Handwritten Book

Click the image above to view or print the pattern and instructions for this craft.


                 The printing press didn’t exist in the early Middle Ages, and yet, there are beautiful books from that time period.  The books of the early Middle Ages were made entirely by hand.  The pages were vellum or parchment made of specially treated animal skins.  Each page was handwritten in Latin, mostly by religious people; monks or nuns.  The pages were illustrated, decorated, and illuminated.  Illumination made the pages look like they were glowing.  To illuminate the artwork, the writer brushed on gold or silver leaf and bright mineral paints.  Finally, the book pages were stitched together and bound in a leather cover.  The books were stored in libraries of the European monasteries.  Hand-copying books was very time consuming.  Copying the bible took about 15 months.  But copying books was necessary to preserve knowledge.  Monks often traveled to other monasteries to copy the books from their libraries.


                 The Pied Piper of Hamelin is an ancient story, a legend, from the town of Hamelin, Germany.  The main character is called the Pied Piper because he is a musician who plays a pipe.  And the word pied means multicolored clothing.  No one knows exactly when the story was created, but there are a lot of theories about its origin.  Some people think it began as a story of hope.  During the Middle Ages, many towns were hit by terrible plagues that spread because of large rat populations.  It’s likely that a storyteller invented a tale of a magical man who had the ability to make the rats go away.  But the other aspect of the story, the moral, gives the story a meaning that applies today:  Keep your promises or something bad might happen.


The purpose of this craft is to give your students an idea of how time consuming and difficult it is to copy text onto blank unlined pages. You can decide how complicated you want the craft to be. Just doing the craft in the most basic way; the writing, layout, and stitching the pages together, will take at least an hour.

If you want to make the book look like it has a leather cover:  1.  Crumble a 10X13” piece of tissue paper.  Un-crumble it and spread it flat with your hands.  2.  Spread watered down school glue (1 part water + 1 part glue) on the book cover page with a paint brush.  3.  Lay the tissue paper over the glued book cover page.  Spread it flat with your hands.  4.  Sponge brown and black paint over the tissue paper.  5.  Let it dry.  Trim the excess tissue paper from the edges.