Family illumination: Riklis Family D'Var Torah 2019

L'dor v'dor
From generation to generation

Here at The Gorst Studio we attract people who believe in
Passing down traditional practices and elevating the next generation.

We love our Manuscript illumination and calligraphy heritage. And are committed to these art forms surviving to the 22nd century.

This project commemorates a bat mitzvah.

In Judaism, the Bat Mitzvah of a young lady is an occasion to celebrate L'dor V'd'or. It is a life cycle event- the ritual elevation to adulthood. An important part is publicly reading the Torah passage for the day and giving a Dvar Torah, a short talk on the meaning of that Torah lesson.

Surprisingly, as important as this is,
many adults don't remember their Torah passage or their talk while others seek to preserve them for posterity.

The Riklis Family has a special family ritual, grandparents commission a document that contains their grandchild"s D'var Torah. The title page gives the child's name, the Torah parsha, the haf Torah parsha and the bat mitzah date.

In this case, the Riklis family document is an gathering of pages for a book. This addendum was tipped into a limited edition printed prayer book. The original was beautifully hand lettered in Hebrew by calligrapher Sharon Binder.

It contains traditional prayers for women from across the diaspera, prayers used in every aspect of life for the practice of Judaism. The joys, sorrows and everything in between.

As one Rabbi said, Judaism is not only a religion, it is a daily practice- like meditation.

Like all hand made documents, this addendum records more information than a printed document with the same text. Every illuminated document records the current practices and influences of the creators.

Practice looking at this addendum through the eyes of an art historian. Focusing on the main body of calligraphy, if you know the letter shapes of famous calligraphers, then you see that the italic I learned is influenced by Lloyd Reynolds. With Reynolds' arch shapes in my Ns and Ms. And my flourishes reveal that I also studied Arrighi's writing manual, "L'Operina", printed in 1522- a go to for italic letterforms.

These bar borders merge multiple historic aesthetics. Bar borders hail from the 14th century and were usually red and blue with white line work. Illumination newbies can get fooled when looking at historic bar borders wIth gray lines. Traditionally, white lead was used for the white lines- it was the brightest most opaque white until the 20th century. White lead turns gray when exposed to the sulfur acid in air pollution. In this addendum, the bar colors repeat the border colors used in the printed prayer book. They are very 20th century.

Note how the added arcs of laurel leaves incorporate the ancient Greek symbol of achievement.

Let's move on to the title page for the D'var Torah addendum. It is inspired by Victorian/arts and craft movement. The decorated capitals with penwork and drop shadows. are based on Lombardic capitals that I learned while working at Ames and Rollinson. Although these letters incorporate both gold leaf and shell gold- at Ames and Rollinson we only used shell gold. I decided it was time for an upgrade, by using older illumination techniquez that incorporate gold leaf.

At the Gorst Studio we take our responsibility to the next generation seriously. Our commitment is to passing our best practices and cultural heritage to the next generation.