So you want to be a scribe?

One thing I look for when I want to learn a new skill is a list of all the things a brand new person would need to start. I could ask people who are more skilled than I am but I tend to be a bit socially awkward and I also sometimes feel like it harder for me to use the information than it would be to see a list.

I’m admittedly a very new scribe. It’s been about a year since I finished my first scroll (my troll scroll and a scroll blank went out around this time last year) but I think that makes it even easier for me to remember the basics to help you begin scribing (yay!)

What I am going to lay out is the materials you may want to have on hand to begin. This list absolutely varies with preference and if you REALLY want supplies to suit your preferences, I would highly encourage you to attend a local scribal meeting and try out some things. These are the things that I’ve found really worked for me and how much they cost.

  1. Gouache is the paint that many scribes use to start painting with. It’s great for beginners and more advanced scribes. Some scribes eventually move on to more authentic pigments but most scribes start with gouache. This is the set that I bought, made by holbein, it’s around $30. I just ran out of a couple of colors this month, they last quite awhile. Another popular company that scribes like is windsor & newton (W&N), this is a starter set from Amazon. The colors I use most are burnt sienna, carmine, ivory black, permanent green deep, permanent white, permanent yellow, and ultramarine deep if you want them seperately. I found value in the set because I could try the colors to see what I like and have small tubes when the less frequently used colors are needed. I also purchased a tube of gold gouache from W&N for about $15).
  2. The paper I use is bristol paper, which is fairly affordable and has a nice quality. I use strathmore 300 series, most commonly in the size 11×14″, and this will run you about $12 a pad. I have heard that some people use hot press watercolor paper which I would imagine would work really well, but I haven’t tried it yet.
  3. For calligraphy I use mitchell calligraphy nibs, you can find a set of them on this page on John Neal Books’ website for about $10. I was actually gifted some nibs when I first started but I went back and bought a 10 “variety pack” of nibs as well. You can also get a straight holder, such as on this page this page.
  4. I use two types of ink for callligraphy, the first you can also get on John Neal Books, True Walnut Ink for less than $10 and the second I get on etsy from another scadian, Iron Gall Ink for $10 plus S&H. I use two inks because the walnut ink gives beautiful browns and the iron gall ink gives a dark black but you could certainly pick just one.
  5. The last thing you’ll really need is brushes which is really personal preference. I use a variety of sizes of watercolor brushes that I picked up at a local art store. Honestly, you just want the tips to come to a point instead of bristols that fan out or are bent. You’ll also want a variety of sizes.

These five things above will get you started with materials that you will still want to use as you progress. I also find a cork backed ruler, t-square, lettering guide to be useful, and I use them for almost every scroll I work on but they are not essential.

If you want to try materials before you purchase, you should head to your local scribal gathering. Seriously! The scribes are extremely helpful and generous and love newcomers!

Finally, many of the things above are my preferences or preferences of others that I look up to. You probably won’t need it all to get going (you may choose calligraphy or illumination, or you may be able to borrow supplies) but this is what I would get if I were just beginning.

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to hear your feedback! What supplies would you buy if you were to start again? If you are new, did you find this useful? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Until next time!

embla signoff

Award of Arms for Diego

Hi all!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and although I still want to go through and add some of my older work, I decided I’m going to update work as I finish while I am still excited about it.

The piece I’m going to share today is my last scroll assignment of 2017. I was assigned this award of arms for a lord in a nearby barony who I’d never met. This was a challenge because normally I search for information to personalize a scroll on Facebook and the EK wiki but he didn’t have either! So, I reached out to his contact and found a little about him.

I learned his persona was Spanish and lived around the 14th century. He also played in the local recorder ensemble. I searched online and found the Cantigas de Santa Maria which were created in Spain and had some amazing music themed miniatures (like these) and actual music. I was jumping in on the music aspect of his persona hopefully. I was a bit worried that it wasn’t going to be specific enough to him and he was going to be disappointed but it was what I had so I went with it. I spent hours trying to find the right manuscript to fit the art style I envisioned because there are a lot of copies of the Cantigas. I wanted one of the miniatures to be him, playing the recorder and other miniatures of other musicians in the ensemble. This offered a challenge because it was a style I hadn’t tried before but, otherwise the Cantigas fit my vision perfectly.

This scroll was done on bristol with gouache, walnut ink, red and blue calli ink, and gilding.  I got to try a bunch of new techniques like: portraits, a new calligraphy hand, and filigree- which was actually a lot of fun. The hand I used was a rotunda which I spent some time working on with a master calligrapher.

Words were done by Nicol mac Donnachaidh, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on many scrolls. He actually wrote the music and the words in the style of the Cantigas, like the mad talented person he is (check out his blog post about it!) For the record, I didn’t request the music, it was his idea and in my opinion it really made the piece extra special. My favorite part of this whole thing was that the calligraphy, illumination, words, and music all went together and were authentic to the style of the Cantigas. I may have geeked out a whole lot about that 😛

And after his recieved his award, Lord Diego messaged me that he loved the scroll and was very happy. I really couldn’t ask for more.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the final piece, which was given out at BBM/ Bergental Yule, 2017.Diego.jpg

Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts, or comments! Thanks for  joining me!

embla signoff