My first Maunche Scroll

My most recent work was calligraphy only, but it was a chance for me to work on a style of calligraphy that I had struggled with in the past. I have noticed that as I tune my fine-mortar skills (regardless of whether it is in calligraphy, illumination, or something else) I notice a great improvement and confidence in my calligraphy work.

This project was near and dear to my heart because it was for my teacher, Baroness Audrye Beneyt’s Maunche scroll. Not a few months back, she had recommended that I try using a gridded method to improve my spacing between letters/words while calligraphing and I had an opportunity to try this method out on two scrolls. I love it! It really has helped me see what appropriate spacing looks like, and by Jove I was going to be certain to do it on this scroll too!. I lined my paper and three practice sheets and broke out my calligraphy book.

Calligraphy on Scroll for the Order of the Maunche for Audrye Beneyt for Crown’s AnS – 2020.

French Prayer Book 14th century France. Chr. Bruun: The Illuminated Manuscripts in the Great Royal Library. Copenhagen. 1890, pp. 148-150, recto 20, var 1.

Right off the bat, one thing that I noticed that differed from the calligraphy book and the exemplar was the letter ‘d’. In my calligraphy book, the letter ‘d’ had a completely hooked leg (I am describing the stick part of the ‘d’ as the leg…) and it wrapped around into this lovely loop, making the letter almost look like an 8. It was quite lovely, and I had practiced this on about 2 blanks. When I finally looked at the exemplar to think about text size, I noticed that the ‘d’ legs actually did not create an 8 at all, rather, they arched over the round part of the letter as if a person were reaching an arm over to their left side. I completed another scroll blank and found that this small difference actually changed the entire look of the scroll, and I was MUCH happier with how it mirrored the exemplar!

The exemplar

Final ink on the page: the first line was done in Cayenne Red (by Noodlers), as the exemplar also displayed the first line of the document being red, followed by black ink. Sizing was perfect and, three days later, the lines were erased and the scroll was prepared for Mistress Camille des Jardins to illuminate.

The final calligraphy

This scroll was not just special because it was for my teacher (though that was an added bonus) but it was thrilling to revisit something that I had done before (and really not that long ago) and be able to visibly see progress. I was able to see that I was,

1. Thinking about how text better fit on a page; not by guessing, but by a mathematical equation.

2. Looking at small differences between my exemplar and my letter guide book and making decisions based on historical accuracy rather than capability or lack of familiarity.

3. Improving dexterity so that I could create more fluid letter shapes, which has allowed for smaller letter side and better spacing.

Overall, this piece was a milestone for me; showing me how I have grown over the last year or so, and giving me the opportunity to display me improvements for a person that is very important in my SCAdian growth.

The final touches to the scroll (illumination) were done my Mistress Camille des Jardins.

Acanthus leaves

Acanthus leaves! I have been oogling over acanthus leaves for the last year and I just want them put on everything I own, because they are just stunning little puzzles!

Back in May/June 2019 at a scribal class we discussed acanthus leaves, and their mesmerizing flow over various illuminated manuscripts. It took me nearly 6 months to put together a practice page of acanthus leaves because after I sketched them, I was truly nervous to paint them. “What if I paint the wrong side of the leaf!”, or “what if I forget a section of leaves and everything falls apart!”. I look back at these questions and can still solidly validate my creative delay.

When choosing my exemplar I only wanted to practice the acanthus leaves themselves (meaning I did not want to paint any other squiggly tendrils, or birds that might otherwise have appeared on a scroll) and I did not add any text for the same reason.

