Sunday, October 30, 2016

How Can You Boost Your Scribal Confidence?

Confidence comes from physical activity. Just doing that thing you are interested in on a regular basis boosts faith in yourself. For me, it unleashed my calligraphy and illumination reliance.  

I started with little skill, as you see here. What I had was a desire to learn. To make mistakes. 

Mistakes are guideposts for a new direction, not failures. They are signs to make a change. To practice. 

I made bookmarks to practice. I made them for 12th Night gifts for friends and more. I offer you their designs here, to be the next bookmark queen before you design your own.

It is possible to learn skills from books or the internet. But, they do not provide a physical coach as a guide. You open yourself to more mistakes and must be your own critic. It is a learning process that is your own making. 

Practice builds skill but it also creates confidence. We learn not only what to practice, but why, and how. A class helps more immediately. It leads you through the motions, guides you through handling the materials and tools. You develop muscle memory through your hands and eyes along with your brain. ou In a class you do all the steps with immediate access someone who helps you discover your next safe step. 

Every teacher is a student, too. You take the risk you will have the answers your students need. I learned as much from teaching calligraphy and illumination as I did the scrolls I fashioned.

Taking risks allows us to learn. Be patient with yourself if the outcome isn't the success you hoped. It is a chance to wake-up the talents within you.

Related Prior Post:
Calligraphy Mistakes, Making and Managing Them

Friday, October 28, 2016

Surprise...I've Returned

After my life's recent craziness I took a little break. I drove to the far south side of Kansas City, MO, to visit my long time friends, again. 

I arrived in time for a BBQ party and a chance to see their extended family. (No pictures, sorry.)


Sunday we went sailing on Perry Lake, with their son Joe's family. This was a fresh pleasure and a new experience. I've never been sailing and I've missed boating since the cruiser was sold. 

The gleaming fall weather was perfect. I relished the gentle, steady breeze on my face. The temperature just right. (But too cold for swimming.) 

Joe's whole family was all over their boat. The girls fished off the front while their Mom fixed treats in the galley. No TV here. (But satellite access for safety meant the Chief's game was monitored.)

On the way back to the marina, Joe even rescued a stranded boater. His engine wouldn't restart. Boaters help boaters, because you never know when that might be you. I've been part of this many times before, but never from a sailboat.

Back at the marina, you can see Joe's boat docked until the next sail. Not many weekends remaining this season, I'm pleased I shared one with them all.

On the way home we stopped for dinner at Ted's Cafe Escondido in Lee's Summit, MO.

I love Mexican food and my friends know it. They know how to show guests a fun time. (Love you too.)


Monday we went to Westport, Kansas City, MO. It's now an entertainment district. 

My Mother's family lived and worked here, when they were young. I wanted to find the site of the old Blake Sheet Metal Shop. (I'd written about it in this earlier post.) My daughter had tried to find it on her recent trip. It's now the Westport Saloon, with entertainment nightly.

Next we walked the district, deciding to snack at McCoy's Public House. Its sunny deck was so inviting, providing a warm-hearted atmosphere for talking.

Next we drove to the Plaza to walk and browse its many shops. We finished with a Starbucks Latte while enjoying the sparkling outdoors.

We didn't just eat, shop, and talk this visit. There was the party and my last evening they BBQ'd chicken. 

Of course, I also played with their darling dog, Padre. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Enjoyable Nerdy Starbucks Encounter.

Last week at my local Starbucks I had a most enjoyable, nerdy conversation with another customer. I am still amazed.

As I sat in an easy chair, a woman, about my age, sat across knitting and looking at a laptop while wearing an in-ear speaker. She was also talking with other nearby knitters, although they weren't together. 

The fiber conversation morphed, somehow, into something about 16th century France. I'm not sure how it got there, but that is how I got hooked.

The other ladies left, but she and I then carried on a most enjoyable conversation. She is a retired professor whose area of expertise was 16th century France, close to my interest, 15th century Bruges. I couldn't believe it.

She revealed her interest in women's power during the 16th century. Saying that the matriarch was the marriage maker of that time, and more. She arranged the matches and aligned the various houses. She had stories of the time to tell.

My questions, those I had time to ask, were about France's research lack. She indicated the research continues, but the remaining written items are so fragile it takes high qualifications to access original sources. Publication is slow and translation to English probably more so.

We left Starbucks hoping to meet again. For my part, I hope it will be soon.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Calligraphy Mistakes, Making And Managing Them

If there's a way to make a scribal mistake I've probably made it. Especially in calligraphy. 

I've miscopied words and lines, skipped lines, repeated words, misspelled words, and been misinformed. I've spilled ink, changed hand style, and misjudged line spacing. 

Being tired, too caffeinated, stressed, or rushed adds to my shakiness. 

There are things I do to limit Titivilus reach, that scribal patron demon. 

