There is definitely something to be said for making a mistake! In 1889 an Italian librarian looked at the writing on a parchment Torah scroll (the 5 Books of Moses) and decided that it was probably an inferior 17th century copy. He felt that the copyist must have been clumsy and that the letters were uncommon and strange.
Fast forward to the present time (and technology) and we find that the scroll was written between 1155 and 1225! The “uncommon and strange” letters were based on the Babylonian tradition of writing Hebrew rather than the Palestinian style with which our librarian was familiar. The benefit? The scroll is in perfect condition because it was mis-catalogued, and the world has the oldest existing complete Torah.
Read more about this wonderful find on National Geographic’s website:
I’m in love with all the doodles, Zentangles, zendoodles and other drawing techniques that are so hot right now. As I’ve been reading about the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells lately my doodle love has turned into a full-blown case of Celtic Knot Love. The beautiful knots incorporated in some of the illuminations in the manuscripts are amazing to look at, but to the uninitiated the technique of their drawing seems like magic. How did they get those exactly placed, exactly drawn, exactly exact knots?
As a member of the Club of the Uninitiated, I bought a book that was supposed to show how the knots were drawn, but I literally couldn’t get through the first exercise. I then turned to Draw Your Own Celtic Designs by David James. Waaaaaay better choice. The author uses a series of grids for the simpler knot designs and I found them more intuitive than using the dots relied on in the previous book. Aha! As with chainmaille, once you see how it’s done, the shroud of mystery is removed. The secret has been unveiled.
If you are interested in drawing precise, engineered borders or if you’re studying illuminations, I would recommend this book. It’s interesting to think about those monks working with rules and compasses (stylus and string?) to decorate their extraordinary manuscripts.