As I worked through the practice scroll, I found that it was much easier to paint whole sections, maybe a 2x2inch section, before moving on to another section. This meant painting both pink and green simultaneously. I tend to try and paint all of one color before moving to a second or third color, but when I would do this with the acanthus leaves, I was left missing sides that needed a certain color OR painting the wrong side of the leaves. It was best to take it slow…

I finished my practice acanthus leaves in November/December and was asked to create a scroll for Lady Julian Ridley to be presented at Birka. Oh how I was inspired! I leafed through some exemplars (see what i did there?!) and found the perfect acanthus inspiration. The exemplar that I shoes did not have the same type of leaf movement as the practice scroll that I did, but the idea was the same. The colors of the leaves created the movement, and though there was less leaf-flipping, the point was the essentially depict the leaves in various “lighting” so that the viewer can imagine the leaves in our plane of existence.

I still need much practice with acanthus leaves, but I am no longer terrified of their twisting, mathematical beauty. I hope to eventually recreate my practice scroll so that I can include all of the other illuminated bits (as seen in the exemplar border) so that I can use it for a scroll in the future. As for the scroll created for Lady Julian Ridley, I am very happy with the way the colors cam out. My hope is to work more on creating the images so they better fill space (as shown in the exemplar) and hopefully include images of people. I have only ever created one scroll with people and I tend to avoid them.

Scroll for the Order if the Lamp given to Lady Julian Ridley for AnS at Market Day at Birka (illumination and calligraphy) (2020) –

14thc Poems of Dante and Petrarch, Rylands Latin MS 1 (John Rylands Library, University of Manchester)

What did I learn? To paraphrase Master Maxton Gunn, if you created it once, you can create it again. I was so terrified of creating even a practice acanthus scroll that it took me much longer than it should have to create it; I as intimidated by it’s intricacy. I have certainly learned that even if it is scary and intimidating, taking one section of a scroll at a time is always an option if ever I am overwhelmed. I am very much poking forward to my next acanthus opportunity.

A pierced page

More flowers! Upon one rainy scribal class we were introduced to the Mira calligraphaie monumenta; a beautiful, and teeny-tiny, book of intricate brushwork. The pages depict flora and fauna complemented by sophisticated and delicate calligraphy.

We were set to work sifting through printed images of the collection, and each images had something in common – they were all pierced pages! Not every image from this document is a “pierced page”, but there are may where you will find the stem of a leaf, a blade of grass, etc. painted to appear as if a true stem was stuck through the page to hold it in place. I was fascinate and could not wait to get started!

Ironically, after this class I was tasked with making a Keystone Vert scroll (Baronial award for Stonemarch/extraordinary serve at Pennsic) for Lady Shyvan Floyd. I consulted with my teacher (Baroness Audrye Beneyt) and Mistress Camille des Jardins and collectively decided this would be the absolute perfect scroll to apply our latest class-work.

Scroll for Keystone Vert (Baronial award for Stonemarch/extraordinary serve at Pennsic) for Lady Shyvan Floyd

Hyssop officinalis L. (Hyssop) , Prunus dulcis (Almond in flower) in gouache – Mira calligraphiae monumenta; folio 37,121,124 – 1561-1562, Latin

First, I chose pergamenata over bristol and did this for the sole purpose of achieving the true “pierced” effect. The perg lets light pass through it easier than bristol, and allows the illuminator to better align the images on the front and back of the page. This small detail on the back completes the pierced aesthetic, as the pierced flora is painted on the reverse side of the page. Now, up to this point, I had not done a scroll on perg. I had practiced in classes, I had seen other people work on it, but I had not taken on this style of paper before. I was very thankful for Lord Ian the Green and his perg prep blog posts. I set to the internet to buy cuddle bone, muslin, and fine-grit sandpaper. I really waned to use gum Arabic, but being out of my price range at the time, I opted for cuddle bone. I crushed, sanded, dusted, pounced, and dusted more.

Second, I set to drawing the images that I wanted. I had to be very aware that the text that I would need to put within the scroll would be larger and longer than the text within the exemplar, so choosing images that would allow me more room for the swirling calligraphy would be important. I tend to sketch the images before I do the calligraphy, so that I have a better understanding of the space left on the page. This helps me better size the text.

