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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Searching for Easter Week in Illuminated Manuscripts

Happy Easter Everyone. With Easter and the Holy Week before it I wondered what medieval images I could find about them. I expected there to be an illuminated manuscripts image bonanza and nerdy trivia, but first I needed find how to search for them. As usual, Wikipedia provides a place to start.  Holy Week is Lent’s fifth and last week and the week before Christian Easter. It also includes Friday of Sorrows, a solemn remembrance day for the Virgin Mary, and the Friday before Palm Sunday. It is memorable for Jesus crucifixion. While this information is known by many, when searching Google for anything it is important to have proper terms to avoid unrelated, possibly even offensive items. I began with “Friday of Sorrows in illuminated manuscripts” because I did not know that phrase and was curious. I found nothing by Google. That’s rare, but it happens. Moving on and changing topics I used Google and found numerous beautiful examples of “crucifixion in illuminated manuscripts.” (Of course, I found some extraneous items too.) Crucifixion by Meister des Rabula-Evangeliums  That netted me the earliest illuminated crucifixion. Intriguing because it is a long lasting first. It is in the Rabbula Gospels, a 6th-century Syriac Gospel Book and one of the finest Byzantine illuminated manuscripts. I also searched for “Holy Week Illuminated Manuscripts” and found Thomas Stone’s book collectors blog “The Books in My Life” posting in 2011 about Holy Week-Collecting Books of Hours. A relevant post for scribes on Books of Hours.   British Library’s […]

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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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How to Select a Calligraphy Guide Book

I’ve collected numerous calligraphy manuals over the years, searching for tips and tricks to improve my lettering. As an SCA scribe, my book criteria differ from calligraphy books for modern works. Here are my preferences. Traditional Calligraphy Guides The book should focus on the nib-lettering technique I want to learn. For most of us in the SCA that is lettering […]

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How To Google For Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

Calontir‘s current Monarchs, Logan and Ylva, are Norse-Viking and the scroll they want me to do is for a person with a 14th century Western European SCA persona. How do I blend those two? I started by asking Google. Trolling for manuscript images with Google is helpful if you know the way it searches. Its search results are based, in part, on a priority rank called a “PageRank”, a way Google measures a web page’s importance.  The first image(s), if any, are from the entered search term(s). After the most likely items, the search engine hunts for individual terms in your request. (This applies to text as well as images. Right now I’m looking for images.) For example, entering “14th century Norse illuminated manuscript” Google first provides images and the first two are Viking style boats in 14th-century manuscripts. Spot on for my search terms.  The next image Google provides is an English 14th-century illuminated manuscript. A ball-park result, 14th-century. But there’s a problem here. If the person asking for the search doesn’t know or doesn’t follow through with calling up the original image, it’s possible to misinterpret the results. A Viking boat image in a 14th-century manuscript fits, but a pretty, English manuscript that doesn’t have Edda prose or similar is unsuitable. The next image takes you to a list of 14th-century illuminated manuscripts at Wikipedia. Interesting to know what other manuscripts of the time look like, but less specific than my request. The last images […]

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