OK, here’s an early version of my composition, followed by explanations:
Work on the composition began with the parchment background. I gathered samples of different parchment textures and tones:
Then used Photoshop to blend together a highly detailed image. Remember - this is going to be printed 36” by 36”. I didn’t want a blurry wash, I wanted it to truly read as parchment.
Next was the main letter M of the title Marginalia. Gather up illuminated M’s, then played:
A reasonable person might ask “aren’t you going to make it colorful, decorative? Aren’t you going to illuminate it? Well, no. See, this isn’t about the manuscript, it’s about the marginalia. So I’m going to have the title word written as empty letter forms, surrounded by colorful marginalia.
Next comes the columns of text. The text work - getting the right words to fit in perfect columns - has not been easy. There’s a very good reason that I’m not a graphic designer:
Each time I get frustrated with the text, I start playing with the marginalia, like these (below). You saw these two examples of glosses (used to add missing text) last week:
(below) I played with the one on the left, to make this (which didn’t make it into the final composition):
Some Photoshop transformations go smoothly. Others keep me busy for hours….
….like this fellow, (above) pulling in a herd of missing words. Even after he was standing up straight, he didn’t look good. So I recruited this woman (below) to take his place. She dropped her spindle and grabbed the rope. But even after losing her tail, she didn’t quite work.
So now we’ve got a third rope puller…
…who fits nicely AND functions as a line filler:
What’s a line filler? In Medieval manuscripts, all the text had to line up at both ends. The hyphenation of words hadn’t been invented yet, so empty space were filled with designs…..
…which sometimes crawled past the end of the line to become marginalia.
By the way, manuscript pages were not numbered. Why? according to https://medievalbooks.nl/2014/12/19/the-medieval-origins-of-the-modern-footnote/ … a high Roman numeral would quickly take a lot of space. Arabic numerals were far were less popular than Roman numerals, even in the later Middle Ages. Readers may not have felt comfortable enough with these new numbers. In fact, some scribes in the later Middle Ages are still confused by the zero. The leap from alphabet to numerals – from the medieval to our modern system – appears to have been taken in the age of print. So no numbered pages.
My sister took a picture of me so I could turn it into a self-portrait in the letters. This one is much too big (and I really should be wearing something more colorful) but I like the way it fits with the explanation/ example.
And here’s where I am right now (below). The composition keeps changing. There are over 25 different versions saved in my folder, so that each time I change my mind, I can go back to a previous version and pull up an empty space to refill anew.
Meanwhile, I’m busy stitching the Malleus Maleficarum piece.