A place for Drachenwald's scribes to hang out, learn, discuss and critique each others work.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

I've finally got around to updating my web album of scrolls - I really am lax about that! The last one (really short, "Fuit Homo") is a "thank you" for Tom McKinnell / Antonio di Rienzo's father, for help (much more than mere "translation") with the text for the scroll before, which is in Old English with a Modern English gloss.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A calligraphy set for novice scribes

At Kingdom University just past I hosted a round table show-and-tell: scribes, bring your tips and tricks, and new scribes, if you don't have any yet, bring your questions.

This proved an excellent way to spend an hour chatting about our favourite topics, and demonstrated clearly to me that when you put 3 chatty scribes together you get 4 different ways to draw a straight line.

It was delightful.

Lady Tamara asked an excellent question about 'what basic tools do I need to start?' She was interested in both calligraphy and illumination. Sure enough, she got different advice from different people, but it's still a useful starting point.

SO: I'm posting my idea of a complete novice's kit for Western European calligraphy, that you could buy online for less than £25 or around 33 Euro.

I shop in the UK, so this list relies on UK supplier examples, but I'm hoping folks in Germany, Sweden and Finland can comment on their favourite shops and any special terms in other languages to look for.

Two notes:

  1. This post doesn't cover items like rulers, pencils and erasers. They too are important tools and you can get wonderful specialist versions to make scribing easier, but you can start with whatever pencil, eraser and straight edge you have in the house. 
  2. I used a dip pen to learn calligraphy. While I've tried fountain pens, I prefer my dip pen as an adaptable flexible tool, and teach others the same way.
    It's closer to the quill, which is the ideal medieval tool but isn't for everyone. Your mileage may vary.


Nibs: lots to choose from

For starting calligraphy look for edged nibs, described in English as 'round hand' or 'Italic' nibs: these have a square end, in varying widths. Nice explanation on Scribblers blog. You can get nibs cut on an angle for left-handed scribes, but a lefty can use a square nib, and turn the page to get the correct angle.

Pointed nibs are for copperplate and 'spencerian' (18th and 19th c) calligraphy, and for medieval penwork and flourishing, but not typically for the writing-letters part.

Nibs are about 60 to 80p each. You can buy a single brand's set plus reservoir for about £8. You won't need all of them for scribing SCA scrolls, but it's easiest to learn with a wide nib and work your way 'down' to a small one.

Rerservoirs are small clips that attach to the nibs, to help the nib hold more ink. Find the ones that fit your brand of nib.

Nib holders

Strictly speaking you only need one holder and can keep changing nibs, but that's not much fun.

I do recommend buying solid plastic or wood penholders (the Speedball holder at £1.60 is the best I've found), rather than the standard round penholder, at £1.85, or a lot more) which has an insert that rusts on first use. Don't be seduced by pretty coloured handles!

If you want a holder for every nib, buy a pack of wood penholders 12 for £10.

hexagonal (£3.90) or triangular (£2.10) holder gives you 'edges' to hang onto - these can help you keep control of the angle of the nib, but cost a bit more.

Inks

Portentially very confusing because of the range available from traditional to modern.

Here's an example page from a UK shop with a range of inks.

Important terms (in English) to look for:

Inks for calligraphy, for dip pens. Drawing ink is usually thinner and runnier than calligraphy ink and doesn't give the same dense, opaque lettering. However, just to be confusing, some inks are described as suitable for both drawing and calligraphy.

Waterproof  (sometimes called permanent) and non-waterproof: waterproof ink usually has shellac or a hardener in it. If you spill it, it will not come off your clothes, furniture, pets or children.

Non-waterproof is a water-based ink without a hardener: if you spill it you can still mop it up while it is wet. It may become permanent when it dries but you have a hope of getting it off the tiles and table if you catch it when it spills. Ask me how I know...

Personally I prefer non-waterproof inks because of this very reason. While any ink will build up on your pen nib and you need to clean the nib periodically, non-waterproof washes off with soap and water, while waterproof needs a solvent.

Indian, Chinese, or Japanese ink: these terms usually describe an opaque black ink, fine for calligraphy. But it can still vary whether they are waterproof or not, so check the bottle. Chinse and Japanese inks can come in a stick you have to grind and mix yourself, something I've not tried yet.

