Sunday, December 30, 2018

Challenging The New Year

Calendar fragment with wishes for the new year.
Printed in Basel 
between 1480 and 1490. ow in the British Museum
The New Year is fast approaching. Just two days away. As I do most every year at this time I reflect on the last year. I encourage you to do the same for your SCA life. 

You'll want to consider both things that went well for you and things that did not. What inspired your SCA creativity and what depleted your energy? And how well you used your hobby time? 

After pondering those questions I consider what I learned last year. And, what  I did with what I learned.

And finally, I consider how I might do things differently in this new year.

For the future I set goals. One long-term goal that I chop into several that are shorter. 

Last year my SCA goal was to better connect with the SCA scribal community. Then M. Aidan - the current Calontir Minister of Arts and Sciences - chose to take within the scribal community all Book Arts, not just the skills used for making scrolls. So I expanded my goal slightly to connecting better with Calontir's book artisans.  

As with many SCAdians, the reason for this goal was my restricted budget. I wanted a way to connect and support Calontir scribes that didn't involve kenneling my two dogs for extended periods. The kennel cost limits my participation. You may have limiting budget factors too. Most of us do.

Thus sprang the last year's Book Arts RUSH. A long-term goal I championed.

My smaller goals were based on it. General autocrat duties. Developing a focused class plan. Connecting with instructors to fulfill the plan. Connecting with my Lonely Tower event staff. Promoting the event throughout Calontir. Even the new, simple craft I took up - making the period-style tasseled bookmarks - was to make site tokens.

I used my cell phone's calendar to schedule goal deadlines. And set daily tasks I could check off as I accomplished them. This helped inspire me and keep track of my progress.

To "talk" with everyone, I set up two FaceBook messenger groups. One with instructors and one with the Lonely Tower staff. Another way I could connect.

While I did this for one personal goal I sought to help other Book Artisans too. To encourage their learning and interaction along with mine. 

For the coming year, I highly recommend - whatever your level in the SCA or your chosen craft - set yourself a long-term goal. Then use it for focus and inspiration in your smaller tasks. 

Make it a New Year's priority. Thoughtfully consider the areas you think you fell short last year. We all have them. Then make next year's plan to grow in the hobby you love. 

Related Prior Post:
New Years, New Opportunities
Do You Have Creative Goals?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Merry Christmas All

I'm fortunate my grandkids wanted this Grandma to stay overnight again this year. Waking up and watching them open their presents is my gift from them. There is no greater joy than seeing their dreams come true on Christmas. They won't always be so eager for my sleepover with them, but for now I will enjoy it and be grateful.

I hope you shared your holiday with people you love. And may you also have been blessed with joy.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Wishes From The 16th Century

With tomorrow being Christmas I thought you would enjoy this 16th-century poem describing what it meant at least to Thomas Musser - the poet of early Elizabethan farm life. Musser wrote about it in his book Fiue Hundreth Pints O Good Husbandry chapter 23. 
Feast from the British Library's 16th-c
 digitized Golf Book Add MS 24098  f. 19
Of Christ cōmeth Christmas, the name wt ye feast, a time full of ioy, to the greatest & least.  
At Christmas was Christ (our sauiour) borne the world thorough sinne, al together forlorne. 
At Christmas the day, doth begin to take length,of Christ our faith, do begin to take strength.
As Christmas is onely, a figure or trope: so onely in Christ, is the strength of our hope. 
At Christmas we banket, the riche with the poore,who▪ then (but the miser) but opeith his doore.
At Christmas of Christ, many Carols we sing: and geue many gifts, in the ioy of that king.
At Christmas in Christ, we reioice and be glad,as onely of whom, our comfort is had.
At Christmas we ioy, altogether with mirth: for his sake that ioyed vs al, with his birth.

Whether you are rich or poor may you feast tomorrow and be filled with joy, mirth and the people you love. As Musser also wrote "At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.‎" Page xxxvii 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Kris Kinder Market in Calontir

Well, this didn't go well. I'm a delinquent blogger. So many pictures for your viewing, so little time during the holidays.

