Sunday, November 11, 2018

Internet Round Up 4: Armour and Illuminated Manuscripts

Morgan M.456   Avis aus roys

Folio 34v, 1340-1360 A.D., Paris, France
Manuscript Miniatures is not exactly what you think it is from its name. It is a medieval armor research source with insight through illuminated manuscripts.  

The website's intent is to make it easier to hunt for online digitized images from numerous manuscripts. A way to quickly view 15,000+ miniatures from 1500+ manuscripts of 15+ countries. It's not a manuscript holder, so once you find an image you'll want to verify its accuracy. 

But that's easy. By clicking on the picture you'll find its source.  You can then verify its accuracy with the manuscript's owner.

Manuscript Miniatures has a tagging method that's innovative. The labels are created by viewers sometimes with interesting spellings or descriptions. It's also why you might find unique images included within a tag.

As a scribe, you might not find illumination's common term for things either. Its brickwork and brick pattern tags are what you'd call "diapering".

One of its best tags is 'elephant'. Its 75 images show Medieval people had little idea what an elephant looked like. 

But there's more for you here than illuminated manuscripts. From this web page, you can tab to other similar item categories with separate URLs like  Armour In Art, Effigies & Brasses, and Aquamanilia. Each offers similar ways to search. Its Effigies & Brasses' Links also connect you to related external armoring information. 

While this isn't exactly a blog round-up, it is a work-in-progress webpage collection with contributions welcomed. And I thought they were too good for you to miss.

Related Prior Post: 
Internet Round-Up 12, and 3

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How-to Get Your SCA Recreations Noticed

Calontir's Queens Prize just happened a month ago, September 15th. You may have seen pictures on FaceBook about it. Sadly I wasn't able to go, but I had many friends that attended. Some were novices who didn't enter. Why?

Many people make authentic medieval items but lament writing documentation. Are you like them? You make something from start to finish that's a medieval-style treasure. You want to show it off but you hate writing. What can you do? How else can you get your wondrous work noticed?

I have a few tricks for you that don't require a detailed write-up.

Coronation Event Scribes' Display
The easiest is to show your work it in an event display. A display has no judges or prizes. Although some ask you to list basic information on a small card like your name, your item's century and location. With a display, you don't even have to do research before you start. 

Displays may be for a specific purpose. Sometimes they are to show off largess donated to Their Majesties, creations by a specific guild, or items to be sold at a later auction. You'll want to be sure of the requirements before you drop off your creation.

A display may be entries by people who didn't make the things themselves. They might have been received as gifts, barter, or awards. A cool way to "rat-on-your-friends" with work by people that don't often enter competitions. There's one of these at the coming Book Arts RUSH, November 3rd.

12 Night 
Populace Choice Competition
You could enter a populace choice competition. These are similar to displays, but with a winner. They usually ask for a card label for your entry, similar to a display. The event notice will tell you if there is a theme for the competition, like this "drinking vessel". This 12th Night the populace choice competition is "anything made in contrasting colors".

The event attendees pick the entry they prefer. At the closing, the entry with the most tokens or beans wins. 

You might gift your creation to others. If you give it to Their Majesties in court everyone will see briefly what you made. If you turn it into them privately through their retinue all who visit their chambers will see it. Your work can be a gift for Their Majesties themselves, for use by the Royal office, or for largess. 

Make your creations for 12th Night or birthday presents. With this, you'll want to consider how the recipient would display or use your work. Is it something they can keep with them most of the time, like a handkerchief or belt? Or will it be left at home like handmade quills and ink? 

Donate your work as an Arts and Sciences' competition prize. For best results talk with the event's competition organizer soon after the event steward begins planning. Event staff will want to coordinate your donation with its budget and theme. This works well for both local and Kingdom events.

You might share your re-creation in a group discussion. In Calontir it's called an "artisans' show-and-tell". It was started by my friend HL Natalya Alekseya Vasilova. These are like being back in school. The maker talks about their creation while it's passed around the table for all to see. Others at the table ask questions. Sometimes a lively, friendly discussion gets going about your process. Simple and fun. 

