Memories of "Sarah"
Bill's just uploaded the S plaque to the store, so I thought I'd tell you a little bit about its first iteration, the Sarah plaque.
It's quite a simple design, because it was hand-drawn and painted for our daughter back in early 1997.
I remember the challenge of trying to arrange times when Sarah was out of the house so I could make it as a surprise for her birthday – that's pretty tricky with a 3 year old!
I’d been searching for ways of adding gold and silver to my work, but I hadn’t been able to find any metallic paint. The best I could find at this time was a liquid ink “metallic gold” pen, which I used for the outline of the S. and the interior of the other letters. It worked better in real life than in this scan.
The rest of the piece was coloured using the red, blue, and yellow gouache paints I'd decided to use for all my colouring at this point in time. That was before I'd talked to people who have seen the original Celtic manuscripts, and learned how bright the colours still are today! These days, Bill paints our work using jewel-bright colours digitised from the original pigment, plus the beautiful silvers and golds he's developed.
The S is a completely original design featuring a simple single-strand interlace and the geometric fills to be found in many tiny spaces in the Book of Kells. A nice example of these is in the Z (first letter of Zachariah) shown below, from folio 19v.
I found inspiration for Sarah's border in a double-strand segment in the central column of the Book of Kells' canon tables on folio 5r. I loved the way it could be reduced to a single knot, or linked into a bar however long was needed. So versatile! Although I didn't use this knot in the Name Plaque, a doubled version of it forms a feature block in the House Blessing.