Thursday, April 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Artisan of the Steppes, 2000

Artisan of the Steppes is a body of work competition that's been held in the SCA Kingdom of Ansteorra for over 28 years. Work diversity is encouraged including endeavors that didn't click with the maker. All items entered have documentation on their history and creation.

Mosaic Entries

I took these pictures August 6, 2000, in the Dallas/Fortworth area. I went there to visit my friend being elevated to the SCA Order of the Laurel. 

Agripina Sitting Vigil

I met Mary Ann in Lonely Tower and knew her then as Gillian Esmond of Dragonsley. We became best friends.

When she moved to Texas she changed her SCA name to Agripina Argyra, because she loved researching different history eras and people. Now she lives in Montgomery, Alabama, and is a professional artist.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reconnecting With My BFFs and Kansas City

Revisited my best and longest friends last weekend. They live in a small town outside of Kansas City, Missouri. I last saw them in November for their 50th Anniversary. We had such a wonderful visit then, I returned for more fun and promise to repeat often.
Besides chatting hours sharing life stories they asked what I wanted to see around KC. I said The Train Station and The Plaza. I didn't need to be more specific. Kansas City is known for its humongous 1914 Union Station and its Country Club Plaza shopping district.

I wanted to see the train station because as a child I took many wondrous trips on trains from there. To Chicago, California, and Washington, D.C. I remember the vital crowds, fond farewells, and glad reunions. Its loud-speaker announcements still ring in my ears. 

Since airline travel took off, the station was used less frequently. It might have been destroyed but in 1996, a project was funded to renovate it, completed in 1999. I wanted to see the results.

We had lunch at the new Harvey's at Union Station. It's prominently located in the Grand Hall. This Harvey's is a local family-owned breakfast and lunch restaurant providing current trend meals and beverages. (Thank you Havey's for your tasty food and the use of your photo.)                                                                                               

After lunch, we wandered around the station's halls and gift shops. Then visited the model trains' exhibit. An 8,000 sq ft free display of N and G scale model trains.

This visit, beginning at Crown Center where we first parked and ambled through shops, and ending in the Union Station is one that children could enjoy. Children love trains, but both venues have multiple child-friendly activities. I was well surprised. 

From there we drove through Kansas City, MO. So much has changed since I moved away 30 years ago, I'd have to write a book, not a blog, about it. 

Anthropologie Paintbrush Display
We ended the day shopping on The Plaza. I only have one picture, because I was busy looking at things to not buy. At Anthropologie this artsy, clever display caught my eye. It took hours to string them all up. The clerk said they even had to dip new brushes in the various paint colors. Sensational.

Visits at their home continued, of course. They included their sweetheart dog, Padre. Padre is about 2 years old. They rescued him as a baby from the humane society at South Padre, Texas. He is adorable. All about people, especially guests. He's my buddy when I'm there.

Chatting And Padre

The next day we drove across into Kansas to shop at the vast Legends Outlet Mall. A brilliantly sunny day to walk, shop, eat, drink, shop, snack and enjoy the day. Another kid-friendly place and it's near other attractions.

My last day there we went to Cockrell Mercantile Company. The cutest cottages and small old farm buildings repurposed to sell kitchen, dining, and cooking items. I think their five buildings are crammed with every cooking and baking related item made.                                                                                                                                               

Just now I'm more into down-sizing than buying, but a girl can admire, play and dream.

After the Cockrell shopping adventure, we drove to John Knox Village, the graded care facility where my parents retired and lived for over 13 years. It hasn't changed since the 80s, but the area around it has changed oodles. We passed through and found their duplex then on to dinner at Jack Stack BBQ. Another great KC BBQ tradition. Now franchised.

The finale was a "blizzard" at Andrew's Ice Cream and Desserts. There isn't one near me; that alone made it special. My mint chocolate was the creamiest end to the day.

Sounds like all we did was eat, shop, talk and play with the dog. Yes, that's true. What better way is there to stay connected with great friends? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My 10 Favorite Scribal Materials and Tools

I've been a scribe way over 20 years and along the way I have collected materials and tools. Some end up in a bin never to see the light of day again. Other's become as necessary to me as water. 

Here's my 10 favorite scribal materials and tools, except for paint and paper towels. Things I can't do without when I create an original scroll. 

