Video Class: Medieval Manuscript Illumination Workshop


Based on courses taught at Vassar, Wellesley, The Morgan Library and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Karen Gorst shares her methods for teaching anyone the basics of medieval manuscript illumination. Ms. Gorst has used these techniques to teach students ranging from 3rd Graders studying the middle ages to Graduate Students in Medieval Studies. 

The difference is that the graduate students get an introductory lecture to put these techniques into historic context. These techniques are easily broken into segments that fit neatly into 45 minute classes including clean-up, making it simple to include in hands-on medieval processes in any curriculum.


Designed  to walk students step-by-step through the making of an illuminated design or to view parts of the video as an aide to understanding the basic processes of manuscript illumination. The instructions assume that the viewers are absolute beginners who are not artists and have no experience in this medieval craft. The most basic questions are anticipated and there is even a section on what to do when the gold leaf will not stick. 


Directions for all the steps to create a simple illumination are included. From sanding and pumicing parchment, transferring a design to gilding with fish glue and painting. It even includes making paints from malachite, saffron and French ultramarine blue.


This is not a class for experienced illuminators and includes only the most elementary painting techniques.


Age Level: 3rd Grade to Grad School- anyone old enough to be studying the middle ages, medieval history, library science or history of the book. 


Skill Levels: Beginner Parchment, Beginner Gilding, Beginner Paint Making


A set of downloadable instructions has the materials needed for each step of the process listed at the beginning of each section followed by written instructions. A separate handout gives the suggested classroom set up, breaking down the materials needed for teams of four to six students. Teachers can fly solo and demonstrate each step or use the video (with or without sound) for classroom instruction. When used in conjunction with the video, this course is geared to visual, verbal and kinesthetic learners. 

This video is INSTANT ACCESS click HERE to see how.