The Medieval Studies Student Association hosted a calligraphy workshop on Gothic Script, one of the most recognizable scripts of the medieval period. The event was well attended with over thirty workshop participants present.

UNM’s Dr. Timothy Graham, a world-renowned paleographer, gave the introductory lecture. He provided an overview of the development of scripts through the medieval period, the unique features of Gothic Script, and the specific tools used by medieval scribes to complete their work. The audience got to handle oak galls, a specific type of growth that occurs on oak trees when the gall fly lays its eggs on the tree. Oak galls, rich in tannic acid, were a key ingredient in medieval recipes for ink.

Workshop participants, using 3.5mm felt-tip calligraphic pens instead of medieval goose quills, then tried their own hand at writing in Gothic Script with guidance from members of Escribiente, Albuquerque’s Calligraphic Society. Escribiente member Bill Kemp led the hands-on portion of the workshop, modeling how to form each lowercase letter of the alphabet. The basis of each letter is minims, which are short vertical strokes which also control the spacing of the letters. Sarifs, the diagonal strokes resembling small diamond shapes are frequently used at the top and bottom of minims and are a distinguishing feature of Gothic Script. As participants worked to practice writing letter in Gothic Script, the members of Escribiente rotated around the room helping with clarifications, adjustments, and feedback.

Participants went home with their calligraphic pens, a guiding packet on writing in Gothic Script, and a set of guide sheets on which they can practice. Escribiente, Albuquerque’s Calligraphic Society, also generously invited any of the participants to attend their once-a-month meetings.

If you would like to know about future Medieval Studies Student Association events, please email us at mssa@unm.edu to be added to our list-serve and/or follow our Facebook page.