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!

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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!

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Scroll Blank for Birka

One of the reasons that I didn’t start scribing earlier was because I had so many ideas of things I wanted to try, I didn’t want to fall in love with scribal. I’m really terrible at reining myself in and focusing on just a few new things (this is why I’m slow to get good at anything.) But, the call of shenanigans was strong so I tried it, fell in love, and began my journey down that path.

While working on the “troll scroll” I heard that there was a scroll blank competition happening at Birka and I was intrigued. I found an inspiring manuscript and gave it a shot. This is the scroll that taught me that you have to wait for your colors to dry before doing white work on top. It is so discouraging to watch your pretty white line turn pink.. and then try to fix it by adding more white and it not only staying pink but also looking clumpy… I also had pretty thick and wobbly black lines so I learned about getting that a bit more consistant, (use the very tip of the brush). The scroll was inspired by the Breviaire de Marie de Savoie, an early 15th century Milanese breviary. I really like this manuscript and would like to return to it someday. It is absolutely gorgeous and I love the animals.

The picture I took of it is meh because I was working on it in the hotel room at the event. I need to seriously work on getting all my scrolls done in time and scanned. It’s hard. Anyway, without further ado:


Media: Gauache and old powder/paint on bristol paper

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts or your own learning experiences.

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Oak Chair

At my first camping event, my good friend C took me around the site to see all the really cool medieval things. I was astonished at how creative and authentic some people’s camps were. In some places I really felt like I had travelled to the past.

One of the things that really struck me was the chairs. I know that may seem strange but the chairs seemed to make a huge impact in the ambiance of camp. I had very minor experience in woodworking, I took a class in…middle school younger days, and I had made a couple of wooden chests for a friend to give away as a prize earlier that summer. Even though I didn’t have the skill yet, I knew someone that had all the working tools, (and knowledge) and I was inspired.

I researched different styles of medieval chairs. I had decided my persona was going to be norse but I really wanted to create an X-Chair which was later period. I found this site: Thomas Guild that showed some beautiful chairs (with museum pictures and art from manuscripts!!!) including  14th and 15th century folding x-chairs. Then I found a tutorial on instructables that showed me how to do it! It’s not a perfect replication but it will pass.



I did have assistance for this project, my mom’s boyfriend helped me use the tools and deceipher the instructions. He was fantastic in letting me do a lot of the work but answering questions and helping me along the way.

The chair I made was in oak because it’s a nice hardwood and oak trees were used for woodworking medievally. I left it unstained but have considered using linseed oil to protect it. I used modern woodworking tools including drills, saws, and sandpaper because it’s easier.

The chair turned out very sturdy and folds nicely and is comfortable if you can sit without a back to the chair. It got damp once and I had trouble folding it after that but once it was completely dried, it folds even better than before.

I would love to hear what you think!

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Troll Scroll

Hey all!

Welcome to my first real post! I’m going to show some of my older projects first because I don’t have too much and it isn’t that overwhelming of a project.

The first scroll I ever did was inspired by a handsome lord who I was beginning to grow fond of. He was one of the many people I had met that year, and also one of the many I knew fighting in crown. I told him that I wasn’t sure who I was going to cheer for and he seemed offended that I would consider anybody else but him soooo I asked him to convince me he was worth it.

Well, he wrote to me the most magical argument which was quite inspiring and he ended it with “and… this never goes on a scroll.”

Obviously, this inspired me to learn how to put it onto a scroll so I could troll him. So, this is what I did and also how I begun my journey into the scribal arts.

book of kells

I  based the page off of the Book of Kells and I  learned a lot. I made the mistake of making the page a little too small (I guess this was a BIG book!) and the bottom of the page looks a little funny because it is not as detailed as the rest. I wanted to use real gold and felt bad using gold gauche but I was informed that was okay because shell gold would have been appropriate for this piece.

I got to explore knotwork. Some of the knotwork is copied exactly from the page, some of it I created myself, and some of the copied work was improvised because accidents happen. 😛

I’m leaving out the calligraphy for the privacy of my lord but trust me, the words are glorious!

Overall, I would say I am happy with my first scroll. I had a lot of fun creating it and giving it away.

I would love to hear your comments below! Thanks for reading!


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These things are always really hard to start. At least the very first post because probably some of you know me already because I’ve told you I’m starting a blog so introducing myself seems tedious. But, perhaps there are some that stumbled onto this page through wordpress recomendations or seeing a friend of a friend like it and… maybe you want to know what this is all about. So as a compromise, I’m going to introduce myself but keep it short and sweet.

My name is Embla and I’ve been doing sca things for about a year and a half now. I live in Malagentia with my dog Leona.  I have many passions and there are too many amazing things to explore to focus on just one. So I find myself darting between a wide variety of things such as calligraphy and illumination, lampworking (beads or most recently game pieces), pottery, sewing, the very beginnings of weaving, archery, fighting heavy list, and exploring cut & thrust. There may be things I’m missing that I’ll bring up later!

Mundanely, I’m a neuroscience student on my last year of undergraduate studies. After I graduate I hope to go to graduate school and eventually focus on helping those with substance use disorder. All this sometimes makes balancing “real life” and “sca life” difficult but I try my best to manage 🙂

So now that I’ve introduced myself, I’m going to go start updating some posts with some projects I’ve done recently! Thanks for being here! ❤

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