I decided to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve by creating a decorative gilded letter inspired by the dark Russian fairytale, Vasilisa the Beautiful.

Vasilisa escapes Baba Yaga with the help of her magical Motanka doll and returns home with one of the witch’s skull-lanterns to protect her from her evil stepmother…

Vasilisa's Skull-Lantern: All Hallow's Eve Gilded Decorative Letter

Vasilisa's Skull-Lantern: All Hallow's Eve Gilded Decorative Letter (Detail)

Working with two tones of imitation gold leaf, I gilded the skull and built up the sparkling Coliro watercolours. The fine details were painted with a miniature brush and pointed nib pen. You can see my process in the two videos below, starting with the gilding process and ending with applying the paints to capture the haunting image of a glowing skull.

Vasilisa's Skull-Lantern Decorative Letter: Gilding

Vasilisa's Skull-Lantern Decorative Letter: Painting

If you're interested in creating some decorative fantasy letters of your own, I’m teaching a workshop at the British Library this December, called All That Glitters. If you’d like more info, check out the links at the top of this page or see my post about the course. If like me, you're a fan of gold leaf and would like to see more gilded capitals, I'm building up a small collection in my post, Gilded Decorative Capital Letters, I hope you enjoy them...

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