Tuesday 19 November 2013

Building an Award Scroll by THL Asa Gormsdottir

June 2006, updated May 2011

Historical context of calligraphy and illumination:
·         Recording acts, history, stories – as a whole book or as a single page, e.g. the Magna Carta.
·         Religion, Politics, Propaganda
·         Pretty pictures for their own sake: "Most secular manuscripts are fundamentally nothing more than very costly, very classy strip cartoon books" – from Margaret Scott (The History of Dress Series: Late Gothic Dress 1400-1500, 1980.)
·         Recognize the often tenuous relationship between an SCA scroll and period C&I.

Paper and tools:
·         Paper – heavy bond watercolour or natural-coloured, non-glossy Bristol, pergamenta or real parchment. Experiment to find what gives you the best results.
·         Paints – gouache vs. watercolour. Acrylics for certain media.
·         Calligraphy pens, nibs (Speedball), quills, pencils for sketching/drawing lines, white erasers
·         Rulers, protractors, templates, drafting table ideal but clipboard will often do

·         Recipients will want to frame their scroll, so choose paper sizes that will fit typical store-bought frames, e.g. 8 x 10 (popular), 5 x 7 (often obtainable in diptych format), as well as much larger and some smaller sizes.

Required elements:
·         Kingdom seal (2" diameter – a small juice glass is a good template) and room for TRM’s signatures
·         Award badges. Check Ealdormere main site or Ealdormere Scribal College website for the different badges.
·         If the award is for a Grant-level award, permit room for personal heraldry. This is where the room provided by a diptych or extra large scroll can come in handy.
·         If you write in a large hand, don't expect to fit all your text into a tiny scroll.
·         Wording example: "Pay heed People of Ealdormere to the skill and service of XXX! We, King AAA by right of arms and Queen BBB, have noted her work as Chronicler for Vest Yorvik, her research on period dance and her delicious blueberry tarts, and hereby grant her an Award of Arms. Done this day January 12 at 12th Night, A.S. 38 in our canton of Vest Yorvik." Check the Ealdormere Scribal College site for many wording examples.

·         Use a 1 inch margin or more when marking out your design and lines
·         If you don't have a drafting table (I don't), mark your paper at intervals using a ruler – "pricking the points”.
·         Sketch in your design elements.
·         Draw in faint lines to guide your writing.
·         Decide whether to illuminate or perform the calligraphy first – each has advantages and drawbacks

Persona Research:
·         Unless you are doing up a bunch of blanks, you have the opportunity to create a personalized scroll that will delight the recipient
·         Persona considerations: origin of SCA name, clues in award nomination details. Google for more clues, e.g. canton website photo (especially of clothing and/or heraldry), classes or activities run in the past, etc.
·         Once you have a fair idea of the recipient's persona, you can do some research into appropriate period scribal elements – the hand, border/initial, motifs and decorative elements, colours, etc.

Where to look for period illuminations/woodcuts:
·         Bibles, books of hours, girdle books, choir books
·         Book of Kells/Book of Deer, Lindisfarne Gospels (knotwork etc.)
·         Persian miniatures
·         Fighting manuals
·         Maps/astronomy charts
·         Gardening volumes
·         Greek and Roman Classics published in the Renaissance, e.g. medicine, mathematics, history, geography, etc.
·         If no illuminations available for a specific period, take ideas from other extant art pieces e.g. Norse carving, jewellery motifs, frescoes, embroideries, tapestries, glassware, pottery, metalworking, etc.
·         Be aware of the printing press impact on calligraphy and illumination starting in mid 1400s - illumination’s comparatively prohibitive cost – rise in woodcuts – C&I surviving in printer's presentation copies using full calligraphy and illumination on calfskin.

Basic designs:
·         Illuminated initial – many variations and sizes
·         Illuminated border – partial or full – extensions of an initial, floral/foliate elements, knotwork, chequey, fantastic squiggles, white vine
·         Embedded scene, either in full colour or monochrome
·         Writ format, with wax seals on ribbons
·         Other elements include trompe l'oeil techniques such as highly naturalistic flowers/bugs, pendant strings of jewels, supporting architecture, amusing marginalia

Types of hands: (summarized from The Calligrapher's Companion)
·         Uncial – approx. 4th to 8th centuries; half-uncials 7th-11th centuries
·         Versals – 9th-10th centuries
·         Carolingian – 9th-10th centuries (Charlemagne)
·         Gothic (many variations) – 13th-16th centuries
·         Batarde – cursive form of Gothic – 13th-16th centuries
·         Italic/Humanist – early 15th century on
·         Roman capitals – for headings/titles

Consider colour schemes:
·         Period inks used various mineral (some poisonous!) and organic pigments. Some are fairly easy to obtain or make today e.g. oak gall black (heavy dark tannins often augmented with iron rust – drop in a nail), brazilwood red, etc. In period some were made from berries, plants etc.
·         Certain styles or locations use a specific set of colours (consider cost, availability etc.)
·         10th century Beatus manuscripts – "black orchids" of C&I – dark blue, sulphur yellow, orangey-red or brown
·         Duc du Berry book of hours – deliberately ostentatious use of expensive ultramarine blue
·         Late 15th century Italian: mainly clean primary colours (yellow, red and blue), green (vegetal and gem), a deep yellow or matte gold, and neutral washes, often accompanied by monochromatic scenes in pale yellow or tan.
·         Use of gold leaf or shell gold
·         Point to consider when choosing a style: not all countries or city-states could support a permanent book artisan base. As a result, roving artisan populations were in a position to cause considerable cross-pollination in styles across a rather wide area. An example is 15th century Venice-Verona-Ferrara-Milan vs. Florence. Watch for similarities and look afield for inspiration/understanding of a peculiar element or style.