Next, the calligraphy! I used Winsor & Newton Calligraphy and Dip Pen ink in Gold. I practiced the text sizing over two or three scroll blanks, so that I was sure that I would have plenty of space for the text flourishing. Something new I learned about gold calligraphy ink; it dries quickly on the nib. I had to frequently clean the nib of the ink; much more frequently than I was used to. I will say, the ink was easy to use and worked well with my nib. Having a lot of flourishing and looping letters allowed me to practice proper letter formation techniques so that I didn’t rip/scrape the paper.

Finally, the perg was preped and I was ready to go!

Because the images being illuminated were small, the perg did not wrinkle or bend when painted (which I was warned about thankfully). I found that I really liked the way the gauche worked on the perg. It was very smooth and didn’t experience any feathering/seeping of the pigment. This was also true when calligraphing – no weird feathering or seeping!

My biggest take-always from this experience were how to prepare and use pergamenata, and how to use gold ink (rather than gauche or loose-leaf gold). I had such a fun time. With this scroll and am happy to add some more tools to my scribal tool-belt.

Tiny fencers!

A whole scroll in ink. No gauche. And tiny fencers! My mind was being blown as it was described to me but I was absolutely thrilled to try something new.

Since the calligraphy with my last scroll went fairly smooth I was confident I could do the calligraphy for this scroll as well. But it was the tiny fencers that worried me; their small human figures (something I never felt confident in creating) and the elaborate shading, all to be done with a crow quill.

The calligraphy took a few tries to get the spacing exactly how I wanted it, and to practice the hand (one I had not done before), and overall I was pleased. On future scrolls I will use a grid system to help me measure the spacing between words and letters (per teacher recommendation!).

To create the tiny fencers, I first located my source and attempted a free-hand drawing. I found that I wanted to make the fencers much much smaller than they needed to be for the scroll. Perhaps this was because I hoped to make them small enough that no one would see my mistakes or insecurities in them. I tried a few times to make them bigger, using tracing paper over each image. I think I went through about 5 images when I realized my images weren’t growing in size at the rate I was hoping.

So, I printed off a LARGE picture of what I wanted to draw ( and when I say large I mean 8.5”x11”) and drew from that. I found that, though I was still drawing smaller that the original image, it ended up being the appropriate size for the scroll I was making!

Everything was first drawn on tracing paper and then transferred to Bristol. The images are actually inverted from the original from the transfer process I used.

I was finally ready to use my crown quill and ink. It was quite fun to trace and shade each humanoid and see them come to life on the paper. I tend to have this fear of finishing art after I have drawn it because I am afraid of completely obliterating what I have worked so hard to create.

Encouragement from friends and lots and LOTS of practice runs gave me the confidence to finish my creation for the Harpers Retreat Rapier Champion.

My second scroll

I owe my exploration and practice of calligraphy to my second ever scroll.

After the first backlog day with Malagentia I had so much fun creating a squashed bug illumination that I wanted to do it again! I clicked through the scanned images on line and found one that I was happy with and started to paint.

The Stonemarche scribal backlog day was coming up and rather than trying to complete one backlog in that time frame I felt it would be more helpful to have one ready to turn in (or close to it). Upon arriving at the backlog day, I was quickly put to work. But not in the way I thought. As I attempted to turn in the scroll in I was asked if I would mind doing the calligraphy before handing it off. Now, up to this point I had never done calligraphy with a nice calligraphy pen. I had only ever played around with practice pens with huge nibs; and boy-howdy was I nervous.

Paeoniaceae in gouache

dites Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne by Bourdichon (1457-1521), published 1505-1510, Latin.

I agreed, so long as if I didn’t finish I could take it home (this was also my way of covering my back in case I royally messed up the illumination, because I knew that I could easily make another one). Mistress Camille desJardins sat with me and walked me through the steps on how to find the text that best matches that source material, how to prep the paper (lines and appropriate nib size) and I got to work. I borrowed some ink an nibs from Lady Cwenthryn, some paper and books from Mistress Camille and I set out on the adventure that would soon be my calligraphy practice.

