Golden Mantle for Safiya al-Naghira

I’m so very behind on this blog. I don’t think I’ll go back and put everything I’ve done in the last couple of years but a lot of it is on my facebook if you are interested. It’s not as in depth but it’s something.

I’m finally starting to feel inspired again in all things SCA. The need to get back into it has been slowly growing over the last 6 months or so –maybe since Pennsic– and now I finally feel like I’m back. Getting here though, whew, it was a journey. There were a lot of promises to myself to do things for fun and not obligation, to take time and enjoy things, and to please please please stop comparing myself to others. I’m getting there.

I’m going to update my blog with a few of the pieces I especially enjoyed lately making and then I will try to keep things updated as we move forward.

The first piece I’m posting is a Golden Mantle for Safiya al-Naghira. The manuscript I used for inspiration is the Wonders of Creation, a 16th century Persian manuscript. This book is really intersting to me because it is not what I think of when I consider medieval written works. This books speaks of astrology, cosmology, and natural sciences. It is also absolutely beautifully illuminated.


Overall, this was a fun piece to create. I really enjoy Persian art and I hope I continue to get assignments of this nature. Thanks for reading!


Arts & Sciences Champion Scrolls for Queen Margarita

I was absolutely delighted to get the scroll assignments for the Arts and Sciences Champions for Queen Margarita. I’ve had the opportunity to do champion scrolls before (these ones) and it’s fun because it feels like I can be a little more free with my design. Immediately, I thought this could be a great opportunity to do a couple of tiny scrolls!

After much research and contemplation, I found this adorable book, The Imhof Prayerbook. It’s a 16th century Flemish prayerbook, only about 90 x 62mm, meant to be carried around by its owner. I really fell in love with this adorable and tiny book. 

I had some challenges though. I had to make it a little bigger to fit the text (with a line for the recipient and a line for the Queen’s signature, both to be filled in at the event.) The final size of my piece ended up about 120mm tall. I really wish I could have made it the right size, but maybe that’s a goal for next time! 


I also spaced the background pattern of the Crown’s Champion scroll a little bigger than I wanted. That was partially because I found a tool that I could use to keep the spacing consistent, not realizing just how wide it was. And, also about the background on the Crown’s Champion scroll, the shading was too light. This was really disappointing to me because it looked right just until I got the rest of the paint on the paper. Now it looks faint. 

The last thing I want to mention is just something that I missed in the details until after. The original painting is done as if the borders are raised and because of that, the 4 sides are not outlined the same. Two sides are darker and two sides are lighter. This is something I should have picked up on but I unfortunately didn’t.


I did really like working small. And I really like doing this style of art with the gems, bugs, and flowers. I think it was an additional challenge to have to work the shading so tiny but, with the right brush, I think it was manageable. I think with even more practice, I will be able to get my lines thinner, or I may experiment more with using a nib. 

I have also been working on my calligraphy and even though it doesn’t match the original manuscript perfectly, I still like it. I had fun making little flourishes on the letters or at the end of lines. I really like my last flourish on both scrolls. I do, however, have ideas on how it could improve but I think I will be working on my calligraphy for a very long time! 

Materials: Gouache and iron gall ink on bristol

Source: The Imhof Prayerbook

Words: Nicol mac Donnchaidh

“By the hand of Margarita, Queen of the Eastern Kingdom, <name of recipient> is named the Crown’s Arts and Sciences Champion this 29th Day of February.  Let word be sent to all baronies, provinces, and shires from Our Barony of Dragonship Haven. Scriptus et finitus est arbitrium iste in oppido Anno Societatis 54.

By the hand of Margarita, Queen of the Eastern Kingdom, <name of recipient> is named the Consort’s Arts and Sciences Champion this 29th Day of February.  Let word be sent to all baronies, provinces, and shires from Our Barony of Dragonship Haven. Scriptus et finitus est arbitrium iste in oppido Anno Societatis 54.”

Tyger’s Eye for Boudicca of House Fulton

When I found out that one of the girls from our household was going to be awarded the Tyger’s Eye, I had to request the scroll assignment. Boudicca routinely volunteers to waterbear, retain for royals, and anything anyone needs help with, always. And she does it all eagerly and cheerfully! I was beyond excited to get the assignment. 

