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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How to Find the Script Your Persona Might Have Used

In Russian Persona
Recently on the SCA Scribes Facebook page, I came across the question "What script would my persona have used? The short answer is, "it depends." Of course, there's more...

So my newest readers know, an SCA persona is "the fictional person you wish to have been, had you lived prior to 1600 A.D." It embraces your name and the circumstances you create for this fictitious, historic you. Some call this your persona story.

To answer the "script" question, you first need a persona developed further than name, date, and location. Baron Master Modar Neznanich's 70 compiled persona questions show the information most consider needed for a well-developed persona. While these questions are not comprehensive, they are a starting point. 

I then want to know when and where your perona lived. If your persona is from a Latin script writing country and you are only interested in generalities I'd look at David Harris' The Art of Calligraphy online page 13 and 14. I have the hardback book and love it. Sadly, it's no longer in print.

If you want to be specific, the next circumstance is whether all people could read or write from your place and time. Did the "class" to which you belong (i.e., royalty, nobility, merchant, middle, artisan, slave, etc.) read or write? Also important might be your education, occupation, and gender. These details affect more changes more between individuals the later in time you lived. 

Your class is important because writing implements were not easy to acquire. Paper wasn't available in Europe until after the 11th century and parchment making was a lengthy process. This limited who used writing skills. 

Depending on the time and place, scribes were found in king's courts, Noble's manors and businesses. They are the reason we have information on them today. It's possible your persona might know how to sign their name, but not know how to write a sentence. 

If your persona would not know a Latin script, the questions still apply, but the resources and answers are different. In that case, I would start by asking someone with a persona similar to yours who has been in the SCA longer than you. 

If you live in the Kingdom of Calontir you might find someone by looking at the Calontiri WikispacesCultures page. Be aware, although helpful, individual Wikispaces are created by volunteers. I found them encouraging springboards to further research.

Some persona details may lead to a dead end. For example, if your persona is female for a time, place and class you choose you may have to be creative for an excuse to be able to read and write. You won't find that answer specifically. You'll need to determine "why" your persona can or can't write.

The gist is that details count. Each feature you add contributes to your persona's strength. Whether you can only sign your name, keep a common place book, 
write a legal text or letter multiple script styles depends on these questions and the ones that arise from them. 


Me as Jehanne Bening
In the SCA I am known as Jehanne Bening. I am from the town of Bruges in the duchy of Burgundy. I work in the Sanders Bening's workshop, the father of Simon Bening.In 1486 he joined the Bruges Guild of St. Luke. Sadly my boss died in 1519. 

I began by looking on Medieval Writing's index of scripts web page and found one 15th-century French cursive document hand. Unfortunately, the resource is too rumpled to use for analysis. Still, this web page offers many possibilities.

With the dates and location, I went to Pinterest to see if others interested in late 15th century Burgundy had pinned images with the script. The first one I selected, when going to its original site proved to be too early. At least the image went to a documentable source and not just a pretty picture. 

The second image I tried linked to a pretty picture that included the source. I copied the source into my browser and wallah it went to at British Library manuscript, with tons of information and images with a script. The website provided the following information.

Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun
TitleRoman de la Rose
OriginNetherlands, S. (Bruges)
Datec. 1490-c. 1500
ScriptGothic cursive

Harley 4425 Roman de la Rose f.42

Everything I hoped for. The only thing better would have been if Sanders Bening had done the work himself. 

From what I've researched Sanders left no known works even though guild records show he was active then.

From the British Library's digitized manuscripts, I can analyze the script and develop a style Jehanne would have known. To find other related sources I entered the specifics from the first source into the British Library's advanced search. The search engine provided 20 manuscripts I might use.

Exciting. Looks like the next personal project for me will be developing a script Jehanne could have used.  

Related Prior Posts:

The Stalking Scribe
How To Google For Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

5 Reasons Doing C & I Is Better Than Cooking

HL Nikolai Kolpachnik Spinachev's
Baronial Arts and Sciences Championship
Competition Entry.
I'm not that great a cook. Mostly cooking doesn't interest me. I'm also not a foodie or gourmet. High-quality or exotic ingredients don't interest me. And I can't be bothered with food skills that don't involve a microwave or Keurig.

