When I read the Monogram blog last Monday, I immediately emailed Kim and asked, “have you seen how beautiful these look illuminated?” She asked if I would share more about it with her readers to which I happily agreed. I recently launched a calligraphy business, Halo Calligraphy, after taking courses for about a year. The most recent class I completed was the Art of Illumination. I found it to be both fascinating and beautiful with such a long, interesting history.
Illuminated monograms are a unique way to add a beautiful touch to special document and gifts. Illumination dates back to medieval times when calligraphers began to “lighten” pages of text using precious metals to reflect the surrounding light. It was typically devoted to religious works produced in monasteries, as with this example.
Victoria & Albert Museum
Modern illumination is still inspired by ancient lettering and the hand-painted decorative letters usually include saturated colors with gold or silver leaf. Modern treatments include stand alone monograms, versals to begin a page of a poem or quotation, cards, letterheads, or the inside cover of a wedding or baby book.
I love the simple and elegant illuminated first letter of these wedding vows done in silver.
A special poem or verse like this would be sweet framed in a little girl’s room. The calligrapher carried the border down the full side of the page to make it more of a work of art. You can several examples of coordinating borders in the monogram books as well.
As a calligrapher, it’s fun to look through monogram books, choose a favorite letter, then illuminate and paint as a gift. The ancient looking monograms can be replicated and updated with a more modern look. Here is one I did in gold leaf and pink for my newborn niece’s nursery.
To check out Jen O'Neal's beautiful calligraphy, visit Halo Calligraphy.