Trillium Exchange

Like many kingdoms, we have an artisan exchange a couple times a year, where you get to make a gift for another artisan. Sometimes on a theme, sometimes not. Oh yes, you get a present too, but let’s be real here, the fun is in getting to make something for someone! Secret Santa for A&S types!

Many of us use it as an opportunity to stretch our skills, try something we’ve always wanted to do, or explore something new. Our giftee provides some ideas (or reassurances that they’ll be happy with anything), a few guidelines on their persona and preferred era, and off you go.

I decided that I wanted to paint my giftee’s heraldry on a jewelry box, and paint up a silk fan for her, also with heraldry. Now, if you’ve met me (or have read this blog for any length of time), you know that I play with string. Paint and I don’t have much of a history, in fact.. I think before this project, the last time I painted anything was elementary school. (Spoilers: That was a very long time ago.)

Heraldry to hand, carefully printed to the right size for the box lid, I got out the carbon paper (also last relevant when I was in high school taking typing class on a manual typewriter. But Staples still sells it!), and traced it onto the small jewelry box. I stole borrowed my husband’s acrylic paints (he does the painting of things around our house) and then froze. It’s teeny! It’s complicated! What am I thinking?

Okay. Deep breath. The box lid is pretty solid, you can sand this sucker off half a dozen times before you need a new box. You got this.

Tiny brush to hand, and with the relevant advice of starting with the light colours first, off I went. Ott light, I love you for everything, you made seeing what I was doing possible. I puttered at it off and on, got a firm and solid fresh new appreciation for our scribes (magic, I swear they are magic), and then walked away when I hated it.

And y’know? After coming back and looking at it not 3 inches away, but sitting back like a normal person? It wasn’t awful! I completely chickened out of using black paint to outline things, so I got out a sharpie. (Worked great. Next one.. I’ll be brave enough for paint. I think. Maybe not. Paint is terrifying!)


One down, one to go.

The husband, yet again, is my tutor here. He’s the one who paints things, and if you’ve seen any baronial banners (or the guidons we give out as baronial awards), they are all his work. I dodge that like the ‘I don’t work in paint’ string gal that I am. But I have a pre-made silk fan (thank you Duchess Rylyn for letting me get in on that order to dharma), and a tube of gutta, and silk paints.

I would rather poke myself in the eye with a 2mm dpn than draw with a damnned tube of gutta. It gloops! It makes giant lines! There’s no precision! I can’t make it tiny! AHHHHHH!

(For the record, the husband thinks my horror at tubes of gutta and wee splotches is /hilarious/.) Yes, I know that the giant lines keep the silk paint from running. Yes, I know that practice makes for better precision. Yes, there are probably tubes of gutta that have smaller tips, but then you don’t get enough resist to keep the paint at bay. I just accept that perhaps, just maybe, there’s a darn fine reason why I am not the banner painter in our household.


Still, I am forging on. I have a gift to make, darn it all. Gutta on, gutta triple checked, and then after that trauma, honestly the silk paint went on like a dream. That was the most zen part of the fan. Other than the splotches, I’m pleased. It looks not half bad. (Apparently the photo I was sure I took of the finished fan is awol on my phone. Forgive me. I’ll update the post if I get some photos of the finished one.)

I hope you like them, Violetta!

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