Attending a scribal gathering or making an SCA scroll is way more fun to me than cooking. Even more fun than eating at a 5-star French restaurant or local trend setting place.

Why you ask? I have five reasons.

1. A scroll or full page illumination lasts longer than food. Whether I keep it or give it away, my creation can be enjoyed for years to come. 

In the SCA most scrolls are framed and hung to decorate a wall. They may be there because the recipient is proud of the honor it represents, but a well-done scroll also adds to their room's decor. That makes us both happy.

2. I can walk away from a scroll I'm making without ruining it. I might even leave it unfinished for months until the spirit over takes me again and I finish it. Try that with food.  

My fridge often contains dishes from weeks ago that need throwing out. Plus, if I walk away from a pan on my hot stove the food will either burn, go dry or boil over.

My studio has a few projects I plan to return to "some day." They'll be there when I finish the scroll I've been asked to do by the current Royal Scribe. And may be the Royal Scribe after that, too.

3. Doing calligraphy and illumination won't make me fat. Just smelling food cooking seems to do that. 

When I'm working on a calligraphy and illumination project I lose track of all time, I often miss meals. I even skip cooking because C and I is more fun than standing to stir a pan. It's also way more fun than washing the dishes needed for cooking and eating. 

4. I can fix most C and I oopsies without throwing the scroll away. Some of my cooking errors ended with me even throwing the pan away.

While I've devoted more time to learn C and I than I ever would to cooking, I've enjoyed the learning process thoroughly. I'm now able to scratch off letters I mistakenly wrote in the scroll text. I can adapt or cover up a misplaced mark. I've even adapted a cat foot print into a scroll motif.

5. Scribes are less snobbish than gourmet cooks. (Sorry Calontir Cooks Guild.) 

Well-seasoned cooks take pride in their exotic spices and techniques, and they should. It is their passion and expertise. Using fresh homegrown herbs is great for you. I'm lucky I have them dried in a jar on my counter. And I don't know the difference or taste between Italian and lemon basil, or when to use them.

My Playing With Pigments Class
Give me a scribal gathering or class, with or without wine, and I'm in heaven. Scribes share skills and materials easily. We can do this in the field or in a symposium. Scribes are the most giving, sharing people. They easily share what they know, on the spot if they have their portable art box near by.

These are my five reasons I prefer calligraphy or illumination to cooking and even eating. It's my passion. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Traveling Scribal Studio

Ly. Lucinda painting at Coronation
A scribe can work anywhere they choose. While I prefer my home studio, other scribes prefer a traveling studio, at least sometimes.  

A scribe’s studio is as individual as the person using it. Having a travel studio has advantages, besides mobility. It's compact, can be placed near other activities, and can be completely removed from view. It's perfect for apartment living. 

Being a self-sufficient migrant Scribe lets you work spontaneously as the creative mood strikes. It's a must for working an unforeseen, impromptu scroll assignment. 

A travel studio has disadvantages too. It may affect the size scrolls you create and the supplies and skills you use.  At some point, you'll consider each thing you include not only for its quality, but also its size, shape, and amount. You're also forced to immediately clean everything up and put it away when you stop working.

Before you jump into being a nomadic Scribe there are questions to ask yourself to determine your motivation. Do you like lugging things to SCA activities? Do you want your art supplies with you wherever you go? Do you like doing scribal things when you travel? Do you find time for it away from home? What inspires you to take out your art supplies when traveling? 

The biggest question to ask yourself is "How do you prefer to work?" Do you like working with the support horizontal or vertical? 
Extra large wood
sketch box ease

If you like working horizontally like Ly. Lucinda is, you could use a picnic basket or a rolling suitcase studio. If you prefer working vertically a table top easel-box is appropriate, like this one Ly. Zafara uses. She told me she prefers it over other's she owned because it has two drawers and an easel. But the second drawer also makes the easel farther away from the table so you'd raise your arms higher when painting.

When buying your portable box studio Ly. Zafara recommends:
  • quality strong easel bolt attachments  
  • deep drawers for supplies
  •  well attached strong handles 

Working with a portable studio takes planning
Consider your preferred references, materials, and tools. How much storage space will you need for the things you can't downsize or do without? 

