Archive for the ‘Scribal Arts’ Category

Three tiny Test Scrolls Completed

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014


Here are the 3 little test scrolls side by side. The one on the left has the loose pigments with Gum Arabic as binder. The one in the middle has glare (prepared egg white) as binder. The one on the right has egg yolk as binder. You can see a difference in the color and even texture of the pigments in all 3 preparations. (Vellum has a slight curl from being on the animal.)

I think I’m going to use the glare on the big scroll.


Another Tiny Scroll Completed

Monday, February 3rd, 2014


This little SCA award scroll is done. (This is the one with glare as the binder.)


Glair and Loose Pigment

Monday, February 3rd, 2014


First coat of paint with the egg white glare and ultramarine blue pigment. It has a nice purity to the value if the pigment. It’s got a smoother feel coming off the brush than the Gum Arabic has.

By the way, the glare I have is about 4 years old and doesn’t even smell anymore. I did some research a few years back that once it settles out, and doesn’t smell anymore, and the older the better, then it’s a real delight to work with. I’m thinking that research was absolutely correct. I’m loving it so far. We’ll see how it adheres to this piece of vellum. So far, so very good!


2 Hours of Calligraphy

Sunday, January 26th, 2014


Well, it took 2 hours, but I got the calligraphy on the SCA award scroll. It looks good too! I’ll let the ink dry overnight, or for a couple of days due to a busy calendar this week, then it’s on to the fun stuff, gold and paint. Pics will be posted after the scroll is given to them in late March.


My Calligraphy Work Sheet

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014


My calligraphy work sheet for this project.


Three Tiny Scrolls

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014


I am working on 3 tiny SCA award scrolls. I’m using them to test materials, mostly binders for loose pigments. One will get gum arabic, the next will get egg yolk, the last will get glair. They will all get used to test an ink a friend of mine made a few years back, and to get a calligraphy hand looking good.

Here is the link to the pictures on FB:

Stay tuned!

Working on an SCA Scroll

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014


I am currently working on an SCA (medieval/renaissance reenactment group)award scroll for some friends of mine. I can’t show you the photos until after they receive it, which will be in mid-March.

I am using mostly authentic materials for this one, animal skin vellum, iron gall ink, gesso and gold leaf, loose pigments and a binder (I haven’t decided on egg yolk, glair, or gum arabic). Tests are needed. I am using a pencil instead of silver point because it’s far easier for me to see.

I have researched and chosen the perfect image to almost reproduce. Yesterday and today, I got the design drawn on in pencil.

Over the next few days I will be pulling the calligraphy hand out of the original manuscript. It looks somewhere between a Gothic and a Secretary, if you’re familiar with medieval calligraphy.

Gothic Hands:

Secretary Hands:

They are similar, but just a bit different.

Tomorrow, I have to get a Vented Hat completed for a friend to pick up in the afternoon. Then, it’ll be on to getting the calligraphy out letter by letter, learning it enough so it will look good, then putting it on the piece of art.

After that will be the gesso and gold leaf, then the painting.

I will post a link to the photos when the piece is completed.


Gold Leafing: Warning Furry Disco Balls Ahead!

Monday, January 16th, 2012


Today, we will be talking about how to Gold Leaf your scroll. In the TV announcer voice, ” Gold leaf your scroll using these easy to follow steps! Pictures included!”

Please note, these steps are all done on separate pieces of vellum so I can show them live and in person when I teach this technique. Some are very light in color, and you can see the skin pores on at least one. I didn’t want you to think the pictures were playing tricks with your eyes.

Step 1: Draft design in pencil or silverpoint on paper or vellum. (Yes, this scan is very light. I draw my silverpoint or pencil lines very lightly so they do not show through the finished image.)

Step 1

Step 2: Ink design outline (and erase pencil if on paper, not on vellum).

Step 2

Step 3: Apply binder (Gesso or AquaSize). Let dry. (This looks almost like the picture in step 2, however, the gesso does have a very light pink tint to it. This so so I can see where I have put it on the page.)
If using gesso, apply at least 2 coats. The first will seal the surface. The second will act as the binding agent. The other subsequent layers will build up and make a raised surface. Let dry completely between layers.

Step 3

Step 4: Breathe hot, wet breath on binder surface to reconstitute just the surface. This makes the top of the binder sticky enough for the metallic leaf to adhere. Apply metallic leaf quickly. Press a little, very gently to make sure it sticks.

Step 4

Step 5: Remove excess metal leaf with big soft brush. To make the brush have enough static cling to grab the metal leaf, rub the brush back & forth on your pants/t-shirt quickly (like a balloon on your hair). Transfer the larger loose pieces of metal leaf to a holding jar for use later. (This is used for patching small areas that the leaf did not stick to originally.)
Note: This is usually where the tiny bits of gold leaf get onto the floor in the pet zone. Be sure you clean it up now so you don’t find sparkly bits in the litter box.

Step 5

Step 6: Refine edges by very gently and lightly rubbing with silk. Be careful to not rub the metal leaf off. Replace metal leaf where it may have not stuck with the first application.
It is at this point the metal leaf can be burnished with a very smooth stone and/or embossed. Place the piece of leather on a hard surface, with the paper or vellum on top of it (design up). Then place the piece of acetate on top of the paper or vellum.

Step 6

Step 7: Ink edges for a finished look. (Note: check the original manuscript or style you are working with, not all of them have this final step.)

Step 7 (Last One)

That’s it! You’ve just gold leafed yourself something hopefully wonderful.

