Some very good friends are in possession of some Bank of Howardsville currency notes. Its amazing to think that at one time Howardsville, Virginia had its own currency to support the local economy! I agreed to create something special to preserve them with.
The first step was to measure the bills and design with enough space to accommodate the mat bevel and the overhang from the picture moulding. This is the most fun part in my opinion because you get to dream and be creative as to what you will include in the composition.
We had already picked out a frame moulding and a mat style. The bills were to be framed in a double glass style. This means the mat and bills are going to be sandwiched between two layers of glass. By measuring the mat openings to be a quarter of an inch larger than the bills on all sides, once the piece is hung you can see the wall behind it. You can also take the frame down off the wall and flip it over to inspect the back of the piece as well.
Mat board is a temperamental material to work with. I discovered I couldn't transfer my drawing with regular graphite paper. I found the impression needed to get a mark from regular graphite paper would stain the mat paper and not come out once erased. Because I was drawing in sepia ink, the stains would show through. If I was illustrating in black ink there would be no problem but black ink would overwhelm the composition. I had to make my own transfer paper with a 2B pencil. This made marks light enough not to stain and they would remove easily with eraser.
Here it is finished against the original sketch.
A detailed photograph shows the Howardsville Heritage banner I chose for the top. It wraps around two barrels full of tobacco on either side. The banner cradles a bundle of wheat before unfurling down.
One of Virginia's biggest crops was tobacco. A tall spire of tobacco plant flanks either side of the mat. It's crowning head of flowers bursts open like fireworks. Honeysuckle vine creeps through the tobacco to twine itself through the divider in the middle of the mat.
At the bottom of the mat, a terrapin peeks out from beneath the tobacco leaves. Sacks of flour and a jug of moonshine wait on the shores of the James River as a Batteau floats tethered, awaiting cargo and a journey down the river. A bag of dried corn cobs has broken open and a fat hen pecks away at the kernels on the cob.
Doing this project has reminded me of how I miss pen and ink drawing and that I should get back into it. It took 13 hours to complete the work on the mat. Whew! That's at least worth a leisurely float down the river!