Stories of Abjad

A deep and visual dive into the formative period of the Arabic script, its alphanumeric nature and the anatomy of the Kufi letters.

Available in print or as an e-book.
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Designed as a companion to my Book of Abjad, this monograph reproduces all of the artwork, explains the different systems for organising the Abjad and the symbolism derived from them, and tells the story of each individual letter along with showing a range of designs for each. Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Abjad Order
  3. The Formal Order
  4. The Phonetic Order
  5. The Cosmology of Abjad
  6. THE LETTERS (1 spread per letter, plus Lamalif)
  7. Appendix: Ihmāl and the story of Kāf
  8. Origin of the sample scripts
  9. References
  10. Endnotes

96 pages, full colour, 21×21 cm, perfect-bound.

Inks & Paints of the Middle East

A handbook of materials and art technology used in early Islamic manuscripts, for artists and art lovers alike.

Available in print or as an e-book.
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Published in 2020, Inks & Paints is a concise and approachable, but thoroughly practical manual examining the main materials used in manuscripts during the Abbasid period, also known as the Golden Age of the Islamic world. It is based on Arabic inkmaking treatises of the time, most of them never translated nor even properly transcribed, backed by my own experience as a working artist focused on historical materials.

The book’s 126 pages are abundantly illustrated and tightly packed with practical information on materials ranging from colours to binders and solvents use, preparation and preservation methods, and much more, plus a large number of historical recipes. I personally prepared and tested all but a small handful of the recipes before including them. The format is designed for practicality: A5-sized and wirebound, it can open flat on any page and be propped up so you can follow instructions without hassle.

Whether you have a general interest in art history or want to prepare and use these materials, this book has you covered.

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Wild Inks & Paints

An art handbook exploring foraged plants & other gifts from nature. For professional artists as well as hobbyists and families.

Available in print or as an e-book.
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Drawing on historical techniques for illumination and calligraphy from East and West, this handbook introduces you to the wonder of transforming natural matter into fully developed art supplies. Learn the basic chemistry behind colours and prepare inks, lakes, paints, pastes, binders, media and drawing tools from plants and materials foraged as the seasons turn, or already present in your kitchen cupboard.

The 134 pages are abundantly illustrated and tightly packed with recipes, techniques, and tips based on my personal testing of every one of them. The format is A5 and wire-bound to be totally practical to use in the studio or kitchen.

In my previous volume, I examined the art technology of a specific culture, which sought out the best materials and most precious pigments to the ends of the known world. This volume examines the other side of the spectrum: art technology relying almost entirely on what is locally available, requiring a renewed knowledge of our local area and its seasonality. Whether you’re an artist wanting to have a hand in the materials you use along traditional lines, or a hobbyist looking for to reconnect your creativity with nature (and involve your kids), you’ll find both inspiration and all the information you need.


PART 1: BASICS — Definitions, Binders (gum, egg, starch, milk), Assists & Modifiers (alkalis & acids including recipes to prepare your own, metal salts)

PART 2: PLANT COLOURS — Foraging ethics, Finding & storing, Plant colour chemistry, Dye extraction, Preservation (including making lakes and clothlets), The Colour year (50 plants, where to find them, what colours they yield and how best to work with them)

PART 3: PIGMENTS — Carbon blacks, Earth Colours, Calcite whites.

PART 4: MEDIA & TOOLS — Watercolour, Gouache, Impasto, Pastel and more; Curing and cutting Bamboo/reed pens and Quills

PART 5: PAPER — Priming, Dyeing, Sizing (various recipes), Ageing, and more.

APPENDICES — Cleaners, Testing methodology

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Translation of al-Razi’s Zinat al-Kataba

A practical translation into English of one of the oldest known Arabic-language inkmaking treatises, written by the polymath al-Razi in the 10th century. The original transcription is included along with abundant footnotes – 40 pages.

Available as an e-book.


Translation of al-Qalalusi’s Tuhaf al-Khawass

The first complete translation of the 13th-century treatise in inkmaking, dyeing, pigment manufacture and many more techniques for scribes and craftsmen, written by the Andalusian master Abubakr Muhammad al-Qalalusi. The original transcription is included along with abundant footnotes – 158 pages.

Available as an e-book.

This absolute treasure of a book starts with classic and in-depth chapters on black and coloured inks, but goes on to many chapters of special interest, such as:

  • The only surviving description in the Arabic corpus for preparing a ruling template (mistara). He describes 4 different ways of dividing the page, for which I have included diagrams.
  • The first known description of etching on metal and use of oil paint in this tradition.
  • A complete list of “approved” pigments and admixtures, how they can be substituted, what binders to use and not use with them, how they should or should not be mixed or stored.
  • Descriptions of types of blotting powders, ink tows (liqa), gallnut types etc.

Other topics covered are dissolving metals, extracting natural dyes, manufacturing pigments, dyeing fabric and wood or bone, stain removal, hair dyes, synthetic combustibles, ethanol and other unexpected substances.

Cosmographia: An artistic study of the Spheres

Insights and background to my Cosmology collection.

Available in print or as an e-book.

Between 2015 and 2018 I explored premodern Islamic cosmology through the medium of calligraphy. This book details the genesis of eight of my cosmograms, so as to draw a general picture of the multidimensional yet unified world-model that for centuries gave humanity a sense of place in the universe and of relationship to the infinite.

96 pages, full colour, 21×21 cm, perfect-bound.