Mistress Tirzah’s Laurel

I was asked by her Peers to make a Laurel scroll to be presented at Ymir, this past weekend. Evidently Black scrolls are really what really excite her, so Black hours it is.



Black Hours of Galeazzo Maria Sforza


A book of hours is an early Christian devotional book containing psalms and prayers. They are the most common surviving books from the middle ages. Luxury books widely collected in certain wealthy circles in the 15th -16th centuries. Due to the popularity of these richly illustrated books with very wealthy men, several survive.

Uncommonly, in manuscripts are so called Black Hours. So called due to the dyed parchment on which they are written as opposed to any nefarious content. There are seven extant black hours, few in good condition.

Best known and preserved is the Morgan Hours, fully digitized by the Morgan library. Also in fairly good shape, but not digitized is the Horae Beatae Marie Secundum usum curie romane, c 1458, and the Black Hours of Mary of Burgundy, which is not all in this style. Of these few extant pieces, the one that has art that most appeals to me is the Black Hours of Galeazzo Maria Sforza.The book used to be the property of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the fifth Duke of Milan. It was produced in Bruges, Flanders, probably between 1466 and 1477. Its name derives from its black borders and dark colour scheme, also found in the New York Black Hours, Morgan MS 493, and of a type favoured by the Burgundian court. It is one of about seven surviving black books of hours, all luxury books from the circle of the Burgundian court around this time. It is identified by some with the Black Hours of Charles the Bold that is mentioned in contemporary records, but others disagree.

It measures 25 by 18 centimetres (9.8 in × 7.1 in), has 154 folios and includes 15 full-page miniatures, 24 small-format miniatures, as well as 71 figurative or ornamental initials, and borders with medallions. The illuminations of the book are entirely attributed to the anonymous Master of Anthony of Burgundy. Written in Latin, it follows the Roman liturgy. The text is inscribed in gold and silver, using textus semi-quadratus, a Gothic script.[1]

According to the historian Antoine de Schryver, this manuscript was commissioned by Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, and is the one mentioned in the archives of the duke, decorated by the French illuminator Philippe de Mazerolles. This hypothesis is criticized by other historians of art, who consider the Black Hours of Charles the Bold to be mostly lost, with fragments surviving in the Louvre (MI1091) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (NAL149).[2]



I had a full sheet of Arches cover black paper. I had never worked with it before, but it looked like nice heavy paper.

I got new tubes of Nicker gouache for Christmas. I have several tubs of Fintec, and sheets of gold leaf. There is some Dr pH Martin’s gold Spectralite 18K ink and some pH Martin Silver ink that begs for this use.

Many are the dip pens, pencils, erasers, etc.



Layout began with math. Lots and lots of math.


Enter a caption
First the calligraphy because it’s easy to mess up and hard to fix.


Trying out the gouache wash technique
Blue flowers


Various procedure photos including the masking fluid tests are in the mosaic.

Masking fluid worked really well for the thin areas that I wanted to keep black, in the cloak, table, and tile floor. Tiny areas of paint have me using fingernails as a pallet. This is why I’m not allowed to use toxic paints.

What I learned?


Arches cover black is the devil for calligraphy, but takes paint really really well, and is stunningly beautiful.

Arches cover black is too bumpy to be worth “flat” gilding. Raised would probably be awesome.

I like flat gouache better than metallic.

The cut edge of the mat doesn’t particularly want to be gilded, with actual gold leaf, thank you very much.

I very much like this style of scroll.


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