*Note: This journal has not been corrected for spelling and punctuation errors or abbreviation. Bear with me.
May June July August
7 May: Began ordering supplies from catalogs and saving invoice statements. Took note of purchases on budget to keep track of my expenditures.
9 May: Checked out facsimile books from the library, Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of Work and The Illuminated Page. Made copies of Cameraworld receipt and Paper & Ink order for budget.
10 May: Looked through the first facsimile book. Entered Greek and Latin texts onto the computer and translated them; found a Shakespearean sonnet to accompany Horace (Sonnet #55)! Played around with an extremely preliminary design for Greek page— scribe and illuminator at easels in top rectangle; two columns with omega and first three words enlarged, possibly top two lines of column 2 (done in majuscule?); rectangular space left in bottom right corner. Found Greek fonts online and may play with computer layout.
11 May: Looked through second facsimile book, particularly for architectural styles— something from the Gothic bar and ivy tradition? In the later sections (early Renaissance) there are some truly architectural borders to consider, but I think they are too heavy. Received barrier cream from Daniel Smith. Mailed out order for Paper and Ink Books. Began work on Greek alphabets this evening.
12 May: Began to take note of online manuscript facsimiles I have found; have already found some good examples of illuminated and historiated caps, as well as scholarly texts. The Austrian gold leaf from Paper and Ink is backordered, so I wrote back to them and asked about other options. Will go to art supply store this weekend to look for available supplies there: rulers, triangles, 12x16" grid pad for design purposes, etc. Played around with computer design for blocking out Latin text page, incorporating sonnet and interlinear text.
14 May: Bought drafting paper, cork-backed ruler and triangle at the Art Department to begin design work tomorrow.
15 May: Began layout for Latin page. Two columns: a.) left– large gilded capital E (with laurel crown?), enlarged 'xegi/ monum/ entum/ aere perennius...' rest of text. Use small illuminated caps for beginning of lines (alternating red and blue), otherwise no divisions— works out to three lines of space for two lines of text. Bar and ivy design in left margin and partway across top margin (to include flora and fauna?). In bottom left corner space is left for a self-portrait painting my surroundings; (b.) right– continuation of ode at top, concluding with info about poem. Rectangular space for illumination (pyramids?), followed by first two lines of Shakespeare's sonnet set to musical notes (agreeing with tenor of words?) with medium illuminated capital N. On left bottom margin, 3d columns broken and falling over? I seem to be tending toward the style of the early 1300's— Romanesque/ Gothic with Early Gothic/ quadrata hand; bar and ivy was popular at this time, and portraits were not as realistic as in 1500's. Although this design may certainly change dramatically before I begin the final product, I at least know approximately the size hand I will be dealing with.
16 May: Began layout for Greek page, following my earlier draft and establishing margins that agree with the Latin page. Inquired over email about the shipment from John Neal Books.
17 May: Spoke with rep from JNB about my shipment– it seems they were holding the order until they receive a backorder of drafting tape. I asked them to cancel the tape and send the rest, so hopefully it will be in before the end of the week. I will also have to get my sandpaper elsewhere as they discontinued it. Get sand for making quills at craft store like Michael's? Or hardware store? Continued working on the Greek manuscript. Sketched a calligrapher monk based on Eadwine's self-portrait from the Canterbury Psalter; will do my own self-portrait facing it? Worked on the Greek hand more, caps and cursive, and began adjusting my layout using it.
18 May: Went to campus to attend a meeting with the museum and library people about the handling of old books and the possibility of my participation in the translation and design of the web info on the book of hours. Saw Willamette's Book of Hours for the first time, and will be spending time going through and cataloging its order and such, so I will be able to closely study the illuminations and gilding. Found two books on the Books of Hours with many interesting pictures and quite a few architectural borders and illusionistic flowers [trompe l'oeil].
