For me, part of what makes playing with the Society for Creative Anachronism so much fun are the opportunities to share magical and connective moments with other people. There have been many occasions lately where I’ve wanted to include notes with things I’ve sent out as part of my SCA activities, and not had cards or stationary that are in keeping with the spirit of the group. Ultimately I would love to have a stack of cards with hand painted ornaments on hand for such occasions, and maybe I’ll make that my next personal challenge. But since I haven’t yet done that, and it often feels important to send these things promptly when the moment is right, I decided to be gentle with myself and start painting designs to have printed on notecards.
Since my personal blank scroll project has me looking at a variety of manuscripts. When one of my scribal family members mentioned the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, I had added it my list of links to digitized manuscripts to revisit once I got the chance. After finishing the page from the Rothschilds Prayerbook, it felt like a good time to do so. The Hours of Catherine of Cleves MS M.917/945 was painted near 1440 in Utrecht in the Netherlands, and has amazing boarders. Though it was difficult to settle on one, I decided to start with page 153 with beautiful green ferns.
I started by sizing and rearranging portions of the boarder using photo editing software, then traced a printed copy using a light table. After that it was a matter of mixing and laying down layers of paint. Looking closely, it appeared that the gold paint had been applied on top of the fields of color, which is different that the order in which I usually paint.
I am so pleased with how this one turned out and am very excited to see it printed onto a note card!
After a brief departure to complete a scroll assignment and then a scribal challenge from my Laurel to play with the Horae (Mary, Queen of Scots prayer book), I turned back to the personal blank scroll challenge I’m working on this winter/spring. After digging into the Bury Bible and Romanesque style painting, Camille had suggested I pick something with pearls. A internet search led me to the Rotschild Prayerbook was painted in Ghent or Bruges between 1505 and 1510 in the workshop of Gerard Horenbout, Simon Bening, and his father Alexander Bening. The miniatures and surrounding boarders are of the “richly varied trompe l’oeil type.” Though I don’t know the folio’s number, the page I found had an amazing, rich red background, and LOTS of pearls. Perfect.
Receiving this assignment was very exciting. Though I don’t know the recipient personally, I’ve seen him at events before and know he is well loved by people I care about. The Silver Crescent is an award of high merit given to people in the East Kingdom of the Society for Creative Anachronism for service. Service is super important in an organization that depends so completely on volunteers. One of the things that I love about the SCA is that service isn’t just about getting things done, but also engaging our passions in ways that makes the whole thing magical. Since art is one of the ways I offer my service to this group, it is a joy to use my gift to be part of the magic of thanking someone for giving of themselves in ways that have benefitted so many.
About a week ago, my scribal sister excitedly shared that she had found a digitized version of the Horae, Mary, Queen of Scots prayer book (Latin MS 21). The tiny book, measuring 68 mm by 46 mm, was made in Flanders in the late 15th century is now housed by the John Rylands Library and a digital copy is presented at the University of Manchester’s website, here. There was a lot of buzz amongst our immediate scribal family, and our Laurel invited us to pick any one flower, or bug, or bird, or motif… and paint it. I was still working on the last steps of my assignment for March’s Ethereal Court, so had to satisfy myself with pouring over the pages of the manuscript and enjoying glimpses of what was starting to emerge from each other’s desks.
As with most activities these days, many beloved SCA events continue to be postponed until next year. The Tourney of Love, which takes place not far from where I live, is one of them. But since we cannot gather together this year, the Baroness of Endewearde has issued a challenge: to show your love for another with a handmade token of love.
I started pouring over Dress Accessories, c. 1150-1450 (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London) (Volume 3). I felt like casting something, and thought maybe I would make spangles. But my casting skills are rudimentary and I had a feeling that tiny spangles could be frustrating at the moment. So I started looking at pins, and was delighted to find an extant piece from ca. 1400-1425 that is kept by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
After taking almost a year and a half off from the scribal arts, I’m so thankful for the jump start provided by my apprentice sister, Audrye’s gentle request to replace a scroll that had been damaged beyond repair. More about that project here. As I begin to ease back into the rhythm of producing scrolls on assignment, I’ve noticed some things about myself and my work flow, and am taking steps to support myself, nurture inspiration, and grow more steady in my artistic practice. I’ve challenged myself to produce 1 to 2 scroll blanks each month for 3 months. My objective is to create a context where I can explore new manuscripts and styles, practice as I paint so I’m in condition for when assignments do come along, and to produce blanks than can used for awards later.
It feels quite common to finish a scroll and have things one wishes that they had done differently. Two years after being awarded, the original version of this scroll met with an untimely end, and at the request of my beloved apprentice sister, I had the opportunity to revisit this piece and see what would happen.
This award was to be given to someone I know, making it an exciting assignment to receive! After reading the recipient’s EK Wiki page, I had some ideas, but while chatting with the Laurel to whom I apprentice, a whole other avenue opened up… thanks to snickens!
Searching on the internet, I found a digitized version of a book of hours in the Walters Art Museum’s collection that featured the snail-chickens that I was looking for. W. 427 is a tiny manuscript created ca. 1500 in Bruges or Ghent. I also contacted the fantastic wordsmith, Nicol mac Donnachaidh, to put in a request for text. Since it was Pensic time, I had plenty of time to peruse the manuscript and consider layout, and what elements I would want to include. This was to be my first attempt at “Squashed Bug” style illumination. I felt bolstered by a recent class given by Camille des Jardins at our local scribal night, where we had explored gold work, including mosaic gold, or tin sulfide, which was used to paint the background of the Squashed Bug illuminated panels. We were given the opportunity to use actual mosaic gold, and also how one could combine yellow ocher, burnt sienna, red, and gold gouache to replicate the color. We also had a tiny lesson in shading, and both of these were invaluable.