I had asked their Majesties if they (or Efridis) had any particular preferred style, but didn't get any answer, so that meant I was free to choose what I wanted. Halloween night I curled up with Smeyers, Flemish Miniatures, going through all my bookmarks and also flipping through the rest of the book to see if anything new caught my eye; it's been a year or two since I've last gone through the book for inspiration, and I know my abilities have improved in the interim. Plus, since I have about two months, I wanted to pick something that would push me a bit. I found something I liked in Smeyers that night, but the next morning wasn't as enthused -- I wanted something with more fine detail, and more gold. So the next morning I pulled out some of my other books, and Gwen and I curled up on the couch to look at pretty pictures (her enthusiastic "wow"s were very cute), and we found two on p. 78 and p. 80 of Englische Buchmalerei der Gotik 1200 - 1500, plates from two BL manuscripts:
Throughout the day whenever she'd let me (either by napping or by playing with herself), I started sketching things out, combining elements from the two designs, and *gasp* making up a few of my own. I got everything sketched out (except for a few small pieces that I knew I'd only add after the first outlining was done), and did most of the inking that night while Gwen slept and I watched "The Importance of Being Earnest". Nov. 2 I didn't get much done other than erasing lines.
Nov. 3, I began painting! Red, yellow, blue, and pink in the inner and outer diamond borders, and in the initial. I painted one of the lozenges the wrong color sigh, but I was able to scrape it off well enough to be able to paint over it, with the requisite lighter color. (If you can tell which diamond was mispainted, you get a prize.) Nov. 4, I added the black to the border, and began pencilling in the outer border. I decided I was unhappy with the S's I had sketched in the center of the capital, so I left them be for a good 1.5 months before returning to redraw them.
Nov. 8, I began inking in the outer border, almost completing it. The rest of November was swallowed up by travel, so I was next able to return to the border on Dec. 2, when I completed the inking and the painting of the leaves/flowers. Dec. 3 I got to experience that wonderful feeling you get when doing whitework. The entire thing still looks awfully garish and messy, though, I hope the addition of the gold (and more whitework) will help. I then moved on to doing some of the contrasting decoration in the inner border.
Back from another set of travels, and the event getting close, I returned to this again on Dec. 23, when I worked on the inner portion of the 'O', the sigils in the corners, and the evocative elements of the King & Queen's arms (lions are a bugger to draw). In the evening, I managed to get about 45 min. of painting in after Gwen went to bed. Dec. 24, I got quite a bit more painting done while Gwen napped. In the evening, I sketched the dragons and painted two before I got distracted by Christmas gifts. Skipped a day, returned to painting on Dec. 26, back to the dragons, and after them, onto the red details on the animals, and more whitework.
I began composing the text Dec. 27. It reads:
Omnibus, ad quos presentium noti cia pervenerit, Sueno et Si vana, reges de Drachenwald, in Domino salutem. (To everyone, to whom these present notices may come, Sven and Siobhan, kings of Drachenwald, in God salutations.)
Know that for the love we bear her and for her support, counsel, and service, we the abovenamed king and queen by the regnal authority avested in our hands and crowns do give, grant, and confirm unto our herald, by name Efridis Eriksdotter, whom some call the sharp, the right to bear our sigils. For such sweet friendship we cherish towards her, let her display the queenes edelweiss and Albiones head, ensigned with our initials. this giving here by ourselves witnessed on the iii day of January, in the year of the society xlviii, while sitting on our thrones in our court in Attemark.
When writing the text, I had no idea how much I would have to amend it in order to fit in the space I had given the choice of calligraphy I would end up with, since at that point I hadn't yet decided. I really wanted to do a Gothic hand like in my exemplars...but I'm very bad at Gothic hands and didn't want the calligraphy to let everything down. I eventually did my best to attempt the hand (failed miserably as usual), and re-wrote the text as I went, unfortunately ending up a bit short (!). Still, I think the remaining empty space will be filled sufficiently by the signatures.
Dec. 29, and we're getting down to crunch time. I drew the internal initials and painted them, leaving just gilding and white work! Unfortunately, gilding will have to wait until tomorrow, as it took nearly 4 episodes of QI just to put down the size tonight. The next day, anxious to see how gilding would go this time, I got everything out in the morning, while Gwen was eating breakfast, and was thrilled to find it go just as Ari Mala has always said it should! I worked on it off and on all morning and afternoon, but I didn't have to put a second coat of size down anywhere. In the evening after Gwen went to sleep, I touched up the black outlines and did more whitework. I got maybe 1/3 of the way finished. Dec. 31 throughout the day I managed to get almost all the rest of the whitework done, except for the bits on the arms and on the yellow and black. I wasn't sure what to do for those; I had done some cross-hatching behind Sven's anvil the night before, and ended up painting over it today. I let it sit for a day, and on Jan. 1, finished up the rest of the whitework. All in all, I'm pretty pleased (though I wish whitework showed up on yellow better).
All told, I think this took me between 35 and 40 hours to complete: far, far, far more than anything else I've done (for example, a regular-sized scroll with a puzzle initial takes 2-2.5; something big and calligraphy intensive around 5).
Here are some stage by stage photos:
© 2013, Sara L. Uckelman.