19 May: Worked on the Greek manuscript, copying my sketch of Eadwine to another sheet of drafting vellum and reversing it to make the other figure. I then adjusted the figure to be a self-portrait of me painting. Have begun detailing the second sheet, going over the two figures in ink and writing down measurements as I go. The light is poorer over at my desk than just sitting at the futon, and light reflects off the graphite and ruler as well as creating shadows, so it is more difficult to make exact lines. Continued my project of cataloging the advice from the scribes' mailing list I have been a member of since October. My supplies have not yet arrived, though Paper & Ink charged our account two days ago, so theirs must at least be en route. See about ordering Sinopia items at the end of next week, around payday and just shortly before receiving funds for the grant.
22 May: Worked on Horace translation for meeting with Prof. Usher tomorrow. I did a straight translation, then found a website that showed a number of verse translations through the years, and decided to try that. My poem is 21 lines where the original was 16, but it captures the sense of the Latin pretty well, I think, and uses some Latinate words to connect the two. I used an abbacca rhyme scheme in three stanzas. I received some of my art supplies today, from JNB! The major disappointment is that the vellum is only large enough for one of the manuscripts, so I will have to order more. I will try to go through Rick Cavasin this time, if he still has that goat manuscript parchment. I will have quite a few scraps left over though, so I will have some to practice on– always a good thing. I also got my gum sandarac and pumice for preparing the parchment, and will have to go out and get some sandpaper to raise the nap. Best of all, the books came! The Heather Child book and the Johnston book both look wonderful and perfect for my needs– they will end up being my major textbooks for this project. The Illuminated Alphabet book was no longer in stock there, so they sent me a general book on illuminated manuscripts at no cost. It is a recent publication (Dec. 99), hardcover, and has some very large color photographs that will be wonderful to use as models. I need to figure out how to use the Ames lettering guide– the directions seemed complicated. I also made some glair with the whites left over from a dinner recipe and it should be ready for storage tomorrow or the day after.
23 May: Continued work on my Greek manuscript, doing some of the lettering and the framework around the two scribal figures, and brought my sketches in to school to show Mark. He thinks my progress is pretty good thus far, and helped me with the translation of Horace I was working on. We discussed my straight translation in some detail, looking at word order and sense as well as themes and allusions made in the poem. He liked much of my verse translation, but gave some suggestions for further improvement, which I will work on tomorrow. He also gave me several book titles for working on the Greek lettering, and promised to help me with that when I come back on campus for the Cratylus translation. I received the second batch of art supplies, from Paper and Ink Books, today at lunchtime. I got my inks, gilding supplies, and pen holders, all of which looks perfect, though the gesso tablets are extremely small for their price. I don't think it will make enough, and may have to make my own, though I have been worrying about that. Only the 13-well palettes have not come yet, but I have been saving egg containers and other various small bottles for a while so I think I can make do. Jeremy tells me he already has a needle tool so maybe I will try to blunt the one I already have on his whetstone and use it as a burnisher for designs. Rick wrote back to me about the parchment: he still has enough for one manuscript– perfect! The total for it will come to $52.00. Must ask about shipping costs. Hopefully he will let me send the check after June 1, as our account is sapped for the month and he is going away on vacation later in June. It will be interesting to see what the difference is between calf and goat.
24 May: Poured the glair off into film canisters and added a clove. Those canisters are handy: I should see if I can take some from the bin of them at the Costco hour-photo counter. My glair is full-strength but I have been reading lately that it should be half-strength with equal amount of water and maybe a dab of honey for flexibility, so I need to remember that when I use it. My old stuff is now 6 mos. old, so it should be getting that rotten-glair property that everyone seems to love so well, though I haven't looked at it for some time. Must remember to get an eyedropper to measure it out. Prof. Thompson wrote back to me about the art room I will be using. Fortunately I can store my supplies there, but there is no refridgerator so I will need to get an icepack and bring one of our insulated lunchbags for the egg tempera. On Thursday I will go over to the art building and see if I can get a look at the room– hopefully I will have some ventilation and a sink to clean up from. Revised my translations of the Horace, verse and prose, and sent the new version off to Mark. I also worked some more on the Greek manuscript– I have trouble with the random patterns that are so prevalent to illuminated manuscripts, especially in the Byzantine tradition, so I am trying to find some examples to go from. I ordered some books from Orbis on Greek palaeography, so until they get here and I talk with Mark about the hands, I will not be able to work on any of the lettering except for the caps, which I could decipher. Read a great deal of pertinent information in The Calligrapher's Handbook on pigment combinations and compositions, the care and feeding of animal parchment, cutting quill pens, and gilding with gesso and gum ammoniac.
