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Anatomy of a Pelican

Well, it's done and delivered.  One HUGE major mistake - can someone please tell me why I dated it September instead of March?  Where the hell did that come from?  Well, as threatened, behind the cut is the process.  There are folks on my f-list who are doing much nicer work than I am, so I'll appreciate it if they'll keep the snickering to a minimum.  Heck, I'm almost ten years out of practice.

Step one - layout.  This is the fussiest part for me, because a mistake here will reverberate through an entire piece.  I had one where I made a stupid mistake and ended up having to scrap the entire piece after the calligraphy was done because it was fatally out of balance.  In this case, I was adapting a two page layout from the Macclesfield Psalter and I wanted it to be the same size as the original.

Obviously after there are lines, there should be letters...

Sketching is next.  I sketch in pencil and then go over with ink.  I'm using a pointed nib these days instead of a technical pen.  Regular pain in the butt, it is.

But this picture is exactly the same as the other one, you say.  Notice the extra shine.  That would be the fish glue ground for the gold.

Speaking of which - gold!  This is the first time I've tried fish glue for flat gilding.  Cut with gilder's garlic.  Quite the aroma.  Flat gold is hard to photograph well - at least for me.

After gold comes paint making and base coats.  I always hate the piece after the base coats go down, because it looks incredibly crayola without the shading or detailing.  Crude.

and a closeup...

Last comes the white work and detail, which softens everything.

But the cool part (at least to scribal geeks...) The back...

See how you can see *through* the vellum?  That's how the real ones look.  I did it as though someone had taken the center page out of a gathering of a book about Jan.  Obviously in previous pages there was a description of his knighting, followed by the duties of the chivalry which end on "page 1."  Pages 2 and 3 are the pelican, followed on page 4 by the duties of the pelican.  The hard part was to figure out where to start the duties of the chivalry so that they would end in the correct place.  Once the lettering and sketching on the back was done, I creased it with a bone folder and added "stitch holes" with an embroidery needle.

I'm pleased.  He's pleased.  Hopefully I'll be back up to snuff soon.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2009 04:36 am (UTC)
Wow...Eloise wow. I know you say you're out of practice but this is still a stunning piece.

The most fascinating part for me is your use of period materials. Fish glue and gilder's garlic...really? That is simply incredible to me. That's a dedication to detail that is truly impressive.

Also, the addition of whitework to the bright colors always makes me gasp with joy. Such an awesome technique and you do it so well!

I totally have to pimp this on my LJ, you know.
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
I'm noticing the pimpage traffic. Thanks! Feedback is always fun, and it's the thing I've missed with being out of the loop.

*I* can see all of the places where it should have been better. But I'm not as bad off as I had feared. The creative muscles are a little unused, and more importantly my pen calluses are gone (!), but I'm pleased with where I'm starting. I was worried for a while that I'd be ashamed to admit that I was a C&I laurel.

Yup - period materials is my new thing. It just looks so much more *right* when you use the correct materials. And honestly, making paint out of eggs is fun!

Now I have a pair of Tyger's Cubs due for coronation in two weeks. I promise more pictures.
Mar. 31st, 2009 06:28 am (UTC)
I came over here because of merimask's pimpage. This is so beautiful!

::wishes she could do stuff like that::
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Here's the secret - you don't need artistic ability as much as you need patience, and the ability to look at a page and break it down into it's original pieces. Then you build it back up on your page. I can teach people who "can't draw." I can't teach people who say "I can't do it" because they tried and failed once. Not everyone has the patience required, but I hate that people don't try because they think they're not an artist.

I read the story meri linked to - absolutely wonderful! I'm still thinking about it here at work.
Mar. 31st, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
I too came through Merimask's pimpage and that... is GORGEOUS. Wow! I applaud you madam! *stands and applauds*
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
Awwww... My head won't fit through the door soon...
Mar. 31st, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
You have a 6-month old? Sept-March is 6 months?
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)
Re: um...
Actually, I think I figured it out in the car this morning. When I'm spacing things to leave a blank, I use "September twenty-eighth" because it is the longest possible date to spell out. I must have clicked into automatic when I saw the 28th.

Or I'm just sleep deprived and kind of stupid right now. :-)
Mar. 31st, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
Re: um...
Isn't "twenty-seventh" longer, esp. if you use u for v? Or am I at the end of a long workday and not counting aright?

(honest enquiry--I'd never thought to do that for spacing--I always leave some space and then abbreviate as necessary to fit it. A very period way of doing it, but not pretty.)
Apr. 1st, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: um...
When I've measured them out, "eighth" has always taken more room than "seventh." That may just be a peculiarity of my hand.

But since I don't do blanks any longer, it doesn't really matter one way or the other (except for when it hijacks my consciousness. And that may be the sleep deprivation...)
Mar. 31st, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is absolutely stunning. I can't believe that you are 10 years out of practice!
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
That's because you never saw the stuff I was doing before I dropped away from it. But I'm hoping to be back at the top of my game quickly. Otherwise I have to stop buying illumination books.
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
I had the privilege of admiring that in the royal room before court. It is absofuckinlutely GORGEOUS! The back was a very neat detail too.

If this is what you do when you're out of practice, I can't imagine what you'll be like when you get back in the swing of things.
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Be afraid. Be very afraid... ;-)

I want to be that person again that people say "I'd like a scroll by Eloise someday." Right now it's "Eloise who?"
Mar. 31st, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
Well, in the highly unlikely event that they decide I deserve a peerage, can I put my order in now? (I can't see it happening, but I suspect lucianus and jdulac have other plans and will beat me into shape one way or the other.)

Edited at 2009-03-31 05:24 pm (UTC)
Mar. 31st, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
Why, of course. Just make sure that they know, and they'll take care of the rest. At least, that's how it's always worked before...
Mar. 31st, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Knowing them, they'll be looking for someone who's part of the extended family to do it. They're good like that. I think C&I is probably about the only thing lucianus doesn't do. But I might be wrong :)
Apr. 1st, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
Having known lucianus for as long as I have, I like to think I count as extended family...
Apr. 1st, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)
Oh most definitely!
Mar. 31st, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
And then there's a whole bunch of us who hear the name 'Eloise' and expect to see some teeny teeny fine script and fine details that just blow us out of the water.

If you call *this* rusty, I think you're underestimating what the rest of us consider _rusty_.

For the first scroll done in a while, I'd say this is more than just "pretty damn good".
But I'm just a smidge biased toward your work, so there.
Apr. 1st, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
Nice to know that there's a few folks out there who remember me. Now I just need to get the two pieces done for Coronation...
Mar. 31st, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
Bloody hell
That's fantastic. I'm about ten years out of practice, too, and I never was as good as you. That's the Arianrhod in me talking.

The Sela in me says "Wastit on ain of his ilk."

(Jan posted me the link by the by, in case you're wondering how I found you. Time was I was Iron Bog and an entire Kingdom cheered when I moved to Drachenwald :)
Mar. 31st, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Bloody hell
Dang girl, you pop up in strange places :-)

I'll put up the medallion on my LJ so you can see that.

...and yes, the document was freakin' gorgeous and Jan loved it.
Apr. 1st, 2009 09:10 am (UTC)
Re: Bloody hell

Mar. 31st, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
Wow...just, wow.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )