Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Apprentice Gift

I took on my second apprentice this weekend at Solstice Court in the Barony of Loch Salann. HL Cathryn Anne of Newbury is a lovely lady with some wonderful embroidery skills. I'm incredibly honored to be able to work with her.

In honor of this event, I made and gifted her with a hand-bound book, so that she may journal about her artistic endeavors, document what she wants to, and hopefully indicate areas that she enjoyed and things she'd do differently for the next project. So much of what she does ends up given away due to her generous nature, so I want her to keep track of what she's doing.

I crafted the covers with chipboard covered in goat skin, that has been stamped and dyed to look like snake skin. This is not a period practice as far as I know (leatherwork is not an area of study for me...yet), but the end result is lovely and frankly, I liked it (though it proves to be incredibly difficult to photograph). The bindings are done in coptic stitch out of green waxed cotton. The end papers are also green. Green is the color oft used to signify an apprentice/laurel relationship, so this was why I chose this color.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gryphon's Pride of Artemisia

The Gryphon's Pride is an award given to youth in the Kingdom of Artemisia, who show great service and promise to the Kingdom. As such, I chose to do something a little outside my norm, and just paint up something bright colored and whimsical. The zoomorphic creature border was taken from a Dover celtic borders book (I'll edit this post later with that book's details).

The ink is Pilot Iroshizuko Yu-Yake (sunset orange). Paints are Winsor & Newton gouache, all on bristol smooth finish paper.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gryphon and Candle

I have been watching a certain individual, and his efforts to beautify the SCA, both in personal projects, and those for the Kingdom at large. He has created regalia, banners, and crafted items for personal use. He has issues a challenge to increase the pageantry and beauty of the game, and has acted as an example to follow in this regard. His humility in his craft is significant, but his end products do appear to be of quality. Thus, I was happy to create a scroll to commemorate Don Sionainn Padraig Caimbeul's admittance into the Order of the Gryphon and Candle, the Baronial Arts and Sciences award for the Barony of Gryphon's Lair.

This piece is based on the Incipit Arithmeticha Boetij by Boethius, c. 1400, housed at the Smithsonian. My interpretation is done with Winsor & Newton gouache and Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi ink on vellum finish bristol.

Overall, I find that I really enjoy this style of illumination. It has a complex, elegant, and highly decorative feel, while coming together quickly. This is a great benefit to me, as I find that hand and arm fatigue sets in faster these days, and I'm not able to paint all day as I used to.

Incipit Arithmeticha Boetij

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mixed-Media Wedding Gift

I was contacted by my adorable friend Sherece, who wanted to commission a piece of artwork to decorate her wedding reception. We talked about some ideas, including a quote she wanted included on it, and I suggested it be our wedding gift to her.

This was an incredibly fun chance to delve into a new style of art, and to create a project full of fun colors, textures, and symbols of love from many different people, particularly the love and admiration of our friends Theresa and Marshall.

Have you ever delved into new styles or media?

Many pictures below, to attempt to show you the color-shifting paint effects as they settled into textures.

Click to look closer.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Baronial Archery Champion

The last month was spent focusing on projects and preparation for Artemisia XX Celebration, and a special Wedding gift project that I'll post about later. Therefore Midge Marsh Melee arrived in a hurried flurry. I had to prepare a scroll for the Baronial Archery Champion with less than a week to do so.

I found an inspiration image on the Bibliothèque nationale de France website, and decided to use the decorative "N" Cadel as the focal point. This would be a quick project but still look nice and fancy for the recipient.

Les premieres Œuvres de JACQUES DEVAULX , pillote en la marine 

Published in 1583, the "First Works of Jacques Devaulx" appears to be a nautical reference.

Lately I've been struggling with pain in my hands and wrists, which makes doing calligraphy and illumination a lot less fun than it has been. Medical testing is forthcoming, so hopefully we can resolve it. Sadly, as a result the calligraphy is a lot less precise than I'd prefer, but given the timeline for completion, it's a win. In retrospect, I should have done a batarde hand, but c'est la vie. Gothic Textura is one I do in my sleep, so that's just what came out.

In the end, Owen y Bwa ap Howell won the competition, and the scroll is in his hands.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Uchiwa AKA Oopsie-wa

My wonderful and amazing apprentice, Satake no Nana aka Shauna Sal Speranza, was long overdue on receiving a Baronial Arts and Sciences award from the Barony of Gryphon's Lair. I begged Their Excellencies to allow me to create the scroll.

My initial plan was to create a custom hand-painted silk folding fan, to support and honor all the work she has put into her Japanese research and persona. Unfortunately time and finances got away from me and when my husband saw an Uchiwa (rigid paper fan) at an Asian shop, I picked it up to use as a frame.

This is one of those cases where I made assumptions and tried to document my work after the fact. Oopsie.