At first, I considered doing an early period scroll, maybe something norse because she tends to dress and act a bit norse. Boudicca is a student to Master Edward dos Scorpus and while she is already fierce, committed, and steadfast with her volunteering, I also know that she likens herself to a barbarian. So, while in my still-browsing-for-inspiration stage, I came upon this image: 


Yes, a man, tackling a lion and pulling apart his jaws. OR I thought, it could easily be a girl forcing a blue Eastern Tyger to drink water, like Boudicca often does. I was officially inspired and decided to use the Luttrell Psalter. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a manuscript from 14th century England with beautiful illuminated margins of fierce and silly beasts, and fun calligraphy. While it isn’t technically her persona, I think her persona is very flexible at this point. 


With this piece, I really wanted to work on making the scroll have a very accurate looking design and clean white work and outlines. I knew that if I missed the mark on any of those things, the piece would definitely look lackluster. Aside from a couple critiques my laurel game me, there is just one spot that I wish I would have gone back to and painted over and redid but otherwise I am pretty happy with the piece.


Words by Matthew MacGyver (below)

Calligraphy and Illumination by myself

Materials: Walnut Ink, gouache, and gilding on bristol

Source: Psalter (The Luttrell Psalter) with calendar and additional material, 14c England


Revered are the Mighty youth of the east And Feared are those who obtain the title of velociraptor, also known as Tiger cub. But further recognition is needed for the individual who kneels before Us this day.  Boudicca of House Fulton has distinguished herself as an unstoppable force for service. She is known as a helpful hand to friend and stranger alike, an eager and jovial retainer for past royalty, and a steadfast and often terrifying water bearer. Boudicca’s drive to serve her kingdom shines bright beyond her years. For this reason Queen Margarita has seen fit to add her into her Order of the Tigers eye, so that she may continue to serve as an inspiration to gentles of all ages. 

Done this day A.S. 54 at A Market day at Birka, in the great barony of Stonemarche

Order of the Tygers Combatant for Juliana de Essex

So there I was, early in the morning on a cool day at Panteria. I was just waking up, still wrapped in blankets in bed, curled up with my partner. I opened my phone and noticed I had an email waiting for me. It was from our Tyger Clerk of the Signet and it was an assignment. Lazily I opened it up because getting an assignment is kind of like getting a present and I needed to know immediately. As I read through the details my excitement started to skyrocket. Female fighter, OTC, I think you might want this one, and then Juliana de Essex. I turned to my partner and gave him a gentle wake-up smack and told him about my assignment. “JULIANA IS GETTING HER OTC!!!!!!! AND I GOT THE ASSIGNMENT!!!!!” 

And from then on, all the way until July when the assignment was due, I was a tornado of panic and excitement. I was not willing to give up the assignment (I didn’t even want to ask her husband if she had preferences or had ever mentioned dream scroll ideas – in case he said she had a preferred scribe). Of course, I did ask him and not only did he give me the information I desired, he seemed happy I got the assignment. 

I’ve had the pleasure to work with Juliana at the PAL practices and at events and I felt we became fast friends. Her persona is early Persian but her husband had mentioned that she might like icons of the sun and Simurgh (a mythological Persian Phoenix). I began my search looking for any manuscript that Simurgh appeared. 

The most promising manuscripts were The Persian Book of Kings (Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp), which was an epic poem (I think 50,000 lines long) written in the 10th century and recreated over and over again. The version I chose was illuminated in the 16th century, a little late for her persona but it fit in every other way. The poem told both mythological and historical stories and this version was lavishly (and I do mean lavishly) illuminated. But, I couldn’t find a complete digitized copy of this manuscript and I became very frustrated in my search. 

I ended up buying a physical copy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s hardcover edition of the book online (a used copy and then I used credit cards points and a gift card because I’m not made of money!) and I have no regrets. This book is incredible, even if I didn’t buy it to use to inspire a scroll, it’s beautiful just to look at! There were a few pages that had Simurgh on it (and it’s my favorite version of him with all his colorful glory!) and I ended up using a fake arabic script – for the very first time – to match the feeling of the words on the page.

