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. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Internet Round Up 4: Armour and Illuminated Manuscripts

Morgan M.456   Avis aus roys

Folio 34v, 1340-1360 A.D., Paris, France
Manuscript Miniatures is not exactly what you think it is from its name. It is a medieval armor research source with insight through illuminated manuscripts.  

The website's intent is to make it easier to hunt for online digitized images from numerous manuscripts. A way to quickly view 15,000+ miniatures from 1500+ manuscripts of 15+ countries. It's not a manuscript holder, so once you find an image you'll want to verify its accuracy. 

But that's easy. By clicking on the picture you'll find its source.  You can then verify its accuracy with the manuscript's owner.

Manuscript Miniatures has a tagging method that's innovative. The labels are created by viewers sometimes with interesting spellings or descriptions. It's also why you might find unique images included within a tag.

As a scribe, you might not find illumination's common term for things either. Its brickwork and brick pattern tags are what you'd call "diapering".

One of its best tags is 'elephant'. Its 75 images show Medieval people had little idea what an elephant looked like. 

But there's more for you here than illuminated manuscripts. From this web page, you can tab to other similar item categories with separate URLs like  Armour In Art, Effigies & Brasses, and Aquamanilia. Each offers similar ways to search. Its Effigies & Brasses' Links also connect you to related external armoring information. 

While this isn't exactly a blog round-up, it is a work-in-progress webpage collection with contributions welcomed. And I thought they were too good for you to miss.

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How-to Get Your SCA Recreations Noticed

Calontir's Queens Prize just happened a month ago, September 15th. You may have seen pictures on FaceBook about it. Sadly I wasn't able to go, but I had many friends that attended. Some were novices who didn't enter. Why?

Many people make authentic medieval items but lament writing documentation. Are you like them? You make something from start to finish that's a medieval-style treasure. You want to show it off but you hate writing. What can you do? How else can you get your wondrous work noticed?

I have a few tricks for you that don't require a detailed write-up.

Coronation Event Scribes' Display
The easiest is to show your work it in an event display. A display has no judges or prizes. Although some ask you to list basic information on a small card like your name, your item's century and location. With a display, you don't even have to do research before you start. 

Displays may be for a specific purpose. Sometimes they are to show off largess donated to Their Majesties, creations by a specific guild, or items to be sold at a later auction. You'll want to be sure of the requirements before you drop off your creation.

A display may be entries by people who didn't make the things themselves. They might have been received as gifts, barter, or awards. A cool way to "rat-on-your-friends" with work by people that don't often enter competitions. There's one of these at the coming Book Arts RUSH, November 3rd.

12 Night 
Populace Choice Competition
You could enter a populace choice competition. These are similar to displays, but with a winner. They usually ask for a card label for your entry, similar to a display. The event notice will tell you if there is a theme for the competition, like this "drinking vessel". This 12th Night the populace choice competition is "anything made in contrasting colors".

The event attendees pick the entry they prefer. At the closing, the entry with the most tokens or beans wins. 

You might gift your creation to others. If you give it to Their Majesties in court everyone will see briefly what you made. If you turn it into them privately through their retinue all who visit their chambers will see it. Your work can be a gift for Their Majesties themselves, for use by the Royal office, or for largess. 

Make your creations for 12th Night or birthday presents. With this, you'll want to consider how the recipient would display or use your work. Is it something they can keep with them most of the time, like a handkerchief or belt? Or will it be left at home like handmade quills and ink? 

Donate your work as an Arts and Sciences' competition prize. For best results talk with the event's competition organizer soon after the event steward begins planning. Event staff will want to coordinate your donation with its budget and theme. This works well for both local and Kingdom events.

You might share your re-creation in a group discussion. In Calontir it's called an "artisans' show-and-tell". It was started by my friend HL Natalya Alekseya Vasilova. These are like being back in school. The maker talks about their creation while it's passed around the table for all to see. Others at the table ask questions. Sometimes a lively, friendly discussion gets going about your process. Simple and fun. 

If you can't find an artisans' show-and-tell to enter, lead one yourself. Coach everyone in the circle to share their work before you do. Encourage comments on each item and finish by sharing your creation. Of course, you'll thank everyone for coming and sharing theirs. 

Handmade Pottery Merchant Display
If you like making multiple similar creations you could sell them as an event merchant. Personally I rather write documentation, because this takes dedication, organization, planning, storage, hauling and seed-money. Still, it's a hobby that may help your budget plus get your items noticed. 

Those are the tricks you can use to show off your SCA creations without writing detailed documentation. Ways that will help you grow in knowledge and confidence while you investigate period practices. The best part is they connect you with SCA friends who share your interests in medieval arts and sciences. 

Related Prior Post: 
Why Write Documentation For SCA Projects?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Craft Dancing

True ease in writing comes from Art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance. -- Sound and Sense by Alexander Pope.
I came across this aphorism in a book I picked up down the street at the Half-Price Books Store. The quote describes the way good writing appears. It's a bold claim that a good writer makes it look effortless and easy. 

I like the quote because if you substitute a word like "calligraphy", "embroidery" or "silversmithing" - any art or craft you choose - it becomes a rousing inspiration for your particular creativity. A call to master your chosen craft as Pope describes. Just as people who look really great doing their thing dancing had to learn. They didn't come to it by chance and spontaneity.

Creativity is a balance between innovation and learning. At times it flows smooth and easy. Other times, especially learning times, you struggle and your steps are slow. Your passion keeps you moving forward and keeps the fun in learning.

Everyone is creative, more or less. It isn't reserved for geniuses or an unattainable state. It's more the direction you take it and the way you choose to adapt.

Pennsic War XXIII
Creativity can be:

  • Auditory
  • Mechanical
  • Physical
  • Relational
  • Verbal
  • Visual
And more.

No one knows - although many search - if you can learn to be more creative. In my experience, I am more creative when I loosen up and just have fun. When I stop comparing my efforts to what others do. 

There are no step-by-step dance directions for you to grasp creativity directly. It takes lateral thinking. Solving problems indirectly, using gauzy reasoning or misty ideas not immediately obvious. 

Keep exploring and having fun in whatever direction the SCA or life takes you. Give yourself permission to innovate. Creativity will flow.

Related Prior Post: 

Related External Blog:
Austin Kleon