25 May: Started off the day by revising my revision of the Horace poem from some of Mark's suggestions. I think it is getting closer to being done, which is good since I need to get on with the Greek text. Rick wrote back to me about the money– he will only hold the parchment for a week, so we will have to get the money from savings. He also said we have to send a money order instead of a check, but at least then the parchment will be on its way. Worked a bit on the Greek manuscript, embellishing the characters with curls. Also read some from the Johnston text. It certainly seems a bit dated, but for the most part agrees with the Child text and has some more practical tips than the Child, which goes top-notch all the way and some of the equipment and ingredients they insist upon are impracticable or impossible to obtain.
2 June: Have not been writing in this journal! I have spent quite a bit of time in the last week working on the book of hours at the library with Jeremy, and at home, transcribing my text onto the computer and learning about books of hours. It is interesting to work with the real thing while I am preparing to make my own manuscripts. Have been reading in my two basic texts and looking at images at the library. Ordered some Greek palaeography texts from Orbis but almost none of them are even useful– no pictures! Yesterday, though, I found a perfect image for my Greek manuscript in The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai: the Illuminated Greek Manuscripts: an author scene with St. Gregory of something or other sitting in a framework of real architecture flattened to two dimensions. I added my own around my two scribes and it looks great! I will be doing gold in their backgrounds and there are lots of patterns– but I still need to work on the actual border, and think I have an idea for that, having outlined quite a few from the Greek manuscripts yesterday. I cut my parchment 2 days ago and pricked guiding lines on all four borders, then got some sandpaper yesterday so I have spent the morning preparing my parchment: rubbing with pumice and dusting off, rubbing with sandpaper and dusting off. I did it on the stairs outside the apartment because of the dust. Now I can start ruling guiding lines (after practicing with the ruling pen), and begin to transfer images after I finish inking the drawings. Got some fine sand yesterday as well and began the process of making quill pens. I stripped the barbs off the feathers and cut them down to about 8-9 inches long, then cut the tips off and soaked them in water overnight. After clearing some space in the kitchen, I will use one of Jeremy's old frying pans to try and heat the sand and cure the quills. We could not find the curved x-acto blades we got a while back, so the actual cutting will have to wait until I get new ones. Also took some initial pictures of the quills and the parchment preparation process. Now I will have to be really careful not to touch the parchment without washing my hands. I ordered the parchment from Rick– he tells me he got the payment and is sending it out today so I should get it within the next few weeks. I finally got reimbursed for all the money I have spent on this project: about $850.00! Now I need to go out and spend some more. :) I will have to order the pigments soon to start experimenting with them. I have $200 more to spend on supplies plus $308.00 in June and July for stipend, but I will probably use that for supplies too and save the stipend for the end money: $800 and some. I got a look at my art building room yesterday. Had no problems getting in the back door with my card, though the secretary was gone for the week. Fortunately, Prof. Hull was around and unlocked her office to get the key for me. It almost looks like my own office with the name sign on the door! It has lots of windows, which I will have to see about opening, and plenty of space for my needs, but no sink. I will have to use one of the others on the floor for hand-washing and cleanup.
5 June: Have continued working on the Greek manuscript, inking in what design I had and adding some decorative stylized plants at the bottom borders of the drawing, which take root realistically underneath and intertwine with the large Omega cap on the left. On the right, I may make a burrow down the side to the other smaller drawing space (have not decided what will go in there yet), also realistic, to show two sides of the drawing process: the realistic and the structured: what is possible in the imagination and what is possible with the constraints of the page. I may make the musical notes coming from the books somewhat rootlike... I practiced with my ruling pen and walnut ink yesterday and it turns out to be very easy to use and has amazing versatility of stroke width, which I knew already but it was neat to actually do. We found my curved x-acto blades, so I tried cutting some quills with it– the first one (also the first in the sand, which I scorched on the tip) cracked wrong and I abandoned it, but the second one made a serviceable pen, though wider than I will need for the Latin page. I think I will have to use a round tip for the Greek, so I will at least have some time to practice the calligraphy and making of the pens in the meantime. I used the iron gall ink, and while it was quite thin to work with, it was fascinating to watch it go on watery and gray and then turn deep black as I wrote the next line. I rinsed the pen afterward and left it to dry slowly on a damp sponge, then practiced again by making a left-handed quill for Linda– no idea if it works but I hate to get it all inky before she sees it. Oh well. Marked the ruling lines in pencil, then walnut ink, on the actual parchment today. The next step is to pencil in my drawings and rule lines for the text. I need to do my translation today of the Cratylus, so hopefully I can meet with Mark tomorrow and go over Greek letters. I wish those books I ordered had been useful... I will take my drawing table in to the art building tomorrow but can continue working at home at least until it is time to gild. I think I am a bit behind schedule— it would have been better had I realized that I would not have access to the funds until June, but I do what I can.
