So begins a seemingly innocuous venture in learning the art of Celtic Knotting... this began as a result of a design project for a missionary family on their way to Ireland. In my quest to include relative cultural design elements, as well as increase my general knowledge of Ireland and it's history, I braved the depths of YouTube, and found to my wonder – a gleaming gem of 9th Century Biblical Art.
The Book of Kells
The interface may take a few seconds to load, but is worth the wait. The folios are viewable at incredible levels of detail.
Of particular interest is page 34r:
The initials drawn on this folio are X p i (Greek letters Chi Rho Iota) the abbreviation of Christ.
If you are seriously interested in greek pronunciations... here is the most comprehensive site I've found: http://www.foundalis.com/lan/grkalpha.htm#fn_reconstr
In order to practice some original art to use on the display, I began to work out the intricacies of visualizing the Celtic style of knotting. Each time a line crosses itself, or another line it alternates Over, Under. The art is not only keeping track of this, but producing a coherent design, as well as leaving enough room for each thread to keep the rhythm. The complexity can at times be dizzying.
Here is the progression...
Design attempt 1 (cropped to knotwork)... These did the job, and I kept the larger transparent portion, but I wanted to add something more abstract.
I soon figured out the old fashioned way was the most efficient method of visualizing and constructing ideas.
Which, after a couple of days, revisions and quite a number of hours, turned into this... with the aid of adobe Illustrator. This was my intended end of this knot. So I took it over to Photoshop and dropped it into the banner design. It didn't fit in the space between the map and portrait where I'd planned. I was disappointed. I also didn't want to go through a redesign just to accommodate a selfish piece of art. Oh well, I had fun designing it anyway.
As a last thought, I tried it inside the 4. It had to be flipped horizontally, but it fit, uncannily well at that. After a few repositionings, I turned it upside down and settled it there. I then noticed it could use a little something else to help fill the space on the left side of the 4. Strangely, the more I contemplated the design, the more I began to see.
Here is a link to the full rez jpg: Cleek Me so you can take a closer look at the Book of Kells Page. Please do, I have little doubt you will be as amazed as I am. There is a reason this book draws 500,000 people a year to Ireland. When this banner was printed full size, the Kells page measured around 18"w x 22"h. nearly twice the size of the original 25 x 33cm (~10" x 13"), and there was Still detail to spare.
Here's portion of an email I gave to the missionaries...
I thought I'd share a little about the design on the 4. Take it for what it's worth... I actually started drawing it as practice, and eventually decided to use it, but it didn't seem to fit where I thought it would. Obviously I settled on the 4, but the original line art was drawn facing down, minus the leaflet on the left. As I finished up the art, I started to see shapes hidden in the design that hadn't been consciously included. I noticed that the original art resembled a root, with most of it's growth still under the soil, and the top, just starting to break the surface. As you probably know the Irish were seemingly obsessed with the number and sequences of threes. And there's probably some merit to the position that the Triquetra can symbolize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -at least in a Christian context. I just thought it interesting that it was encased in the body of the root that appeared to be producing life. When it was oriented to the 4, it took on the likeness of a budding plant, with the triquetra at it's core, and a somewhat stylized heart shape below, entwined with the soil. The phrase "...rooted and grounded in love..." kept recurring in my mind, and I finally looked it up.
It's at the end of Ephesians 3 verse 17. I've included some context...
13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
As for the leaflet on the end, it evokes a bit of hope, and foreshadowing on my part. For future seeds of growth, and disciples that will serve as stones of remembrance when times are hard to endure.
What was originally started as an excuse to practice abstract knot work, has indeed taken on a pleasant, far more concrete purpose and significance - at least, for me. It's not often I find this much meaning in a design project. When I start a design, I am hopeful that it will have some lasting influence. I certainly wasn't expecting to find the depth I've experienced on this one. This has been a special project for me. "
Now. I tend toward the "most things mean something" camp, and I'm open to the fact that I might be in need of more food, and/or sleep. However, I was unprepared for how deep all this affected me emotionally. The idea that something I had formed with only a cursory intent on symbolism, could be turned upsidedown and backwards, to take on a far greater view of it's design, sans the disguise of my nearsighted nature.
This gives me hope: That the Creator can take what seems conspicuous, or unfitting, or even beautiful in it's own right... and breathe into it (us) passion, and strength, and a power of purpose hitherto unseen or recognized.
Amen, let it be so.