A note passed from Tatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova to Aldith Angharad St. George
at Twelfth Night, AS XXXIX (January 8, 2005).
by Hirsch von Henford
When Laurels Pass Notes
There is a long-standing tradition between Mistress Aldith and me of passing notes to each other at events. It first started when she and I made a one dollar bet about an issue. I won the bet, but the dollar was not forthcoming. So I waited until another event and while we were assembled at Court, passed a sealed, calligraphed missive to Aldith demanding the payment of the debt. Since that time we have occasionally tried to surprise each other with elaborate notes, usually presented in such a way as to cause the recipient to laugh out loud (with extra points if it happens in Court or Council).
After finishing up a scroll on black illustration board for Lorenzo di Nebbia Argentea, I had some black paper left over from the trial runs of the calligraphy. It had been over a year since I had last done a note for Aldith, and I thought it would be fun to do another, but I had no particular subject in mind. My husband Garth suggested that I do something on a "Lord Of The Rings" theme. After some thought, I finally came up with an idea.
The first photo is of the outside of the note. The paper was folded twice such that the two flaps obscured the inside. A red silk ribbon was laced through the top flap and then through the bottom flap, such that the ribbon depended from the bottom edge of the note when everything was folded shut. The contents were painted first, then the recipient's name was calligraphed on the outside and the entire thing sealed.
The image of the golden ring was sketched in with pencil, then lines ruled for the text. The hand is Uncial from the ever-popular "Medieval Calligraphy" by Marc Drogin, and was painted with a Number 2 round brush in Permanent White gouache. The ring was also painted in with Permanent White to seal the black surface. Once that dried, a coat of Yellow Ochre was painted over that, then gold leaf applied with glair. After the leaf had dried, it was burnished. Shadows were painted onto the band using Yellow Ochre darkened with Brilliant Violet and a touch of Burnt Umber. Highlights were added using the Yellow Ochre lightened with some Permanent White, then the very bright reflection highlights were made along the upper edges of the band using straight Permanent White. Although the entire thing is underlaid with gold, two-thirds of the gold was painted over.
No work is complete without a mistake, and this one has one in the calligraphy. After writing the recipient's name on the outside and sealing the note, I belatedly noticed that I had managed to spell Aldith's last name wrong -- I'd left out the "R" in "George"! I didn't have any more black paper so I couldn't start over again from scratch, so the mistake was fixed by painting over the letter G and the cross-bar of the letter E with black paint. After it dried, the R was painted in over the blacked-out G, what had been the E was turned into a G, and an E was painted on the end. If there's a good contrast on your computer monitor, look closely and you may be able to spot the repair.
And yes, I wrote the poem myself for the occasion, with thanks to J. R. R. Tolkein. - Tatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova
The West Kingdom History Website was created by and is maintained by Hirsch von Henford (mka Ken Mayer).