To make this a long story short, I went through three practice runs; first practicing the alphabet, then writing out most of the words while adjusting the nib size so that the text fit on the paper, then doing a to-scale mock of the text to adjust spacing, and practice spelling. It took me about 6 hours to complete all of the practice. I was nervous and my hand felt exhausted. However, I was determined after all of this practice to finally put it on the scroll that I had created a few days before.

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two hours later it was done. My neck and back ached, my hand was now cramping and my eyes were blurring. I was stressed and scarred.

It turned out without any spelling mistakes, had appropriate spacing, and overall there was little slanting of worlds (I was not working on a tilted desk, but flat school tables.

I was reminded throughout the process to take frequent breaks, stretch and walk away if I needed to. I had fabulous people stopping over to encourage me to not give up even if I was frustrated with how I was creating a particular letter (Ástrídr Sægeirsdottir). Also having a fresh new pair of eyes on your work helps you uncover a new method of doing something or a new supply you can use for future projects.

I am so thankful for thankful for this day because it gave me to courage to do calligraphy outside of the comfort of home.

My First Scroll

March 2019 – Malagentia Scribal Backlog Day

I decided that since I had been going to scribal class for a few months (since October 2018 actually) and really wanted to dive into the world of illumination and calligraphy I wanted to apply what I had been learning and try to help the Kingdom with scroll backlogs. I was an absolute nervous wreck because I had no idea what would be expected of me or what I was even going to create. Up to this point I had learned a number of illumination and calligraphy techniques but had not actually executed anything tangible.

I was placed at a small table in the center of the room with a piece of bristol and started leafing through books for images I though I would be able to complete in the allotted time. Eventually I was joined by Mistress Bryn de la Luna and she took me under her wing to teach me the ways of the squashed bugs!

Small tangent: I absolutely love the squashes bug and late period Flemish realism. It is definitely my “go-to” when making a scroll.

After chatting for about 30 minutes and watching her techniques, I set to work to create my very first scroll… ever. Oh boy was I a sweaty shaking wreck! My final product took about 10 hours (from start to finish, including sketch time) and was given as a back-log scroll for the Kingdom. I used gouache on bristol.

Physalis alkekengi (Chinese Lantern) with Odenata and Diptera

dites Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne by Boudichon (1457-1521) published 1505-15-10.

The backlog scroll was awarded at GNEW XXXIII.

With this being such a foreign concept to me, that is, I had never assembled such a work before, of course there were stumbling blocks. That very day I think I had upward of three people tell me to walk away as I waited for the paint to dry so I could start the next phase of painting. I was so eager to keep painting that I forgot one of the most important things about gouache: let it dry. I still think back to this day and chuckle!

More importantly, what I learned that day was that it was OK to ask for help. Had Mistress Bryn not offered some advise I think I would have been too scared to even start! And more importantly, knowing that everyone starts as a beginner is something I truly remind myself all of the time. “Beginnger”can mean something different for everyone, but whatever your idea of “beginner”, the universal understanding is that everyone begins; everyone has a starting point regardless of their skill level going into it, and it is from that point that we develop our skills, acquire our knowledge and eventually pass all of that on to others who are willing to learn. I am so thankful for this day, not just to have produced a scroll, but because I learned more about myself in those 8 hours than I had in a very long time.

The beginning

Welcome to my blog! This is a space I plan to share my created works, my struggles and accomplishments, and research when it happens.

I started my journey in the SCA a little over 1 year ago in the East Kingdom and about 5 months ago was taken as a student to Baroness Audrye Beneyt. I began attending dance and scribal practice regularly and fell in love with the arts. It is a safe place to express myself and have fun while giving back to a community I cherish. I have since found sewing, embroidery, music, and loom weaving in addition to illumination, calligraphy, and dance.

As I create I will post images of the work I have done, along with the original or inspirations, and media used.

I hope you find everything you are looking for!

~Collette

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started