Thank you for taking time to visit, and I hope I am even a tiny bit helpful as I have been helped and blessed by so many others. I have been doing Calligraphy since teens, and card making for many years as well. In 1990 I delighted in the joys of stamping with ink and embossing after a trip to Cairns, Qld. In 2009 I discovered the brayer, 2010 the Cuttlebug, also have now taking to reading up on crafting blogs and lo! Here I am, on one of my own.

I live on the coast of eastern Australia. I am a Christian. I trusted in the LORD down here at the beach, amazingly it is not far from where I now live. It was over 50 years ago, after a Beach Mission Service at the age of 12 years

Thursday 23 February 2012

Step by Step - Illuminated Calligraphy of Psalm 27

As the time goes, so the work grows...
Be warned today's wordy post has 8 stages + 15 photos.

The aim of this post is to give a full step by step of how the illuminated texts are done, as I found recently there was not a single post which contained all details. I learnt how to do these from a simple book which I was given by a friend in 1980. It is now out of print needless to say, but if you are extra clever you may track it down.The frontispiece and full details are on this earlier post here.
 If pictures are not large enough please click to enlarge.
This work was a commission for a friend's son. The verse chosen was Psalm 27:1 and 3a. Not all of verse one was necessary as it had to be large enough to be read easily ie not small print.
This is the passage:
Psalm.27:1 , 3a
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
 the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:

As you will see as the layout proceeds I fiddle around with this layout, and which words are put in and which are omitted.
Stage 1: scribbled notes on paper fiddling (and praying with each stage) to work out the important words, where the emphasis is required. 
Here I am scribbling with my Bible open at the same time, as context is very important in a verse placement and emphasis.

Stage 2:
Copy and paste from online KJV the text into a Word doc, (know it is word perfect then). Work some more online to work out where things might be best placed. You see quite a change from here and layout in next stages. However it was just as well I had a printed word-for-word copy of this as a critic (yep, have them and they are very handy) pointed out that from this stage to the next I had left a word out ("should" in 2nd last line), so that was easily amended at that stage...(phew! thanks, Lord)
Stage 3:
Now go onto rough paper of real sized text so get clear idea of size relevance of words.
Here the layout at the top section completely changes in this step as you see. In this third and fourth  pictures below it has changed on the tracing paper again, in small way (will let you work out how? :D). Used a calligraphy texta to do the Gothic text and used different sized pens. I did cut and past pieces on the rough sheet above - ie bits not suitable were cut out and others added.

Stage 4: Transfer to the tracing paper after the layout is sorted on stage 3. Primarily, this is because the decoration can take some fiddling, and then the good paper would be messed with drawing, erasing, etc. I have to constantly change lettering etc. I redid one part of the top decoration four times, plus three of the lines were out by 1-3mm.
Secondly if someone asks me to do it again as another order, I have it to this stage already to lift out of my file. Saves a lot of time and it is not unusual to be asked again as have a portfolio, and give a discount for ones done before, because of the huge amount of time and effort saved.
Stage 5: Once it is on the tracing paper it is transferred to the actual sheet of paper- I always use very good paper for many reasons. You will see later it has to be very forgiving as it is asked to take a lot! The 100% rag sheet was over $10AUD for the single sheet, which shocks some folks.
As you see by these photos the setsquares are put it good use as must make sure all the angles are accurate and these are pencilled in lightly and left there until the inking in stage. Even doing this I find I have mistakes which drive me batty. I hate those bits whenever I look at the piece of work - but it is handmade and so not perfect.

Stage 6:                                     Here we have work transferred then inked in and so all the really hard work as far as I am concerned in many ways is done at this stage. I think the biggest struggle in a work is getting the layout even and correct! The execution though still has its pains and stress as you see by the smudge below.

 I have explained in another post (see here) about these most amazing Pentel Hyper Erasers - so see if you can buy yourself one.This is when you are very grateful God answers your cries for help and uses the extra good paper and the Hyperaser to do the trick!
I copy each text about 5 to 6 times depending on method. First onto tracing paper, then trace onto sheet. Next it is pencilled in and then inked in… I am careful not to rush this step although it is tempting! Then paint (or colour if the other style with Caran D’Ache pencils) and re-ink again…
Stage 7:
Laying down the colours - the colours are laid on and blended. A palette is used (see here for my desk as I work) of card with gouache and blend light to dark as shown. I start at either end of a single letter and work up or down. Gouache blends beautifully! 

These are the colours from the Old Testament Tabernacle - and were requested by the person. I often use them. The colours are: 
Blue - speaks of the Holy Spirit, Who if we allow Him works so mightily in our lives.
Crimson (scarlet) - speaks of the Son of God, the LORD Jesus Christ,  Whose blood was shed to purchase salvation for all believing in His salvation work by faith.
Purple - Speaks of the Heavenly Father and the holiness of God - our Father Who constantly watches over those who are His children.
Gold - speaks of the Deity of God - so here the Trinity of the Lord God is pictured in the colours laid down by God to Moses over 4000BC (see Exodus 28, etc), well before the Trinity was clearly revealed in the New Testament.

Stage 8: The gold leaf section is built up. The gold is done with a glue size, and layers (sometimes up to ten) are built up. Gold leaf is added right at the end when it is at the right level. I use transfer gold leaf in 23 carat and this very easy to use and is my favourite!
This above is the final layering of the gold leaf glue size ( which is a mixture of PVA glue, water and tiny bit of gouache). This stage is very different if doing flat gold leaf and then I use a commercial gilding size as done here on this post.

