Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Switching Gears: Scribal Journal Reflection

After doing three scrolls in 4 months and another on the horizon I felt the urge to do something different. Do you ever feel the pull to do something outside your normal? To explore?

I returned to creating in my art journals, which I haven't touched in years. 

Art journals vary dramatically between artists and even between pages in one book. My visual journals are cathartic mixed media experiments using any materials and tools I choose. They're expressive, playful, and emotion releasing. While scroll creation is an orderly process, each step planned to a degree. Its text, art style, methods, materials, and tools are controlled efforts. Even the recipient and deadline are not my choice. 

Working on several spreads
 in multiple books while listening to TV.
Art journal pages are about the doing rather than the creation, the journey not the destination. It's art you make for yourself. Its techniques are freeing, busying my hands while I listen to TV and idling my analytical thoughts. My mind is quieter as the surrounding world slips away. 

My journals include sketches, old photos, printed text, stamping, paint and my handwritten feelings. You never know what you'll combine. It's paint-moving, stenciling and writing are expansive even disjointed. The parts spontaneously come together and have no deadline. They are only complete because I say. 

Art journaling combines outside activities too; hunting, gathering, and scavenging gets me out of the house paying closer attention to my wider world. Organizing my supplies and finds even inspired me to clean and sort all my crafts. That spread to doing the same other places in my house.

I'm looking forward again to creating the next scroll. To its planning, calligraphy, gilding, details, and deadline. My scribal passion and confidence renewed.

Prior Related Post: 

External Related Post:

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Tips For Saving Money As An SCA Scribe

I just came back from Dick Blick's, the only place in Omaha that sells artist grade gouache. I only wanted a tube of permanent white, but I came home with more. Broke my SCA budget. Has that ever happened to you?

You spend less when you shop for art supplies online, especially by comparing prices and looking for sales. 
Large online art supply stores often charge less. They have more customers than small, local art supply stores. They also have a larger selection and an easily accessible sales section. Occasionally I've received "old" unused merchandise, such as drier tube paint.

I take stock before ordering to know what I need, not what it would be fun to have like a new ink. Even so, I've acquired an abundance.

Scribes' Class
Using Non-artist Supplies
When teaching a class I use recycled or non-artist supplies. Things like emptied pudding cups or Styrofoam meat trays work well for classes. So do basic quality paper towels. 

Use coupons whenever you can, and watch for any with a huge-discount-on-one-item. That's when I buy the expensive French Ultramarine blue gouache. I even google the store's name and "coupon" when waiting in line at Joann's and Michael's. There's always some discount to use. 

While I generally avoid email subscriptions, you'll find a store's latest and greatest deals in their newsletters

There aren't many ways to recycle scribal art supplies, but I do reuse pergamenata. I tend to start the calligraphy over on a scroll at least once, so I have unused first tries. When I have time, usually watching TV, I use a sharp knife and scratch off the dried ink. I use the reverse for another project.

Using the second side of perg works for me. I've seen comments on Facebook that ink feathers on one side of perg. Test the second side out before you spend the time it takes to scratch off a whole first side. 

Buying in bulk is a great way to save. For that to work for me the items must be small, keep for years and be a staple item. I've learned fun or fad cheaply priced bulk items may be space hogs I forget and never use. It's better to buy quality materials in smaller quantities.

Another way is to have your scribe's guild buy in bulk and then give or sell the items to members. A few years ago the Calontir Scribes' Guild ordered huge pergamenata sheets. We cut them down and gave them to scribes after they did original scrolls. A thanks to scribes for their work. 

I've learned the hard way taking care of supplies I already have saves me money. My biggest problem is dip pen nibs. While I try to clean and dry them after use I forget to do that when I'm cleaning up at day's end. I wash off brushes but forget my nibs. They aren't expensive, but they're not meant to be disposable. 

It's also important to keep paints and inks out of extreme conditions. I learned ink separates if you let it freeze overnight in a car. One Lilies War a paint tube burst when I opened it. I've also had paint mold because I didn't let it dry out before I put it in a sealed container.

Having an organized studio would save me money too. There are times I can't find something so I order it. Of course that must happen before the lost item reveals itself. 

When buying a pricier item, consider how you work. Many scribes swear by an easel artist case, but I don't work vertically. I also prefer to work in my studio, not on site. So an expensive art supply case is not for me, even though I think they look cool. 

How do you get the most out of your art materials? If you have a tip, please, share it in a comment below. We welcome your help. 

