I had a rare chance to work with a musician-composer on a scroll for a mutual friend, Mistress Ana Mickel von Salm. While this is a Sagittarius scroll (note the tiny Order symbol tucked at the end of the music), we also love to dance with her, so we chose the striking black Brussels MS for the exemplar. Lord Nichol wrote a tune and 3 verses of lyrics for "Mickel's Hunting Dance". We didn't have time to properly collaborate on the composition, so the tune does not quite fit into the pattern for a basse dance, but I made the steps fit even if they don't follow the rules. The steps are written in silver under the melody, in the shorthand used in the exemplar. There are pages that have blocks of text, as well, so I used them to design the bottom half.
I am finding that making period notes look like the original is harder than it appears.
I used Smenke gold and silver, thinned more than usual for the calligraphy, with a standard metal nib. Jan2018
I <3 Anastasia de Monte, both for all the wonderful art and service she provides, and for her late-period Venetian persona. There were plenty of great sources to choose from, including this lovely page that was conveniently also simple enough to get done in time. I hope that Google Translate did not lead me astray in the gist of what the Latin meant. The top bit seemed to be in praise of a ruler, so I swapped in Ivan. The usual invocation of the deity turned into an invocation of Matilde. And it seemed like the first line of the bottom paragraph had generally the right sentiment, as this was the prologue to the statues of Venice. I seem to have deleted my vague translations, but they generally called on the wisdom of the rulers and the good qualities of the people. I also did my best to turn the date and location into Latin with the proper endings and so forth (I hope Buckland Cross is like a crossroads and not some other kind of cross...). There's a little maunche inside the C, and I used density of background filling to try to get the sense of counterchanging. I used imitation shell gold from Guild Mirandola, and sketched-then-painted all the text at the top rather than using a nib. I know from previous scrolls that printed text is kind of a pain to do with a nib. It's still a pain with a brush, but the gold behaved better this way. Also, the pencil lines are very obvious on the original, so I left mine in! November 2017.
Silver Brooch for Viscount Anton. The amazing portrait was done by Nataliia. You can see that I was careful to protect it while I was working! The words were done by Merrill Wyntere, based on Beowulf. Which was great, because that made it easy to decide on the hand to use for the text. I swapped in thorns and eths whenever I could, too. Hand based on Cotton Vitellius A. xv. 2017
Silver Brooch for Arne Ulrichson, who apparently has a very, very specific persona: a Swede on crusade against the Orthodox Church in Novgorod around 1370 . I found a law book written by a Swedish king sometime between 1390-1410 (most Swedish documents I found from the late 14th C have zero illumination).
It's still a bit plain, but that made the painting pleasantly easy, and I always love doodling line fillers with gouache and a nib. I couldn't get good translations of the Swedish text (I suspect the spellings are non-modern), but I got a gist and tried to mimic the style of repeating the first word on many lines (often it was "Nu" or Now) and the general tone of a law text. My understanding from his knight was that I succeeded in making the recipient happy, so win. Fall 2017
Silver Crescent for Lord Richard of Troyes, also a good dance friend. The text is based on a translation of the Brussels MS description of basse dances, which I have tweaked to describe service rather than dancing, but I've left many of the original phrasings intact. I really need to work on my fleur-de-lis, though. The illumination and hand are from the Toulouze manuscript (see next image), and are heavily light-boxed. While I'm pleased with my right-justification, I just realized I forgot the little black doodles to fill in the last lines. Bummer.
A page from L'art Et Instruction De Bien Dancer, another basse dance manuscript (aka the Toulouze MS). I traced many of the outlines directly from this page, and then filled in the details.
Front page from The Good Huswifes Jewell, 1596 edition.
