As usual, I took the images and changed them into line drawings. Are you wondering why those 2 monks are vomiting frogs? They're purging unclean spirits, of course.
And with my usual restraint, I carefully selected just a few creatures for the tablet. Really more like a clown car of weird animals....
As I've said, I paint the dye on these twice. This time, I took a photo of the piece after the first dyeing, and played with it on the computer. I realized that if I darkened the center, it would pull the eye there. The photo of the right is after the second dyeing. While it's nowhere near as dark as the black I added in Photoshop, (on the left) it's dark enough to center the image. And this time, instead of embroidery, I beaded...
..I sewed on beads and sequins and bits of leather (for the horns) and dyed pieces of yarn and some embroidery and just had great fun.
The elephant was one of the last. I thought about using some leather from old mittens, but when I photoshopped them in, it was just too drab.If you look closely, you can see that I also photoshopped in the rest of the blue beads, near the top, just to make sure they worked.
I looked through all my beads (when not sure what to do next, wander through the supplies for awhile...) and found some dark gold beads, which really seemed to fit. Here's the finished tablet:
This is a composite photo of the lettering on the top and bottom, just so you can see it better:
It says: "THE FICTITIOUS ANIMALS IN A MEDIEVAL BESTIARY WERE MEANT TO TEACH MORAL LESSONS"
My plan is for the beastiary tablet to have a companion piece:
This one has been designed, printed and has the first dyes painted on.
This is another case where I had to print and paint twice. I did the first one too quickly, and the gray background was uneven. Dharma Trading Company just came out with a great new gray dye, and I used it on this second version. Worked beautifully! The huge pink stitches on this one are the basting stitches I use to hold the layers together.
The books, the manuscripts, are the central element in this story. I spent a good deal of time designing and painting them into the image. But then I decided to add them in a more physical manner: I created tiny books. Some of these have leather covers, with fine leather from my stock of old gloves and wallets. Some of them are constructed from real library books. You see, my younger sister works in a college library, and she sends me the covers of books that are being discarded. I take the cloth ones and soak them, scrape off the cardboard, scrub the cloth and save it for projects like this.
Here's a few of my book covers and old wallets.
But the library books were destroyed. To communicate that visually, I embroidered the wording on black silk....
...and sewed it over the books, like a layer of black soot:
It took several attempts to sew words on silk. What finally worked was an ungainly assemblage of 1. a double layer of silk 2. Wonder Under and 3. Sulky - that filmy material that can be washed away. Here's a close-up of the lettering:
And here's the back of the silk. you can see where I've scraped away most of the Wonder Under, and cut away most of the second layer of silk:
Yes, some of the open books have copied pages of medieval manuscripts printed on cloth.
Compare these embroidered letters with the dyed ones at the start of this post:
This piece hasn't yet been mounted on a tablet. I just finally finished the sewing last night.
Actually, looking at it here, it may need just a bit more embroidery on the arches on the right side.. [a few days later] ..oh, yeah: a bit more here, and there and....OK, now it's mounted, so it really IS finished:
Here's a detail shot of the added wording:
If you look closely in the rubble under the arches on the left side, you can see the letters FURORE TEUTONICO DIRUTA - Latin for destroyed by German fury
Enough with doom and destruction: next week's posting will be the much brighter story of medieval beastiaries! And this Friday? A look back at a piece of my early work.
In Library: An Unquiet History, by Matthew Battles tells the story of Louvain, in Belgium. There was a university library, built in 1730, with a wonderful collection of ancient manuscripts, some of them 500 years old. For centuries, the library held a wealth of rare and beautiful texts, a treasure of knowledge.
It was completely destroyed by the Germans in World War 1.
After the war, the library was rebuilt, and stocked with manuscripts donated by other libraries, other countries. Again, it held a vast store of the rare and the beautiful, the ancient knowledge and new information.
It was completely destroyed by the Germans in World War 2.
Now, there is some noteworthy additional information regarding this horror. Some books were donated to restock Belgian library shelves.....and some of them were confiscated from the libraries of defeated Germany. And although the planned jingoist inscription (Destroyed by German fury, rebuilt by American generosity) was never chiseled into the stone of the new building, the plan was commonly known.
It really seems like the type of information we should remember, so it became the subject of a tablet.
I gathered images of the destroyed library and the bombed town
and sorted through, chose the ones that worked best
made them into line drawings and combined them
fine-tuned it with added windows, flooded the front with books, and prepared to add the text.
I decided to add the Belgian (maybe French?) spelling, Leuven, and it was ready to print:
I knew I wanted the explanation over the images of the books, and in my next blog, you'll see how that worked out.
The dark brown (seen in the 2 arched doorways) was dyed repeatedly, and sewn over with even darker thread, to get a sense of depth.
The stitching on the lettering here is different from the first two tablets. On the Stained Glass tablet and the Scribes tablet, I used a padded satin stitch. Here, and for the rest of the tablets, I used a wrapped outline stitch. In the following photo, you can see the progress of the stitches. Working from right to left, the R is only printed; the T and E have the first running stitches; C and H have additional stitching to form a solid line. The next C , H and E have the outlines wrapped in more thread, getting thicker and thicker. The S also has dark stitches forming an outline around the white letter.
This is the finished lettering:
The lettering for "The attic of an old Synagogue" is just over 2" long. Fortunately, I have a light with a magnifier to make the tiny stitches needed.
Next week, a tablet on the double tragedy of a library in Belgium.