Mistress Camille asked me for a little help on a scroll she was working on… She had the painting but calligraphy is not her jam (that’s OK, we love you anyway 😉 ). I took a look at the exemplar that she was working and thought “ahhh yes! I can help with that!”
And here we are, with loopy, swirly, dainty calligraphy amidst the beautiful art of Mistress Camille des Jardins.
For the calligraphy, I chose a style separate from the original page, because I thought this style matched better that the original. Truthfully, the whole book, Mira Calligraphae Monumenta, is filled with all sorts of calligraphy styles and I find some work better by interchanging the text or images.
Because the original calligraphy was incredibly dainty, I chose to use a crow quill, Brausse 66EF to be exact. It was the smallest one that I had, and also the smoothest on pergamanata.
Because I had chosen a calligraphy style that was not found in one of my study books (with the alphabet all laid out ready for you to use) I had to write my own. I went through the whole page picking out letters and writing them in abc order, designing some that did not appear on the page (like z, or numbers). This helped me write the text with reference.
Overall, I am so pleased with how this turned out. It was tiny and mighty, like Embla herself, and I extend my most sincere VIVAT to her for her continued creations!
My very first and second scrolls were floral scrolls. There is a special place in my heart for the movement of petals on a page and the way light dances across each and every surface.
When I was asked to create a Baronial Scroll for this recipient, I decided to do things a little differently. I did not focus on their persona, like I typically do, but instead found out a little about them and the things they like in their environment.
Purple flowers. Morning Glories. OK – I got this.
Welp. Turns out Morning Glories are… not really found in medieval manuscripts… or, at least, I had not found any. There were a few flowers that had the same shape and essence as a Morning Glory, but the actual design of the page was meh. And we are not going for meh here.
So, instead, I tried to find something that captured the ooo and ahh of a Morning Glory; color, shape, its movement of opening and closing. When I laid my eyes on this exemplar it seemed a perfect match to me. >>> http://ica.themorgan.org/manuscript/page/52/112362
One thing that I changed last minute, and I am glad that I did, was how to first line of text matched up with the capital letter. In my original design, I tried to match it as closely to the exemplar as possible… but it was awkward, and it bothered me so much. So! I fixed it once everything else was done and I coud see how I wanted it to lay out.
At the end of everything, I have not been more pleased with my catering of texture and light; the near fabric-like movement of the petals.
To Baroness Mægwynn filia Brun, VIVAT! A most deserving recognition.
Sometimes it is a lot of fun to create something that does not yet he a home…
What do I mean?
I mean, creating a Champion Scroll that does not yet have a recipient!
Why do I like doing these every now and again? I shall tell you…
I would say, 95% of the time I find so much joy in the research and matching of exemplars to various personas – being able to make something that speaks of another person’s personality and interests. But then there is that 5%, that small amount of time that I enjoy complete WHIMSY! CHAOS! ART FOR THE SAKE OF ART!
Goodness, time flies when you are having fun! *THANK YOU* to those who read this, patiently waiting my posts. So! Let’s get into it!
If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you will know that one of my favorite things is the research aspect of scroll work. I absolutely love finding out more about a person’s persona, finding sources that will reflect that person, and then the actual *doing* of the scroll.
Though I had never met Lada Monguligin, I was determined to find something that embraced the honor of a Court Barony, but also displayed the exuberance that is Eastern European art and architecture.
How did I do this? Well, here is my process: 1. Research the recipient – first I check an EK Wiki (best and preferred method), then a FB page (which one times if tough if it is both Mundane and SCAdian), and only if there are no leads, I will find out which group they play with and see if friends or family can give me any information. 2. Explore exemplars – Lately, one of my favorite archive to use is the Getty. Their collection is vast and the digitization is stellar for most illuminations. The zoom feature (which I always use) is also very simple (trust me when I say, they are not all like that). 3. Create! – pretty self explanatory here.
To expand a little bit on the “explore exemplars” bit…. I dont just mystically find what I am looking for right away. I can take up to a week looking through countless books and paintings to try to find something that speaks to me. It can be frustrating for some, but don’t give up! This is the basis for all that you will create, and *when* you find the right piece it will make all the difference.
For this particular piece, I wanted something Russian, but (if you have read some of my previous posts) we know that many Eastern European manuscripts 15-17th c can be extremely difficult to come by. This means we need to get creative. Usually in search bars, I will search by either location, date, or both (if I have all of that information). In this case, I first searched the time frame (by clicking on the 1600’s link) and then use the “refine” feature to search for countries or areas that would work for the persona. Here are the areas that I searched for, in the order that I searched them: Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Bulgaria. I did this on a few other sites, including the Morgan, the British Library, and the Web Gallery of Art. After my search, I decided on this beauty: https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/object/107SQA
Something that really captured my attention with this Armenian exemplar was the colors, and the movement of the architecture over the page. It felt very alive and exquisite; precisely what I was looking for.
After I found what I was looking for, I reached out to a dear friend Master Ivan M Rezansky, for Russian translation. The recipient’s persona studies Russian and I thought it most appropriate to create something that would encourage continued studies. The
The hardest part of this whole endeavor was trying to find a way to incorporate the Baronial Coronet into a piece of art that does not share that original design style. I fussed around with various coronet sketches all over the page, and, I kid you not, in a dream the design came to me. It just made sense. I rushed to message my dear friend Mistress Camille des Jardins to see if this was something that would not only look good, but be well received by the recipient. We agreed on the non-traditional development and painting commenced.
I am so pleased with how this turned out, and still ogle at bright colors and whimsical curves. VIVAT to Baroness Lada Monguligin!!!
To date, I have had only this singular pleasure of creating an OGR scroll, and I was most honored to say that I accepted it for my sweetheart, Don Olan Blackhand. And, in the way that I do, I had the absolute best time designing this scroll!!
Scroll for the Order of the Golden Rapier for Lord Olan Blackhand at Great Northeastern War
The Ace of Swords, Bonifacio Bembo (1450-1480) The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards, The Morgan … Book of Hours, Penitential Psalms and Litany (cir 1480) fol 78r. The Morgan (2022)
So here’s the thing, I often talk about my scribal plans with my close scribal family and partner, but since this time around I was *actually* making something for them, I had to be extra sneaky and plotty.
Now, I wanted to create something that would really show his personality, something that would speak his name and his accomplishments for him. But, unlike many of my other recipients, there was very little to go on by way of persona. Sooooo we had to get a bit creative!
In order to begin my research, I coaxed Olan into discussion about a “project” that I was doing, related to various medieval tarot card designs. I had discussed with Mistress Camille des Jardin that I thought the Ace of Swords would make an excellent source for the kitty-kabob that is the OGR. She agreed, and without knowing, so did he! *teehee*
I also knew that I wanted something along the lines of the Black Hours because Olan’s favorite color is this amazingly vibrant teal/blue that juuuust so happens to be the exact blue (or rather close to it) that creates the border of the Back Hours. So, to try and get the best of both worlds, I combined the styles so that the OGR was created in the *style* of the tarot cards, but was colored like the Black Hours. It was PERFECT! I even included the sweet kitty of which he is most enamored.
All in all, through about a month of conversations (strategically placed) I pulled enough information from Olan for him to design his own scroll! Being there was little for me to go on regarding persona this was a very fun way for me to know exactly what to create for someone!
To a new Don, OGR, teacher, and beloved friend to many – VIVAT! Thank you for letting me completely pul the wool over your eyes… you’re also great at designing scrolls it turns out 😉
Back in 2017, Kevin and I met working for the same company. Long story short, they and their partner are the reason that I am in the SCA. So when I got the scroll assignment for their Silver Tyger, I did everything I could to create something that would both commend their achèvements, and say Thank You.
Now, anyone who knows Kevin knows that being ostentatious is not their style. I was given a location (Kiev, Ukraine), but there was no real timeframe that I was to adhere to. Searching archive after archive I struggled to fine *anything* from any time period from that area. Thinking historically, the area that is modernly known as the Ukraine between the years 1150-1710 were under great fluctuation, power struggles, and land divisions. With this in mind, it made sense that I was struggling to find something that belonged to the ‘Ukraine’. I instead started searching for exemplars that would have been created under the names of surrounding countries that would have been part of great power exchanges, mainly Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. This tactic opened up many more options for me to search archives and museums.
After widening my search, I set to finding something that I thought would reflect Kevin’s personality and preferences. Now, for those of you playing along at home – this area of the world is *known* for creating bold, elaborate, ornate, and ostentatious arts. I wanted the art to be bold, but not ostentatious, colorful but not distracting. I also wanted to be able to work the Silver Tyger into the art if I could (I prefer doing that).
And this is what I found! It was perfect!
A rough sketch was handed off to Mistress Ana Mickel von Salm for calligraphy and words were created by Master Maxton Gunn (My goodness! Those words!), and when all was in order, colors were laid.
Scroll for the Order of the Laurel for Master Roiberd MacNeill at War of Roses – Preface to the Gospel of St Mark, Lindesfarne Gospel (700), British Library, fol 90r-v, and Lists of feasts with readings from the Gospel of St John, fol 208r-v (2022)
Oh my dear friend. I wanted to create something so personal, that captured everything you are and what you do. It was an honor to be able to do this, and I hope that what I have created can even touch the beauty that is your art.
Oh golly, there were so many ideas for this scroll! I knew from the beginning that Roibeard wanted something early period, but wasn’t sure in which direction I should run with it. Should I do something huuuuuuge with very little words, and more illumination, or should I focus on the text, but sacrifice the words? With early period, sadly, most exemplars focus more on one or the other. But I wanted to give both. What do we do when we want both? Make it happen!
