The Wikipedia Conundrum

You’ve probably noticed how often the links in my posts are to a Wikipedia article. It’s like when you google and the search engine puts Wikipedia’s information in a fact box, or Apple’s Siri replies with it to answer your question. They’re an easy link to include to give you more information.  I know it’s not the highest scholarly source. Some articles don’t even cite quality references for you to verify. Yet there is no other free resource like it.  There are things you should know about Wikipedia itself if you don’t already.  Wikipedia’s noble goal is to eventually cover every knowledgeable topic in the world. This impossible mission has made it a top ten most searched website in the world.  But did you know Wikipedia was not the first online encyclopedia? Seven others attempted it first. And Wikipedia began as part of one of them, Nupedia.  Also, Wikipedia’s operation is unique. It works through a volunteer gaggle and without traditional advisory boards or editors. A contributors’ pool that is prompt, authoritative and effective.  But this force is shrinking while Wikipedia’s needs have increased. Its articles have grown in length. Plus it must also defend against the worlds vandals and manipulators. To revitalize it Wikipedia’s owner developed legal and technical ways to adapt its website and software to handle this. It created new editing tools and vetting procedures. And their automatic programs now reverse incorrect format changes and warn probable vandals they’re caught. These stiffer quality control measures reduce shams and hoaxes making things better for you and me, […]

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Internet Round Up 4: Armour and Illuminated Manuscripts

Morgan M.456   Avis aus roys Folio 34v, 1340-1360 A.D., Paris, France Manuscript Miniatures is not exactly what you think it is from its name. It is a medieval armor research source with insight through illuminated manuscripts.   The website’s intent is to make it easier to hunt for online digitized images from numerous manuscripts. A way to quickly view 15,000+ miniatures from 1500+ manuscripts of 15+ countries. It’s not a manuscript holder, so once you find an image you’ll want to verify its accuracy.  But that’s easy. By clicking on the picture you’ll find its source.  You can then verify its accuracy with the manuscript’s owner. Manuscript Miniatures has a tagging method that’s innovative. The labels are created by viewers sometimes with interesting spellings or descriptions. It’s also why you might find unique images included within a tag. As a scribe, you might not find illumination’s common term for things either. Its brickwork and brick pattern tags are what you’d call “diapering”. One of its best tags is ‘elephant‘. Its 75 images show Medieval people had little idea what an elephant looked like.  But there’s more for you here than illuminated manuscripts. From this web page, you can tab to other similar item categories with separate URLs like  Armour In Art, Effigies & Brasses, and Aquamanilia. Each offers similar ways to search. Its Effigies & Brasses’ Links also connect you to related external armoring information.  While this isn’t exactly a blog round-up, it is a work-in-progress webpage collection with contributions welcomed. And I thought […]

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Two Inticing Paint Color History Books Reviewed

Yesterday I was going through my books preparing for the coming Book Arts RUSH and found again my current published books on pigment history. They are both books about early art material production. These books interest me because Medieval artists or their staff made their own paints. Knowing that paint production history enhances your color use when recreating illumination art. These two books present you tantalizing background stories and trivia about the complete color creation processes. The first book is…  Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay  In this book, you read varied, interesting stories describing Finlay’s quest for the world’s historical pigments and dyes. Written as a travelogue through color history, her book takes you from Afghanistan to the Australian outback, to China’s ancient caves, and Spain’s saffron harvest.  You read vivid stories, anecdotes, and adventures about the colors themselves. About Cleopatra’s saffron use for seduction. Historically expensive ultramarine blue production from lapis lazuli extracted from an Afghan mine. And how carmine red, still used today in lipstick, is made from the blood of insects. I liked Finlay’s book for its intriguing historical information, especially the extensive notes in the back. Unfortunately, I lost interest and only skimmed through her detailed personal travel descriptions. Instead, I jumped to the color fact chapters labeled by their names. Better yet is the next book I recommend … Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color  by Philip Ball  This book tells you about western art history through the physical substances used to create color. […]

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How-to Educate Yourself In Scribal Skills? Learning And Teaching Them

At Lonely Tower’s scribes gathering recently Ly. Kristin asked what the basic illumination skills were that she should learn. Kristin is an accomplished preprint painter with wonderful skills, but she wants to take it a step further. How does she know what skills she should learn? Where would you look? A great starting place is this archived article “A Guide For The […]

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Why I’m Thrilled With My New Found Interest – Finding Jehanne

Link If you are like me and it’s expensive to get away from your home group you might try upping your activities there. That’s what I’ve done. I’m still doing my usual blogging and helping with kingdom events the Barony of the Lonely Tower hosts. There’s always one or ten handcraft projects to do. But my new passion is developing more fully my Jehanne Bening persona.  About 2008 or so, I became Jehanne Bening from 15th-century Bruges after starting my SCA life as Siobhan le Blake from early 14th-century Galway, Ireland. I made the change because I couldn’t then find any female illuminators in Ireland. That’s about as far as I went with it until now. I’m so excited because I recently learned even my ancillary interest areas fit within that persona. There are records of women illuminators in Bruges guild logs. And a note of one living in the Beguinage there. That fits Jehanne.  I found that information reading the tome Illuminating The Renaissance: The Triumph Of Flemish Manuscript Painting In Europe. Edited by Thomas Kren and Scot McKendrick and published by the Getty. This beautifully photographed catalog tells about the finest illuminated manuscripts created in Europe during the greatest era of Flemish illumination, the reign of the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold. It begins in 1467 and ends in 1561 with Simon Bening‘s death. Jehanne was born in 1439 and lives as many years as I do. To me, this is illuminations grandest epoch […]

