The Golden Legend


As I have mentioned before on this site, my elder daughter’s class have been learning about alchemy this half-term which has created some golden opportunities for learning.

The museum’s marble copy of Dee’s wooden Holy Table which he used for talking to angels.

In my last post I wrote about our visit to the Oxford Museum of the History of Science where we saw some ancient alchemical documents including a petition for a licence to practise alchemy and we learned more about famous alchemists such as the Queen’s ‘conjurer’, John Dee.

DSC_0031.JPGFor homework she picked the option of designing an outfit for an alchemist including a bag full of equipment. For research we got hold of Sean Martin’s Alchemy and Alchemists which was probably a little grown-up for her yet. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is probably also a useful introduction to the subject! She really enjoyed The Medieval Flower Book by Celia Fisher which has glowing illustrations and lots of background on the uses of, and legends surrounding, medieval flowers.

For a bit of fun she also decided to make her alchemist (who is female) her own book of alchemy, complete with a hidden vial of the Elixir of Life. For this we bought a ready-made cardboard book-
box from Hobbycraft and she stuck on leather-effect letters and a wooden fairy embellishment, also from Hobbycraft.


She then painted the whole thing with a couple of coats of gold acrylic paint. When it was dry she drew on page-effect lines on the box and then rubbed the covers of the ‘book’ with red lustre powder.DSC_0027

Neither she nor I had ever used this before but it is very easy to use; it’s rather like a dense cream eye-shadow and you rub it onto the surface you want to cover with a soft cloth. She was very pleased with the effect.


Inside the book she had stuck in pages cut out from a very old, unwanted book (she still found it painful to do!). Each wedge of pages were stapled and then glued in with the top couple just glued over the top to hide the staples.


Before sticking them in she cut out a rectangle from each page to create a little space for the magic elixir. For this sDSC_0034he used a tiny, empty perfume bottle, making a label for it out of a tea-bag stained sticky-lDSC_0021abel. The ‘elixir’ was created by mixing acrylic paint with a little tacky glue and water, dropping it into the bottle using a pipette and then swirling the liquid around to ensure the sides were fully coated. To go with her finished tome she made a quill pen from a long red craft feather; she coated the end in tacky glue and dusted it with metallic glitter for the alchemist’s touch of gold…




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