6 June: Finished inking in the design on the layout paper, and drew on the back in pencil to use as a transfer sheet. Made the transfer to the vellum and began strengthening the lines with pencil. Finally got the last Orbis book, so I need to meet with Mark about the Greek palaeography. Most of those books have been disappointing, but the last one is just what I wanted, so that will help a lot. Just in time, too– I need to start the calligraphy soon. Will need to go to the Art Department for round-tip nibs, or perhaps I should practice with a brush? Have not made any more quills, but I need to find a container for the leftover sand. It is still sitting in the pan, and the girls got into the open bag tonight, spilling a bunch of it onto the carpet. It took at least 15 minutes of vacuuming to get the grittiness mostly out but only deep carpet cleaning will get the rest. We should take them to the beach if they are so interested in sand...
7 June: Ordered my pigments today from Sinopia. Hopefully they will come next week. I also went through the new Greek palaeography book and took note of the lettering I wanted to use, practicing letter combinations and writing out the Cratylus text. I was hoping to meet with Prof. Usher tomorrow, but have not heard back from him so I think that is out, and I will have to go on by myself.
11 June: To date, I have finished strengthening the pencil transfer, practiced drawing and erasing with the ink on a scrap piece of vellum and inked in the entire design. Have also inked the capitals at the top of the page and begun the main body of the text in ink (having already pencilled the text in). I was not able to meet with Prof. Usher about the palaeography as he did not respond to my email until Friday, but did the best I could anyway. I will meet with him tomorrow in the library to go over the translation so I had better get going on that. I want this one to be as literal as possible in addition to being very spare of words to fit in the given space. The second piece of vellum arrived on Saturday, and the goat skin seems to be darker and slightly rougher than the calf. Will be an interesting comparison when set side by side. I have it flattening in the bedroom and will not touch it again until I am done with the Greek manuscript. This evening, picked out the major impurities from the gum ammoniac and crushed it into smaller bits. Put it in a glass jar I saved for the purpose and covered it with some clean water to soak overnight. Capped it with some Saran Wrap and a rubber band.
12 June: This morning, stirred up the gum liquid and attempted to further crush the lumps of gum resin. The mixture seemed too thin, and figuring that I had added too much water last night, set the jar in a pan of water and heated the mixture to thicken it up some. I also added some more gum, the remains of which was primarily powdered anyway. Watched it and stirred frequently for about a half hour and when it began to darken slightly I pulled it off the heat and prepared the strainer. Made one with a length of panty hose cut to size for a baby food jar, and secured with a rubber band. Poured some of the gum mixture onto the panty hose and it just sat there so I pushed it around with a spoon for 10 minutes or so until I got fed up and scooped it back into the jar. Had more success when I used only one thickness of panty hose (instead of 2) and scooped all the gum onto an old plate and added maybe half a tsp. of warm water to the mix. It still took an hour to push it through the hose by pushing it back and forth with a spoon, but I ended up with a little bit of what looked like cream. Mixed in some red ink to give it color on the page, cleaned off the top of the jar and put it covered in the refrigerator. It will be ready to experiment with tomorrow. My pigments have not arrived yet but I won't start pestering the company until next week at this time. If I get to the point where I need the pigments to continue with the project, I can always start working on the other one early. Scratch that— as I wrote, the pigments arrived in the mail. There is so much of it! I will have enough pigment to make paints for the rest of my natural life! :) The only pigment that has not come yet is the lapis, but Sinopia says that it should be coming to them in a shipment from Germany this week, and will send it out as soon as they receive it. So I will be able to start practicing making pigments as soon as I like. I should start with yellow ochre to practice getting the consistency right... Also finished the body of the Greek calligraphy today. After tomorrow, when I meet with Mark, I should be able to add the English marginalia.
