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 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Cat Love

Llull's Llibre de meravelles
(BNF Fr. 189, fol. 283),
  second half of the 15th-century
You have my new cat Luna to thank for this blog post. I’m lounging with my tablet because she wants a nap.
But this Luna-break gave me a reason to look up medieval pet cats. And so I came across a ninth-century poem about a monk's white cat named Pangur Ban. 

While the poem was written by an Irish monk it was found in a monastery near today’s Austria on Reichenau Island. In the poem, the monk compares his search for knowledge to the cat’s hunt for mice and the pleasure both get from their efforts.
In the poem translated by Robin Flower the monk shows the fondness he had for his cat. He named it and called his pet a “he” not an “it.”
So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.
That is a person who adores his cat.
Pangur Ban” is a delightful poem relevant to us in the SCA today when you take joy in hunting for history's knowledge. Aren't you elated when you snare an elusive information tidbit? Don't you want to show it off as a cat displays a trophy-mouse to its owner? 

Related Prior Post: 
Searching For Illumination Manuscript Humor 
SCA Award Texts

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

He's Back

Hello again, Ian the Green. I want to welcome you back with joy to the world of active blogging and ScribeScribbling. Your year-long absence of inspiring posts was noticed.

The two years you worked on a Master of Science degree is important both for you and yours. But without realizing it, your degree will benefit your interest in the hobby you describe as a "lovely and wonderful private scholarship", your explorations into historical scribal tools and materials. 
And thus it will benefit teaching your scribal readers too. Including me.

So, welcome back Ian. You were missed.

Related Prior Post:  
5 Inspiring History Recreation Blogs - An Internet Round-up

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How-to Write An SCA Award Recommendation

Recognition in Court
Do you know someone worthy of an SCA award? Someone who deserves recognition for their outstanding medieval recreations or plentiful service? If you do you can help them out by writing an award recommendation. 

Yes, you can do this. Anyone can submit one. In Calontir the easiest way to do this is by the Online Award Recommendation Form. Much simpler than writing a formal recommendation letter and snail-mailing it, like back in the day.

Awards offer people admission into Their Majesties orders. They are considered by the current Majesties for what the recipient has done, not on who you are. 

Even so, you are an important link in the recommendation process. Without you, Their Majesties may never learn the work your friend has done. Or the beautiful recreations you've seen someone else make.

Monarchs have their own ways to determine who receives awards during their reign and varies between them. So if you submitted a recommendation for someone once, do it again if they didn't receive it. You help both Their Majesties and the recipient by providing the detailed information. 

In Calontir Monarch's plan their reign soon after they become heirs. They attend order meetings to learn candidates' accomplishments. For AoA level awards the best time to submit, but not the only time, is soon after Their Majesties assume the throne. Be sure to submit an AoA recommendation at least two months prior to an event you guess your person will attend.

Begin by looking up your recipient's name in the Calontir online Order of Precedence (OP). It's easier to do this beforehand but if you don't there's a link on the online award rec webpage. Here you confirm if your friend already has the award. It doesn't look good but it happens someone gets an award twice.

On the form, there are details required about who you and the recipient are. You must give your recipients full SCA name or else Their Majesties can't even have a scroll made. But also you give your SCA name, modern name, phone number, and email. This provides Their Majesties a way to clarify any questions they have about your submission. Additional personal information helps if there are confusions about the recipient or the award. 

You'll want to describe in detail your intended recipient's accomplishments. Depending on the award and person you could include offices, local awards and any factors causing you to believe your friend or acquaintance should be given the award. If you have dates, you should use them. If you include comments others have made say who spoke them. Don't include anonymous statements. Be persuasive without exaggerating what the recipient has done. 

Consider also people who came from other local groups or kingdoms. You can look up online what they did prior to your meeting them and include that in your recommendation. 

I've been asked if you can write a recommendation for your lord or lady. If you feel they deserve it, of course, you can. Who else knows their efforts better than you? If you do, it is proper to disclose your relationship even though this is an online form.

In the SCA and Calontir, some people are given awards because they contributed to the dream in many small ways over an extended time. If you are recommending someone for such an accomplishment don't overlook even minor ways they have been helpful or inspiring. If this is huge you might ask several others to write recommendations for the same award.
Heather Receives the Queens Chalice

Write that award recommendation today. The sooner the better. You may submit the deciding factor helping Their Majesties present a deserving subject an award they'll cherish forever.

Related Prior Post: 
What's An Award Scroll's Purpose?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 5.

