Tuesday, June 15, 2010

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven - a new, smaller project

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

--William Butler Yeats

Welcome to my next calligraphy book project. I like how The Tell-Tale Heart turned out, so I'm having another go. Only this time instead of a story I'm only doing a very short poem. I want to keep this well under two months! I also want to try a different type of book. I've never really done much in the way of different types of books, and it's about time. So this one will be a star book, a bit like this:

This star ornament is from fellow Bookbinding Etsy Street Team member KupoKiley, and you can find it here.

I've been try to work out the look and materials and different layers etc. I'm finding it a bit hard to get a handle on exactly what I want to do with it. This sketch is the closest I've come to an actual plan:

I have a basic feel I want to achieve, sort of a dark Art Nouveau look, a bit Gothic and Edwardian filigree and things like that. The trouble is finding paper - nice dark blue paper seems hard to come by, which makes it hard to stick with the 'night' theme, and I want heavy paper to do cutouts that can then stand up on display. Plus, it's three dimensional, so all the paper has to be as pretty on the reverse side as the front. I will probably end up making or glueing most of it, I'm kind of thinking. So much for this being a simple project! I choose a short poem, so some part of me is compensating by making everything else more complicated.

This is the paper for the outside layer, the one that will have the actual poem on it. It's my favourite technique - layers of calligraphy (the poem, of course) over and over until it's unreadable. I also put a couple of washes on top to give a more uniform background for the proper calligraphy. I'm going to use gold gouache on top with loads of little flourishes. Behind that will be a few layers of cut out writing, and maybe some transparent paper if it fits with the them. The back layer will have the title and author, done in masking fluid with this type of calligraphy on top - kind of the exact reverse of this page. Or something. We'll see what I figure out!


  1. Murano have a good, dark blue paper, if you like a slight texture. Or Canford may have a dark blue that would suit you - they have a big range of colours. I found these when looking for dark blue paper to make my "Star Spangled Planner" project in November.
    You could try a dark blue cloth instead, backed with fine weight mulberry paper to make a bookcloth? After all the poem is about The Cloths of Heaven.
    It's one of my all-time favourite poems, by the way. I just love the imagery and the rhythmic feel of it, with that soft, wistful ending. I always have images in my head of lengths of gorgeous deep blue and golden yellow cloths, sprinkled with stars embroidered in silver and gold... sigh...

    Good luck with your book!

  2. Just after I posted this I found a really nice dark blue pastel paper, but when I got home it just doesn't look right with the calligraphy. I think I'll just use some black mulberry paper I have.
    I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the embroidery bits. I don't want to make anything too complicated, but I'll have to figure out some simple way of adding some in.