Silver Crescent for Lady Kathryn Perry, a good dance friend. The words were written by Lord David of Hartshorndale, for which I am eternally grateful. I got this assignment on very short notice, so I had to pick something I could do in 3 evenings (after I finished Dreda's scroll, and in time to be couriered). David's assistance was invaluable. I lightboxed most of the woodcut, though I am rather pleased with how tidy my shading is on her skirt and apron, which was free-handed. I altered the dress very slightly to be Kathryn's Elizabethan kirtle, with an apron of course, and changed the headcovering to her coif and flat cap from a picture. I'm not so sure that it came out well (there was no time for fussing and re-drawing), but I hope it is recognizable. I don't know what's going on with that window on the left. I'm pleased I can freehand the silver crescent by now. Lines were drawn with my regular crow quill and a large Speedball pointed nib (to give me wider lines), and the border was done with my calligraphy nib. I had fun doing it, and it went as quickly as I needed it to.
Imitating the italic print was not too bad, especially since I had an italic guidesheet in my stash (it has the slight forward-slanting vertical guides), and even then I can see that my lines wobble quite a bit -- it's tough to get a reliable slant. Imitating the regular print was annoying, but just look at how untidy the original print is! Totally within spec, but I wasn't going to do any more than I absolutely had to. The "imprinted at..." section that I put at the end also just tickles me, even though I measured the center wrong so it's offset to the right, boo. I'm still amazed that I had almost all the letters I needed just from the few lines of italic on the exemplar (yay English-to-English, no Latin!). May 2017
Pelican scroll for Mistress Aildreda de Tamwurthe, words by the inestimable Mistress Alys Mackintoyich. Oak gall ink (Mirandola), goose quill, real vellum (Pergamena). OMG real vellum, so lovely, much wow. May 2017
This scroll would not have happened without the invaluable help of Lord Gunðormr Dengir. He sent me this blog post, when I was looking for sources from mid-thirteenth century Mercia (to match the persona, of course): http://hdslibrary.tumblr.com/post/160048476194/happy-preservation-week-heres-a-beautiful-custom. It was PERFECT. And *then* he went to the Divinity School, armed with his fabulous camera and a ruler, and got close-up photos for me (see above).
I had a lot of fun with this script, especially the ascenders and descenders, and the fact that there's a squiggle notation that can be used to abbreviate *anything*. I loved how open the hand is, and hated having to reproduce it! I measured carefully, and still didn't manage to get quite the same openness between lines. Also, I was trying to get the last line to elongate like the original, but didn't quite get it right and had to cram a word in (I probably should have just dropped it, but it was an Alys text! I don't mess with the Alys text). But there's a reason that last word is hanging out there by itself -- it's deliberate, and not quite executed correctly.
Speaking of Alys texts, she originally started with "Ioannes". Then I messaged her later and asked, hey can you start with an A instead? And she said, very politely, are you kidding me I researched every word of this from very specific period sources and you want me to do what? OK, I'll see what I can do. And then she figured out how to do it from period examples, by adding a Latin invocation as the first line, so I didn't have to change the A to an I. YAY! I lightboxed the A and filled it in with a crow quill.
Mistress Eva Woderose and Baroness Æsa feilinn Jossursdottir helped me to do the wax seal on site. We had to do it twice, because you always do when court has already started and you have to get it done. In the original, the silk strands are clearly not braided, just twisted in some way. That was cool, it meant I didn't have to braid a thing, right? So we cut the silk strands (which look about the same wpi as the original, though I haven't measured) and twisted them together, and sealed it, and picked it up... and of course they untwisted! No bueno. Now I will sometime have to figure out what the heck they did to keep it together in the original. We cheated by tying a tiny bit of thread at the join.
I wanted to draw guidelines using an awl or folder from the backside, as in the original, but I ran out of time and gumption. I was also really tempted to fold the final document, so it would have the same vertical folds, but again I didn't want to wreck it, and it probably wouldn't really look the same as a centuries-old document anyway. But maybe next time...
