Class Today

Great class today. Spent the whole day with the calligrapher, Patricia Lovett. Very engaging speaker and a good teacher. We came in and she hustled us around to get materials to gild an initial capital. She had brought a hygrometer to measure the humidity and was alarmed that it had fallen below 70% humidity. (Yes, it was well over 90 degrees today, and I was in a room with 70% humidity and no air-conditioning.)  

As she talked us through the procedure, she told us that Jehan le Begue in 1431 had given the instructions, "...when you wish to lay on the gold, go into a closed place and choose a proper time, as has been before mentioned. And having chosen a fit time and place, and used the proper precaution..."   What this means she says is that you should get right to it after hearing Matins at three in the morning, say around five. That way the air is the most moist. You close yourself in, shut all the windows and doors and then start gilding.

All of us in the class had pretty good success. (picture of my gilded C). But she told us about her class last week where they had put her in an air-conditioned room, and they just couldn't get it to stick at all.

The most alarming things would come out of her mouth periodically like, "Oh wait, I think that's the recipe with ear wax in it."   The middle ages, it's not a time for sissies.

Quill Pen

We also got to cut a quill pen from a goose feather. Easier than I thought, although, I left mine on the desk and it dried out, so it wasn't suitable for using at the end of the class. Once I soaked it though, it went back into it's original shape. If anyone happens to go past the duck pond and see any flight feathers, pick some up for me. (I'm posting my notes from the class as a separate page, since it was so cool, I thought some of you might want the whole thing.)


These were her books that she recommended. They are all British Library publications.

  • Tools & Materials for Calligraphy, Illumination, and Miniature Painting

Trips Today

Went looking for 4 D-sized batteries to run the airpump for my air mattress. In theory I'm going camping with some of the Thamesreach SCA group. They've made arrangements for me, so I feel obliged to go, although it's been really miserably hot here and is supposed to storm Friday night. So the potential exists that I could swelter and freeze at the same event.   Ah, I'm sure I'll have a good time, and I've been looking forward to it. The heat was just so bad today that it's making me nauseous, and tonight it's just not really cooling off like it has been.


In my 30 minutes with the books I discovered that the French names for the symbols in the left column are:

  • Crechet alineaire for the P shape, and
  • Pied-de-mouche for the C shape

I'm going to look for the Latin fragments texts tomorrow. (During my 30 minutes that I can use the library before class.)

As I was looking at the Latin version of the poem today, I suddenly realized, "Hey, those are abbreviations all over the place. This IS written in Latin Diplomatic. (See horrifying discussion of diplomatic from Day One.) The interesting thing is that the Middle English version is not. I'm not sure if that means anything, but at least I can read it now.


So, since no one from my set of courses is doing the dorms, I've infiltrated a drafting class whose members are all staying here. Ann, the woman from the laundry, introduced me to several of her classmates this morning. So I had a table of people to sit with. Amusingly, the Malaysians were all relieved that I spoke American English. That's what they listen to on TV back home, so they were non-plussed to arrive in Britain to have trouble understanding British English.   None of them know how to use the toaster either, and they've been here for a month already.

Today's Photos | Notes from Illumination Class