Illuminated Initials

Acorn Arts is proud to present
Harvest Crittenden
Illuminated Initials

Illuminated Ribbon R

It’s been 4 years since I last offered this workshop online, and there have been so many requests for its return that it is time to offer it again! Lets make some beautiful illuminated initials together.

In this 4 week class we will cover everything you need to know to create beautiful illuminated initials. Step by step we will study Lombardic initials, add ribbon detailing wrapping the initial, draw and transfer our patterns, learn how to make color decisions, gilding, floating shell gold, painting techniques, and add a background pattern or design element. For our inspiration we will be using a beautiful 16th century Lombardic alphabet that has ribbons and florals. You are free to use a diaper pattern background if you choose. This class is open to ALL levels. 


Classes will run for 4 consecutive Wednesdays in May, 2019. Classes will be posted May 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd.  Each Wednesday there will be new worksheets available for you to download with the instructional videos. At the end of every lesson, some useful homework will be suggested, that you can post on the Classroom Forum, accessible only to the participants. On that platform you can connect with your fellow classmates, see how they're doing, get feedback on your work, but also signal problems and ask for clarifications. Homework is suggested, but never madatory. You may watch the videos at any time that is convenient for you, as many times as you like. The lessons will remain posted for the entire duration of the class. 

Our Classroom Forum for feedback will remain open through June 5th. The videos, for viewing only, will remain posted for an additional 3 months after the close of class. Everything will come down on August 5th to make room for the next class.  

These are some of the techniques that will be covered.

A brief history of illuminated initials

Designing a pattern

Transferring patterns

Background shapes to highlight your letter

Adding the ribbon to the letter

Simple gilding using Instacoll and 23k gold leaf

The CMYK color palette

Adding depth and glazes

23k shell gold  or FineTek backgrounds

Shading on top of shell gold

Diaper Patterns

Finishing touches

The list of suggested materials needed for this class, is as follows:

2 - 5" x 7" sheets of Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper 140 lb. (one is spare in case mistakes are made) Size is approximate, not necessary to be exact.

Simple gouache palette of at the three primary colors + black and white

2- fine point brushes (suggest 00)

1 - old junky brush mixing brush

mixing palette

waterproof black ink, OR pigma pen

1 pointed nib & holder for fine line drawing if using waterproof black ink (OR the above pigma pen)


kneaded eraser

ruler or straight edge

1 embossing stylus, small ends

1 sheet of grid paper, 1/8th inch grid (if you have another size of graph paper, use what you have)

1 sheet of tracing paper (I use drafting vellum)

a few small pieces of drafting tape

Instacoll (small amount is needed)

2 sheets of 23k patent gold leaf (you may use FineTec if you prefer)

Optional: deskstand magnifying glass 


Photo by Susan Lui

HARVEST CRITTENDEN, Master Penman, has been a professional lettering artist for more than 30 years. Past owner of The Gold Leaf and founder of Acorn Arts, Harvest specializes in calligraphy and illumination. Harvest is a past winner of the Marjorie Pavelich Calligraphy Grant, and past president of The Michigan Association of Calligraphers. She has studied illumination and lettering in the United States and Italy and has served on the faculties of numerous regional, national and international conferences. 

To read more about Harvest, please follow the link: Harvest Crittenden

Registration for this course is now CLOSED.

The cost of the course with 3 extra months of viewing is $225.00

Your PayPal receipt serves as your receipt for the Acorn Arts Classroom and will show Harvest Crittenden, Acorn Arts. Your receipt will also show the class name you have registered for.  Students are logged in, in the order in which they register. Once you have registered, information will be sent to students the week before the class begins with information about logging into the classroom, your user name and password, and other necessary information. Nothing is sent prior to this so hang on to your receipt. 


The email address and name that you use to register via PayPal is the address and name that we use for the class. If you would like to use a different email address or name for the class please let Acorn Arts know ASAP when you register or you may miss important emails. Students sometimes forget to do this and it delays your entry into the classroom. We want to make sure you have full access to the classroom and forum.

Thanks so much. Hope to see you there in the virtual classroom!

© HARVEST CRITTENDEN/ACORN ARTS 2019. All rights reserved. The calligraphy, illustrations and illumination contained within these pages are original and covered under copyright law.
Reproduction in any form without expressed written permission is prohibited