For those who are not familiar with illuminated lettering the term illuminate comes from the Latin 'illuminaire' which means 'to light up' and is essentially decorative calligraphy with the use of colour and gold in many different forms. Traditionally this was a religious subject practised in monasteries with the application of gold leaf to a letter which reflects the light and makes the letter appear to glow. This letter would typically be the first on a manuscript page and the same techniques would be used for applying borders and coloured images throughout the page.
I enjoy teaching the skill of illumination and find I meet so many interesting people from a varied age group who enjoy learning something new and experimenting with style and colour.
I have run my own workshops for small groups and enjoy working with other organisations who run heritage skilled workshops.
Here are some pictures taken from a workshop at Swallows and Artisans on the East side of Coniston Lake; because of the coronavirus my last course had to be postponed and we hope to be able to run the course in November 2020.
This piece is a contemporary design using a 14th Century recipe for gesso, 24 ct loose leaf gold, burnished, and watercolour butterfly with black outline.
I made the gesso for this piece with artist Toni Watts; the process to make gesso takes over an hour using an exact mix of ingredients gradually ground into a smooth paste to the consistency of single cream and using a pin to ‘pop’ any bubbles still visible. The gesso is applied to the paper and left to dry; once dry using a scalpel I scraped back the gesso to create a smooth surface before carefully gilding the loose leaf gold. The butterfly was then added using a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Size 1 sable brush and finally the black outline.
This piece is taken from the book ‘The Bible of Illuminated Letters’ by Margaret Morgan. This is a gothic style letter, of the period between 13th – 16th Century and I have used watercolour and gold ink to gild the piece. Within the piece you can see the flow of what are enlarged open ended spirals and leaf shaped decorations which I think are similar to that of the Sycamore.
A modern design using traditional gesso with 24 ct transfer gold and watercolour background. ‘S’ for Sirius with the Canis Major and Canis Minor constellation in the background.
Another letter taken from ‘The Bible of Illuminated Lettering’ by Margaret Morgan, this Ottonian style ‘K’ was made using 24 ct gold transfer leaf, and watercolour. The Ottonian period is from the 10th – 11th Century and use a lot of gold representing the wealth of the time and have a small palette of colours using a red outline instead of black.
The outline shape taken from the beautiful Owen Jones 1001 Alphabet, I have changed the colours that Owen Jones had originally produced the work in, replacing the green Acanthus leaves for the pink to red graded hues. Additional Aquamarine blue background to give a bold look, this piece was made using gold ink and watercolour.
This piece was a commission for an anniversary present, the central letters are created using Acrylic Gold Size as a base and 24 ct gold powder, as are the leaves in the border detail. The banner for the border was made using gold ink and gouche for the colours.
A modern take using contemporary letters and a stylised thistle design with leaf work, A.G.S and gold powder with gouche and watercolour.
Adapted from the H&J piece, with the addition of the date of the wedding in calligraphy to the client’s specification.
This letter is taken from the book by Christopher Jarman, the letter has been gilded in variegated gold leaf and the shell has been gilded in gold and copper powders.
Using the same alphabet I have gilded the letters H and J, using different gilding methods within the same letter, the gold shell on this piece was made with imitation gold leaf which gives a different luster compared with the gold powder used on the lettering.
Using the acrylic gold size as a base on the card some of the shells, I have used a mixture of variegated gold leaf, gold and copper powder to gild the letters and the shells. The alphabet is by Christopher Jarman, a black letter alphabet, or Gothic church Text.
Limn Studio – Patrick Corbett - https://www.limnstudio.co.uk/
Swallows and Artisans – Karen Duncan - https://www.facebook.com/swallowsandartisans
Farfield Mill, Sedburgh - https://www.farfieldmill.org/whats-on/workshops/
Sacred Essence – Coniston - https://www.sacredessence.co.uk/
Toni Watts - http://www.toniwatts.com
Where to obtain supplies:
Jackson’s Art – London - https://www.jacksonsart.com/
Cornelissen – London - https://www.cornelissen.com/
Heaton Cooper Studio – Grasmere - https://www.heatoncooper.co.uk/
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