Monday, September 14, 2015

Matthias von Greifsburg, Master of Defence

This piece is a strange amalgam of various German influences and I'm going to take a few moments to explain how I work on commissions and how these illuminations come to fruition. When someone asks me to do a peerage scroll, I very much want to make sure that they are an active part in deciding what art will live on their home wall forever.

Once upon a time, step one was packing a bag of books and meeting with the client. We would flip through pages and use dozens of sticky notes to explain what elements on each page were of interest. The magic of the interwebs has made my life a lot easier with Pinterest. So now, step one is working with the client to start a Pinterest board where we can both upload images that we think might be a good fit.

Sometimes the client picks a single piece they like, and sometimes I have a request to stitch several pieces together into a final illumination. At this point, I gather information like heraldry, favorite colors, and little nuances that the client would like to have included or about which they care deeply. In the case of this illumination the answers were something like: red, blue, gold, yay Teutons, my wife, my daughter, griffin, shiny. Yep, I can work with that. I also find out if the client want to know anything else along the way or just wants to be surprised at the end.

  • Layout: Gospel Book of Henry II
  • Central illumination: Martin Schongauer's The Eagle of St. John, c. 1450-1491
  • Figure design: The Codex Manesse
Then I start sketching, erasing a lot, sketching more, frowning at proportions and final sketching. Usually, this is where the calligraphy comes in if life is optimal. Sometimes the author is still writing it. Sometimes it is still in translation and you have to get started. Next is gold leafing followed by color blocking and detailing. In the case of this piece, the calligraphy was added last at it was painted in gold on top of the white paint. 


Hier im schoenen Trimaris / erzaehlt man sich solch' Wunder
Von lobenswerten Helden / und deren unzaehlige Taten
Im Dienste des Traums/ mit Leidenschaft und Talent
und vom unangefochtenen Adel von Don Matthias von Greifsburg.

Ein Beispiel zu allen Zeiten / Er fuehrte unsere Klingen in die Schlacht
Hoeflich und voll Gnade ist er / gegenueber dem Volk und denen an der Macht
Von vorneherein ist sein Sieg / im Kamp festgestellt
und seine Grosszuegigkeit gehoert aller Welt.

Wir, die Krone von Trimaris / mit Herz, Hand, und Verstand
an diesem 24. Tag des Mai / AS 50 vereidigen
unseren Don Matthias / als Meister des Ordens der Verteidigung
und uebereichen ein Patent des Wappenrechts mit unserer Hand.

To we in fair Trimaris / is many a marvel told
Of praise-deserving heroes / of valors manifold
Of service to the dream / of passion and skill superb
And the worthiness unquestioned / of Don Matthias Von Griefsburg.

A leader on and off the field / he took our blades to war
He's courteous and gracious / to all he comes before
Of victory in battle / his conclusion is foregone
And his generosity / never is withdrawn.

So do we the crown Trimaris / with heart and hand and mind
On this day the 24th of May / anno societatus 50
Name our don Matthias Master / of the Order of Defense
A Patent of Arms / does with this award dispense.

If you would like to see more about the creation of this piece:
Personae Dramatis

Limning, calligraphy and illumination: Mistress Maol Mide ingen Medra OL, OP
Translation to German: Mistress Mayken Van der Alst, OL

Tiny Terrarium

The wistful historical-loving scientist part of me has always wanted a terrarium for my home. I had dreams of Victorian miniature hothouses and collections of odd fungus and mosses.

Now, my scientific little heart is pleased. A friend gave me a small patina colored miniature greenhouse and a walk in the woods and division of a few tillandsias ended me up with enough species to fill my new terrarium.

Here's a nice close look inside:

Included species:
  • Fan-shaped jelly fungus (Dacryopinax spathularia)
  • Snow Fungus (Tremella fuciformis)
  • Common Haircap Moss (Polytrichum commune)
  • Pincushion Moss (Leucobryum albidum)
  • Perforated Ruffle Lichen (Parmotrema perforatum)
  • Resurrection Fern (Polypodium polypodioides)
  • Sphagnum Moss (Sphagnum)
  • Bartram's Airplant (Tillandsia bartramii)
  • Southern Needleleaf (Tillandsia setacea)
  • Air Plant (Tillandsia funckiana)
  • Wax Begonia (Begonia x semperflorens)
  • Violet Wood-Sorrel (Oxalis violacea)
  • Unknown bracket fungus (Polyphore)

I'll see how these species do in the terrarium and transfer anything out that seems to be flagging. I'll add more small species over time. Also, I need to figure out a lighting solution. Something like an LED lightbar that I can mount inside the cover would work nicely. We'll see what happens.