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Why Declutter Your Craftspace?

Ahem. It’s that time of year. The time for decluttering. That itch hits me every spring. Do you get that feeling too? Spring is a time I feel compelled to purge and organize my craft supplies, SCA hobby materials, and tools. If I don’t act on it soon enough it gets lost in Lilies Prep time. Then each messes up the other and neither goes well. There are people who have a minimalist storage style like my friend Grace. Any closet or drawer of hers you open is neat, simple and systematically organized. That’s not me. I’m an unruly craft supply collector. But, this time I really did it. I switched my sewing station and a cube-shelf to the room’s other side and added a another cube thing near my painting station. The new one took only an hour or so to make. And I did it all by myself. After the cube was done and my sewing table was under the open-curtained window. I moved a few smaller items and began sorting my materials and supplies.  I know there are benefits to organizing your creative space, whatever its size or use. The obvious is it’s easier to find what you seek. Over time I’ve learned there are other benies too. Going through your materials and tools cache unearths forgotten projects. Supply residuals remind me of forgotten finished projects. Things I since gave away or threw away. Unfinished projects call […]

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SCA Apprentice Scouting

My first published novel, ‘American Rust,’ took three and a half years of full-time work to write. But I wrote two apprentice novels before that. Philipp Meyer You probably know an apprentice is someone learning a trade. For Meyer it was writing novels. In the SCA it can be any pre-17th century craft. Or multiple crafts based on a theme you choose. In the Middle Ages apprentices were legally bound to a master craftsman. In the SCA there’s a sorta similar relationship. For laurel’s their student is called an apprentice. So, how do you become a laurel’s apprentice? Are there specific steps you follow? It’s a process. It begins when you have an affinity with an SCA Laurel. That affinity doesn’t have to be based on a shared skill, persona, or even similar Kingdoms. If you’re not already their friend and sometimes if you are, you send out feelers. You say something that lets the peer know you’d like to be more than hangout-friends. You’re scouting. Ok, but what’s the typical way you do that? Sorry folks I don’t have an answer for you. There’s no set person that must ask. Either the Laurel or the interested friend can do it. The tough part is some peers have a preference. If you think that’s case you might ask an intermediate friend to help. To act as your matchmaker. Once you both agree the next step is also fuzzy. Together you […]

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What’s A Scratch Knife Nib?

If you’ve been around kids recently or were ever one yourself I know you’re familiar with scratch knife nibs. For kids they’re just called scratch art nibs because even small knives are considered dangerous. Scratch nibs are commonly used to scrape through one surface revealing a lower contrasting color layer. But did you know they weren’t intended to be a kid’s toy? The original intent for scratch nibs was to remove ink from animal skin supports. They looked like small bladed knives with paring-knife handles. Later, dip pen nib manufacturers made them to fit their common pen holders.  Today scratch knife nibs are a curious commodity made for scratch board artists. But they are my go-to ink eraser. Scratch nibs easily scrape ink off the surface of pergamenata and vellum with little damage to its surface. You can even use them on paper if your ink purchases on its surface and isn’t absorbed. Its fine sharp blade gently scrapes ink mistakes away sometimes leaving the paper surface usable. Ampersand and Speedball make professional scratch art nibs that fit common type B dip pen holders. Royal and Lang make a less expensive nickel engraving foil set too. I prefer scratch nibs to a sharp knife or an x-acto for their smaller sharp blade. The teeny blades easily scrape away ink blobs within letters “a” “s” and others. They are inexpensive, and can be sharpened by a whetstone. The nibs come in […]

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Old Age Difficulties

I have a birthday coming soon. 73. Not a decade or great milestone. I’ve simply lived thru another great year. When you’re 30 you think anyone my age would be sitting in their rocking chair with a lap-blanket warming their legs while watching soaps on TV. But my perception’s changed. In my mind I’m 53. But my body signals otherwise. Weird sleep patterns, achier hands and feet, thinning white hair, and less accommodating eye-sight. I’m fortunate people in my family live well into their 80’s. I hope to have a long journey yet to go. I do what I can to keep in shape. Tai Chi twice a week and walking miles at a nearby enclosed mall on the other days. I enjoy spirited visits with my extended family and friends. And have three crazy pets I love. I volunteer – sorta – keeping my mind active as Lonely Tower’s Social Media Officer and writing this blog. Occasionally I travel away from Lonely Tower and home. When I get a round “tuit” I have a project list to do. That’s all fun and good. Now I have an added annoyance. Clogged eye-lid ducts. My tears don’t have enough oil. It’s drying my eyes and fogging my vision. I can improve it with daily heat and eyelid washing using common baby shampoo. Thankfully it’s not a big deal. I’m up for the small challenge adjusting to my new eye-wash routine. I […]

