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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Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 4

Cambrai Channsonier, MS. 126B fol. 132v,  Bruges 1542  Bibliothèque Municipale, When you look through this 16th-century songbook made for a Bruges aristocrat you see it’s filled with artistic, decorative daily life images. But it also includes many that are bluntly bizarre or crazy. It’s the Cambrai Chansonnier, MS 0128 dated 1543. Its fun pictures are delicately drawn in pen and ink then enhanced with color washes. I love the clever images you see worked through a music staff. And those useing the staff lines as a panorama picture frame. While it’s decorative versals may be creative floral combinations, many you see are just weird, like this anthropomorphic versal. I get the scribe created the unique posture to make a capital “A”. But why dream up the weird behavior? And this is one of the kinder weird images. Some are too inappropriate for even my blog. If you’re curious have a look. There are so many images to recreate you can be selective. Consider the intended recipient’s values and your pictures purpose. Above all have fun, because the original artist did. Or the perplexing images wouldn’t have been created. Related Prior Post:You can see others in my series Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts: 1, 2, 3.

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Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 3

Link to image. When you look through this 13th-century manuscript made for the Pope you see it’s filled with giant killer bunnies, geese lynching wolves, and other crazy things. They are cute, silly, or a comment on Medieval daily life. But not all. This one pictures a dog hanging by its neck from a tree. The rabbit with his paw to his mouth casually shushes the dog. Even if the rabbit was a human why would ‘he” do that? Perplexing. And there’s more. The woman over the tree is looking into her mirror, a sign her looks are most important. The mirror shows she’s vane. Vanity is prideful and “Pride” was one of the 7 Deadly Sins.So not exactly things you want to put on a scroll. What would they tell the recipient? They’re mean or hate dogs. Lack respect. Think highly of their looks. There are cuter, sillier bas-de-page illuminations you can use in the Royal 10 E IV. There’s also weirder ones, too. You’ll find them in the manuscript’s perplexing details.  Related Prior Post:  Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 1Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts  2

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