For beginners I recommend non-waterproof liquid ink for calligraphy, so you spend more time doing letters and less time preparing materials.

Iron gall ink or oak gall ink are excellent medieval-style inks and I use them a lot.

Cornelissen has a nice selection of 'traditional' inks that I've tried: my favourites are the Hax Ink, the Scriptorium Oak Gall, and the Roberson Logwood black.

Be aware that oak and iron gall inks are slightly acidic so they can damage your pens if you let the ink dry on them. Always clean your pens thoroughly.

Acrylic inks have beautiful colours, but acrylic is a completely modern material. I recommend using the available plausibly-period inks rather than acrylic.

If you spend about £5 on pen nibs, £2 on a holder, £5-8 on ink, you still have money for

Paper

Pergamenata is my preferred material for scribing: it's a type of artificial parchment from Fabriano that takes ink and gouache well and that I can scrape, a little, like parchment.

It comes in 2 weights (230 grams per square metre, gsm, and 160gsm). The heavier weight is good for scrolls, the light one for 'letters' or cards - it's a bit light for scribing for me.

It comes in large sheets, £2.26 each, that can make between 4-8 scrolls depending on what size you want: 3 A4 scrolls, and 3 smaller ones, plus scraps. That's a lot of scrolls.

Another good paper is heavy watercolour paper, made by Arches or Fabriano. Look for a watercolour block, where the paper is stuck together in a solid block. Watercolour artists can use this as a portable drawing board; usually scribes slice off the top page with a craft knife to use one at a time.

It's 300gsm, where typical printer paper is 75-100gsm.

The hot press (HP) paper has a smooth surface good for calligraphy; the cold press (CP or NOT, meaning 'not hot press') is rougher and while it's good for painting on, it's harder to calligraph. I can't scrape my mistakes off paper, but I can paint over them.

High-quality paper, made with linen or cotton rag not plant fibres, is more expensive than pergamenata (putting me over my ideal budget), but is easier to find.

Any craft has its own special vocabulary and scribing and fine art is no different. Part of learning an art is learning the language and terms for its special tools and materials, and these are not always explained in the shop.

Some reading: 




Please comment on the tools that you think are the most important for new calligraphers to use. These examples are my opinion and I'm happy to hear others!

Cheapest and cheerful-est guide to calligraphy I've found

I had the happy chance to visit Cornelissen & Sons art supplies this week.

This week I found a gem: a small guide to calligraphy written by William Michell Calligraphy, just 12 pages long. Mistress Bridget had shared pages of it with me before, but I'd never found the whole guide.

Reading it all I think it's the best short introduction to calligraphy in English that I've found.

There's some instructions on painting Lombardic capitals and Roman capitals 'signwriter fashion' - using a brush, not a pen, with the brush hand leaning over and supported by your off hand - which is a method I'd not seen explained really well before.

Some gaps in the text: not a lot about line heights, not a lot about layout.

But you could do a lot of calligraphy armed only with this work and a set of line height guides.

I don't know when it was written - sometime after 1925! otherwise I'm uncertain. There's no copyright date or ISBN.

It cost me £4.95.

The Wm Mitchell company has it displayed on their website, but I think this site is intended for trade, not individual shoppers.

Unfortunately I cannot find it in the Cornelissen's catalogue, but you can email them for info.

On line heights:

Scribblers.co.uk have a line-height generator, for printing out a half-page of lines at specific line heights, which is a boon. (Check your printer settings to make sure it prints as-is, and doesn't resize the page between A4 and 8.5x11".)

If you shop at Cornelissen keep your eyes open for a copy.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Great manuscript blogs and tweets

I've been a fan of the British Library for years. I'm very impressed by their digital presence with  new books now available blogs and tweets too.

Through Twitter I've found nifty other blogs and tweeters:

My new favourite, though, is someone who draws on the French national library a lot:


Today's tweet from Jesse made me deeply happy: there's something about the style, the colour and the fineness of execution of this Romanesque C that warms my heart just looking at this image:
Graduale cisterciense.
Link to original: Graduale cisterciense. XIIe s. (3e quart, avant 1174)

If there are more sources of good commentary, images and manuscript geekiness you love, please leave a comment!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Redeeming a scroll

Greetings!

