Acanthus Leaves

British Library Border Clipping Acanthus leaf from my handout “Acanthus Leaves: Drawing and Painting”  I love Acanthus leaves in art. They are an ornament that resembles leaves from the Mediterranean Acanthus plants. They have deeply cut leaves similar to thistles.  I like Acanthus leaves because they are a curvy, variable decoration I can use in most any art medium or era. In scribal illumination, Acanthus leaves add color, visual movement and design contrast to large text blocks. They also enhance large decorated display initials or a heraldic device.  There are several general Acanthus leaf styles from the broader leaf with ends that flip over to narrower forms without flips and in between. The Göttingen Model Book, a 15th-century workshop instruction manual, provides fascinating insight into how some period scribes drew and painted their leaves. British Library Harley 3490 f. 13v  You can create Acanthus leaves that are simple as in my above picture or add details such as dots along the vein and color modeling to enhance dimension.  Whatever you like. It’s a scroll ornament that lets you be creative. Related Prior Post: The Making of an SCA Scroll, Part 2 External Link: Acanthus Leaves: Drawing and Painting

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How To Use Heraldry On SCA Scrolls

Bi-lingual Hebrew-English Scroll After calligraphy heraldry is probably the most common motif I include in a scroll. Whether it’s a recipient’s arms, the order’s device or the Calontir banner I use them somewhere. Even if the recipient’s persona came from a culture that didn’t have heraldry. When I receive a scroll assignment I first collect as much information about the recipient as I […]

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How to Use Pergamenata for Scrolls

It’s here! My full-size pergamenata sheets arrived from John Neal Bookseller less than a week after I ordered them. With vellum costing $100 for a 12″x16″ page, I find machined pergamenata, a terrific alternative. It comes in heavy-weight, commonly used in the SCA, or a light-weight. I regularly used the light-weight until Calontir‘s Falcon Signet began providing heavy weight to […]

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10 Ways To Practice Calligraphy

To warm-up for calligraphy or test different nibs, I write the “quick brown fox…” thing.  For more practice, I have several pangrams I use or give to my students.  When I’m waiting to leave for an appointment I sometimes use a chisel point calligraphy practice marker to doodle universal strokes or specific letters I want to improve. I try to fill a whole page, but that gets boring quickly.  So what can I do to make calligraphy practice fun, enjoyable, or purposeful? Here are some ideas I found. Maybe there’s some that will work for you. I’d also like to know what you do to practice calligraphy. Please leave me ideas in the comments below. These may be done in any script you want to use. Write them in more than one script if you want.  Write a collection of words with double letters, like “ss” or “tt” etc.  Find interesting proverbs or phrases you like. Write them out with their meaning. Or do this with jokes or puns you find funny. Write a detailed review of the last book or movie you saw. Take a page from any book. Write it’s words out without any break between letters. Attempt to keep the letters consistently spaced apart. Go through the alphabet writing a short word or person’s name for each letter. To take this to the next level add flourishes to any ascenders, descenders, or the first or last letter. This one tests your mind too. Write a poem, or nursery rhyme […]

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How-to Do Simple Puzzle Versals

British Library’s Arundel 11, f. 9 Detail I find designing and painting puzzle versal initials refreshing. They are uncomplicated, decorated capital letters that don’t take long to make. They may be created on most any size versal, whether average or impressive.  And they can be used with any script from Caroline to Gothic–except Fraktur. At least I haven’t seen any. Puzzle versals are more flexible than you might expect. Besides the zig-zaggy shape within the letter, their patterning may also extend to other parts of the page. I’ve seen its design repeated to frame the page or extend along the page’s side.  They’re a great start for calligraphers that are illumination shy. Their decoration is simple and effective. Their creation easy, especially when done without any filigree.  Select the space to be filled and a suitable capital letter for your script. Outline your capital in pencil and then go over it with a black, fine permanent liner. Break the letter up in half, with a simple zig-zig lightly marked,  4H pencil line.  Paint one side red, the other blue. The most common color combination, although other combos are found. If you like, paint a fine white line over the join. Prior Related Post: How To Design Calligraphy Versals External Resources: Puzzle initial index found using the British Library’s Simple keyword search. Puzzle Calligraphy Versals found by searching Google. Of course, there’s extraneous stuff too.

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How to Design and Pen Cadels

I was honored and excited to do a late German scroll recently. Excited for the opportunity to create cadels, as many late period German texts have.  This is how I went about it. After receiving the text, I researched legal illuminated German works from the 15th century and calligraphy cadel images. I had my plan and did the layout. I then lettered the text body.  […]

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How To Design Calligraphy Versals

 “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, from the Cotton Nero A.x manuscript 1400s. Via Wikimedia commons One of my favorite scribal books is The Illuminated Alphabet by Patricia Seligman with calligraphy by Timothy Noad. I value it for its 12 oversized illuminated letter projects taken from five historic eras. These versal letters are used to teach illumination techniques that make images of […]

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How To Layout A Scroll

Scroll creation is like cooking. You begin the creative process knowing for whom you want to cook and when you want to serve it. You collect the essential ingredients you want to use, calligraphy, paint, and support. Using medieval sources, you add a pinch of intuition, a dash of inspiration, stir them together hoping for a tasty result. The best […]

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How to Use a Dip Pen

When you adventure into using a dip pen you will find its use noticeably different from cartridge pens. Even the supplies needed are different. Besides the obvious pen nib holder, nib, ink and paper I have a few other things I use along with my dip pen set up. Most of my nibs also have a reservoir that holds a […]

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