Inks, papers, calligraphic styles




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If you do get to use true vellum, you will also need fine sandpaper.

(Careful! you don't want suede from too vigorous sanding--and do your sanding

outdoors. Trust me.) You will also need powdered sandarac (a Middle eastern

tree's dried sap) for the "flesh side," especially, since it's greasier than

the "hair side."

When you make a mistake lettering, just use a convexly curved scalpel to

scrape the mistake off, but have a gentle touch, please. Too, you may want to

burnish the roughed up fibers and sandarac it again before writing again.

Paper is so much more painless, for this stage in your project. I preferred

using Crane's resume paper for a minature book I scribed. For that kind of

very tiny work (I'm talking italic for lettering a book at less than 1/20th

of an inch for the minuscules), I use a specially converted pointed pen,

honed to a tiny broad edge point on crocus cloth. I found it did not throw up

fibers between the tines of the nib as often as the other13 papers I

"auditioned."


Good luck! ...Elaine Crittenden (Dallas TX) aka Lete bithe Spring

(Steppes, Ansteorra)


Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 09:10:37 -0400 (EDT)

From: Carol at Small Churl Books

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Grimbald Gospels


>The Grimbald Gospels are 11th century English (from Winchester); the

illumination combines knotwork and foliage (in the one photo I've seen) and

I would love to research it further. Help?


Without a copy at hand and thus working from memory.... There are examples

of gospels from Winchester in _Golden Age of English Manuscript Painting

1200-1500_ published by Braziller. It is in print. I'd suggest looking

there to see if it has examples from that particular gospel.


From: "M. Zoe Holbrooks"

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Apprentice Illuminator's Workboke

Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 11:29:20 -0700

Organization: University of Washington


My apologies for broadcasting this notice so widely, but my

alternate ISP crashed and my notes on who asked about this

went with it. :{


Apprentice Illuminator's Workboke is being reprinted and

will be available from Pastiche at major An Tir events, or

by mail c/o Foggy Bell, 3634 NE 19th, Portland, OR 97212.

For more information and/or to reserve a copy from this

print run, email me directly.


My thanks for your attention,


Asahla Telerion


Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 01:14:05 -0600

From: rockwallshire at webtv.net (Shared Account)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Scribal mailing List


Crawling around on the Web tonight, I found an address for a

newly-opened, SCA-specific scribal mailing list. As we have been having

a scribal discussion on this list recently, I thought I'd let folks here

know about what I found. :)


To subscribe, send an email to:


majordomo at castle.org


with the body of the message stating:


subscribe scribes


You'll get a confirmation code back, and once you return that code to

majordomo, you're on!


I hope that this information will be of interest and help to you.


Your servant, lowly Merouda, writing thru the Rockwall account


Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 08:38:58 -0500

From: Erik & Karen Dutton

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Sinister scribes


Naomi & Peter FRYER wrote:

> I am in need of information I have a budding Lefthanded scribe in my

> possesion(ha haaa)


As a southpaw who has done a *little* calligraphy, I have two

suggestions that may be of use:


1) If he blocks out the entire scroll in advance, then he can letter

backwards, from right to left, which will help to alleviate some of the

traditional smudging problems.


2) Arabic/Islamic calligraphy is a godsend for scribes like us - and

while there is not a large call for it, it can make a huge difference

when creating a scroll for someone who has a Moorish or Spanish persona,

or whose persona history includes a Crusade. It also makes neat and

unusual border illumination, when you're tired of drawing little bitty

flowers.

