Parchment Cylinder Sculpture

This sculpture was designed and made during the Spring Covid lockdown of 2020. I was fortunate to have the creative opportunity to connect with a global bookbinder cohort from Australia, Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where we were inspired to learn how to make fish skin parchment. Along with the parchment making came the call to make and submit an object that uses the fish parchment for a virtual exhibition, the thinking being, what purpose is there to making this beautiful and unusual parchment if it just gets stored away in a drawer?

I took this opportunity to design a small sculpture inspired by The Cyrus Cylinder. For many years I've been intrigued by The Cyrus Cylinder, a biconical clay artifact inscribed with cuneiform script which records the conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C.E. by the Persian king Cyrus the Great (ruled 559–530 B.C.E.). While my sculpture doesn’t have cuneiform, I did take inspiration from the form to work with gold and parchment, two of my favorite materials.

The fish skin parchment is made from Snapper (in the learning process I also made parchment from Coho Salmon and Mahi Mahi). The cylinder is turned solid maple which I carved and sanded to create the 'underside' and stabilizing reference points for it to display horizontally. Six pieces of bevel joined fish skin parchment cover the ends and top side of the form. The underside was prepared with traditional gesso and a custom violet bole, then water gilded with 22K Moon Gold, an alloy of 92% gold, 3.5% silver, 4.5% palladium, in an intentionally random and broken technique allowing the bole color to add to the design.


Snapper fish skin parchment made by the artist, water gilded 22K Moon gold leaf on custom violet bole, maple substrate.


3-3/4" dia. 11-3/4”
95mm dia. 350mm

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