General explanations :
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in wich the text is supplemented with decoration as initials , borders , and miniature illustrations.
The illuminated manuscript refers only to manuscripts decorated with gold or silver. Had it not been for the monastics scribes of late antiquity, most litterature of greece and rome would have perished in Europe.
Illuminated manuscripts are on papyrus, vallum, or parchement of calf, ship or goat skin.
Illumination is a complex and costly process, and only wealthy people had richly illuminated books of hours made.
How to prepare the vellum :
Vellum of calf skin, or goat skin, is the surface on witch most of my work is done on. Only the young animals will be chosen for the fine texture.
The skins are then bleached of most of their natural pigment until they are creamy, white colour.
Both sides of the surface are prepared for working. When bleeched the surface of the vallum needs to be prepared with a powder called pounce, witch is made up of powdered pumice, gum, sandarac, and cuttlefish.
I by all my vellium already prepared and usualy the hole skin of the animal. Only few specalized people in France can do such work.
At that stage when i receive the skin i will do the final application of pounce to remouve any dirt or greace and will raise a slight nap, wich will help the ink and the paint to be absorbed into the skin.
The vellum is now ready to be rinced in clear water and pined on a board to let dry.
Ounce dry , the skin is ready to work on.
The pigments :
The pigments that were used by early scribes were coloured substances that were mixed with water and egg yolk or gum to blind them together.
Organic pigments were obtained from plants or animals extracts, mineral pigments from earth or stones ground or soaked out and mixed with glair and binding medium, perhaps with some glue and watter added. Others additives were also used, including stale urine (that i don’t use), honey, and ear wax to modify colour, texture, and topacity.
Some pigments were obtained locally (such as turnosole, or crozophora tinturia); others were exotic imports such as (ultrmarine, made from lapis lazuli imported from Persia or Afghanistan).
I still prepare all my pigments the same way they did it in medieval times, using white and yolk of the egg, gum, honey,...
Each preparation takes time to prepare and witch will produce an long lasting result.
All my pigments are natural, and i bring them back from different parts of the world (india, marroco , italie, egypte...)
I often compare myself to a chief in his kitchen preparing all his ingredients , the mixtures in all his bowles with love to give us something spectaculare. In a way he is also an artiste and we all appreciate it.
The use of Gold :
If the guilding is required, it must be done before the paint is applied. I will use three types of gold :
- Gold powder witch ounce prepared i can paint with.
- Transfer of gold leaf and loose leaf. I have different colours of gold that i by in france in “SAVOIE “ entreprise “DAUVET” the last specialiste who still prepares gold leaf, and powder in France.
- Transfer of silver leaf.
Although warious metallic gold paints are available today they cannot compete with brillance and the depth of the different colours of real gold. You must know that ounce the gold applied it is polished, or burnished to give it as bright a shine as possible. Specials tools are necessary to do so.
There are different ways to put your gold on the vellium :
- Gum arrabic on witch the gold will stick but will be flat, and has much less brillance.
- The second way is the one i use the most because it will give the gold and your work volume aand brilliance.
There again i compare myself to a chief in the kitchen. It is called GESSO and prepared with white plaster of Paris, honey, glue, a pinch of armenian bole to give it a pink colour, white lead, and sugar.
All that mixture is prepared the same way it used to be done in medieval times. It will take time to be done but will give your letters and all your work so much better result with the volume.
Once i have done my gold i will burnish it for a long time to give it all the brillance necessary.
A few last explainations :
Once my work finished, i have it framed with still glass. I have ie done by a specialiste in that domaine. But you can have it framed the way you want.
It is always possible to send you your illuminated work as it is so that you have it framed the way you want it.
Don’t hesitate to ask me, i will always do my best and hope that you will enjoy having something really special at home, or to offer.
It will always be a joy for to explain and perhaps comunicate my love of that art so special.
I work on wood, paper made the same way in the medieval times that i by in Italie. I also work on papyrus, on ostrich eggs or goose eggs. The ostrich egg will be carved and painted, (and you will be able to put a light unside) the goose egg only painted.
All my work will be send by post, protected correctly and also with a insurance.