The word “manuscript” from the Latin words manus (hand) and scriptus (writing) literally means “written by hand.” Before the invention of printing, copies of books had to be handwritten. A scribe would obtain a book to copy and painstakingly write out every word, in ink with a quill pen.
The word “illuminated,” from the Latin illuminare, means “lighted up.” For a book to truly be illuminated, it had to be decorated with gold. Gold was usually applied to the pages in extremely thin sheets called gold leaf.
Medieval manuscript decoration included small painted scenes (called miniatures), intricate borders, ornate chapter letters, and even elaborate full-page paintings. Such decorations illustrated the text and helped guide people through it. The pictures were especially important because during medieval times, many people, even those who owned manuscripts, could not read.
The making of illuminated manuscripts continued strong until the 1450s, when a German man named Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type and the printing press, making mass production of books possible.
1. PICK YOUR PAPER : Aged, parchment, tea stain, etc.
2. DRAW MANUSCRIPT: Use a pencil and create manuscript
3. CREATE A SMUDGE BARRIER: Cut a hole in paper so your hand will not smudge the ink.
4. CALLIGRAPHY: Using Calligraphy, write out the text
5. PAINT: Start with red, then green, blue, yellow, orange
6. DETAIL: Using black ink outline and emphasize details
7. GOLD LEAF: Paint adhesive carefully and apply gold leaf (apply adhesive, allow to become tacky, apply gold leaf and dab off excess with a dry brush).
ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS & WHO MADE THEM
In early medieval times, monks were the sole makers of illuminated manuscripts. Before universities existed, monasteries were the central places for learning. Monks copied books mainly for use in worship. However, rulers and high-ranking churchmen commissioned books from monastaries, including historical records and Greek and Roman literature.
To make a new manuscript, a monk had to obtain a book to copy. He might travel quite a distance to borrow one from another monastery, and even stay there to do his copying. Scribes worked in a writing room called a scriptorium. Sometimes the same person was both scribe and illustrator, but not necessarily. One monk might do the writing and another the illuminating.
After the twelfth century, monks were no longer the only scribes. The rise of universities and the middle class created a demand for books, and book production became a way to make money. Making illuminated manuscripts became a business conducted in cities. A person who wanted a book would order it through a bookseller, who hired scribes and illuminators to do the work.
ILLUMINATE MANUSCRIPTS & HOW THEY WERE MADE
Manuscripts were written on either vellum (calf skin) or parchment (sheep or goat skin). The skins were cleaned, stretched, scraped, and whitened with chalk to provide bright, strong, and smooth pages for writing.
Before starting to copy a text, the scribe marked ruled lines to write on. Then he began, writing in ink with a quill pen made from a goose or swan feather. The lines of text were fairly short, usually no more than four to nine words each.
When the scribe finished the writing, the illuminator went to work painting the illustrations and decorations. First, gold or silver was put on, a process called gilding. The illuminator applied small, delicate sheets of gold or silver leaf with a wet glue and then polished with a smooth stone or even a hound’s tooth. Next the pictures, border decorations, and ornamented letters were painted, in colors made from natural pigments.
Finally, all of the pages were folded, sewn together, and bound between covers of wood or leather.