Illuminated Manuscript Display

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Project by Peter Oxley posted 02-14-2008 07:10 PM 3071 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a little Valentine’s day gift for Marianne. I bought her the illuminated leaf for Christmas 2006, and it has been in the safe ever since. I built a display for it once before, but it was lost in the fire.

About the Illuminated Manuscript:
The piece of parchment is from a Book of Hours, which is a prayer book containing the prayers offerred at certain times (or “hours”) of each day. The books were hand lettered, decorated, and colored (“illuminated”) by monks. Most of the color is done in ink, but the gold is actual gold leaf. This page comes from a 15th Century Flemmish Book of Hours.

About the Frame:
Unfortunately, it is impossible to choose which side of the page is the one to display, and two-sided display frames are nearly non-existant. This frame is actually two frames back-to-back with a very shallow rabbet for the glass. The frames are held together with rare-earth magnets (a big “thank you” to those who helped me figure out how to attach the magnets). The easel is sized to fit inside the frame to display the piece, and it also acts as a matte for the parchment. Simply lift the frame off the easel and turn it over to view or display the other side of the leaf. The wood is rustic maple, finished with Minwax Antique Oil. The visual opening is 7½” x 9½”.

I apologize for the quality of the pictures. My camera is refusing to focus. Time for a new camera!

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12 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4667 days

#1 posted 02-14-2008 07:20 PM

Very neat idea. Well done!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 4244 days

#2 posted 02-14-2008 07:59 PM

Very cool! I’m a history buff, and I really like how you did this. I really like how you can change sides for display! I wouldn’t be able to pick one above the other, and with this bad boy, you don’t have to!

Well done!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 4231 days

#3 posted 02-14-2008 08:11 PM

Great idea! I’ve been toying with the concept of a two sided frame. Now I have new way of thinking. Thank you very much!


View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4270 days

#4 posted 02-14-2008 08:12 PM

Very nice frames. I tend to like rustic frames. They have a great deal of character and some nice details.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4411 days

#5 posted 02-14-2008 08:49 PM

I like the way you got this one to take. Now we all know how to display something that needs to show both sides. Well done. (I have always liked to look at the hand lettered books)

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4323 days

#6 posted 02-14-2008 10:00 PM

That is two great gifts. The illumination looks great, and the frame highlights it. I like the rare earth magnet idea, too.

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 4244 days

#7 posted 02-14-2008 10:02 PM

Just a thought that ran through my mind, but did you perhaps consider staining the wood piece that rests behind the glass? I’d think a dark wood would offset the page nicely.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4323 days

#8 posted 02-14-2008 11:17 PM

Hey, guys, thanks for the comments!

Tomcat – I thought about staining the top of the “easel” dark, and almost did. I think it would have been a nice contrast. It’s hard to see it in the lousy photos, but the parchment sits off the easel by the thickness of the glass, which creates a subtle “drop shadow” on the easel. A dark top would have hidden that shadow. Oh, also the fact that I barely got it finished in time for Valentine’s Day and stain would have slowed me down.

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View Grumpy's profile


25526 posts in 4300 days

#9 posted 02-15-2008 02:08 AM

Great job.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View RonH's profile


33 posts in 4373 days

#10 posted 02-15-2008 03:44 PM

I really liike that. That is so very cool!!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4609 days

#11 posted 02-19-2008 02:41 PM

the frame and the content. wow.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4775 days

#12 posted 05-09-2008 04:32 AM

this is really cool, I’ve never seen anything like it.

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