was done by Sabrina Hill in San Diego this year for the session “Writing
on Vellum” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN
May was Month Three in Reggie
Ezell’s Primitive to Modern Class 2017 San Diego. Our homework
assignment from Month 2 (March) was a book using vellum and some of our
newly acquire gilding techniques.
When putting together homework for the
previous month, I had looked up ladybugs and found the universe of
beetles. The bugs look like show girls or drag queens. I thought they
would be the perfect subjects for gilding on vellum.
I started by planning a 3-page vellum
book with 3 beetles, but which ones? With so many beautiful choices, I
decided to expand it and do a Top Ten Beetles book. Well now I was in a
mess. There was not enough vellum for this. I had fig bark paper, and I
liked how it looked with the mottled vellum—crisis averted. But now I
had too many pages. Add more beetles. And that’s how I ended up with
Beetles: A to Z.
Execution does not always go as planned.
The fig paper and a broad nib pen were not the best of friends since the
uncoated unsealed paper acted like a wick for the loaded nib. I
used a Micron pen for much of the writing. The lyrics to All You Need is
Love were written with a Leonardt ball-tipped pointed pen—my new
Winsor Newton watercolors and gouache
were used to paint the bugs and many bugs were brushed with pearlescent
pigment for a super-shimmery bug effect. I used the paints with very
little water on both the fig bark paper and the vellum. All bugs were
outlined with the micron pen and shaded with soft graphite. My first car
was a very used VW Bug that I shared with my sister, so homage is paid
to that beetle as well. I added the words to a Beatles song to use the
remaining extra pages, and finished with a little beetle humor.
This is my first effort in bookbinding. I
will most certainly make more; it was such fun! I used book board
covered with marbled mulberry bark paper (which is almost impossible to
tear) and assembled it using a Coptic binding. The vellum pages were
singles, so I used a folded strip of cream mulberry bark to provide a
fold to stitch then glued the strip on either side of the vellum after
the book was sewn together. I see all the mistakes, but I like my
primitive little book. Doing this book did not make me like bugs any
better. Beetles are well-styled but still creepy!
NOTE: In the May class, Reggie taught us
that the fig bark paper can be sealed with methyl cellulose gel or Knox
gelatin (in a special mixture). I love the paper, so I will try sealing
it in the next project!
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Click to see
several short (free) Calligraphy videos: