I’m taking an online class about the Book of Kells from Trinity College in Dublin through FutureLearn. The class is in the second week, but I don’t think it’s too late to join. You can join here: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/book-of-kells It’s been fascinating (and most of the reading and videos are pretty short so it’s not like it will take a huge amount of time).
This week though, there was an exercise to try and decorate a letter in the style of the Book of Kells. Most of my interest in illuminated manuscripts is much later period (and I haven’t done anything in an Insular style in a very long time) but I decided to give it ago.
I found a letter M in “The Book of Kells” by Bernard Meehan (which was on the book shelf and handy) and decided to write out the word March for the current month. I wanted to use some iron gall ink and quill, but the ink decided not to get very dark (I think I need new ink!) so I went back to Calli brand ink and a metal dip pen. If I was doing an SCA scroll, I’d spend a lot more time practicing the calligraphy.
I traced the letter and then went to look for paint. I need to source out better colors for this era of illumination. The paint is a combination of paints I made from dry pigments and tube gouache. (I really need to make better notes on paints I make. Some had colors labeled, but none listed the binder used. Future scribe will do a better job.)
I think it probably took about five hours start to finish. It’s on an Artist Trading Card so the size is 3-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches.
And a blast from the past, a Book of Kells style scroll I did eons ago.