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Playing With Symbols Gives That Zing

You find emojis, computer icons, road signs, logos, and emblems everywhere. They’re a useful eye-catching shorthand for small spaces. And were used in history the same way. Using these time-tested patterns on a scroll inspires the recipient or any viewer really. Symbols like eyes, hearts, hands, arrows, circles still evoke grand meaning. They add depth and detail for the viewer giving language to your art. It puts the zing in your art thing. But when you use a symbol on a scroll today you want to consider its many meanings. What it meant back then and what it means today. Even what it meant to the recipient’s persona and culture. Cute things like rabbits weren’t just furry animals they were fertility symbols. There’re other questions to answer, too. Does the symbol have a unique or specific meaning in the SCA? What message does it send intentionally or unintentionally? And -unfortunately – you also want to know whether that pattern has been taken up by any modern-day bad actors. Manesse Codex pages work well with symbols. In this one the fighter’s heraldic arms on the horse tell you Matthieu Chartrain is the one kneeling and swearing fealty. The red and black color of the lady’s cote hint she is related somehow to the Barony of the Lonely Tower. She is Honnoree de Saussay, famously known for loving peafowl. They’re even on her arms. Besides the peacock in the tree the other […]

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Keeping Body And Soul Together Thru Calligraphy

Recently Marie had the day off from work and we went to Omaha‘s Old Market. We began our walk-about with lunch at Wheatfields and too much tasty food. While I snarfed my Nutella crepes looking behind Marie I spied this wall calligraphy. It wasn’t graffiti but German letter art. It reads “Essen and Trinken halt Leib und Seele zusammen”. Google tells me in English it reads “Eating and drinking keeps body and soul together”. Something we all strive to do. And what better place to find this than in a cozy bakery restaurant offering fruit covered crepes, buttery croissants and fresh brewed coffee. Whoever painted the huge Fraktur letters on the wall gave the room its charm. The beautifully executed thick and thin script style was readable even if you didn’t know German. Heck, I was able to type the letters into Google to find out the translation. Germany continued using Fraktur script for printing and writing until the 1940s. In Bavaria when I last visited in the ’70s you could still find similar calligraphy on quaint shops and “gastehaus” beer pubs. So the artist brought that old world charm to visually tantalize the guests. Wheatfield’s keeps its dinners nourished by its scrumptious food thus keeping it a fan-favorite. And the calligraphy wall painting provided the artist sustenance when the restaurant was originally decorated. All keeping body and soul together. Related Prior Post: 10 Top Calligraphy And Illumination Artists

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The Scroll Colorant Blacklist

In Calontir, the SCA area where I live, you sometimes get into painting awards at an event. They are predesigned and painted like a coloring book. We call them “preprints”. Some kingdom’s call them “charters”. I’ve seen people take a few home from the scribe’s table to do later and that’s terrific. Each reign creates new ones so they need all they can get. Sadly, when they’re returned a few are unusable. They may be neat and carefully done but the creator didn’t use an acceptable colorant. Here’s a list of colorants you want to avoid – blacklist – when you do them at home. And why. Acrylic-based paints crack and flake off your paper. Even those labeled “gouache” don’t last well. Chalks smear and rub off on things. Oil-based paints, like Testors model paint, seep through the paper and come out on the back. Colored pencils don’t give the award a “period look”. Craft paints are just acrylic paints. They don’t work either. Crayons look as if your 8-year-old did it. Latex-based paints layer too thickly causing them to crack and flake too. Magic markers fade over time. They also don’t give that “period look” thing. Pastels, like their cousin chalk, smear and rub off, too. Take home paint dabs and tube paints. That leaves you water-based paints such as gouache and watercolor. Even a few of those don’t work well on preprints. Grade-school tempras and watercolors are water-based […]

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How Do You Write Haiku?

I’m taking a non-SCA class. One assignment was to write a  haiku. I thought “great – Haiku are probably period”. Well I had a few things to learn. You may already know they’re a three-line poem with lines having five, seven, and five syllables each, in that order. Now haiku didn’t begin that way. They started as a something called […]

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