--

Rhodri ap Hywel


Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 12:06:45 -0600

From: theodelinda at webtv.net (linda webb)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Sinister scribes


Thanks for letting us know where to find the nibs--we've had a lefty or

two here--of course, I guess in period, you just learned to cut a pen

nib to suit yourself. By the way, there is a surviving book copied by

St. Thomas Aquinas, who was left-handed--the monk in charge of books at

that abbey wrote (I think on the title page) something like " this

book was copied by our beloved brother in Christ, Thomas, Regrettably,

it is illegible" Having seen a photograph of one of the pages, I have

to agree! I don't know if he didn't bother to adjest the nib of his

pen, or was just trying to write as fast as he thought--I've read that

he could keep four secretaries busy at once. At least nowadays

left-handers can get some things adjusted to suit them, and we don't try

to break them of it as children. Theodelinda


Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 21:32:11 -0500 (EST)

From: Carol Thomas

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Sinister scribes


Although neither left-handed nor a scribe, I liked _Basics of Left-Handed

Calligraphy_ by Shepherd, publisher Prentice, now long out of print - try

ILL. If I remember correctly, it had different calligraphy methods based on

how your lefty holds the pen to write: curled over from the top, down below

the letters, etc.


There is also useful infomation in _Left Handed Calligraphy_ from Dover

Press. It is in print. This topic, I think, proves that there is a book

for EVERYTHING!


Lady Carllein


Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 20:55:07 -0700

From: Twcs

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Paper


> I have been using Bristol board with a vellum finish but it

> sucks. Really, it sucks the ink in leaving tendrals. It also

> buckles when it gets too wet.


Slaine,

I use Strathmore brand bristol board, Series 500, vellum finish.

It's sold in sheets and not in a pad. Get the highest ply you can find.


2-ply is too flimsy, and will warp when wet. 3-ply is ok. I've done

a lot of scrolls on 3-ply. Personally, I use 4-ply whenever I can get it,

though more often than not, 4-ply is usually only available in the

Series 400 papers. If you want to do dependent wax seals, you have

to use 4-ply. Mind you, all of this advice is applicable only to the

Strathmore brand papers, towards which I have a strong bias.


About the ink problem: I'm not sure what to say. What brand of ink

are you using, and what kind of pen? The wrong kind of ink and/or

pen can also cause the problem you describe, especially if the ink is

too thin or the pen nib is damaged. Your technique might be a

contributing factor too, since going too slow, pressing too hard, and/or


overloading the pen with ink can screw things up.


Personally, I wouldn't pounce a paper, but since several other folks

have done so (according to their posts), I guess it must be ok. The

reasons I would shy away from sandarac or modern pounce are: 1) a

good art paper suitable for gouache should already be sized correctly,

and 2) over-sizing the paper with a pounce can prevent the gouache

from sticking to the paper (this can happen to vellum too, as I have

discovered the hard way). Modern pounce, by the way, is a

synthetic elastomer, similar to rubber, and it's used with modern drafting

inks which are much thinner than the waterproof india inks we use on

scrolls. It's great stuff if you're drafting with modern inks on modern

drafting "vellums" (which have minimum tooth and lots of sizing). It's

not so hot (IMHO) with the more-viscous india inks used on high-tooth

papers, like a Strathmore vellum-finish bristol: it's too hard to remove

from the paper, especially the 3- and 4-plys.


Anyway, that's my opinion on the matter.

ttfn, Therasia (aka Twcs, aka Catie, aka Hey You ;-)


Date: 1 Feb 1998 19:43:15 -0800

From: "Marisa Herzog"

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Sinister scribes


>Is there some out there who has sucessfully taught a sinister scribe

that


Haven't taught anybody who is sinister, but a mundane artist friend recommend

investing in an "artist's bridge", one of those clear acrylic supports that

holds you hand and arm off the paper...

-brid


Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 16:01:38 -0800

From: Twcs

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Period hebrew calligraphy


Irene wrote:

> I am working on a piece of 10th C hebrew calligraphy and Illumination to

> enter into Midwinter Arts and Sciences here in Meridies. Is there anyone

> else out there who is or has done any work in this area? I would be

> interested in chatting with others who have or are presently working in

> this area.