I searched and searched, and finally felt inspired by the images in the Lindisfarne Gospel, of St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke and St John, each with an animal companion writing their respective gospels. I liked the posturing of these narrators because these images did something unique in that they captured someone at work in their element. This felt very appropriate as everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Roibeard has seen him hard at work, sharing his knowledge, relaxed in his blacksmithing element. It also seemed appropriate to mirror that working vigil that Roibeard was planning to have. Of the four saints, I chose the image of St Mark, as I felt the lion greatly resembled Appa, our friend’s dear companion.
In the original, the Saint wears a halo of gold, but I thought this the perfect opportunity to include Roibeard’s Laurel wreath instead, modeling the leaves from the Book of Kells. I also chose to “zoom in” the image, so that Roibeard could be depicted working at his blacksmithing bench (which I haven’t seen, but hope it isn’t too far off). Finally, there was the text.
Early period calligraphy is so much fun, with its rounded letters. It all feels very whimsical. For the calligraphy page I chose to illuminate a large letter F to tie the two pages together. A similar small F is found in the original text, just a bit smaller than shown here. *look at all the tiny dots!*
To a dear friend and blacksmith, to a kind soul and dedicated artisan, and to a Master of their craft and life-long learner, vivat!
I had recently come across this exemplar in a Facebook group and was completely transfixed by the striking use of contrasting red and black ink to create strong and engaging imagery. Flipping through a number of the pages, I finally found “the one”… The image of the Archangel Michael slaying a dragon, and how perfect this would be for “a scroll for later use”. I saved the image and waited patiently for the appropriate scroll assignment.
Sometimes I find these scrolls that are so inspirational, so beautiful they capture your attention immediately. I don’t always have a plan for them. I don’t always know if they will ever get used. But I squirrel them away like the happy scribe that I am so that *maybe* *soemday* I will get a chance to use the exemplar. Sometimes it will be as a coloring page, sometimes it is as part of a research project. Other times I will create a scroll or a commission peice.
In this instance, I held on to this exemplar for nearly 6 months before I realized how I was going to use it. When I finally received the scroll assignment I immediately decided to go through my “review again later” exemplars rather than investigating a new one (which is usually what I do because, honestly, I forget about the “review again later” list hahahaha).
After deciding that I was going to use this exemplar for a Golden Mantle, I opted to recreate St George as a different type of marksman, illustrating the skill of our dear recipient. I used images I found on their Facebook to recreate their kit as best as I could, focusing on the helm and bow.
Finally, it was time to paint! As with any tiny, detail work, I try to get the big, messy stuff out of the way first; that being the red! After laying that I was able to use my size 0 brush to add any black detailing, and voila!
I think my absolute favorite part of this scroll is how the bold border directs your line of sight. Something so simple as acanthus leaves running up the side of the scroll, guiding you to look upon the beast and its slayer. Stunning!
My deepest congratulations to Lord Lark Falchner. Vivat!
Non-traditional scrolls in the SCA are those found on *just about* anything other than paper (perg, bristol, vellum, etc). Included in these are embroidered scrolls, carved stones, stained glass… you get the idea.
On this occasion, the Pelicaning of the East’s dear Countessa Fortune St Keyne, I was privileged to be asked to be included in the making of a non-traditional scroll, in the sense that it was to be made into and modeled after a Venetian Fan (part of the Fan Museum, Greenwich England).
I do love a good challenge, and this project presented many. The first of them being communication with the host museum for images and citation information, and the second being attempting to create with paper and paint, that which should look like thread. EEPS!
To begin, we agreed on sizing. The original fan was… lets just say, TINY! Like itty bitty, teensy weensy, only 2 in x 2 in! We decided that was a bit small for all that we wanted to create, so instead, we sized up to 18 cm x 15 cm instead. This way, the scroll would be large enough to appreciate in court, and the handle being made would be sturdy enough to be held and used for display.
Rather than bristol, I decided that I wanted to yes pregame at a. Now, if you have read any of my prior posts, you know that perg can be a bit… tricky. It easily absorbs oils from skin and surfaces which makes it tough for ink and paint to stick. Therefore, paper preparations had to happen. Gloves – check! Sand paper – check! Cuddle bone dust – *stinky* check!
I alway begin my scrolls with a rough sketch in pencil, so that I have an idea of sizing and general shapes. Here is the rough sketch prior to any paint or gold.
After the sketch, I put own the gold. This part is suuuuper tricky because when perg is introduced to *any* moisture, it wrinkles. One trick is to try and get your miniatum to the consistency of Elmers Glue, and lay it is *super* thin layers… which is honestly the most time consuming and counter-intuitive process.
See? It wrinkled! That’s OK though. We will talk more about how to fix that later!
OK, now that the gold ha been laid, we move on to the paint! This part I tend to change up depending on the style of the scroll. In this instance, I wanted to paint things in quadrants, or sections, more for my own benefit. I had a very strict time frame to follow and if I could visualized how long things would take by condensing my work to a certain area I felt I would be more successful in finishing within my time allotment.
Once every thing was laid, it was sent off for assembly! The final product was absolutely stunning. I mentioned above that the wrinkles in the gold could be addressed, and to an extent that is true. The safest way to fix the winkles is through weighted, even pressure. I find the best way to do this is by placing the image between glassine or wax paper and this cardboard (making sure the image is *completely* dry). Then, place books or other *FLAT* weighted objects on top, keeping the weight distributed evenly. If something heavy is placed on top the has feet, or other lifts that create divots, those divots will be molded into the scroll, so beware!
Words by Marguerite inghean Lachlainn Calligraphy by Thyra Eiriksdottir Illumination by Collette d’Avignon Woodwork by Marieta Charay
Formal citation forthcoming – I am still in communication with the museum for more details 🙂
Welcome January! And welcome January coloring pages!! This month I wanted to continue our travel west (from before Halloween), so that we can explore medieval art outside of Europe.
According to the Bodleian, this Arabic manuscript is a composite of divinatory works, from around the late 14th century A.D. It contains astrological, astronomical and geomantic texts compiled by Abd al-Ḥasan Al-Iṣfāhānī.
I wanted to make a special post detailing my adventure with gold, and providing some historical context to what we are doing here in the modern age.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Gold (Au – Aurum) is the 79th element on the periodic table. It is highly reflective, conducts heat, and is incredibly malleable1. Gold is one of the few elements found and mined in its natural state, the majority of it being found in South Africa(1).
Applied gold (or gilding) has been used on manuscripts, furniture, jewelry, and the like since ancient Egypt, where gold leaf was created by pounding sheets of gold thin as one micron, and later in the 14th century as thin as 0.2mm. The remnants of this gold leaf were, and still are, used to make shell gold by grinding and mixing them with a binding agent so that it can be painted on rather than laid in a sheet(2).
Gold is also found woven in threads so that tapestries, clothing, and furniture could be adorned with this rich and elegant metal. However, for the purpose of this blog post, I will be sharing information about the gold gilding, specifically gold leaf and shell gold.
EXAMPLES OF GOLD IN HISTORY
4,500 BC Bulgarian decorative beads(3) – possibly the oldest known human crafted gold object in the world.
4,500 BC Varna Necropolis treasure(4) – thought to have previously been the older human formed trove of gold, now the largest collection of gold treasures for that time period.
4,000 BC – 500 AD Egyptian jewelry, sarcophagus and tomb decorations(5) – intricate and delicate application of gilded gold, meant to provide Pharaohs with status and wealth in the afterlife.
500 BC – Lydia, Turkey, the first known gold coins(6), setting the standard for gold stamped coins around the world.
1200 BC – 300 BC Greek coins, and jewellery used to measure status and honor the gods(7) (8)
1 BC – Roman coins, being the first wide-spread gold currency due to the development of hydraulic mining(9) (10)
1817 AD – Great Britain giving gold a set value based on weight(11)
1848 AD – Gold Rush in the Western United States and Canada(12)
There were also gold imitators. Specifically mosaic gold (aka stannic sulfide aka Tin(IV) sulfide aka Tin disulfide) was easily created by chemists or those familiar in chemistry. Read HERE for how to make your own mosaic gold (I haven’t made my own yet, but likely will in the near future).
SIZING AND GOLD
Whether gold is painted on or applied in the form of leaf, there must be something that attaches it to a substrate, something that glues it down. These glues are called size, or sizing. Historically, there were a number of things used, like gum arabic, gesso, glare, and garlic juice among the most popular options. In modern day there are such materials as miniatum and miniatum ink.
Gum arabic – dried resin collected from the sap of two species of acacia trees. When ground and mixed with water it becomes a sticky binding agent.
Gesso – a thick mixture of plaster, chalk, or gypsum bound together with animal glue.
Glare – created from peaked egg whites, and used in both gold leaf application, but largely in the binding of shell gold. Read HERE for how to make your own glare.
Garlic juice – after garlic is finely minced, it is then distressed with mortar and pestle, gathered in a cheese cloth and the juice is extracted, producing a sticky juice.