British Library Additional 14761 f. 30v  
c. 1340 Spain, N. E., Catalonia (Barcelona)
I was surfing the British Library's manuscript collection again for possible pictures to use on a scroll and noticed the cute bunnies in the manuscripts. Especially in the 14th century. So many, they weirdly multiplied like rabbits. 

But another thing you'll notice is how peculiarly violent some are. Beyond the pure and helpless ones, there are perplexing bunny revenge pictures.  Marginalia with bunnies attacking dogs, shooting arrows at humans, jousting at knights or simply thumbing their bunny-nose at authority. Seems like wishful thinking on the bunny's part. 

But an attacking illumination bunny may illustrate the person in the story is a coward, stupid or as meek as a lamb. Or the bunny may be warning you that "what comes around, goes around" and may bite you in the end. There are many ways you can interpret the images. 

British Library’s Royal MS 10 E IV
It is strange to me why a Medieval scribe would excruciatingly detail pictures in a manuscript then bizarrely include weird, crude bunny and other images in the near-by margins. Though perplexing the revenge bunnies do amuse me as they probably did the Medieval reader too. 

But be careful which bunny images you choose to use in your scroll as their meaning may be construed as different than what they appear to show.  For Medieval scribes, the margins were a safe space where they could critique and question society. Is that what you want to do?

So next time you're curiously surfing the internet for scroll inspiration see what you find Medieval bunnies doing, perplexing though they may be.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Rebooting My Pigments Class For RUSH

My class at the 2015
 Bellewode Symposium
You asked for it. My arm was twisted again.  I'll be teaching my "Playing With Powdered Pigments" class at the coming November 3rd Book Arts RUSH classes

I was asked to teach it at two prior Calontir Lilies War RUSH sessions, but I couldn't. The location wasn't appropriate. A little wind gust would quickly swirl away the powders wasting them or worse causing you to possibly inhale them. Neither a good idea.

Dealing with pigment powders may be harmful if not handled carefully. Your safety is important to me. While I don't use toxic pigments in this class, learning safe methods is important because even non-toxic dust can be harmful when inhaled. And repeated exposure to them may cause irritation leading to actual harm.

If you breathe in pigments or they get into your mouth they can enter your body. If you have a cut or scratch they can penetrate your skin and be absorbed. Any of these methods may cause you a health problem, even if you aren't allergic or have a predisposing condition.

It's always important to know and follow safe art procedures in any studio or class. Learning how to be safe allows you to possibly someday advance and create paint from powders that are more toxic than earth pigments such as arsenic, lead, or mercury. Learning preventive basics from the beginning will help later.

Overhead view of a student making paint.

This class lets you experience making paint by hand using eight natural earth colors. And you get to take your finished paints and safety supplies home to use on your own creations. Whether you use the paint on more art or the preventive supplies to make more paint they're yours.

While not the only way to make paint, these natural earth powders when added to a binder were used in Medieval manuscript illumination. And many are still used in paint types to this day. 

I don't know how fugitive or permanent these paints are. But this was a well-known problem for past artists. Many historic paintings look different today from how they originally appeared. Early artists experimented sometimes unsuccessfully. Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper is perhaps the most famous. His experimental technique caused it to deteriorate soon after it was created.

Creating your own paints is not just fun but an adventure to do. A lesson in art process and materials' safety. It's also a part of history. The repetitive strokes of paint making can be a rewarding, tactile, calming experience. One I hope you will come and enjoy on November 3rd. 

The class size is limited. If you don't or can't get in on the class here's my Google Doc's "Playing With Powdered Pigments" handout for your guide. Remember, "Any time ya learn, ya gain." -Bob Ross
The Only RUSH Book Arts Seminar                                                        

Sunday, September 16, 2018

What Do You See?

From the Daily Star in the UK
You can enhance your work by nurturing your visual awareness. Whether you research pixels in medieval manuscripts or notice details in modern pictures you increase your observation powers through constant practice. 

What do you see in the picture to the right? Is it a duck or a rabbit?

Whether you see a rabbit or a duck may depend on how you believe either should appear. This also happens when you recreate medieval manuscript images, especially faces and hands. We expect them to appear a certain way so we draw them onto medieval people in the scrolls we create. 

It goes a bit deeper than that. The way Medieval faces, feet, and hands appear in manuscripts vary by era or location, often in the details. Compare the images below. They're separated at least by two centuries and hundreds of miles. What do you see?

Do they appear cartoonish or realistic? How many paint layers can you find? What shading and highlighting do you see? How dense are they outlined?

