Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lissa Underhill (Order of the Laurel)

Order of the Laurel
King’s & Queen’s A&S Championships, Shire of Barren Sands
Awarded February 6, 2016 (AS L)

Calligraphy & Illumination by Isabel Chamberlaine. Inspired by this page from the Cnut Gospels housed in the British Library.

Paper: Peramenata, 230gsm, Natural.
Materials: Oak gall ink for main calligraphy; green calligraphy used verdigris; red calligraphy used vermillion. Kolner Miniatum with 23k gold leaf. Pigments used - vermillion, lapis, green earth, French ochre, and lead white.

Words by Master Grim the Skald
Listen as I tell of Lissa the wise whose heart was inspired by the spark of the kiln, delved into secrets, and deftly became a fire-former of finest beads.  Her skill grew swiftly and soon treasure-glass adorned the necks of dauntless thanes and ladies alike. Lissa then spread throughout the East this shining art and fires of the kiln caught the eastern hearts.  Brennan the bold, bright Tyger’s King, kindly Caoilfhionn Queen of the East, have heard council of crowned-in-leaves and on Brinolf’s day in Barren Sands they ask Lady Elysabeth Underhill accept a Patent, a peer’s title, and join the order of art-forming – for fires of the kiln caught the laurel’s hearts.

Scroll ID: Isabel C 53
Time Invested: 24h 20m
Completed January 31, 2016

Order of the Brooch for Adrienne d'Evreus

My awesome Apprentice, Adrienne d'Evreus, being inducted into the Order of the Silver Brooch at Birka 2016 for her work with medieval pigments.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Reassessment & The Taking of Dependants

Its been almost a full year since I last posted to this blog, and to be honest I'm a little disgusted with myself because of it. I truly love my activities within the SCA but by the time of my last post I was exhausted. I had been chasing one goal and over-working myself with another, to the point where I just shoved everything to the side and gave up for a while.

Initially that was fantastic, I had all this spare time on my hands that allowed me to pursue other things. And I did, but I started to miss the relationships I had formed among our merry band of misfits.

Fast forward a little, and I started to pick up my blades and brushes again. Even better, I began to feel like I was again enjoying these things that had given me so much joy. However, I was beginning to discover that my joys had morphed a little; I was finding that I was getting more pleasure out of showing others how to do these awesome things.

Becoming a cadet at Birka 2016
Elewys of Anglespur
and Isabel Chamberlaine
Over the course of the past year I've been cultivating two very special relationships. Both of these ladies found me at a point in my life when I didn't really know what I wanted to do next and they have helped me discover that I want to help nurture those that are still finding their own path.

The Cadet - Elewys of Anglespur

At Birka I took Elewys of Anglespur as my first Cadet (fencing). We have been working together for a couple of years now at our local practice in Concordia of the Snows where her skill has grown a great deal.

Over the course of this past summer we started discussing her desire to become more active within the SCA and she expressed her desire to become more serious with her fencing. If you see her in the lists then please grab her for some passes.

I truly look forward to working with her as she continues to find her fencing feet, but also as she more confidently starts to navigate all that the SCA has to offer.

And the Apprentice - Adrienne d'Evreus

One day, over the course of this past summer, I received a random private message from this person Facebook asking science-y questions about pigments; this piqued my interest immediately since I don't get to have these conversations very often.

Adrienne d'Evreus has been following my work (apparently) and has been finding her own way among the artist manuals; experimenting with her own understandings and sharing what she knows. We have had some wonderfully geeky conversations and I am now proud to call her my (first) Apprentice.

Becoming an Apprentice at Birka 2016

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Therion Sean Storie (OSR)

Order of the Silver Rapier
Mudthaw, Barony of Settmour Swamp
Awarded March 28, 2015 (AS XLIX)

Calligraphy & Illumination by Isabel Chamberlaine. Inspired by Royal 11 E XI f.3 held in the British Library collection. I ave wanted to use this exemplar for a very long time; with Therion's association to his annual tournament at War's of Roses I thought this to be a great opportunity to use it.

Paper: Peramenata, 230gsm, Natural.
Materials: Oak gall ink with a Mitchell #4 nib. Various Windsor & Newton gouache; Holbein gold gouache.

Words by Master Grim
From out of westerne Marche a swordsman came 
  with gleaming helme and garb’d in blue and gold 
  This gentleman, one Theron Storie nam’d 
  who has a loyall heart and spirit bold 
  and rapier skill in truth can scarce be told – 
  whereuer blades are crost he showes his worth. 
  One yeare he went at waning of the cold 
  to battle and to reuel with much mirth 
to Settmore Swamp and see the thaw of dampish earth 

There great King Edward greeted worthie man 
  “Your skill with swords impresses me so well 
  I must acknowledge this the way I can.” 
 Said wise Queene Thyra “I haue this to tell – 
  Indeed I find his talent to compell 
  vs both, then so shall he without delay 
  our Siluer Rapier Order’s ranks to swell.” 
  So Theron Storie was recognized this way 
On AS forty-nine upon St. Alkeld’s Day 

Scroll ID: Isabel C 52
Time Invested: 5h 43m
Completed March 22, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Aildreda de Tamwurthe (Laurel)

Order of the Laurel
Dragonship Haven Investiture
Awarded February 21, 2015 (AS XLIX)

Front side of Dreda's Laurel piece.

Back side of Dreda's Laurel piece.

Calligraphy & Illumination by Isabel Chamberlaine. Over the course of correspondence with Maistre Lucien de Pontivy ( +Myra Hope Eskridge ) we came up with a plan for the type of thing that Dreda would like to receive. This piece is based on folio's and images found in The De Brailes Hours which I am told is one of her favourite manuscripts.

