Gawain for Kaelen Strongarme

I really love youth awards (and the youth community in general.) Our camp has a lot of children and my partner grew up in the SCA so he has some of the youth awards himself. He has started helping some of the children along their own SCAdventures and we have worked together in organizing meetings for the youth and adults that grew up in the SCA. So, when I got assigned to do a Gawain award, the youth award for martial activities, I was pumped!

I didn’t know the recipient personally but, I did receive some information in the assignment. I learned that his persona is 14th century German / Anglo Saxon, he not only fights himself, but he also works with younger fighters to help them grow, he offers himself in service to the community, and that he is a teenager. I ended up choosing the Homilary, an early 14th century German manuscript that is currently held at the Walters Art Museum. I chose this piece because it appealed to me in style, one that I hadn’t done before, and I thought it would be nice for a young fighter type.

The not-so-good: I need to be more careful with my white work. The white, especially in his name, looks too bold to my eyes and I think takes away a bit from the overall piece. I have been working on finding ways to make my lines thinner and more delicate.

The good: I liked doing this piece, especially the little dragons. I put the Gawain garter within a gold box instead of a part of a capital to make it stand out more. I still think this was a good choice but my other thought was to make it into the G of Gawain and that would have been fun too. 🙂




Materials: gouache, gilding, walnut ink, and Calli red ink on bristol

Words: Olalla Tristana


Silver Tyger for Lillian Stanhope

I was really happy to get this assignment (do you see a trend?) This time though, I was asked to take it before I had the chance to ask for myself. I’ve gotten to know Baroness Lillian through House Dark and also my partner, who is lifelong friends with her and fights for her in Crown Tournaments. Aside from that, I’ve had the pleasure of both seeing her fight and fighting alongside her in battle and one time accidently getting her challenged to a fight because of my drunken silliness in the bog (but that’s a story for another day!) She’s an incredibly impressive spear woman and in my opinion, incredibly deserving of this award! 

So when I got this assignment, I wanted to get personal. I knew that I wanted to include images of a spearwoman because that’s what she was receiving the award for and I wanted to have marginalia spearing tuchux because … well there’s a story. It was due Birka 2019. 

I ended up choosing The Romance of Alexander, a 14th century manuscript from England. This book had everything I wanted, including warriors with spears, bunnies (there is a story there too!), and a general aesthetic that I thought fit her well. 

This piece also gave me the opportunity to try gold embossing which I had never tried before. Embossing is terrifying because once you start there is no going back. It ended up being easier than I expected with a bit of preplanning and I had fun doing it.

Scanned Image
Photo of piece


A full page out of the manuscript
An example of marginalia including the bunnies and calligraphy
An example of some marginalia and bunnies and calligraphy
The inspiration for the large illumination
An example of another dragon and gold tooling

Materials: Gilding, gouache, and iron gall ink by Ian the Green, on Bristol

Words by Matthew MacGyver

Maunche for Carmelina Vaccari

Vivat to Carmelina, who creates some of the most inspirational and beautiful art I’ve seen, in both scribal and embroidery! I was really excited to receive this Maunche assignment and I wanted to give her something memorable. I don’t know her super well but I’ve seen her work first hand at scribal meet-ups and she is incredibly kind and talented. To be more thorough though, I asked for some advice on what she would like from someone closer to her. I was told that she dresses in the period of Eleanor of Toledo (born in Spain but lived and died in Florence, 16th century) and she embroiders, illuminates, and book binds. The piece I chose as inspiration is the Almugavar Hours which is a 16th century book created in Spain.

I did try to stay more accurate to the original manuscript than I normally would, focusing on accuracy above customizing to the recipient (because I thought that is what she would want.) The goal was to make it look like pages from a book her persona may have had. I did have to increase the size of the piece from the original book for logistical reasons. 

The not-so-good: I wish I had made the maunche award symbol and her arms look like it fit more into the piece.Someone brought it up to me when I was about to bring the scroll to the herald. Now, I can’t unsee it!  I could have shaded it better so it at least looked 3-dimensional. 

The good: This is one of my favorite pieces that I’ve ever done. I used advice I had gathered from many talented artists to try to get the pearls, shading, and gold background just right. I am happy with the way it turned out and I enjoyed making the piece. I hope to do more of these in the future. 