Earlier this month I went to Calontir's Kris Kinder Market event, again. It's my favorite indoor event. Who doesn't like to shop and visit with friends?

Here are a few of the many photos I snapped while browsing the wares for sale. 

At Avalon Oddiments I found a friend. Along with the SCA garage sale items and knit fingerless mitts, hats, and socks, there at ease in her basket was Buttercup the comfort cat. 

I found Lord Garren of Ashton Tor had added something to the inventory of the many looms he sells. He now makes and sells wood textile stamps. A wonderous idea. You can choose from his many pre-made options or custom order your design. 

The stamped pattern looks smashing painted on whole cloth fabric or to spiff up that boring plain garb you already have. You know, that thing in the back of your closet.

But at Kris Kinder, there's so much more going on than shopping. Besides multiple meetings, you see people working on their crafts.

This Lady is carding fiber. She sells it in her stall.

There are artisans everywhere. Here's an embroiderer in the hall.

And a couple by the Christmas tree busily weaving wire.

There's even a spinner under the stairs.

Down the hall you find people waiting to speak with Honorable Lady Marie le Favre during her vigil. She will be taken into the Order of the Laurel at the evening court.

Here's something unique, cross-legged seated cooking at a floor grill. He told me it was the closest electrical outlet he found to Honorable Lady Marie le Faivre's vigil table. He wanted to get the food to it as fast as he could to keep it hot.

The aforementioned vigil food for your enjoyment. 

There are now people still sewing on garb for the evening elevation ceremony. I think this is sort of a tradition, at least it happens often.

Then there's the evening court... 

...with Marie le Favre's Laureling ceremony.

And the spinning wheel keeps on turning, even through court. 

Be sure to check out Mistress Dorcas Whitecap's full Kris Kinder Market court report.

Related Prior Post:  
Shopping and Merriment at Kris Kinder - 2015  
A Golden Day: Shopping At Calontir's Kris Kinder Market - 2017

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Tips To Preventing Rusty Dip Pen Nibs

Luna protesting.
Oh no. I've done it again! 

I know calligraphy nibs are not made from sturdy, tough metal. And you can't expect them to remain looking brand-new forever. But I wanted to keep using my favorite nib. The one that makes the fine strokes just as you like. So how can you prevent your favorite nib from rusting? Is there any special cleaning you can do to make it last?

Of course you already know leaving an ink coated nib to dry harms the metal whatever the ink type. The best thing - of course - is to wash and dry your nibs carefully then store them safely. Obviously an unattained goal of mine.

There are a few tips to keeping your dip pen nibs usable. 

Prevent water or ink from going any higher than the tiny vent hole above the nib's tines. You can see it on this nib just below the rusty oval well, although not all nibs have that well. Try to dip your nib only up to that hole, no higher. Only have enough water in my water jar to cover the nib's working part keeps me from getting it up into the holder. If the water gets into the holder it can unexpectedly drip onto your work and ruin your scroll's text. (Don't ask me how I know.)

Don't let inks clog the fine channel between the two tines. Acrylic inks are terrible for this. And Sumi and Iron Gall inks are especially damaging because they cause pitting and actually encourage rusting. 

As you write clean off your nib every few minutes or anytime you notice ink drying on it affecting your ink flow. Just swish your nib around in water only up to the vent hole. Letting water get up in the pen holder also causes rust and makes nib insertion difficult.

To clean your nib just swish it around in water up to just above the vent hole Using a non-fibrous cloth wrap the nib between your non-dominant hand's forefinger and thumb. Then squish the nib in the cloth and remove all the moisture. No fancy cleaners required. Traces of ink may remain but shouldn't affect the ink flow as you write. 

If you're putting you nibs away include removing the detachable reservoir to clean away any ink underneath. Finally remove the nib from the holder. Once the nib is dry you can store it safely. 

I keep a stash of my favorite nibs because I confess to committing these mistakes more often than I like. I check my nibs when I get a new scroll assignment and reorder them regularly.

