Want a fun, creative activity with a bonus art history lesson to go along with it?
In this article I’ll share the fascinating history of the illuminated manuscript. Then you and your kids can create a personalized illuminated manuscript of your own.
Why Illuminated Manuscripts?
Before the days of printing presses and mass-produced, full-color books—before the e-reader was even imagined—books were written, decorated and painted by hand, one page at a time, often by monks quietly working for hours upon hours in their monasteries.
They wrote on parchment (a stiff, flat, thin material made from animal skin that was used in ancient and medieval times as a durable writing surface) and included beautifully decorated letters, borders and important scenes, making each book a one-of-a-kind piece of ancient art.
These decorations often included radiant colors accented with gold and silver, creating a glowing, “illuminating” effect that gave these special books their name: illuminated manuscripts.
You and your kids probably don’t have the time (or the quietness) to copy entire books like the monks did, but I’ll show you a simple way to recreate the colorful, glowing, illustrated letters that fill the pages of old.