Illuminated Initial: Irish Art Project For Kids

Irish Art Project For Kids

Today’s art project is inspired by the most famous artifact on display in Dublin, Ireland, the Book of Kells.

The Book of Kells is believed to have been created around 800 A.D.  It is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin.

What is an illuminated manuscript?

An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders and miniature illustrations.

The Book of Kells is known to be Ireland’s finest national treasure and is on display at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  You can view the beautiful images in detail on their website.

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Supplies Needed for This Irish Art Project For Kids Are:

  • Cardboard or Bristol Board (8 x 10) (we used recycled cardboard)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Glue Stick
  • Permanent Markers
  • Scissors
  • White colored pencil (any pencil will work as well)
  • Adhesive Foam Sheet
  • Printed Bubble Letter from Woo! Jr. (
  • Yarn
  • Glitter Glue
  • Paintbrushes (not pictured)

The first step of this project is to cut the bubble letter out of foam.

Remove the adhesive from the foam sheet and apply the paper with the letter printed on it to the sticky side of the foam.

Use scissors to cut around the shape of the bubble letter.

Use a glue stick to apply glue to the back of the foam bubble letter and glue the letter to the cardboard.

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Next, it’s time to decorate your initial!

Use a pencil to sketch the basic design you would like to include.

Once you’ve finished the drawing, go over the drawing with glue.  While the glue is still wet, apply yarn to the wet glue.  The yarn will create a raised texture for the background.

Once you’ve finished adding the designs of your choice, allow the glue to dry completely.

Next, you’ll need to cut a piece of aluminum foil that is larger than the cardboard by about 2 inches all around.

Use a paintbrush to spread the glue evenly on the foil in an area that is large enough to cover the cardboard.

Carefully lay the initial face down in the glue.  Turn the foil over and using your fingertips, q-tips and anything that is NOT SHARP, carefully press the foil over the initial and yarn.

The yarn and initial will create a raised texture underneath the foil.

You can use your fingernail to gently create different texture in the background if you would like.  Use the glue stick to glue the extra foil around the back of the cardboard.

Allow your initial to sit overnight to dry the glue thoroughly.

Now it’s time to illuminate your initial!

Using sharpies or any permanent markers, fill in each area of your initial with the colors of your choice.

Allow the raised areas of the yarn and initial to create borders for the different shapes.

Once you’re finished with coloring, you can embellish the initial with glitter glue for further illumination!

You can use a paintbrush to spread glitter glue over larger areas and use the tip of the bottle to create finer lines and details.

Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

You can add several layers of glitter glue for added illumination if you would like.  (Allow time for each layer to dry before applying another layer).

An illuminated initial is a fun art project to personalize with your favorite colors and designs to express your own unique style!

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About the author

Crystal has worked in the arts and taught drawing and painting for over 25 years in Los Angeles. She loves creating art, gardening, planning fun art projects, and enjoying creative adventures with her family. Find out more at

View all articles by Crystal Foth

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