Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pay It Forward Challenge Projects

At the beginning of the year, I took the Pay It Forward challenge in which, in order to receive something handmade by one person, I had to open my skills up to make something handmade for the first 5 people that asked.  I only had 3 takers, but they each asked for something very different.

The first project, a pouch suitable for an 10th Century Bulgarian persona, was completed and given to my friend back in the summer. I previously shared this on the blog, so you can click here to check that out.

The next project was an embroidered veil. While this friend does 11th Century Italio-Norman, I decided (after trying to find anything credibly appropriate) that this project would be better as just a way to try my hand at doing something fancy with an embroidered border. She provided me with a very nice tan silk, and requested gold and purple for the colors. This is what I came up with:

The edge technique is called Shell Hem Stitch. I used this tutorial to learn that. The embroidery technique is double herringbone stitch, worked in gold and purple pearl cotton.

The last project was an illuminated piece. In the last two years, I've really scaled back on the illumination painting I do, but I certainly haven't lost my love of it. This piece, for a gentleman who is involved in SCA heavy fighting as well as archery, was a great opportunity for me to recreate a panel from the Maciejowski Bible. I originally planned on doing one of the chaotic battle scenes, but ultimately decided that one of their most interesting qualities- their graphic/gory nature- was the most limiting in terms of creating a nice piece for a friend to hang on his wall. After some searching, I found a nice block of some knights on horseback, and thought that fit the bill quite well.

I used a dip pen and ink for the outlines and then painted using gouache. My paper choice allowed the ink to bleed a bit when I painted, so I tried to use that to my advantage in the shading. I used acrylic paint for the metallic gold areas.

I find it very rewarding to do projects like this, especially when I make them for friends. I enjoy giving my talents, in whichever form they take. I think it's also wonderful to do these sorts of things to get out of your own head space and think from someone else's perspective for a while.

And since this is the best place to share it, I also made an illuminated portrait of my mom as a Christmas present. It's 2" x 3", and I used a dip pen and ink, then painted with gouache. It's based on a figure of a saint from the Alphonso Psalter, late 13th century. The blue tower and cross-crosslet are parts of her device, and the frilled fillet, which I made for her a few years ago, is one of her standard headdress pieces. It's the second piece in the personalized miniature collection I've started creating for her.


  1. Oh my goddess. My commentators have not asked for specific things (the swedish version of it was more like "comment and I will give you a surprise) but now... I get a bit of performance anxiety. These a wonderful!

    1. Thank you very much! I actually decided to ask each what they'd like, since I didn't want to make something they ended up thinking was lame. It was fun to have these projects as distractions last year!

    2. That's good, but if I know myself a little bit, I would probably end up making a little bit too big things for them :P