Of course, there are a number of other methods out there that were used, since this was not a necessarily standardized practice. For instance, one resource says, “Begin with slaked plaster of Paris, and grind in a little white lead (less than a third of the amount of the plaster, Cennino says)(13)
Another resource, The Göttingen model book, depicts the addition of color to sizing in the form of armenian bole, stating, “then fetch bolum armenum at the apothecary’s, and grind so much into it that the chalk will turn a red flesh colour therefrom…and then take sugar-candy as much as half a hazelnut, that is to say half as much as of the bolus; and then take cinnabar as much as half a pea. Rub all this well together with the egg white, that it becomes like lard, and then put it into a horn, which should be clean, and stir it with a small piece of wood and temper it to the thickness of cinnabar, so that it flows easily from the pen; and let it then macerate and add again and again egg white, until it is well macerated, and stir it well; and let it stand three or four days, and the longer it stands, the better it is and will be”(14)
Vladimir Baranov, et al add to this saying, “The substance can be dried into little pink pellets and stored like this. When it is needed, mix it up with a little clear water and egg glair, presumably on a slab of stone, crunching the mixture over and over with a palette knife until it is really smooth and runny, without bubbles”.(15)
HOW TO MAKE SHELL GOLD
– Real gold leaf (23k or 24k) – (usually one would use leftover scraps from laying sheets of gold leaf)
– mortar & pestle
– clear glass container (small, like a tiny mason jar)
– eye dropper or pipette
– distilled water
– optional: gum arabic
Locate all of your gold scraps and combine them in a small container. I use a small paint cup with a lid (see image) to store the scraps.
Next, combine the gold scraps, salt, honey and water to the mixture. The estimated amounts that I use are thus:
– 1 tbsp gold – 1 tbsp honey – 1/2 tsp salt (adding more slowly if needed) – 1 pipette full of water (adding only 1-2 drops at a time if needed)
I recommend not using the same mortar and pestle that you may use for food.
Salt – your abrasive grinding agent
Honey – glue and binder
Water – thinning agent
Grinding this gold mixture will produce something the texture of gloopy paint, and that’s good! Continue grinding until smooth, or until no large pieces of gold are seen.
When you are happy with the consistency of your gold mixture, place the mixture into your storage container (I use a tiny mason jar used for canning) and top with your distilled water. Give the jar a good shake and allow the gold to settle to the bottom. When most of the gold has settled, use your pipette and remove most of the water in the jar, then add more water, shake, and repeat!
I typically repeat this process until the water is no longer sticky or salty. I test this by dipping my finger in the water and rubbing my fingers together. If the water feels sticky or smells very sweet, OR if it feels gritty or leaves a salty residue I continue my rinsing cycle. I DO NOT TASTE MY WATER. Though this is likely a period practice, I do not personally practice this to prevent myself from accidentally tasting something I should not… which could easily happen with pigments. However, in this case, the gold leaf will not harm you and it is OK to taste.
When you are satisfied with the cleanliness of your water, use a pipette to remove most of your water and pour the gold mixture into a storage container (like the little paint containers with lids seen above… historically it would be stored in a shell!)
When storing, the gold mixture will dry out, so to rehydrate, mix it with a few drops of water, OR you can store it as a ready-to-use paste by just adding some gum arabic.
The benefit of using true shell gold is that if you use a separate rinse jar, all of the gold that washes off your brush can be used again to create more shell gold!
Part three of our golden adventure, now that we know a little of the history of gilded gold, and how to make shell gold, we can examine the method of laying gold leaf!
HOW TO LAY GOLD LEAF
-Gold leaf sheets (23k or 24k)
-Size (either miniatum or miniatum ink are my preferred size, but other options are acceptable)
-Clean, flat paintbrush for the gold leaf
-Pounce bag (made of silk)
-Burnisher OR small smooth round stone/pebble
-Lestoil for cleaning
-Stirring spoon or popsicle stick
-Warm colored gouache (red, maroon, brown, etc.)
– Trace out the area that you would like to have laid gold. I do not lay gold without tracing first, so that I have specific parameters to lay my size within. I will usually lay the size slightly over the pencil marks to hide them.
***For MINIATUM INK: first, thin your miniatum ink using your water and pipette. Though this product comes already thinned, thinning it further will allow for more layers and a smoother texture once the gold is laid. I lay 2 layers of ink. Miniatum ink will give a FLAT GILDING.
After thinning the ink, add a pea-sized amount of warm-toned gauche to your ink and stir using your stirring spoon or popsicle stick. When miniatum (ink) dries, it dries clear, and without the gouache it will be difficult to find where to lay the gold. The warm tone to the gouache also helps to enhance the warm tone of the goldleaf.
***For MINIATUM (regular, not ink): just as before, thin your miniatum using your water and pipette. This product does NOT come already thinned, so thinning it further will actually allow it to be worked with. After thinning it, thin it further. Miniatum will give a RAISED GILDING.
Again, after thinning the size, add a pea-sized amount of warm-toned gauche and stir using your stirring spoon or popsicle stick. For this size, I lay 3-4 layers, depending on how raised I would like it to be.
Apply your size to your sketched area using your size-specific paint brush. After you lay the first layer, let it dry completely before laying subsequent layers. Depending on the humidity in your space, this could take a few hours or a whole day. When you’re done with your paint crush, use some Lestoil to clean the brush and rinse thoroughly with water.
Find a nice flat, level area to store for drying. Miniatum and miniatum ink are both self leveling, meaning that wherever you put them to dry, they will level out to ground level, rather than the level of their resting place; good to keep in mind as you pick their location for drying.
Once the size is dry, you will need to active the size with humidity. The best way to do this is to use your breath, and breathe on small areas of size like you were trying to fog a window. Wait about 5-10 seconds and then gently press your small area with your gold leaf (while it is still one its paper). After pressing your gold to the size, gently remove the paper.
With your gold-leaf paint brush, gently brush your nose or your cheek (to acquire some oils) and brush the loose areas of gold onto itself. You can also use this brush to smooth out areas that are layered on one another for a seamless finish.
If desired, you can use a burnisher and glassine to fasten down edges or to smooth rough areas, and finish with your silk pounce bag for additional shine. I find that I don’t usually need the pounce bag, but do use the burnisher to fasten down the edging.
NOTE: gold leaf sticks to just about anything, so it is helpful to lay gold leaf BEFORE laying any other paint. However, gold leaf is also very delicate. Wearing only gloves when painting over and around gold leaf could cause the gold leaf to detach from the sizing. I recommend using tracing or wax paper to rest your hand on anywhere there is gold leaf, to prevent the rubbing from your painting glove.
About a month ago I was approached by a mentor, and fellow scribe to see if I would be willing to work on a baronial scroll last minute. I was more than happy to assist as I had just finished a big project and was feeling a bit empty-plated.
The benefit of working with recipients that have a detailed EK Wiki is there is very little guesswork that goes into what to create for them. In this case, Galfraedus was careful to include his favorite scroll style: bar and ivy.
But if you have read this far and scrolled through this many posts, you must know by now that I like to be a bit… extra. It makes me happy! For my friend Galfreadus I chose an exemplar with some detail. Some very small details… very, very small detail.
Let’s talk about diapering. I was introduced to diapering a few years back when I started scribal. I was looking through the printed copies of scrolls that Mistress Camille has made, showing one piece in particular with a large area of diapering. If I am remembering correctly, it was from The Hunt by Gaston Phoebus. It was glorious, and everything that I wanted to create in a background. So, when researching Bar and Ivy for Galfraedus, one requirement was there needed to be a space for diapering. Fortunately for me, the exemplar that I chose was full of capital letters that already had diapering designs. It was perfect! Even more lucky, was there was a capital letter D, precisely what I need for my scroll.
For anyone doing diapering, I highly encourage the use of an Aimes Lettering Guide, or something similar. It allows your lines to be even, smooth, and straight. Another things I recommend is laying down your background base color *before* you put your lines for the diapering. This way you can see the lines over the paint, rather than having to guess where they are through the background color. I tried both methods and found it was MUCH easier to paint with the lines over the colored background.
My last recommendation is, in my opinion, the most important, and that is to invest in good quality, and very pointed brushes. Personally, I prefer very small brushes for my micro painting, but the same effect can be accomplished with larger brushes as long as the point is fine.
I am so very pleased with how this scroll turned out and my hope is that I have the opportunity to continue my pursuit of micro painting (all of that find detailed work) because it truly has brought my great joy.
Being able to create art for friends is one of the best feelings in the world. I desire so deeply to capture the friendship, comradery, laughter, and respect that I have with those that I know, because this is a way that I can say “thank you” without tripping over my words or being completely awkward (as I most often am). When I was approached to create the calligraphy for my friend Devillin’s Master of Defense scroll, I could not have been more excited, because I had been wanting to show my appreciation to this human for quite some time.
The illuminator (Mistress Camille desJardins) and I talked about creating a Mira calligraphiae style scroll because it would allow us to add alllll of the things that makes Devillin, well, Devillin! For instance, we *needed* a fox and thistles, there was just no doubt in that!
My job was “simple”… flip through the Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta and choose a calligraphy style to recreate… which I have to say is not actually simple. This manuscript is one of my favorites, for the very same reason that it was difficult to complete this task – every single page in that manuscript is completely different; each page has calligraphy completely unique to that page.
Eventually I chose fol 15. I loved the way the calligraphy moved on the page; how the shape the words created was just as much art as the words that were written. I thought this was a perfect description for someone who lives, and speaks courtesy, honesty, and truth.
Once the calligraphy was laid it was shipped off to Mistress Camille for the illumination. And oh, what a breathtaking job indeed! Together, the movement of the calligraphy and the illumination mirror Devillin in motion; a fencer and their bought. A deadly dance.
