Silverpoint is an old method of sketching and drawing with a stylus of silver. The silver can be used in any form, the purer the silver content the better. I use a stylus "annealed" with heat at a specific temperature to remove the impurities. It renders the point harder and more brittle, but offers a much finer line.
The silver eventually tarnishes to a light brown line. Layers of line are applied to develop darker shadows. No other drawing tool other than silver was used in this piece.
I started with a maple panel with a reinforcing brace all around the back to prevent warping. It is a sturdy support. Silverpoint requires a highly abrasive surface of chalk gesso, usually mixed laboriously from scratch with white chalk, marble dust and rabbitskin glue.
In this piece, though, I used a relatively new acrylic 'panel gesso', which works much like the older, handmade gesso. It allows me to work on more silverpoint pieces because it dries faster and I can move more quickly from idea to sketch to art. I used a slightly yellowing varnish because I like the way it works with the silver to evoke an 'old photograph' feeling.
The designs in the decorative side panel are ancient Celtic patterns, adapted freely from early Iron Age sources.
This piece is varnished and does not require glass, and is framed with a maple wood frame.
Final size: 9 and 3/4 by 11 and 1/2 inches.