Calligraphy Workshop, January 2008

On a wet Saturday in January several members of Christ's College Friends of the Old Library and the CLG met at Christ's College for a day's workshop with Penny Price, Master Scribe to the University. Penny explained the materials and tools of the craft, then invited participants to choose an illuminated letter or subject from a great array she had brought with her.

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We first traced our image, then rubbed Armenian bole (a red coloured earth powder) over the reverse of the tracing, and then carefully placed the tracing onto vellum or fine quality paper and drew over the tracing again in pencil, which transferred the image to the paper by way of the bole.

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Then came the difficult part: we were issued with 2 sheets of pure gold leaf and a jar of gum Arabic. It was really difficult to achieve a good covering. We were also shown how to paint the coloured parts of our drawing, by building up thin layers of gouache to achieve a nuanced colouring.

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I think a few more years of apprenticeship are needed!

Thanks to Chris Blade for the pictures. © 2008


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