15 June: Since my last entry, I have met with Mark. We went over the details of my translation and he gave me several more possibilities for papers and research directions for the Cratylus passage. Also said I need to read the whole Cratylus... to do after I finish Apuleius (also at his request). I designed a drawing for the extra space at the bottom of the Greek manuscript, a cave-like area with gems and crystals in it, and the word 'pharmakon' hidden in its nooks. Need to decide how all this fits together with the idea of 'pharmakon' being both drug and remedy, dead and alive– as in 'to zoion.' Have begun gilding with gum ammoniac. Painted on two layers while I was practicing on scrap and so far the actual progress has been good. Far corners and edges are not sticking quite so well as they might, but the second layers seems to have helped a great deal with that. Done with a small fountain and most of the main gold area behind the scribes and have so far used about a sheet and a half of gold. I will have quite some left over! Have been putting scraps of gold in a well in the palette– they sometimes come in handy later for patching, and have had a notion of making shell gold, though cannot remember where I heard of that. (The biggest problem would be grinding I think, but if I could mix it with some gum arabic it would not fly off everywhere—perhaps grinding with water would hold it still.) Also practiced yesterday at making paint. Used yellow ocher but still took precautions with the face mask and barrier cream for practice. The mask must go on carefully or will fog up my glasses– must get a picture of myself decked out in paint-making attire. Used a wooden spoon (from sorbet) to dish some pigment into a well in the palette and attempted to use a brush to drip glair in with it. Did not work, so I tipped some glair from the container and ended up putting in too much. Added more pigment to compensate and mixed up with the brush. It seemed thin but I could not find a good description of the thickness it should be, and most said too much binder is to be preferred over not enough, so tried it out. Did not smudge or crack off the vellum and is not shiny, so I think I hit it right on the mark. I only wish I could have made more accurate measurements– an eyedropper would have been wonderful, and a spoon that I don't use for cooking. The wooden one is passabe but too fat to stir with also... maybe just a popsicle stick would do better. Will need to take pigments in to campus. I am getting excited about the idea of making paints and would like to start it soon. The only problem is the inconvenience of having it so far away– I will have to go in more days than just Tues/Thurs.
20 June: Went for the first time to work at school. Brought my manuscript and several other supplies in addition to the ones that were already in Jeremy's office. The room is hot, and the windows are very hard to open. Luckily, Jeremy helped me crack two of them. Got off to a good start with the painting— made four paints: two for walls, a black, and an inadvertently good skin tone. The black refuses to bind completely– it is grainy and continually smudges, probably because it is basically charcoal. Need to make some gum arabic water and see if that will help fix it. The safety equipment is odd to use but not totally uncomfortable or unwieldy. Painted the walls and did some detailing of bricks. Also finished lettering the text today. Finished reading the Cratylus and took it back to the library today. It had a lot of so-called etymologies and ran with the idea that letters have inherent qualities that are imparted to the words they make up, making a given word either appropriate or not to "the things that are." Ended up by saying that it is impossible to tell whether a word is appropriately given and probably none are totally accurate, so one should not simply study the words but the actual forms instead.