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Enrich Your Calligraphy, Book Review

When I had two peerage scrolls on my calendar I surveyed my C & I supplies for missing necessities. I ordered them on John Neal Bookseller’s website. I’m a sucker for books so I also looked for their’s on clearance. I found Enrich Your Calligraphy by Diana Hardy Wilson and decided to take a chance on it. Hardy’s book is not an introduction to calligraphy or a “how to” guide. It does not cover scripts or their ductus. It has a niche topic that stimulates and encourages scribes, graphic artists, and modern calligraphers to advance to their full potential. The book is filled with detailed inspiration about scribal topics including developing your creative process and visual awareness investigating spatial relationships developing and reviewing a reference collection I particularly like the information and encouragement on developing visual awareness. While Hardy writes for calligraphers the information on seeing details applies to illumination as well. Enrich Your Calligraphy is an easy to read book for the calligrapher who has more developing and exploring to accomplish, which is most of us. It’s a unique book for a devoted calligrapher or lover of lettering.  Related Prior Post:  How to Select a Calligraphy Guide Book

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The Best "How-to" Decorative Letters Book

If you’ve looked at the stunning art in medieval manuscripts and wondered how they were made then the main book you need for learning illumination is The Illuminated Alphabet: An Inspirational Introduction to Creating Decorative Calligraphy by author Patricia Seligman and calligrapher Timothy Noad.  As SCA scribes know, illumination is a unique craft with its own techniques. It is not watercolor or acrylics. It’s not even illustration. So ferreting out its methods is tricky. The Illuminated Alphabet is the best book to help you learn methods to re-create historic illuminated letters.  The book begins with a brief illuminated letters’ history, describing artists creating them and their patrons. It then delves into basic illumination techniques and a materials’ list.   paper and vellum  brushes, pens, and pencils  paints and inks including gouache, egg tempera, and watercolors  gilding techniques such as the combination of gold leaf and gesso My favorite explorations in the book are Noad’s illuminated letter adaptations from period masterpieces. They cover five individual manuscript styles:  Celtic  Romanesque Gothic Renaissance  Modern Revival Each style includes upper and lower-case letter designs, borders and decorations, materials used, gilding instructions and a gallery. The examples featured are: the Lindisfarne Gospels  the Book of Kells  Emperor Henry II’s Periscopes the Lincoln Psalms a Bestiary Lion  Books of Hours Whitevine Lettering  William Morris a Horoscope Initial The Illuminated Alphabet has detailed instructions for each project and how they were adapted from original sources by the book’s artist. Step-by-step photographs and instructions include tips on […]

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The Art and History of Calligraphy, Book Review

Do you have Patricia Lovett’s book Calligraphy and Illumination…?  I often refer to it.  When I learned she published another book I went online cyber-Monday and bought myself a Christmas present. Her recent book The Art and History of Calligraphy, published last year by the British Library. Since the author is a British professional calligrapher and illuminator you won’t be surprised the book emphasized historic manuscripts’ lettering.  Her first chapter shows the high-value of calligraphy shown in her book. There’s a chapter on historic manuscript production including quills, vellum brushes, pigments, and gold. And a section on how the letters are made.   The last, most beautiful section traces writing through the ages. It features 50ish detailed pictures of lettering and manuscripts from the British Library’s outstanding collection.  You’ll like the pictures of enlarged few lines showing the letters’ tiny elements. There are many photos without illumination, one of writing in shell gold ink on black dyed vellum.  The book’s historic manuscripts include information or pictures on the Bosworth Psalter, the earliest surviving manuscript of the ‘New Hymnal’ from England the Lacock Cartulary with its wonderfully flourished letters a two-page spread picturing one page of the Luttrell Psalter.  Lovett’s book doesn’t stop with the Italian Renaissance but continues modernly including recent renaissance-style calligraphic art by William Morris Shiela Waters “Roundel of the Seasons” a present-day work by Stephen Raw of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Light By Sunlights Glance” Lovett’s book clearly describes and photographs the artistic skill creating medieval manuscripts.  I am very pleased with my cyber-Monday […]

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The Astonishing Digital Public Library of America

I had no idea there was anything like the Digital Public Library of America until I saw it referenced in the Biblliocraft book I bought several weeks ago. It’s fascinating what I uncover with it. Now I’m hooked.  DPLA is a gigantic digital storage locker I can paw through to search, explore and discover enticing items to use or read for fun. It is a discovery tool. With it I’ve found public domain and openly licensed books, images and other content stored in US archives, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions.  I love how it finds items I didn’t think to look for like when I used its home page search tool to find “illuminated manuscripts”. I amazingly netted 3,341 results from 62 contributing institutions. That kept me busy a very long time.  To decide my best plan of attack I can click to arrange them by relevance, alphabetically or date. They’re listed in sections divided by term, location, language, institution and more. The items are listed with bibliographic information and include a picture if available. DPLA has a help page with videos about using it and other information. You find it on the topmost bar. There are also a searchable timeline and map pages. The map search for “manuscripts” returned 1,139 results visually displaying their 28 locations. That tells me how far and where I can go to see the actual entries if I want.  Its exhibitions page tells stories compiled from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. […]

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