The Traveling Scribal Studio

Ly. Lucinda painting at Coronation

A scribe can work anywhere they choose. While I prefer my home studio, other scribes prefer a traveling studio, at least sometimes.  

A scribe’s studio is as individual as the person using it. Having a travel studio has advantages, besides mobility. It’s compact, can be placed near other activities, and can be completely removed from view. It’s perfect for apartment living. 

Being a self-sufficient migrant Scribe lets you work spontaneously as the creative mood strikes. It’s a must for working an unforeseen, impromptu scroll assignment. 

A travel studio has disadvantages too. It may affect the size scrolls you create and the supplies and skills you use.  At some point, you’ll consider each thing you include not only for its quality, but also its size, shape, and amount. You’re also forced to immediately clean everything up and put it away when you stop working.

Before you jump into being a nomadic Scribe there are questions to ask yourself to determine your motivation. Do you like lugging things to SCA activities? Do you want your art supplies with you wherever you go? Do you like doing scribal things when you travel? Do you find time for it away from home? What inspires you to take out your art supplies when traveling? 

The biggest question to ask yourself is “How do you prefer to work?” Do you like working with the support horizontal or vertical? 

Extra large wood
sketch box ease

If you like working horizontally like Ly. Lucinda is, you could use a picnic basket or a rolling suitcase studio. If you prefer working vertically a table top easel-box is appropriate, like this one Ly. Zafara uses. She told me she prefers it over other’s she owned because it has two drawers and an easel. But the second drawer also makes the easel farther away from the table so you’d raise your arms higher when painting.

When buying your portable box studio Ly. Zafara recommends:

  • quality strong easel bolt attachments  
  • deep drawers for supplies
  •  well attached strong handles 

Working with a portable studio takes planning
Consider your preferred references, materials, and tools. How much storage space will you need for the things you can’t downsize or do without? 

I work horizontally. I prefer my 18″ ruler, large pallets, and use a lightbox to see patterns or grids through the support. There are ways to modify these for travel but I haven’t figured out how to bring my dual swing-arm lamps. 

When selecting supplies for your travel studio the fewer, lighter, and smaller the better. Don’t despair. Being a minimal material scribe encourages you to research, explore, test, and decide the best supplies for your kit. You’ll be more creative with what you have.

Even though you’ll keep supplies to a minimum you still have many options. You’ll find alternative ways to include those you want. 

Be innovative. Search out smaller items. Plastic items to act as small disposable, mixing pallets. I sometimes use lids from nuts and Pringles containers. For small liquid amounts Zafara stores and carries them in a syringe or pipet. 

If you want the easel-box you’ll want shorter containers. A bottle for water, in case there isn’t any available. One for ink, if you prefer to dip your pen rather than use a brush to stroke ink on the nib. You may want short rinse water cups too.

Ly. Zafara’s field painting kit.

Sort your supplies within your travel studio. Group things to control slipping and you don’t hunt for the thing you want. 

You may create kits for techniques or group items by type. Zafara has a separate bag for reference books. She keeps her preferred patterns in an envelope. I talked with a Scribe who takes along a drafting board that also stored her day’s paper. 

With paints consider medieval-like options that combine well to make other colors. Explore and discover those you prefer. You can premix these or keep just a few paint tubes in your kit. 

Pack supplies carefully especially when you travel. When I take teaching supplies to events I protect all fragile parts. I put plastic tubes over brush tips to prevent bristles from bending. I test liquid containers for leaks, leaving them up-side-down overnight. I put containers of watery liquids inside a zip-lock plastic bag. 

Once on the site think about the best place to set up. Some Calontir events designate a table for scribes to gather, paint and talk. It may be the only place paints are allowed. If it’s your choice, consider the lighting, water access, foot traffic, table and chair height. You may have to prioritize your options. Is it more important to paint with others or have more light? The ideal scribal situation seldom occurs.

Don’t be hard on yourself. Even travel scribes accumulate boxes of unused or discarded art supplies. If you try something and it doesn’t seem right, pass it along to another Scribe.

Being a travel scribe is a different way of life. Wherever you go you have your studio with you. With water and a flat surface, you’re ready to create.

Related Prior Post:
My Scribal Work Space

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