Over the years, clients have requested a short dedication lettered in the front of a Bible, they are gifting to a special person. This Christmas, I was asked to letter in The Message Bible, which didn’t have a specific page with the “To” and “From” lines in it. In a way, I was so glad, because publishers don’t always plan those pages well for the calligrapher and the ink. They are often slick paper, don’t take pencil guidelines well and don’t erase well, if you do add a pencil line. Very frustrating. I would love a matte finish on this type of page.
This Bible, referred to the client because it is a very easy to read version, has wonderful end papers with a delicious color. It took pencil lines well, too. I used liquid metallic gold acrylic (so it wouldn’t smear when dry) and lettered directly on the crimson end page with Engrosser’s Script, a style that I learned from my father, who studied with Lupfer, of the Zanerian College. I went off script a little with the flourishes. The oblique pen – which was hand made by Dao Huy Hoang, is made of holly wood, so as you can guess, I bought it because my name is Holly. This simple entry was well received by my client and his sweet recipient.
I have been absent for some time from the Blog-o-sphere. My parents hit their 90’s and the wheels started falling off, so for a season, I have been attending to their needs. My father, Clifford Mansley, Sr. was a wonderful engrosser and studied at the Zanerian College of Penmanship. I have a boatload of his work in my Oregon studio. He is now in assisted living. As I go through his supplies, I occasionally find treasures.
This past Saturday, I was sharing some of my gold leaf experience with engrossing expert David Grimes, most particularly, the Cennini gesso method for raised gilding. In the process of cleaning out my gold leaf drawers, I came across an envelope containing pumice and some directions for it’s use. What interests me is that it came from the Knoedler Engrossing Studio in Philadelphia, a studio that my father used to freelance for, when we lived in Germantown in the late 1950’s.
In the picture, you will see directions for the use of pumice (note: he also called it French Chalk) on sheepskin. Engrosser’s used to use sheepskin for diploma’s. It was a big business back then, hence the expression/question, ‘Where did you get your sheepskin?’ i.e., what college/university did you attend? I recall my father sitting at his drawing board hand lettering names on certificates and creating resolutions for very accomplished people, as he worked for Knoedler.
Pumice on a skin, pictured below. It’s very fine. Grittier than baby powder, much finer than sand.
Although I have some sheepskin in my flat files, purchased from Steve Ziller, Sr (of Kansas City) before he passed away, I currently use calfskin. I find that calfskin is less greasy than sheepskin. It is more of an off-white color while sheepskin at it’s finest, is whiter. Both, in my estimation, need the help of pumice to draw the grease to the surface, especially if the skin sits for awhile. Process: sand skin with fine sand paper, rub in pumice and brush it off. Once this simple process is completed, you will achieve more precise pen strokes and finer hairlines.
Calfskin is pictured below with a little aside. Did you know that the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were all ‘engrossed’ on calfskin? Go to www.Patrigraphica.com to see my rendition of the Founding Documents, i.e. The Charters of Freedom. I’m guessing that they may have used pumice on them, too!
Numerous projects to share with you as I catch up on my blogging! I’ll be back soon!