If you can't find an artisans' show-and-tell to enter, lead one yourself. Coach everyone in the circle to share their work before you do. Encourage comments on each item and finish by sharing your creation. Of course, you'll thank everyone for coming and sharing theirs. 

Handmade Pottery Merchant Display
If you like making multiple similar creations you could sell them as an event merchant. Personally I rather write documentation, because this takes dedication, organization, planning, storage, hauling and seed-money. Still, it's a hobby that may help your budget plus get your items noticed. 

Those are the tricks you can use to show off your SCA creations without writing detailed documentation. Ways that will help you grow in knowledge and confidence while you investigate period practices. The best part is they connect you with SCA friends who share your interests in medieval arts and sciences. 

Related Prior Post: 
Why Write Documentation For SCA Projects?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Craft Dancing

True ease in writing comes from Art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance. -- Sound and Sense by Alexander Pope.
I came across this aphorism in a book I picked up down the street at the Half-Price Books Store. The quote describes the way good writing appears. It's a bold claim that a good writer makes it look effortless and easy. 

I like the quote because if you substitute a word like "calligraphy", "embroidery" or "silversmithing" - any art or craft you choose - it becomes a rousing inspiration for your particular creativity. A call to master your chosen craft as Pope describes. Just as people who look really great doing their thing dancing had to learn. They didn't come to it by chance and spontaneity.

Creativity is a balance between innovation and learning. At times it flows smooth and easy. Other times, especially learning times, you struggle and your steps are slow. Your passion keeps you moving forward and keeps the fun in learning.

Everyone is creative, more or less. It isn't reserved for geniuses or an unattainable state. It's more the direction you take it and the way you choose to adapt.

Pennsic War XXIII
Creativity can be:

  • Auditory
  • Mechanical
  • Physical
  • Relational
  • Verbal
  • Visual
And more.

No one knows - although many search - if you can learn to be more creative. In my experience, I am more creative when I loosen up and just have fun. When I stop comparing my efforts to what others do. 

There are no step-by-step dance directions for you to grasp creativity directly. It takes lateral thinking. Solving problems indirectly, using gauzy reasoning or misty ideas not immediately obvious. 

Keep exploring and having fun in whatever direction the SCA or life takes you. Give yourself permission to innovate. Creativity will flow.

Related Prior Post: 

Related External Blog:
Austin Kleon

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Surviving The Event Black Hole

The Calontir RUSH Book Arts Seminar is only three days away. I am now in a black hole of confusion. As Event Steward, I am in the uncomfortable spot in an event timeline that is often chaos.

Have you ever been there? Pulling your hair out chaos.

While I think I've organized everything into oblivion, the preparation steps are not quite complete. There is still positioning everything at the event site, which won't happen for two more days.

This is also the time as a RUSH Regent - my second hat - when I beg and pray all the scheduled instructors will stay committed. May no SNAFUs or monkey-wrenches enter their lives. While I have a friend or two who could pull out a dusty class and fill in, that's disappointing for all. Especially if you are the student who drives hours, maybe overnight, for just one class and then it's missing.

It's also when a creeping feeling follows me around whispering, "It won't work." I want to fix all and move on, push through and get the job done because I fear the whispers coming true.

To tamp them I revisit my plans and break them apart. I dismantle every section into tiny pieces and ask more questions: 

  • Have I gotten off track? What's missing?
  • Does one of my staff need help? Who could do that?
  • Have I prepared enough? Or overdone it?
  • Is there another approach I could use? Should I ask for someone's opinion?

I don't know if this is over preparation, but it helps with the whispers - at least partly - until I can take more action. It doesn't take them away completely and the waiting continues to beat down my confidence.

Hopefully, these nagging doubts and questions lead to a better event. Sometimes vague feelings are like NCIS Gibbs infamous "gut"  signals to look deeper or make a change.

The day is fast approaching, but since I'm used to a fast-food world it can't get here soon enough. 

Related Prior Post: 
Winging It--Crash Space Coordination

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Putting Medievalists

This happened Friday evening. My friends and I dressed in "garb" and met at Medieval Putt in Elkhorn to bobble our way through 18 holes.  

