A few months ago, I had the opportunity to take a three-day intensive workshop on working with vellum (calfskin), taught by noted Irish calligrapher Denis Brown. I haven’t gotten around yet to doing much with what I learned, but I did come home from the workshop with a little 5×8 miniature that I did during the class. It’s been sitting on the corner of my drawing board for three months, waiting for me to get around to doing something about framing it. Today I decided that, if I couldn’t get a physical frame done, I could at least use Photoshop to do a little faux-framing to help me decide what final treatment I want to use. Here’s the piece, as it would look float-framed in a shadowbox treatment:
To give a few more details about the piece itself, the material is “slunk” calfskin vellum, which is a skin taken from a stillborn calf. The quality of this particular skin and its preparation is extremely high, and the skin is quite translucent. To take advantage of the translucence, I mounted a piece of watercolor paper to the piece of plywood that the skin would be stretched on, and on that I painted a background of extra leaves for the “bush.” The skin was then stretched and glued on top of the background, so that the final piece has a little of a three-dimensional feel. The calligraphy and decoration were done in gouache.