When I was Calontir's Backlog Scroll Clerk, I created scrolls for all reigns, so I learned to double check all names and dates. (I verified the recipient's authenticity too, which is automatic when working with current monarchs.)  

Depending on the scroll style (century, culture, and source) I have different ways to layout spacing. To draw lines I've used the wonderful Ames lettering guide, made tic marks with a ruler and pencil, or used a computer mock-up and light box to design my spacing.  

I've never been able to memorize the text. I'm insecure even a few words at a time. I either pencil in the text on my pre-drawn lines and callig over that or write over the mock-up text in the appropriate calligraphy style. Even so, there are the long "s", abbreviations, and ligatures to include. Practice is the key.

I've spilled ink and drink on my script too. I keep both well away from my scroll. I use a cover sheet over completed sections, particularly when I get to illumination. 

Pen problems also plague me. Even when I practice the script to judge the letter size or develop a new script hand, I check my pen before writing the text. I clean nibs and sharpen them gently, regularly and as needed. I check the ink thickness and its current quality. It may have deteriorated or need thinning since last used.

I practice the script to reduce inconsistency, more when it is new to me.

With all this, mistakes still happen.

I have a knack for having to start over at least once, omitting a line or misjudging line spacing. I make sure I have back-up Bristol board or pergamenata available for these. (Much later, I will scrape off all ink from the pergamenata to use the other side for a different scroll.)

While misspelled words are period, all proper names and dates must be correct. If I make an otherwise small spelling error I might leave it or insert the letter near by. I may also write over the very dry error and using a sharp, curved knife gently scrape away the undesired letter parts. It's important to not gouge the support or over-work this.

To my thinking, illumination is easier to correct than calligraphy. After laying out my design in pencil I always go over it with a black .005 Micron pen and then completely erase the pencil. If my design doesn't work out just right I might add an extra leaf or ten, change the border's size, change the color. 

For color in the wrong place, the wrong color or small smudges, I first apply fresh water, then blot it with a clean small piece of paper towel. This may take a few tries. After letting it thoroughly dry, I might also carefully use an eraser to remove more color. Because white gouache covers well, I sometimes use it over the initial color before painting my alternate choice. It may takeIpaint one or two coats of the proper color.
If I make the silly mistake getting paint in my calligraphy, besides using one or two of the previous hints, I've sometimes covered it up with little appropriate leaves or flowers. Which creative cover-up depends on the scroll's style. 

Hopefully, these are all the possible errors. But if there's a will to make more I will find the way. Solving mistakes is how I learn best. Many solutions are given in this excellent Lochac Scribes' College web page by 
Alarice Beatrix von Thal

If you have suggestions to help mistakes my readers and I would love to read them. Please, leave them a comment below. Help us fight Titivilus together.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Incredible Wealth Of Free Artist e-Books

I've been searching and collecting information for my Scribal Resources page. Recently I came across this large free book collection by David Myers. Rather than pillage his items individually, please, check The Art is Creation, Free* Artist Reference e-Books page yourself. 

The web page is a scribe and art history geek's on-line library in one place. The books contain a humongous free information trove. Most available in Kindle format. 

No longer do you have to pay hard earned money for books or spend days at local college libraries gleaning information. (I described the research transition from library to online in a prior post.) Today, your access is easier. Take advantage of it.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Cards Against Humanity Descendant

Ever since last Christmas when I first played Cards Against Humanity I've wanted to play it again. While it was an odd thing, perhaps, to play at a multigenerational family Christmas gathering, we all had bundles of fun.
Recently I purchased my own set of cards and an expansion pack to play with my friends. We're talking about a girls' party sometime in the near future. It only takes four to play. I think I have that many friends.

Yesterday at Calontir's Fall Crown Tournament event I was able to buy the SCA descendant of that game. (My lucky benefit working the check-in gate table.) Duke Garrick spear-headed the creation, production and sale of "Crowns Amongst Nobility". By the end of the event, they were sold out.

Some question or fill-in-the-blank phrase cards include:
  • What don't you want to find in your pavilion in the morning? 
  • _____________ the ultimate aphrodisiac.
  • What's that smell?
  • If I could go back in time and re-create the SCA, I would get rid of _____________ and add ____________.
Answer cards may include:
  • Haggis
  • Blind King John of Bohemia
  • A mounted procession
  • Gates of Hell
  • A loaner cup
  • Spurs
  • Wattle and daub
These are just a sampling. Not all combinations are funny or ridiculous. But that is  true with the original game too. And some answers, like perhaps "Haggis", are funny almost anytime.

Besides fun for all, Duke Garrick presented the profits from the sale to the Kingdom of Calontir. A generous way to add to the depleted Kingdom coffers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Just had to share this. This lady gives new meaning to creative thinking and adapting.

Originally posted June 24, 2012, on the Cyber-Seniors Corner YouTube Channel

What a great role model for us all.