Scroll 40: Italian Lace

This assignment, received on a Wednesday afternoon, had a short deadline. It needed to be ready by Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, I knew the recipient and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. In short order, I found a fragment of 16th century Italian bobbin lace at The Met and ran it through Photoshop to reverse the image for use as a tracing template.

With the limited time frame, I designed the scroll as I went, changing the eagles to bows and arrows and placing the figures with more symmetry as I traced out the lace with a micron pen. Too late, I realized I’d forgotten to put the badge of the award in the middle pane, but that was easily remedied by centering and attaching it underneath, which had the added benefit of introducing a bit of gold color. I knew better than to try to get gold into the lace itself.

Better, but it needed more gold. I thought an illuminated letter might work, but wasn’t sure enough to commit right away. So, I traced an outline out in pencil then sketched in design elements borrowed from the lace above to tie it together. Satisfied that it was an improvement, I inked and gilded it.

As if these challenges weren’t enough, I also decided to do the calligraphy in a hand that was brand new to me, Carolingian Minuscule. Using a strip of perg I had trimmed off the blank page when I cut it down to 8×10, I wrote out the alphabet to confirm that I could pull it off. It also gave me a nice reference sheet I could hold right above my work. Honestly, the hardest part about this hand was trying to remember NOT to dot the “i”s. I forgot more than once and had to go back and scrape them off after the ink dried. Unfortunately, adding the calligraphy somehow made the illuminated letter look out of place. To solve the problem, I filled in some of the white space with the lace scaffolding used above.

Materials: Printer, light table, 8″x10″ pergamenata, ruler, Ames lettering guide, pencil, eraser, 01 micron pen, metal scraper, Finetec Tibet gold paint, Princeton heritage 2/0 round paint brush, Speedball Super Black ink, dip pen