Sunday, March 18, 2018

How To Find The Source Of Undocumented Online Images

Unidentified Pinterest Image
You know those lovely illuminations you find on Pinterest when you search for scroll inspiration. Your perfect source but it has no manuscript information. There's a way to find the source using the image. It's called a "reverse image search."

This technique is called "a reverse image search." It analyzes the image contents itself comparing  its colors, shapes, and textures with a known sample. It does not use a picture's associated keywords, tags, or descriptions.  

This helps you because you don't need search terms or keywords. It saves you guessing at words that may not be related or use people's fuzzy labeling. 

It helps you find images related to the sample or its popularity. It may also discover any altered or derivative works.

To reverse image search using Google Chrome:
  1. find your chosen internet image 
  2. right click on it 
  3. click on "search Google for image"
It's simple, really. You can try it on the above Pinterest picture. 

What did you find? When I did it Google found more than 5 sites to check plus several computer-designated similar images. One interesting enough to explore further.

While not something you'll use daily, it is another research skill for your tool-kit. A handy tool for those pesky undocumented manuscript images.

Related Prior Post:  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Best "How-to" Decorative Letters Book

If you've looked at the stunning art in medieval manuscripts and wondered how they were made then the main book you need for learning illumination is The Illuminated Alphabet: An Inspirational Introduction to Creating Decorative Calligraphy by author Patricia Seligman and calligrapher Timothy Noad. 

As SCA scribes know, illumination is a unique craft with its own techniques. It is not watercolor or acrylics. It's not even illustration. So ferreting out its methods is tricky. The Illuminated Alphabet is the best book to help you learn methods to re-create historic illuminated letters. 

The book begins with a brief illuminated letters' history, describing artists creating them and their patrons. It then delves into basic illumination techniques and a materials' list. 
  •  paper and vellum
  •  brushes, pens, and pencils
  •  paints and inks including gouache, egg tempera, and watercolors
  •  gilding techniques such as the combination of gold leaf and gesso
My favorite explorations in the book are Noad's illuminated letter adaptations from period masterpieces. They cover five individual manuscript styles: 
  • Celtic 
  • Romanesque
  • Gothic
  • Renaissance 
  • Modern Revival
Each style includes upper and lower-case letter designs, borders and decorations, materials used, gilding instructions and a gallery. The examples featured are:
  • the Lindisfarne Gospels 
  • the Book of Kells 
  • Emperor Henry II’s Periscopes
  • the Lincoln Psalms
  • a Bestiary Lion 
  • Books of Hours
  • Whitevine Lettering 
  • William Morris
  • a Horoscope Initial
The Illuminated Alphabet has detailed instructions for each project and how they were adapted from original sources by the book's artist. Step-by-step photographs and instructions include tips on the techniques you'll use. 

The book's 
detailed, information-packed instructions are a surprisingly easy, indispensable guide. Whether you’re interested in the many processes described or how illumination changed through time, you'll find this book combines the best of traditional and new masterpieces. 

The Illuminated Alphabet shows any budding SCA scribe how to create long admired beautiful letters. You too can create medieval-style illuminated letters  that make your Monarch jealous.

Prior Related Post:  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Tips For Using Sakura Micron Pens

Micron Pens. Check out
the tiny tip of my biggest one.
As you might have noticed, I use Sakura Micron pens on most award scrolls. They are a modern convenience that replaces a quill for outlining before and after painting. 
These pens have waterproof, quick-drying archival pigment ink that does not feather or bleed through paper. When dry it is smear proof. Their black inks are intense and resist fading in sun or UV light.
Sakura developed their Micron pens to replace high-priced technical pens and still give you fine-line quality when used on paper. The non-conforming ways SCA scribes use Micron pens, however, were never intended.
The clogging issues I've had come from using it on paint or fabric. When anything blocks Micron's tiny plastic tube its ink doesn't get out of the barrel on to your surface. What can you do to encourage Micron pen's ink-flow?
Micron pen ink flows best when you use it with a light touch and a 90-degree angle to the surface. You'll also want to let your paint dry 24 hours before using them on it. 

Smaller Micron pen nibs are delicate. If you find a leak near the nib tip it could be caused by dropping, shaking, or spinning it in your hand. If you bend them easily, use a bigger size nib or lighter pressure. They also dry out quickly if you leave them uncapped.
My tricks for you, keep scrap paper or a paper towel sheet near, drawing lines on it until the ink flows freely again. Sometimes, I dip the nib in a water container first.
I prefer to buy Micron pens where I can remove the cap and see if the nib is adequate. Once in a great while, I find one without a visible tiny tip. Sadly, this happens more when I buy online.
Treated well you'll have your Micron pen to use for miles of outlining.