Telling a Story with the Scroll:
·         Martial – sword initials, fighting scenes
·         Orion – include a night scene with Orion constellation
·         Wain - farming scene from a book of hours showing someone carrying a burden
·         Awards given for costuming – use borders adapted from embroidery designs e.g. Spanish embroidery.
·         Embed recipient's heraldry into calligraphy e.g. tiny thistles, flowers, coins as punctuation.
·         Other ideas – adapt scenes from period illuminations e.g. show the recipient kneeling before the king and queen e.g. several religious paintings or illuminations show the patron or donor kneeling before the saint. These can be easily adapted to a court scene with the scroll recipient kneeling before Their Majesties.
·         Puns are period!

Customizing Wording:
·         Consider employing word, speech or rhyme types peculiar to a period or location – check literature and song styles for ideas, such as skaldic verse, sonnets, rima terza or other ballad formats, deliberate alliteration, abstract imagery, etc.
·         Foreign languages, e.g. French, German, etc.
·         Foreign lettering, e.g. Arabic script, Aztec pictographs

Alternate materials:
·         Tooled, painted and gilded leather
·         beading/embroidery on fabric (Braille scroll)
·         beaten copper
·         carved staff, engraved axe, runestones, ships and their sails, etc.

Helping the Signet:
·                     If you take on a scroll, deliver it when you say you will.
·                     Find the Signet or his/her deputy m as soon as you arrive at the event, if possible, unless you are delivering it in advance.

Helping yourself:
·                     Be discreet. Honour the trust given to you when you receive the scroll assignment. The award doesn’t exist until TRM publicly bestow it. It’s all right to make quiet attempts to ensure the recipient makes it to court, if you know them or their significant other. Blabbing about awards is a good way to get banished.
·                     My husband is  perhaps the only person to perform research for his own scroll – and he was none the wiser until he was called up in court.
Helping the Herald:
·                     Sign the back of the scroll. Tape a typewritten version of the award text to the back. This way the Herald can declaim the text without stumbling and display the scroll to the court.
·                     If you've done some special research for the scroll, considering putting 1-2 lines at the bottom describing the inspiration/historical source for the scroll and era. e.g. "Motifs based on the "precious style" created by Girolamo da Cremona, 1470-1480, Venetian-Paduan. Calligraphy in italic hand."

Helping Other Scribes:
·                     Scribal kits, paper, etc. for new scribes
·                     Special pigments or even gold leaf for special projects, e.g. updating the Kingdom Scroll of Honour

Neat things:
·                     When making award recommendations, you can include a note to TRM that you would be happy to do the scroll. Or, you can let the Signet know that you would like to do a scroll for XYZ if one ever comes up.
·                     Canton attendance at local events is usually quite high, so there’s a good chance that the lion’s share of awards given there will be for canton members. Volunteering to do scrolls for your own events is one way to get around the research/personalization hurdle, since you are more likely to know the recipient’s persona and tastes.

·                     Usually the first award a SCAdian receives and therefore very special to the recipient. At the same time, doing AOAs is a great way to break into scribing without the stress of doing, say, a Knighting scroll. I do know someone whose first scroll was a Knighting scroll, but she’s pretty special.

SCA resources:
·         Ealdormere Scribal College website: http://www.ealdormere.sca.org/ecoh/scribal/
·         E-Scribe list – email EScribe@yahoogroups.com or Trillium Signet Kersteken (April Luchies) to join
·         Pennsic – check out the Guild of Limners for amazing period pigments, tools, books and other scribal related items


Period Guides:
An Anonymous Fourteenth Century Treatise: De Arte Illuminandi, the technique of manuscript
illumination. Trans. Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. and George Heard Hamilton. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1933.
Cennini, Cennino D'Andrea. Il Libro Dell' Arte. Trans. Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. New York: Dover
Publications, 1933.

Other Guides:
Alexander, Jonathan J.G. Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work. New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1992.
Noble, Mary and Janet Mehigan. The Calligrapher's Companion. London: Prospero Books, 1997.
(suggested alphabets for Formal Italic and Roman Capitals.
Wyatt, M. Digby. The Art of Illuminating. 1860. Reprint. New Jersey: Chartwell Books, 1987.

Early Illuminations:
Gilbert, Stuart, trans. Early Medieval Painting: From the Fourth to the Eleventh Century. Editions D'Art Albert Skira, 1957.

Renaissance Italian Illumination:
Alexander, Jonathan J.G., editor. The Painted Page: Italian Renaissance Book Illumination,

1450-1550. New York: Prestel, 1994.

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