I work horizontally. I prefer my 18" ruler, large pallets, and use a lightbox to see patterns or grids through the support. There are ways to modify these for travel but I haven't figured out how to bring my dual swing-arm lamps. 

When selecting supplies for your travel studio the fewer, lighter, and smaller the better. Don't despair. Being a minimal material scribe encourages you to research, explore, test, and decide the best supplies for your kit. You'll be more creative with what you have.

Even though you'll keep supplies to a minimum you still have many options. You'll find alternative ways to include those you want. 

Be innovative. Search out smaller items. Plastic items to act as small disposable, mixing pallets. I sometimes use lids from nuts and Pringles containers. For small liquid amounts Zafara stores and carries them in a syringe or pipet. 

If you want the easel-box you'll want shorter containers. A bottle for water, in case there isn't any available. One for ink, if you prefer to dip your pen rather than use a brush to stroke ink on the nib. You may want short rinse water cups too.

Ly. Zafara's field painting kit.
Sort your supplies within your travel studio. Group things to control slipping and you don't hunt for the thing you want. 

You may create kits for techniques or group items by type. Zafara has a separate bag for reference books. She keeps her preferred patterns in an envelope. I talked with a Scribe who takes along a drafting board that also stored her day's paper. 

With paints consider medieval-like options that combine well to make other colors. Explore and discover those you prefer. You can premix these or keep just a few paint tubes in your kit. 

Pack supplies carefully especially when you travel. When I take teaching supplies to events I protect all fragile parts. I put plastic tubes over brush tips to prevent bristles from bending. I test liquid containers for leaks, leaving them up-side-down overnight. I put containers of watery liquids inside a zip-lock plastic bag. 

Once on the site think about the best place to set up. Some Calontir events designate a table for scribes to gather, paint and talk. It may be the only place paints are allowed. If it's your choice, consider the lighting, water access, foot traffic, table and chair height. You may have to prioritize your options. Is it more important to paint with others or have more light? The ideal scribal situation seldom occurs.

Don't be hard on yourself. Even travel scribes accumulate boxes of unused or discarded art supplies. If you try something and it doesn't seem right, pass it along to another Scribe.

Being a travel scribe is a different way of life. Wherever you go you have your studio with you. With water and a flat surface, you're ready to create.

Related Prior Post:
My Scribal Work Space

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Beginning and The Evolving Scribe

"Is what I'm doing good enough to be accepted?" I hear this question often. Sometimes more than once from the same person. I've even asked it about my own work.

It is one reason some scribes stick to AoA or baronial level scrolls. The scrolls are needed, but they're also less intimidating because the designs are usually done by another scribe. 
...humans evolved to be fearful - since that helped keep our ancestors alive - so we are very vulnerable to being frightened and ... intimidated by threats, both real ones and "paper tigers." (1)
Lilies War XXX Scribal Class 
If painting only preprints or doing only calligraphy is your thing, enjoy it to the fullest. Being comfortable with your scribal ability is important for providing you a solid creativity base. Vivat!

Many scribes want to progress, to take their abilities to ever increasing skill levels than what they currently do. Some, like M. Rolf Hobart, have an internal need to always know more and attempt different methods. A thirst to learn.

If you are like that, how do you satisfy your desire? As Ian the Green blogs, "How do you take the next step"?

For me, the tough part is knowing what I don't know. What's out there to learn about scribal skills or any craft? Finding out the possibilities may take some searching. If there were a "scribal possibilities master list" you could then pick those that are the most thrilling for you to work toward. 

That's essentially how I began. As I posted before, I wanted to have a painting from the Manesse Codex and I couldn't find anyone to do it for me. So I had to learn myself. I was driven to find and learn the skills for that.

Taking your scribal craft to a more advanced level is similar. 
  • Determine specifically what you want to learn. (As Ian posts, "Make a list.")
  • Determine the steps and goals to make it happen.
  • Develop a plan to fulfill the individual steps and goals.
  • Do one step at a time on your quest to make it so. 
  • Then do another.
This is easy when you have the passion and drive to create a certain thing, like my Manesse page. Even so, it helps to know the possible means to make it happen. 