Yes, I've been working on Hebrew hands for a while. I'm probably wierd,

but I find it easiest to callig with the paper sideways, writing from bottem

to top (Hebrew is a right to left alaphabet). My source for medieval Hebrew

alaphabets: _Jewish Life in the Middle Ages_, Metzger and Metzger, Alpine

Fine Arts Ltd., NY, c.1982; ISBN 0-933516-57-6. This book has a huge

selection of pages from Jewish medieval manuscripts, mostly in the early

and high gothic styles, from all over western Europe. Track this book down

-it's worth the time to find. (It's probably out of print, so I'd start looking

for a copy in your nearest university library; or do a search with the used book

sellers.) Good luck, and remember, written medieval Hebrew is like Welsh:

there no #$%&*!#!! vowels! ;-)


Twcs (5 days til PhD defense...ahg!!!!!!)


Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 09:55:44 -0500

From: Wendy Colbert

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Period hebrew calligraphy


>>> Secondly, Yes, Hebrew, both modern & anciet has vowels: hay,

>>> vav,yud,eyin, and sometimes, sort-of....aleph.

>>> Phillipa

>

>> Good luck, and remember, written medieval Hebrew is like Welsh:

>> there no #$%&*!#!! vowels! ;-)

>> Twcs (5 days til PhD defense...ahg!!!!!!)

>

>Actually, Twcs is right -- a lot of formal written Hebrew, even to today,

>does not indicate the vowels. Torahs are written without vowels.


But I am not doing a formal piece and I do need to write the vowels.


>Just in case you thought it was hard enough reading Hebrew going backwards,

>with accents, silent and spoken vowels (depending), AND two different

>pronunciation sets.......


Ah, but hebrew does have vowels, to give them their transliterations_

Patach, Kubutz,Chirik,Segol,Kamatz,Tzeirei,Cholam,Shuruk,Sheva,Chataf

Patach,Chataf Segol, Chataf Kamatz and Kamatz Katan.


Since the piece I am working from is a primer for children (a first

teaching book, as it were) it does include the vowels. And a kettubah from

the same era and region also shows vowels.

The vowels in this primer are Kamatz Katan, Patach,Segol,

Tzeirei,Chirik,Cholam (in the form without the vav),Kubutz and Shuruk


Irene


Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 00:10:39 EST

From:

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Illumination questions


Lilith at retliv.com writes:

> I have been trying to learn some illumination basics.... (If a

> particular title would be of best interests for me to read, please let me

> know!)


I can send you a list of books I used in my last class. It's a Word

file.


> After all that reading I still have some questions which come to mind for

> me....how large should the total work be (as in 'paper' size)? I am

> currently using Windsor & Newton Designers Gouache; are these alright or

> must I figure out how to create my own paints and pigments? Does anyone

> recommend a good non-bleeding black outlining ink?


Windsor & Newton Designer is a good brand, and gouache is what I (and all

the callig/illum laurels I've spoken to) recommend. I am currently

experimenting with creating my own pigments, but don't think that is necessary

for a beginner. It's something you might want to consider when you feel very

comfortable with the whole process.


Always, always follow this order of work: calligraphy, gold leaf (if

any), THEN illuminating. Don't ever succumb to any temptation to do the

painting first. The reason is, you can fix a problem in painting fairly

easily. If you mess up the calligraphy, there is very little you can do.

(there are a few things, but they can be more trouble that they're worth.)

Use a "kneaded" eraser, or the white kind that comes in sticks.


Paper size is entirely up to you. Many period books were fairly small

(around the size of the average paperback today.) but huge books using entire

cow skins did exist. I have a friend who owns a sheet from a period choral

book, and it is about 20 inches by 36 inches. My advice is to leave a large

margin around all sides. To make to margin look visually identical, you must

make the bottom margin about 1 1/2 times the width of the others. If you make

them all the same, the text will look like it is "falling". Please do not use

yellow ("parchment" colored) paper! Vellum yellows with age, but starts out

only slightly off white. You can get away with cheap calligraphy paper for

now, but you will eventually want to move on to high quality paper, and

eventually real vellum. When you move on to good paper, look for "hot press"
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