Book of Kells, Folio 32v,
Christ Enthroned.

Book of Kells, Folio 32v,
Christ Enthroned.

From an 8th century 
Insular Gospel Book
the iconic Book of Kells

Escorial, Biblioteca Monasterio
 Cod. & II. 5

Escorial, Biblioteca Monasterio Cod. & II. 5

From a 10th Century 

Spanish Beatus, Mozarabic art's best-known works.


Melisende Psalter
 Web Gallery of Art 16037
Melisende Psalter
 Web Gallery of Art 16037

From Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre ca. 1131 and 1143

The Visconti Hours:
National Library, Florence
Celestial Court and
Fall of the Rebel Angels
The Visconti Hours:
National Library, Florence
Celestial Court and
Fall of the Rebel Angels

From a colorful late 14th century Italian personal Book of Hours

Looking at medieval illuminated manuscripts strengthens your detail awareness, your "medieval eye". However you do it, these in-depth comparisons are vital to scribal progress. I like how they challenge my expectations and creativity. 

Related Prior Post: 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Only RUSH Book Arts Seminar

And the Barony of the Lonely Tower Welcomes You

Calontir Book Arts RUSH 

Location: Grace United Methodist Church
112 North Walnut, Glenwood, Iowa 51534
(712) 527-4607
November 3, 2018
Site opens at 9:00 AM
Site closes at 10:00 PM

Book Arts RUSH Flyer
Whether you’re curious, have an interest or an unquenchable passion for Medieval book arts you need look no further than the coming November 3rd RUSH Book Arts Seminar, hosted by the Barony of the Lonely Tower. 

This RUSH focused seminar offers you classes in bookbinding, calligraphy, illumination, materials and tools preparation, text writing and more. Plans include a “Rat Out Your Friends” display, “Supply Swap”, “Blank Border Largess” competition, and “Round-table Discussion”. 

Come and you can again be part of Calontir’s active and growing scribal and book artisans community. Immerse yourself in a day filled with paint, glue, ink, and letters.

This day-long seminar in book art techniques and related subjects is the first of its kind within the Calontir. A class teaser includes: 
HL Sean Angus MacDuinnchinn - Introduction  to Book Binding
M Aidan Corcrinn - Black Vellum
Lady Zafar Baabur - Quills and Brush Making
HL Vels inn Viggladi- Blue Alchemy

Necessary Details:

Event Steward: M. Jehanne Bening (Susan Gordon)
3133 S. 128th Circle, Omaha, NE 68144

Co-Event Steward: Ly. Zafara Baabur (Joan Alfers) 

402-813-7702 (text only)
Adult Event Registration: $10 / Adult Member Discount Registration: $5 
 Youths and Children Free 
Family Cap: $20 / $10 with Adult Member Discount 

Make checks payable to “SCA, Inc. — the Barony of the Lonely Tower”

Related Prior Post:
Why I'm Organizing The RUSH Book Arts Seminar

Sunday, September 9, 2018

5+ Medieval History Blogs - Internet Round-up 2

From the 1430 Milanese  

illuminated manuscript 
As I work on SCA projects I come across things I think would interest you. They don't always come with pretty pictures like this Milanese rabbit, but I thought as a group you might find them interesting. So I put five together in one post with a similar topic. 

These blogs are by a variety of professional historians.  Although Karen Larsdatter is also in the SCA. 

I know you'll find them as interesting as I did. And be careful. You might lose track of time or get "hooked" by one or two.



History Of The Ancient World gives you "news, articles, and videos about antiquity, from prehistoric times to the Roman Empire." It is edited by Peter Konieczny and Sandra Alvarez who you may also know for the website – a premier resource for those interested in the Middle Ages.

Material Culture Blog where M. Karen Larsdatter "blogs about stuff from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including clothing, armor, and artwork. News about museum exhibits and new books." Don't miss her showpiece links page where you can click on anything and be amazed.  

Medieval Histories is another Larsdatter bonanza you won't want to skip. This one is her traditional blog. 

The Public Medievalist is Dr. Paul B. Sturtevant's unique blog about how the Middle Ages are currently featured in popular culture, museums and in education. You even find posts about SCA culture. 

Medieval Hungary is a blog written by Zsombor Jékely in English "
about medieval art history, with a special focus on Hungary". Jekely started posting in August of 2010 and continues today, but not as often. Even so, it's an interesting blog from a distant part of Europe. 


So that's the second Internet collection I saved for you. If this is as popular as the first I may do this often. A regular feature you might say.

Related Prior Post: