Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Random Reads

I love reading. Back in the day, I carried a paperback everywhere, just in case I was called upon to wait. Now with an eReader and a smart-phone, I'm never without a book. And most of them are digital. 


Unless I am reading to learn something, I now prefer casual-books that keep me laughing. The best books for this are Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune Mystery series that begins with Louisiana Longshot. I found this series a year ago and have read all eight. 

There are other's who write about Miss Fortune, her friends and the town of Sinful, Louisana, but Jana DeLeon's are by far the best. I've explored other humorous mystery writers as well, but none compare. 

I'm apparently not the only reader that adores DeLeon's Sinful tales. The books have been picked up by Sony for a future TV series. And DeLeon is now listed as a best-selling author by both the New York Times and USA Today

I enjoy her writing so much I'm reading the Shaye Archer private investigator series that begins with Malevolent. While these are serious detective stories, DeLeon's well developed, personable characters carry the book easily through its tortuous, twisting plot. 

I will continue reading the Shaye Archer series, but I can't wait for the next Miss Fortune mystery to come out. I hope the TV contract doesn't signal the series end, but a new beginning for the author. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

12 Signs You Might Be A Rabid SCA Scribe


Looking for ways to punch up my workshop presentation I discovered the tell-tale signs you have when you truly know you are an SCA scribe. I know I have shown several of these.

You might be a rabid SCA scribe when...



  • The highlights in your hair are from your gouache, not the Clairol bottle.
  • You know the exact green shade you see in the lichen on the tree.
  • You're late for a meeting because you suddenly knew exactly what detail you needed to add on your latest scroll. And HAD to paint it before you left.
  • You chose to buy that new Sable Number 20/0 Round brush instead of a Starbucks' Venti Nutella Cappuccino.
  • Viewing a sunset, you think in terms of cadmium yellow (light hue), tinted azure, and vermillion hue strokes.
  • Your cell phone always shows Ultramarine blue gouache fingerprints.
  • Sleeping at night, you consider how the shadows of your hanging wrinkled clothes should be painted.
  • You sometimes use your coffee to rinse your brushes.
  • Your friends drop in unexpectedly and you explain the cluttered house saying, "It's a work-in-progress".
  • You buy vellum instead of food.
  • You view your friend's face and wonder what it would look like painted as in the Luttrell Psalter.
  • And at night when you stop painting, you realize you have just two hours before you have to get up for work.
Thanks for sharing similar on your Marion Boddy-Evans art post.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

TBTh: 2000 Championship Entry

In 2000 I entered Calontir's Arts and Sciences Championship Competiton with the three items in this photo. 

(Yes, they were all mine. Back then I was known in the SCA as "Siobhan le Blake".)

The easiest single entry to see is the colorful six item comparative illuminated manuscript styles' study. Lower in the photo, in the center, is an oversized diamond-point engraved glass and to its right is a medieval style painted goblet. Both are similar to items I posted about previously


Can't believe it's been 14 years since I created those.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

TBTh: Warthaven's Master William Blackfox

Master William Blackfox (aka Mark Wallace), author and illustrator of the cartoon Warthaven, was, talented in many fields, including playing the bagpipes. He viewed everything in life as fun and generously gave the SCA his time and talents, until his untimely death in 1997.

For those of you who never had the pleasure of knowing William Blackfox, Master Chidiock's poem describes him well.



'WILLIAM BLACKFOX
Photo taken in 1990 at the
Coronation of Rorik and Morgana

The pipes are stilled, no longer will they sound,
To herald the beginning of a court,
No more with joy will revels now abound,
Nor will his voice of songs raise in support.

The quill laid down will not be used again,
To tell Warthaven's tale in simple frames,
No longer at his wit shall we all grin,
Nor smile at his parodies of names.

Such a great soul gone, in but a blink,
And we are left to mourn in sorrow deep,
And though to his fond memory I'll drink,
For now I can do nothing else but weep.

Oh William, it was too soon to depart,
We who remain will hold you in our hearts.

Master Chidiock the Younger

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bang Up Book: "The Art Of Teaching Craft, A Complete Handbook"

Wandering through my local 1/2 Price Books I came across  the The Art Of Teaching Craft: A Complete Handbook by Joyce Spencer and Deborah Kneen. Written in 1995 it is just what I'd been searching for to help me prepare for my calligraphy and illumination classes.

It is a practical guide to teaching small to medium classes, in your own home, your studio or at another venue. It details how to set up your space, plan your class, provide teaching aids and keep records. The authors also include multiple check-lists to summarize each section. I find it's very useful for lesson plans.

Written in 1995 for those living in Australia, it still applies to teaching crafts in the U.S. today. Although if you are starting a business you would want to confer with a lawyer on legal things. 

An easy to read book and well thought out. However, I would love to see it updated. One that would include the use of internet media such as Pinterest, Facebook, eVite and Google Doc, Sheets, Slides and Forms.  So much has changed in internet media that are useful for small group teaching, but may be unknown to some.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

6 Scroll Design Tips

I've been writing my scroll layout handout for the coming Lonely Tower Scribes' class. While it's too detailed for here I thought a few design tips might be appreciated.

