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Illuminated Letters

The art of illuminated letters
by

Christina Pittman

on 12 April 2013

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Transcript of Illuminated Letters

A lesson in the art of Illuminated Letters What is an illumination?

When were they made?

Who made them and how were they made? An illumination is an EMBELLISHMENT, or additional decoration that enhances the pages of a written, or manuscript page. The term illumination comes from the term illuminate, or to fill with light. This effect is achieved with the application of gold leaf to the letters and images which reflect light and appear to glow. An illuminated letter was usually the first letter of a page or paragraph. It was always enlarged and in color with gold applied in areas, while the rest of the text remained black.

The images used to enhance the letters includes animals, plants, and mythological creatures. These images were modified to fit into or around the letter, or in some cases took on the shape of the letter itself. Because the recording of historical events was such an important task, illuminations were ordered by Kings and religious leaders to be added to various pages in order to add interest and importance to their appearance. When were they made?

The Egyptians were the first culture known to document events by use of Illuminated Manuscripts.

One of the most famous being the Book Of The Dead that dates back to 1310 B.C. As written languages developed, various countries adopted the idea of illuminating their manuscripts and carried on the tradition for hundreds of years into Medieval Europe during the Middle Ages.

By the 7th century, Illumination became a highly respected Art form. At this time some of the most beautiful and famous illuminations were now being created in Ireland and England. Who created them?

There were 3 people involved in the creation of illuminations: THE PARCHMENTER

Prepared the drawing and writing surface.

He prepared animal skins to be used as writing surfaces because during the middle ages paper from wood pulp was not available yet.

The writing surfaces were made by stretching the skin in the sun and burnishing it with a rounded stone repeatedly to create a smooth surface. THE SCRIBE

In charge of copying words and stories onto pages of parchment to be made into a book.

He had several tools to prepare before sitting down to write:

He would have to sharpen his quill pen made from a birds feather.

Then he'd have to prepare his inks made from ashes, plant material, and egg whites. THE ILLUMINATOR

The one that actually creates the Illuminated letter and other decorations on each page.

First he would make a rough sketch, then outline that with pen. The gold leaf would then go on first, followed by all the other colors made from ground up stones and plants. WHY ARE ILLUMINATIONS IMPORTANT?

Illuminations defined a time in history when the ability to read was sacred and reserved for religious leaders or those born of royal blood.

Because it took great skill to create such items of beauty and importance, it was a great time in history for artists! Without their skills and talents such beautiful images might not have ever existed!
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