I also had the pleasure of creating these patches for Devillin’s MoD gauntlets. A depiction of the MoD badge surrounded by thistles completed on linen with cotton DMC (stem, chain, and satin stitches).
Welcome December; the end of the year, the closing of a door and the opening of another, a month that holds the longest night of the year as well as the path that leads us to Spring.
This month I decided I wanted to emphasize December as a bookend to the year; a fly leaf within a manuscript. So, I chose this exemplar which depicts beautiful heraldic imagery at both the front and the back of the tome. Something that had never crossed my mind was the possibility that beautiful illumination could be outside of the main body of work. It is a gentle reminder that the beginning and the end, the opening and closing of the year, the book, the story can be just as beautiful as the main event.
Along with the fly leafs, I included another image from the various illuminations; a picture of giving. However we as humans enjoy this time of year, there tends to be a tone of giving, of showing appreciation, and of providing for those in need. I appreciated this image as another reminder that this time of year, though dark, cold, dreary, and scary, can have sparks of light, love, friendship, and hope.
A cheer to the end of the year, the beautiful and creative bookend. A toast to the reminder that there is more, that there can be something beautiful before the next chapter.
I has so much fun creating the little figurines for October, something new each week to play on the spooky month, but I was ready to get back to the larger coloring pages that I have been working on over the last month.
So, here we are, just in time for the season of gathering! Speaking of gathering, this months pages features the gathering of fruits and medicines.
Say hello to the Tacuinum Sanitatis, the Latin translation of the treatise on Arabic dietetics Taqwīm al-ṣiḥḥa written by the physician Ibn Buṭlân in the 11th century(German translation added in 16th c). There are images all through the manuscript of fruits, roots, berries and herbs being collected for various purposes.
Of course this had me thinking of how we, as humans, gather. Whether it be gathering what nourishes us, or gathering as groups to create community; how do you gather?! Feel free to share your favorite gathering traditions below; and as always, I’d love to see your creations!
The final installment of the Spook-tober coloring pages is here! And what better way to celebrate the season where the veil between worlds is thin, where we decorate pumpkins, turnips, and potatoes to ward off evil spirits, and where we mask ourselves to trick and cause mischief. Demons. They are seen all throughout illuminated manuscripts; marching through homes, seducing women and men, stealing children, escaping the pits of hell. You name it, a demon is likely depicted doing it. Occasionally, demons were shown as people and animals alluding to their inescapable presence. Much like the Memento Mori last week, demons could appear anywhere and wreak havoc on the lives of just about anyone.
As we approach Halloween, All-Hallows-Eve, and Samhain, I want to share some images of demons in a variety of places, and doing a variety of things. Some are rather humorous, and some can be more ominous. But what spooky season is complete without the looming thought of death, and the loss of one’s soul to the pits of Hell?!
It has been a little bit of time since I have worked on a Baronial scroll, so I was very excited to be asked to create something for Lord Gerhardt von Hohensee at Harper’s Retreat 2021.
I did not have an idea of what I wanted to create for this scroll ahead of time, so rather than rooting through my usual exemplars, I decided to do a general search through The British Library, another excellent resource to do generalized illumination searches.
For this scroll, I chose the search criteria date (1550-1580), location Italy, and description of miniature, and scrolled through until I found something that I felt represented Gerhardt. I have previously found excellent miniatures with full paged images over full page wording, which is the reason I chose the additional search criterial of “miniature”.
Within this series of miniature cartouche, I decided on this particular one because of the corner capping seablatts. Gerhardt’ arms have seablatts and felt this was a nice ode to him as an individual.
Some of my favorite scrolls to make are ones that include minuscule details. I feel they add a kind of depth that you cant get with shading alone, and they also give the recipient something new to discover. In this instance, I was sure to include the minuscule scales through the seablatts.
Ahhh yes, now that we are well into the month, let’s explore some truly spooky things… Skeletons!
The Memento Mori, or death remembered, was a way for medieval artists to personify death so that the viewer would remember it was always there, wherever we were.
The Memento Mori were generally shown doing tasks that a living person would do, in all places that living beings would go. Again, this was to reiterate that death was everywhere, waiting for anyone.
This spooky season, I challenge you to consider how we, those living in the 21st century, feel about skeletons throughout the year. Do we appreciate them only when the leaves fall? Are they always something scary?Medical treatise, England 15th c (British Library, Royal 18 A VI, fol 34v)
This week’s spooky coloring pages are themed for Grotesques and other such curious creatures. Perhaps they arent “spooky” but they do embrace the spirit of this time of year, showing that they can be one, or two creatures, imaginary or real!
I specifically chose three grotesques that have very different features; one that resembles no known creature, one that greatly resembles a primate, and one that could be a cross between two animals.
Next week we shall explore the amazing world of skeletons!
WELCOME OCTOBER and happy 1 year anniversary to my Scribal Coloring Pages project! So to celebrate we will explore the grim, ghostly, and ghoulish side of medieval illuminated manuscripts.
This month, I will be posting a small collection of spooky-themed images each Monday, rather than three full page re-creations.
Today, we will see various styles of bats! There are many ways that we see bats represented in medieval illumination, some more anatomically correct than others. It is always interesting to consider how medieval artists learned what various animals looked like; did they see one themselves, did they read about it or see it in a picture, or were they told word-of-mouth and used their imagination to fill in the blanks?! And of course, how many people had heard and passed down that description before it reached the ears of an artist?
Happy October all, and don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Facebook and Instagram!
I do not personally know Tessa, but I know of her service to the East, and was therefore very excited to be able to prepare this scroll to reflect her time and efforts.
One of my favorite parts about creating a scroll is the research! Yes, I know it can appear daunting, but once you know the few steps to take it can be quite enjoyable, honestly!
One of my favorite resources is the Web Gallery of Art to do a generalized search. Meaning, if I don’t already have an idea of style for a scroll, and only have information like locale and date, this is a great place to start your research. This resource is very user-friendly, allowing you so search by time-frame, artist, country of origin, and style of art. One of these days I will create a whole post on research, and “How to find what you are looking for”… eventually!
For this image, I searched 1351-1400 Italy (illumination) using the general criteria I know of this SCAdian to guide me. Check out my search results HERE
One BIG thing that I learned throughout this process was actually related to calligraphy. A nice discussion with master Harold von Aurbach brought to light a very interesting thing that medieval calligraphers did – using one letter to create something of a “shortcut” to creat another letter. Essentially an abbreviated pairing of letters. This happens a lot with the ligature “r”. In the middle of words, gothic scribed would use the stem of an o, b, d, or p to create what we know as the lowercase “r”. As calligraphy progressed, it was occasionally used in this same way with the letters a, w, and sometimes y. So if you can image a word like “reward” would have a different looking r at the beginning of the word compared to the end of the word.
Another HUGE hurdle for me was painting a person. I have mentioned this before, and I shall mention this many time after ; humans are difficult to paint (personally). I accept this challenge as often as I can, and truly I feel that I have crested the hill. Capturing movement and weight in the garment was difficult but I was able to accomplish it with varying viscosities of gouache and using draped cloth over mannequin for reference.
A huge VIVAT to THL Tessa Martini d’Agostino.
Scroll for the Order of the Silver Crescent to Tessa Martini d’Agostino at Harper’s Retreat (2021) – Acerb, by Cecco a’Ascoli (1380). Plut 40.52. Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence.
Since our last set of coloring pages, we have been moving around the globe to highlight some lesser-known medieval manuscripts.
For August, I bring you pages from and Herbal Manuscript (Iraq or Syria).
I have been trying to bring more awareness to medieval manuscripts from all over the world, because I think it is important to remember other cultures and peoples existed, sharing their ideas on art, sciences, maths, languages, and martial skills. There were clothings made, fabrics woven, and homes and lives made bountiful beyond what is commonly known as medieval Europe.
So this month, I would like to highlight these pages. The Curator for the LACMA states, “ Beginning in the ninth century and under the direction of the ‘Abbasid caliph, scribes began translating, updating, and expanding ancient Greek scientific and philosophical manuscripts. Among the translated texts was Dioscorides’s De materia medica, a guide to medicinal plants and the inspiration for later herbal manuscripts, from which [these] thirteenth-century page[s] derive. Physicians and pharmacists may have relied on nonillustrated versions of the text in their practice, but illustrated versions such as this one, which often have more limited textual information, were likely commissioned for their visual appeal.
I am finally ready to share the journey with my German Brick Stitch Bag!
This project was absolutely wonderful to work on! It was challenging enough that I learned a lot, but I felt that I had enough skill to enjoy the process too. It’s very important to have a good balance of that when I am learning new things to prevent discouragement.
The project I chose to work on can be viewed more in detail HERE through the V&A Museum.
For my materials I used 28ct Irish evenweave linen, along with white, green, red and blue cotton DMC thread.
Some may have seen this in a few previous posts, but the Haus Badge that I have been working on for over a year is finally finished. Off and on I would take needle to fabric, and it is finally complete.
For my methodology on the embroidery itself, I include a bit of a description HERE. The padding and border use the method taught my Mistress Amalie von Hohensee HERE.
To all those who have taught me, both directly and indirectly; I am beyond grateful for your expertise and guidance.
As can often happen, I did not personally know the recipient of this particular award, but that did not stop me from investigating everything I could about them for newly bestowed honor.
This particular person’s persona is that of a 1c Briton from the are of Western Wales. After a bit of consultation (THL Roideard mac Neill mhic Ghille Eoin and Magistra Audrye Beneyt) the idea was birthed to turn the La Téne mirror into a scroll.
