Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Scribal Project Information

Scribal Project Information 
I've looked at many lovely scrolls and scribal works on the Internet. Many Kingdoms, Scribal Guilds, and Bloggers display multiple, well-crafted scrolls. 

I enjoy reading about the techniques and materials scribes use to create their art. I sometimes wonder about information that wasn't included with the image. Often it's about the inspiring text source. But not always. 

Since my Laureling my own scroll records are scant, some totally missing. I was much better when my Peer might ask for my notes at any time. I'm not into record keeping so I won't fault others.

If you keep records from the beginning it's easier. It's also inspiring to see your accomplishments over time. To help you, I created a simple, easily accessed, editable Scribal Project Information form on Google Docs. I would also include a scan of your work

I hope you find this simple form a useful convenience. Ten years from now, may you still be adding scrolls to it. 

Related Prior Post:
Are You Keeping an SCA Portfolio?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

SCA Blogging

Your SCA experiences, the history you learn and the items you re-create are what the Society for Creative Anachronism is all about. If you are like me and want to share these with others you might want to blog about it, too.

Since I enjoyed writing class handouts and competition documentation I thought blogging would be easy. But there's a difference. 

Your blog is your story. It is like writing a lengthy letter home while visiting another country. You're excited and want to share what you've seen, learned and do. Your enthusiasm shows in your friendly words.

When I blog I "show and tell" the details of what I see, hear, and feel. My curiosity, obstacles, and end results, whatever they are. 

Occasionally I post a "rant" about a personal experience or viewpoint, letting readers know it's my opinion. That's important because everything posted is public and permanent. I only post what I want the world to know now and forever.

Scribes-My Ideal Readers
My number one guide is to write for you, my readers, whom ever that may unwittingly be. Without readers, I might as well be writing a paper diary. 

While I'm not perfect, as I write I consider my readers' view point and what my post means to them. I include background, project or situation information to draw the reader in. Although difficult after 30+ years in the SCA, I limit jargon to necessary terms.

Blog posts are commonly 3-6 paragraphs, plus set-up descriptions and thoughts on your experience. I also like to vary their length, writing more when the subject demands it. 
I verify information and cite the media or link to the sources. I also include at least one relevant photo. 

Depending on your purpose for blogging, it is a great way to share your
thoughts, opinions, and knowledge. The payoff is reaped by consistent effort and patience. I consider it time well spent learning, creating, and watching my blog grow.

Prior Related Post:
My Blog Writing Quest
4 Calontir Blogs That Will Inspire You

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Period Pigments And Color Use

Cutting from Pope Innocent
VIII's service books.  
I've run into the color use question again. You know, "What colors were used when and where?" My blog post today will be short, but the blog question's answer could fill a book.

Instead, I'll give you a link to my 2013 class handout Period Pigments and Color Use. The lengthy handout is only a guide, a place to start.

Today's research into making the enlivening sumptuous manuscript colors divulges a diverse rainbow of hues derived from plants, minerals, and metals. I hope my guide encourages you to look deeper into the amazing colors displayed in illuminated manuscripts.

External Link:
Colour. The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tips And Tweaks Philosophy

Norse Kris Kinder Hat Tweaks
In the past, I've given you a few scribal tips. I hope they helped and didn't cause frustration. But little I write here is a rule. It's for fun.

The only rules are those given by the Monarch,  SCA Corpora or the Kingdom. Each Kingdom sets laws and passes authority to officers. Some are more specific than others as they affect scrolls.

Here I write about two things. 1) scribal history, methods, processes, concepts, materials, and tools.  2)what and who I see at SCA activities. At times these may include humor, opinion, and philosophy.

My tips are short hopefully helpful pointers and usually clues to making something easier to do. They aren't rules.

SCA scribes work in two worlds the historic and the current. Some are more in one than the other. M. RanthulfR AsparlundR is very historic. While I don't  know him, he seems like someone who dawns garb to create a scroll. Others only use modern materials and methods without exploring beyond. I have worked in the historic world at times but lean to the more current now.

A scribe more closely aligned with one philosophy may see a tip aligned with the opposite as useless. So more goes into appreciating a tip or tweak than seen on its surface.
Tip To Help
Thumb Pain

Tips may be less useful depending on the environment in which they are done. The biggest example for those is gold leafing tips. Humidity and modern day's thinner leaf influence the gold leafing process dramatically. That means what works for one day or for one scribe might not work for another, no matter their philosophy.

