The Project Proposal

Technology Type

Our aim is to recreate a portion of the Gospel Book of Durrow (MS 57, Trinity College, Dublin). This is a medieval Christian manuscript from the northern British Isles. It is believed to have been produced either in a scriptorium at Durrow, Ireland, or Iona, Scotland ca. 680 AD. We will approximate 7th century Irish techniques of calligraphy, illumination, and binding to reproduce selected folios from the Gospel of Durrow that include script, illumination, a carpet page of Celtic interlace decoration, and an incipit.

Research Questions

1. How does tempura preparation and drying time constrain the progress of creating illuminated manuscript images?

2. How does needle size affect the ease of stitching parchment, and what is the optimal needle thickness for the parchment we have obtained?

3. Based on the level of interconnectivity between the case and codex, to what extent would the replacement of case affect the codex?

Required Materials

The materials used in the production of this bound codex were ink and tempura on 24.2 cm x 15.5 cm parchment. The black was created using a fine soot (known as lamp black) mixed with water and gum, which was applied with a quill. We will approximate this by utilizing non-waterproof India ink, as it is composed of analogous materials. The tempura paint used to create the manuscript was prepared through mixing naturally occurring pigments, such as ochre or oxidized metals, with an egg based binder. Finely prepared smooth parchment, of either calf or sheep leather, depending on geographical area and era, was folded and trimmed into book size pages and decorated first with text and then miniatures and other forms of decoration. Once the folios were complete all the pages were bound together using linen thread.

Itemized List:

· Parchment

· Tempura ink ingredients: egg, charcoal, and pigments (Grocery Store, Opus)

· Quills (Opus)

· Scrap leather for case (Fabric store)

· Binding Needles (Alison and Alicia)

· Linen Thread (Fabric store)

· Non-waterproof India Ink (Devin)

Potential Difficulties & Proposed Solutions

As we will be producing the tempura ink for the first time, there is a worry that the consistency of the ink will make it difficult to use in the reproduction. To address this, those involved in manufacturing the ink will allocate time for experimenting with the proportions of the ink recipe, as well as researching past manuscript reproductions. Additionally, as it may be difficult to produce smooth text on the parchment’s uneven texture, pieces of parchment shall be set aside for practice before the images are copied onto the final reproduction. Lastly, there is concern over potential damage, such as ripping of the parchment at the puncture points, during the binding process. For this reason, the group will ensure that enough parchment is purchased for practising the technique and establishing the appropriate needle diameter before starting the final production.

Time Line

JULY 2011

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

-Project proposal edited and submitted


-Materials divided amongst group members


-Specific pages from the Book of Durrow chosen

13 14

-Rough sketch of the pages completed

– Preliminary research on bookbinding techniques and case completed

15 16
17 18

-Completed pages will be handed over for binding

19 20 21

-Binding shall be completed


-Reproduced Manuscript shall be turned in

-Final written report shall be discussed

-Group members shall begin their section of the final report

24 25 26 27

-Separate section shall be compiled

-Editing of the final report will begin

28 29

-Submission of the final report


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