  • Ames Lettering Guide-- This helps me draw goofproof calligraphy guide-lines with consistent line spacing. I'm also able to have the letter height different from the space between lines. It's well worth learning how it works.
  • Brause Calligraphy Nib--  I like these stiffer nibs because I still have a heavy hand. Their top reservoir and keen edge help me make clear, sharp letters.
  • Calligrapher's Bible by David Harris or another letter example.-- I like this book because it lays flat and is a smaller size. I sometimes use my own hand-lettered examples that I've done on 3" x 5" cards.
  • Computer-- I use this for inspiration research such as scroll recipient's interests on Facebook and original manuscript images. It saves time contacting friends for information and searching through university books.  
  • Light Box-- Mine is a Light Tracer Light Box II. I've had it for years. While it is slanted I have a large book under the back of it to slant it more. That makes for easier viewing and better ink flow.
  • Pearl Ex Brilliant Gold pigment. I mix it with gum Arabic and a drop of water. It is so brilliant I add purple to dull it. It mixes easily and spreads like gouache. Mixed with gum Arabic you can let it dry in the pan and reconstitute like gouache and watercolor. Pearl Ex pigments can be mixed with most binders including nail polish and glue.
  • Pergamenata heavy weight-- I love this because it looks, feels and acts like real leather vellum while being economical. It's easier to use than Bristol board, although that is cheaper.
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Pens-- These acid-free, archival precise permanent pens can't be beat. Their ink does not feather, bleed, or spread through paper. And it doesn't fade. I use a black or sepia 005 for designing and larger for image edges when they are done. I prefer to buy these in person where I can open the pen and check the tip's condition.
  • Twin swing arm lights. Having two light sources on my page, angled from different directions, prevents shadows and makes it easier to see my work. I have my own antiquated system and can't give you any maker. Sorry.
  • Westcott C-Thru Plastic Ruler-- I have the 1" x 12" size of the plastic 8ths graph ruler. I use the zero center scale to locate the middle of any area. The graph grid makes it easy to create diaper patterns. Wouldn't know what to do without it.

These are my 10 favorites. You may have a different favorites list. I'd love to know what your's includes. Please, post them below in the comments section. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

70 Years And Still Counting

I turned 70 this month. A shocking number for me because for centuries, people didn’t often reach that age.     

I remember in high school learning the average life expectancy was 72 years for women and I've almost reached that age. Scary. 

The good news for my generation in the USA is life expectancy rose to 78.8 years in 2012, a new high. And life expectancy increases as you age because if you've passed death-defying youth, age-related illnesses, catastrophes and plagues there seem to be fewer pitfalls at this age. So the older you become the older you can become. I hope that's true.

The trick is to just stay alive, busy and connected. That's never been a challenge before, but now it is my purpose and my goal. This blog is one way I do that. Being valuable to you gives me purpose. Thank you.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad's wedding picture taken in 1926. Conrad Gubera married Florence Blake June 30th that year. 

1926 picture of man and woman
Florence and Connie 1926

Connie and Florence at their 50th Anniversary celebration. 

older man and woman stand behind a buffet table on their 50th anniversary
Florence and Connie's 50th Anniversary

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Is It A Script, Hand or Font?

What's the difference between script, hand, and font?
I've heard these terms used almost interchangeably. There is a difference.
A script is a handwriting form used as a model, the writing style a calligrapher scribe has in mind to create. In general, they have names like "Uncial", "Carolingian", and "Gothic", to name a few. Researchers identify a script by collecting thousands of individual examples and analyzing them for a similar look. 
The hand is personal to the individual scribe.It's what I actually put on paper or vellum, with any imperfections. I may intend changes because I don't do a certain letter well, or they may be due to the pen I use. I may choose to tweak certain letters because I think they're prettier that way or to fill more space. Those differences make up my hand.
The word font comes from the Middle French term "fonte" meaning something that's been melted or cast. It next referred to the set of metal type used in a printing house. 