Prior Related Post:  
Better Together, Calontir's Scribal Community
Why Is Gouache So Expensive?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Do You Have Creative Goals?

One of my favorite modern scribal-related blogs is Lindsey Bugbee's The Postman's Knock. In her January 16th post she gave five creative goals to work toward this year.

Lindsey's five goals are perfect for SCA scribes. They fit us to a tee. So I'm  describing them for you here.

  1. Don't dwell on mistakes or mess-ups. Keep the joy in your scribal craft.
  2. Put scribal creativity into everything you can, even mundane tasks.
  3. Let your scribal force be with you. Treat yourself to something new.
  4. Surround yourself with scribal inspiration and you'll be more creative too.
  5. Share your work with others, whatever your ability.
You can see how well these fit with scroll creation. 

It's easy to only see the mess-ups when you create. Like in the Duchy scroll I made for Her Grace Issabell St. Charles where I painted her as a left-handed archer. That's what I see, when I view the scroll. 

Using scribal skills daily helps you maintain and increase them. It's like the care and nurturing of a plant if you want it to grow. This is especially true with calligraphy.

Something new could be a new thing, but it could also be learning a new to you scribal skill. Anything to expand your comfort zone.

Scribal inspirations come in many forms: facsimilie books, blogs, scribal classes, Pinterest boards, Facebook scribal groups, and other scribes. Submerge yourself.

The more ways you share your work the more you will learn. Calontir has so many opportunities for you besides original scrolls. There's preprint painting at events, Queen's Prize Tournament and Kingdom Arts and Sciences Champion. Or you could talk with a scribal Laurel. We'd love to share with you.

There's so much you can do this year with drive and inspiration. 

Related Prior Post:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Issabell St. Charles' Duchy Scroll

Enlarged upper right miniature

Project Title:
Duchy Scroll for Issabell St. Charles
Project Date:
January 13, 2018/Coronation
Text by:
D. Magdalena vander Meere
Inspiration for Text:
Translation by:

Jehanne Bening
Jehanne Bening

Pergamenata, C and I area 12" x 16"
Notable Techniques:
Flat gilding using Tresser's gilding size adhesive. Love it.
Early Gothic
Mitchell 5 dip pen
Zig Sumi Ink 60
Inspiring Manuscripts:
Belleville Breviary (1323-26) by Jean Pucelle and other 14th-century French illuminations
Other notes:
All the birds on the scroll refer to D. Izzy's awards or favorites

Related Prior Post: 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Revival: Lonely Tower's Monthly Scriptorium Gatherings

M. Rolf And Other Scribes
You probably noticed Lonely Tower has a new Baron and Baroness, Augustin le Blinde and Aleit de la Thomme. They took the reins at our 2018 12th Night event. 

Their Excellencies have inspiring ideas for us including giving original scrolls for awards they present at court. That means Lonely Tower scribes will have opportunities to use the skills taught in our recent classes.

Our Early Gothic scribal classes ended before Thanksgiving so M. Rolf and I planned to hold monthly casual  Scriptorium gatherings. The good news is these meetings will now have more purpose and direction with M. Rolf now the Baronial Lead Scribe.

Calontir calls an informal scribes' meeting a "scriptorium". Lonely Tower's scriptorium is open to any and all calligraphers, illuminators, preprint artisans, and wordsmiths to meet, paint, letter and socialize. You are welcome whatever your skill level whether you're an accomplished scribal Laurel like M. Rolf or you haven't yet begun.

The Barony of the Lonely Tower's Scriptorium will meet at my house the fourth Sunday afternoons of most months like we did for classes. We will have Open Project gatherings. In these, you work on personal projects, preprint awards or a current scroll assignment. Now, the scroll assignments may also include Baronial requests. You may also bring something you're learning, practicing, or zen-doodling. All are welcome.

Remember, if you bring an assigned scroll to work on, hide any identifying items with something like low-tac tape or a sticky note. Scroll assignments are kept very secret even from other scribes. We don't divulge names or even heraldic devices. Mum's the word.

If you're nearby, come create visual splendor or just chat with us about ink, paint or scroll text writing. The more the merrier. 

Related Prior Post: 
C & I Class Preparations
Lonely Tower's Continuing Scribes' Class  
Photos from Lonely Tower's 12th Night 2017

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Jump Starting 2018: Lonely Tower's 12th Night Event Photos

12th Night, a way to jump start the new year. As always you'll find diverse regaling activities.  Here are your event photos showing them from gate to feast and in between.  