I always start with a complete sketch of the illumination before I put down my lines for words. I do this because there are times when the illumination creeps out of its borders (purposefully) and I never want that to affect my calligraphy sizing/spacing. In this case, though the illumination will be far from the calligraphy, it is still a habit I keep.
Next I put in the lines for the calligraphy. Generally speaking, if it isn’t Gothic style script I will ALWAYS do a mock-up to make sure that my calculations for the nib size are correct, as well as there being good spacing, and over-all good look to the text. This does take twice as long (because you are writing everything twice) but it is not only a way to adjust to any “oops” in your lettering, but is also free calligraphy practice!
For this scroll I chose to use an early uncial hand, being that it is usually found a bit earlier in period that insular. This part was estimation, since the mirror does not actually have any text to reference.
After the calligraphy was done, I went to work laying the miniatum ink. This ink was much thinner than regular miniatum I have used in the past, but VERY easy to work with. I chose to lay three thin layers over 24 hours, making sure each dried completely before laying the next one.
Once I laid the last layer of miniatum, it was time to lay gold! For such a large area, I found the cleanest, easiest, and least headache-inducing way to do this was to use scrap pieces for the handle first, and then used four full sheets of gold to cover the mirror itself. There was PLENTY of overlap, and that’s ok. I used a fifth gold page to help cover any areas of missing gold or fix any scraps, flyaways, or rips that happened before everything was firmly attached.
In the event don’t of that made sense, because you have never laid gold leaf, have no fear.
-First, choose your sticky base, otherwise known as adhesive size (or just size for short). Modern supplies such has miniatum, miniatum are modern alternatives, where as period size was made from gum ammoniac, garlic, honey, and sugar.
-Humidify your miniatum (I lightly breathe on it, as if I were fogging a mirror). – This activates the sticking component in the size. Wait a few seconds.Take a small section of gold leaf (still attached to the wax paper it comes on) and press it firmly onto the area you wish to cover. I then gently rub a small river stone or embossing tool over the outline of the image to make sure the gold stays put. I previously tried not doing this and had trouble with the edges of the gold leaf coming off. -After removing the wax paper, I take a smooth flat paint brush, brush it on my oily nose (the gold needs something to help move it) and tuck the gold onto itself and move away any extra that have attached to the paper where I did not lay miniatum. This part of the process sounds so strange if you have never done it in person. -Finally, if areas are looking a little cloudy, I take some the wax paper, and place it over the gold before smoothing it again (gently). There is also the option of using a silken pounce bag to help create additional shine.
Gold was down!! Woooo! Now, time for the detailing. On the extent piece, each section was area shaded with both veto legislation and horizontal lines. I torn the house apart attempting to find something that could be used for this project, and finally decided a number 2 flat nib for calligraphy would be the best choice.
When I had shaded to my heart’s content, I was presented with the final product! Vivat to THL Vindiorix Orodovix of Clan Preachain (aka Black Finn)!
For the coloring pages this month, I wanted to explore an exemplar that was a little different. This lectionary is from later period 1594, originating in Romania (with illumination added in Moscow). This gospel is just shy of 8 inches tall (~20 cm).
This text is a mixture of Ancient Greek, Church Slavonic, Old Slavonic, and Old Bulgarian; written in a way that it may be read from as the year progresses (rather than at random).
Did you know: the work lectionary comes from the Latin “lecto”for reading?
I chose this coloring page in the hopes of expanding beyond the more well-known areas of medieval Europe, and seeing what the rest of the world was creating! Let me know what you think 🙂
Breathtaking in every way was the elevation of my teacher Magistra Audrye Beneyt. If you would like to read of her experience or see pictures, I urge you to her Facebook page!
What I want to share, is what I had the opportunity to create for her, and a few of her attendants.
At the start of the Consul’s reign, my teacher changed her persona to Roman; therefore, she wanted her elevation to reflect that new persona.
I took on the challenge of making jewelry for those of us who did not have Roman jewelry, or did not have the means to make it ourselves. I used various Fayum Mummy panel paintings as reference, depicting upper class Roman and Egyptian citizens.
Most of my pieces were made to LOOK like the exemplars, but did not all have period supplies used; cost being a factor.
I made a few versions of each pair of earrings to everyone could pick what they wanted.
Aside from the jewelry, I embroidered a hankie. I wanted it to be large enough to be using in a basket, but small enough to not take up too much space. I designed it to it would have her Ermine Spot in one corner, and rather than a Pelican, I chose to give each corner a drop of blood – the same three drops from the Pelican herself. the border was drawn threadwork, and the embroidery was stem stitch and back stitch.
I also made Thank You cards. These I built with a stencil, pencil, and black gouache. The card itself was stenciled, but the envelope was done free hand.
Finally, through the beauty that only a group effort can provide, there is this. Presented by her two students and classroom “auditor”.
I felt the need to look at some exemplars that had intricate and intriguing borders to match the bold and luminous central image. It is important to consider the whole image and ways in which to present such image… should there be a small plain border so as not to deviate the attention? What about a border filled with intricate detail, that guides the viewer? Shall there be hidden messages or humor, seen in various marginalia? Or shall there be no border at all? As a medieval scribe, these questions could have had an impact on how the recipient received their new codex.
Happy coloring all! Next month we will look at the Walters Gospel Lectionary!
When I think of arts within the A&S realm, I am doing no justice by not considering things outside of calligraphy, illumination, pottery and jewelry making. There are so many other arts, countless that should be filling the hearts and minds of those in the Society. At that end, I had the pleasure of creating a scroll for such a skill; the research and creation of periods arrows (fletching, shafts, etc) and wanted to allow my skill to reflect theirs.
This scroll was for Timothy of a Sherwood, an archer of the East, and I wanted to create something that would focus on the arrows as much as the archer (and creator of those arrows). I could think of no better exemplar for this than the Aberdeen Bestiary. Within this bestiary is an illumination of an archer hunting Magpies, and the image as a whole is very inviting. You are drawn up through the image from the feet, following the projection of the arrow, which is what I desired for this illumination.
I began with the outline and calligraphy, sketching everything, down to the very fine details. When I do this I have a better understanding of space and what I need to accomplish, and use it less as a guide for the actual paint. Once the outline and calligraphy was complete, I started with the gold.
For such a large area I used gold gouache, which mimics the flat shell gold of the exemplar. Such a large area requires a large brush, and so switched from my usual size 0 to a size 8. It is still very important to use the same techniques with larger brushes that you would with smaller brushes, even if it is tempting to rush through because you feel you are getting done quicker. This means creating appropriate consistency gouache, puddling and pushing for an even gold layer, and using smaller brushes to get into the nooks and crannies for sharp edging. Gold gouache is finicky, but don’t give up! There are a number of exemplars that are excellent to practice these skills if you want to.
After the gold, I started with the colors. Three major colors were used: red, orange, and blue. Within these colors I created 3-4 shades by adding white or black. For the orange and red, I used the color right from the tube to create the “darkest” color, and slowly added white to create a few more shades. The blue, however, I added a bit of black to because it was a bit too bright to match the exemplar.
This style of painting, creating shading with distinct overlaying lined areas, is not one that I ave much practice in, but does allow for the eye to grasp shading at its core. It reminds me almost of a paint by number! I highly recommend giving it a shot if you have not tried this style before.
Once all of the color were down, I went in and did a bit of white work and added the black for the Magpies and outlining. This particular style of illumination NEEDS outlining to complement the lined shading of the pictures and give true true to the images. For much of the outlines I used a size 0 liner, but for the arrow and some of the reallllly tiny white work I switched to my favorite size 0000 detail brush. It was very important to me that the arrow be outlined in a way that complemented the size of the image without drawing your eye to the arrow first.
This creation process was such a fun time, and for anyone who loves instant gratification, I highly recommend this illumination style! Thank you East Kingdom for allowing me to continue to create these beauties for the populace; it is truly an honor!
I have been busy with a myriad of projects the last few months, and OF COURSE one of those being embroidery work.
I had the honor of being invited to make a special gift for Magistrissa Theodora, as she received and accepted her Peerage as Pelican. I wanted to create something that she would be able to use for both her ceremony, but also out and about at SCA events. After chatting with a few people, it was decided that an embroidered hankie was exactly what I would make.
To start the hankie I first cut the desired size hankie, with an additional inch margin. This would account for the hem I would create and room for mistakes. Then, I created the drawn work border; something to interest the eye but not anything that would take away from the main component of the hankie (the Pelican). To accomplish the drawn work, I first measured about 1 inch from the bottom of the cut of fabric. I then chose where I wanted the pattern to start, pulled a single horizontal thread and snipped it. I made sure this was in about the middle of the hankie. Then, I took a needle and gentle pulled each tail of the thread to their respective sides, and weaving them through the end of the fabric. For each side I did this for about 12-15 threads, trying to get the size of the drawn area relatively similar in size, even if the thread counts were different. When this has been done to all four sides, there is a neat little open, empty square that I find very appealing.
Once the drawn threads were complete, I then went in and gathered groups of 6 vertical threads at the base of the draws, and used that gathering to anchor the hemming of the border. To do this I took my thread behind a group of 6 threads, wrapped it around the base, pulled taught, and the then looped back around the back of the gathering and whip stitched the hem. If I came to the end of the road and there were not going to be enough threads to group as 6, I would try and group a few with 5, so they wouldn’t look awkward. When done, this creates a beautiful “V” shape pattern along the border.