Taken with camera
Scanned copy


Materials: gouache, iron gall ink by Ian the green, calli red ink, on bristol


Source: Almugavar Hours


Words: Olalla Tristana

AoA for Dominico of Settmour Swamp

Okay, so this assignment was a bit out of my comfort zone for multiple reasons. First, I hadn’t done a scroll like this before (fencing or late period!) and I didn’t have a lot of information about the recipient so I kind of had to guess what he would like. (Quick aside: go make an EK Wiki please if you don’t have one already! Save a scribe! Go go go!) 

Anyway, what I knew about this gentle was he is Norse and a fencer and lives in the southern region which is… not as much information as I would like. I asked around and received a lot of “I’ll get back to you” or “I think I might know of him but…” responses until I finally got a hold of Master Malcolm (which is where I should have started because he was listed on the assignment. Whoops.) He was amazing and wrote me words and I eventually decided to go with the German fencing manual, Joachim Meyers Fäktbok (MS A.4°.2)

The not-so-good: I think I could have used a bit more contrast in my piece. It took me awhile to put words to what didn’t look quite right. I think I could have used less diluted paint and that would have worked. 

The good: I really enjoyed painting this piece and doing the calligraphy. It was an absolute delight to work on. And although there are some small things I will try to improve on for the next piece, I’m overall happy with how it came out. 


Materials: Walnut ink and watercolor on bristol

Words: Master Malcolm Bowman

Source: Joachim Meyers Fäktbok (MS A.4°.2)

Silver Wheel for Alexander Clarke

This is the second part of the two-part series of “Please T. M. I need this assignment!” I was really thrilled to find out Alexander Clarke was getting his Silver Wheel at GNEW 2018, an award for service to the East Kingdom. And oh, has he done service for the Kingdom (put those jokes away!) He is the dreamer and organizer of the 14th century Deed at the Great Northeastern War which has been an annual event that many people look forward to (including myself) and some make their very long trips for the sole purpose to attend. He assists both fighters and ladies of the gallery in developing a well-researched kit so they can play. On top of that, he has also helped many others with research in other areas of interest. And that only touches lightly on what Alexander does.

So, he’s done a lot for the game and I was really excited to see him recognized. I spent a long time trying to find the perfect scroll. Sometimes my scroll research can take hours and hours and hours before I find the perfect inspiration. This was extra hard because I wanted it to fit his persona because the research and accuracy of his persona is what he is known for. The manuscript I finally settled on was the La Quête du Saint Graal et la Mort d’Arthus which admittedly is not the perfect manuscript. His persona is very early 15th century and this manuscript is 14th century. I decided this was okay because of the aesthetic of the illuminations and his work on the 14th century deed.

The not-so-good: There are two things that I wish I had done differently on this assignment. The first is the filigree in between the two columns of text. The color should be a darker blue and I wish I had practiced the design before I started it. I think I would have liked it to be a bit more streamlined. The other thing is I wish I had shaded the building with hatches instead of smoothly. The manuscript had buildings smooth but it looks out of place on the scroll.

The good: I love my shading on the horse and the miniature of Alexander. I also like how his armor came out in general. I think it looks like Alexander’s kit and may be my favorite person I’ve put on a scroll yet. I also chose to put the silver wheel in the building to make it a part of the scroll. I stand by that decision even though it doesn’t pop out like some other award heraldry I’ve done. I wanted this piece to look more like a page from a book than an award scroll.

Finally, I missed it going out in court but Alexander came up to me after to tell me how much he liked the scroll. There is no better feeling than that. ❤



Materials: gouache, iron gall ink by Ian the Green on bristol

Words by Nicol mac Donnchaidh

Silver Brooch for Johannes Braunscweg

Now, this was a scroll assignment I begged for requested. It was actually one of two that I requested at that time, and with them, I had 5 assignments going simultaneously (to say it was stressful, is an understatement.) Luckily, they were spread out so I didn’t have to rush them all for one event and our amazing Tyger Signet accommodated me in allowing me the two requested assignments and obliging me in turning down a couple that I thought would be too much. (I may have taken them too if my partner wasn’t in the corner glaring at me for putting too much on my plate… always.)

Anyway, this one was for Johannes, who has been playing forever and was more than deserving of this award as he is an incredible artist and researcher and it always pushing himself to new heights.

