Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Armorial Amicorum

So... the world takes us all in unexpected adventures.  When we began Klave Centesca it was both as a means of funding our private charity work, and also encouraging the use of embroidered coats of arms on the vestments of the Catholic Church as in olden days... especially in the USA.

First off, most of our commissions came from places outside of the US.  That has been fun and expanded our horizons.  We've come to make things for England, Scotland, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Vatican City, Canada, Australia and even Madagascar!

We've also made more than just things for the Catholic Church.  Through these things we do, we have found great friendships and charity and peace with Anglicans, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists and even the Jewish lady who not only sold us our machines! She has been a great friend thereafter and helped us use hers to finish embroideries when our machines have been away for repairs.  A true Godsend.

If there is one lesson, I'd say that it is good to be open to the possibilities of more than mere transactions, ultimately we see everything we do as collaborations, and the results are always extraordinary because of it.  

Speaking of collaborations, I should like to highlight one with some one who has become a good friend, Captain Jason Burgoin, who yesterday received his grant of arms from the Canadian Heraldic Authority in a private ceremony.

Again, we never thought to be making things outside of the church, but heraldry has been a link into these other interesting areas which we are so glad to have become acquainted with.  The CHA is a wonderful institution commissioned by the Governor General and in the name of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II of Canada (and the UK, etc. etc. etc.) to research and execute these heraldic affairs for Her people of Canada.  It is innovative and refreshing, and active, which is a joy to witness in this day and age.  The Captain, our friend, represents the Royal Heraldic Society of Canada in Toronto.  And I think we have both learned things in our discussions, which are ever so interesting.

One day we spoke of the old Liber Amicorum (or book of friends) so popular in the 16th century and even into the 19th.  In these, friends, would write a blurb, or a poem, draw a picture, artistic representation or simply sign their name for you.  In essence it is a grown-ups version of a school year-book or even of a face book... I mean Facebook.

On the other hand, there was also the tradition of collecting images of the shield designs and achievements of armigerous persons in hand-painted books called Armorials.  For people who have friends with coats of arms, and perhaps enjoy coloring and painting, it is a nice idea to combine the two and somehow the Armorial Amicorum was born.  It is a book where one records the arms of friends, and has them sign or write something special on the page dedicated to them.  It becomes a record of friendships made, grand times, and a good resource for historians hundreds of years from now.

The Armorial Amicorum is also inspired by the old visiting-books one keeps at home so all special guests may leave record of their congress, but in it, not only royalty gets a dedicated page, but rather, each friend receives equal treatment.  For this, the book has to be blank.  It is an album, but its purpose must be marked in some way.  Bookbinding is a fascinating art, and in yesteryear it was not uncommon to combine it with other forms:  metal plates, carved ivory plaques, gemstones, and yes, also embroidered covers:

The 3 sizes on display in front of the heraldic banner of Captain Jason Burgoin of embroidered satin by Klave Centesca.

We've made them in three sizes: The Country Squire is the briefest, which makes it perfect for travel. The Lord of the Manor is the medium sized one which is still practicable for traveling, but large enough to make a nice conversation piece in a room for company.  And the The Great Estates, which is the largest with its pages spanning 11x14 inches and more ideal for a grand foyer or large library.

Maybe it catches on?  Remember you heard about it here first though.  It is definitely something of an heirloom and bound to collect history in its pages (pun intended).

In the age of books with dust-jackets, and Kindle, we thought we should bring back a little of the splendor of years past.  So this is what we made for Jason.
Final proof of frontispiece embroidery before execution.

For this particular design we used the arms of the owner in the centre, as per the blazon at that time authorized by the CHA though not yet officially granted until yesterday.  The shape of it is inspired by the pediment of the Cathedral of Havana, our birth home, and a place Jason has visited and has fond memories of.  It is the closest to a self portrait or a signature that we could approach! Plus, the baroque lines seemed to work well with the representation of the whole. Everything else reflects the Canadian content which the armorial will enclose.  The corners are maple leaves and the borders alternating English roses and French fleurs-de-lis.

First fruits shared of the embroidery.

On the back side, we reinterpreted the personal badge granted him, which is a heraldic tyger of red.

On the inside cover was embroidered a poem:

And on the inside back cover, the Canadian Army Badge.

Absolutely exciting to make and collaborate, and we hope that from its first use upon his official Grant of Arms, and thereafter, many worthy and true friends sign its pages.  Maybe even the Queen!  The world moves in unexpected ways.

What great fun it is!

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