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Old 07-06-03, 02:53 PM
Rosemary Rosemary is offline
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Default manuscript illuminations

Does anyone know what the common binder was for medieval illuminatons? I can't tell looking at such tiny works in very low light used in the displays to protect them. :?:
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Old 07-06-03, 09:12 PM
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Dennis H Dennis H is offline
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I'm not an expert on this, but I've read that the paint for manuscripts was tempered variously in yolk, yolk and gum, yolk and size, glair, glair and gum, glair and size, and even glair and fig sap. I believe there was a lot of regional variation. Maybe D.V. Thompson's book on Medieval painting practices has the better answer. I don't have a copy.
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Old 09-06-03, 02:47 AM
LaurieO LaurieO is offline
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Hi all- :)
From "The Materials and Techniques of Medeival Painting", Daniel V. Thompson:
"The basic, standard medium for illumination was glair. Glair is the name given to white of egg which has been deprived of its natural stringiness by any of several methods." (It goes on, and mentions two methods, one by beating and one by pressing.) It also mentions glair with honey or sugar as a varnish and also gum benzoin as a varnish over the glair-tempered paint- glair tempered paint was not known to bring out all of the qualities of some pigments. Gum arabic is mentioned because it was used as a stronger binder in book illuminations, as well as for enhancing some pigments more than glair (mentions dark blues). Gum arabic is less brittle than glair and can be used "much more generously".....
There's really quite a bit in here on this - also taken into consideration was the surface to be illuminated. Other mediums mentioned are gum tragacanth, size, (both as binders), egg yolk (only when mixed with glair for books), and ear wax. :)

The book "Writing and Illuminating and Lettering" by Edward Johnston (Dover reprint) is really an excellent resource for all aspects of illuminating; it mentions : "Powder colours may be mixed with gum arabic and water." and " Cake colours...seem to need tempering with a little gum or honey or egg for use on ordinary parchment." This book is a more modern view of then-current available materials, originally written in 1946.

Hope this helps -

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Old 09-06-03, 08:03 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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There's also a glue tempera made from scraps of boiled parchment, probably on the grounds that like adheres to like.

It's related to rabbitskin glue. Maybe you could use rabbitskin glue as a binder.

But to make it yourself, take scrap parchment. Soak it in distilled water until softish. Then simmer until it swells up into a nasty, rubbery mass of mutton-wool-smelling yuck that looks like pasta.

Strain out the liquid, pour it into a large, shallow pan and allow to cool. When it reaches a rubbery, gelatin-like state, score it into convenient sized pieces. Allow it to dry completely over a few days, then seal up the pieces.

When you need it, make it up like rabbitskin glue: Soak overnight in distilled water, then heat up in a double boiler.

Another good resource book is Theophilus' "On Divers Arts", also printed by Dover.[/u]
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Old 19-06-03, 10:25 PM
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I have always wondered why Byzantine illumination seems to flake more than Western illumination. After reading this thread I am wondering if the Byzantines used a diffferent medium that adhered less effectively or was more brittle.
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Old 21-12-03, 09:07 PM
peter kashur
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Default a side topic....raised guilding

The Technique of RAISED GUILDING
jerry tresser

....good book...i think i got mine from either sepp leaf or kremer.....
michelle jordan publications
port jefferson, new york

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Old 01-09-06, 04:36 PM
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Dimitris C. Milionis Dimitris C. Milionis is offline
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I have always wondered why Byzantine illumination seems to flake more than Western illumination.
off the top of my head; they [monks] mostly just used the white protein of the egg as glue, I'll get back to this got to speak to a buddy at the Benaki Museum of Athens on this that uses the traditional glues.
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Old 02-09-06, 01:08 AM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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As I understand it, you can't use the egg white straight, the way you do the yolk. You have to beat it into a meringue, well past the dry stage, then let it sit on a plate overnight. The liquid that seeps out the bottom is then used to make a paint; it is called "glair".

I have used glair (I never did try just straight egg white). Mostly I remember that it had a curiously chemical smell, rather like a permanent marker, and I needed far more of it than I thought to get a paint layer to adhere to sheepskin parchment.
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