Laurel for Master Alexandre Saint Pierre (illumination by the inestimable Mistress Camille des Jardins). My first time writing a scroll (or really, anything more than 2 lines at a time) with a feather quill. There are 3 quills at work here, can you spot the difference? As of this writing, I can barely remember. Since I was using experimental oak gall ink from Master Ian the Green, I wrote an evaluation for him as to how it worked out. It was experimental because oak gall ink from period recipes does not darken properly on modern vegetable pergamenata (this is very disappointing the first time one tries it, I know!). This ink has several times the amount of gall, and does give better tone on this surface. Thanks, Master Ian! Everyone should have a bottle in their stash (https://scribescribbling.wordpress.com/my-ink-and-resource-pages/)
His blog posts about making the ink: https://scribescribbling.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/ink-recipe-1596/
Link to Camille's pictures post-illumination: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipND6cwxi4RjlfP-ytrGOeS-s5d_KmJPIR5EQI60skv896iU30mTCo7Li7JxB_IolA?key=QUlFdGo3ODEzN2pVMUZOcnhGUFZtd29iMkhqVHZ3
My observations about the ink:
1) My original plan was to use a Mitchell 6 nib. I tried a couple of them, but neither played very nice with the ink. It dried faster on the nib than I'm used to (is there a higher non-aqueous solvent content? I usually use Pelikan on perg). This led to solid deposition on the nib. Cleaning that deposit out of the crevices of the nib was more time-consuming than cleaning other ink off. This is probably by a matter of seconds or a minute, but since I was anticipating having to clean the nib after every few lines, rather than once or twice in an evening, that was going to add up.
2) I also didn't like how the nib was laying down the ink on the perg during practice. It seemed to be scratchier than I'm used to, and I had trouble getting crisp edges and good coverage. I'll admit that I wasn't flowing along during this practice, I was also still picking out which letterforms I was going to use, so it's possible the ink was drying more between words than it would if I was writing at speed. But it was noticeable enough that my scribal group could see the difference between my attempts in this case vs my usual calligraphy. I do plan to try more with the metal nib, to see if I can get it to work. Perhaps it would play nicer with wider nibs, or with some other tweaks of angle or technique. I'm sure it's not impossible -- it just was in the amount of time I had.
3) I switched over to a quill, which happened to be a turkey feather. It worked pretty well right off the bat (thank goodness, or I would have freaked completely out). Great coverage, no unpleasant scratchiness, no trouble with surface tension. Also, cleaning the quill was thankfully as easy as I was hoping. I still observed solids building up at the tip of the quill, so I cleaned it after every 2 lines. The first time, I rinsed it thoroughly. I thought I had dried it well enough, but discovered that there was water hiding further up the shaft inside, and it was then thinning out my ink as I wrote. Also, I think it warped one prong of the tip. I stopped rinsing it, and just wiped inside and out with a paper towel each time, which seemed to work great.
4) After ~10 lines, I decided to cut another quill from a white goose feather. Admittedly, I forgot to scrape the shiny coating off the surface at first. It refused to transfer the ink well to the page -- the coverage was very thin, so the letters looked very pale, and despite having a good amount of ink further up the quill, it didn't seem to be transferring down the tip, and I would run out of ink despite having plenty just a few mm's further up. I wrote two lines with this nib, getting good letterforms just distinctly paler.
(I did try scraping the surface after starting to use it, but it's tough to do thoroughly then, at least with my level of experience.)
5) I cut another turkey quill, and it worked much more like the first, giving me better coverage. The first quill still worked best, though, after I cut back past the warped tip. I finished the scroll with the two turkey quills, and went back with one of them to add ink to the pale letters from the goose quill. That was fairly easy -- the ink didn't spread past the original edges, as long as I was careful.
With special thanks to the An Tiri who put together this informative handout and put it on the web: http://midhaven.antir.sca.org/khss2014/Proceedings/A_survey_of_medieval_Russian_manuscript_illumination.pdf http://midhaven.antir.sca.org/khss2014/Proceedings/A_survey_of_medieval_Russian_manuscript_illumination.pdf
I've loved these kinds of rectangular eastern European / Greek / Russian headers for years, and finally got to do one. And the M (built from an H) was fascinating... all until I had to actually *do* it myself. Few scrolls have frustrated me more. Deciphering the details of the M proved curiously impossible. I'm not happy with the calligraphy (too blobby), and translitterating the English text into something like period Cyrillic from the right location was a difficult proposition.[I should post the reference I used here.] I had to shorten the text which I really didn't want to do (the entirety was read in court). I also couldn't get the right kind of imprecision in the painted elements -- the original clearly had a fair amount of it, but the result was nicer than what I could manage.
