Why Is Scribal Art Under Appreciated?

Dollars to donuts the scribe is the least appreciated SCA artisan. That doesn’t mean the person receiving the award doesn’t appreciate receiving it and its kudos. But many recipients do not understand or appreciate the work done by the scribe. 

Award Scroll Presentation

Sometimes when a scroll leaves the scribe’s hands and is given in court it’s never seen again. Depending on the award’s type or level it may go into a file or binder rather than displayed. People in the SCA will seldom see that piece of art again.

Why do so few people appreciate the time, effort, and creativity a scribe puts into their work? Where is the motivation for excellence if the recipient doesn’t treasure it?

People don’t know the time that goes into a scribe’s learning and scroll production. It’s more time-consuming, complex, and costly than you think. Award Scrolls are original pieces of art, that take many hours of work and the supplies and skills to make them. Even a Calontir predesigned preprint scroll takes 10 hours or so. Using the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour makes just the labor for the painting of that 8″x10″ award worth $72.50.  

A more elegant scroll, created by an experienced scribe with high-quality materials could be considered as being done by a fine artist. They receive an average of $20 per hour, according to Payscale.com. That same size scroll now would cost $200 in labor, and go up from there depending on the size and execution time.

Lonely Tower Scribal  Class

There’s more to a scroll creation than effort and supplies. There’s love. Most scribes crave the creative experience, experimentation, education and exploration. They are captivated by each pen mark or brush stroke. They don’t understand why non-scribes don’t have the same interest and drive for their inspiration. 

Scribes also enjoy serving their Kingdom and scribal community. It’s a way to give back to what brings them joy.

It’s recognition to have a scroll shown high in court and have the calligrapher, illuminator, and wordsmith’s names read. For that to happen you, the scribe, must put your name on the scroll’s back and possibly your email address too. It makes it easier to recognize your work when you sign the back than if you include a simple maker’s mark within the illumination.

Sadly, it’s rare when a scribe receives a thank you. I am pleased to have received a few thank you cards and even a small gift of vellum once.

Next time you receive an award scroll, remember it’s a gift of time and love as well as beauty. It is a quiet art, done at home, and given away. Sometimes we scribes have to learn to pat ourselves on the back and be our own advocates. Tell your friends when they see a scroll the effort it took to make.
Related Prior Posts:
The Making An SCA Scroll, Part 1
The Making An SCA Scroll, Part 2

Related External Blog Post:
The Making of an SCA Scroll by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope

Categories: Musings

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