Over the years I've collected many books on calligraphy and illumination. They are all good, they provide the learning but this by far is truly inspirational.
I'd read many good reviews on it, but did not expect the sheer beauty of the book when it arrived. The colours are vivid, the gold shines metallic throughout, and it looks and feels like an ancient script. It is enjoyable just to sit and slowly turn the pages.
It has a spiral binding, which doesn't detract from its looks and really is practical. I've lost count how many times I've had to crack a small book open and still have to weigh down the corners to stop the pages turning. These pages lie flat and are well laid out.
The techniques are clear and the drawings of a nature where it would be easy to trace the letter, rather than try to copy it freehand. Much of the problem, I find, with illuminated letters is the scale of the intricacy - so small and fiddy. The letters offered can be copied as their outlines allow you detail them as much as you like.
It's the first book I've seen which matches Capital/Illuminated letters to specific lower case alphabets. Other books I have tend to be very non-committal and sporadic in doing this.
In this book, each type of alphabet has its own section and both the Illuminated letters and lower-case calligraphic ones are laid out. So no more writing in the style of gothic, then having to make do with a basic Celtic illuminated letter because you're not quite sure what pattern and detail a Gothic illuminated letter should include.
The tips and suggestions are good - e.g. I'd never thought of masking the tiny areas of letters when decorating, although do it in painting. And next time, I'll paint in a different order as suggested. Simple, maybe obvious tips and techniques to remind or prompt our minds appear helpfully through the pages.
Not a book for a total beginner in calligraphy. It lays out well the various alphabets, outlines their history and explains how they differ from others, but it doesn't show the pen stroke directions as you would find in a beginner book. It gives the scaling to use which is enough if you have an understanding of pen strokes and their effects.
There is some information on decoration such as borders towards the back. Too little maybe for some, but it's avoided the pitfall many illuminated books do and that is to try and cover both letters and other means of illumination in one book. Illumination is a vast topic and to focus on letters alone, with acknowledgement of complimentary decoration was a good choice.
If you're setting out wanting to learn the techniques of letter illumination then I cannot fault this book. Simple, easy to use but certainly not basic.
it is clearer than a bible for sure. the book sets out to explain various styles of letters, and give step by step pictures of how it is done. from celtic old style through to romanesque, renaissance and contemporary, its all there. even for experienced readers it is still informative. lots of letters inside to set readers into projects. every page is in colour, illustrations are clear, its like a giant work book. not sure about some of the colours schemes though, but i am nick picking here. if you copy everything once, you would be a master illuminator for sure!
This is not just any old book on calligraphy. The illustrations are beautiful and would capture the imagination of anyone who loves books simply for the pleasure of opening them, and devouring the contents. To the unitiated it brings a world of fascination dating back into the past. In this day and age technology has to a large extent done away with the need to be expert in beatiful handwriting, but this book shows how in days gone by it was an art form practised by the leading scholars of the time.For the discerning reader it also shows how they could if they wished take it up as an absorbing hobby. Altogether a beautiful and inspiring book.