Tips can be useful and educational. They are for the curious and interested. They are fun because they carry a hint of knowing something others don't. Even so, tweaks are not the final word.

I don't know everything. I make mistakes and messes too. They are treasured learning experiences. You know, that thing you get when you don't get what you want. Some become tips to share with you. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Tips to Avoiding Calligraphy Mistakes

I do everything I know how to letter a neat clean scroll, but it happens. I'm half done, or more, and I splatter the ink, leave out a text word, or some other goof. 
The neatest way to handle this is to start over. The best way is to avoid making the mistake. Corrections, some very silly ones, are period, but they don't completely hide my error. At least I know when it's there. 
What can I do to prevent mistakes? Here are the tricks I already use.


When I'm working I use scrap paper over the area I have yet to letter. I may also cover the area I plan to illuminate. This will avoid smears and splatters.
I keep my ink to the right because I am right handed. This cuts down reaching over my working area. I want my ink in a container I won't spill, handy, but not too close.
I don't eat in my studio either. And keep beverages in a covered cup.


I check the spelling of all names: Monarchs, recipients, local groups, orders and anything with unusual spelling.

I practice my chosen script, spending extra time on letters I find tricky.
I work up spacing on my computer, using the mockup to reduce omitted letters.

I don't often use an unfamiliar support or ink, but when I do I practice with it first. Papers feel different to the pen depending on their sizing and other texture. Ink density may vary. I want to know what I'm using so I test first and adjust if necessary.


After designing a mockup, I do the lettering, gilding, and painting. 

Russian-style Scroll
Usually, I begin with lettering. It is the most difficult to correct and has a long tradition of being done before illumination. There are so many possibilities for errors. I think I've made them all. If I have more support I prefer to start over. It's time-consuming, costly, and sad to not be able to use a gilded and illuminated border because of a lettering error.  

Gilding is done next. When I'm gilding I cover areas I'm not working to prevent pesky gold flecks attaching to unwanted places. It doesn't take much for them to do this either.

Finally, I get to the illumination, the most fun. It's also the easiest to correct. Depending on the support I can gently scrape off errors and repaint. I might turn the flaw into an artistic motif.

I've been doing calligraphy and illuminated scrolls over 15 years and I still make mistakes. I take every precaution I know. If you know of others I would enjoy learning them as would other readers. My biggest joy is providing a well-done scroll for Their Majesties to present. 

Related Prior Post:
Calligraphy Mistakes, Making and Managing Them

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cattle Raids Photo Array

Cattle Raids is the Barony of Mag Mor's predominant camping event. For the last several years it's been held at Nebraska's Cass County Fairgrounds, a site closer to my Baronial home than theirs. I missed it last year due to family activities, so I was excited to attend this one. 

Cattle Raids is always enjoyable for me. This year's flyer showed it wouldn't be out-done.

As I relish doing, I took many photos. I've included my best. I wish I could make notes about each one. Often I take them on a whim. 

After checking in at the troll gate and paying I'm greeted by a room of friends. So many I'll never get to talk with them all.

I saw this striking dress across the room and was compelled to talk with the owner. I made a new friend. M. Gwynna Emrys from the Kingdom of Meridies (Alabama, most of Georgia, Tennessee, the Florida panhandle and parts of southern Kentucky). She was at the event because of something special that would happen later. It had to be great, for her to come so far.

I talked with M. Vincent de Vere and watched him soldering.

I found Ld William Rodulfus painting his wood medieval game boards. His medieval game expertise is extensive and he takes to a higher level by painting these detailed boards.

After seeing what friends were doing in the great hall I went outside to see what was happening on the field. This site is so big I couldn't stay long in any one place. I'm sure I missed as many happening as I photographed.

The Mag Mor members are known for making everything they do work well and be fun. Many of their members taking on multiple tasks during the three-day event. Even Baron Vilhjálmr Hálftroll is helping by marshaling armored combat.

Eventually, I wandered by the Barony of the Lonely Tower's sun shade. My local group welcomed me, but I was headed to the far side of the camp and would visit with them later.

Sitting under HL Geraude's sun-shade I attempted to take a picture of the steel fighters and caught a good picture of  B. Marguerite des Baus as well.

As I returned to the great hall for lunch the herald called everyone to court on the field. 

Several awards were presented including an Iren Hirth for Lonely Tower's B. Augustin le Blinde.

