Manuscript Illumination

A few weeks ago, I did not know what an illuminated manuscript referred to. Perhaps a shadow box, or something with candles? I was very excited to find out that it involves laying metal leaf, and that I would have the opportunity to do this with other Lemons.

We first reviewed some examples and photos of illuminated manuscripts, many of which were religious. Then, we began creating our own illumination of large uppercase letters, as might begin a medieval text. After choosing our letters—I chose an “M” with some tricky curves—we traced their outline in soft paper, painted a special glue, and laid down imitation gold leaf. It is my understanding that it is the same leaf material used in some restaurants. It sticks and clings to everything, but eventually I convinced it to lay flat. We then set about shading the surrounding area with watercolor. I was very impressed to see J.J.’s previous illumination work, completed on fine paper and including quite delicate designs, and I plan to finish my still-incomplete letter in the future, including some designs myself. 


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The event was a great opportunity to spend some time in Chancellor Green, one of the older on campus. While working, we learned some of the history of the building, including the significance of a number of seals and carvings that cover Chancellor Green’s walls. The evening felt quite medieval and was an appreciated break from studying.

—Morgan Lonergan