First, just start. Do something less flabbergasting than a scroll or intricate manuscript page. Start small and slowly expand from there.
I recommend bookmarks. Find medieval illuminated borders you like and trace the design outline in pencil onto cardstock or Bristol board that is about 2"x 8.5". Using a fine black Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, go over your pencil design. You can buy it at most craft stores. Now paint it as you would a color book or award preprint. You've just taken your first step.

The Illuminated Alphabet
You could also use the above technique but design and paint a large decorated capital letter. These are called "versals". Try one from my"Puzzle Versal"  Pinterest board.

If you prefer guide book instruction on versals, check out the book The Illuminated Alphabet by Timothy Noad and Patricia Seligman.

To start calligraphy small just write names. Perhaps tags for your immediate friends and then expand to those in your local group. Move on to lettering sentences such as favorite quotes or adages. Try lettering song lyrics or poetry. Nothing is as dispiriting as repeatedly writing the same letter. I'd rather practice with pangrams

I was lucky when I started. I had a close art teacher friend that jump-started my scribal learning. If you don't know a scribe or can't meet up with one connect through FaceBook. Calontir has the Falcon Scribes group. While it is private, a request to join is easily granted. You can also connect with scribes by the public SCA Scribes group. Scribes with either group will gladly guide your journey online or maybe by phone. 

Books have been teaching scribal skills since the middle ages. Today many historic books have been printed for current use. A great one is the Goettingen Model Book. While the modern reprint is pricey, you can borrow it through interlibrary loan. You can also find the original German pages digitized online.

Once you know the skills you want to pursue, you might try some online classes. Trimaris College of Scribes lists online scribal lessons. I'm sure you will find inspiration in one of the listings. 

When you feel comfortable be bold and risk learning more. Challenge yourself. It's daunting but rewarding. 

If working to a looming deadline is holding you back, connect with your Kingdom's backlog scroll clerk. While there is a commitment to finish the assigned scroll the end time is more flexible. You may also arrange to share the task with another person. You might do the lettering and the other the illumination. Or perhaps someone else may do the gold-leaf if you're not comfortable with it yet.

I am still nervous when I take on a new scroll. The intimidation doesn't go away because I want each work to be inspiring and imposing. I've learned my brain tricks me into making poor assumptions. Exaggerating threats, discrediting opportunities, and devaluing the skills I have. I talk myself into it becasue I want to learn more.

So don't worry about your efforts being "good enough". Just start somewhere and do it for the learning fun. 

Related Prior Post:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Using a Scratch Nib for Corrections

The easiest, most common mistake to make is also the hardest to fix. Improper lettering. There are many ways I do this. The trick is to know the easiest way to correct them? In my opinion, it's using a scratchboard knife.
Scratch Art knives from Dick Blick

Scratch nibs are commonly used to scratch through one surface to reveal a lower contrasting color layer. Remember, you probably did something like that in art projects as a kid. Some artists still work that way.

I prefer these to a sharp knife or an x-acto because they have a smaller sharp blade. The nibs fit a dip pen holder, are inexpensive, and can be sharpened by a whetstone.

I bought my first one as part of a kit at Hobby Lobby probably 15 years ago. The art isn't trendy anymore, but you can still find the tools online.

My Scratch Nibs
The nibs come in a few shapes. As cheap as they are, if you already have a pen holder I would buy both and see what works best for you. I like the pointed #112 and the curved blade I bought initially, seen in the green handle. 

To use it place the nib in a holder, hold the blade at an oblique angle to the support and gently scrape. Remove a little paint or ink at a time as you pull the blade toward you. The more available space or the bigger the oopsie the more swing I get to the strokes.

This works well when I use an ink that doesn't sink into the surface. Experiment with inks and supports to see what you like best. I think a slightly rough paper like Bristol board seems easier to correct than pergamenata or hot press paper. All surfaces seem to allow the ink to feather after correcting, even when I burnish the area well.  

The trick is to remove only the mistake after it is very dry without bollixing the support. I might go so far as to do the correct letter(s) over the mistake first and then scrape away the unwanted parts. That way I'm sure the ink won't feather. 

As you scrape little crumbs come loose. I just blow or gently brush them away. 

I don't think there is a good way to make corrections. I try to be very careful and I still make many. This just is my favorite way to do corrections, even if I have a whole page I want to scrape clean.