21 June: Made gum water with my gum arabic crystals today. Could not find a specific recipe– perhaps because it is now readily available in a liquid form in many art stores. Finally found a note online specifying 2 t. of powder to 2 oz. of water. Crushing the crystals was harder than I thought. Had to use the end of a screwdriver handle as I have no mortar and pestle yet. The more colored crystals would not break down at all, and the others did so popping out of the bowl and all over the floor. Finally ground them sufficiently and picked out the large impurities, then mixed it (just shy of 3 t.) with slightly warm filtered water and stirred it every few minutes until mostly dissolved. Transferred from the large jar to a glass measure with a pour spout and cleaned out a glass spice jar for the main container. Strained the liquid through a single layer of panty hose (this worked better once I learned to wet the surface of the hose to break surface tension), and though much of it spilled over the sides in the process, ended up with a reasonably clear liquid with a hint of yellowish color. Can add this in small quantities to my paints... I am hoping it will help the colors that do not want to bind. Went back to campus to paint and made quite some progress. Finished painting the brick walls and added some more orangy color for texturing. Painted the roofs three shades of blue and the resulting combination with the walls is quite striking, and will especially be so after I paint in the green, which will be mostly in the center. Had some difficulties with pigments today. The black still did not want to cooperate, so I may have to go back and varnish those places with glair to ensure that they stay fixed. The azurite is certainly grainy– I see what the fuss about that was– making it hard to coat evenly. The phthalo blue was so fine it did not want to mix with the glair and I had a hard time trying to wet it; its other problem is the fact that it somehow seems to get everywhere– on gloves, on counter, on fingers, and so forth. Went back to the library and finally checked out the Greek manuscript book. It is so heavy I did not bring it home, but now I will be able to look closely at the color plates and try to get the feel of the Byzantine style. The particular plate of interest is not in color, but the detail in it is certainly better than in my xerox copy!
22 June: Was not able to go in to campus today because I was expecting my lapis to arrive. It did so but not until 4:45! I could have gone in after all and still been home in time... But now I have lapis to use. Seems about the same color as the azurite but must be lighter weight because there seems to be more of it in the jar.
23 June: Went back to campus to continue painting. I am probably 75% done with the painting at this point, but have some small blocks left to do and quite a few details. Began working on the draperies first, but my first step in detailing made such a striking change that I decided to wait for my camera to continue. Not much else to say but that the manuscript is really shaping up into a work of art and it is quite exciting to see. Began work on the second manuscript this evening. Cut, pricked, and lined the parchment with walnut ink, and ruled lines for text. Definitely going with a Gothic feel: bar-and-ivy border in progress with a good example.
24 June: Looked through my manuscript facsimile books this evening and got some good models to include in my Latin manuscript. Will be including bar-and-ivy, simple bar patterns for fillers, and some naturalistic details as are so common in Gothic manuscripts, ie: birds, insects, etc. Began a final draft based on my prior sketches and measurements and worked out some further details, making notes of where I can find their historical antecedants.
25 June: Continued detailing my designs for the Latin manuscript and began inking some of them in. Have inked bar and ivy designs and versal caps and pencilled in rest of ivy around column.
13 July: Up to present, have nearly completed the design of the Latin manuscript; finished inking in design and laid graphite on the back of the design for transfer. Practiced calligraphy with walnut ink: early gothic and gothic littera bastarda, using quill pen and crowquill, respectively. Cut quill pen to appropriate size– seems that soaking cured quills before cutting makes the process much easier and less prone to cracking. Laid calligraphy on vellum after penciling in text for spacing; had to use several contractions a la the Willamette Book of Hours. Made one mistake and corrected with the razor blade. Also forgot to do rubrications and applied them after the fact with quill pen and cadmium red glair-paint. Made my first batch of gesso using the mortar and pestle I bought last week. Perhaps I added too much honey– my test spots seemed to be quite wet– or perhaps I just didn't let them dry long enough. Added more plaster to the mix at any rate and the second test seemed to hold the gold a bit better; now it almost looks like the gilding in the Book of Hours! Dried the rest of the gesso in buttons on waxed paper, so hopefully they will reconstitute properly when I need them. Today I finished the bulk of the calligraphy, outlined versals a la Book of Hours, and did the design transfer to the vellum. Had to make a few slight adjustments after the calligraphy, but in the main it worked fine. Inked in the design, but will keep thinking about interesting doodles to add– more ferrets? At this point, the manuscript is almost ready for gilding and I will likely begin that on Monday. Next on the agenda is ruling lines for the English translation and doing the bastarda callig.
