How to Commission a Manuscript

Commissioning an Illuminated Manuscript

Most people may think that Illuminated Manuscripts are things of the far past. Not so. They may be rare these days, but I have been producing illuminated manuscripts for about 30 years.

I fear that most people don’t even know what an illuminated manuscript really is, so let me illuminate you. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the word “manuscript” in this way: a book, document, or the like, written by hand; a writing of any kind as distinguished from printed matter.... A written composition which has not been printed; often an author’s written “copy” as distinguished from the print of the same.

The OED found the word first used in English in 1597. As for the term “illuminated,” this refers to the decorative quality of the manuscript, usually because gold leaf is used to create the sense of light emerging from the text. More generally, any hand decorated and/or illustrated manuscript can be called “illuminated.”

Many of the greatest Western illuminated manuscripts were created in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The Ottomans, Persians, and Mughals of India also created astoundingly beautiful manuscripts. Commissioned by kings, religious authorities, and wealthy merchants, the great scriptoria used the finest artists’ materials: goat and sheepskin parchment; gold and silver leaf; lapis lazuli, azurite, and indigo for blue; cinnabar for vermillion; orpiment for yellow; malachite for green. It was as if they were painting with liquid gemstones.

It is still possible to find real parchment and gold leaf, although most artists’ supply stores only carry faux products. As for semi-precious pigments, to the best of my knowledge, they are not for sale at any price. But they are available! I produce all these pigments! Starting at gem and mineral stores, I buy the raw materials, grind and clean them, and mix them with appropriate media to produce, for the first time in a century or more, these rare and luminescent colors.

To see an example of these glorious pigments illuminating my poetry, go to the Art Galleries page from the Shivvetee Main Courtyard, and select the
“Elgies en Nance show. Or, by selecting the “Lost Prophet” show, you can view a simpler kind of manuscript.

Are you interested in owning your own illuminated work of art?

It’s not an impossible dream. The following list of examples can give you an idea of the kinds of manuscripts and Shivvetees I can create for you, and what they would cost. Contact me so we can discuss specifics. By the way, a Shivvetee is a Jewish talisman or sacred image, in which Divne Names form a focus around which, or within which a psalm or other religious poem or text is written. To augment the Names and text, floral, geometric, or other natural designs can be added. Traditionally used for protection, the Shivvetee is also an object that one can use to focus prayer and meditation, or to help remember the holiness waiting to found in each moment.

Examples of Shivvetees and Manuscripts:
(prices will vary depending on the project, and are subject to change over time)

6" x 9" Shivvetee on finest paper or oak board,
using fine commercial pigments $400.00 US

6" x 9" Shivvetee on sheepskin parchment,
using gold leaf and hand-made precious pigments $700.00 US

8 page poem manuscript, on finest paper
title in gold leaf, commercial pigments, unbound $1800.00 US

8 page poem manuscript, on parchment,
gold leaf and precious pigments, parchment binding $2500.00 US

A Pilgrimmage to Mecca on finest paper
title in gold leaf, commercial pigments,
illustrated and bound $3800.00 US

Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, in 6 volumes (over 200 pages)
printed (not hand written) on finest paper,
decorated using commercial pigments, unbound
depending on printing costs, approximately negotiable

Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, in 6 volumes (over 300 pages)
hand written on parchment, gold leaf,
precious pigments, bound
depending on parchment costs, fee is negotiable

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Poetry, Writing, and Art by Stephen Berer © 2010. All rights reserved.