During the Middle Ages, the Book of Hours was such a common object, that some historians think that much of the burgeoning middle class, as well as the nobility in England, Ireland, France, Italy and the German city states, owned them. They were the Prada bag of the era. Of course, the most beautiful and extravagantly illustrated ones were usually commissioned by royalty. We know little about the artists, as the common culture emphasized the work of God over the individual. They almost never signed their work, and such distinctive artists as the Master of Anne of Cleves are known only by their patron’s name. And of course many of the religious works were made by monks in monasteries, who also remained anonymous. Sometimes as small as 3” x 5”, these books are filled with complex, brilliantly colored scenes from the life of Christ. There are also many examples of secular illuminations, and of course the wonderful Arabic books from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Using authentic materials and methods, the students will create their own illuminated page. Participants will make their own ink, transfer their designs to vellum or animal skin, use a quill pen to outline their drawing, and mix their own colors using traditional powdered pigments and gum arabic. Using the traditional transfer method involving burnt umber pigment, the students will transfer their drawings onto either handmade paper and prepared calfskin or lambskin. There will be demonstrations on making oak gall ink, traditional gold leafing, and the process of mixing and blending pigments, which differs considerably from contemporary paint.
If you're interested in taking the class, email me and I will give you the details of cost and materials.
Although we lived all over the country when i was little, by the time I was 13 we had settled down in New Jersey, not far from New York City. My parents were both Navy officers and decided to retire early, after the end of the First eWar. Whenever they were stationed on ships we were sent to live with one relative or another. The New Jersey house was were we got together whenever they were back in the states. If possible they’d try to meet us there at Christmas, or Passover, our two favorite holidays. Since we didn’t know anyone in town, it was a wonderful time when we all just hung out together, watching movies, or playing Scrabble or Yahtzee, games our gramma had taught us. Mom made us wonderful breakfasts, and read to us at night. Dad got bored sitting around the house, so we were always helping him paint the bedroom or plant bushes by the front porch or repave the driveway. They’d splurge once in a while and take us into the city to see a concert or an art show. Once we got to go on a Navy submarine, the most exciting thing we’d ever done. No wonder all three of us joined the Navy.
One of my first memories is sitting on my dad’s shoulders, watching a parade that was actually John F. Kennedy’s visit to Ohio. I remember a red convertible, with silver fins. My older sisters were excited to see this young, handsome man who didn’t look like any other politician. Our first house in Lonelyville was a small ranch house in the country.. I don’t remember it at all. Our second house was a big old farm house that was surrounded by newer ranch houses and split levels. This was where my grandmother came to live with us, a couple of years after my grandfather passed. As the only boy I got my own room, but I didn’t like being by myself, so I spent as much of my time as I could with my Gramma. She would sit in her comfy armchair and read. I would bring in my little trucks and race them across the rug. Sometimes we would paint or draw together. She didn’t act as if it was unusual for a four-year old to be learning to paint with watercolors. She was the calmest, and sweetest person in my family. Our best times were in the spring and summer, when we’d take a lunch out to the way back of the yard, and sit in the shade and just contemplate the clouds.
My parents were hippies, who moved to Maine in the 70s and never left. My father was a boat builder and my mom was a teacher. She taught 6th graders and always said that was her favorite time of her own life. Since our small city had just one middle school, I was afraid that I’ve have her for my teacher. Luckily the principal was a good family friend, who understood how awful that would be for both of us, and made sure I was in Mr. Meredith’s room instead.
I loved living on the sea; our house was only a block from the docks, and every afternoon after school I’d go down there and sit in my dad’s shop and watch him build. He made wooden boats that were taken after old schooners and such that he’d seen in museums, or at old marinas. He only made a handful each year, but he was widely known all up and down the coast, and he had a waiting list years long. When I was six he started teaching me to sail, and as I grew up, I got small sail boats. I also loved to kayak around the inlets and rivers near us. It was the most beautiful place in the world.
When SolarShip 738 made an emergency landing in 2031 during the Second eWar, all but ten passengers and one crew member were accounted for, once everyone else arrived at the Delphi Air Base. The Lost Pilgrims, as they were referred to in the media, eventually made their way to safety. In the intervening weeks, they kept themselves sane by telling each other stories around their campfire at night.
The following are excerpts from tales of their early years.
I grew up in a semi-abandoned housing estate outside of Dublin. My dad was a contractor who’d make a fortune during the “Irish Tiger” years. When the market dropped, he hung himself from the roof beam of one of his unfinished houses. My mum had no money, as he’d put all of it into the latest project, so we five kids and her had to stay on the estate, and watch all the empty houses grow dim, with the grasses high and the windows blank. We walked a half a kilometer out of our way every day on the way to school, so we wouldn’t have to pass the house where our Da killed himself. Mum got a job as a waitress at a roadside inn where tourists stopped on their way to Glendalough. I used to go and sit at the bar after school and do my homework. One day a young American couple sat down next to me and asked me all about myself. I was only 10 years old and I hadn’t considered what I would do once I left school. Tiffany, the wife, told me I should travel as much as I could when I was young. I believed her, and that’s how I came to work on planes as a steward.
I was born in the same small Midwestern town where my parents both grew up. It had been a story-book place back then, but by the time I was old enough to notice, it had become a desert oasis in the middle of Kansas. City fathers had been smart enough to cordon off the small artesian water supply underneath the town. Consequently, our farmers were among the first to figure out new ways to grow food. There were years of poverty and near starvation for some, but thanks to Christine Shoemaker, who got a doctorate in environmental agriculture, and then came back home to Dublin, we were able to keep our farms green. My dad had gone to school with Christine, and I grew up with her son and daughters, more like siblings to me. My mom loved to cook and while Dad Christine and Peter, Christine’s husband, were out all day in the fields, she would keep us kids busy making bread, weeding her kitchen garden and spreading compost everywhere. Guess that’s where I got my love of food, and cooking.
We called ourselves the lucky ones, even though we knew that was a lie. Our small town was far enough away from Vilnius that no one died right away. A week after the detonations, Katya and her three kids, who lived next door to my Aunt Lila, checked into the hospital. They were put in isolation, but they still died within 24 hours. So did about a third of the staff. Rumors started that a biological contaminant had been inside the bombs. Slowly, other friends began to die. Our Aunt Lila left immediately for Boston, after her neighbors died. My papa refused to listen to these rumors. He spent his days washing everything, over and over. He made my brother Pyotr climb up on the roof and wash it down too, even though he knew Petya had a terrible fear of heights. Mama and I stayed inside, with the curtains drawn and the shades all pulled down. Even so, the awful, screaming yellow light poked into our house, reminding us of what had happened, and what was going to keep happening. One day my Mama took down a suitcase, and told me to pack, as I was leaving for Boston, to stay with Aunt Lila. I never saw her again.