Thursday, July 26, 2012

Black Gesso Bird & Golden Wings

Maybe we are all part magpie. Something attracts us to shiny things; how can we express that delight? My earliest childhood memory of being drawn to something shiny was the book Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni (written in 1964). The beautiful illustrations contained metallic gold that I loved, but the book wasn't taken out and read to me very often because the adults around me did not like the message. A little wingless bird who has many inky-black-wingéd friends to take care of him meets a wishingbird and finally gets his dream: a pair of golden wings. His friends promptly abandon him because they think he thinks he is better than they are. In fact, he is confused. Tico ends up giving away his feathers, one at a time, to people in need. The golden feathers are replaced by inky black feathers, and since he looks like them now, his friends accept him again. Tico's story is poignant, but I'm not sure I like his friends.

But never mind the story! I have always loved the pictures. They have a South Asian flavor decorated with metallic gold and intricate patterns. In homage to Lionni's illustrations, then, I offer a black and golden-wingéd bird as a project. 

Tools: pencil; X-Acto knife and spare blades; self-healing cutting mat; small stencil brush (it is flat-bottomed); small pointed brush
Materials: frosted Mylar (.03 or .05 mil); decorative paper; black gesso; gold gesso; Note: black acrylic paint and metallic gold acrylic paint will work as long as you do not intend them to be book pages. Use gesso if you don't want your pages to stick together or if you like a matte finish.


1. Draw a basic shape on a piece of frosted Mylar. I use frosted because it will accept pencil marks. I also tend to lose track of any stencils made with clear Mylar.


2. Use the X-Acto with a new blade to cut out the shapes. Leave bridges between large areas, such as the wings and the bird's body.
 3. Put a dab of black gesso or black acrylic paint on a piece of scrap paper or a plastic lid. Use a small, dry stencil brush and take up a tiny amount of the black, just enough to evenly color all of the bristles, but still keeping the brush fairly dry. 

4. With an up-and-down, stamping motion, apply the black through the stencil to a piece of decorative paper. (I used a piece of paper I had painted with acrylic inks and white gesso, then scratched: "sgraffito." See Painted Paper, p. 67.)
5. Remove the stencil. 
6.  Use the small, pointed brush dipped in gold to add details such as dabs, dots, and lines.


So, there you go. Another opportunity to put Birds on Things.

And some miscellany—A page from Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni


Another Jacob's ladder, this one I made for a friend's birthday, which was actually what got me thinking about Tico again…



The back was made from book pages and altered. The gold blocks out extraneous words…

1 comment:

Velma said...

i love your tutorial, alisa. they are generous and and a springboard of ideas/techniques. thank you again.