Sunday, November 1, 2009

Funky Illuminated Fairy Tales

Little Red Riding Hood (1st grade example)

Fairy Horse (first grade example)

The Accident of Lily (3rd grade example)

(Based on this Getty Lesson; slideshare link for the presentation here)

*This could potentially take two lesson periods to complete.

Objective: To learn a bit about medieval illumination, and make an illuminated page, with picture and text, that reflects elements of illumination (fancy lettering, decorative background, etc.)

Supplies: Paper – large background paper, smaller paper cut into a rectangle with a curve at the top (see picture of finished product), and a still smaller piece of paper that the students can write their narrative paragraph on; pencils; colored pencils; and then some kind of gold to add “gold leaf” look to the work (perhaps glitter glue, if the classroom is not well set up for using gold tempera paint); glue sticks to glue all pieces of project together when finished; powerpoint presentation on Funky Fairy Tale Illumination.


PARAPHRASE the following information, which is taken directly from this great page on the Getty Museum website, about the making of manuscripts, illumination, and book binding:

(Slide 1)

“Most medieval manuscripts were written on specially treated animal skins, called parchment or vellum (paper did not become common in Europe until around 1450). The pelts were first soaked in a lime solution to loosen the fur, which was then removed. While wet on a stretcher, the skin was scraped using a knife with a curved blade. As the skin dried, the parchment maker adjusted the tension so that the skin remained taut. This cycle of scraping and stretching was repeated over several days until the desired thinness had been achieved. Here, the skin of a stillborn goat, prized for its smoothness, is stretched on a modern frame to illustrate the parchment making process.

(Slide 2)

After the surface had been prepared, the parchment was ruled, usually with leadpoint or colored ink. In this prayer book, you can see the ruling in red ink. Ruling lines helped the scribe to write evenly and were part of the design of the page. The scribe wrote with a quill pen made from the feather of a goose or swan. The end of the feather was cut to form the writing nib. A slit cut into the middle of the nib allowed the ink to flow smoothly to the tip of the pen. The appearance of the script—whether rounded or angular, dense or open—was partly dependent upon the shape and the angle of the nib.

Illumination, from the Latin illuminare, "to light up or illuminate," describes the glow created by the colors, especially gold and silver, used to embellish manuscripts. In making an illumination, the artist first made an outline drawing with leadpoint or quill and ink. Next, he or she painted the areas to receive gold leaf with a sticky substance such as bole (a refined red clay) or gum ammoniac (sap). The gold leaf was then laid down and burnished, or rubbed, to create a shiny surface, which sparkles as the pages are turned. Finally, the illuminator applied paints that were made from a wide variety of coloring agents: ground minerals, organic dyes extracted from plants, and chemically produced colorants. These pigments were usually mixed with egg white to form a kind of paint called tempera. The deep blue of this illumination was probably made from crushed stone, while the background is a solid mass of shining gold leaf.

(Slide 3)

Once the writing and illuminating had been completed, the parchment sheets were folded and nested into groups called gatherings. The gatherings were ordered in their proper sequence and sewn together onto cords or leather thongs that served as supports. Once the sewing was finished, the ends of the supports were laced through channels carved into the wooden boards that formed the front and back covers of the book. The binding was usually then covered in leather or a decorative fabric. This binding's most stunning ornamentations are the metal corner pieces and raised medallions that would protect the binding as it rested on a surface. The dyed parchment pieces inset into the central medallion were once brightly colored yellow, green, and blue, creating a stained-glass-window effect on the covers of the manuscript.”

Now the kids are going to make their own illuminated page. A couple of options, depending on time constraints, and what you and the teacher you are working with would like to do:

Option 1. Make a page from a Beastiary, which is a type of book, like an old-fashioned encyclopedia, featuring animals (some can be imaginary).

(see example – Fairy Horse)

Slides 4 and 5 are from a Beastiary made in England, around 1270.

Pass out the rectangle paper with curved top, and have students think of a favorite or imaginary animal to illustrate. Have them write a rough draft about their animal which includes information like where the animal lives, what it eats, drinks, etc., and any other peculiar tidbits which would make the writing interesting for them and their viewers. Once written, the students can then write their text around their drawing (glued to the larger piece of paper) in their best, most fancy writing. Perhaps they would even like to make the first letter of their writing sample extremely decorative, in the style of the illuminations they’ve seen. The final touch is for the students to add whatever kind of gold you can find: glitter glue, or gold tempera paint, depending on what’s ok with the teacher whose classroom you are using/working with.

Option 2: Think of a story – imagined or real – and illustrate it on the small rectangle paper with curved top.

(see examples: “The Accident of Lily” or “Little Red Riding Hood”)

Slides 6 and 7 show illustrated stories, taken from manuscripts made around 1400 in France.

Point out how the illustrations are bright and vivid, surrounded by beautiful decorations like vines or flowers, and the writing is fancy and carefully done.

Once the students have finished their picture, have them glue it onto a larger piece of paper.

At this point they should write a rough draft of the text they want to accompany their picture. Depending on age this could be just a title – or a short paragraph. When finished they should copy onto a smaller piece of paper in their best, most fancy writing, and finally add decoration to the borders of their larger paper. As a finishing touch they should add the gold in whatever form you have (glitter glue or gold tempera paint, depending on what’s ok with the teacher whose classroom you are using/working with.)

No comments:

Post a Comment