In the SCA, when someone receives an important award, they are usually given a scroll. What we call a scroll is usually a piece of paper with a description of the award written in medieval calligraphy by hand and decorated with medieval illumination. Just Google “SCA scroll” and you’ll see what I mean. I started learning how to do calligraphy and illumination back in Arkansas, and I did one scroll that I turned in to be handed out. It was pretty simple, but the Celtic knots were fun to do.
I’d been wanting to do something more ornate, but I wasn’t sure where to start. Our new group, Southern Shores, has a monthly Art & Shop Night, which we started attending. At one of those nights, I didn’t have a project, and the lady who hosts the Art & Shop Night, Eliska, asked if I’d like to help with a scroll on whose illumination she was about to start on. I gladly agreed. She chose the motif and began tracing it out, and I finished the tracing and then painted it with liquid watercolors and gouache. The calligraphy was already there and is not mine. I was really nervous that I would ruin it or the recipient would hate it, but I’m really happy with the end result (and hope the recipient is, too!).
Eliska is a Laurel in calligraphy, and she gave me advice on choosing colors and how to do the whitework details. Almost all the art was traced using a light box with a few free handed details added, specifically under the coat of arms.
Eliska was very encouraging and said I did a great job. She also got me added to the College of Scribes, so I can start getting scroll assignments. Then she helped me find a medieval example of something I’d like to do for my next one and even got me set up with some supplies. Thanks, Eliska!
I have always enjoyed doing art– painting, drawing, etc.– but I couldn’t always think of things to draw or paint. Or I’d be frustrated that I couldn’t draw as well as I’d like to, so I just wouldn’t do it. With illumination, there’s no shame in tracing (it was commonly done in the Middle Ages), and there are plenty of historical examples and a wide variety of subject matter to choose from. I’m looking forward to improving my workmanship and hopefully, eventually, getting to level of the amazing scribes whose work I’ve seen in the SCA so far.