During the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance, every member of the middle and upper classes desired to own an illuminated book of
hours. The Jewish merchants ordered hand- written Hagaddah Shel
Pesach, Tehillim, Megillas Esther, and Machzorim, etc. These treasured books were given as gifts on special
occasions, such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, and holidays.
In the most luxurious books, or scrolls crafted for the wealthiest patrons, each section was prefaced by a miniature drawing, and a delicate border of flowers.
The tools of the trade included kosher ink, a quill pen, (made from a turkey feather,) a pen knife, a multipurpose tool used for cutting quills, sharpening quills, and cutting parchments, and a red pen for drawing fine line flourishes. A stylus was necessary for making small holes at measured intervals on both sides of the vellum, and ruled lines for text.
Eyeglasses were used for magnifying small details, bone folders for folding vellum, in order to preserve the manuscript from getting stained, agate burnishes for polishing gold leaf, 23 karat gold leaf, egg white or egg glair used for mixing with powder, red pigments in mortar, and pestle.
Egg tempera acrylic color, and water colors were liberally used. Illumination, the art of lighting up the text with decorations, enhanced the finished product. The invention of the Gutenberg printing press eclipsed this art, and it is no longer used in the secular world. However, in Judaism, the painstaking hand-written labor of writing on kosher parchment with feather and quill is still alive and thriving. All Sifrei Torah, kisvei kodesh, and Megillahs are written in this manner.
For the past two decades, Rabbi Reiner has perfected a special technique, using the ancient art of hand-crafted manuscript illumination. During the Middle Ages, the entire process was completed in a multi-step assembly line, using extensive team-work. One artist drew the design, while several others painted the manuscript, and the scribe wrote the lettering. Today, Rabbi Reiner uses the very same technique, completing every single phase of the process on his own.
The artist's creative, inspiring works are all delicately executed on parchment, customized according to preference. Choice of materials include oil paintings, gold leaf, delicate drawings, special designs and paper cuts, in a style reminiscent of the Medieval era. All the manuscripts are written on kosher parchment, using quill and kosher ink.
The artist has completed works of art for private collectors, philanthropists, and many institutions who wish to thank their generous donors with magnificent plaques or awards. What a perfect gift for a donor whose generosity enables an institution, yeshiva or school to complete a building! A hand-crafted award with the donor's name is a wonderful way to express enduring appreciation.
For art collectors: This heirloom will increase in value as the years go by, making it a priceless gift, an antique in years to come.