The not-so-good – I am ready for my illuminations representing people to start looking like what I picture in my mind. I think this turned out… okay but, there is definitely room for improvement. I know it’s a matter of practice but I really like putting people on scrolls and it always either doesn’t look like it’s in the style of the manuscript or it doesn’t look like the person. It’s a real struggle. I know with practice, this will continue to improve. 

Also, although I think the rocks on the side of the mountain look good, they probably would be improved with more careful blending or a combination of blending and hatching. There is a debate whether the original art was done with hatching or blending the paint or a combination and if I  had good digitized images, I would have a better idea. I do think I captured the feeling of the piece though. 

The good – This was so fun to do! I got to use a wide range of colors and try a new blending technique. I think honestly and truly, the best part of this was how fun it was. But I also liked how the gold turned out – I did an enormous area of gold gouache and I was able to make it look pretty solid. When I lay gold paint I do a layer and no matter how thick I make it, it always seems to look splotchy, so I have started to do two layers with a lot of success. I also liked the finer details on Simurgh like his back feathers and spots. I like the way he looks. 

Other – I tried a new hand, a faux arabic hand that I got from some scribes online. At first I was a little frustrated learning it but I think after some practice, it came out well. I always do a line of calligraphy and hate it but once you get a few lines down it starts to flow together. I tend to like the hands that I can be a little free with and I think this one was great for that. I do think I need to work on my overall spacing of lines. Most manuscripts have lines that either fill out until the end, have spacers, or are consistent in another way. I really wanted to keep Matthew’s words intact because they are awesome** I’m going to type them below I like them that much. FB_IMG_1568389835924

Materials: Gouache, Iron Gall Ink by Ian the Green, Calli red ink, on Bristol

Source: The Persian Book of Kings (Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp), 16th century

Words by Lord Matthew MacGyver


Your majesties, we, your order stand as one

Now baking In Malagentian Sun

Your Tigers Combatant fierce and tested

Admit that some of us are bested 

By How Juliana De Essex finds her fun 


Her arms of brilliant solar rays

Are last seen by many men she slays 

And bruised we turn away to hide

Attempt to save our battered pride 

From that evil spear with which she plays 


King Ozur, Queen fortune to you we plead 

At this the 33rd GNE 

Acknowledge how she has grown stronger

So that she will beat us up no longer  

And perhaps harass the Chivalry


Given this 13th day of July Anno Societatis LIV 

in our Province of Malagentia


Silver Wheel for Ezekiel of Stonemarche

    When I was asked to do this scroll assignment, I was told a lot about Ezekiel. Everything I learned about this man made me think of him as a pillar of his community and that he should probably already have his silver wheel. I was selfishly glad I got to be the one to do it but this also meant my anxiety was through the roof because I wanted it to be interesting, unique, and exciting and him.

    So, I tried something different. I found out that Ezekiel was interested in merchants, economics, and politics, especially within Italy and the Byzantine Empire. I spent way more time than I am willing to admit researching medieval merchants and travelers (and it was surprisingly difficult to find manuscripts with illuminations in this area of interest). I learned a lot while in my rabbit hole but nothing seemed perfect until…

    …I found some maps that were incredibly intriguing. They were created by a Turkish sailor, admiral, and cartographer Piri Reis. The first maps I came across were really promising but they ended up being copies of his earlier work and out of SCA period. I delved deeper to find his original maps which were drawn in the 16th century. Side note: If you are interested in this stuff at all, you should look into his work. He has some maps that are labeled very mysterious because they showed things that he had no right knowing! 

    So, I found the earlier maps, and in that collection, he had a map of Venice. I thought this would be a good compilation of the things I knew about Ezekiel. 

The not-so-good: I decided that I would try palladium for the first time on this scroll (to make the silver wheel really pop) and I found it fairly difficult to work with. The metal didn’t want to stick to the miniatum like gold would. I have received some tips for next time but it was extremely frustrating at the time. 

The good: I love trying new styles of scrolls. I wanted this to fit the recipient’s interests so I looked for a long time to find something that I thought worked well. I think a map is risky but I’m still glad I did it. To this day, I’m not sure what other styles I could have done that I would have been as satisfying as this one.


Materials: Gold and palladium gilding, gouache, iron gall ink, Calli red ink, on Bristol paper

Inspired by: Kitab-i bahriyye by Piri Reis (1550, Ottoman Empire), Map of Venice

Words by Olalla Tristana

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