In 2001, I burned myself out on calligraphy and illumination...two hobbies that kept me occupied for several years until I transitioned to scrapbooking and cardmaking. Both take enormous practice and patience, not to mention a tad bit of obsession, to master, and I never felt that I mastered either...although I got passably good enough for an unschooled amateur.
My final calligraphy/illumination project was a handmade book of Psalms, or Psalter, for my mother. Christianity has a rich tradition of beautiful, handmade books of scripture that didn't die out with the invention of the printing press. Check out the St. John's Bible. Amazing artistry and skill from hundreds of people created a modern illuminated Bible using old techniques in new ways.
The book took over four months to complete. That was 14 years ago. I'm still burned out.
While visiting my mom and sister last week, I finally photographed my little Psalter, which is nowhere near as amazing as the St. John's work, but it does reflect the best work I ever did in calligraphy and illumination. I thought I'd share it with you today.
|The book is approximately 8" x 12".|
|The cover illumination is inset into the mat board. I carved|
a recess into the mat board before covering it with the black paper.
|Fifteen holes were punched through the spine using a leather punch|
and mallet, and the book pages were punched with a 1/8"
circle punch. My hands were killing me by the time I finished!
|This page took a while!|
|As you can see, I wrote on the back of each page...which made doing|
the reverse side tricky as the writing showed through on the light box.
It all worked out though, and I didn't have to erase a bunch of pencil marks
when I was finished. Yay!
|This odd little two-legged lizard is straight from the Book of Kells.|
I'm pretty sure I changed the colors, though.
|I love the red-line decoration on Psalm 117.|
|Here's another example of the small illuminations. Most of these|
came from a book by George Bain called Celtic Art.
|The final page picks up on the blue of the title page.|
|Close-up of the blue. It's kind of hard to make the paint look that smooth...|
it took several coats of the gouache to achieve it.
|The binding has hinges on both the front and back covers for easier opening.|
And there you have it: the reason I no longer do calligraphy and illumination. I hope you enjoyed looking at it as much as I enjoy sharing it. These sorts of over-the-top projects are enormously satisfying. A mind-boggling amount of work, of course, but satisfying because of it.
Blessings to you all this holy day.