I knew that I was going to use the Book of Kells** for inspiration because he has mentioned that he loved that manuscript and we bonded a bit over that (I also love that manuscript.) I also kind of went off the script a bit and added a gnome that was supposed to look a bit like the art he had been posting on social media lately. If I had to go back, I probably wouldn’t have added the gnome.

The not-so-good – I could work on practicing my knot work. There are really cool and interesting designs but if it’s not just right then… it shows. I also made this a non-traditional sized piece and I really should have tried to keep it to traditional mat sized. I don’t know if he framed it or not but since then I have bought mats to measure my pieces before I start.

The good: I was given a lot of words for this scroll. They are beautiful and amazing words by Matthew MacGyver but still a lot. Even thought it took me forever, I think the effect came out quite nice. This is the first hand that I learned and I like how it looks so tidy. I also like how the miniature of the recipient kind of looks like him and kind of looks like he’s from the actual manuscripts. I’ve really struggled with putting people on scrolls and I want to get good at it but it’s hard sometimes.



Materials used: Gouache, and gilding on bristol, iron gall ink by Ian the Green

** You can browse the whole book online at the Trinity College Library Dublin Digital Collections but for some reason it is giving me trouble linking it for you.

King’s and Queen’s Thrown Champion’s Scrolls

Now this was a fun assignment! I was given the 2018 Thrown Weapon Champion Scroll assignments that were awarded at Panteria that year. I was excited to have an assignment that had fewer restrictions and I could go a bit wild with. I decided that I wanted to make them in the style of the personas of the royals: King Brennan and Queen Caoilfhionn and that year they were wearing a lot of Byzantine. I asked some laurels I knew how much should I put of the royals into these scrolls and I was advised that it should not be designed like a scroll that is given to the royals but I can use aspects of them in the scroll. 

So, I found this Manuscript called the T’oros Roslin Gospels (specifically Folios 5v and 6r) that was created in Armenia 1262 CE. It was perfect for the style that I was imagining, with a place to put miniatures of the king and queen and beautiful designs around the outside. I just fell in love with the manuscript. 


When I created each piece, I tweaked the design to have the king in the center of one and the queen in the center of the other and crossed axes over the top (for thrown weapons) with the king or queen insignia at the cross. I tried to match the calligraphy to the original manuscript and the hand that I worked with was a lot of fun. I really like how the crosses of the e’s angle out. 


Finally, the words were written by Lord Nicol in the style of a Byzantine document to match the style I was going for. I really love when a piece’s illumination, calligraphy, and words all match so seamlessly.  

However, the very best part was that when the royals went to sign the scrolls, apparently they were blown away and loved the little miniatures of themselves. I heard rumors that they wanted to steal the scrolls instead of giving them out! What a compliment! Because of that, I decided to make a stepping down gift for them where I did the illumination again with a few alterations and framed the pieces for them. They seemed very grateful for the gifts.

Materials: gold gilding, gouache, bristol paper, iron gall ink (by Ian the Green)

Source: T’oros Roslin Gospels


Words by Lord Nicol mac Donnchaidh


Norse Hnefatafl Board in Oak

FB_IMG_1565960623460I’m a geek at heart (just like the rest of you Scadians out there) and one of my passions is board games. Well, I started learning about Hnefatafl (lovingly called Viking Chess by some) online and I was really interested. Then I learned my calculus professor in college studied board game math (way over my head btw) and one of the games he was researching was Hnefatafl. I geeked out really hard with him in office hours!

Around this time I also was exploring the art of lampworking and beginning to make glass beads, trying to replicate viking age finds. This art was haaaarrrd to start. I was constantly shocking glass and burning myself and my carpet and everything around me and too shy to ask advice from those who are more experienced than I…. but I’ll talk more about my adventures in glass in a later post. I did, however, find out that game pieces on Hnefatafl boards were often made of glass.

I decided that I wanted to create a useable game board with glass pieces and ended up entering it in the local arts and sciences competition (and became Malagentia’s A&S champion that year!)

Instead of rewording everything I did, I’m going to include my documentation for this project. I would love feedback or questions if you have any. Otherwise I hope you enjoy!

(P.S. I usually bring this to events if you want to see or play it!)


Items in entry:

-An oak board with an 11 by 11 Hnefatafl board hand carved into the surface painted with black and blue milk paint.

