What does Scriptorium mean?
The word itself originally means writing room. (Scriptorium is a Latin word that means “place for writing.” It was a place where books were copied and illuminated (painted). A scribe wrote the text for a book and an artist, called an illuminator, painted the pictures and decorations. Scribes and illuminators made each book by hand)
Is everything handmade?
Yes – everything is made and painted by hand. The paper isn’t always handmade but is a specially made parchment, to which I adapt the right look of age and patina, creating an imitation of a real, antique artwork that looks several hundred years old.
How long does it take to make one of these?
The best pieces take between 40 to 80 hours to make, depending on the richness and quality it has to have. Some products take several years to paint for example, the Jeanne d’Arc-series or the Codex Manesse-series. It all depends on time, a proper environment, proper lighting and a quiet space to work. Since all the pieces are unique and take long time to complete, the prices of the products are set based on the amount of time spent making each unique artwork.
Are all your works 100% exact reproductions?
Yes and no. They are kept as close to the original as possible, both in color and motive. It takes way too long to hit 100% accuracy and in some cases the original manuscripts are damaged by age and use or the colors have faded. So I take my liberty to interpret how they are supposed to look. In some cases I even work on some extra detail that didn’t exist on the original.
Do you only use the original techniques?
In some products, everything is made using the proper, original techniques. I vary between the original means of creating these artworks, but I also utilize modern techniques; for example, I don’t always make the colors, quills or pencils myself. I experiment a lot to reach a familiarity with the many techniques and possibilities. Therefore there is often found a variation in both paper used and color pigmentation – and there are no two pieces that are the same, everything is unique.
How come you use paper in Scriptoriums products and not goatskin like they used in the middle ages?
There are a few reasons for that. I am very fond of homemade and especially handmade artisanal paper. Paper was also used in the Middle Ages; even the old Egyptians used papyrus, a primitive form of paper. Some products were made using animal hides, others either on wood or linen.
What is the correct “title” for what you do?
When paintings were copied in the Middle Ages, both the work and the craftsman’s title was miniature-painting copyist, scribe or illuminator. Although in modern times it’s most often called graphical designer, illustrator or artist.
What is the most challenging part in reproducing historical illustrations?
When I work, I sometimes philosophize about who the original artist was, his life and what he was thinking about, when he was creating the artwork. Often when I work, I have a candle lit by my side and I listen to medieval music to create the correct mood. The music is actually an important part of the process. I feel like I’m in a sort of a ‘time machine’ when I create these beautiful pictures, so I think my inspiration is a part of the painting process itself – right from the first few lines, to the final details; as well as attempting to recreate the original as accurately as possible which I think is the greatest challenge.
Is it possible to place orders for illustrative works from you?
Yes, that is possible. I am, however, often booked and I don’t have a lot of time, so I only accept a few assignments. But contact me and we can discuss it.
When I buy a picture from Scriptorium, is it framed?
No, I stopped sending framed pictures because of bad experiences with shattered glass and the like. Also framing is a question of personal taste, therefore are all pictures without a frame.
Is it possible to meet Scriptorium at different medieval markets and/or festivals?
I have no plans about this at this point in time, but possibly in the future somewhere here in Denmark. The only place where I sometimes go, though not often, is my favorite place, the Medieval Center at Nykøbing Falster. If I’m not there, there is a good chance that some of my talented colleagues are.
Are there any lectures or tuitions on this subject?
Yes there is, but only in Danish. If I don’t have the time for it – or I don’t believe I’m talented enough in a specific field, I can possibly contact a colleague who would then be able to lecture instead. You are welcome to contact me for further information.