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My 10 Favorite Scribal Materials and Tools

I’ve been a scribe way over 20 years and along the way I have collected materials and tools. Some end up in a bin never to see the light of day again. Other’s become as necessary to me as water.  Here’s my 10 favorite scribal materials and tools, except for paint and paper towels. Things I can’t do without when I create an original scroll.  Ames Lettering Guide— This helps me draw goofproof calligraphy guide-lines with consistent line spacing. I’m also able to have the letter height different from the space between lines. It’s well worth learning how it works. Brause Calligraphy Nib—  I like these stiffer nibs because I still have a heavy hand. Their top reservoir and keen edge help me make clear, sharp letters. Calligrapher’s Bible by David Harris or another letter example.– I like this book because it lays flat and is a smaller size. I sometimes use my own hand-lettered examples that I’ve done on 3″ x 5″ cards. Computer– I use this for inspiration research such as scroll recipient’s interests on Facebook and original manuscript images. It saves time contacting friends for information and searching through university books.   Light Box— Mine is a Light Tracer Light Box II. I’ve had it for years. While it is slanted I have a large book under the back of it to slant it more. That makes for easier viewing and better ink flow. Pearl Ex Brilliant Gold pigment. I […]

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70 Years And Still Counting

I turned 70 this month. A shocking number for me because for centuries, people didn’t often reach that age.     I remember in high school learning the average life expectancy was 72 years for women and I’ve almost reached that age. Scary. The good news for my generation in the USA is life expectancy rose to 78.8 years in 2012, a new high. And life […]

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Is It A Script, Hand or Font?

What’s the difference between script, hand, and font? I’ve heard these terms used almost interchangeably. There is a difference. A script is a handwriting form used as a model, the writing style a calligrapher scribe has in mind to create. In general, they have names like “Uncial”, “Carolingian”, and “Gothic”, to name a few. Researchers identify a script by collecting thousands of individual examples and analyzing them for a similar look.  The hand is personal to the individual scribe.It’s what I actually put on paper or vellum, with any imperfections. I may intend changes because I don’t do a certain letter well, or they may be due to the pen I use. I may choose to tweak certain letters because I think they’re prettier that way or to fill more space. Those differences make up my hand. The word font comes from the Middle French term “fonte” meaning something that’s been melted or cast. It next referred to the set of metal type used in a printing house.  This term now applies to a digital letter system such a “Veranda”, “Arial”, or “Comic”.  Today’s digital font has numerous variations due to the many people that like designing letters. These terms also have categories and subsets. I won’t go into them all. I’ll leave most of them to the paleographers. A few are important for scribes. A majuscule script has only same height letters and no slant. It’s similar to using only capital letters to […]

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"Playing With Period Pigments Class" Taught

I’m teaching again!! It’s been years, unfortunately.  In early April you can take my “Playing With Period Pigments” class at the Bellewode Heraldic Scribal and Dance Symposium in Kirksville, MO. It is a safety and hands-on class, teaching paint production from natural earth powdered pigments. You’ll take home the safety supplies and paints you make. Would you care to see photos […]

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Craft Room Makeover

I now have a larger, enhanced sewing and painting room by turning a guest room into my craft and cardio space. Before: Closet Studio Before my calligraphy, illumination, and other painting was done in a walk-in closet. I used it as a studio. It had electricity, shelving, and tables but was devoid of inspiration, sun, and space.  I had to organize and clean to prepare for […]

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Bang-up Book "On Writing Well"

I’m reading this book on writing well. It’s a guide to writing nonfiction. And that’s almost its title. I’ve written so many SCA handouts and competition documentations I forgot writing nonfiction was fun.  William Zinsser’s book, while on writing basics, is amusing and shrewd. I’ve changed my style because of it.   I’m throwing out adverbs (when I recognize them) and abridging things. I’m rewriting earlier posts for practice. It’s fun seeing the flow and feeling become graceful. Although my dogs think I’m crazy, I say out loud everything I write before I push the publish button. A journalist and teacher, Zinsser sometimes breaks rules. Like his thoughts on contractions,  Your style will be warmer and truer to your personality if you use contractions like “I’ll” and “won’t” and “can’t” when they fit comfortably into your writing…There’s no rule against such informality–trust your ear and instincts. And the on valued untouchable initial word “but” he writes, Many of us were taught that no sentence should begin with ‘but.’ If that is what you learned, unlearn it–there’s no stronger word at the start. It announces total contrast with what has gone before, and the reader is therefore primed for the change. I relish the humor he spreads on each page. Like when he describes the difference between “that” and “which”. Anybody who tries to explain “that” and “which” in less than an hour is asking for trouble.  Or his comment about […]

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