Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Studying the Past

As a scribe, one of the most important things I did was create a tool for self reflection. I recommend that anyone who does scribal arts keep a record of every piece they do - scan it, take a picture of it, do whatever it takes so that you can look back and not only see a visible way to track your personal growth, but also to learn from your own mistakes.

I keep images of most of my work (not all - it's nearly impossible to get everything, particularly when there's a large number of on-site scrolls to be done in the SCA), in a Photobucket album. I also print these out in color and keep them in a binder for demonstrations and examples for others who are learning. It can be somewhat relieving for new scribes to look back at some of my old work and realize how far I came from my own "starting place."

So let's analyze some past mistakes, shall we?


Gryphon\'s Lair Arts and Sciences Champion


This is a piece based on the Visconti Hours that I did five years ago. I had to digitally splice several scans together in order to get the whole image (it was too large for the scanner), which is why the corners look odd. The original looked quite normal, I assure you.

There are several things I would do differently, if I could do it all over again. The medallions around the border, for example, are sloppy and uneven. I should have created a clean, measured model and duplicated that rather than "eyeball" it, particularly the blue flourishes around them. The straight red lines around the border were all free-handed. This wouldn't have necessarily been a problem because historically I had a very steady hand, but unbeknownst to me, I was showing some of the first symptoms of Graves Disease which include shaking hands. The second I noticed the wobbling lines, I should have used a ruler to ensure the lines were nice and straight.

I am still quite happy with the freehanded red flourishes and would do another piece like this just because doing those was so much fun.


The Visconti Book of Hours was made for Gian Galeazzo Visconti, ruler of Milan, c. 1370-1389.  The text was written by a brother Amadeus, and the illumination is by Giovannio de ‘Grassi, whose work is distinct for his architectural features, and his careful representation of animals and humans in which pink and blue tones are predominant.

Crinelli, Lorenzo  Treasures from the Italian Libraries.
Thames and Hudson Ltd., London and The Vendome Press, New York, 1997. pp 102-103