Early gate check-in.

Morning court, showing Baroness Giulia Isabella de Venezia 
pictured to the right of Their Majesties in Lonely Tower's chairs. 

Aleit de la Thomme and Augustin le Blinde enter court,
 to accept the Baronial mantel.

M. Tatjana Nikonovna waiting for lunch at the inn.

Mistresses Roise ni' Ullachain and
Honoree de Saussay cook and serve lunch.

Council Bluff's The Center is the venue the Barony of the Lonely Tower has been using for events. You might find the site a tight fit, even though we use every room, office, nick and cranny. We'd use the swimming pool if we could. We are thankful for their generous help and affordable price.

Final preparations for evening court.

M. Gyða glóra and HL Galla Zandra
Judging a 14th century costume entry.

And some SCA precious fairy tale children.

Occasional Visitors

Calontir Steel Fighting and Photography

Court Hall / Commons

Sword and Shield Competition

With Their Highnesses stepping up next weekend,
Calontir's scribes are busy painting awards.

The winter stoat with its owner
HL Nickolai Kolpachnik


M. Dorcas Whitecap with her well disguised heraldic laptop.

Waiting to speak with the peerage candidate.

Gwen Verr Heugh in her so recently finished
lovely green cut velvet.

Still waiting. Enjoying the visit.

Evening court held wonders for friends and photography.

B. Augustin and Aleit at Evening Court

First the Baronial Court

Longtime Friends

Maegwynn Attewode welcomed to
Calontir's Order of the Calon Lily.

Peers, mostly knights, waiting to enter court.

Bjarm Rorikson's procession into court.

Bjarm stands before Their Majesties a Knight of the Realm.

And a few pictures of the delicious and plentiful feast.

Head table at feast.

The Barony of Mag Mor's choir
painting musical tones on the air.

So much to photograph for you and to share. But there's more than I can ever show. The friends and close friendships formed over 25 years.

Related External Post:
Falcon Banner: Twelfth Night Court Summaries, Januray 6, A. S. 52

Prior Related Posts:
Photos from Lonely Tower's 12th Night 2017

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Heralding: Lonely Tower's Roll of Arms Project

Barony of the Lonely Tower's Roll of Arms

You've seen these before in earlier posts, often in the background. It's Lonely Tower's Roll of ArmsAnyone in the Barony who has an SCA heraldic device has a painted picture of it here with your name on the back.

The oldest existing armorial is from the 13th century. They continued to be made up into the 17th century, well past the SCA time period.

I update the order and paint new devices to Lonely Tower's Roll at least once a year, for our 12th Night Event. It easy to do. But the Roll is also displayed at any of our events on the Calontir Kingdom Calendar.

Sewing the fabric.

I first sew by machine enough 8.5 x 11-inch cloth rectangles for the arms I need to add. The pieces start out 9.5x12 inches. I sew a small hem on each side, turning 1/4 inch over and turning it a second time before sewing.

Calontir has a searchable online Armorial, as most Kingdom's do, with images of people's heraldic devices. Using it, I print out the images as close to 8.5x11 as I can.

With my light-pad and pencil, I trace the picture on the sewn cloth. I change the shape from the shield shape to a rectangle, adjusting the border and individual heraldic charges (separate images) as needed.

Drawn design
with initial painting.

Using acrylic craft paint, with some fabric media added to keep the paint softer when it's dry, I paint the arms like the printed pictures. I start with the lighter colors, not caring much about staying in the lines.

When the light color is well dry I carefully paint a darker color. I continue until I've painted all the heraldic tinctures.

After drying I sometimes use a permanent black fine marker to add details. The black lines distinguish overlapping parts of charges such as wings, cart's wheels, and others.

After the rectangles are dry I safety-pin them to our large panels. The curtain-like panels were sewn out of heavy white cotton cloth years ago. Narrow hems on each side and deeper ones at the top and bottom. The top hem accepts a dowel with a long cord tied to each end. The corded dowel allows you to hang the whole panel on a wall or in a window.

Finished painted device
and its printout.

Although I've seen other SCA groups organize their Roll of Arms according to the order the devices were passed by the SCA's College of Arms, our Barony organizes the devices by the owner's rank. After the Barony's device is our founding Baron's. The later Baronages follow it chronologically. Those never change, but are added to as we get a new Baron and Baroness. Then follow the devices of our members with approved arms by their rank. 

