Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Illuminated Manuscript Cover

"Christian monasteries helped preserve manuscripts of religious works, from the Bible, and writings from ancient Greece and Rome. Monks copied and produced many manuscripts in special workshops within their monasteries, called scriptoria. The covers for Medieval manuscripts were highly decorated to show that the book inside was important."
-Artistic Pursuits by Brenda EllisI loved the picture study that Artistic Pursuits provided but I was dissatisfied with their art project that went along with it, which was simply to make a book cover. I wanted my students to get more of a flavor of the Medieval manuscript covers.
(I have bolded all the supplies we used.) I bought some foam shapes with Christian symbols. I gave them a book-sized piece of cardboard and they arranged the foam shapes as they wished.I also provided string that they could cut to the length they wanted and glue down. This is really good for making borders. Once they have their shapes arranged to their satisfaction, I had them cover the cardboard with aluminium foil. The piece of foil needs to be large enough that it can wrap around to the back of the cardboard and be a little loose on the front. Carefully, using fingers or the eraser end of a pencil, rub around the shapes, making the foil wrap around them. This makes the shapes raise up as the rest of the foil recesses around them.

Next take some black tempra paint and, using a paintbrush,cover the whole surface with a light layer of the paint.
I thought at first that I would need to water it down to get the effect I was looking for, but as it turned out, I didn't need to. This gives the surface a tarnished look. Next we glued some jewels on the cover. The jewels have a flat side which either comes with a sticky back or can be glued to the book cover. These pictures don't show the whole effect very well because of the flash, but they came out as a good imitation of the silver gilded Medieval Missal covers.
If you have any, playing Medieval music in the background while these are being made adds to the atmosphere.
To see what the illuminated pages inside would look like, Plot 55 has a wonderful post on seeing a facsimile of the actual Book of Kells.


  1. What a fun project! We did something similar when we were studying the Middle Ages several years ago. We made a page for a book by aging the pages in tea water. The kids wrote a short story and illustrated it then created a border around the page using colored foil. Their stories became one of my favorite projects. They were so cute! Thanks for sharing and jogging my memory! Blessings!:)

  2. Oh man does that give me cool craft ideas.

  3. This is so cool, what a great study and project! Thank you for joining us this week for Geography/History!

  4. Those turned out really neat, and probably gave the children a good indication as to the amount of work that went into the real covers.

  5. Lovely, cheers Marie

  6. Thanks for linking - you are such a star!!! I love it!!!

  7. What a wonderful project to do with your kids...


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