Related Prior Post:  
Why Lay a Scroll's Groundwork with Permanent Ink?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The New Barony of the Lonely Tower's Arts and Sciences' Revel

Arts and Sciences in the Kingdom of Calontir are a big deal. Those hand-done crafts create our medieval ambiance. So you'll often find us working on a handmade project, even at events.

Events in the Kingdom and in our Barony encourage your participation in competitions. Last Sunday the Barony of the Lonely Tower held their annual Arts and Sciences Championship Revel. 

This annual cold weather competition selects a person to represent the Barony to the outer world in those activities and to encourage others in Arts and Sciences. A&S Champion for a year.

While competitions are our greatest learning and sharing excuse, you'll find more at a revel than that. It's a time to wear your fine period clothing and visit with new or longtime friends. Enjoy tasty pot-luck dishes, some made with medieval recipes. 

And for me, it's a time to snap pictures for this blog.

Heather giving Her Excellency Aleit a hug.

After time for visiting the buffet is served.

Their Excellencies lead the line.

M. Rolf and HL Cristina
checking the entries.

While you're visiting with friends, the Baron and Baroness Augustin le Blinde and Aleit de la Thomme, with the outgoing A & S Champion, Honorable Lord Nikolai Kolpachnik look at each entry, talk with the creators, and read each entries' brief documentation. 

This year's theme was "Persona Accessories". As Nikolai described it:
What we are looking for are 2 (or more) distinct items that are something your persona (or someone else's persona if you so desire) would have/could have used.
For example: For my present [Russian] persona, I could construct another snazzy fur trimmed hat, and a belt purse. Someone with a Norse viking era persona could do a string of glass beads, and an ear spoon. Someone with the persona of a monk connected to a scriptorium could make a candle holder, and a candle, etc.

This year's four entrants' displays were:

HL Cristina la Ambeler
Embroidery and waxed linen.

M. Nesscia inghean ChearnaighHood with inkle woven trim
and St. Brigita cap.

Mary Carbonez
Celtic pouch and kumihimo.

Lady Zafar Baabur
Calligraphy and illumination on vellum
and handmade quills

TE Aleit and Augustin
with M. Rhodri the Herald.

The revel is completed by a Baronial Court in which Their Excellencies present awards and announcements are made. 

L. William receiving a Rose Window award.

Lord William Radulfus and Honorable Lady Cristina la Ambeler both received Rose Window awards for their well-done arts. William makes and shares lovely painted wood game boards and Cristina's cooking, gardening and embroideries are beyond compare. 

HL Cristina kneeling in court.

And, drum-roll, please. This year's 
A & S Champion was given to HL Cristina la Ambeler. It was a tough competition. An honorable mention was even given to Lady Zafara Baarbur. As far as I can remember, it's the first honorable mention ever presented.

Huge congratulations to all. Hazzah!

Related Prior Posts:  
Barony of the Lonely Tower's Arts and Sciences' Revel - 2017

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Cheap Tweak: Using Gouache For Ink

M. Giraude's scroll showing
gouache ink interspace lines and filigree.
Here's something intriguing I tried on M. Giraude's scroll. And it worked well. Better than I expected. I used gouache as ink.

Since then I see several modern calligraphers online have done it. So my apologies if this is common knowledge. Even so, I am excited about it because it's so easy and inexpensive.

But why would you want to use gouache for calligraphy?

Gouache, as you may know, is opaque, intensely pigmented and vibrantly colored. I tried it because I was too cheap to buy a colored ink for the little I would need for one scroll. But I liked it because I matched the filigree and interlinear lining with a blue elsewhere in the scroll. It also made those fine lines deeply colored because gouache has a lot of pigment in its binder compared to inks. The best part was how fine I could make the filigree lines by using gouache as ink.

Another reason you might use gouache for ink is you can mix the paints to make a different color. Something I haven't done successfully with ink. 

If you try this you won't be disappointed, but it takes a little experimenting. The paint is too thick right from the tube, so I mixed it with a little water adding 10 drops of water at a time until it worked with my dip pen. The paint I used was Reeves non-acrylic gouache. 

To begin, I squirted gouache into a small container, one of those tiny paint pots you buy at a craft store. Don't overfill it because you want the room to add water and still stir. I didn't fill mine even half full.

added water by dropper, with more gouache than water, about 3:2.  
Then I stirred it with a small stick I keep for that kind of thing. The amount I wanted to make was too small to shake and would make bubbles even if I did.  