17 July: The bastarda calligraphy is done now, and I should begin gilding today. Will reconstitute gesso and test, then lay gesso on the vellum, let it dry, and lay gold. I will not burnish until tomorrow. Have spent the weekend working on my Carson website– that counts, doesn't it? Scanned in a bunch of pictures Saturday, and since have been adjusting pic sizes, making a real website, and making sure everything works how I want it to. Looks pretty good now. Did a practice gilding piece. Crumbled three gesso buttons in the mortar and added 3-4 drops of glair. Let it sit for several minutes to soften and mushed up the gesso some more with a wooden spoon. Added some more chalk to the mix because the buttons never got entirely hard– too much honey. That made it almost a dough, and I added drops of distilled water one at a time until it thinned to a more suitable strength; it did not take very many. When tested on the vellum, the color of the gesso changed considerably from moist to dry and the gold took to it nicely. Burnished nicely too after I let it dry for a while. Also began the Latin gilding. Used 2 batches of gesso to complete it, but I have only begun to put on the gold. While working on it, the razor blade handle rolled through the leaf, so I have a partly gilded x-acto now.
20 July: Have now finished the Latin gilding. Found it easiest to gild yesterday– there was over 50% humidity in general, and I put on a big pot of water (spiced with cinnamon sticks and cloves) to simmer all evening while I worked. It made the room smell great and upped the humidity too. May go back and double-gild in some places to make a smoother finish. Then I can burnish and get ready to paint.
25 July: Having trouble with the tempera paints because I have never done it before and want to experiment; unfortunately there is no refrigerator, so I can only bring a bit of egg yolk with me on a given day. Tried it today and was unsuccessful so the day was wasted. Spent the rest of the day looking up info online and in the library, and will try some new techniques. Another problem, I have never worked with tempera, so did not think to bring some of the materials I turned out to need. And my ID card didn't work on the doors, so hopefully that problem will be rectified tomorrow.
26 July: Went in again today, making sure to read up first and bring everything I wrote on a list yesterday. Also made some new yolk water at a much thicker consistency (2 yolks: 1 t. water) and put it in a baby food jar. The first problem upon arrival today was... no water in the building. Fortunately, I made sure to bring some distilled water for making the paint, so I used that and what was left in my water container (amazingly, clean!). Made two shades of paint, both earth tones and not too different, so I could use the same rinse water. Did the underpainting with these. To make the paint, first placed some pigment on the glass plate and added a few drops of distilled water. Mixed this with the palette knife just until it was a paste, and added a few drops of yolk on my mixing brush. Stirred this up until smooth and tested for over/underbinding. Did a brownish green earth underpainting to simulate verdacchio, and added touches of yellow ocher (which I was warned would look very bright with tempera, but I didn't particularly think so). Also drew, transferred, and inked the one small part left to be done, using the Colossal Head of Constantine. I was thinking about doing it with just a large Babylonian or Egyptian head in the desert– reminded me of "Ozymandias"– because of the references to crumbling monuments and pyramids, and also thought about doing an Etruscan/Early Roman statue from the archaic period because it was highly influenced by the Egyptian, but the Colossal Head seemed a perfect symbol of the crumbled empire as only the head and a few bits remain. Also it harks back to the archaic with its simplified details and stylization.
28 July: On the way to campus yesterday morning, I sprained my ankle coming down the apartment stairs. I was stuck at home all day yesterday, unable to move, and Jeremy doesn't want me walking around on it today either, so it looks like the next chance to go painting is Monday. I am very disappointed because I was finally starting to make progress and get past my creative block. I had better finish this thing next week, though, because we leave for our honeymoon next Saturday.
2 August: Well, the Latin manuscript is finished, as of today. No major mishaps to report after the water fiasco. I got some denatured alcohol to help some of the fine pigments (not naming names, but bone black and heliogen blue) go into solution with the binder instead of floating on top. It's amazing the difference a drop of that stuff makes! I took bunches of pictures when I finished, took the art books back to the library, and cleared out my room in the art building also, because we are about to go on vacation and there is no need for me to go back there (for this project anyway). Next step, developing pictures and updating my website.
16 August: The website is updated and contains images from the entire process of both manuscripts. I also have sections on illumination recipes, chemical information on pigments and other materials, a glossary (not done yet), materials links, and so forth, so the site is shaping up to look pretty good.