On Wednesday I taught my monthly art class at our local elementary school. We've been studying the history of Illuminated Manuscripts and this week my class of 5th graders were able to finish off their own letters which they had traced onto vellum last month. It was great fun. We spent our time talking about the colours that were used by the monks to create the uncial letters and the wonderful pictures that were often worked into them. The use of gold and silver leaf caused quite a stir until they were told that we would be using metallic gel pens to create the same effect on our pieces!
We also talked about the most famous illuminated manuscript which resides in Dublin, Ireland: The Book of Kells. As it had just been St. Patrick's Day the day before, the students were quite switched on to all things Irish and thought that it was pretty cool that the book's home was in the Emerald Isle. This led on to an exciting discussion about the latest addition to the world of illuminated manuscripts: The St. John's Bible. This manuscript has the potential to become America's answer to The Book of Kells. Utilizing all the ancient techniques of old manuscript writing, but using a modern text and contempory illuminations, The St John's Bible is an historical treasure in the making.
I found the fact that I could relate the principles that I was teaching to a modern context hugely exciting. Somehow it gave the lesson a sense of roundness; a completion and a relevance for the kids to the time they now live in. Mentioning that the image of the Twin Towers will be used to illustrate forgiveness, gave the talk of goose feather quills and calf leather parchment a modern day resonance that the students could relate to.
It showed in their work. They produced the most beautiful letters, each mounted on coloured paper, which will be displayed in the hallway for everyone to see. I am very proud of them.
Recreating old items led me back to my gansey this week too. I wanted something that I could unwind with and knitting large rounds proved the perfect zen-like experience. Then I got to the underarm gussets. Not quite so relaxing, as I also started the pattern rows for the yoke. Still, I feel like I'm making progress, infact the whole jumper is beginning to get too big for my project bag. At this rate I'll soon be carrying it around in a holdall!