Monday, June 22, 2009

Egg tempera painting on panel, the painting of an icon

WARNING: This is an image intensive post!

I spent the last week at an intensive icon painting workshop and painted this icon of St. John the Forerunner (aka John the Baptist, "Forerunner" is how he is often referred to in Orthodox Christianity). The workshop was presented by the Prosopon School of Iconography, a school founded in modern times but based on the techniques of 15th century Russian icon painters, including the famous Andrei Rublev. Techniques learned in the workshop included gilding over clay bole and various techniques in working with egg tempera paint. I also experimented with texturing gold after my gilding did not turn out as smooth as I wanted (make sure the bole is totally dry before gilding!). I am looking forward to doing more painting!

Here is the step by step process (I forgot to take pictures of the bole application, gilding, and etching):

Base coat of all colors (roskrish)

Dark lines painted in

First highlight

First float (look what this does to the face!)

Second highlight

Second float (still a bit damp when the picture was taken)

Reemphasis of dark lines, border painted, inscription painted (although this should more correctly be within the inner frame, not at the top)

Final highlights, white border on halo, highlights for eyes, all finished painting!

To finish, the painting will be sealed with a linseed oil mix called olifa. But I must wait a few weeks until the egg is thoroughly dry to do this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cardweaving set up with household items

The complete setup, ready to start. I would have liked smaller clamps but those were the smallest I could find in the garage.

My setup is a bit crude as I just went into the garage and scrounged around. I attached the clamps to a board so it would be portable (note to self - try to find a piece of lumber that isn't so rough and splintery for next time).

Part of the first finished weaving as well as the start of the weave. My beater is a knife from the kitchen drawer (using the blunt side, of course)

I have a little arrow drawn on a piece of paper. I use that to remind myself which direction to turn the cards if I have to leave the weaving for a while.

Gradually, I am acquiring items to make a complete medieval outfit. Now that I have shoes I need hose and garters.

I learned a bit about cardweaving last year, made a few experiments and then dropped it and moved on to other things. Last time I did the weaving using an inkle loom I made in woodshop. This time I decided to try the method of using C-clamps.

MATERIALS: Spun silk 2-ply from Aurorasilk in undyed and dyed with Brazilwood by Renee of Solar Colors. I used 12 cards with about 4 meters per card, totaling 48 meters of silk for the warp plus the undyed thread I used for the weft which was not more than a couple of meters. The finished length of the weaving is about 55cm (21.5 inches).

It's barely long enough to make a garter, something to remember if I do this again. Overall I am pleased with the evenness of the weaving and very happy to have another item for my outfit (as soon as I get buckles).

Lessons learned: Remember that there will be a lot of waste silk on either end. I should have made the warp longer. Also I needed a longer board.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Now it's finished

Here are the finished pictures of the little needle roll I made. They are posed in the corn we are growing in the front garden.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A small piece of embroidery

I think it is about time I posted about actually making something. This is what I've been working on for the last week. It is my brick stitch pattern #12 executed as a small piece of embroidery which later today will become a roll up style needle holder. Eventually I want to make examples of every pattern I draft so I will mostly be making small items, otherwise I will be stitching these forever.

Materials: 32 count Zweigart linen stitched with a single strand of Solar Colors spun silk thread dyed with weld (yellow), indigo (blue) and indigo over weld (green) with undyed thread for the white. Lining will be an off-white wool and ties and seam finishing cord will be 4 bobbin kumihimo cord. The pastel colors look very nice, I think, and something different from the deep bold colors I usually favor. Thank you to Renee of Solar Colors for suggesting I try pastels.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Solar Colors - naturally dyed silk

My friend Renee has been dyeing silk thread for the past couple years using natural dyes. You can see the results in some of my work, here, here, here, and here. Somehow the natural colors just look prettier than modern dyes and I really like working with them. It is also easier to use a single strand of thread on 32 count linen or two strands on 24 or 28 count linen than it is to use up to seven strands of Soie d'Alger. It is my favorite spun silk. I have used it for embroidery, kumihimo, and card weaving; Renee uses it for fingerloop braids.

Now anyone who wants to use this thread can get it because Renee just started a website, Solar Colors, and an etsy shop. She has a limited range of colors to start with but plans to gradually add more. The thread comes with magnet clasps tied on the ends so you can wear the skein as a bracelet. I had a lot of fun wearing thread bracelets while I contemplated colors for my latest project!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brick stitch pattern #15

This is another pattern from the embroidered hanging at the Cloisters. The original is yellow and white like my pattern but where I used green the original has an unknown color that faded to a nasty brownish color.

I want to keep knocking out patterns as the mood strikes me. At 15 patterns I am now almost 1/3 of the way towards my goal of 50 patterns. When I decided to do 50 patterns I felt like I was making an insane commitment but now it feels more manageable.

Every once in a while I make incremental progress on learning the program that will allow me to make patterns with grid lines. Until then I am doing them this way. Sometime in the future all these patterns will be lovely handouts with background information and gridlines and organized on one website. I will also have a sample item worked in every pattern.

I am stitching away on the next example but feel the need to take a break and do another technique for a while. Klosterstitch seems to be calling my name...