-37 pieces created by hand using lampworking techniques including: 

-24 glass pieces in a yellow-green color (attackers)

-12 glass pieces in a blue color (defenders)

-1 King (defender)


Hnefatafl or King’s Table was a “chess-like” game played during the viking age in scandinavia. Children and adults as well as men and women (1) all played this game which involved a large force of attackers (24 attackers in this example) against a smaller force of defenders (12 defenders and a king in this example). The objective for the defenders is to help the king escape the board through one of the corners and the objective for the attackers is to capture the king. There are different versions of the game that include boards as small as 7 by 7 and as large as 15 by 15 and a variety of sizes of forces. In some versions dice were also used to restrict or control distance of movement. 

Tafl boards have been found made of stone, bone, and wood but very few complete boards have survived time. Some pieces have been found made of a variety of materials such as glass, bone, antler, stone, amber, and horse teeth (2).  


    I decided to use oak because it was a wood available during the viking age (3) for a variety of purposes. Unfortunately, since there were so few wooden boards found due to how fast wood decomposes, there isn’t a large sample size to pull from. One board found was carved into spruce, which I attempted to use previously but, because of the softness of this wood I had a hard time carving it without splintering. I had more success getting clean lines with oak. 

          This was my first attempt at carving wood and it was a learning experience. I used hand carving tools that were similar to what a norse person would use.  I found later that the v-shaped gouge I used wasn’t invented yet during the time period I was aiming for but a u-shaped gouge had been invented. I could have easily substituted the tools and it would not have dramatically changed the appearance of the finished piece. 

          I chose to paint inside the wooden carved lines because it makes it easier to define the game spaces and the norse frequently painted their wooden carvings (3). I used casein paint because it seems feasible that the norse would have mixed pigments with casein because casein, found in milk would have likely been available and is fairly durable and long lasting.

    I made the glass pieces using lampworking techniques which is a skill that I have been working on for other projects. There were many finds of glass pieces because they don’t decompose as easily as some other materials. It is possible that glass was used because it was a valuable resource that would allow one to show off their wealth, it was available, and with careful care, it would last a long time . There were 20 glass pieces that were found in Sweden at Birka grave 523 (2) that appear to have been created on a mandrel similar to what I used. I used a modern torch and propane where a more period technique would have been a clay glass oven. 

          I decided to use blue glass for the attackers because a dark blue was frequently used in game piece artifacts and it is a dark color that I liked. The opposing force were generally created in a lighter color. I used a yellow color because the contrast was appealing. Another option would have been a light blue because there were a number of light blue / dark blue game sets found. There was a dark blue and yellow set found in Norway that dates back to the 8th century. This made yellow especially appealing to me because my persona is from Norway.


1)  Viking Answer Lady- King’s Table: Game of the Noble Scandinavians (

2) Looking For Evidence: Viking Game Pieces (

3) Viking Answer Lady- Woodworking in the Viking Age (

AoA for Thomas of Bhakail

It’s been awhile since I posted but I’m going to jump right into it. I’m going to post some of my older work and hopefully catch up quickly 🙂 thanks for your patience!

I was given this scroll assignment for someone I didn’t know, Thomas of Bhakail. It was to be due in March of 2018 (I’m sorry about my late blog post!) The write up I received was pretty thorough and described Thomas as the son of two scadians, he dresses Celtic like his father and he was written in for his service. I decided that since I didn’t know him well, I would reach out to his person-of-contact to seek more information. Luckily she responded and gave me even more information such as he likes celtic knotwork, often wears red and black, he enjoys board games, and he can always be found helping out whenever anyone needs a hand. I decided that a page from the Book of Kells would be appropriate for his persona and I would try to include some of his hobbies in the illuminations. I eventually honed in on some canon tables that I liked to inspire my scroll.

The not-so-good: The overall feeling of the page did not seem to replicate that way I wanted. The colors looked too clash-y to my eyes? It’s hard to tell if that’s because of modern eye or because I was not careful enough or if I tried to include certain color schemes because I knew he liked black and red but they came out looking unnatural. I would certainly work more carefully with the color scheme in the future. 

The good: I am pretty happy with how my calligraphy looked at this point. Of course, I’ve made improvements since then but I really like this hand and I think that if I can continue to work on it I can make the spacing of letters and words even more consistent and the shapes of the letters flow together to give a beautiful effect.


FB_IMG_1565883437702Materials: Iron Gall Ink (but Ian the Green), gouache, gold gilding, bristol paper

Source: Book of Kells (Canon pages)


Words by Olalla Tristana