I tested the consistency by drawing lines on scrap Bristol board. First try for me worked fine, so I began interlining Giraude's scroll. There were so many to do I took a break. When I returned my gouache ink had dried and become thicker than I wanted. I added a few more drops of water, which didn't appear to thin the color intensity.

I saved the gouache ink by sealing the paint pot with the top and used it the next day for the filigree. 

When you try using gouache for ink the consistency should not be too runny. If it is, add gouache a "drop" at a time until your ink is creamy. If it is thicker than cream add drops of water until you get a consistency that flows well from your dip pen nib. How much water you need may vary between the paint colors or brands. 

Another concern might be how well the gouache binder adheres the ink to your paper. While I was lucky the first time out if the gouache is thinned too much it could rub off the support easily.  When you experiment first, rubbing your sample will tell you if it comes off on your finger. If it does, add a little more gouache or a drop of gum Arabic.

Not every experiment I try works as well or so easily as this. It's a technique I'm sure I'll use again and hope you try.

Related Prior Post:
How to Use a Dip Pen 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Outwitting Scribal Dirty Slips And Missteps

I've created many award scrolls over the years. Along the way, I messed up or dirtied my share. From them, I learned a few tricks. These may help you too.

Neatness is a primary criterion for a quality scroll. I love working with pergamenata, but it doesn't do well with oils. To help that you start with a simple prep. Go over the perg with a large non-latex white vinyl eraser. This removes oils and unwanted marks. You may also do this after the scroll is done and very dry.

As I work I use a guard sheet under my working hand. This prevents adding hand-oil or marks. You could wear cotton gloves for this, but I find them cumbersome. They alter my sense of touch especially for fine paint strokes and lettering.

I use an etch scratch nib in a holder to remove unwanted ink or paint marks. You might also use an Xacto knife for this. I prefer the curved scratch nib except when working between letter parts. Then I use the pointed nib.

Luttrell Psalter Illumination Example

Period effect. The more an award scroll looks like a period work the better. When I use modern gouache I select colors similar to those in my medieval inspirations. Some medieval manuscripts are known for their unique color palette such as the Luttrell Psalter. If your scroll emulates it your paint colors should also. You also want to apply them in a similar style. 

Newer scribes often use Reeves, Daler Rowney or Artist Loft non-acrylic gouache paints. They are great for beginners and preprint painting. As you run out of those in you initial set buy paints that look more period from Winsor and Newton, Holbein or Utrecht brands. Eventually, you'll have them all affordably replaced.

Keep copies.  I made a mistake. I stopped making copies of my work after I was elevated to the Order of the Laurel. For those absent scrolls, I don't know the materials or what they looked like. I don't have them if I'm asked to make a replacement, or offer as style for another scroll. Unless their picture shows up on Facebook I don't have them for this blog or to use at a scribal demo. I don't have them to encourage my own scribal growth.

Similarly, you want to look at the scribal works of others. As much as possible, look at period sources and other scribes' works. Look at it online, but better still, look at any original works you can find, both historic and SCA. The more you look at C and I art the more aware you become of their beautiful layers and uncountable fine lines. The more I look at in detail the more inspirited I become. 

You may even find places scribes messed up.

External Related Posts:
Master RanthulfR's Tips for the SCA Calligrapher

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Calontir's Winter War Maneuvers 2018

You won't believe where I went last Saturday. I attended the Kingdom of Calontir Barony of Mag Mor event, Winter War Maneuvers. This is the ultimate winter practice for the SCA's coming Gulf War's event, "A War With No Enemies". 

Gulf War is an annual war and week-long camping event hosted by the Kingdoms of Gleann Abhann and Meridies. It is all-out battles between the Kingdoms of Ansteorra and Trimaris.

Mag Mor has been hosting this event since before I joined the SCA over 20 years ago. They held it at Speed Way Village's humongous indoor turf-floored soccer field. Plenty of room for fighters to practice melees and more.

The good news for you noncombatants was fighting's panoramic-view from the 2nd-floor balcony overlook. There is also space for meetings and classes.

Overlook View 

The space is so huge Calontir Cut and Thrust fighters were able to study and practice melee techniques.

While the huge venue is great for fighting and viewing, I didn't collect fighting practice photos to blog. The fighters were too far away and moved too fast. Great for them, not for me.

I did snap this foto for you when they gathered on the field for announcements.

