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Week #25
This work was done by Stephanie Chao in San Diego this year for the session “Writing on Vellum” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
Stabat Mater

One of our homework assignments from Reggie’s second session was to make a small book incorporating vellum pages.

The vellum offcuts I purchased from Reggie were each about 5 X 7 inches. I wanted to write a moderately lengthy text and chose the Stabat Mater, a 13th C. Latin hymn attributed to a Franciscan friar, that I first became familiar with many years ago through the music composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) at the end of his short life. Scored for soprano and alto soloists, violin, viola, cello, and organ, the duets are some of the most touchingly beautiful music I’ve listened to.
The hymn comprises 20 three-line stanzas. My first attempt was to write it in 1.5 mm x-height with a Mitchell 6 nib, but even with my trusty Optivisor, I found it too difficult; so I increased the guidelines to 3 mm and wrote with a Mitchell 5 without a reservoir.

Although challenging, I found the entire process to be meditative: I listened to Pergolesi’s music repeatedly while writing, gilding, preparing the book covers, and assembling the book using a single sheet coptic binding technique.

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