This whole process took the longest of the the entire hankie making. The thread pulling
is tedious, but if you can find a way to do it in small chunks it isn’t so bad. For instance, I took it to work with me every day, and worked for it 30 minutes in my lunch breaks. Though this took a few weeks, I found I did not get overwhelmed by how much there was to do, and my hands and eyes did not hurt as much as they could have.
Finally, I was on to the embroidery. I first embroidered three small blue tassels into 3 corners (a symbol that Magistrissa Theodora has chosen to represent her) and a couched pelican to the final, fourth corner. To accomplish the Pelican, I first traced a shape in pencil (lightly) the best that I could. I wanted the pattern to be light and airy, to allow the hankie to be used whenever, and wherever; therefore, I chose to couch an outline of a pattern, rather than completely filling it in. I felt that a completely filled in embroider might lend the hankie to be too stiff. I laid the thread exactly where I wanted it, along the pencil markings, and couched down the outline. I chose to use two DMC threads instead of one or three, because I felt that it gave an appropriate depth without making the embroidery bulky. After the embroidery was done, I whip stitched the tails to the back of the pattern and the gift was complete.
I want to personally thank Mistress Amalia von Hohensee for her video tutorial of the drawn thread work!
In early Spring I was asked to create a scroll for this wonderful SCAdian and knew that for this scroll to be complete, it to reflect their personality and their persona; a challenge I willingly accepted.
For the exemplar, I did not stick so tightly to persona locale as I typically do, because I wanted to be able to reflect Mora’s personality more; the thing that drives the creation and beauty in their art. I pondered for a few days about this, and in that contemplation, it is likely that Ireland (circa 1541) would have various European influence secondary to English expansion. So for this scroll, I chose…
Initial D: Saint John the Baptist
Matteo da Milano (Italy 1492 – 1523) folio 4. The Getty, Digital.
… after all, an obnoxious Hedge Witch needs flowers, insects, starry skies and grotesques! IT IS A NEED!
For this particular style, the started with the dark background. In the past I have started with the gold, but because there are around 10-million little dots of gold on TOP of the dark background, it made more sense to do the gold second.
For the background color I chose to mix a dark grey with black, creating an “almost” black. I found this to be more accurate a color depiction than stark black , based on the exemplar.
There has been one other scroll as of today that I have done tiny dots for, and this scroll used the very same technique; break it down. It truly does seem overwhelming to put down ~100 dots in a 1 inch square area, step back, and realize you still have 80 square inches to go… but breaking it down, AND taking frequent breaks makes it much for tolerable. For this technique I used a 0000 round point Windsor & Newton brush, much finer than others than I have used in the past. This sized brush needs much thinner paint than others because there are (literally) only a few fibers being used. For other scrolls, I have used a longer, 0 liner brush and found the results excellent, however, gold gouache likes to spread so a smaller brush is what I used to the dots did not grown in size from what I intended.
Next I laid the gold. I find it easier to work colors around the gold gouache because the gold acts almost as a barrier for bleeding and unintentional ‘ooops’. I also find it easier to blend mistakes into the gold if paint is to thin or my hands get shaky.
Generally for flowers, gems, etc. I have had great luck painting by number. And by that I mean, painting all things red, blue, green, yellow, etc. before moving on to the next thing. The only time I do not find this helpful is when painting acanthus leaves (because I use my hands and the colors to help me determine the direction the leaves are folding). With such busy of a background, sometimes areas get missed with this method, so to make sure I haven’t missed anything, I turn the scroll upsides down and look over everything that I have painted. For me, I am able to notice things missing when I do this (like a leaf I forgot to paint) because the image is no longer what I expect it to be and my brain stops filling in the missing information.
This scroll was an absolute delight to make and I can’t wait for it to arrive in its new home.
It’s that time again, the moment I (and hopefully you) have been waiting for!
This month I wanted to focus on animals, specifically birds! This time of year we hear the outside of our windows, see them at the feeders, and watch them magnetically fly from tree to tree. The Aberdeen Bestiary has a wide variety of animals, including winged beasts, for any bird living artist out there.
Bestiaries are illustrated compilation of animals (both real and mythological) and became popular in the Middle Ages. Much like the pattern book we saw a few months ago, individuals were inspired by what they saw around them, and sometimes, by stories they were told.
I challenge you this month to take a look outside. Reeeaaallllyyy look, and keep track of all the animals you see. Perhaps you aren’t sure what they are; that’s ok! Are there more animals than you imagined? Did you hear of or see any that remind you of what’s in the Aberdeen Bestiary?!
I was very inspired this last month by the beauty that spring brings – new leaves, flowers and grass; bright inviting colors; warmer weather. This beauty made me think of an exemplar with equal magnificence.
The Jewel Book of Duchess Anna of Bavaria (1552). Hans Mielich (Munich). Digital
This book was commissioned by Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria for his wife Anna (created by Hans Mielich), an inventory of her precious jewelry. Anna was daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I and member of the Hapsburg family.
This exemplar is so intricate, purposefully, to illustrate the glory and status of those who possessed such treasures. And it is not simply the jewels that exude radiance, but their borders highlighting each piece, and too the book itself.
Looking closely at the borders, there are both gold and silver flat gilding around many images, another sign of wealth and status.
The month of March is a time of growth after death, a clashing of warm and cool weather, a delicate and intricate dance of nature. It is for this reason we are focusing on the Lindisfarne Gospel.
This gospel was revolutionary for the time (as were other books like the Book of Kells) bringing colors, textures, and images to life with new developments in illustration and pigment making.
Today, I present The Lindesfarne Gospel, Bishop Eadfrith (#4,13,16) n.p. (700). Old English/Latin. This unique exemplar is one of my favorites to look at for its intricate detailing, focused knot-work, and humanoid expression.
There is such a great mix of border work, architecture, humanoids and animals, and stylized capital letters that really make this gospel enticing.
I get so very giddy when I have the chance to do a scroll. It’s a level of excitement that I cannot describe in words, but really can only be experienced in person. This scroll is no different.
I do not know Richard personally, but in reading his biography and love of all things art, I knew the perfect exemplar for his scroll.
About 1-2 months ago, I stumbled upon a series of exemplars that I wanted to do “someday”. Sometimes it’s hard to say that they will happen within a certain time frame because I really try to align the scrolls with the recipient’s persona or personality (if I know them well). Other times, if I don’t know them very well, I attempt to reflect the recipient’s accomplishments in the scroll style. In this case, I attempted to do just that.
Richard Heyworth’s accomplishments can be seen and read on his EK Wiki, so I won’t list them all here; but one thing that did stick out most to me was his love for the work he does with Athena’s Thimble. I am always in awe of the work presented in that group and I wanted a scroll that reflected the elegance, intricacies, and detail that Thimble members exude.
As always, I started with the calligraphy, saving the capitals for last. I always find this the easiest way to approach the scroll because if I mess up and have to scrap the scroll, I have only invested the calligraphy (which is where I am most likely to do that) and not all of the illumination too.
I could go into the step-by-step that I usually do with my posts, but to be honest, the steps moved so fluidly from one to the other it is almost hard to describe them.
The most challenging thing about this scroll was creating all of the individual white dots in the diapering. Whoa, there were a lot of them! At first it was a bit overwhelming, but once I started applying the dots I chose to break up the large border into three different parts, and then broke those sections into smaller areas of three. IT WAS THE ONLY WAY!
This was my lesson learned
When things seem “too much” and like you cant even start your project (because the idea of it is so overwhelming), try taking itty bitty chunks out at a time. For me, these dots seemed so intimidating I didn’t even want to start them. But 2 hours later, three breaks, and a few jumping jacks, I was done!
The layers of this scroll were wonderful to see develop. I haven’t had the chance yet to create something with such depth: shadows, diapering, floating jewels, border, ALL IN ONE! But this so well describes the recipient that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make this beautiful exemplar.
Hello 2021! I am here for you with a smile on my face, because this is the year of ALL THE EMBROIDERY!
Since the pandemic started I have made it a goal for myself to take advantage of this time to grow in the SCA, develop my persona, work on ALL THE ART, and most importantly learn new things.
Over the last 1.5-2 years, I have been doing my best to learn embroidery: I have a post prior to this that talks a little bit about my start on this path. It has been so fun to learn from so many people, and watch the development in my own skills, though still very new.
Recently I attended the 8th Annual Embroidery Schola, and boy-oh I learned so much fabulous techniques and styles of embroidery that I was just BURSTING at the seams to try!
A few things that really stuck with me – gold and padded work, and couching!
The above acorn was done during Lady Amalia’s class on Gold Work. I had never used any of these techniques before but I wanted to learn them – bad! Outside of the class I think I worked another 30-45 minutes on the acorn and was just so pleased with how it turned out. It isn’t perfect by any means, but I was happy to see that it was something that I could do having only basic embroidery knowledge.
Today, at Studium Generale I paneled my very first embroidery piece. When I originally thought to do this, I did NOT believe that I had enough knowledge to present anything. But with some encouragement form my teacher (Baroness Audrye Beneyt) I decided it was worth sharing the things that I have created. The above badge was what I decided to submit.
This badge had been almost a 2 year work in progress. When I started it I only knew satin stitch and thought about creating the entire thing in that stitch. I was quickly talked out of that, but had already stitched the gold border and blue and red background. I was successful in ripping out the blue and red and re-stitching them in stem stitch, but left the gold. It was going to be another 6 months before I started to learn couching. The falcon was then outlined in back stitch and filled with couching.
