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The curlews, skylark and lapwing were each broken down into block colours in order to plan out their onlays. I chose a lovely shade of green to have as the covering leather to compliment the birds and to achieve a background colour I was happy with.

For the sample board I chose to illustrate just the lapwing, so worked on two lapwing onlays simultaneously (one of the sample board and one for the book). The onlays were each cut out with a scalpel, giving each one a slight border so that it could be stuck to the next in a patchwork off the book.

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The small onlays were stuck together off of the book using a tracing paper template as a guide.

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Finally producing two lapwings!

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One of the birds was stuck down onto the sample board leather using PVA glue. The colours were then muted down using a very thin wash of white acrylic paint. Once this had been done I was able to back-pare and then embroider the leather. 

I first worked on the background detail, in a green thread to match the colour of the leather. In the book all the full-colour illustrations of the birds were shown against a muted grey, line-drawn background so I wanted to compliment this on the cover design.

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Stitches were gradually built up over the whole surface of the sample board leather including coloured stitches all over the bird to give it a more feathery look and feel.

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‘Heather’ detail was also added around the lapwing.

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A drystone wall was included in the design drawing (including a four-bar gate) using French knots to give the impressions of the stones. Once the embroidery was complete the leather was stuck onto the sample board with paste and the edges turned in.

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A section of the printed feather paper was selected to use on the sample board. In addition to the printed feathers, a single feather made from gold leaf was also added as a highlight. This was done by cutting out the feather shape from the endpaper and then backing the void with some gold leaf that had been adhered to Japanese paper. The shaft of the feather was embroidered with thread.

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Once stuck down this board became number 47 in my sample board series!

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And so once I was happy with the sample board I was able to move onto working on the book itself. In the way I had laid down the lapwing onto the sample board using my tracing paper guide, I did the same for on the covering leather, rubbing it down with a Teflon folder to ensure even adhesion.

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The two curlews and the skylark were also glued down in the correct positions. 

I painted some strips of suede with white acrylic paint in a mottled pattern to use for clouds. These were also cut out and laid down in place.

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The whole of the leather was then back-pared on the reverse in preparation for the next stage, the embroidery. This is detailed in the next blog post, part three.

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