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Lesson 6

More Geometric Borders

Gael Stirler

Now that you have the hang of laying out a grid and building your design within that grid you can start to collect and practice a folder of designs.


The tulip design is often used as a border on "Bela Dona" plates with a beautiful stylized female in the center. I like to use this design on the backs of bowls and I also used it on this trophy plate for the Women's Prize Tourney at Estrella War 2004. I added more petals for that one making it look more like a daffodil. This tulip is either of a curly variety or purely artistic license. The design is traditional and probably just a fanciful flower, not really meant to be a tulip. But that is what I call it.

Start the same way you did in the last lesson but use the 8-section protractor. Paint a dot in the center of each section.
Step 1 Step 1: We are going to begin our first tulip by painting two shallow "S" curves, back-to-back, begining left and right of the center point on the dividing line and ending on the dot in the middle of each section. Keep the bottoms nicely rounded. Continue around for all 8.
Step 2 Step 2: Connect the tops of the "s" curves with a "v" so that the tulips look like little gold fish. Paint a jagged line from the center of the "fish tail" to the middle of the tulip to indicate the division between the tulip petals.
Step 3 Step 3: Paint the stems from the bottom of each tulip to the top of each following tulip. Begining about halfway down the stem add upward turned leaves on either side of the tulip. Real tulips really have dagger shaped leaves but these are more fun and look like wings. You can experiment with other types of leaves if you like but make sure that they fill the space. Notice how the leaves on the outside have to be bigger to fill the space.
Step 4 Step 4: Finish off by shading with watered down india ink. You might be wondering why I say india ink instead of waterproof or some other kind of ink. India is best for creating shades of gray by adding water. Other inks take so much water to dilute that they bleed all over.
homework Homework: Practice the tulip design with and without the skirt of extra petals. Try it on a grid based on six sections and add a second pair of leaves. Copy this historic border. Notice how this tulip looks like a frilly leaf cabbage and there are two small flowers in the place of leaves. The shading is in the background instead of on the plant.You will find this use of shading is very effective for creating light airy backgrounds. I also used pearls in the background on the trophy plate.

Photo by Mary Schirmer

A Sampler of Vines

Step 1 Lay down two borders, about 1.25 inches and .75 inches wide respectively, separated by narrow bands like this. This creates three areas for design that I will call the outer border, the middle border and the center.

Step 1: Beginning with the outer border, divide it into 16 sections. You won't need to draw a center band in pencil for this one. Paint half circles to the right of each line as in Lesson 4-b.

Step 2 Step 2:Draw a shallow "s" curve line from the the bottom of one half circle to join the top of the next half cirlce. Try very hard to make the lines look smooth and graceful. You may need to pencil them in first until you get the hang of it. The next "s" curve starts where the last one ended. This way you create an undulating line that connects all the curls.
Step 3 Step 3: Now paint a smaller half circle on the left side of the line. Keep the curl round and smooth. This takes practice. Divide the outer border into 4 sections. Since this is going to be a sampler you will finish each section with a different vine border pattern.
Step 4 First section
Step 4:
Put a small flower in the center of the each curl. Add pairs of small leaves to the vines as illustrated. I like to use this border on the backs of fancy plates.
Step 5 Second section
Step 5:
This lacy border adds another small half circle to the inside of the each curl. Then two more curls are added to the vine. Very elegant.
Step 6 Third section
Step 6:
This border is similar to the last but it is thickened up. Put an open flower bud at the end of each curl and add a stem and a closed bud in between each curl in the "y" shaped area. Finish by adding another smaller open bud and a little curl. Becareful to make your curls "grow" the right way off the stem or they will look broken.
Step 7 Forth section
Step 7:
Turn each curl into a big "comma" and add a couple leave to each vine.

Homework: Look around for things with decorative borders like ribbon trim, carved furniture, architectural details, circus banners, etc. and see how many time you can spot the use of vine borders. Make sketches.

Go to Lesson 7: More Geometric Borders! | Go back to Lesson 5: Sun in Splendor | Visit Gallery 1

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Unless otherwise noted all art is the work of Gael Stirler.
AKA Mistress Dairine mor o' hUigin, OL

This page was last updated Monday, 16-Mar-2009 15:37:48 CDT