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


Tyger’s Cub at Birka

This could be my favorite scroll I’ve done as of yet. If not the very favorite, it’s definitely in the top two! I was assigned this Tyger’s Cub and I happened to know the recipient and his family personally. I was excited to reach out to his mom to ask what he might like and I was not disappointed. She mentioned that she had this idea about Pokemon marginalia creatures in the illumination. Now, that’s an idea I can run with ❤

(and quick side note, if a scribe is asking you what kind of things your friend or family member wants on a scroll, this is exactly the kind of thing that I’m looking for! I love trying to incorporate hobbies, interests, things they geek out about, their passions, favorite colors and animals, a picture of the recipient. Honestly… anything helps)

Anyway, she mentioned her son didn’t have a defined persona yet but his parents are from Constantinople in the 10th century. My goal was to create a scroll that was age appropriate but looked period enough from afar and fit close-ish to the period of his parent’s persona. This is what I came up with.

Evan Tyger cub

Evan shiny

Materials: Walnut ink, gouache, gilding, bristol paper

Source: MS 19352 – Feb 1066, Psalter, including Psalm 151 and The Book of Odes (Rahlfs 1088).

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”