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Exploring manuscript making techniques with help of cats -
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10 May
I want some alum-tawed thongs for a bookbinding project. Does a search on the internet help? It does not (unless I want a whole animal skin for £££). But I DO have a sheep skin that I salted from last year. So I’m going to make my own #teachingmanuscripts Image
I cut off some strips from the bottom of the skin and give it a bit of a haircut Image
I need to rinse all the salt out first in water. I got this skin last October and salted it straight away. It’s been stored all winter in an airtight container, and it looks pretty good 👍 Image
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6 Apr
Time to smash some lapis! #teachingmanuscripts ImageImage
Make sure your pestle is wearing a pretty skirt when grinding the smaller chunks, otherwise you’ll lose some lapis ImageImage
Separating the impurities before grinding any finer 😩 Image
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5 Jun 20
Tyrian (or imperial) purple was by far the most superior colour in the ancient and medieval world, but is very expensive. Mohammed Ghassen Nouira makes Tyrian purple using traditional Phoenician methods, with fantastic results. I hope to work with him soon…
Orchil purple, obtained from lichens, was a cheaper alternative, and probably used in the Book of Kells. However, it is hard to source and ecologically unwise to do so. Isabella Whitworth has done a lot of work on dyeing textiles with orchil…
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19 Jan 20
It’s time for more #medievalstuffwithcats! I made this zodiac illumination. If you want to know a bit more about the process, read on… ImageImage
The zodiac roundels come from the calendar in British Library, Royal MS 1 D X… (note that some of the roundels are not exactly round) ImageImage
I decided to do this illumination because I want to start working on larger pieces of parchment. I used 8” x 10” (a bit smaller than A4). This feels like a decent size for a folio, although if we were working in a scriptorium this would be double the size and folded in the centre Image
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8 Mar 19
Making medieval stuff with cats! This time it’s quills! #medievaltwitter #medievalmanuscripts #quills #heritagecrafts ImageImage
2. Quills were probably used before this - but the earliest reference to them is by Isidore of Seville, from his Etymology in the 7th century. Here he is in the Aberdeen Bestiary, writing with a (surprise!) quill… Image
3. In book 6.14.3 of his Etymology he writes - Instrumenta scribae calamus et pinna (the scribe’s tools are the reed-pen and the quill). This 12thC copy is a particularly #nuntastic example, written by 8 female scribes from Abbey of Munsterbilsen (BL, Harley MS 3099, ff.1v,45r-v) ImageImageImage
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18 Jan 19
This 12th-century manuscript has instructions on various arts and crafts. The section De imponendo auro has advice on illuminating manuscripts with loose gold leaf (BL, Harley MS 3915, fol. 12r-v)…#illuminatedmanuscripts #medievaltwitter #artsandcrafts
It’s from Theophilus’s De diversis artibus, compiled c.1125. This is before gesso was being used, as it instructs to take the clear part of the beaten egg white, and paint it on to the manuscript where the gold is to be applied
The best bit is this:
et hora oportet te a vento cavere, et ab halitu continere, quia si flaveris, petulam perdes et difficile reperies -
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1 Jan 19
Excuse me, Medievals. We made some gesso! #medievaltwitter #heritagecrafts #medievalmanuscripts #catsoftwitter ImageImageImageImage
Gesso is the sticky stuff that medieval illuminators used to attach the gold leaf to the parchment. Originally, egg glair or gum arabic was used, which was fine, but very flat. By 13th C, a new chalky mixture was used, raising the gold off the page (BL, Royal MS 1 D X, fol. 3v) Image
In these images, you can see where gesso has been applied but no gold leaf (fol. 54v), and also where the gold leaf has flaked off to reveal the gesso underneath (fol. 30v) - BL, Add MS 42555… ImageImage
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31 Aug 18
Here's a thread about the iron gall ink I have just made. I’m not artistic, crafty or very in tune with nature, but as someone who researches medieval manuscripts, I wanted to experience the process. And surprisingly, so did my cat #heritagecrafts #irongallink #medievaltwitter ImageImageImageImage
2. There is some open ground behind my house, so I went for a forage for some oak galls. I didn't really know if I would be able to recognise what I was looking for, and it took me a while to find any. But, once I had spotted one, I got my eye in ImageImageImage
3. Based on my vast experience of one foraging trip, I found them much easier to spot on smaller, younger oak trees. This little one in particular had loads - I got about twelve from it. In less than an hour, I had collected this lot - 123 grams ImageImageImage
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