I am always on the lookout for suitable quotations to write out, and, as I am keen on music, when I had a collection of phrases on the topic, I decided to do something with them.
It took quite a few years before I could get round to it, but I was eventually able to combine the music quotations with a spare piece of vellum I had and make a vellum book. To start with I experimented with nib size and writing style, and settled on the fallback of Italic. So I wrote out all the quotations to see how many lines each would take and what sort of shape they would be. I wrote out the authors’ names in tiny capitals as a contrast.
Then I cut up the different quotations and used magic tape to attach the authors’ names underneath in what I thought was the best position. I played around with blocks of text to try to get a balance in terms of layout, and placed these in various positions on a large piece of paper.
When I was happy with this, I marked all the positions and took measurements of exactly where each separate block of text, with the writers’ names, started and finished.
Then it was time to determine the exact page size. The top margin is usually smaller than the bottom, and the two outer and the inner margins about the same (the ratio for a classically laid out manuscript book is 2 units at the top, 4 units at the bottom, and 3 units at each outer edge and in the gutter [fold]).
I selected a reasonably robust piece of vellum so that it wouldn’t buckle and cockle too much, but note the distinct curve of the skin on the above right. This is the piece of vellum without being under weights, and not sewn into a book.The skin was prepared (see Illumination DVD) and the positions of the lines were marked by pin pricks using a set of compasses (see Calligraphy Clip, Measuring lines) then the lines were drawn with a 4H pencil.
To avoid the lettering looking too boring I wrote the text blocks alternately in Chinese liquid ink, and ultramarine Schmincke Calligraphy gouache. I also had the idea for a bit of levity by inserting a raised gesso musical note covered in pure gold leaf, (the same process as used for raised gold in mediæval illuminated manuscripts), between each of the text blocks.
I was fortunate in that my training many years ago also included bookbinding, which I enjoy very much, so making the vellum sheet into a book wasn’t too much of a challenge. Acid-free 230 gsm hp paper was used for the title page and colophon. I was given some lovely Indian hand-made paper marbled with gold swirls which seemed appropriate for the end papers, and also had some black and gold fabric with which I covered the boards for the book. So it was a case of folding, trimming, sewing and sticking and the book was done.