I'm not great at this. In fact, I'm ghastly. Then throw in riding a mini zip line all I could do was have fun. And I did. So much I missed the best pictures swinging a club unsuccessfully.

After several energetic rounds, Lonely Tower's Baron Augustin found a place to rest and relax to watch Baron Master Misha sink another putt.

What's this? Can't you tell? It's a foam red and black Lonely Tower constructed by Augustin in his spare time.

But my team wasn't the only one. And there were more dragons to see.

Just too cool.--->

Crossbows and minigolf. What could go wrong? 

Nothing really. But the bow wasn't much help getting the ball to the target either.

Meanwhile, the Tower's other teams surged forward.

After the game, M. Rose took her turn on the dragon.

The crowning photo is the whole gang collecting with the dragon for a Barony of the Lonely Tower Medieval Putt team photo.

Image may contain: 17 people, including Jim Janicki, Susan Gordon, Joan Alfers, Kimberly Bowles, Sylvia Kostisin, Dia Hilton and Roger Norton, people smiling
Photo courtesy of Jim Janicki

Related Prior Post:
A Bored Calontiri Is A Dangerous Calontiri

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 6

Jacques de Longuyon's poem
"Vows of the Peacock."
Tooting butt trumpets, really? It's amazing what you can find exploring Medieval illuminated manuscripts on the Internet. And this isn't the only one.

Medieval scribes worked long hours in cold rooms bent over their work. To entertain themselves bored and cranky Medieval scribes used the page's margins to kvetch, adding ribald doodles that often commented on the text they were yet again copying. 

If this perplexing marginalia entertains you I recommend Michael Camille's enlightening book Images on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art. It teaches about their comments on Medieval life and gives you a rare look at their way of thinking.

Surfing the Internet for weird marginalia is fun. But Camille's very readable book takes that beyond exploring to learning about the perplexing border pictures and the people that doodled them.

Prior Related Post:
You can see others in my series Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

300 Posts And Counting

I want to say thank you to all my readers. You are the reason I continue writing. Your numbers are growing and that's thrilling to me.

If you had told me when I started this in December of 2015 that I'd still be doing this in late 2018 I would have doubted you, if not telling you straight out, "No way". 

I doubted I'd have enough ideas to interest you and keep you coming back for more. And it's "kind of a big deal" because this is my 300th post. Can you believe it?

It is a challenge. But I love my SCA readers, the hobby, and the Society. So this is now a big way I continue to participate.

I also want to thank those who leave me comments below or stop me at event's and ask questions. You are my dearest connections. You tell me what interests you and guide my future quests. So let me know what you want to see on here because I try to make this for you.

As we say,
"For the Dream."

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Scroll Finishing Touches

Deadline Made - Court Presentation
So you finished a scroll, and you’re pleased. You're also glad. Glad you didn't have to start completely over. Glad you made it with time to spare before the presentation deadline. But is that all to finishing a gorgeous scroll? What about finishing touches?

Getting the finishing touches right can elevate a scroll to something special so they are worth your time.

Remove Extraneous Marks
Penciled guidelines and motif designs leave marks and halos behind. While it isn't crucial they're removed - some scribes feel they are part of the work and leave them - most people erase them.
This best begins before you start your work. Do a test sample first to determine if your ink or paint is affected by a white vinyl eraser. And if the substrate's appearance is unpleasantly changed. 
When your scroll is done use your eraser to remove unwanted marks. Be meticulous and work in a strong light. Possibly use a magnifier. Turn your work in all directions to check for line-scraps you might have missed.  

Mounting and Framing
As the scroll creator, you likely have ideas of what the mount and frame might look like. Unfortunately, we often don't even know the recipient or get their input.  

Illusive Framed and Mated Scroll 
While the best decisions about where the scroll's “edge” should be placed happen when you're nearly finished they're difficult to make if your work has been squeezed onto a page that is barely big enough. You are now committed to a particular mat and frame size.
Again, this best begins before you start your work. Plan ahead to leave at least an inch of blank paper or pergamenata around your creation. This allows you to make finishing touch choices about where the margins will be. Especially if your generous leafy rinceaux wanders out of bounds.