This Coronet past I did a Fox for Constanza of Thamesreach, based on this initial here .  It started out badly:  the gilding was poor; for the first two lines of callig the ink and nib would NOT cooperate.  But then it got better and the calligraphy turned out very well, as did the sheep.  So I spent an hour with the scalpel and got it back to pasing the arm's-length test.

I made it landscape instead of portrait for focus reasons.  I wanted people to see the initial and then the sheepie as an after-reaction, which was succesful.  I used silver paint instead of silver leaf because of time constraints and because of the tarnish factor.  I think this was the wrong choice, sadly.

The hand looks like pretty standard Caroline, but the Rs and Ss look transitional from insular minuscule.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Interlinear glosses in medieval manuscripts

At ID coronet two weeks ago, my evil twin was made a member of the Orden des Lindquistringes, and I had the privilege of doing her scroll. My exemplar, Oxford Bodleian MS Auct. D.4.6., had a large font with a lot of space between the lines, which spaces were filled up with a gloss in a much smaller font. In my interpretation of this, I wrote the text in Latin and then "glossed" it in English -- a proper gloss, part translation, part commentary. I posted the scroll to the SCA Scroll Gallery group on FB, and in commentary on it, someone asked for evidence for similar bilingual interlinear glosses. In the course of rounding up examples, I decided the thing to do was the write a blog post about them.

It's easy to find monolingual interlinear glosses; my exemplar was one. Introduction to Manuscript Studies by Raymond Clemens & Timothy Graham, has a number of other examples, as well as discussion, on pp. 39-43 and pp. 182-183. It took a bit more digging to find bilingual ones, but the results are fascinating:

And while not exactly about glosses, this has some lovely examples of bilingual texts.

For further reading, consult:

  • "Latin and Vernacular Glossing", ch. 1 of Teaching and Learning Latin in Thirteenth-century England: Texts by Tony Hunt.
  • The Culture of Translation in Anglo-Saxon England, by Robert Stanton, starting at p. 34
  • "The Aldhelm Glosses" in The Intellectual Foundations of the English Benedictine Reform, by Mechthild Gretsch.
  • "Syntactical Glosses in Latin Manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon Provenance", by Fred C. Robinson, Speculum 48, No. 3 (Jul., 1973), pp. 443-475.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

More Romanesque inspiration

I can always rely on 12th century manuscripts to lift my spirits and make me say, 'Yes, that's what I want my work to look like'.

Recent AoA given at Coronet tourney in Insulae Draconis:


The original is part of Arundel 91, one of my go-to sources.

The original is f.145.

I'm still searching for The Perfect Red(tm); the red that matches the red in the manuscript, which is bright without being vermilion, and is slightly translucent.

I've shopped around...and am still trying to find my perfect match.

It was these recent AoAs that prompted me to ask if scribes would be happy filling in armory and blazons in existing scrolls, and the response so far is overwhelmingly yes. I'm heartily glad of it.

Text

BE IT KNOWN that We, Leif and Morrigan King and Queen of Drachenwald, finding Ourselves in receipt of good reports on the work of Our noble servant
Mícheál of Dun in Mara

concerning his service at shire events, his work in our kitchens, and his commitment to the defense of our lands, do award him Arms.

In witness whereof We have set our hand this 29th day of November, Anno Societatis XLIX  in the second year of our reign, at Insulae Draconis tournament of succession and Yuletide University.

Detail

Beautiful series of Romanesque capitals

The Bibliotheque nationale de France's online resources have improved greatly since I started surfing the intawebs.

Courtesy of Manuscript Art blog: some lovely fluid Romanesque capital letters in Greek and Latin. For the hard-to-find Ks, Ws, Xs, Ys and Zs in your life.

Pontificale Senonsense, dated 1175-1300.

In Greek:

Pontificale Senonense.

...and in Latin

Pontificale Senonense.

Monday, December 01, 2014

AoA for Sela de la Rosa

A favourite style, with new touches

This is an AoA given this past weekend at Insulae Draconis Coronet tourney.

I've done several scrolls modelled on the same manuscript, a copy of Chaucer's translation of Roman de la Rose Hunter 409, at UGlasgow.