The simple, hearty lunch "inn" included potage, a thick soup with meat or vegetarian. I found mine cheerfully served and very tasty. The large dessert selection made it difficult to choose the best.

While I enjoyed lunch with HL Astrid Esbjornsdottor and HL Michael de Lundie, many attended a class on embroidery. You can see the students gathered around Queen Issabell plying needle and thread to cloth.

As a scribe, I investigate similar artisans and their works. This gentleman spent hours relearning a script. When I passed by later, he was doing quite well. I didn't bother him, except to say well done, so I didn't get his name.

This photo is from the blank border competition. They were all done by M. Rolf Hobart and would be donated to the Kingdom for later use. Rolf's work is exceptional. Sadly he was the only entrant.

After lunch, I went back outside to find a friend at the archery field.

Then on to see the equestrian activities. I was just in time to catch His Majesty on a horse. And soon after the Herald called for another field court.

It was time to prepare for the formal evening court. I wanted to be early so I could have an aisle seat near the front. I heard a rumor court would be lengthy even with the many honors Their Majesties presented on the field. 

Their Majesties entered on horseback, commanding and time-consuming.

With numerous awards and honors presented throughout the day, you may want this link to the list provided by Dorcas Whitecap in the Falcon Banner.

After court, the Barony provided food at their evening "inn". Unfortunately, I had to return home because my dog sitter time was almost up. Many stayed and camped through the night to share bardic songs and homemade brews. Someday maybe I will too.

I am constantly amazed at what small Baronies like Mag Mor can do. From set-up, archery, equestrian, children's activities, armored combat, cut and thrust fighting, meals, arts and sciences competitions, and classes to site clean up and equipment storage Mag Mor manages to do it all well. And have fun, too.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Size Matters

Medieval illuminated manuscripts came in all sizes. There are the giant church tomes, like the Codex Gigas in the National Library of Sweden. It is probably the largestweighing over 165 pounds

Photo by Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (Own work) [CC BY 2.5
 (], via Wikimedia Commons

And the minuscule, palm size personal portable books, like the Stowe MS 956 psalm-book at the British Library.

Manuscript with miniature portrait of King Henry VIII,

I've seen both giant and tiny scrolls created based on medieval manuscripts. Commonly Calontir scrolls are around 11"x14". For economy, I prefer that size or 12"x16" to suit easily obtainable, frames. 

Elynor of Glastonbury's small manuscript inspired award scroll creation. 
Designing award scrolls to look like lost pages from a medieval book may include emulating the original size. 
If you are innovative like M. Elynor of Glastonbury, it is possible to create an award suitable to hang on a wall with a tiny page size. 

Her unique layout approach was to have the images and script seem to be on multiple double pages, open as if unassembled. The scroll text was in a different order than would happen in such a situation, where a following page's words would be on the back unseen by us. M. Elynor's scroll pages read left to right, jumping page to page, all facing outward.

This layout took considerable planning to allow all the text and images appear toward the viewer, with a faux middle space for the book's binding. For the recreative appearance, a tiny script and illumination were also necessary.

Elynor's self-imposed size limit encouraged her unique scroll approach and resulted in an award scroll like no other. Hazzah!


This Duchy scroll was created for Isabeau de Beauxyeux and presented September 17, 2011 at the Coronation of Ostwald II and Kaye II. It's calligraphy and illumination were done by then HL Elynor of Glastonbury and the text crafted by HG Magdalena vander Meere.

The manuscript style is based on the Rothschild Canticles, at Yale University. 14th C French. HG. Magdalena's text is based on Christine de Pisan's works, composed in modern French.

The Individual five bifolia are 118 x 168mm (4.6 x 6.6in) are framed together on a 406 x 508mm (16 x20in) mat. Elynor's materials included: pergamenata, period pigments, 23k gold, and black ink.

Related Prior Post:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Bored Calontiri Is A Dangerous Calontiri

What can I say?

This shows how helpful SCAdians are when they know you're loading your vehicle.

The video was taken by Kajira Camber of Wiesenfeuer, Ansteorra at Calontir's Kris Kinder event December 2012 and published on Youtube, Feb 9, 2013

Enough said here, but plenty elsewhere.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Secrets To Reducing Scribal Pain

If you've read about me you know I am a retired dental hygienist. Although I'm not a physical therapist or yoga instructor, as a hygienist for 35 years I learned a thing or two about hand and body pain reduction. Some tricks I learned apply directly to scribal practice.

