Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Bible of Illuminated Letters

This book by Margaret Morgan is totally awesome. The first third of this spiral-bound wonder is all about tools and techniques. Chapter 3 (150 pages!), the Alphabet Directory, categorizes illuminations into style and period--Celtic, Ottonian, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance: White Vine, and Renaissance: Neo-Classical. Now, this is all really a mouthful, never mind a mindful, for me.

So, what can I do but take this all poco a poco? My dear friend's thought on how to eat an elephant comes to mind here. I do want to know about all these various styles... Perhaps I can mix things up a bit into a contemporary kind of thing (gorgeous examples in Chapter 4). But for starters, I will try some traditional designs with what's on hand--watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, a bit of gold gouache. I'll leave out the gesso and gilding for now, but be ready. I could spring these out at any moment! :-)

Regarding my before and after drawings for the Cornell webinar, here is the pair I'm thinking of going with:


  1. I think these pine cones are a good choice for your Cornell/slide.
    A bit overwhelming isn't it, when one delves into the calligraphic arts-such a rich history and influenced by so many cultures. Each individually formed letter is a story unto itself, let alone the stories they tell can when combined onto the page to form words and sentences.
    Next up will be book binding- all those finished illuminated pages have to be put somewhere! It never ends, these interests of ours!!
    Thank you for finding the author of the quote for me from a few days back- I have written it out and tacked it over my desk.

  2. I agree with Gretchen-it seems so daunting all the skills that seem to be needed to pursue an interest. But isn't that what makes it so interesting? Good luck with the Cornell slide show.

  3. Your comment is so well said (and I see that Threadspider concurs) that I will quote you in tomorrow's post! :-)

    And I remember your comment on the Book of Kells. That is beginning to gel here.

    Book binding indeed... And then there is paper making. One of my fellow Cornell students mentioned something about papermaking in her bio. Margaret and I then had some wonderful offline conversations that have inspired me to give it a go. I will wait for the nice hot weather when I can make my mess out on the deck.

  4. Oh yes, Threadspider, I love this wide open field of potential learning! What started as a simple foray into a calligraphic hand is unfolding into a magnificent journey. Wheels within wheels...

    Thanks, I am looking forward to the webinar. I think it's going to be so very interesting to chat with a group of educators.