Each year, if not sooner, I change the order of the individual small banners. They are added or removed when 
  • Lonely Tower gets a new Baronage 
  • people get devices that didn't have them before
  • a member receives a higher rank
  • people move into or away from here
  • a member becomes inactive

Maintaining Lonely Tower's Roll of Arms is a small way to contribute to the local group that adds color and interest. At events, I see those walking by it stop and challenge each other to name the individual devices' owners. It's not an official competition. It's just an SCA social thing you do.  

Related Prior Post:
How To Use Heraldry On SCA Scrolls 
Barony of the Lonely Tower Arts and Sciences' Revel

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The 7 Most Popular Calontir Photo Posts of 2017

Although you are interested in history, don't you still love photos? Especially photos of events?

Through the year I spent days enjoying and photographing Calontir's events. Its sights and adventures. These 2017 popular photo posts share those memories.

M. Nesscia at 12th Night

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Secrets Of Black And White Gouache

Today's scribes learning to paint Calontir's preprints often start with a Reeves gouache set for their paints. They're an inexpensive student grade non-acrylic paint that does well for painting entry-level awards. 

What do you do when you use up your first paint, usually white? What is the best white gouache to buy?" 

In gouache, there are several whites: chalk white, zinc white, titanium white, permanent white and lead white. It can be puzzling. What is the difference between the gouache whites?

In Calontir the gouache scribes use is a water-soluble gum arabic paint. It is not an acrylic product even though some of those are labeled "gouache". 

While all those paints listed are whites they each have a different hint of another color. That tinge distinguishes them from each other. 

It is difficult for me to see the difference unless I paint them in side-by-side swatches. It's even harder for you to see if I scanned them to post here.

Besides the slight color tinge, the various whites are made from different chemicals. Each behaves slightly different depending on what you do with it.

Chalk White or Lime White's use dates back to prehistoric times and continues until today. It doesn't hide underpainting well, so it isn't used for scrolls.

Lead White is poisonous because of, well, its toxic lead. Historically its use goes back to antiquity, a very early SCA era. While it is still sold by a few producers today, it is mostly used as Flake White in oil paint. It is seldom used for SCA awards.

Zinc White, initially called "Chinese White" when introduced by Winsor and Newton, is not period. It was first made in the early 1800s. Zinc White is a translucent gouache and does not hide underpainting well. Although I like it better for making tints

Titanium White is even newer than zinc white, initially sold in 1916. The website Pigments through the Ages describes Titanium White as the "Strongest, most brilliant white available to artists in the entire history of art." 

I prefer Titanium White for highlights or strokes over underpainting. It is great for geometric diapering and small bar borders. 
And what about permanent white?  Permanent White is a based on titanium. The manufacturer just has a reason for not calling it "Titanium White". Maybe they add something to it or they just like that description better. Blick describes their's as "bleed proof", so marketing may be a reason.
I prefer either Titanium or Permanent White gouache for adding details over the colored underpainting. If I'm mixing pink or another tint I use Zinc White.
Another color about which newer scribes often ask questions is black. Are their differences in gouache blacks? There are several blacks: jet black, lamp black, and ivory black.
Lamp Black is the popular gouache name for Carbon Black. It has been used as a pigment since early, early history. Traditionally Lamp Black was made by collecting soot from oil lamps. As charcoal, it also has a long history as a sketching material. While Lamp Black is the darkest most opaque black water-soluble paint, it is not a popular gouache paint today.
Black in
Zaneta's Grant
Ivory Black is the alternative name gouache producers call Bone Black. It was used in prehistoric art and is still popular today. Originally it was made from charred bones or waste ivory. Today it is an inorganic synthetic product made from Carbon Black and calcium phosphate. 

Ivory Black is a dense black with a blue tinge. Ivory or Bone Black is a slightly less intense, black than Lamp Black. The synthetic version was discovered in 1929. 
Jet Black is a rich, deep, opaque black discovered in 1863 for dying cotton cloth. It has a blue tinge and makes blue greys when mixed with white. 
My favorite black, as you probably guessed, is Ivory Black. 
While this is an overview of the various white and black gouache paints, you'll want to try these out yourself. Test them on your favorite Bristol board, pergamenata or any unfinished preprints you have. How these whites and blacks handle depends on your touch too. 

As I read on Wet Canvas, "Your best teacher is your own brush".

Prior Related Post:
Why Buy More Scribal Paint Colors?