Calligraphy – create an illuminated letter with Cathy Stables

Calligraphy and lettercutting

Ref: S1D11291

Join waiting list

Course full - scroll down for other

About this course

Learn the processes involved in gilding and painting an illuminated letter. Develop the skills needed to produce your own illumination.

Course Description

During this course, you will learn how to use simple gilding and painting techniques to copy or adapt a beautiful historical letter.

Copying or adapting gives an insight into the processes, tools and materials used by the medieval Illuminator; producing beautiful rich colours and intricate detail combined with the spectacular effect of gold leaf. Examples of various styles of illumination will be looked at.

The course will cover the different processes involved in gilding and painting, experimenting with several gilding techniques together with transferring real gold. The most suitable weight and type of paper for gilding and painting will be discussed. Trials will be used for mixing opaque watercolour (gouache) to lay the flat colour down first. On top of the flat colour, you will consider the skills used to apply intricate detail with a fine brush, working towards the finished piece.

The course is suitable for calligraphers who would like to use Illumination together with calligraphy, or those who would like to employ precision and detail in their work. The tutor will give group demonstrations and one-to-one help to produce a beautiful historical letter, or alternative design of your choice if preferred.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials


  • Hot press watercolour paper, gouache, palettes, brushes, gold leaf.
  • The tutor will supply the gilding mediums.

What students need to bring

  • Any Designer's Gouache paints in any colours you have
  • Any good quality small sable brushes you have
  • Pencil, ruler and eraser
  • Preparation: If you have a design in mind for your illuminated letter, please bring along.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Sable paintbrushes sizes 2, 1, 0
  • A box of Designer's Gouache paints or a individual tubes in a range of colours (eg. Scarlet or Flame Red, Cobalt Blue, Primary Yellow, Black, White, Yellow Ochre)


Cathy Stables

Cathy Stables has a BA Hons in Graphic Design from Exeter College of Art, later studying Calligraphy, Illumination and Heraldic Art.

Courses of interest

Sign-up to be the first to know

Sign up to our Short Course enews to hear about new courses, late availability and get creative inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.