It appears that the Uchiwa, or rigid fan, is a Chinese export, most likely not being popular in Japan until decidedly post-SCA Period. They were largely wood-block printed on rice paper and extremely popular from 1644 until today.

The pien-mien is the Chinese equivalent. The earliest pien-mien (fixed fan) was a fan covered with feathers or silk stretched over a frame and either painted or embroidered. It was not until the Song dynasty [960-1279] that painting these fans became an accepted, indeed esteemed, branch of art. This type of fan derives its name from the use to which it was put: hiding the face and consequently concealing the emotions. Officials, for example, shielded their faces with these fans to signify their unwillingness to be approached by petitioners. reference: Spurlock Museum

Unfortunately I lack the language and searching skills to find sufficient evidence of earlier period examples, even those from China using the internet. This will require books I don't have and additional research. Again, oopsie. But here's a bread crumb I found. 
So, lessons were learned about researching first, and not making assumptions. However, the rigid fan is EXCELLENT for personal cooling (far superior to a folding fan), and since Nana spends a great deal of time marshaling the rapier field, it is still a very usable tool for her.

I used the commercial uchiwa as a frame, traced the shape onto blue paper, and drew her personal unregistered device onto the center. Her colors are navy and hot pink. The text is written in the style of a haiku in faux-Japanese using Finetec gold gouache. I then drew Japanese style motifs on each of the fans in the same gold, and glued it to the fan base using PVA glue.

I left the back of the fan as purchased, with it's pretty Japanese koi pond print. I used a thin strip of gold paper from my bookbinding stash to bind the outer ridge.  It is rather sturdy and creates a wonderful breeze.

The text reads (vertical, right to left):
For outstanding skill
Sharing artistic prowess
Gryphon and Candle

Satake no Nana
June thirty AS LII being 2017


Haiku is a Japanese poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in lines of 5, 7, and 5. Again, assumptions were made without prior research, and I've come to find out that haiku didn't gain distinction until the Tokugawa Era (1603-1770). Oopsie. 

So overall, mistakes were made, but despite all that I like the finished product and Nana liked it so I'll call it a win, if an embarrassing one.

Edit: Nana sent me a link to a Tang Dynasty sample, to solidify the mien-pien information:

Zhou Fang painting (Tang Dynasty)

Court Barony for Conchobhar

Conchobhar is one of those people who is always busy doing things for other people. Always with a note of humor and sarcasm, and we love him for it. I was thrilled to be a part of his project, and excited to once again work with HE Bethany. She and I worked together on Conchobhar's White Scarf Scroll back in the day. What a wonderful thing to come together once again for him.

We based this piece on three things. Her Majesty Gwenevere and Conchobhar's collection of cats, combined with his nonstop heraldic work, in a late-period design.

Matriculation Register of the Rectorate of the University of Basel, Volume 1 (1460-1567),Parchment 232 ff 
Woodcutsof the Triumph of Maximillian I, c.1512-1519

After some planning calls, I did the layout, calligraphy, and acanthus border with gilded accents on Pergamenata. I used Pilot Irishuzoku Sumi ink, Windsor and Newton gouache, and gold leaf is adhered with miniatum ink.

The calligraphy hand on the inspiration piece appeared to be a transitional style that lands somewhere between Humanist and Secretary, so I sort of analyzed and tried to create something similar.

The piece (and my color palette, so our acanthus would match) was then passed on to HE Bethany, who did the illuminated letter, herald and gryphon, and the adorable cats. Note that Isis kitty will have none of the shenanigans, and is probably wondering where her box and sportsball are.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Baronial Rapier Champion

This scroll was created in advance for the Baronial Rapier Champion tournament in the Barony of Gryphon's Lair. The winner ended up being Maestro Azir de Lucero, and his name was added on site. It is based on a page from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, though I made the blossoms orange rather than pink. I wanted to reflect Baronial colors a bit more, and though there is no orange in our colors, it represents "gold" better than pink does.

Pictures taken at different angles so you can see how the gold reflects light.

Click to zoom

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cornerstone Micrography

My darling husband was going to prepare a Cornerstone scroll for Malatesta, but ended up in a medical emergency situation and he was unable to do it, much to his regret. Superhero wife comes to the rescue! My superhero costume closely resembles a bathrobe and slippers, folks. Don't be too impressed. This was done back in January.

This piece had to be done very quickly, given the deadline and the necessity that I be at the hospital with said husband. Therefore, I tried my hand at micrography, also called microcalligraphy. This is a Jewish art form which uses words to create images, dating back to at least the 9th Century. This article at the British Library shows some examples and history.

I sketched Malatesta's seven pointed comet, and wrote the scroll text to create the image in her heraldic colors. I'm afraid this was done so late at night that I didn't keep a copy of the wording in order to tell you what it says, and the image is too fuzzy to read. Basically it talks about Malatesta's amazing dedication to service in her official capacity as Lady in Waiting and in other roles as well. If you don't know this very fine gentle, you should!

