New Book – Illuminating the Word

I bought a book for Christmas that I’ve had on and off my wish list for a year. I was afraid that if I left it much longer it would be out-of-print. Due to my interest in bookbinding and medieval manuscripts and their art, I bought Illuminating the Word : The Making of the Saint John’s Bible by Christopher Calderhead. ISBN 0814690505. It’s about how this bible, a modern day manuscript commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota, was penned on vellum with quills and painted and illuminated with modern art and references.

The logistics of organizing this 9-year project and the information on the materials and techniques is fascinating. What a page-turner and so interesting to read. I didn’t realize all the preparation and anomalies of working on vellum. It’s tricky and you have to work with varying thicknesses and flaws in the skin.

The actual bible is touring the States right now with the Dead Sea Scrolls; I imagine it’s a vitally interesting exhibit. To see more information you can view their website

I also have another book about this bible on back order because the way the artwork is done is so different. I was somewhat disappointed that they hadn’t used a Medieval style for the artwork, but this art belies that and I wanted to know more about it.

Donald Jackson created collages and then transferred the outline to a page of vellum for panting, stamping, illuminating etc. It’s the odd things he used in the collages that are fascinating, like bits of musical patterns and rug patterns, all kinds of patterns from different cultures and religions as well as flora and fauna painted by experts. Some of the illuminations had four or five people working on them.

The Art of Saint John’s Bible: A Reader’s Guide to Pentateuch, Psalms, Gospels and Acts by Susan Sink. ISBN 0814690629

The second book about the artwork is The Art of The Saint John’s Bible: A Readers Guide to Wisdom Books and Prophets (Volume 2) by Susan Sink. ISBN 0814690637.

I ran out of money so shall have to hunt this one up at a later date!

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