Being a scribe and illuminator, I usually work in 2-D, but love, and am fascinated by, lettering in 3-D. I decided that I would experiment with the various ways of working when lettering isn’t flat and chose A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver from Proverbs in the Bible.
The first thing that I realised was that I would need a different lettering style from those I was used to. Pen-made letters were too thin and fragile, and the shapes needed to be blockier and more substantial. The second was appreciating that, although on paper, lines can extend beyond others, when the words are going to be part of something solid, every letter has to be supported and linked. So rules of spacing and evenness of rhythm went out the window, as ‘apples of’ had to be squeezed in between the lines of ‘is like’ and ‘gold in’. I also had the idea of making the letters o as apples with a cunning stalk and leaf which I could rotate and use to link and support some of the letters.
My brother-in-law is a designer, artisan and a caster in metal, and he took my design forward, creating a mould (right) which could be cast in metal.
This was placed in a metal surround, dusty white powder sprinkled on top, and then fine sand added on top of that.
This would be one side of the cast metal, but it needed a back as well, so another metal surround was added, and the process replicated with the back of the mould.
Large holes and channels were made so that the metal could flow easily into the sand and design, and then the actual mould removed.
Red-hot liquid metal was transported from the furnace and poured into the hole made in the sand to spread out through the channels into the spaces of the designed piece. This was one of the most exciting stages, seeing that heat and smoke from liquid metal.
But the most exciting was seeing the metal surrounds being separated and removed, once the metal had had time to cool, then the sand removed to reveal the bronze cast shape of my design. Of course it needed a lot of cleaning up, but even in this raw state it looked absolutely amazing. Jim was able to then polish the bronze and ensure that the apple-shaped letters o were burnished to look like actual apples of gold, and mount the cast piece in a marble base. The whole process was absolutely fascinating. Now I need to make some time to create my next idea!