Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Tournament shield in progress
I really love the tournament shield in this portrait of George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland as Queen's Champion to Elizabeth I (image is from Wikipedia.) The flourishes and fact that it is absolutely in no way functional make it so much better. The shape is also seen in Alciato's Book of Emblems which is the first of the published impresa. Here it is in emblem 19, an owl with the motto Prudens magis quam loquax "Wise but not wordy."
Tournament shields like this are meant to be ephemeral, and are made of papier mache or similar materials. There is a surviving pageant shield from 1470 in the Louvre by Antonio Pollaiuolo. It is carved gesso with guilding. Sort of like stucco built over an armature.
I decided to make mine from papier mache. As I intended it to hang on my wall, I wanted to keep the shape of the one in the painting of Clifford, but chose to only bend it forward, rather than having back curving sections as the one in the portrait appears to have.
I started by sketching my shape and cutting it out of brown paper to trace it on to the cardboard I was using as a base.
After cutting the cardboard to shape, I built a little bit of an armature from tin foil so I could build up the center for the dimensionality I wanted.
Then it was just a matter of covering it with papier mache and sculpting the shape I wanted. I used Celluclay, as I have previously used the product successfully. I know there are several other similar products on the market and I certainly could have made my own mixture, but I don't have much waste paper hanging around so I went with what was easy.
I just used my hands for the sculpting, no fancy tools involved. You'll notice the other fancy equipment-- I let this dry on my husband's desk and used some of his soda cans to prop up the edges so that they would curve properly.
It is going to take a few days for the papier mache to dry. Then I will sand it, prime it and begin painting and gilding.