Blank Borders Then And Now

Blank borders – the illumination only scroll part – are used when Their Majesties give a spontaneous award. But did you know there’s a historical precedent for them?  History You can find illuminated manuscripts with completed borders without writing later in the SCA period. They served a similar purpose to our SCA blank border scrolls. They were waiting for a scribe to fill in the words. The reason you find more blank borders later in period is that booksellers then parted out section “gatherings” or page pairs by the tasks needed. While it was still better to do the calligraphy before the design it wasn’t required. If the text didn’t fit within the available space it flowed onto a page with limited illumination. You’ll also find pages having a large amount of blank space after the text for the same reason. Period blank borders allowed manuscripts to be sold by illuminated page quantity and quality. More prosperous buyers – or those wanting to appear so – could buy more lavish books. And the book dealers could make more money. It was a win-win. Every stage in an illuminated book’s creation still required intensive labor. And sometimes multiple collaborating workshops. Parchment made from dried animal hides cut to size, inks mixed, quills prepared, designs planned, pages ruled. But no longer were illumination and calligraphy done in a specific order. Additional 21412, f. 3  Foliate border This system originally developed in Paris for university textbook production. It spread […]

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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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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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People Of Color In SCA Award Scrolls

With western art books and resources being mostly produced by white people they tend to assume the white European as a human standard. And in Western European illuminated manuscripts there is a dearth of people of color. But they do exist. And all ethnicities are welcomed into the SCA.  Dijon – BM – ms._0562 f. 181Vcreated around 1260-1270 representing the Holy Land So how do you create an award scroll for a non-White friend with people that look like them? Or maybe your scroll recipient has assumed a Saracen persona. How do you create a scroll creating accurate historic art combat scenes? You seek out original works. There are a few Western European illuminated manuscript pages including people of color. But they may be inappropriate to use such as this one portraying people in the Holy Land created in the late 13th century.  Some 13th -15th century popular French illuminated manuscripts feature Christian-Muslim interaction pictures such as the British Library’s Histoire d’Outremer. And various copies of the Grandes Chroniques de France and the Roman d’Alexandre en Prose. But the best place to search is the website MedievalPOC. It is a blog showcasing European works of art featuring people of color from the fall of the Roman Empire until about 1650. Often these works go unseen elsewhere and you might see them differently now viewing them from a fresh perspective. The blog is searchable and even gives you a guide to its use. If you search digitized manuscripts you’ll see the […]

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Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 5.

British Library Additional 14761 f. 30v  c. 1340 Spain, N. E., Catalonia (Barcelona) I was surfing the British Library’s manuscript collection again for possible pictures to use on a scroll and noticed the cute bunnies in the manuscripts. Especially in the 14th century. So many, they weirdly multiplied like rabbits.  But another thing you’ll notice is how peculiarly violent some are. Beyond […]

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