Manuscript illumination courses

Posted by on February 7, 2016 in Blog, Workshops and demonstrations | 10 comments

Manuscript illumination courses

My March workshop at the Heritage Skills Centre, Lincoln Castle, booked up so quickly that several new dates have been added – and several new workshops.






New Manuscript Illumination Course Dates.

I will be running my introductory course on May 7th and September 17th. The booking link for the May workshop is here. The course is designed to be a ‘taster’ session, starting with the use of transfer gold for its ease of handling, with the option of moving on to loose leaf gold for those who like the challenge. By the end of the day you will have the skills to add gold leaf to your designs on paper, creating images like the illuminated D, below.


Luttrell Psalter illuminated letter D by Toni Watts

‘D’ is for Dragon. Luttrell Psalter detail, 24 carat gold and egg tempera.


On 26th November I’ll be running an advanced medieval manuscript illumination course. This will focus solely on the use of manuscript gesso and loose leaf gold. Raising the gold on gesso means that it can be burnished to a high shine. It’s slightly more tricky, but well worth the time learning the skill as it gives beautiful results.

Illuminated J by manuscript illuminator Toni Watts

Illuminated J, 24 carat gold on gesso. The design called for the gesso to be raised moderately high – quite how raised or flat you lay your gesso is purely a matter of personal taste.


During the day you will learn how to lay gesso effectively and safely and use a gilder’s cushion, knife and tip to pick up and apply gold leaf.

Contemporary Illuminated Manuscripts Gilders Cushion


New Workshop – Extracting Pigments from Rocks and Roots

Just to whet your appetite, this is a new workshop that will take place on July 2nd at Lincoln Castle. We are just in the process of finalising details – more information to follow soon!


Extracting pigment


The Traditional Art of Painting in Egg Tempera

Another new course coming up, timetabled for January 2017. This will be a two day workshop during which students will learn about the traditional art of egg tempera as used by artists such as Fra Angelico and Botticelli. Participants will work on traditionally prepared panels, using pigments extracted from the earth and plants and mixed with egg to form the tempera paint.

If you are interested in any of the workshops, do sign up to my newsletter for early notification of dates. Hope to see you there!


  1. Interested in beginners’ manuscript illumination.

    • Hi Jan
      The dates for 2017 are about to be released. I’ll let you know as soon as online booking is available.
      Hope to meet you soon!

      • Let me know if you’d ever be interested in visiting Hawaii for a workshop! I would love to learn from you.

        • Hawaii sounds great – travel would be expensive, but never say never!

  2. Looking ahead do you have any summer workshops for 2018 for beginners’ manuscript illumination? I will be traveling from the U.S.

    • Hi Christy. I tend not to teach manuscript illumination in the height of the summer – hot, dry weather makes gilding more difficult which is dispiriting for beginners. I’m running a workshop in Cumbria in September 2018 if that’s any help? It would be good to meet you!

      • I will definitely look into that! Will you be at Lincoln or other locations during the summer?

        • I’ll run Lincoln workshops in spring and autumn 2018, I should imagine. None of the 2018 dates are set yet and there is a new manager at the Heritage Skills Centre but I’ve taught there for years and there’s no reason to think my work there will change….

  3. i’m interested in 2018 courses!

    • Hi Kathryn. I put the 2018 Lincoln dates up yesterday – if you click on ‘Workshops for Adults’ you’ll find links to each type of course with the available dates. Hope to meet you at some stage!

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