Fig. 1: Icon with full-length portrait of St. Michael Detail of panel from the Pala d'Oro; 12th and 13th century, Constantinople. Materials: gold, silver gilt, cloisonne enamel on gold, pearls, precious stones. Currently in Venice at the Procuratoria di San Marco.
Fig. 2: Icon with full-length portrait of St. Michael Detail of the central panel : Late 11th or early 12th century, Constantinople. Materials: gold, silver gilt, cloisonne enamel on gold. Currently in Venice at the Procuratoria di San Marco.
Fig. 3: Icon with bust-portrait of St. Michael Detail of the central panel: 10th century, Constantinople. Materials: gold, silver gilt, cloisonne enamel on gold, precious stones. Currently in Venice at the Procuratoria di San Marco.
The cloisonne enamelwork on gold involved fusing enamels inside little compartments formed by metal strips fixed onto a metal base. This technique flourished in Byzantium, and was thought to have been imported from the West, as it had already been mastered by Carolingian goldsmiths in the 9th century.
What I've attempted to do is create a composite of the three images and add a little of my own imagination. The central picture was used as the basis for the figure; the bust portrait primarily as a design for the jewel encrusted breastplate, and the third for the depiction of the detail in the wings - a stylized form. All in all, the three enamels are considered as some of the most famous of medieval art. They also contain the finest surviving ensemble of Byzantine enamels.
Click each thumbnail to see the full size picture; (the pictures above may be enlarged too).
This is the drawing that was applied to the plywood base. The wood was stained with a dark water-based stain (mahogany) to prevent the light plywood colors from showing through the smalti tiles. Started work on the wings, using smalti and flat gold smalti (oro naturale). Used some crackle glass to represent the detail in the orb (seen on the right).
Added the sword detail that is seen here - used red gold smalti for this (oro rosso); also got in the breastplate using a variety of materials - regular smalti, wavy gold (oro rivestimento) and several jewels, real and glass - included are sapphires of various colors - blue, gold and multi, rubies, peridots and citrine. Colored mirror was also used to highlight the band on the sleeve. Had a lot of trouble with taking pictures; they either made the gold too bright and the smalti too dull, or vice-versa. Solved the problem (almost) with a tripod and using proper light - am still learning!! All of the jewels were set in silver which was subsequently oxidized to achieve a "black" look. On second thoughts, I should have set them in gold. All the settings were done locally in Dallas at an excellent jeweler - Gem Classics, run by a husband-wife team, Gabriel and Becky Romo. Their website is http://www.gemclassics.com
Added the halo and helmet; as you can see, I dreaded doing the face and left that for much later!! Materials used: granulated gold and black metallic vitreous for the helmet; there is also a pear shaped gold sapphire surrounded by peridots in the middle above the forehead; used white gold (oro bianco), silver-cobalt smalti, green smalti and emeralds (the inner cross) for the halo and green and blue crackle glass surrounding the emeralds. This time the colors are a lot better. Most of the jewels show what I'd say were close to their true colors - they sparkle a little more and are a little more intense in reality. It all had to do with the lighting!
This picture is taken under artificial lighting, and I would have preferred normal daylight...perhaps the next ones. In any case, got the rest of his garment completed: used green, white, yellow and blue smalti, rivestimento gold, granulated gold, green metallic vitreous glass and tourmalines surrounded by black smalti and pearls for the skirt; smalti, gold, and metallic vitreous glass for the arms.
Filled in the gaps between the framework in the background; used two shades of green which do not show in the picture; they are both M6 from the smalti series and are absolutely different; one is from Mountaintop and the other from Tabularasa; this is the biggest difference I've seen so far!
Michael's got a face, finally!!! Just did a little more; added his arms, the orb he is carrying, a little border around his vest to delineate him from his surroundings (background); also gave him a slim lapis lazuli wrist band and a ruby ring. Will start with the background next...
I've just gotten the background for the lower half of Michael completed; just a simple pattern (an old Roman floor pattern actually). Just used smalti, including the silver-cobalt metallic one. There's just the top background left now..also redid his lips (the first time I've actually had to yank tiles out on lips - did it three times and this is it, for better or worse!!)