Related Prior Post:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lonely Tower's Continuing Scribes' Class

Sunday, two days ago, was a busy day. I hosted the Lonely Tower Scribes Class from 2-5 pm, in my dining room. 

I tried to prepare the evening before but I was out of blue printer ink. I'd have to wait until the store was open to buy it to print my class handouts. Ugh.

I'm usually an over organizer, too.

Sunday morning I realized my handout for Painting Acanthus Leaves was so old it wasn't on my computer. Not even in my flash drive or the Cloud. 

Eventually, I figured a workaround. I had the handout for painting them like those in the Goettingen Model Book in my portfolio binder. I would scan it and print it, along with Gael Stirler's instructions from the Gutenberg School of Scribes website. I could relax.

M. Rolf arrived and we discussed the class plan, and as usual adapted it. I would take lead with illumination first, then he'd do his gold leaf demo, and teach the new script. It was a lot, but we had three hours.

The scribes arrived and we started. We even had a first-time attendee. Ly. Kistrin is talented and drove an hour to be with us. I was glad to see her.

Scribes Painting  

As we worked M. Rolf and I realized the class morphed into color mixing. Not a surprise, because most student scribes use Reeves or Artist Loft beginner paints. Student paints have a limited color range compared to artist grade paints. 

The color mixing process added time. M. Rolf chose to postpone his gold leafing demo. Gold leafing is tricky and depends on the ambient humidity. Timing it is iffy.

M. Rolf taught the new script, a less formal English document script, described sometimes as secretary, Batarde, or even cursive. Most Western European areas used a variant. 

The class finished and the students left. I fed my dogs and exercised them. Then my friend Grace picked me up and we went to a concert. It was a fast paced day, and concert check-in is hectic too.
Paul McCartney, Omaha, 7/23/2017

After getting snacks and finding our seats, I could unwind. Until this amazing musical icon had everyone on their feet for hours providing us an inspiring dance down memory lane.

I was so fortunate to see Sir Paul McCartney perform live because a friend was kind enough to take me with her. Thank you, Grace.

Related Prior Posts:
C and I Class Preparation from July 2016
Today's Scribal Class from July 2016

Illuminating Color Mixing
Why Buy More Scribal Paint Colors?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Protective Book Curses

I've worked on SCA scrolls bent over my art table with my back or hands aching. And that is one page, not a quire or a book. My efforts are minimal compared to the manuscripts I emulate. Still, I wouldn't want my work stolen or harmed.

Medieval scribes, to protect their laboriously created books, penned powerful curses to prevent theft, damage or loss. These writings appear in Latin and vernacular languages, some in cultures other than Western European.

Using the vilest threats imaginable scribes heaped excommunication or painful death on possible perpetrators. For stealing a book you could lose your hands or eyes, then spend eternity in the "fires of hell and brimstone."

Marc Drogin compiled the largest book curses collection, publishing them in his 1983 book Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses. His collection included curses from ancient Greece, the Babylon library, and extended to the Renaissance. A pricey book I'd love to receive as a gift. Since I don't own it I searched for them online.

I discovered a book curse could be emphatic and short. 
Hanging will do for him who steals you.

It could pile excommunication's anathema upon the perpetrator. 
May the sword of anathema slay
If anyone steals this book away.

British Library, Harley MS 2798, f. 235v 
What does a book curse do? It is similar to the FBI popup warning on your DVD movie, included by the media’s maker to frighten the foolish. It works if you believe the words cause realistic results. In the Middle Ages the text were considered magic.

The creative scribe's writing might inflict a terrible, horrible, very bad death for stealing or harming a tome.

If anyone take away this book, let him die the death; let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever size him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen. 
 Many were poetically written. Although I can't do that spacing here, read it that way for yourself. I find they're even more fun then.
The finished book before you lies;This humble scribe don’t criticize. Whoever takes away this book May he never on Christ look. Whoever to steal this volume durst May he be killed as one accursed. Whoever to steal this volume tries, out with his eyes, out with his eyes! 
This book belongs to none but me For there’s my name inside to see.To steal this book, if you should try, It’s by the throat that you’ll hang high. And ravens then will gather ‘bout To find your eyes and pull them out. And when you’re screaming ‘oh, oh, oh!’ Remember, you deserved this woe.
Whoever steals this Book of Prayer May he be ripped apart by swine, His heart be splintered, this I swear, And his body dragged along the Rhine.
May no one believe that ever have I been taken, But that happily this place never have I forsaken. Yet may no one doubt that the wrath of God upon him will fall If he essays to take me from the confines of St. Gall.