I love it because it is mostly calligraphy, the illumination is very light, and there's lots of white space.

Example of original, f 19:
Manuscript - full page

For this scroll, I used a quill throughout for the calligraphy. The quill softened a bit through the work, so the lettering isn't as crisp at the bottom as at the top.

I also gilded the initials rather than using gold gouache.  I'm (still) using a modern gesso, so it is not mirror-polished as it should be, but it held up well.

I'm more comfortable handling gold than I was when I started using this MS as an example; it doesn't scare me anymore.


The grubbiness in the image is from the scanner, not the scroll!


I'm also happy with the whitework and penwork: saving it til the morning, and doing it before my coffee, really does make a difference.


Here's the text of the scroll, based on one of my favourite sources, Castiglione's book of the courtier: his appendix includes a list of virtues in a courtier and in a waiting gentlewoman, explaining what a literate Renaissance man thought were important character traits. In the text, letter Y stands in for the 'thorn' letter.

From ye prince and princess to whom these presents show God grant you good health & peace be upon you.  
Having heard ye goodly reports of ye gentlewoman Sela de la Rosa, to wit – being well born, of a good house and wel brought up, having the vertues of the minde, being learned and havinge a sweetenesse in language and a good uttrance to entertein all kinde of men with communicacion woorth the hearing, devisinge verses and poesie to the joy of the companie, she apparail herself so in meete garmentes that best become her of some darkish and sad colour, not garish. 
In our sight she hath made her self beloved for her desertes, amiablenesse, and good grace, not with anie uncomelie or dishonest behaviour, or flickeringe enticement with wanton lookes, but with vertue and honest condicions.  
Therefore that alle these facions, skills & virtues may be commune to a greate many we Nasr and Eleanor, prince & princess of Insulae Draconis, do award her armes with Alle rights and priveleges, etc.  
Done this xxix day of Novembre AS XLIX at Yuletide University.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

lots of flowers

This scroll was done ages ago as a blank and then the Signet of ID asked for scribes. I thought this would be a good scroll to use.









Gouache and oak -gall ink on pergamenata. Took about 40 hours to do this scroll which was way over my initial estimate but the tiny shading takes a log time especially as it is all layers upon layers.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Macclesfield Fun!

After my first attempt copying from the Macclesfield alphabet, I was hooked. Now I want to do All The Macclesfields! But for a recent project, I restricted myself to nine, seven of which are here:

Wheee!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Making of Baron Marcus' Stormarn Court Barony and Mistress Bridget's Sigilum Coronae

Hello fellow scribes,

For Double Wars XXVII I had the honor and worry to do two scrolls for two people very dear to my heart! Mistress Bridget's Sigilum Coronae and Baron Marucs Court Barony.


It was quite challenging to do both of them for different reasons. you can read and see more of the making of on my blog http://kunst-stueckchen-kalligrafie.blogspot.de/.

Please feel free to chritique either here or on my blog!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A new year

I would like to remind all scribes that as of May1st we are welcoming in a new Anno Societatis year. It is now AS 49 or XLIX.

Happy New AS Year!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Before...After

Because it's always good to be reminded of just how much whitework improves a piece:

pre post

You can read more about this scroll here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Books for free from the Getty

Getty Publications Virtual Library

Free digital backlist titles from the Getty Publications Archives

http://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/index.html

Lots of titles can be downloaded as pdf files for free. Have fun!

Margaret de Mey's Pelican scroll.



Margaret de Mey is one of Drachenwald's treasures. This past weekend she was elevated to the Order of the pelican. this was the scroll. If you wish to see a WHOLE lot more pictures and read up about the making of then hop on over to my other blog and check it out but be warned it's super image intensive.

http://darksidescribe.blogspot.de/

Friday, March 21, 2014

Early medieval faux marble

Spending some time browsing the British Library catalogue, I came across this 11th c work, that I hadn't seen before.

What caught my eye this time was the colour of the columns in the canon tables (pages I usually skip over). It's the attempt to show the beautiful colours of marble that was so nifty. Look at the glorious purples, periwinkles, reds, greens!

This book isn't that large - about 7x9", close to the size of a trade paperback now. But just a joy.

