Jun. 6th, 2014

I am in awe

Jun. 6th, 2014 07:52 am
philena: (manuscript)
 This guy. I'm struck by how many people (like me) seem to enjoy both medieval stuff and sci-fi and fantasy. The combination could be a result of a desire for escapism (to a Type C world), which can be satisfied both by inventing a universe with magic and dragons, or by returning to a period of time so remote that it might just as well be such a universe (helped, no doubt, by the fact that the people in that era believed in magic and dragons). The fact that fantasy stories often take place in pseudo-medieval settings is another, more mundane, link between the two interests. In any event, whatever the reason for this cooccurrence, I've discovered someone amazing, who is both a fantasy/sci-fi illustrator, and also an amazing book artist. I've spent years playing around with lettering, but only now have I started branching out into decoration and pseudo-illumination. I justify the specialization to myself (as if a hobby needed this sort of justification) to saying that the scribes in the olden days specialized. The same grunt who did the lettering was not necessarily the expert who did the illumination or the binding. Randy Asplund, however, has scorned such thinking. He does it all himself: He prepares the vellum, mixes the ink from authentic ingredients*, makes his own authentic-style tools, and, of course, does all the lettering, illustration, and illumination himself. I need hardly say that his lettering --- perhaps the simplest part of the endeavor --- is exquisite.

Please, take a look through his step-by-step account of making two books. One of them is a fifteenth century French-style manuscript, and the other is a 9th-century Northumbrian style manuscript. They are astonishing.

I should also mention that I very much want this book that he is writing, Secrets of Forgotten Masters: A 21st Century Artist's Exploration of how books were made in the Middle Ages. It doesn't look like it's out yet, but if someone is looking for a birthday present for me when it is released, now you know what I want!

*I'm charmed by his slightly apologetic comment that one of his inks was made with Mexican cochineal (a type of insect), which is not authentic, but it's similar to the European cochineal that would have been used to make the ink.


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