Making a prototype of something new can answer many a question before you try to sell item one. In this case, I am jiggling and juggling elements: choice of wood, letter color, banner size and shape, and critically how the “linen folds” of the banner are represented and carved.
This prototype is carved in white pine. But I could just as easily carve it in poplar, birch, or mahogany. The question of what wood to carve in might be up to the client or the application; I’d hate to put poplar on a boat.
If something is seen from a hundred feet out, you want to give the impression that all the detail is there, but you will imply much of that detail, allowing the human mind to fill in the holes. Close up you do not have that leisure. Some detail has to be there because it is harder to trick the eye and the mind.
When I was young and living in Baltimore, I visited museums where elaborate miniatures carved in boxwood were displayed. The fidelity of that detail to a full-size version was exquisite. Beyond a doubt, this is the standard of excellence that we should hope to achieve.
There is just one little bone of contention, however. Few of my clients are willing to pay my shop rate for that level of detail. Sad, but true. So an economic calculation becomes a factor in the crafting of the item. I have to make a believable linen fold in a short amount of time. In a case like that it’s what you imply that counts.
I’m still working on it and closing in on something that works in the realm of eighteen to twenty-four inches. I’ll let you know when I’ve aced it.
To try this the way the old-timers did, take an actual piece of cloth and do some folds and practice. Remember, some of the classic representations are stylistic, not natural, and you’ll have to take stylistic standards, not actual appearance, into consideration. Also, remember that the distance you will view it from affects the lettering size and banner detail.