Related Prior Post:
Tips For Saving Money As An SCA Scribe
How To Sharpen Your Broad-Edge Calligraphy Nib
 Finding the Perfect Dip Pen Nibs
Dip Pen v Cartridge Pen

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Internet Round Up 5

Again my internet surfing snared websites too good to keep from you. These turn up as I sleuth out information for blog posts. I've been saving them to post in one place. These popped up relating to life-long e-learning. And learning  about Medieval history, its people and its things are what we do in the SCA.

The Medieval History section of Thought Company. This is a life-long learning website with 20 years creating educational content. Each section has its own 'guide' editor highlighting interesting topics and commentary articles. There's a helpful Section Guide with their interests and an email newsletter for you to keep learning something daily.

Khan Academy is a non-profit organization offering you personalized learning videos and an individualized dashboard so you can study at your own pace. Its intriguing Introduction to the Middle Ages is a perfect starting place for Medieval private study. is for more scholarly research. It a way academics share research papers with masses of people for free. The company's mission is to accelerate the world's research. But it also allows them to monitor analytics impacting their research, and tracking the research they follow. is widely read attracting over 37 million visitors a month.

Related Prior Post:
Internet Round-Up 12, 3, and 4.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

People Of Color In SCA Award Scrolls

With western art books and resources being mostly produced by white people they tend to assume the white European as a human standard. And in Western European illuminated manuscripts there is a dearth of people of color. But they do exist. And all ethnicities are welcomed into the SCA. 

Dijon - BM - ms._0562 f. 181Vcreated around 1260-1270
representing the Holy Land

So how do you create an award scroll for a non-White friend with people that look like them?

Or maybe your scroll recipient has assumed a Saracen persona. How do you create a scroll creating accurate historic art combat scenes?

You seek out original works.

There are a few Western European illuminated manuscript pages including people of color. But they may be inappropriate to use such as this one portraying people in the Holy Land created in the late 13th century. 

Some 13th -15th century popular French illuminated manuscripts feature Christian-Muslim interaction pictures such as the British Library's Histoire d'Outremer. And various copies of the Grandes Chroniques de France and the Roman d'Alexandre en Prose.

But the best place to search is the website MedievalPOC. It is a blog showcasing European works of art featuring people of color from the fall of the Roman Empire until about 1650. Often these works go unseen elsewhere and you might see them differently now viewing them from a fresh perspective. The blog is searchable and even gives you a guide to its use.

If you search digitized manuscripts you'll see the earlier ones appear with dark-skinned Europeans. Later images display more specific ethnicity. To help your technique is a tutorial guiding you in drawing modern heads with ethnic differences. Modern, but will help your observation skills too.

We choose the historic aspects to use for inspiration and should be able to include accurate and appropriate diverse period images in our SCA recreations. The reality is even pre-17th-century European life absolutely included black and brown people. European art history misrepresents that in American classrooms. But you can find people of color in period European art with some research. Take time to look at illuminated manuscript details "because you wouldn't want to be historically inaccurate."
Related Prior Post: 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Happy Friendversary - Almost

Detail from the British Library's manuscript Burney 201  f. 90 

Some of you have been reading this blog since I started it December 9, 2015. I am so pleased you are still with me. It's an anniversary of sorts. A friendversary. 

It's been an incredible journey for me. Seeing my numbers rise is inspiring. And the numbers keep going up. 

I started it as a hobby and a way to stay connected with people in the SCA and other scribes. I've tried to give you meaty purposeful tips, tricks, and information about book arts and the SCA. 

I couldn’t have done it without you. A blog isn't a blog without you the readers.  Especially this one because it isn't my career. So as we celebrate a friendversary I want to say thank you for your support over the years. You’ve helped me make a dream come true. I hope what I’ve shared here has helped make your dreams realities, too.

So here’s to our future together. With a new calendar year almost upon us, too. I hope you’re able to realize even more of your life's dreams this year. Wishing you a Happy Friendversary. May we share many more.

Related Prior Post:
70 Years And Still Counting
Kris Kinder Absence--Family First 
My One Day Pageviews Shot Up Over 1000

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Tips To Drawing More Period People

The way Medieval faces, feet, and hands appear in manuscripts varies by era or location, often in the details. Some appear cartoonish others more realistic. What's the best way for you to learn how to draw period-looking people? 