Egerton 608: Four gospels
Possibly painted in what is now Luxemburg

f 8 - large version

Canon table

f 9v - large version

Canon table

f 15 - large version

Chapters


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

On the subject of assignments.



Greetings,

So it has come to my attention that there has been some unhappiness about the lack of work being assigned. This is due purely to the small amount of awards being given out and not anything else. Since Coronation there have been a total of 20 assignments done by a total of 16 scribes. Some scribes including myself have had multiple scrolls to do because of time crunches or because one scribe did the illumination and one scribe did the calligraphy.

The main reason for the small number of awards is the lack of recommendations being received by the Crown and that fact that we now have 2 principalities that also award AoAs for their own people by their own royals so that on a Kingdom level there are fewer entry level awards being assigned.

If people have issues with the Signet office (me) or questions about how things are being run then please email and ask because it is easier to address issues or explain the situation if I actually know there are problems.

I try really hard to spread the work around so that ALL active scribes get a chance to show off their work and sometimes that means that people might have to wait their turn again. Currently on the roster I have close to 60 or so active ( in varying degrees) scribes so as you can imagine sometimes that means not everyone gets to do work all the time. Also if I get an award request from the King and Queen and it comes with a suggested scribe then, unless there are other circumstances, that scribe will be asked first if they wish to do the scroll, whenever it is possible.

I would also encourage people to take this opportunity of quiet time to finish their backlog assignments as there are many still open-assigned scrolls on the current OP and it would be nice to see them get cleared up and the recipients receive their scroll. If you are unsure if you have a backlog assigned to you then encourage everyone to go and look at the online OP as now all assigned backlogged scrolls will have the scribe's name publicly listed.

http://op.drachenwald.sca.org/backlog.html

So as soon as more work becomes available I will let you know and if you know people who you think are deserving of an award then please send the King and Queen a recommendation through the proper channels.

http://op.drachenwald.sca.org/recommendation.html


YIS,
Mistress Bridget Greywolf OL
 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Materials sharing at Oxford Scriptor3um

With the Oxford Scriptor3um coming soon, I'm re-issuing my invitation to swap materials from last year. I have more of these items than I can use in a lifetime of gilding, mixing and gesso-ing.

If you're attending, save yourself expense and storage and get only the quantity of esoteric materials you really need!

Sadly this does require attendance in person - Royal Mail frowns on shipping even small containers of white powders.

Also: if you want any pergamenata to practice with or use for scrolls, please contact me with a postal address. I have lots, and can ship scroll-sized pieces easily.

Please get in touch via the blog or contact me at signet@insulaedraconis.org.




Monday, February 24, 2014

A Story of an AoA


We often show and tell about our personal masterpieces, like Peerage scrolls, but this time I’d like to tell you story about one little and simple AoA scroll, because… yes story itself behind the said scroll.
The story starts last summer at Cudgel war, where a fine young maiden named Anneke won an archery competition, or one part of it and received a small scroll for it. It is just a simple rectangle divided in three parts, one of them with the text, one with the initial and one of them is empty. Anneke asked me at St Dies Anna if I could paint a picture of something archery-related to the empty square (as I had made the scroll) and I said yes of course, just give it to me at some event.

Forward to January about a month ago. Anneke is besides a good archer one of those people who does unwanted and often unnoticed duties at events, like kitchen cleaning, helps where needed without fussing about it and in general has really become one of Aarnimetsians and Scadians in those about three years she has been a member of the society. So when someone asked if they would make a recommendation of Award of Arms for her, could they propose me as a scribe I very gladly agreed. So when I got to know she would indeed get the AoA, I started the normal pondering of the scroll and thought it would be nice to have something about archery in its illumination.

Then I almost got a heart attack! Anneke contacted me and said she had found nice picture of Medieval lady with a bow and an arrow. I thought who the h*** had told her she would get an AoA! And I almost asked it from her, but fortunately I then remembered the older scroll and my by then half forgotten promise and realized she was talking about it. So I asked about the picture, said thanks – and used it as an inspiration for her AoA scroll.

It was so fun to be a lady-in-waiting of our Baron and Baroness at the court of Midwinter Feast last weekend and see quite closely when King and Queen gave her the scroll and she realized what I had done! Talk about fighters, being a scribe can also be quite exiting sometimes.


