Illuminated manuscript. Aka the most insane project

It’s finally done! With the encouragement of some lovelies here-thank you!

The text under the main image is straight. It’s just the paper has distorted a little from the water in the paint. It’ll flatten out.

The photo below shows the size. The squares on that cutting mat are inches.

the main body of the letters is 4mm about 0.16" and the final line on the second page is written with ink I made from a medieval recipe. It’s about two years in the bottle and I didn’t think it was black enough to use for the whole thing.

The background, I’m currently doing a part time art degree, year one. We have an essay to do for history of art, we had to choose the artwork and the question. I chose to explore materials and techniques as. I’m interested in the production of ultramarine blue, from lapis lazuli.

Firstly I made the pigment, from a piece of lapis. I had to crush the stone and then grind it into a powder in a pestle and mortar. There were filtration and flotation steps and then a lot more grinding. The aim is to remove the greyish stone from the blue stone. I (sorta) followed a medieval method. And I produced a pretty acceptable blue.

My original intention was to copy an image from a medieval illuminated manuscript using the pigment made into tempera paint (adding egg yolk and water) but then a fit of whimsy hit me and I decided, what if I did my whole essay as an illuminated manuscript.

I was going to do something out of the book of kells, because the unical script is fairly easy (at this stage I knew I was going to have to learn the calligraphy) but turns out the book of kells didn’t use blue from lapis, they used woad instead. How inconsiderate!

I found a gorgeous book of hours from the 14century. The book of hours of Philip the Bold. Different script. So I had to learn the script, write the essay, draw and paint the borders and use the lapis pigment in a copy of an illustration from the manuscript.

The blue in the virgins cloak and in the borders is from my lapis lazuli

A cinch really-not! ( feckin’ insanity)

My original intention was to write the whole thing, but fortunately @calluna reminded me that I am not a cloistered monk. Then I realised that it would be about 15 of these pages of dense text to write the whole essay. So I figured that a synopsis was enough. ie a first page with the picture and then a page of text with some illuminated capitals. I followed very closely the decoration, script, scribbles etc from the original. I couldn’t find any evidence of marginalia in the original, but I couldn’t resist putting it in. This is a copy from a different manuscript.

The whole process was not playing to my strengths, I take on projects and get bored. Between the research and everything, this has taken about two months. On and off, but there were still many many hours. I’m so happy to get it done! I really need to get better at gold leaf. I’m starting to wonder if the size I’m using is a bit dodgy.

However I am really pleased with how it turned out. Thanks @TheMistressT and @sloth003 for the encouragement and @tendstowardschaos for sending me some marginalia.


It has been so intense following your journey and how spectacular to see it complete! This most certainly will blow the socks off your professor, and will be the project remembered and talked about for years to come!

I’m very proud of you.


THIS IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL! I would be gobsmacked to have this turned in if I were you instructor. WHOA. You’ve really nailed all the intense decoration - illumination - and bravo for adding the maginalia!

Your leafy initial B on the first page reminds me of malachite after reading about grinding your lapis lazuli.


Thank you lovely, and thanks to you too for the encouragement.

@TheMistressT I thought the green looked like malachite too, that’s why I used it. But no more grinding down of stones for me for a while. I’m going to stick to easy sewing and stuff.


This is so gorgeous. Well done!

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Absolutely incredible! Way to go above and beyond the assignment! So, so cool.

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This is wild! I adore it!

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Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off of the floor! This is incredible!

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I am so fecking happy to see this. It is amazing. And you are amazing.


Beautiful! So happy you did finish it!

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Holy macaroni! Ya, you sure did it alright, WOW! Incredible, absolutely incredible.

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This is so amazing!

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This is FANTASTICAL & amazing & glorious!

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This turned out so great!

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Wow!! You really knocked this one out of the park! The time and effort you put into this is clearly evident and the fact that you used your own handmade ink? Seriously amazing!

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This piece is truly exquisite. Any one of these steps would have been a brag point for me. You’re amazing. Your work is elevated.

I would give you an A+

And the little creatures (is this marginalia?) are my favorite, along with the wandering ivy. Inspirational.


Wow, wow!! What an incredible piece of artwork you’ve created. I enlarged the pages so I could read them, very interesting.

Please update us on the profs response and your mark. It better be good or he might get an earful from your LC friends :smiley:


This is amazing, and what a journey. I hope you end up framing these pages or doing some special with them after they get returned.


Thank you, :heavy_heart_exclamation:I actually found the whole research bit very interesting, I’m glad you could read it! There’s even an authentic spelling mistake. Ack! A second spelling mistake!

This is the original manuscript, in a museum in the UK


Thank you :kissing_heart: I put about 7 hours into it today to finish it after we spoke, that was the painting and the borders…

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