A book curse could be determined and insistent.
Whoever steals this book will hang on a gallows in Paris, And, if he isn’t hung, he’ll drown, And, if he doesn’t drown, he’ll roast, And, if he doesn’t roast, a worse end will befall him.

Some curses were banal but still got the point across.
The book of Saint Marie and Saint Liborius in Patherburnen. A curse upon the one who takes this book, a blessing upon the one who keeps it safe. If anyone removes or cuts a page, may he be accursed. 

British Library Royal MS 10 A XVI, f. 2r 
This book of the Distinctiones belongs to the monastery of Rochester: anyone who takes it from there, hides or keeps it, or damages or erases this inscription, or makes or causes it to be deleted, may his name be deleted from the Book of Life.
This is the book of St. James of Wigmore. If anyone takes it away or maliciously destroys this notice in taking it away from the above-mentioned place, may he be tied by the chain of greater excommunication. Amen. So be it. So be it. So be it.
For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with palsy & all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, & let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever.
Whoever takes this book or steals it or in some evil way removes it from the Church of St Caecilia, may he be damned and cursed forever, unless he returns it or atones for his act.
Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this book from this place may his soul suffer, in retribution for what he has done, and may his name be erased from the book of the living and not recorded among the Blessed.

A few curses became popular and repeatedly used. 
May whoever steals or alienates this book, or mutilates it, be cut off from the body of the church and held as a thing accursed.
This book is one (thing), And God’s curse is another; They that take the one, God gives them the other.
Book curses seem at odds with the Medieval lifestyle. But a book's loss was a laboriously created material sacrifice that deprived essential written knowledge of a religious community. Book curses were an effective, basal method to preserve their book collections. 

Today these fiery, interesting missives seem quaint. Even so, they can be useful. They are perfect for calligraphy practice or using up odd pergamenata bits. Better yet they make creative bookplates as Nancy Hulan sells in her Arte of the Booke Etsy shop. I'm making some for Kingdom largess.

Anon. "Top 10 Medieval Book Curses" 9/20/2015, By Medievalists.Net. Accessed last 6/24/2017 

Dreishen, Clarck. "Frying pans, forks and fever: Medieval book curses" 5/23/2017. British Library's Medieval Manuscripts Blog Accessed last 6/24/2017 

Kwakkel, Erik "Chain, Chest, Curse: Combating Book Theft in Medieval Timesmedievalbooks blog. Accessed last  6/24/2017 

Laskow, Sarah "Protect Your Library the Medieval Way, With Horrifying Book Curses11/9/2016. Atlas Obscura. Accessed last 6/24/2017

Pydum, Carl "Medieval Copy Protection" 8/12/2010. Got Medieval. Accessed last 6/24/2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Guest Post Blogging

Just before M. Aidan left to teach at this year's Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium I asked her if she would guest post on my blog after she returned. She said she was pleased to do it, but would I do the same for her. Of course, I said. 

M. Aidan speaking at Calontir's 2017
Kingdom Arts and Sciences Competition.

M. Aidan Cocrinn has refocused and relaunched her blog, I am Intellectually I thought it appropriate if I wrote about my reasons for blogging. It's a short post. While you're there have a look at her recent writings

Guest posting is a twist on writing for your own blog. The content relates to the blog on which your post will show, not your own. It should also be "green" content, a topic that can be posted at any time and still be relative. The blog owner usually posts comments about your upcoming post and on the day it's released usually introduces you. 

Toodle on over M. Aidan's blog post today. I enjoyed sharing with her and look forward to her guest post here.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Scribal Work Space

Today I'm inviting you to my scribal workspace. I enjoy seeing how other's work, so I thought you'd like to see mine.

My "studio" is now half an SCA craft room. It's a few steps from a bathroom for easy access to water. It's on the same floor as the walk-out to the back yard, so I can easily let my crazy dogs in or out as they insist. 

