Outwitting Scribal Dirty Slips And Missteps

I’ve created many award scrolls over the years. Along the way, I messed up or dirtied my share. From them, I learned a few tricks. These may help you too.

Neatness is a primary criterion for a quality scroll. I love working with pergamenata, but it doesn’t do well with oils. To help that you start with a simple prep. Go over the perg with a large non-latex white vinyl eraser. This removes oils and unwanted marks. You may also do this after the scroll is done and very dry.

As I work I use a guard sheet under my working hand. This prevents adding hand-oil or marks. You could wear cotton gloves for this, but I find them cumbersome. They alter my sense of touch especially for fine paint strokes and lettering.

I use an etch scratch nib in a holder to remove unwanted ink or paint marks. You might also use an Xacto knife for this. I prefer the curved scratch nib except when working between letter parts. Then I use the pointed nib.

Luttrell Psalter Illumination Example

Period effect. The more an award scroll looks like a period work the better. When I use modern gouache I select colors similar to those in my medieval inspirations. Some medieval manuscripts are known for their unique color palette such as the Luttrell Psalter. If your scroll emulates it your paint colors should also. You also want to apply them in a similar style. 

Newer scribes often use Reeves, Daler Rowney or Artist Loft non-acrylic gouache paints. They are great for beginners and preprint painting. As you run out of those in you initial set buy paints that look more period from Winsor and Newton, Holbein or Utrecht brands. Eventually, you’ll have them all affordably replaced.

Keep copies.  I made a mistake. I stopped making copies of my work after I was elevated to the Order of the Laurel. For those absent scrolls, I don’t know the materials or what they looked like. I don’t have them if I’m asked to make a replacement, or offer as style for another scroll. Unless their picture shows up on Facebook I don’t have them for this blog or to use at a scribal demo. I don’t have them to encourage my own scribal growth.

Similarly, you want to look at the scribal works of others. As much as possible, look at period sources and other scribes’ works. Look at it online, but better still, look at any original works you can find, both historic and SCA. The more you look at C and I art the more aware you become of their beautiful layers and uncountable fine lines. The more I look at in detail the more inspirited I become. 

You may even find places scribes messed up.

External Related Posts:
Master RanthulfR’s Tips for the SCA Calligrapher

Categories: Tips

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