Motifs I traced then transferred to
M. Luciana's Renaissance scroll.
Most of us have been seeing since we were born but learning how to observe details is the important first step. Then if you can draw the next step is repeatedly conveying what you see to your paper. 

The best way I know to learn how to get the proper image to your paper is by tracing. And tracing is period. Some scribes don't grow past this stage. And I prefer it so I create a period effect conveyed on my scroll. 

Begin by goggling for the images you want your chosen era and location. Download a high-resolution version of ones you like. Don't use any from a virtual book for this. Even the British Library's award-winning Turning the Pages doesn't have the detail sufficient or image size for your project. You want images that are larger or that you can enlarge. 

Next trace them. And trace them again. The same ones or at least the same style you want to learn. Over and over until you have their exact look embedded in your mind's eye and hand. You're teaching yourself muscle memory for your chosen style.

My tracing light-box set up.
Then take it a step further. Keep a few pictures with a small sketchpad and pencil to take with you. Draw those images freehand anytime you have a break or are waiting for a bus. Any few moments you have sketch freehand your Medieval-style people's hands, feet, and faces.

Observation, tracing, and practice, but remember to have fun with it too. Make some sketches look like people you know doing familiar SCA activities. You don't have to make the sketches detailed but they should look like the style you're learning.

The trick is observing numerous manuscripts over time, learning the general characteristics people have in the era and location you're recreating and repeatedly making your own. Over time doing this for various styles will allow you to better draw what you see without tracing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Full Moons And Medieval Prediction

Diagram from the German
Arundel 501 f. 26v  to
determine feast days 

and the moon's age.
Tonight there is a full moon. But if you, as your persona, lived after 1100 you probably considered the moon to be a planet. 

If you thought about its movements at all you thought it revolved around the Earth in a perfect circle. Just like Mercury, Jupiter and even the Sun was thought to do. Medieval thinkers still had facts to learn about the moon. 

Beginning in the 12th-century period astrological writings inspired Medieval people's belief that the location of heaven's bodies predicted future events determining their daily activities' outcomes. They directly influenced the elements and their own bodies. 

Period ‘lunaries’ or ‘moonbooks’ gave predictions for each day between consecutive new moons. They determined whether the Moon's position made it a beneficial day for bloodletting, traveling, finding lost possessions, being born, buying or selling. So many things your persona might want to know

Hildegard of Bingen - the famous 12th-century German abbess - explained bloodletting was best done just before the moon was new. She also reasoned lunar phases helped determine your persona's personality by the day of the lunar phase on which you were conceived.

Folio 11, verso: November

The lunar phase was also important for agriculture telling you things like when to plant seeds. The belief was a waning moon drew water deeper into the soil, and a fuller moon drew water up then out of the soil. 

Wherever your persona is from you considered lunar phases a serious matter. They gave you insight into God’s galactic design and its influences on earth. The Moon's tidal effect even confirmed your persona's belief it influenced the elements and your daily health.

Research today shows your persona's desire is deeply held through all civilizations both past and present. The desire to cope with future fateful circumstances, predict its course and influence its development. Tonight's full Moon reveals more than the man in the Moon's face, and especially to your persona.

Related Prior Post: 
Can Jehanne Read And Write?
Surviving Winter

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Holiday Shopping For SCA Scribes, Book Artists And Friends

Gifts featured at Kris Kinder.
With Thanksgiving over it's time you turn to preparing for the coming winter holidays' gift-giving. Here's a few shopping tips and budget friendly ideas.

You could put together a scribal gift-pack like the one I described in my post Holiday Scribal Gift Ideas. It's easy to make yourself and a great gift for a want-to-be scribe for 12th Night.  

Or you could give one of my 8 Scribal Books For Cyber-Monday Shopping. These classic sources are great because there are so few books for illuminators at local bookstores. And nothing on history, gouache application, or medieval manuscript terminology. There aren't many current books in this category. But these are books I have and use to this day. 

