Sunday, December 17, 2017

my second original scroll project

in which our plucky heroine continues to journey into calligraphy and illumination...

Back in May, I made my first original scroll, an award for the Barony of Stromgard's outgoing Stormrider. I then volunteered to make an original scroll for the Barony of Three Mountains; my friend William Tarrel was being awarded membership in the Ordo Aegis Honoris ("...given in recognition of exceptional courtesy and honorable behavior."), and it would be a chance for me to do another scroll in the style of the 14th C Books of Hours, which is rather my favorite.

As previously, the first step, other than looking through lots of online images for visual inspiration, is, once the wording for the text has been decided, to write out the text block. Once I wrote out the scroll text block to get an idea of how much space it would take up on the finished page, and confirmed the size needed for the Baronial seal, I began to sketch out various ideas for the surrounding illumination:

Because the recipient is know for his weaving skills, I wanted to include a spider, and connecting the niche between the large capital P and the smaller text capitals seemed like a good spot

I tried several possible sketches showing someone "tablet weaving" and this one seemed the best match with the aesthetic of the period and the style of the manuscript I was using as inspiration. There are LOTS of rabbits wielding weapons in the marginalia of some medieval books of hours and psalters, so I decided that bunny with an axe would help represent some of the martial activities of the recipient.

Once all the border illumination design work is done, the whole page gets ink outlining, prior to applying paint...

The first thing I do is apply the gold, in this case Finetec "Arabian Gold" metallic watercolor, which gives a nice vivid golden color. I try and choose where to apply the gold in a way that helps move the eye around the page... a bit more where the text starts, but not too much in any one spot other than that. I repeatedly look at various pages of my inspirational manuscript while I am choosing where to add various colors, to try and make decisions that are congruent with the medieval aesthetic...

I try and keep to a limited palette of colors, similar as best I can to what was used in the 14th C. Eventually the base layers of all the several colors are laid down in place, and it will be time to begin doing all the tiny brush detailing to bring the illumiation to life. Whitework is the most challenging aspect for my painting skills, as the scale of the detailing is very wee indeed! When I saw how truly small some of the actual medieval manuscripts were, at the exhibit in Boston last year, I was astounded!

Finally, the original scroll is completed. This time I added the thin ink flourishes to the ends of some of the line fillers in the text block. This sort of penwork is a common feature, and each time I make another scroll, I hope to improve. The ruler at side of photo gives an idea of scale.

I tried to put in a number of details that refer to the SCA activities of the recipient. At the top of the border, a tiny archer takes aim at a snail/stag hybrid...

Along the righthand edge of the scroll, I added another arrow, and some decorative tablet weaving cards. In addition, this photo gives a clearer look at the line filler whitework motifs, and the pen flourished linework. (The "boxes" that are line fillers are just over 1/8" tall)

A closer look at the spider and spiderweb, and a glimpse of the tiny monster and knotwork motifs in the smaller capitals

A half human/half monster holds spun yarn and winds it onto a niddy noddy. The tablet weaver keeps busy weaving trim, while the bunny with an axe rides backwards on a sheep. I found lots of small monsters spinning, and using wool combs, and winding yarn, in the original manuscript, and just had to include one here.... in addition, I decided that the bunny looked much better if riding on a sheep (sheep = wool/weaving), because it both filled the space better, and helped send the eye back around the design
and a closer look at the tiny tablet weaver from the bottom border...

and a final look at the capital P letter, inspired by several capital letters in the Book of Hours of St Omer.


December SMART goals (x=extra)
1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
4 much cranberry ketchup x -
5 second original scrollx -
6 x x -
7 x x -
8 x x -
9 x x -
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


  1. Wonderful! I enjoyed seeing the process photos and reading about your thoughts on the project. The close-ups are awesome.

  2. That is so beautiful! What a lucky recipient! Love all the spinning and weaving details.

  3. What a wonder you are, and what a blessing to the SCA community. Your talents are put to excellent use.

  4. Beautiful work, I am in awe of your skill. I couldn't even see to paint such fine detail, let alone hold the brush still!