Text: poem, song lyrics, excerpt from long piece, about 50 - 100 words
Exemplars for Versals and Lombardic
1 1/2 mm Brause nib
Black ink or gouache
Watercolor pointed brush, size 00 and 1, synthetic or sable. I like Winsor & Newton Series 7. Utrecht makes nice brushes also. Get equivalent size to W/N.
Gouache in 3 colors plus zinc white or permanent white.
Gilding supplies (provided in class) include: gold leaf, adhesive, burnishers
Pigma Micron 005 pen
X-Acto knife with #16 blade
Pencil with 2H lead
Illuminated Manuscript Project Steps:
It’s about a 5-hour project. Do one step at a time and don’t get overwhelmed.
Design Piece and choose text (poem, song lyrics, excerpt from long piece)
Write words – figure out how many will work. Cut & Paste words and illumination. TIP: use re-movable Scotch Tape (with blue plaid)
Trace Decorated Capital that is the first letter of your text and any other decorative elements.
Trace onto the pergamenata paper with a 2H or harder lead. It won’t smudge as much (DeAnn has some for sale).
Get all prepared.
On the original (i.e. Pergamenata paper using the project template)
Draw the first few words in Lombardic and Romans (follow project template)
Write Text in black ink with 1 1/2 mm Brause nib
Gild (see Gilding Notes)
Paint versals & decorated capital design & any decorative capitals within the text
Text: It should be about 50 – 60 words and can be from scriptures, classic poetry, or just pretty poetry that you like. Even if the poem or original text is too long, you can choose an excerpt for your project. For the Gothic template, about 75 words will fit into the text area.
Project Template: the waist-base lines which you’ll write on are highlighted so that they’ll be clearly visible even under the pergamenata paper to be used for the project. Use the 1 1/2 mm Brause nib with black ink for the body. You will be drawing & painting in the initial decorative capital and the first four lines.
TIP: Look at Books or online for Ideas. Many books about illuminated manuscripts and decorative capital letters will be available in class for you to look at and trace/photograph.
When looking at books and other sources for ideas, consider:
Color Schemes – e.g. Red-Blue-Green; usually 3 colors & their tints.
Style - i.e. Flemish, Celtic, Leaves, white vine
Trace Letters or Designs – you can Xerox the decorative capital bigger or smaller to the desired size needed for the project
Use digital camera to take pictures of manuscript pages, letters and decorations that you like. You can download these to your computer and resize as needed.
Don’t get overwhelmed – as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do!” Work on one step at a time.
TIP: whenever you feel overwhelmed, practice your text.
Recipe for adhesive for flat gilding
2/3 part Sobo glue
1/3 part Water
Make in small jar
Add a tiny amount of red or orange watercolor to tint it lightly so that you can see where you’ve painted the glue. Red or orange color will enhance the gold color.
Demonstration of Illuminating a Decorative initial capital letter:
(see Gilding Notes for detailed instructions on Gilding) The handouts were the sample initial capital (an “S”), a piece of pergamenata paper and a piece of palette paper to work on, as well as samples of Lombardic & Versals.
Illuminating a letter:
Choose 3 colors (one of the greens) and zinc white. Gouache, an opaque watercolor, is used for the paint. Place a dab of each color on the palette paper; even if it dries, you can reconstitute it with water.
Trace pattern (initial capital) onto Pergamenata paper. A pencil that you can use for outlining is the Staedtler lead holder, which is a mechanical drafting pencil. Its sharpener has both a sharp & dull setting and also a pad to brush off the excess graphite after sharpening. Use 2H lead.
Paint glue (adhesive for gold leaf, recipe: 2/3 Sobo glue, 1/3 water) onto initial capital with pointed brush (e.g. size 0 or 1). Try to paint on a smooth layer (you’ll be painting 3 layers). Let dry, then paint another layer. Cover the pencil outline.
Rinse brush frequently; don’t let the glue dry on the brush. TIP: Don’t let the brush sit in the water, the tip will be ruined.
For the colors, put permanent white next to each color. Add the tiniest bit of color, then a drop of water, to mix a tint. (TIP: have 2 water containers, one for dirty, one for clean. Always rinse brush in the dirty container first, then rinse in the clean container).
Don’t paint any of the decorative elements around the “S” yet (you don’t want the gold to stick to the painted areas). You can start painting the decorative elements elsewhere.
Paint each leaf half of one color, half in that color’s tint. Maker sure the first color is dry before painting on the other half.
Once all the leaves are painted & dry, “diaper” them with permanent white gouache. With a small pointed brush (e.g. size 0/0), decorate each leaf with lines, cross-hatching, or dots.
Once the gold leaf adhesive is dry, you’re ready to apply the gold leaf. To prepare, clean a “gold only” pair of scissors with silk – you don’t want any sizing on the scissors or else the gold will stick to them. Cut the sheet of gold leaf to the estimated size of the initial cap.
Breathe on the glue so that it absorbs some moisture. Then place the gold leaf on it and press gently all around. Press the outlines, making sure the sides (the glue will be slightly raised) are also completely covered with the gold leaf.
Remove the backing paper carefully so that you can save any gold that sticks to the paper.
Place a piece of glassine (acid-free, non-stick paper; the Post Office envelopes for stamps are glass-ine) over the gold leaf and press the outlines, making sure the sides (the glue will be slightly raised) are also completely.
Burnish the gold leaf (several types of burnishers in different shapes & sizes: e.g. Griffold, Agate).
Clean up the edges with an X-acto knife with the #16 blade. (TIP: Every calligrapher should have the #11 blade and #16 blade.) Scrape toward you to clean the edges of excess gold.
Paint background of the gold “S” with gouache (choose a color that will make the gold “pop”; e.g. yellow is not a good choice.)
Once you’re done painting, outline the gold “S” with the Micron Pigma 005 pen.
Outline each leaf in black with a Pigma Micron 005 pen.
Paint the stems with the small pointed brush in green, then again right next to that stroke with the green tint.
REMEMBER: with illumination, you can never be too garish!
TIP for drawing a leaf (i.e. a pointy ivy leaf like the ones in the illuminated manuscripts): draw a square. Then draw half-circles on each side. Erase the straight lines of the half-circles & you’re left with a leaf-shape.
Demonstration of painting Versals: Versals are drawn letters. Draw them for the first 2 lines of the proj-ect. Use the Versals handout that DeAnn Xeroxed to the correct size (1/2-inch x-height) to trace them. Paint them in the gouache colors that you’re using in your decorated capital with a very pointy brush.
Tip to decorate the background of your Decorated Capital: Use “diapering” so that you don’t have large areas of just one paint color. Diapering is cross-hatching, or drawing swirling vines, or painting small circles or dots, to fill a solid-color space.
If you feel the margins are too “empty,” fill it with filigree – ovals and figure-eights with a pointed brush, or use a Copperplate nib for really thin lines. Just fill the Copperplate nib with the gouache and draw the filigree lines.
To prevent your block of text from looking like the writing had been written by 3 different people, DeAnn’s advice is: schedule time when you’ll have no distractions because writing takes concentration. Then take the time to set-up your area correctly and have everything you’ll use readily at hand. Write for 20 minutes to warm-up, then write on the pergamenata paper. If you can’t finish writing all the text for your project in one sitting, warm-up for about 20 minutes before continuing the next time.