As a note, the text in the box is the blazon for his arms. Which, I might add, has FOUR WOLVES in it. So much claw, so much floof. No, I don't know what possessed me to then reproduce it three times in the scroll, and add some tygers in for good measure.
Tyger of the East for Mistress Catrin o'r Rhyd Fôr. Based on Royal MS 18 D II, 163r - 199v. The little tyger in the F is based on page 163r. 2017
With many, many thanks to Mistress Aneleda Falconbridge for writing the words based on the period play Wit and Science. Definitely worth reading them all!
Large cadels sketched in pencil, loopy ascenders freehanded (after multiple practices for both). Yellow (yellow+white goauche, thinned beyond normal paint) applied with a brush. Red goauche largely applied with a nib and crow quill, though some with a brush.
Some source pictures below:
Example of a full page. Note how the size of the hand changes for the shorter sections. Note also that sometimes the text wraps the capital letter, and sometimes doesn't. (The W at the bottom is one I used.)
I combined these two initials and a bunch of details from other capitals to make the initial F.
I just realized now that I didn't make the verticals of the stem wide enough, and that's partly why it looks spindly. Boo. Also, I should have measured instead of free-handing the diagonal bars.
In my defense, the C was pretty derpy to begin with.
Several of us did backlog scrolls all together in the same style. I picked this AoA for Grimlaf of Regnesfolk, because it's nice to do something for a member of the 'folke. He wrote a nice thank-you email in return, too! Not my favorite style, but I like the hand. Gold leaf. 2016
Maunche for Toi de Poisson (backlog, I did not finish it *during* the reign) Based on the alphabet book Harley 3885. Mostly lightboxed, but details were changed freehand to include personalized elements. Fish = her arms. Tower of confections, gilded marzipan jeweled flowers, and Elizabethan ruffs all based on her specialties. I LOOOOOVE this scroll, particularly the slanty-hand. Gold leaf. Finally finished in 2016.
From Alphabet book Harley 3885, f. 2
Silver Wheel for Joscelin le Esqurel. Delightful French text by Mistress Brunissende Dragonette. Squirrels, goats, and My Little Ponies all deliberate additions, but the source conveniently had a squirrel and a monkey riding horses & unicorns. 2016
From Li Livres dou Tresor, Yates Thompson 19, f. 3
[I am missing digital pics of the scrolls I did for Conogan and Mariota. And a Troubadour from earlier. This is my reminder to myself to find them and update here.]
Maunche for Anastasia Guta. Yay some cadels! I'm fond of this one, more than I usually am for this style. I really like the hand, too. Gold leaf. 2016
From De laudibus sanctae crucis - Cod.theol.et phil.fol.122
Court Baron for Þórlæifr hvitskegg, box handmade by Marieta Charay. Not pictured is the end panel with his arms and the 6 pearls. (The color looks weird but it's the same yellow for the whole box.) 2015
Maunche for Gaeira Aggadóttir. All red gouache, painted on Bristol, based on a Swedish runestone. 2015
Court Baroness for Juliana de Essex. Gold leaf. I really ought to do more white vine. 2015
Silver Crescent for Mistress Rainillt Leia de Bello Marisco. Also AoA for Claire McLennan (it was lovely to do two scrolls of the same style in short order). Schmenke gold. 2015
From the Morgan Library MS G13 f52v
AoA for Madelaine de Montaigne. I have a finished picture somewhere with the gold and silver. I love how this one came out... I hate that I ran out of time and couldn't do something that incorporated both hedgehogs and her black/silver color scheme a little better. 2014
From Royal MS 12 C VIII
Troubadour for Sir Michael of York. Words by Mistress Aildreda de Tamworthe. Based on the Chronicles of Matthew Paris. Still one of my favorite pieces. Yes, the canopy is twisted like that in the original. I hope Kenric and Avelina are recognizable (the original had two bishops there). The rubrications make me happy every time I look at it. Also, I am very pleased with my blue doodles in the top margin, one of my first times using thin goauche and a nib for non-calligraphy work. 2014