The thing that makes me the most happy about this badge is that I can see the evolution of my own embroidery knowledge in it. I know that most people may not find that agreeable in something they plan to panel or keep, but it actually makes me happy. It grounds me in a way that words cant, because often we don’t have the chance to SEE our selves growing when we are learning a new skill. It’s hard to see those changes over time… but with this piece I see those changes so clearly, it reminds me to be proud of my work, to practice my skills, and to set clear, attainable goals if that is something I desire.
Today I was ranked competent in two embroidery categories, and though I feel they still need a lot of work, I am proud.
This month’s coloring pages are brought to you by the Tudor Pattern Book.
Pattern books in history were often used to record things that provided inspiration for artists, craftsman, and fiber-workers. They would be filled with scenes of daily life, flora, and fauna, and were heavily shared among creative circles. Because of this, very few have survived. This pattern book, and it’s sibling (the Helmingham Herbal and Bestiary) and just two excellent examples of such books.
I was inspired by this book for two reasons: the first being it’s elegant simplicity, and the second being, it’s purpose. As I looked over these images these last few months (I discovered these around November I think?) I felt such an appreciation for the creators; to ses what they valued and found beautiful. It made me want to slow down and take a breath. It made me look up from my paper and ask myself “What do I see? What do I value? How different are my values from theirs?” It got philosophical… 😅
So I leave you with this – take a look around. What do you see? How would you create your own Pattern Book? What images would you put in it to reference later?
Happy coloring, and don’t forget to tag your artwork! Let’s see those pages 💜
Back at the end of 2020 I worked on a lovely scroll of arms. Having just started using gold leaf on scrolls I wanted to find something that I was confidant I could actually buy also interesting enough to look at that it wouldn’t feel like a labor without reward.
Picking an ideal scroll was first on the docket. I found this exemplar and thought it perfect to practice my skills in both gold leaf and line work. I do try to make very intentional choices when developing my scrolls so that I have a skill that I can show off and practice. I think it really important to have that balance when learning something new.
The calligraphy was placed first. Only on rare occasion do I not do this first – it was recommended to me in the beginning of my scribal career and I truly can say it has saved many scrolls from doom!
After laying the calligraphy I put down the minatum. In my previous post I detailed my miniatum process; but for those of you who might not want to switch pages… —>
My method is this:
– Humidify your miniatum (I lightly breathe on it, as if I were fogging a mirror). This activates the sticking component in the glue. Wait a few seconds. -Take a small section of gold leaf (still attached to the wax paper it comes on) and press it firmly onto the area you wish to cover. I then gently rub a small river stone or embossing tool over the outline of the image to make sure the gold stays put. I previously tried not doing this and had trouble with the edges of the gold leaf coming off. -After removing the wax paper, I take a smooth flat paint brush, brush it on my oily nose (the gold needs something to help move it) and tuck the gold onto itself and move away any extra that have attached to the paper where I did not lay miniatum. This part of the process sounds so strange if you have never done it in person. -Finally, if areas are looking a little cloudy, I take some the wax paper, and place it over the gold before smoothing it again (gently). There is also the option of using a silken pounce bag to help create additional shine.
Though this scroll technically came BEFORE my last post (time gets away from me and I forget things >.< ) I really did learn a lot in this gold laying process.
For instance: I panic messaged my teacher because my gold wasn’t sticking. The methods of trouble shooting later and we find out I’m not sealing down the edges of the gold after I press it onto the miniatum (using an embossing tool or a smooth stone very gently around the edges). Another trouble shooting moment: WHY IS THE GOLD WRINKLING?! Come to find out, it is better to lay a few thin layers of minatum than one thick layer, which prevents the adhesive from wrinkling as it sets and dries. Who knew?! No worries though, I just relaid the gold in areas that I felt were not substantial, or never took the to miniatum – easy peasy!
Aside from my wonderful lessons learned, I was able to practice fine line work. I mention this just about every blog post but I think that it is very important. Many times it is the very small details that can make your art next level – that I what I am striving for. And so because I want my scrolls to have that extra so thin —> line work. Depending on what the lines are for dictates whether I use a brush or a quill. If I am outlining gold work I will use a brush because a quill scrapes away at the gold (sadness) but if I am putting down line work that stands alone (see previous post) I will most DEFINITELY use a quill (a crow quill to be exact).
All in all this was a fabulous and fun scroll to work on. I definitely don’t worn enough on scrolls in this style but would love to get a few more going in the near future!
Since I have been on a roll using my gold leaf, I thought it would be perfect to try another exemplar with some gold details. I had been oogling over the Bible de Borso d’Este for some time, and had spoken to my teacher (Baroness Audrye Beneyt) about trying one of these exemplars in the coming months. It being such an intricate exemplar, I felt I might have a hard time fitting it to someone’s personality.
A few weeks later I reached out to the signet and was happy to be asked to do a scroll for a Lady Agnes Marie de Calais. This was going to be perfect! I automatically felt a call for the recipient to have a d’Este scroll, it just fit her personality and persona so well.
For words, I reached out to Lord Drake Oranwood who made a MASTERPIECE! Please see his blog HERE for his text development.
As for the illumination, it was all in the layering:
Once I had the words down, the laid the miniatum. Previously I have had trouble laying it too thick and getting wrinkles in the texture of the gold, so this time I put down three separate thin layers and was happy to find it held its shape! Some of the smaller areas were a little tricky and I had to thin the miniatum a bit more to get the glue to move into crevices and create smaller shapes. After the miniatum dried, it was time for the gold leaf.
What a beautiful and persnickety thing, gold leaf. I really have grown to love using it, even if I curse it all the way to the end. My method is this:
– Humidify your miniatum (I lightly breathe on it, as if I were fogging a mirror). – This activates the sticking component in the glue. Wait a few seconds.Take a small section of gold leaf (still attached to the wax paper it comes on) and press it firmly onto the area you wish to cover. I then gently rub a small river stone or embossing tool over the outline of the image to make sure the gold stays put. I previously tried not doing this and had trouble with the edges of the gold leaf coming off. -After removing the wax paper, I take a smooth flat paint brush, brush it on my oily nose (the gold needs something to help move it) and tuck the gold onto itself and move away any extra that have attached to the paper where I did not lay miniatum. This part of the process sounds so strange if you have never done it in person. -Finally, if areas are looking a little cloudy, I take some the wax paper, and place it over the gold before smoothing it again (gently). There is also the option of using a silken pounce bag to help create additional shine.
The result is gratifying shiny spaces, and in this case, framed with bright and happy colors!
So – on to the painting.
First I laid the outline/line work. I chose a medium brown (burnt sienna and raw sienna mixed), rather than black. Looking at the exemplar, it just didn’t seem that the outlining was done with such a dark color.
Next I laid the red. This red, however, was not a traditional red, more of a magenta. After laying the base, I shaded it. I like being able to see progress as I am working so I usually will complete a section before moving to the next.
After the red came the blue. I did the same thing; shaded the blue completely before moving on. For shading I simply added burnt sienna to make the color darker, and white to make it lighter.
After the blue I did the green. I think the green as my favorite because there was such a large are of green at the bottom (leaves) that really brought the whole thing together. Shading for the green was done with burnt sienna and medium yellow instead of white.
Next came the orange (most areas of orange were small so I did not document these as well. And then there was the silver for the wheel. I shaded the wheel with grey and white over the silver, though it was a little finicky.
The final touch was the capital letter! I like to save this for last (unless it is involving gold leaf). I don’t really have a reason for waiting to so this last, other than maybe it gives me a sense of closure. It did require some itty bitty white work to top it off!
All in all, I am so proud of this painting. The calligraphy went smoothly, the shading was superb, and I was so happy with the lining that I just squealed when I was done.
This Silver Brooch was so much fun but at the same time, I dont think I will ever paint another acorn (just kidding – if you need acorns painted, I will gladly paint them for you!).
First, this scroll was dealers choice – I was up in the air on a few designs but just couldn’t pick what I wanted to do. I had recently done a few acanthus scrolls so I didn’t want to do another one just yet (not because I don’t love them, but because I really am set on mixing it up regularly so that I can have adequate practice at all styles), and I had most recently finished an early period style scroll. I figured two other solid options were either squashed bugs (Grande Heurs d’Anne de Bretagne) or something from Mira (Mira Calligraphae Monumenta). I had not done with of those styles in quite a while.
I flipped through about 100 pages before deciding I couldn’t find anything that I thought spoke to Lady Matilda’s variety of skills and involvement. I wanted there to be a variety of objects covering the page, not necessarily specific to her persona, but to speak to the many hats worn and spoons in her pot. I then reached for my copy of Nature Illuminated and thumbed through a few images before setting on one with columbine, European acorns, and a narcissus. I though it was just lovely and decided that this would be for Lady Matilda.
I do my calligraphy first usually. After examining and practicing the calligraphy style in the original image, I decided I would need a LOT more practice with that style before putting it on paper, so I found another calligraphy style that I though was similar enough to stay true to the exemplar – and away I went!
After laying down the calligraphy, I started the illumination. Realism is my natural “go-to” when it comes to illumination, so any time I do it I try and challenge myself to do something new or hone a skill that I haven’t used in a while. For this particular scroll I wanted to focus on light and shadows. No matter how much I do it, I still have trouble capturing light in a way that is accurate to the assumed light source. So there I was, with floating foliage, trying to make them not look flat on the page.
