The Making Of An SCA Scroll, Part 1.

My scroll creation process is not a direct line.

To begin, even before I have the text, I research the person to receive the award. Their persona’s time period and personal interests both within and outside the SCA. This has become easier if the person posts on FaceBook, as Bietriz does. I got motifs to work in such as her newest dress, one of her dogs, a cat, and a recent creation she entered in Calontir’s Queen’s Prize Tourney.

I research illuminated manuscripts relating to the recipient’s interests, considering the era’s styles and scripts. Google is such a blessing for this. Within images I asked for 14th-century French illuminated manuscripts. Be aware, I still have to know what to expect, because Google may throw in works from other cultures, periods and even current creations. Even so, it’s a good place to start looking.

I had in mind a page from the Bute Psalter, specifically folio 32v, even though it’s late 13th century. I’d seen this page in the book French Illuminated Manuscripts In The J. Paul Getty Museum.

In my head, I have a concept of what I want to do. Now I need the text to show up.

If possible, for a Grant award, I plan illumination for the top, left, and possibly a bit of the bottom. This allows me to work the text and let it flow off to the right as needed. There’s also less effort planning the script’s size and placement.

Once I have the text, using a computer font that approximates my planned script’s size and shape but not the actual letters, I play with spacing around paragraphs and any drop caps (as they are called today). 

This text was lengthy and included a short poem with translation before the “legal” words. That took a bit more space arranging.

I also practice the script I plan to use. This was a secretary script used in Europe after the 13th century. One I often use, but it’s been years since I used it.

Now I have my inspirations. My visual sources, script choice, text.

Most often for substrate I use standard frame size heavy-weight natural pergamenata “paper”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that for this one, because of the text length. This scroll is 11″ x 16.5″. That will make framing pricier for Bietriz. (Sorry Bee.)

I lightly mark off an inch margin on the top and sides with a 4H pencil. I try to leave more on the bottom for signatures and seals. These marks are a heads-up to me later, to keep my calligraphy or design within bounds.

Then I do the calligraphy. Using a light box, I put my text mock-up under my pergamenata. This keeps me from omitting letters or words, wasting time restarting or using more of my limited resources. 

Using a Mitchell 6 broad edge dip pen nib with Winsor & Newton black calligraphy ink I worked the calligraphy. It took me two days. 

This was the first time I used W&N ink. I learned it must be shook-up well before using. Saving a dab from one day to the next does not work either.

Part of the two days I used reworking four words because I dropped one letter. (You can see the goof at the end of the first full paragraph that’s not poetry.)

The best way I’ve found to correct lettering is to let it dry, write the correct letter over the error letting that thoroughly dry, then using a very sharp knife or exacto to gently scratch off the unwanted parts.  

With the calligraphy done, the next step was to rough-in the border with a 4H pencil. Then, after being satisfied with my plan, going over the lines with a .005 Pigma Micron pen.

Part 2, coming Tuesday, will be the illumination process. Please check back to find out the steps I take to paint the design.


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