Painting A Ruckers Harpsichord Soundboard

Today I’ve just put the last border patterns on this Harpsichord soundboard for harpsichord maker Peter Barnes.

This instrument is a reproduction in the style of an Early Flemish 17th century harpsichord by the famous Ruckers family.The decoration of this soundboard closely follows the original style.
All the flowers, birds and border patterns have been taken from the period 1612-1625 during the time of Ioannes Ruckers.

I start by tracing designs onto the soundboard, mixing up pigment paint with gum Arabic and then painting the leaves, base colours on the flowers, gradually applying the detail to these.

Black Indian ink is then used to outline edges around the leaves and some of the flowers and finally the blue “smalt”( coarsely ground cobalt glass), is used to paint the intricate border patterns and arabesques, which can often take as long to paint as the motifs.

This style of painting demands a methodical approach whilst preparing paints and applying them, but hopefully will enhance and add interest to the appearance of the instrument.