One of the things I really enjoy about the scribal arts is that they are very portable. I have a box that I keep as a "travel kit" and it goes with me to most events 'just in case'. In it I keep paints,inks, a mixing tray, a self made box with all my tools ( pens, nibs, templates, pencils, ames guides etc...) I also keep an A4 drafting board and some reference material as well as paper. It's small, portable and doubles as a table or a book holder. It means that when ever we go someplace if I have work to do I can do it as long as I have a flat surface to work on and access to water.
I don't remember the story behind why I ended up with the assignment for Gerhardt's scroll ( though I'm sure if I dig through my emails I can figure that out) but it was backlogged. I do know I was working on it and some other things while we were staying in a hotel just outside Nuremberg. It was a sort of apartment place and the owner set us up in a large basement apartment which was fine for working on scrolls. Table and a tv. I started it at home and just had to finish it at the hotel because while painting and drawing can be done anywhere laying down gold leaf ...not so much.
For a scroll not done in my usual work space I was pleased with how it turned out.
When Giles and EzaBella were on the thrones their daughter was a part of their royal crew, a retainer. They wanted to say thank-you in a special way and asked if I would make them something scroll like. This was the result. It tells a little story as all of the images mean something and I hope it is a nice reminder of what was a pretty cool time.
Saying thank you with a gift or a piece of calligraphy and or illumination is often a fabulous way to reward a member of the populace especially if there is no reason give them one of the standard kingdom awards. Most scribes are happy to do off the book work ( so to speak) something different and challenging. It's not always appropriate to give a person an award and it is especially not appropriate to use an award because there is a need to "give person X something" when I thank you gift and straight forward recognition will do.
This was a fun piece to do, there was quite a bit of back and forth consultation, if I remember correctly, and when it was given out in court the various symbols and illustrations were explained. It's not my story to tell so I won't be doing that here.
Sometimes it is enough to call a person up in court and publicly thank them for their hard work and maybe give them a gift. This calls more attention to the work, to the person doing the work rather than have everything be about the title/award which lately, as many people have commented to me, it seems to be.
I've said it before but it bears repeating. Saying Thank You goes a very long way and often it's what most people who do any sort of volunteer work want more than anything else. To be recognized and acknowledged for their contributions. This is far more important, at least to me, than fancy titles.
These were a pair. The instruction I was given was that they should match. I didn't know much about the recipients at the time so went with making them more like the traditional grants one sees than pages from books of hours. I think at the time there was a pretty heavy discussion going on on one of the email lists about how scrolls in general should look and that there should be a greater push to making them less book of hours like and more traditional medieval grant like.I was then and still am against pushing for any sort of regulation for the scribes as to what they can and cannot do from an artistic stand point.
One of the nice things about Drachenwald is the massive amount of freedom scribes have as far as the art of scrolls is concerned.This freedom allows scribes to test boundaries explore different styles and work through problems until they find their own style and comfort zone. We don't place restrictions on size of scroll vs importance of scroll, there are no weird sumptuary laws outside of the standard SCA ones and scribes can copy existing period pieces or come up with their own. It's exciting.
I did these in a style that was fairly new to me. I kept it simple but tried to make them pretty as well. It's easy now to see that as far as working with cadels goes I didn't really have a lot of experience, nor, at the time, was there a lot of information out there. I remember doing exhaustive internet searches looking for examples but at the time there were very few. This has changed significantly with museums and libraries now uploading whole medieval collections in high quality digital versions easily accessible to the public, some places even offer free PDF downloads of entire manuscripts.
These were done with an oak-gall ink which has a blue tint to it, gold gouache on fabriano paper.
This was one of those times where I tried something a little new. I wanted the panache scroll for Ailitha to be beautiful. She's my SCA kid, she's a lot like me and I love her to bits. I wanted this to show.
Done with gouache, watercolour on Fabriano paper, 23kt transfer gold and oak-gall ink. I don't recall exactly what the design was based on and I know I changed it around quite a bit. Now I see things I would have done differently, like add some ink work around the capital letters. I probably would have also done the inner box frame in gold as well not just the blue. Sometimes it's hard to look back at older work and remember that at the time this was where my skill level was and I did the best I could with what I had.
The Panache award is for excellence in an art/science so I think the scroll should reflect this.
It's kind of funny that several years later I did a similar style for my second apprentice.
It's not often I document the entire journey of a scroll, not because I don't want to I do, but rather because I get so caught up in the work I just forget. However, this is one of those scrolls that has its entire life ( more or less) mapped out by pixels.
For me it always starts with my books. I spend hours pouring through them to find something that inspires. I like doing this with books rather than online digitized manuscripts because I can read the books in my studio with ease. prop the books open at my work table and get in really close to have a good look. I find that harder to do with the computer, especially since the main computer is no where near the studio and up until very recently we only had a black and white laser printer that's around 7 years old. Finding examples online, while very cool was very impractical for me to use now I have a different colour printer that might change somewhat.
You can see in the 1st pictures the inspiration for the scroll. I didn't copy it 1:1 instead I took the general design ideas and made them something more personal to the recipient.
After finding inspiration comes the paper, it takes a while to decide how big it should be. This is usually determined by the type of illumination and the amount of text and the text it usually what ever I have on hand that works and is not so convoluted that my brain does twists. In this case it is a fairly standard SCA GoA text. While, I really like the period texts that people write and have used them when I can, sometimes I think it's also nice to have something traditional to the SCA and something that keeps God, saints etc. out of the equation. Plus I don't always have time to wait for someone to write me a period text and I have also had some complaints about more period texts being too long, too wordy and too full of religious "stuff." It's hard to please everyone all the time with the texts so often this is why I stick to the basics.
Once the size has been figured out, I take the paper and I line it out. This is done on my big drafting table with the built in rulers and my ames lettering guide. It usually takes around half an hour because I already know in my head how this will look. Once the lines and spacing is all done I start to sketch out the illumination.This is done with a Faber-Castell "H" pencil. I don't use any other kind of pencil for my scroll work and I like "H" because it's still soft enough to erase easily but hard enough it doesn't get graphite everywhere and smudge.
After the pencilling I ink.I love the inking process. I love using a dip pen to draw with.
Once the design is inked out I usually do the calligraphy this is because if I am going to screw this scroll up this is the time it will happen. It's a rare scroll for me that doesn't have some sort of typo but I've learned over the years how to effectively fix mistakes made in the calligraphy but just in case I almost always do the calligraphy before any illumination or gold.
Once the calligraphy is done, then I gild.
The gesso for this scroll was a gum arabic - sugar - water mix. It's a great gesso actually because it allows for both flat and raised gilding. You can also see that I was able to tool the gold in the B. Pinpricks using a bookbinder's awl.
After the gilding is done then I paint.
For this scroll I decided to use colours that matched the device of the recipient using the red to counter balance the blues and blacks. Acanthus leaves are a struggle for me so this was a lot of work trying to get it right. Mostly I'm happy with the end result because the overall piece is pleasing top the eye. It's a simple but very elegant design, deceptive in its simplicity actually because it took a long time to get right.
It's fun to go back and see the step by step progression, reminding me I should document it far more often than I do.
Watercolour, gouache on pergamenata, with oak-gall ink, 23kt gold transfer leaf.