A good tool for helping with this is a standard mat. I keep several just for this purpose. You could also use four paper strips. Lay these around the scroll as temporary outer edges moving them until you have an attractive look.

Give Yourself Credit 

This should not be an afterthought either. Take pride in what you do. Seclude your makers mark within your art. On the back give your SCA name and any other's that worked on the scroll. Don't forget the wordsmith writer too. 
Often scrolls are displayed on exhibition and easy identification will be wanted. Now most Kingdoms have an online display. You don't want to be listed as anonymous for your gorgeous work shown in a scribal Rat-Out-Your-Friends Display.

Bottom Line
While these are finishing touches that take planning before you begin, you are your work's curator. Express yourself, and have fun. Your recipient will be impressed.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tracing Uses

Tracing is not cheating. Well, it is if you are passing something off as your own work. But meticulously copying a medieval manuscript you admire is excellent practice. It works well for copying illumination motifs and is a period practice. 
This image of the manual is from the Public Domain Review

Tracing is even better for calligraphy. It helps you learn the best tools and strokes to use to achieve a manuscript's same result. It's also a good exercise warming up your hand-eye-brain connection before a lettering session.

To better understand your favorite manuscript's letter formation select a page with mostly script. Download and print all or part of it in a size that suits your premium printer paper and nib sizes. (Any printer paper less than premium bleeds ink for sure.) Adjust the page size and density through your photo editor. Select your nib size to approximate the printout. Then go over the letters your print out.

If you go to the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts advanced search on the right there is a box where you can enter a script's name. Their terms are rather specific so you might have to try more than once with different script names. Or select a manuscript by location and era.

You might also practice letters from this 1510  pattern book from Swabia, Germany made by Gregorius Bock that I've pictured.

Once you have your printed page you can trace the script and form the letters like the original instead of using a generic script by Marc Drogin in Medieval Calligraphy, Its History and Technique

While giving calligraphy a tiny practice time-chunk frequently is more beneficial than having a marathon practice monthly learning or practicing a script from a medieval manuscript tracing takes longer. But through tracing, you discover on your own new ways to maneuver the pen that may set apart your own calligraphy for the future. Either way, make time for it, and you’ll be rewarded.

Related Prior Posts: 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

British Library's Own Internet Round-up

This may seem to you like cheating, but these are too good not to check out. 

Cutting from a University of Padua diploma
 c. 1465-79
They are the British Library's collection of blogs. A group of interesting, knowledgeable blogs all in one place. You could say they are its own "internet Round-Up".

One blog is perfect for SCA book artists. It's their Medieval Manuscripts Blog. This blog promotes the British Library's manuscript curatorial works. Including their medieval historical and literary manuscripts, charters and seals, and early modern manuscripts. The blog topics range from Homer to the Codex Sinaiticus, from Beowulf to Chaucer, and from the Magna Carta to the papers of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. It also provides updates on the Library's digitization projects, current research, and their exhibition programs.

I enjoy particularly enjoy the Medieval Manuscripts' Blog post's caption competitions. In it, they give you a manuscript image and readers tweet their captions for it. The blog writer then later posts the best responses. Often humorous, some are inspiring.  

You may also like the blog's featured manuscript posts. They are interesting for the unique manuscripts presented and their close-up images.

Another is the British Library's  Maps and Views Blog, also often relevant to what we do as scribes. The Library's map collection is the world’s second largest, numbering 4.5+ million spreading of over 2,000 years.

Two interesting Maps and View Blog posts you want to see are The Virtual Mappa Project: Online Editions of Medieval Maps... and  Maps in GCSE resource cupboards.

These are the British Library's two blogs if you're in the SCA are a must read. Their other blogs occasionally do as well.  If you haven't already, I'm sure you'll add them to your reader app and follow them regularly.

Related Prior Post:  
Internet Round-Up 1 and ps and views blog recent