Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Surviving The Event Black Hole

The Calontir RUSH Book Arts Seminar is only three days away. I am now in a black hole of confusion. As Event Steward, I am in the uncomfortable spot in an event timeline that is often chaos.

Have you ever been there? Pulling your hair out chaos.

While I think I've organized everything into oblivion, the preparation steps are not quite complete. There is still positioning everything at the event site, which won't happen for two more days.

This is also the time as a RUSH Regent - my second hat - when I beg and pray all the scheduled instructors will stay committed. May no SNAFUs or monkey-wrenches enter their lives. While I have a friend or two who could pull out a dusty class and fill in, that's disappointing for all. Especially if you are the student who drives hours, maybe overnight, for just one class and then it's missing.

It's also when a creeping feeling follows me around whispering, "It won't work." I want to fix all and move on, push through and get the job done because I fear the whispers coming true.

To tamp them I revisit my plans and break them apart. I dismantle every section into tiny pieces and ask more questions: 

  • Have I gotten off track? What's missing?
  • Does one of my staff need help? Who could do that?
  • Have I prepared enough? Or overdone it?
  • Is there another approach I could use? Should I ask for someone's opinion?

I don't know if this is over preparation, but it helps with the whispers - at least partly - until I can take more action. It doesn't take them away completely and the waiting continues to beat down my confidence.

Hopefully, these nagging doubts and questions lead to a better event. Sometimes vague feelings are like NCIS Gibbs infamous "gut"  signals to look deeper or make a change.

The day is fast approaching, but since I'm used to a fast-food world it can't get here soon enough. 

Related Prior Post: 
Winging It--Crash Space Coordination

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Putting Medievalists

This happened Friday evening. My friends and I dressed in "garb" and met at Medieval Putt in Elkhorn to bobble our way through 18 holes.  

I'm not great at this. In fact, I'm ghastly. Then throw in riding a mini zip line all I could do was have fun. And I did. So much I missed the best pictures swinging a club unsuccessfully.

After several energetic rounds, Lonely Tower's Baron Augustin found a place to rest and relax to watch Baron Master Misha sink another putt.

What's this? Can't you tell? It's a foam red and black Lonely Tower constructed by Augustin in his spare time.

But my team wasn't the only one. And there were more dragons to see.

Just too cool.--->

Crossbows and minigolf. What could go wrong? 

Nothing really. But the bow wasn't much help getting the ball to the target either.

Meanwhile, the Tower's other teams surged forward.

After the game, M. Rose took her turn on the dragon.

The crowning photo is the whole gang collecting with the dragon for a Barony of the Lonely Tower Medieval Putt team photo.

Image may contain: 17 people, including Jim Janicki, Susan Gordon, Joan Alfers, Kimberly Bowles, Sylvia Kostisin, Dia Hilton and Roger Norton, people smiling
Photo courtesy of Jim Janicki

Related Prior Post:
A Bored Calontiri Is A Dangerous Calontiri

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 6

Jacques de Longuyon's poem
"Vows of the Peacock."
Tooting butt trumpets, really? It's amazing what you can find exploring Medieval illuminated manuscripts on the Internet. And this isn't the only one.

Medieval scribes worked long hours in cold rooms bent over their work. To entertain themselves bored and cranky Medieval scribes used the page's margins to kvetch, adding ribald doodles that often commented on the text they were yet again copying. 

If this perplexing marginalia entertains you I recommend Michael Camille's enlightening book Images on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art. It teaches about their comments on Medieval life and gives you a rare look at their way of thinking.

Surfing the Internet for weird marginalia is fun. But Camille's very readable book takes that beyond exploring to learning about the perplexing border pictures and the people that doodled them.

Prior Related Post:
You can see others in my series Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

300 Posts And Counting

I want to say thank you to all my readers. You are the reason I continue writing. Your numbers are growing and that's thrilling to me.

If you had told me when I started this in December of 2015 that I'd still be doing this in late 2018 I would have doubted you, if not telling you straight out, "No way". 

I doubted I'd have enough ideas to interest you and keep you coming back for more. And it's "kind of a big deal" because this is my 300th post. Can you believe it?

It is a challenge. But I love my SCA readers, the hobby, and the Society. So this is now a big way I continue to participate.

I also want to thank those who leave me comments below or stop me at event's and ask questions. You are my dearest connections. You tell me what interests you and guide my future quests. So let me know what you want to see on here because I try to make this for you.

As we say,
"For the Dream."

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