Saturday, October 27, 2012

Illuminated Letters- A History and Art Collaboration

An example of the Interlace style of illumination

A Great Collaboration

I love having the students create Illuminated Letters because it incorporates history and art. A great collaboration! I also get to show them examples of some beautifully illuminated old books. My favorite!

As an introduction, the students  watch a  Prezi that has background information on different Illuminated Manuscripts and how they were made. They also see examples of Illuminated Letters (some old, some new). The presentation breaks down the Illuminated letters into three types of styles. 

3 Styles of Illumination

The following are the three styles of Illumination that I introduce the kids to.

1. Interlace Style- using vines, flowers, thorns and leaves to embellish your letter.

2. Figurative Style- animals or people are incorporated into the letter. The letters below have incorporated people into them, but the can also use their favorite animals.

3. Historical Style- having an historical event or scene designed into or around the letter.

A NASA themed illuminated letter in historical style 

The students get to choose the style they want to use. Later on, after they've finished, they have to explain with an 'Artist Statement' how their letter has incorporated that style.

There are so many ways to make Illuminated Letters, either 3D or 2D. I've shown you some examples of using oil pastels and water color and some that are drawn in colored pencil. You probably can think of other ways to create them using different medium.


   Example of Figurative style of illumination

Here's the link to the Prezi I show my class when we start working on this lesson. 

             How do you teach Illuminated Letters? Would this work in your classroom? I'd love to know.


  1. Barbara - this is a great idea. Is it possible for you to share the link to your Prezi?

    1. Hi Alice, Thanks for keeping me on my toes. I'll add a link to my Illuminated Letter Prezi. Barbara


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