Adding the gold leaf transfer - it is rubbed on over the transfer paper, gently using finger on the back of the sheet to make sure you cover all the surface. Sometimes when humidity is very low, it dries the size too hard to let it adhere. It is moistened by blowing on it - some folks use a special tube to blow through but I dont bother, rather like the burnishing tool. I have very soft brush with which I buff it -  you dont need anything else for this particular type of of gold leaf. I paid heaps for a burnisher which is never used.
I meant to explain about the small flower when doing layout. It is magnified here with my clip on magnifier (bought at Aldi's, which I use all the time these days) - this flower is to indicate a part of the verse has been left out ie to indicate a minor break in the passage.
Stage 8: Final stage - Re-inking and touching up
Hurray!! do I love this bit.

I was asked to put a close up of "The Lord". For those who asked, yes, this is my original design- I redid the bit next to the "The" about three or four times.
Balance is very important.
 I would never expend the fifty plus hours on anything but the Word of God - it is far too draining, and as some know I was sick half way through doing this piece.
However for God's precious Word every bit is worth it and to God be all the glory alone - it is His handiwork. I am merely the servant.
If you have lasted the full post I congratulate you, and thank you. This post so long and detailed has been a battle too! to get blogger to do it!

May God bless your day wherever you may be.
May this precious Word bless your heart in all its beauty and treasure. His precious Word is the place where we  find comfort and help in time of need, and much more indeed!
Shaz in Oz.x
PS Forgot to link over to this new blog hop I have found - called Scripture Thursday at Little Birdie Blessings see it here and do join in too!


Anne said...

I am stunned! This is amazing! Superb! Magnificent!WOWZA! It is so fascinating to see these different stages and I honestly did not realise just how much work and different skills you need to produce such wonderful calligraphy. What an absolute joy to behold and wonderfl way to show the Word of God.My you are so gifted gal! So blessed and I admire your dedication, hardwork and perfection. What a blessing you are!

sandra de said...

Stunningly, beautiful and now I realise the amount of time you spend in creating these wonderful verses of the word.

craftieodmae said...

now that's talent!!!! You are good!!!

Kittie said...

Saz, This is fantastic.

Carol Willis said...

Hi Shaz
I have just found your blog by way of Eileen Godwin and have become a follower. Your work is absolutely stunning.
Caz x

Little Birdie Blessings said...

Shaz, This is a masterpiece. Thank you for explaining the process. Although calligraphy is not something I can do, I appreciate knowing how painstakingly this was made. I like how you made the various phrases in colors and explained them to us, especially THE LORD done in nothing but the finest gold. I'm honored that you would share this on Scripture Thursday. Thank you. ~ Abby

brenda said...

Wonderful to see how you created your beautiful work of art Shaz, I can certainly see it was a labour of love. Thank you for sharing.

B x

Craftychris said...

I sm so amazed! Your work is stunning - I never realised just how much work went in to it. You have such a talent. Thank you for sharing it with us xx

Eileen said...

Shaz .... I am just blown away.... What a truly magnificent work of art .... So much work but worth every minute ! Beautiful and wonderful, well done ! Eileen xx

Nancy said...

Hello, Shaz! What a fantastic post this was...I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it! You are a true artist and I'm so glad you're using your talents to share the Word of God! Thank you so much!...Nancy :o)

Bridget Larsen said...

Just amazing, so much work but exquisite

...the yorkshire fox... said...

...Shaz it's amazing just how much work you put into your pieces...layer upon have such a fine hand and the end result is Timeless...Mel :)

Sarn said...

I wholeheartedly agree with everyone else's comments and having nothing more to add! STUNNING xxx

:)) ...Вика said...

Очень красивое оформление!

Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

:)) ... Vic said ...

Very beautiful design!

(thanks Vika and everyone God's word is very beautiful and precious.)

Sarah C. said...

Lovely work, Shaz!
Oh, I've missed doing calligraphy texts from scratch like you taught me. I haven't done it in quite a while. The latest ones have been ready-made templates. I hope to get back to it soon someday.
God bless,

Julie said...

This is simply amazing - it's clear to see the amount of work and love you've put into this!

Glenda said...

Each piece you do is truly a labor of love. Just a tremendous amount of work for each piece!

ikki said...

A stunning piece of artwork - just beautiful and you have illustrated superb skill and dedication in completing this illustration. Someone is going to be absolutely delighted with this gift. ikki x

ps Thanks for your comments re Goggle, I think I have sorted it now, fingers crossed! x

Sheree said...

What a striking piece Shaz!! The amount of hours and dedication put into your work is incredible. Your attention to detail, step by step, never rushing is amazing. You, my dear friend are a true artist. I know of no other to create the way that you do. You are truly blessed.

Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog! I am envious of your warm sunny weather and hope that warmth is just around the corner for us.

Have a wonderful week and thank you so much for sharing the painstaking process of your work!


Hettie said...

Wow Shaz. This is superb. Great to see how you go about setting your work up in stages. One day, just one day I will give it a go!

Sheree said...

Morning Shaz! I have something on my blog for you!

Jocelyn aka JoBear2 said...

Wow Shaz - so wonderful to see the step-by-step process of how you do your Calligraphy. I guess I just assumed you would just draw it lightly in pencil then go over it with paint - never realised there were so many steps! Very glad you posted this as it makes me appreciate your beautiful artwork even more than I already do. How blessed you are with talent!

{{{hugs}}} and blessings

Carole said...

This just takes my breath away! Absolutely stunning Shaz!!

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