More from Calontir's Kris Kinder
And in Calontir you can enjoy shopping for gifts at Kris Kinder December 8th. It's the yearly winter holiday shopping extravaganza for Calontiri. It bursts with quality handcrafted toys, attire, jewelry, camp gear, edibles, weapons, and armor tempting money out of 600 attendees' pockets. 

If you can't make Kris Kinder you might buy your SCA friend trim online from Calontir Trim's catalog. Master Andrixos offers you "Fabulous Trims at Fantastic Prices", great for all persona eras and places. If you're unsure which trim to buy check out his links.

But perhaps your SCA friend - sadly - doesn't do trim. If he or she is a book artist check out John Neal's calligraphy, illumination or bookbinding items. OR just buy a gift certificate online.

Finding the perfect present can be a challenge. This post will help you step up to the task with gift ideas for your budget and many SCAdian interests. So happy gifting friend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 7

Two grotesques from the Vaux Psalter,
Lambeth Palace Library MS 233 f.15r.
Glad you are back for another perplexing manuscript picture. It's hard to believe these two grotesques are from the lovely Vaux Psalter. Just look at the left grotesque's fearful dirty look. Dramatically amazing. But what is it? And why?

Michael Camille in his book Image On The Edge calls it a "gryllus design", a head upon two legs vaguely like a field cricket. Camille does not believe - as some scholars do - that marginal images are religiously repressed unconscious images or doodles. 

The gryllus had special meaning to those in the Middle Ages and goes back many years before that. It stood for the sordid baser instincts trapped within one's body leading you away from Christ's higher truth. 

Remember also in the Middle Ages people believed eyes emitted rays and didn't receive them. To them, that was how vision worked. Thus the phrase "if looks could kill" was real for them. 

One last detail about this gryllus. The artist exactly repeated it in the Grey-Fitpayn Psalter illustrating how Medieval scribes copied their motifs using them in more than one manuscript. Both manuscripts are 14th century and held by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
Prior Related Post:

You can see others in my series Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5., 6
Is Tracing Period?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Surviving Winter

I detest winter. Not just the cold, but also the dark. I live like a mole until March. But with 24-hour supermarkets and drive through fast-food I survive until the sun returns. Do you have the same aversion? 

With all the modern conveniences it's easy to forget the once great effort it took to survive winter. Preserving autumn's harvest and fully stocking larders for the long nights and short days. What did our medieval forebears do to survive their barren, cold days?

One way you can see their wintry concerns and activities are through Breviarys, Books of Hours and Psalters' calendar pages. 

Medieval manuscripts' calendars served multiple purposes. They kept track of the date. They told you what the relevant zodiac sign was and which days were Church feasts and holidays. And since most were decorated with seasonal 'labor of the month' pictures you can see what people did then. Their daily life.  

My daily life this winter, after Lonely Tower's coming 12th Night Event, will be to head south for a time. To break the dark, cold monotony and learn something new. 

What do you do to survive winter? What would your SCA persona do?

Related prior Posts: 

Related External Sites: 
British Library's Medieval Manuscripts' blog posts on calendar pages. My favorite.
National Library of Sweden's detailed discussion on calendars.
Googling medieval calendars images. This often gets more than you expect.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Scribe's Quick Guideline Generator

I learned scribal illumination long before I pursued calligraphy. I tried calligraphy, but I wouldn't do it on a scroll. My problem was I detested drawing the guidelines. I still do. You have to be so accurate for the page to look its best. 

But I'm not the only one like that. Do you like ruling up?
15th Century French
Book of Hours

Recently I went searching and found another way to solve that problem. It's an online guide that will help, and especially good for practicing because it's quick. 

It's Scribblers' Guideline Generator

This is a snappy approach to creating the distances between your lines with a click of the button. Once you generate one page you can print it from your browser. 

The best thing is the space between your text-lines doesn't have to be the same as those for your script. You can suit it to the spacing that's more like your inspiration manuscript.

Scribblers is a store that stocks a wide range of calligraphy supplies and equipment. Unfortunately, it will be years before I get to it. It's based in North East Suffolk, United Kingdom. 

While you're on its website have a look at the many articles it has to help you learn calligraphy. I'm always looking for ways to improve. Theirs are the best.