Hopefully Helpful!

Gold Leafing, or How to Make Your Cat Shiny!

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


I am reporting this as it is part one of two, which will be posted on Monday.

I am gearing this towards the scribes, but these materials and techniques will work on other media (such as wood and plaster) quite well.

The first thing you need to know about gold, silver, or any other metallic leaf (which from here on out I will be referring to as gold leaf) is that it can make a scroll like absolutely beautiful! There really is nothing else like it when it catches the light and sparkles just so.

The second thing you need to know about gold leaf is that if you work in a common area in your home, and you have a cat, the cat will become shiny. I have 2 cats. One is fluffy and the other is just “big boned”. Guess which ones likes to roll in the shiny dust? You guessed it, the fluffy one!

The third thing you need to know about gold leaf is that you really should work cleanly with it around your pets, if you do work in a common area in your home. I know my Vet doesn’t recommend metal in my pets diet. If you do make a mess, try to clean it up before your beloved pet looks like a furry disco-ball.

Things You Will Need/Tools and Materials:

Paper (Acid Free, or pH balanced) or Vellum/Parchment (animal skin prepared for manuscript arts)

Pencil or Silver Point (I prefer a pencil because you can usually erase those lines)

Kneaded eraser (if using paper only)
(Erasing on vellum makes the pencil marks smudge, discoloring the surface.)

Ph balanced (non-acidic) art pen (Micron, Rapidosketch, etc…)

Gesso, Aquasize or other binder (do NOT get the stuff at Michael’s that says it’s for gilding. It may work on old furniture, but it will not work on paper arts.)

  • The Cennini Gesso Recipe is the Bomb, the Fashizzle, the grooviest one out there. But, you do have to make it yourself (unless you know someone who likes to make gesso).
  • The easiest binder to get is garlic juice. Just extract it from the garlic cloves.
  • Aquasize is great! It is a modern binder, it works similar to an animal hide glue, without the muss and fuss.
  • Easy Gesso is also great, but sometimes it is not sticky enough. I usually go over mine with the Aquazise to get it tacky enough for the gold to stick.
  • Both the Aquasize and Easy Gesso can be purchased through Natural Pigments web site.

    Metal Leaf (Gold Leaf, Silver Leaf, etc…)
    I prefer to get patent leaf, which is already on the paper backing. It is very easy to work with as opposed to loose leaf. If you use loose leaf, a gilder’s brush (or pinbrush) will be very useful. It is very wide and flat for picking up the leaf.

    Paint brushes
    One for applying the binder (this needs to be a gesso dedicated brush) I have two, a flat brush and a small round brush.
    One for picking up the excess metal leaf (this should be a big, fluffy round brush that can hold a static charge when rubbed on fabric, like your pants leg)

    Silk (a silk handkerchief from Dharma Trading works well, or a piece of smooth scrap silk, no damask, please)

    Leather Gilder’s Cushion (or a piece of un-corrugated cardboard, and a piece of mid-weight suede leather)

    Acetate (the kind that looks like wax paper, but isn’t wax paper)
    If you can’t find this, the Post Office uses it for envelopes they send with you if you purchase some loose stamps.
    Or you can find it at art supply stores (I know Jerry’s Art-a-Ramma has it in store, but Michael’s does not.)

    Polished Stone (very smooth with no inclusions, cracks, or rough spots) or Agate Burnisher

    Next week, we will get gilding! So, stay tuned!

    Hopefully Helpful,

Scribal Hint 14: Wet Paint – Diapering

Monday, January 24th, 2011


I know what you’re asking yourself right now, “What the heck is she talking about, diapering?” Diapering is a repeating pattern, usually in the background of an illumination. It can be geometric or floral. It can be any color including gold, but is usually white work.
Here are a few examples:
Diapering in Lower Right Corner
Diapering in Background

Diapering in illumination is another one of my favorite things (another Oprah moment). It is done pretty much like white work is. I use the same tools and techniques (see HHH Scribal Hint 13 for White Work). Diapering is just done on a larger section, with more repetition of pattern.

When I have a diapering pattern that calls for very straight lines, I totally cheat! That’s right, I cheat! Not really. I just use the tools that are available to me.

Here are my easy steps to do straight lines in diapering.

1) After the background paint has dried, I take my pencil (do not use pen or you’ll be sorry – it can bleed through the paint) and ruler and mark out a grid on the paper’s border (remember that 1/2 to 1 inch border you left around the entire design in the page layout, that’s where I make my marks in pencil so I can erase them later).

2) Then I take my mechanical pencil (the one that doesn’t get dull and always has a nice sharp line) and ruler, and I draw the straight lines right over the paint.

3) Once my grid is on the paint, in pencil, then I get may (usually) white paint mixed to the consistency of melted ice cream (remember, this is essentially white work).

4)Once my paint is how I like it, I take my brush with the finest point, and using only the tip/point of the brush, I go over the straight lines, hiding the pencil with the paint.

5)When that’s done, I go back through and add the little dots and tick marks in the rest of the diapering design.

Voila! Easy-peasy, even, straight lines, and no one is the wiser that there is a pencil mark underneath!

When the scroll is completed, I do go back through and erase the pencil marks in the plain paper border. It cleans up the border and gives it a professional, finished look.

Call me crazy (in a good way), many already have, but I just love illuminated diapering. Give it a try, perhaps people will call you crazy (in a good way), too!

Hopefully Helpful,