As a scribe concerned about pain control, my two main considerations are the tools I use and the way I use my body. 

Extensive time repeatedly making the same movements taxes the muscles and bones I use. In the short term, that makes my body or hands ache. In the long term, it strengthens some muscles while depleting others. It's why a scribe or hygienist's back and neck may hurt or curve over years of work.

Large/enlarged handles.
For my hands I prefer the tools I use most often have large diameter grips. If they don't come that way I do things to make them so. This reduces muscle fatigue and encourages a relaxed grip. It also helps detailed stroke control.  

To enlarge brush handles I wrap those I use most with duct tape or apply those rubbery pencil grips. Other things can be used like small sponge hair rollers without their plastic clasp. I'm not aiming for ergonomic perfection, just larger handles.

There was a time when my thumb hurt when I worked or painted. This was physician diagnosed as a repetitive strain injury (RSI). He prescribed a special brace to heal it. 

After several months, I switched to wrapping common yucky, white medical tape around my thumb. This assisted the muscles, especially when I used something I couldn't enlarge like a sewing needle. Now I sometimes use  "paper tape" as a precaution. 

Thumb Wrap
With Paper Tape

I also found several exercises helpful. The one that assisted my thumb the most was to hold my arm straight, make a fist with my thumb inside then tilt my hand slightly downward. I still regularly practice this one. (You can see this on the third row far right image of this PDF)

Body positioning is important, too. If possible, I want a chair that lets my feet reach the floor with my thighs parallel to it. I also don't want the back of my calf resting on my chair-seat. I want my forearms to be parallel to the floor, not elevated to reach the support's surface, with my wrists relaxed, not bent excessively. This position reduces aches during a long work session.

Commercial easel art boxes make the artist work with elevated arms, although you may get use to that. Those convenient boxes work well for plein air watercolorists. They are also useful with a quill rather than a dip pen because their position allows gravity to assist the ink flow. 

When I work on a scroll for a long time, especially with a short deadline, I take mini rest breaks. Stopping work for 5-7 minutes to move around may mean I can work for two hours, not just one. 

I combine my break with three exercises to relax my back, hands, and fingers. 
I extend my arms out straight then open and clench my hands five times. With my arms still outstretched I flip my hands up and down five times. Last I roll my shoulders forward and back five times.
There may be other practices that help people working in one position or doing repetitive motions with their hands. These are the tricks I found most useful. I hope you stay comfortable too.

Prior Related Post:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5 Tips to Make Your Scroll Look Period

Inspired by14th century
French manuscripts.
I'm on a quest. I constantly search to see the details in illuminated manuscripts to incorporate in my illumination. This started when I first found medieval manuscripts. It's what enthralled me then and still does. 

The search is how I learned to make scrolls appear like illuminated medieval manuscripts. Along the way I learned these tips to make seem period. 

  • Base the scroll on one manuscript style. My inspiration is usually a multiple motif combination. They are always from the same general time and place, although I've also combined selections from one manuscript. I look for similar colors and patterns, especially those defining the style.
  • Use medieval-style color choices. I avoid painting white over green. Most illumination used yellow to highlight green because lead white paint reacted funny with many greens, darkening. Different workshops and eras also had preferences. I can spot a cropped image from the Luttrell Psalter because of its unique colors. 
  • Unite the illumination style with the script. Latin scripts were used within certain eras and their page concept changed too. I plan and design the scroll to blend the text and images so they reflect one style, usually the era of the recipient's persona. But sometimes it's the Monarch's persona that's my guide. 
  • Follow manuscript stylistic conventions. It wasn't until the Renaissance that manuscript art was realistic. I love how the things they painted earlier didn't appear as real things. Trees often looked like over large vines or leaf bundles. Sky and ground didn't always meet or even exist. These conventions and others changed with the place and time. I want my scroll to show that.
  • Use gold in a similar manner to the illumination style. I don't use gold leaf on lower level awards, I reserve it for original scrolls. Even so, I use a gold paint that replicates the look well. I use PearlEx I combine with gum Arabic. I like it for its shine and depth. Many scribes now use Fintec gold. Both are mica based water color paints that look beautiful on scrolls.

    Based on a 16th century German document.

My quest continues. I still love to spend time looking at medieval artwork. I seek out what colors and combinations they found appealing, the detailed strokes they made, and the funny way they painted motifs. I strive to make my work look like a lost page from my inspiration.  

Prior Related Post:
5 Tips to Train Your Artist Eye