Monday, February 10, 2014

sealing the deal

One of the cool things about scrolls is sometimes getting to add seals to them. As signet Clerk I get to use one of the Kingdom seals for this purpose.Here are two examples of scrolls which were designed to have a seal attached. The first one if a Court Barony for Gottfried Killianus the scroll is done by Lady Arianhrod.







The second piece is work by Mistress Genevieve for Marcus von Stormarn and it is a Grant of Arms.





The seals were done in steps. First I make a beeswax cup using an old glass jar lid as a mould. Once the wax has hardened and is removed from the mould it is a nice smooth disc. I then use a potter's tool to carve away the wax from the center out to form a cup. The next step is to cut away the wax to make a small channel for the strip or the small weave that will hold the seal to the scroll.  Once this is done I can then melt more bees wax, add a tiny amount of dry red pigment to the mix. I then pour this into the cup and wait until the wax forms a skin, once it is semi hardened I then use the seal and apply a light pressure as too much will make wax squirt out and / or break the whole thing. Then I let everything dry and harden in a cool place away from the sunlight.




Friday, January 10, 2014

a girly scroll

One of the things I really enjoy about doing scrolls is when one gets to actually discuss with the person who will receive it what they want. In discussion with Countess soon to be Duchess Siobhan what she wanted she sent me this image:


King's 322 f.1

This is 15th C Italian, love sonnets with some fun bits and pieces. She told me that she felt the rain on the heart symbolized, for her, the love of the populace she always felt. We had discussed at great length about her Duchy scroll and I knew that she wanted something very colourful with bling, in her words, something girly.So here are some images of the finished scroll with some closeups of the gold and the fun stuff.




The gilding is done with a ground made from Gum Arabic, sugar and distilled water. This recipe never fails me and I get the best shine from it. I also lay the paper on an old mouse pad when I burnish it seems to make it easier.




She was very happy which was great! I didn't think I would enjoy doing this piece because it's not something I'd ever pick for myself but it was what she wanted. In the end it was a fun piece to use and work from.
It's done on pergamenata, with gouache and water-colours, oak-gall ink, 23kt double ducat gold and it took around two seasons of a tv show which is what I tend to have on in the background when I work.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Kingdom artisan writ for 12th night

I've posted a description and photos of the writ I did for HE Aryanhwy as kingdom artisan to my LJ. The photos are hers, and make this little piece look better than I remember it.

Robert did the impressions of the seals, and I made the seal bag.

While I can always do some individual steps better, I'm pretty pleased with the overall effect.


Monday, January 06, 2014

gild ALL the things!

When I was given a scroll assignment with two month's lead time, I knew immediately that I wanted to push the boat out, to do something that stretched my limits in terms of composition, decoration, calligraphy, and gilding. The scroll was for Lady Efridis who has served as Sven and Siobhan's personal herald for two reigns -- doing an excellent job -- and I wanted it to be something of a personal thank you too, one herald to another.

I ended up using every bit of my two months, completing it New Year's Day. You can read about the step-by-step making of the scroll elsewhere, but here I'll settle for lots and lots of pictures. :)

Because I knew this would be elaborate, I took photos after each stage. It's fun to look back on some of the middle steps -- the garish "blocks of solid color" stage -- and see just how much proper whitework can really deepen and strengthen a scroll.

The gilding on this went so much better than last time. This can be attributed to a number of things: I put down a very thick coat of size, and then let it cure overnight, not beginning the gilding until the next morning. I rehydrated very small portions at a time, and likewise only gilded small portions at a time, overlapping while working on the large blocks, e.g., of the initial. There were some places where it didn't stick as well as I would've liked (such as on the initial), so whenever I had a leftover bit, I'd apply it again to the initial, with the result that eventually all of the holes filled. If you look closely, you can see that there are rough and uneven spots -- but most people won't be looking closely, because they'll be blinded by the shine!

And now for some close-ups:

Close-up of the initial.

Bottom left-hand corner with Albion's head.

Upper right-hand corner with some of the in-text initials.

Floral border

Bottom border with Queen's edelweiss and Albion's head