I had envisioned their Excellencies signing this along the line down the center of the comet's tail, hence the penciled in line.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Non-Traditional SCA Award

I was asked to prepare a Golden Pillar of Artemisia award scroll for HE Asgierr, a dear friend. I debated for some time whether to make a traditional scroll, something "new to me" style-wise, or something non-traditional.  I opted for non-traditional, and decided to make a hand-bound book, since I did a traditional one for Asgierr just last year.

St. Cuthbert Gospel, British Library
I was inspired by the St. Cuthbert Gospel, an early 8th Century manuscript (British Library Add MS 89000).  The St. Cuthbert Gospel is not only a phenomenal piece of work, but is the earliest intact European example of bookbinding.

The British Library's blog has a fascinating post here about results of X-Rays and CT scans of the book. Previously, attempts at duplicating the bindings included using leather or rope for the raised design. The CT Scans make it clear that the design is made out of a clay-like substance. Mine is not a replication of this book, not by far! But the design concepts are what got my brain ticking.

I started off in traditional fashion by cutting out pages, and folding them into quires of five or so pages each. I then wrote the scroll text, loosely based on/inspired by the intro to Beowulf. I give full credit to THL Colyne Stewart for this blog post at The Scriptorium for the inspiration.

I translated the wording into runes - yes, the English decoder-ring style runes. Please don't hate. I know this is not a period practice, but I knew the recipient would love this. I then wrote out said runes on pages 2 and 3 of the first quire. I left page 1 blank, because every book I've made, without exception, gets glued to the end page at least 1/4 inch up.

For Christmas last month, I was given a hand-made stitching frame from my parents. My father is a brilliant craftsman (he also made my book press). I'm a lucky girl. Click the images to see larger versions.

I used a simple twine for my sewing cords, and waxed linen thread to stitch the quires together. This was my first time using a stitching frame, and it makes some things easier, and some things more difficult. I imagine it would make life much better when making a huge book, but for a tiny thing like this, it's really not that necessary. I did like practicing on it though!

Once the quires were stitched together, I pressed them into the book press, and used a light hammer to round out the spine a bit, and prepare it for gluing. To be honest, I need to do more reading as to the period practice of reinforcing the spine at this step in medieval bookbinding, but for this book I used a small strip of linen for reinforcement, and used PVA glue. When that was dry, I added pre-made headbands (not pictured).

I left that to dry, and set about making a raised design to add to the cover. Due to the timeline, researching and recreating period sculpting clay or gesso was not feasible. Additionally, my bookboard was slated to be pieces of chipboard rather than actual wood, which changes the scope of the project as well. 

My dear husband suggested I use sculpy - it's lightweight, fast to cure, and would never show under the leather binding. Pretty much a perfect idea.

I sculpted pieces that comprise a Valknut, a Norse symbol of importance to the recipient.

I'd never used sculpy before, and found it difficult to maintain sharp smooth edges when trying to move it from my cutting board over onto the silicone baking sheet. I crossed my fingers and hoped that covering the whole thing in leather would hide some of my sins.

I covered the text block with paper to protect it from stray glue, and covered the book in a supple brown goat skin. I used small manicure tools and a bookbinding spatula to push the leather into the nooks and crannies of the Valknut. When that was completely dry, I added red end papers (not pictured) and called it good!

Text Translation:
Lo, praise the labor of Artemisians;
Of strong-armed Danes, in days long sped - we have heard!
And what honor the Northman gives!
Oft Asgierr Rekke I Dane from unseen Quarters 
aids many a tribe, house and nobles-all.
Never he rests, always seeking duty done.
Famed is this Asgierr, far flies the boast of him,
Son of the Dane in the Gryphon Lands.
So comes to this great man, recognition of Jarls
From hands of the good Tsar called Lakhan, 
And Tsarista Vigdis, come honors.
Named as a Pillar, Golden and cherished, this hall-sung hero.
Done this fourteenth day of January in the Fifty-first year of the Society,
Being 2017 in the Common Era.

Lakhan, Tsar
Vigdis, Tsarista

Things I'd do differently next time?
  1. Leave more of a border on the left side of the text. It worked out, but my eyes would like a bit more white space.
  2. Start on page 3 instead of 2. An extra blank page at the beginning would be a good thing, since page 1 actually becomes part of the endpaper.
  3. Use wood or a heavier bookboard, and do that research on period clay stuff!
  4. Dilute the glue more when working on fiddly cover bits. If it gets too sticky too soon, that's no bueno. The extra work time will help in stretching the leather over the spine as well - I felt this was a bit too loose.
  5. Take the time to press the final book for 24 hours.