This term now applies to a digital letter system such a "Veranda", "Arial", or "Comic".  Today's digital font has numerous variations due to the many people that like designing letters.
These terms also have categories and subsets. I won't go into them all. I'll leave most of them to the paleographers. A few are important for scribes.
A majuscule script has only same height letters and no slant. It's similar to using only capital letters to write. 
A minuscule script has ascenders and descenders. (The lead-ins to a small "h", "b", and "d" are ascenders and the tail of a "g", "y", and "p" are descenders.) It's similar to writing with only lower case letters.
And an italic script is, of course, a slanted form of an otherwise straight, verticle script.
There are more terms, especially the further into writing history you go as a calligrapher. Even the term calligraphy, meaning beautiful writing, didn't show up until 1604, according to Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday Photos of Lonely Tower's 12th Night

These were taken at Lonely Tower's Twelfth Night event, January, 2006.  The event was held at Omaha's Masonic Center which has been outside our budget recently.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Playing With Period Pigments Class" Taught

I'm teaching again!! It's been years, unfortunately. 

In early April you can take my "Playing With Period Pigments" class at the Bellewode Heraldic Scribal and Dance Symposium in Kirksville, MO. It is a safety and hands-on class, teaching paint production from natural earth powdered pigments. You'll take home the safety supplies and paints you make.

Would you care to see photos I snapped in 2010 of the same class? I just have two.

6 Ladies in medieval clothing working powdered pigments at a table
Calontir Scribes Playing with Powdered Pigments

Three Ladies in medieval clothing at a table making paint
Making Paint From Powder
My Messy Studio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What do I do to prepare? First I must clean out my neglected mini-studio. Poor thing has been ignored for a few months since I got hooked on blogging. I'll take stock of my handouts and supplies. Then I'll cajole/invite a few Lonely Tower scribes to take a condensed practice class.
20 raw rock samples in their display case
My Raw Rock Mineral Collection
                                                                     Each time I teach a class it's different. New, this time, you will see and hold my raw mineral rock collection. Ground to powder and added to a binder, these rocks make paint used in manuscript illumination . Some are used in paint to this day.
Getting started, wouldn't it be great if my studio were self-cleaning? I'd be ecstatic! You know, cleaning is usually last on my to-do list. There are so many crafts and computer things I rather do.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Craft Room Makeover

I now have a larger, enhanced sewing and painting room by turning a guest room into my craft and cardio space.
Before: Closet Studio

Before my calligraphy, illumination, and other painting was done in a walk-in closet. I used it as a studio. It had electricity, shelving, and tables but was devoid of inspiration, sun, and space. 

I had to organize and clean to prepare for my next paint-making class. So I decided to revamp instead.

My sewing area had been the dining room table, with fabric and supplies stored in another room. My ironing board was in the laundry room, put up and taken down as needed. 

My desk was in my bedroom with filing cabinets in other rooms. My gazelle exerciser was on another floor. 

I have transformed all into one room with four zones. I also have an East-facing window with a grassy-tree view. The light, larger space, and openness free my inspiration muse.
After: Desk and Gazelle Zones

The office zone, has my scaled-down desk, filing cabinet, and scanner/printer. Everything I need is close without taking up floor space. When I want a chair, I have two in the room that easily roll where I want them.

I lugged my gazelle down from upstairs to the room's cardio zone. I placed it so I can see trees and squirrels while exercising. I hope the outdoor view and creative ambiance boost my puny exercise interest. 
After: Sewing Zone and more

Across the room, is the sewing zone. The old dresser holds my knitting, embroidery supplies, and sewing notions.To its right is a dedicated sewing table, always ready. I even have room to leave up my ironing board and dressmaker's dummy.

To the left is a bookcase with sorted and assorted fabrics. (Yes, that's my old boom box and elevator music). The closet holds my clothing works-in-progress and larger continuing projects.

After: Painting and Sewing Zones
My painting and calligraphy zone is the room's largest. I put down a vinyl floor remanent for easy clean-ups. Then moved in the tables and swing-armed light from the old studio. I brought in the expected art accessories, knowing others will migrate as I need them. I plan to add wall art soon.

Remodeling always has a trickle-down effect. 

After: Studio Now A Closet

The old studio is now a closet for residual craft things. I moved in a bookcase from upstairs which filled up fast. And the old coffee table with bins and boxes of stuff I sell on eBay. That miscellany is now behind closed doors yet close to the necessary scanner and computer. I'm overjoyed they're no longer any ugly eyesores in my bedroom.

Now my bedroom has a calm, spacious, uncluttered feel. Without demanding projects and digital devices, I sleep better. I wake up rested and enthused to start another creative day.