Laurels’ Prize Tourney: Tiny Scroll Challenge

Last year I had this opportunity to attend an event that was based around the idea that laurels would issue challenges to the public and you could take up your choice of the challenges (or as many as you want, really) and submit it to the laurel. It was called the Laurels’ Prize Tourney and took place in the barony of Carolingia last March.

I just love love love this idea and I don’t think that they are doing it again this year which makes me super sad, but alas..

The challenge I took up was issued by Mistress Eva and she requested submitters to create a tiny calligraphed scroll. It could be illuminated or not, and could say whatever we wanted. The only requirements were that it was tiny and had a minimum of 150 characters. Challenge Accepted. Here is the challenge word for word:

Eva’s Tiny Scroll Challenge (Mistress Eva Woderose) – Make a tiny calligraphed piece (and illuminated if you so choose) based off of period sources. Enjoy the aesthetic of period proportion and style. If your scribal heart desires, feel free to make use of period materials and techniques. Each piece must have a minimum of 150 characters of text (but could certainly have more).

Please bring with you any sources you based your piece on so that we can have an intelligent discussion about your beautiful work.

The manuscript that inspired me was the Taverner Prayer Book because it is adorable, it has lovely calligraphy and they did this funky thing where they kept going over on the text so they extended into the borders and I wanted to mimic that little eccentricity. The piece is 7 cm by 5.2 cm and I used gouache and iron gall ink on bristol paper. The words are the chorus from Lord Nicol’s “Malagentia”
The final count of characters is 182 (not including the gold on the top.)

This piece was one of my first times doing calligraphy and yeah, it’s not great but I learned so much from doing this. I got to sit down and work with Mistress Eva who advised me on a lot but I found her advice on ligatures and getting descenders just right was especially helpful. I still refer back to a lot of what she taught me that day.


tiny scroll 1
The image on the left is my final piece and the image on the right is the copy I was working from, printed to size. Below is some of the practice calligraphy and some of the things I worked on with Mistress Eva (See all those y’s and h’s?)

If you get the opportunity to do something like this I would highly recommend. I am a shy person and it really helped me make a connection with a brilliant scribe (which admittedly made her much less scary) and I got to mingle with a bunch of other artisans.

Have you participated in a challenge like this? I would love to hear what you’ve done!

Until next time,

embla signoff





Silver Brooch for Nicol

In a previous post, I shared a scroll that I collaborated on with Lord Nicol. In fact, he has written words for all my scroll assignments up to that point. He also has written words for many, many other scrolls in the last year. On top of being my scribal partner in crime, I consider him a pretty close friend.

So, I when I heard that he was getting his Silver Brooch I practically begged for it (and I am very lucky to have a accommodating Tyger Clerk of the Signet). When I received the official assignment I suddenly realized who will I get to do his words? Nicol is a wordsmith so they’d have to be pretty special. There were options out there, we do have a lot of phenomenal wordsmiths locally but I felt that I had a lot to consider. As I was talking this over with my partner, who is also Nicol’s squire brother he asked if he could do the words. Of course, I thought this was a brilliant idea.

My partner has never done words before but is quite talented with a flair for the dramatic. I wasn’t worried about the quality of the words but I was worried about the timeline. I had a bit over a month from when my last scroll went out until this one was due and I couldn’t start the illumination until I got my words!

We talked through some ideas and we had a few. One, Nicol had done a live online video on writing words– that was very specific to his persona. Two, one the ridiculous drive to drop of my last scroll, we talked with him a lot about the ridiculous things that belong in a future Nicol scroll. So, I left him to write and eventually, he just spit all the words beautifully in a fit of inspiration, leaving me with plenty of time to illuminate.

For my illumination, I was challenged to include some bar and ivy and diapering. I wanted to scroll to fit his personality and his persona. The first idea I had was basing the design off of a famous french poet, Guillaume de Machaut. I liked the pieces but in the end it didn’t fit with what I needed for a variety of reasons. I also looked for the manuscript that Nicol mentioned in his video as perfect for his persona but apparently, it has not made its way into the virtual world yet.

Finally, I stumbled upon the Roman de la Rose, which was a gorgeous French manuscript that was copied over 300 times during the height of its popularity. This manuscript seemed to fit because it was visually stunning, gave me a lot of options for design (including bar and ivy and diapering), and was a romance.

I decided that I wanted to encompass all the parts of Nicol I know because he is a very complex man. To do this, I took the idea of having multiple scenes on one page, which was a popular design element in the original, to show Nicol on the battlefield writing about the glorious scenes he has witnessed, him in the privacy of his home wordsmithing, and him barding, reading or singing out loud. In the top scene I was able to poke fun at his wordiness by making parchment that was forever long and I was able to include his dog, not once but twice!

I am still working on the skill of painting actual people but, I believe this was an improvement in that area. For my calligraphy, I was able to modify a hand I had used on a scroll in the past, the rotunda script. I definitely feel like I’m becoming more comfortable with calligraphy.

words sm.png

So, the piece was done on pergemenata which I’m honestly not sure I was prepared for. Perg is difficult to get the right consistancy of paint so too much paint, it gets splotchy and the paper curls, and if you have too little paint, you can see right through it!  The miniatum and gold went on easier than I expected but still not as easily as if I were to use bristol board. I used gouache, gilding, walnut ink, calli red ink, on pergemenata. I am generally happy with the results. 🙂



Our warrior gazes upon the field
An ocean of grass made red with blood
He removes his helm, sets down his shield
And finds his rest near rust and wood
Continue reading “Silver Brooch for Nicol”