Making and Knowing
A minimal edition of BnF Ms Fr 640 in English Translation

- - - - - folio image: 112v - - - - -

Affixing and arranging animals

Having gotten in some fat earth called clay, that should be grey, because that is the best one, or another that will bind well and will be well prepared and beaten, so that it is malleable without being damaging your hands or the work, make a lazagne, or a pancake shape, of this clay equally flattened with a rolling pin, which pastry—makers use so that it is slightly thicker than a poulc. And on this pancake, affix your animal, making it as life—like as possible and the way in which it is naturally shaped. And firstly, with a good needle, pierce it from underneath, in the middle of the throat, up to the top bone of the head. Then take the needle out and in the hole, put the point of an iron wire, of such a length that it suffices to maintain the head of the animal as high as it must be, and if the skin gets in when you put in the wire, take it out with the edge of your small pincer, and arrange the skin as it was before. Pierce the other end of the wire in the sheet of clay. In this way the head will be held high, which will make it more graceful and proud. Arrange afterwards, the rest of the body, and the legs, and the curling as you think will look best. And so that it is secure and does not move when you put in the sand, secure the legs with little points of iron wire, having already made the first hole with a very sharp needle. Do the same on the body parts that you deem necessary, making sure that the points going through the animal are fixed in the clay sheet, and not so far in front that they jut out beyond the body of the animal by a

at left top margin of folio 112v

Take a needle of fine steel, and which will be the sharpest you can find, so that with it, when you make your first hole in order to place the wire threads, it will pass through without effort, and take care not to rudely insert the wire or take skin with it. Then put a thicker wire in the thick bits [of the animal] and the thinner wire in the thinner bits. But take this secret advice and do not plant your pointed wire in one go through the animal and onto the plaster, but having planted it, take it out of the clay earth but not out of the animal, which is afterwards fastened there. One does this because by fastening the point the first time, it pushes in the skin of the serpent and by taking the point out, it replaces the skin in its original state.

at left bottom margin of folio 112v

When you reuse the points you have already used, make sure to clean them well of rust, so that they do not take away some skin.

at bottom margin of folio 112v

The main arrangement of your casting is to keep its head very high and have it looking sideways. For this effect, pierce the head on a solid plank or table, making the wire pass through the bottom of the throat up to the top of the head

Figure Figure

- - - - - folio image: 113r - - - - -

a bit so that you can take it out if you need to. And be advised that these needle points must be of the thinnest kind of iron wire, with a length that is suitable to the animal; because the smaller your needle is, the smaller the leftover hole will be. However, you must have different sized ones because there are some needles that go on the body and in places that are thicker, like under the throat, and some needles must be longer and stronger than the ones used on legs and thin places, where the needles must be subtle and thin, almost like the biggest harpsichord strings. And it would be better if they were of iron wire, which is firmer than the one made of latten. And if piece of a tail, a piece of nail or a piece of leg to the body needs to be joined to the body, do not use the needle; it would damage these parts. But apply a bit of wax, as big as a grain of millet, between the body and the end of the tail. Then with a bit of iron wire, flattened and warm, touch the wax and join the two pieces by applying a bit of pressure. In this way, after your animal has been well—placed on the lute—shaped pancake of clay earth,

Figure Figure build around it a wall of the same clay Figure Figure in this way. And join everything together. And then with a big knife, with which you have cut the clay, take away the extraneous clay surrounding the pancake. And place on a piece at the end of the mold to close it off, as you see in B. Then, with a small curved instrument, mark on the inside of your mold the thickness you wish, which for a common serpent must be two inches thick; so that when you put in your wet sand, you will see when it is thick enough. When all of this is neatly set out, moisten well the shaped body of the animal everywhere, with good spirits, with a brush. For this is the best—kept secret: because everything that is touched by spirits will come out very neatly and without any small eyes or holes that we call bubbles, which usually come not at the back or in the thick sides of the mold, but on the edges. And as soon as you have thusly moistened everything with spirits, put in your wet sand without letting the spirits evaporate, which they do quickly. And soak it thusly and make sure the needle is as long as you need according to how much you want to raise the head, and that both ends are sharp. Having been arranged thusly, affix your serpent on the clay earth, and place the head first and then the rest.

Figure Figure

at left middle margin of folio 113r

If, once you have placed you animal on sheet of clay, you are distracted with other occupations, rub your animal with spirits and under the belly so that it does not stick or attach itself to the clay earth.

Figure Figure

at left bottom margin of folio 113r

If, when you pierce the belly of your animal, it releases water on the plaster, clean it well with cotton because the sand that was wet will become lumpy. If it is on top of the animal, clean it very carefully and very neatly and touch it and strongly wet it with spirits.