My work surfaces are two 6-foot tables put together in an L-shape with a small opening at the corner for my standing floor lamp. I'm using old heavy tables I had for SCA activities before the new lighter ones appeared at stores.

Workspace and chair, side view.

Comfort is important to me, so my chair is adjustable to a height that lets my arms rest on my workspace at close to a 90° angle. It also has no armrests for me to bump against. 

I'm fortunate to have a large space around me, so my arms aren't cramped. Yet my chair rolls and rotates so I can easily extend my reach if something I want isn't handy.

Calligraphy and illumination's detailed strokes take arm movement that let me move freely. That's important. It's even important to have a clear space at your feet so your knees aren't higher than your "bottom". My dog, Pippa, has learned to sit way to the side under the table to be near me and not in my way.

Left table and corner of both.
If you stand in front of my workspace and look first to the left you'll see I have a small table-top bookcase. I use it for frequently used books. Next, to its right is my initial SCA portfolio binder. Further right is a divided support I use for sundry paper or pergamenata, folders of guide sheets and hand-outs, assorted sized mat specimens, and sandpaper packages. 
The top of the lattice-sided-cube holds a mobile phone, a can of workable fixative, a box of cartridge pens, and a nib box. Stuck through the lattice are several small c-clamps, strong scissors, and sometimes my draft dust brush.

Inside the cube are miscellaneous items. I seem to collect a lot of them. There's a plastic shoe-box with gold leaf "pads", paper samples, and circle templates. To its right is a small Fiskars paper cutter intended for scrapbooking, which I've never done.

To the table's front is room for resources such as open books, my Kindle, and online printouts. You also see my Ozark Trail covered, insulated mug. It is important because where ever I put it down, I can't accidentally stick a brush or pen in it. And limits spills.

Corner with lamp protruding and lattice cube.
Where the two tables meet you see the lamp protruding. To its front is my home-devised brush/pen/etc holder. Just to its front is small useful dreck: erasers, small binder clips, two sharpening stones, a shell with shell gold, a Finetec gold well etc. To its right, peaking over the light box is a colored pencil container.

Dual swing-arm lamps(on), slanted lightbox and active work area.
am fortunate to have a dual swing-arm light system. It's a repurposed beauty salon thing. I can adjust my light to come from two directions, so I'm not concerned about direction and my head casting a shadow.

Under the lamps is my light box. It rests on two thick, large books so it is slightly slanted. Behind it, resting on the protruding support books is a plastic container with various inks, gum Arabic, and nib cleaner. 

Right, active work-table broad view with lamps off.
I place my inks, paints and two short water containers in a place where I don’t bump them, but I can reach them easily. For me, that's just to the right of my slanted workspace. 
I also have pens and brushes. 

This area becomes cluttered as I work. It tends to be where I put anything down if I'm not careful. Erasers, pen test papers, a guard sheet, scrapers, rags/paper towels sections, nib cleaner, my cell phone.....

To the back, I keep a rotating utensil holder filled with rulers, a small t-square, scissors, old toothbrushes, a sharp knife and more dreck. To its right are a  stand with paper towels and cleanup wipes. There's also a battery powered pencil sharpener and a tape dispenser.

On the wall, I have tacked a paper with standard frame sizes and a binder clip with clear plastic sheets. I use them to protect my light box. One is also a printed transparency of my favorite size grid.

Small computer station and some room view.
The door to the room is immediately next, but to its right is a small computer desk, a printer, and a two drawer file cabinet. When I started doing C&I in about 1993 I would never have guessed the importance the internet would be for scribal research. It has drastically changed how I access inspirational resources. Many times, like in this picture, my laptop is on the couch in the nearby rec room, but this is available when I want it.

I am lucky to have so much space. It suits my work style because I like all my tools nearby. Or maybe I developed this style because I didn't have to work from a portable scribe's box. C & I doesn't need to be spread out, but I'm just spoiled by it now.

Related Prior Post:

External Related Post:
Alexandre Saint Pierre's  My Work Space, where he describes his apartment space. 
Professional C&I artist Patricia Lovett post: Work, my workroom and ‘Landlove’ magazine, December 2016ai