Student’s Work from the PSTA Autumn 2010 Course in Islamic Manuscript Illumination

Student’s work from the Islamic manuscript illumination course at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts.

Last Saturday marked the final session of a 4-day course that I taught in Islamic manuscript illumination at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. Due to popular demand, I have posted up pictures of the student’s work! I was actually pleasantly surprised to discover how much my students enjoy having their work featured on my blog! I will do my best to keep posting up images of student’s work so that those of you who couldn’t make it to the course this time can have some idea of what we got up to.

For a rundown of the course content and activities that we completed over the 4 days, take a look at my previous post on the summer school course in Islamic manuscript illumination. The structure of the course was pretty similar, but this time around, students had the opportunity to try paper preparation techniques such as tea-staining, adding a paper size, and burnishing.

To start things off, I have to say that I was very impressed with this student’s notes and sketchbook. She very kindly allowed me to photograph a few pages of her sketchbook for use on the blog. I love how she has written her own instructions to help her remember how particular shapes are created. Tracing paper is folded, and sketches are re-traced to give lines of symmetry. I wish my own sketchbooks were so concise!

Notes on how to make a design turn a corner (below):

The next page shows experimentation with colour, as well as visual notes on technique, and comparisons of different types of gold paint – e.g. acrylic gold vs genuine gold leaf.

This next student was very ambitious! But that’s ok, I love it when my students have big ambitions. Her design was incredibly intricate. I’ve only photographed a small section here. She’s also used shell gold, which is a bit of a tricky paint to work with for a beginner. Shell gold is paint that has been made out of hand-ground gold leaf. The best quality shell gold that I have come across is from Istanbul – it is so fine, it’s like painting with silk. In fact part of the process in making the shell gold is to sift the particles through a piece of silk. Hmmm… perhaps I’ll write a post on making shell gold one of these days!

Finally, here is one more piece of work from a student who has taken my course for the second time, now. This time, she focused on an entirely different technique and style of illumination. It was a huge challenge, but I think that she’s coped superbly:

A quick note to all of my students who attended the course – congratulations on all of your work, you have all done brilliantly! I am so sorry that I didn’t get a chance to photograph everybody’s paintings, but if you would like me to post your work on the blog, just drop me an email with a jpeg of your painting, and I will post it up here with the others. You can contact me at:

Thank you for attending the course, and good luck with with your paintings! I hope to see you all again soon!

This entry was posted in Gilding, Islamic Art Courses, Islamic Manuscript Illumination, Pattern in Islamic art, Student's Work. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Student’s Work from the PSTA Autumn 2010 Course in Islamic Manuscript Illumination

  1. Rahila says:

    Thanks for teaching me the “classic” technique as I always did want to learn how to produce the beautiful effects of this style of illumination since the age of 19! (looong time ago)

  2. Shafina Ali says:

    Thank you for your kind comments about my sketch book. I was inspired from the samples you displayed on the table, which gave me the idea. I have learend so much from your work and the detailed explanaton and demonstration you have given us on the 4 day course.
    Thank you for teaching different techniques and answering all my queries about gold and islamic illumination. It was a privilege to learn from a professional like you.

  3. Shabiha Sayed says:

    another thank you from me too! The 4 Saturdays on your course was fantastic, so much packed in, that it has given me lots of tools and inspiration to expand on now. Your teaching style was very motivating and personal. I loved the history shared about the traditions of the art along with teaching the techniques, which enriched the sessions. Having the opportunity to see examples of your own work brought the art techniques and theories to life. It’s altogether a different experience examining real art in your hand compared to that behind a framed picture in a gallery or on the web!
    Hopefully I can get my hands on some real Turkish shell gold!
    Please keep us posted on future courses, I’d love to come again and expand my knowledge and experience further. Hope you continue to teach, as you truly have the gift in doing so!
    Good luck in your PHd.

  4. Ayesha says:

    Thank you ladies, you were all an absolute pleasure to teach – and so talented! I pushed you all pretty hard, but I hope you felt it was worth the effort. If you have any queries about the work, please do not hesitate to contact me. You are all now on my mailing list, so I’ll send you updates of any future courses / exhibitions.

    I hope to see you all again soon!

    Salaams and best wishes to you all.

  5. Your Dad! says:

    I’m really impressed with your students’ work… the quality and detail is quite superb! Bearing in mind the relatively short time that they’ve had in training…. Keep up the good work, ladies!

  6. Amnah says:

    Breathtaking work! I can’t wait until I can take another class!

  7. Cassandra Strand says:

    I would love to take this course but there is nothing like this available near me as far as I know and unfortunately traveling to take it would be out of the question at this point in my life. You should consider offering it on-line somewhere like udemy. They already have an Islamic geometric Design course and an Arabic calligraphy course… this would be such a nice addition to those offerings!

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