Ascender – The letter part that rises above the letter’s body or minim as on the modern letters b, d, f, h, k, l, and t.

Archival – A product safe and stable for long-term contact with important objects.

Award – A recognition and honor given by SCA Monarchs during court. Each Kingdom has its own set. If you want to learn more, Calontir’s may be found here.

Blazon – Words describing a heraldic device or coat of arms.

Body – The letter part within the style’s x or o space, without any appending ascender or descender.  

Body Height – Any style’s small letter height measurement without any appending ascender or descender,  determined by the nib being used i.e. modern alphabets s, v, x and z. Also called x-height or minim.

Calligrapher – The artisan who pens the letters of a text, in the SCA commonly they are on a scroll.

Calligraphy – The beautiful writing inked onto an SCA scroll or other support.

Cartridge Pen – A calligraphy pen which holds ink in an enclosed tube or cartridge, feeding it through the attached barrel to the nib. Although modern, they are convenient and easy to use compared to a dip pen or quill.

Charge – Device or motif on a heraldic device or coat of arms.

Cold Press Paper – Paper made by passing through unheated rollers making it smoother than rough, but not as smooth as hot pressed paper.

Court – A ceremonial gathering presided by a Kingdom’s royalty primarily to recognize people with awards.
Descender – The letter part that hangs below the body or minim as on the modern letters g, j, p, q, and y. Some Medieval scripts also have descenders on letters f, h, s, x, and z.

Diapering – Artistically, a repeating geometric pattern based on a grid. Heraldically, shield or mantling patterns that do not detract from the main tincture.

Dip Pen – A lettering pen filled by dipping the nib into ink. This pen is composed of a holder and a metal nib. Although probably not period, metal nibs are inexpensive and more varied in size and style than cartridge pen nibs.

Ductus – The stroke description or image that shows how a letter is formed.

Flourish – Strokes added to letters to extend them decoratively, commonly done to ascenders and descenders. 

Gesso – A plaster of Paris compound that in period was used with glue to support gold leaf.

Gilding – Applying gold leaf.

Gouache – An opaque paint made with a water soluble binder often gum Arabic.

Guard sheet – A paper used to cover the lower writing support to prevent it from becoming dirty.

Guideline – Marks made with a pencil or hard point on your support locating the letter and pen strokes. Usually erased after the calligraphy ink is dry. 

Gum – A tree sap used to bind pigments in watercolor or gouache paints. The most common being gum Arabic which comes from the acacia tree. 

Hand – One scribe’s specific way of writing a calligraphic script. Some people and books interchange the terms hand, script, and alphabet. In this blog, I  differentiate between a style of writing vs. the way an individual scribe letters a style.

Highlight – Light paint strokes to emphasize depth or refine a pattern.

Hot Pressed Paper (HP) – Paper made with a smooth surface, by made by pressing between heated rollers.

Illuminator – The artist responsible for gilding or painting a scroll.

Illumination – A Medieval style artwork’s gold ando paint, commonly in the SCA on a scroll.

Interlinear Space – The space between text lines, into which ascenders, descenders, and capital letters extend. A page’s line spacing may be described as a ratio of body height to interlinear space. M

Majuscule – Capital or upper case letters.

Manuscript Books – Books made and written by hand.

Miniature – A small illuminated painting in a manuscript book.

Minim – Any style’s small letter height measurement without any appending ascender or descender,  determined by the nib being used i.e. modern alphabets s, v, x and z. Also called x-height or body height.

Minuscule – Small or lower case letters.

Nib – A  lettering pen’s tip that contacts the paper making marks.

Nib-width – A pen tip’s marking edge width. The letter height and line spacing is commonly measured in nib-widths.

Parchment – A writing support made from prepared animal hide, commonly from a calf, goat, or sheep. Modernly fiber based papers may be euphemistically called parchment. The term vellum, sometimes interchanged with parchment, specifically refers to calfskin.

Pergamenata – A modern writing support that replicates the appearance and feel of parchment or vellum at a more reasonable cost.

Pigment – Mineral, organic, metallic or chemical colorant used in paint preparation.

Period – A SCA term referring to the pre-17th century or  pre-1600s time period we study.

Quill Pen – A lettering pen made from a specially hardened and cut feather, as was most period lettering.

Reed Pen – A lettering pen made from a specially cut dried hollow reed, sometimes found used prior to the more flexible, durable quill.

Reservoir – A pen nib’s attachment that allows it to hold more ink.

Scroll –  In the SCA  this refers to an artwork that commemorates an hono
r given by Royalty in court. Commonly these are inspired by a Medieval manuscript page. However, they may be other types such as stained glass, painted banners or boxes, woven or embroidered cloth, carved stone, wood or horn, engraved or enameled metal…

Serif – The small stroke at a letter’s beginning or end.

Scribe – Any artisan who helps make an award scroll.

Script – A calligraphy alphabet style from a particular time period i.e. Uncial, Carolingian Minuscule, Gothic Textura Quadrata, and Batardé. Some people and books interchange the terms handscript and alphabet. In this blog I  differentiate between a style of writing vs. the way an individual scribe letters a style.

Vellum – A writing support made from prepared calfskin. Modernly fiber based papers may be euphemistically called vellum. The term vellum is sometimes interchanged with parchment
though vellum specifically refers to calfskin parchment.

Weight of Paper – A paper’s weight relating to its area, often referred to as grams per square meter or gsm. 

Wordsmith – The artist responsible for researching and composing scroll text. 

X-height – Any style’s small letter height measurement without any apending ascender or decender,  determined by the nib being used i.e. modern alphabets s, v, x and z. Also called body height or minim.

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