Picking your inspiration 
I first choose a medieval style relating to the recipient's persona or interest. If that's not possible because time is short and I can't find that information on Facebook or through their home group, I base the design on the Monarchs' persona.

Choosing size and shape  

I consider the scroll's text when planning the layout. It's a blessing when I connect with the wordsmith prior to its writing to get an idea of the planned style.

If it includes poetry I will need more space to display the text lines appropriately. 

If it is a legal-type text may opt for a horizontal "landscape" format as in later period illuminated patents. 

Sometimes I design the scroll as if it were a bifolio, two book pages opened flat. While useful for lengthy text, it divides the "picture" in half, rather than the more eye appealing thirds.

Considering my available support, I base the size on a standard frame and mat size. It is a courtesy that encourages care by prompter framing. 

Controlling lines 
Because the eye follows lines I emphasize them. Even the natural Renaissance illuminations have tiny outlines, although I prefer the earlier styles more dramatic lines.  

I like curved lines for design interest. They're more fun to create than the strength giving horizontal and vertical lines. I control their pattern, especially when creating rinceaux, which can overwhelm script.

Balancing space 
I try to balance "white space" or negative background space and my art, the positive space. I like white space because the scroll feels less overwhelming, busy or chaotic. Too much white space and it feels boring and lifeless. I consider this balance when planning room for the Monarch's signatures and standard matting.

Contrasting colors 
I love whitework because of its intense value contrast. I also like dark lines within light areas. Both contrasts attract the eye. For color contrast, I use heraldic tincture rules to deliberately choose my colors. They were ingrained in medieval life, so you find them used in most manuscripts.

Simplify  
Balance is a key to design. If the layout design is off I simplify. I remove distracting elements or peripheral interests. When the period style is busy I choose only necessary motifs to combine for a totally original work. 

Those are my main layout considerations. Some begin with the period resources, some with the recipient. All combine to make the final scroll.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

TBTh: My Role Model

Baroness Lady Milada von Felsenhof
Until 2010 this caring woman, Lady Milada von Felsenhof, was my SCA role model. Her memory still is.

I met her in 1991 at a Lonely Tower summer revel. Besides her yummy pie for the pot-luck lunch, she brought bubbles for the children. She didn't just bring them, she played with the children with them. I still see her blowing them for their chasing.

She was an excellent seamstress and created the tastiest liqueurs. She regularly won competitions with them. As a senior woman, she also competed in and often won traditional archery tournaments, both in the SCA and in Nebraska state competitions.

My goal is to live my senior years as did the wonderful Lady Milada.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

More Reconnections



A few days ago I went to the Old Market again. 



That is always a chance for pictures.





I never know where they will pop up.

The reason for this Sunday walk and lunch at Wheatfields was to meet with good friends and visitors from Wisconson. 

When I lived in Germany John and Cerona were upstairs neighbors. John has the beard and Cerona is on his left, almost hidden. They were in Omaha for two events. John for a reunion and Cerona for a bridge tournament. 

It was great they made time for us. We talked about Germany, everyone's health and family happenings. 



This has been quite a reconnecting year for me. This visit with John and Cerona, Gillian and Arnoud from Montgomery, Tom and Carina in Kansas City and my trip to visit my brother Gene and his family in Minneapolis. Heartfelt connections all around.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What's An Award Scroll's Purpose?

In the SCA we devote hours to award creation and giving. Whether entry level or the highest awards , from start to finish, their total creativity hours are in the thousands for each six-month reign. With all that consumed time, what's their purpose?

Their obvious purpose is to acknowledge the recipient's accomplished efforts. Whether novice or peer, we celebrate together and mark their exclusive occasion.

I've received recognition at work and other clubs with a piece of paper and a handshake from my supervisor or club president. While I was pleased to receive the attention and their notice, my SCA honors mean more to me than any others. 

The SCA goes over the top with their recognition process. They beautify the awards with art, sometimes very original and detailed. They present them with memorable, entertaining style and grace.

In Calontir they identify the recipient as part of a larger, august group. You are whole-heartedly welcomed as its newest member.   

I couldn't believe it when I received my first award for illumination. I was having fun painting pictures from the Codex Manesse. I gave each one a new twist, relating it to someone in the SCA, painting a metaphor about the people receiving my art. I was abundantly surprised to be honored for having fun. 

The award made me aware my art mattered, as did the award I'd just received. It isn't only one moment in time. The award lasts. ... I have mine framed and it memorializes my joy every time I see it. It beautifies my home.

Awards express dreams. My Laurel scroll physically expresses my long-held dream realized. And, my new beginning.

There is more to awards than receiving. Award creation also gives their creator purpose. 

Whether composing text, lettering or painting, scroll creation is the reason I keep learning. There are multitudes of new skills and manuscript history still to explore. And teaching on-going classes takes my learning to a new level and a scary direction. 


 Scroll creation is how I express a fantasy, myth or noteworthy life happening. As with my Manesse Codex twist, there is sneaky pleasure including personally relevant motifs in a scroll, like those I included for HL Beatriz.   

There is also meditation in scroll painting. When I paint, on stopping I often realize hours have unknowingly gone by. I loose myself in time and the world falls away. 

Award scrolls have more important purposes than their obvious intent. We teach, learn, honor, share, beautify, and take pleasure through their giving. They give purpose to my life.