is a book about the passing of time, seasons, seasons of life on into thoughts about eternity—on genuine vellum (calfskin with 23k gold leaf).

Initially, I sketched out the 144 pages in pencil, scanned them and my wonderful client and I discussed revisions until the pencil was where he was pleased.

Now, I am finished with the butterfly page, so on to the next…. do come visit again as I will post others.