All artworks are © Randy Asplund unless otherwise noted. Please contact the artist for permissions.
Calligraphy, Illumination and Book Arts
using the most authentic medieval materials and techniques
Scoll, Case & Box
| Custom Made Whole Books
See How Authentic Historical
Materials And Techniques Are Used
To Make Them
|Coats of Arms
Many of the images below are for sale as Originals or as Prints
| If you would like to learn more about
illuminated manuscript book arts, making parchment, wax tablets (known
as pugilare), handmade brushes, reed and quill pens, bronze styli,
my medieval writing slope, my medieval paints or gilding, please see
the Articles page.
The art of illustration, and the art of the book in general, has evolved greatly over the centuries, but it all traces back to the medieval book. To behold this art is to witness the roots of western culture as it was preserved from antiquity. Without this almost lost art we would not have any of the great works of science, philosophy and literature passed down to us by the ancient writers. We would have lost our history and the roots of our culture. It is only fitting then that we try to understand and honor what these people went through in order to preserve that legacy.
My work with medieval style manuscript illumination goes back to the mid 1980's when I began to fuse my interests in medieval studies with my chosen career in book illustration. To me, the painting and drawing of illustrations in the medieval book was the parent art form of what I was learning to do in the contemporary world. I wanted to explore it in such detail that I would eventually be able to create the pure medieval art as if I were someone living in that time. I wanted to know what it must have been like, and the only way to feel that would be to immerse myself in the authentic process. So I studied ancient treatises and experimented with making tools and colors in order to envelope myself with the true medieval process. I focused on creating images that reached back to the medieval mind and spirit so that their feelings and sensibilities might live once again within me. I feel that this is the best way to really appreciate and understand how these long forgotten masters lived and worked.
To do this I have had to learn to make pages from animal skin, to make tools from wood, bone, ceramic, and metals. I have had to go into nature and harvest plant and animal materials, stone, and earth, as well as learn medieval chemical science in order to make the colors and inks found on the pages. And then I had to learn to put it all together the same way my medieval counterparts did so that I would be making the same kind of thing they were.
The art is not dead yet, though in an age when much art is digital and corporations provide everything through retailers, very few people still know the secrets of how such things were made from nature. To me, the human factor seems greatly lost. I wish to restore that aspect to my art. But it doesn't end with process. The medieval mind had different ways of looking at and depicting the world than when I grew up. It was a much more spiritual time, when religion was a great part of every aspect of life. It was also a superstitious world, a harsh one steeped in profound beauty. All of this greatly affected the views represented in the arts. It is my goal to explore these aspects and express my own original creations using the old ways, thus reaching back to find the spirit of where we came from and help it live again through my efforts.