After a few scared attempts at shadows, I finally bucked up and started adding the highlights. I like adding these last because if I misplace a shadow, it is much easier for me to make things look accurate by adjusting the location of the highlight.
The trickiest little things of this scroll were the acorns. Not so much the smooth surface of the nut/seed, but actually the bumpy surface of the shell cap…. that little acorn hat that we have a all made into little gnome umbrellas… those were the trickiest bits. I think I worked on those little acorn caps for two whole days, completely unsatisfied with how the light was being captured. And then finally, as I was sitting there thinking that I had hopelessly started something that I would not be able to finish, it hit me. It was 11PM and I went right to work…
It seems common sense now that I would treat each little bump as its own sphere, its own marble of space on the cap, and then all of those little marbles would just be connected and blended in a way that would make an acorn cap. At the start of all of this, I definitely did not break things down in this way. I was thinking of the cap as just one unit; as one lone shape with textures I was unsure how to define. The moral of the story is that, sometimes breaking things down into a more primitive shape or idea can help you take the appropriate bite sizes from your art, rather than attempting to take it all on at once (which has a tendency to overwhelm me).
I want to encourage anyone who wants to try that challenging piece of art to go for it. Break it down into bite size pieces and put it together one bit at a time. You can do it!
Now that we are creeping into the dark dark winter, and beginning our individual versions of hibernation, I set the goal for myself to remind everyone to art. Nothing monumental, and zero pressure because, lets be honest, we are all tired and beaten from this year. I just wanted to help remind everyone of the reason we art; the joy and community we share, and the sense of self, hope, and pride it gives to ourselves and others.
So, in response to the local Chronicler, I decided to create an activity to engage everyone, of all ages and experience levels. That’s right… I made COLORING PAGES!
Take a peek below – I will be making three pages every month from a difference exemplar, and will include the references below each image. They will also be published in each edition of the Malagentia News Letter. I eventually plan to have a calligraphy page, where those who are interested in starting calligraphy can do a “trace along” style piece (like what we used to do in school for cursive). That will be in the works for the coming months. In the mean time – have fun with your art! It is meant to bring yourself joy!
Perhaps I say this every time I post, “I tried this new style…”. To some extent it is so true, and that is because EVERYTHING is still so new. I have been illuminating for almost 2 years now (maybe 3 but who’s keeping track anyway) and I try really hard to attempt new and creative styes as often as I can. I dont have a huge gallery yet, so the styles attempted are still quote small.
Realist styles (like that found in Mira Calligraphae and the Grande Heurs d’Anne de Bretagne) speak to my natural artistic style. So, when I attempt styles that are earlier (say Book of Kells or Bar and Ivy) I find it hard to conceptualize what they are meant to represent or even if they look “right”. I am sure that I am not the only one out there that experiences imposter syndrome – “do I even have a right to make this art?” I use these styles that I am not yet comfortable with as an opportunity to squelch self doubt – “ look at this art art you have never done before and are creating right before your eyes! You go human!” Honestly, I want more than anything to be able to make a scroll that someone is happy with, that represents them and their persona. So being able to create something early period (and not want to throw it out the window) has been a battle that I feel I am slowly winning.
For this Silver Wheel, I wanted to find something that would complement the recipient’s persona, which is Early Irish/Welsh, and this meant delving into some very old images. I was able to find a lovely exemplar from the Harley Gospel Book that inspired the calligraphy and layout style. Though at first it seems an overly simple piece, I was taken aback by the intricate detailing that was required for the capital letter. The stylized capital was converted into an M, inverting the very top of the capital, and not connecting the bottom legs of the letter. I then used a section of the Lindisfarne Gospels as inspiration for my “wheel of fish” (title courtesy of Mistress Camille des Jardins) which was displayed proudly just next to the calligraphy. Within an image in the Gospels (seen below) there were a series of colorful fish, and I since I had been challenged to find a way to stylize the said Silver Wheel to match the calligraphy/illumination, I thought this would be the absolute perfect way to do it!
And of course there is the calligraphy! I cannot forget this calligraphy – I believe I went through three practice sheets before I was happy with the rounded shape of the letters. Typically I am writing in a more rigid style (gothic or similar) and only on a few occasions have I had the pleasure of round and robust letters. In the end I was very pleased with the end product, precisely the calligraphy and the illumination created the style I was aiming for.
**Side thought for this post – silver gauche is a finicky thing. I cant ever get it to lay as smoothly as gold gauche. Alas, it is the nature of pigments to do such things, so I cannot be too angry (it wont change anything about the gauche if I am). For those of you who have also had trouble with silver gauche, I hear you; just keep trying!
OK – quarantine aside, I have been meaning to rearrange a few things in my personal life to make room for more things that make me happy (I highly recommend this if you can). I have stopped activities that I no longer felt drawn to, and in return, have had more time to do the things that I love; one of these being illumination.
Ahh yes, when paper meets brush it is truly a joy. I love the adventure of looking through exemplars to find the perfect one, mixing paints like a mad chemist, and confining myself to the study (where I music and use my newly acquired drafting desk!). If you have a swoon-worthy space, I hope that you can appreciate the dedication it takes to not spend ever waking hour in there.
It was not long after this life-rearrange that a Silver Rapier crossed my desk. I went straight to the books and decided on an exemplar from a Book of Hours:
Book of Hours 1470’s
(Banco Rari 332) Folio 171v. Bibliotheca Nazionale Centrale. Florence, Italia
The exemplar was perfect. I would have a chance to work on my tiny people skills, while also creating elaborate acanthus (which we already know I am very fond of).
The calligraphy style was one that I had done before, so I was confident that only one practice round was needed. I always do a practice round with my calligraphy to make sure that the calculated size of the letter and spacing actually fits on the page. Sometimes my math is off and I have to adjust one or the other (depending on the image – you want it to look proportional).
After the calligraphy, I started painting the acanthus leaves. These leaves would take up most of the illumination so it was best to get them out of the way first.
Once the leaves and flowers and “other” stuff was completed, it was time to work on the tiny people! Now, if you know me, you know that I have the darndest time creating people. I have not done much of it through my life so I don’t have the practiced eye as others do. But! I give it my best, and generally come out in the positive. For this scroll, I used one image from the exemplar, but I used the recipient herself for the other two image inspirations.
It took some getting used to, but I was truly happy to have the opportunity to work on my “people skills”. I have created tiny fencers in the past, so I had worked with their form and stature which gave me a slight advantage. Creating depth with people is the hardest part for me. I can make a flower look as though it is coming off the page, but my people tend to look flat. It is a matter of shading and shadowing that I have taken a strong dedication to working on.
I am a person that likes to see my progress. I like to see that hard work has created improvement. I am thankful for my teacher and her Laurel for coaching me through the ups and downs, and reminding me that change does not happen overnight, even with hard work (though I will likely keep trying!).
During this time of quarantine I have been diligently working on my embroidery. The wonderful thing about embroidery (or at least mine) is that it is mobile. I can pack it in my bag if I decide I want to spend the afternoon outside, or I can walk away from it when my eyes have had enough.
I have been working with a lovely group of people (remotely) in my area to improve my embroidery skills, introduce me to techniques I was not familiar with, and become aware of period methods and their relation to modern methods. It truly has been a fun learning experience. We have been working with cotton or linen fabric and DMC for thread. We will address other materials as we progress in the class, but for now as I learn, these are the materials available and easy to mess-up with!
I started by learning the basics (stem stitch, chain stitch, split stitch, running stitch, double running stitch, and back stitch). The easiest way to learn these stitches was remotely, through video chat, YouTube and great book recommendations. Our first goal was to create a reference swatch where we practiced each stitch. This would give us something to look back on to either see how a stitch should look, or (if we are planning an new project) give us reference for shape, texture, etc. We would then share with the group (for help and critique) and improve over the next month until the next class. I really struggled the first month being a hands-on learner, but by the second month of review I got the hang of the basics.
Just before the quarantine, I started a few projects; one being my Haus’ badge, stitched and then backed. The second project was making EK hankies sporting our lovely Blue Tyger. I had made a few hankies in the past but really had no confidence or direction in my creations because I had never formally learned any stitches. My hope was these classes would change this outlook and hone skills so that I could go on to make even more lovely creations.
Up to this point the only things that I had ever embroidered were done with satin stitch. I had made a few little gifts for friends and didn’t know anything else about stitching. The Haus badge started off completely satin stitched, with back stitch outlines. After convening with a few individuals, and starting my embroider classes, I ripped it all out and used stem stitch as the filler and back stitch as the outline. Though it was not the easiest for me to do, I agreed with my mentors that an item that is to be used so often and is out in the open world will snag and pull less if it has a more sturdy stitch. I carried this method over to the hankies, as the past hankies I had made were also satin stitch. I took to the materials and away I went! 15 hankies later I figured out how to work tight curves, and embroider certain areas to stand out from the rest (like a leg in the background that should appear to have a different texture than the fore body).
Though I still have a long way to go, I have really enjoyed this learning process. Embroidery is something that I have been interested in for a few years, but really had no idea where to start. I am sure that we have all had that past-time looming over us that we so desperately want to try but are very intimidated by how to get started. I want to say thank you so all of those individuals who listed to and answered my questions, reached out to me on social media, and are still active in my learning process: Lady Ciarnait ni’Bhroin of Lochleven, Lady Ástríðr Sægeirsdottir, and Mistress Camille de Jardins.
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!
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.
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! 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.