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Students learn about Illuminated Manuscripts then create their own illuminated gold-leaf letter.
In Medieval times (before the Renaissance, around 1400), most people did not know how to read. Their main sources of education and community involvement, outside of their families, were their churches and temples. Only a few wealthy or educated people could read and write, so religious ideas were communicated through pictures.
One method of creating a picture that was especially awe-inspiring was to coat the background with a substance called gold leaf. Gold leaf is paper-thin sheets of gold attached to clay. It was used to surround a central painting, and reflected light beautifully. Gold leaf creates the illusion of light, and sets a glowing, ethereal mood. Examples of paintings that contain gold leaf are available in museums.
Gold leaf was also used in collections of writings called Illuminated Manuscripts. The Illumination was actually a small illustration of the first letter of the first word in a paragraph. A complex little drawing was done around the letter to show the meaning of the word or idea.
To create a own gold-leaf style illumination, have students think of words that describe a specific feeling or emotion. Make a list of these words, then think of images that the words make you think of, such as a smiling face for happiness or a rainy day for pensive. Students choose a favorite word.
Have students look closely at different letter styles, or fonts, such as the type styles on a computer. They can also look up different lettering styles in a book on calligraphy.
On construction paper, use Crayola® Markers to draw the first letter of the word. Color in the letter with a bold color.
Use Crayola Fine Tip markers to draw a scene around the letter. Leave spaces in the drawing.
Fill in the spaces with a gold Crayola Crayon for an awesome gold-leaf effect.
Create an original pop-art repetitive portrait based on a study the life and work of Andy Warhol.
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