The side field held a few interesting or endearing photos, especially this one.

After the energetic fighting day, we settled down for the court of Their Majesties Ashir and Ashland.

Processing into court the Royal Highness from the Stellar Kingdom of Ansteorra, Jason Drysdale commanded the attention of all. He and his warriors came to train together with our fighters and meld a cohesive fighting force for the coming interkingdom war.

HRH Jason Drysdale entering the court.

The court was short as courts seldom go, but held well-deserved awards or prizes for honorees. You can find them in M. Dorcas Whitecap's court report in the Falcon Banner.

Related Prior Post:
Cattle Raids Photo Array

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

17 Scribal Insights Of Patricia Lovett

Surfing YouTube I came across these well presented scribal videos. This series by Patricia Lovett is a perfect place for you to begin or review things scribal. They're inspiring too. 

Lovett is a long time professional calligrapher. She also wrote 

Calligraphy and Illumination: A History and Practical Guide,

Her information in the videos is great, but she also shares items she's created or is selling. Most of these videos are less than 5 minutes long.
  1. Calligraphy - pens 
  2. Calligraphy - papers
  3. Calligraphy - measuring lines
  4. Calligraphy - Setting up a calligraphy sloping board
  5. Calligraphy - using a pen 
  6. Calligraphy - inks and paint
  7. Calligraphy - three golden rules
  8. Calligraphy - Spacing 1 (again)
  9. Calligraphy - Spacing 2
  10. Calligraphy - sharpening nibs
  11. Calligraphy Clip - vellum and parchment
  12. Calligraphy Clip: Colour mixing in the pen
  13. Book of Hours Recreation Project 7+ minutes
I combined the following videos for you into playlists based on one calligraphy script. Each script is taught by Patricia Lovett in Youtube videos.
  1. Uncial Script Playlist 6 videos 
  2. Gothic Script Miniscules Playlist 7 videos
  3. Gothic Script Capitals Playlist 5 videos 
  4. Italic Script Playlist 6 videos
This is such a wonderful bunch of calligraphy videos. I hope you find time for them all or recommend them to a friend. Enjoy.

Related Prior Post: 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Each Scroll's An Experiment

A Hair-raising Learning Experience
From the recent scrolls I've done, I decided each scroll's an experiment. It's an options' string from its inception to beyond the scroll's completion. A learning experience all the way. 

When you receive the text you choose from the different calligraphy scripts and illumination styles. Once you pick the inspirational manuscripts suited to the recipient's persona you select individual details reflecting their accomplishments. 

There are options for materials and tools. New items to me beg for experiments to test their mettle for use. And things I've used a lot may be used in a new or unique way, like that forgotten ink bottle I found pushed way to the back. Is it still usable and do I even like it?   

That doesn't include the experiments I try. Which ink is best or more period? Which black or white paint works best? Which gold paint covers better or looks more period?

I don't think I've done any scroll in exactly the same manner as a prior one. Even if I'm using the same ol' materials and tools there's always a different way of thinking. A different way to do the same thing. A new blend of the diverse creative details. 

Through the scroll creation process, the choices you make affect its final look. The scroll's experimental results, for better or worse.  

Prior Related Post: 
The Scribal Yin Yang Puzzel
The Stalking Scribe
Dip Pen v Catridge Pen
Finding The Perfect Dip Pen Nibs
The Secrets Of Black And White Gouache  
Gouache And Watercolor Paint Comparison

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How To Search For Illuminated Manuscripts Without Getting What You Don't Want

There's something I neglected to include when I posted about searching the internet for illuminated manuscripts. I left out telling you how to exclude something you know you don't want, like Pinterest or Wikipedia items.
It's simple. You can eliminate things from your search by putting a minus before the term of the things you don't want. Any word you google immediately preceded by a "-" sign excludes those items from your search results. 
Specifically, you type a space before the minus sign and none between the minus sign and your excluded things. When I search for illuminated manuscripts without "Pinterest" I enter illuminated manuscript -Pinterest
If you tried that link you'll find the results come up under Google's option "All". If you click on the "Images" header you get this. Or just start your search on Google's "Images" page.
You can also exclude multiple items, but each term must include a minus sign immediately before it. Try illuminated manuscript -Wikipedia -Pinterest. Or possibly this, illuminated manuscript -French -Pinterest. And don't forget the space just before the -.
Omitting Pinterest boards may be important to you because not all image collections are well verified. Some board owners are better researchers than others. It's your choice, but using the - operator will reduce your search clutter.
Related Prior Post: