It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

St John's Bible - 1150 hand written velum pages with over 140 illuminations

The Saint John's Bible is made for 21st century readers and is called the "America's Book of Kells". It is a collaboration project between Saint John's Abbey, University in Collegeville, Minnesota and Donald Jackson's Scriptorium in Monmouth, Wales.  Donald Jackson, the Artistic Director of the project is a renowned Western calligrapher and illuminator.
The original Bible when opened is 3 ft. wide and 2 ft tall, it includes 1150 velum pages divided in 7 different volumes. The first words were written on velum in early 2000 and the last volume was completed just a few weeks ago (the final presentation of the last volume was last week in Minnesota). Ancient techniques and tools were applied through the whole process, using old inks, gold and platinum for guilding and turkey, goose or swan quills for the application.
The illuminations are  combinations of old and modern techniques, on several pages the local flora and fauna of Minnesota and Wales are shown, e.g., the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly to symbolize life, death and resurrection.
You can page through the Bible by clicking here (to go to the next page click in the upper right corner of the right hand page).
(Monarch Butterfly and milkweed on the left)
(please click the image to enlarge)
The lay-out and text was first composed on the computer. The final text for each of the vellum pages took seven to ten hours to write and errors in hand writing sometimes occurred. Corrections were made by carefully scraping away single words and recreating the correct text. On 8 pages a whole line was accidentally omitted and the missing line was added at the end of the page with creatures capable of flight pulling the lines into place (see above).
At the moment 25 of the illuminations (giclee prints) can be viewed in St. Andrew United Methodist Church, Denver, CO until June 28, 2011 (8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.).
(Newsweek published an article about the project in 2000, you can read it by clicking here)

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