During the email correspondence I had with Lucien I remembered how I had enjoyed seeing the Hours of the Duc de Berry displayed unbound at The Met a number of years ago; I presented the idea of making this a double-sided piece so that it would look an feel as if it had been pulled from a binding for display. Lucien loved the idea.

My cheat-sheet for sizing.
The calligraphy blocks are true to the size of the original; 80 x 115mm. Although I also tried to match the number of lines, I ended up with two more; basically I should have moved up in nib size. For the actual page size I had to go with what I thought work visually and that would allow for framing; the original manuscript has at some point been drastically trimmed and the original size has been lost.

There are a number of marginal texts written in red ink. The idea for these came from Lucien who offered up the first one, I added in more which were adapted from those found in Marc Drogin's book Anathma! Off course I didn't write any of them down, hopefully Dreda is willing to let me know what I wrote so that I can add them to this post!

Now I'd like to tell you about my friend Dreda.

Dreda (and Lucien) were there at my very first event, War of the Roses; camping with the then Baron of Concordia of the Snows, Angus Kerr (now Pembridge). Our little blue ground-pimple was hidden out back so as not to ruin the aesthetic of the the canvas camp, but we were welcomed with open arms. This woman embraced us with her smile and helped to make us feel welcome.

I saw a lot of her (them) that first year, becoming more and more mesmerized by this couple that were always kind, that took the time to welcome me without being overwhelming, and showed me the beauty of their respective period arts. I watched from an ever shortening distance and learned the pride that could be taken in even the smallest of things and that dedicated period research is a thing of true beauty.

Most of my formative and transportive moments involve my voyeurism of this beautiful woman. I would not be where I am today without those early experiences and these days she is one of the first people I look to when doing my own research. It was my absolute pleasure to be involved in her elevation to the Order of the Laurel.

Surface: Goat parchment (double-side finish) from Pergamena.
Materials: Mitchel #4 nib for the calligraphy and a crow-quill nib for line work; Oak Gall Ink, Ruby Red Writing Ink from "Arte of the Booke" and Higgins (Blue) Pigmented Drawing Ink. Jerry Tressers Gesso overlaid with 23k gold leaf. Period pigments used - lapis lazuli, vermilion, lead white

Words by Maistre Lucien de Pontivy and Master Peregrine the Illuminator.

Main text:
O how fortunate are they, the succulents and blossoms on the farthest branches of the tree of knowledge, which are fed the strength of the green wood from the very roots. 

For lo: Aildreda de Tamworthe is the soul of memory and the society, the deepest roots and the greenest boughs, whose gifts of language, song, and learning fuel our growing spirits and inspire us to better ourselves for the good of all, and of the Society. She inspires us, with song and graceful eloquence and a rich store of language, to gentle our restless minds and to stir our sleepy souls. She guides us, in meet space and moment, to embark on voyages of discovery and learning. She leads us, by research and by learnéd example, to seek and strive to be exemplars of our own chosen times and places. 

Aildreda de Tamworthe willingly and freely, directly and casually, with attention to detail and fine subtleties, supplies her fellow scholars, artisans, and scientists with research material concerning any historical matter, from clothes to food to domestic life to music to habits of mind and speech, as naturally as if they were her very own, and with surpassing generosity of spirit. 

These are the green boughs which curl into the wreath of Laurel. 

For these and for her service to the Kingdom Arts and Sciences, and to the Society, Edward King and Thyra Queen do award Mistress Aildreda de Tamworthe Arms by Letters Patent and welcome her into our own Order of the Laurel. Done by our hand on February 21 A.S. 49 at the Baronial Investiture in Dragonship Haven.

Marginal texts:

  • Dreda she is called, this Lady of Tamworthe, Aildreda by name after Aetheldreda her forbear.

Scroll ID: Isabel C 51
Time Invested: 26 hours
Completed February 20, 2015

Cited works:
DROGIN, Marc. Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses. Totowa NJ: Allanheld, Osmun & Co. Publishers Inc., 1983. Print. ISBN 0-8390-0301-3

Monday, February 9, 2015

Oðindísa Býkona (Laurel)

Order of the Laurel
Feast of the Seven Deadly Sins, 
Barony of Delftwood (Aethelmearc)
Awarded February 7, 2015 (AS XLIX/49)

Calligraphy & Illumination by Isabel Chamberlaine. Inspired by Flateyjarbok GKS 1005 fol. 79r. (can be found on "page 9" of the links in the top-right corner).

Surface: Goat parchment (single-side finish) from Pergamena.
Materials: Mitchel #4 nib for the calligraphy and a crow-quill nib for line work; Oak Gall Ink, Ruby Red Writing Ink from "Arte of the Booke" and Higgins (Blue) Pigmented Drawing Ink. Period pigments used - French ochre, green earth, vermilion, (home-made) verdigris; Windsor & Newton titanium white and purple.

Words by Fridrikr Tomasson

In Old Norse:
Þá á vetra stofnans fertugundi ok níundi, Rikardsmessa inn Konung, inn nótt tuttugundi ok annarr þorsmánaðar ok nótt sjaundi mánaðar fimti einvalds Titus ok Anna Leigh, Konunginn Æthelmerc ok Kvenna. Gegnum meðan hæstir eru stormar um vetrinn fóru á Vindkverns Staðd á hinna Syndar Sjau Dauðligra Hóf. Þar tala hinn skaldshvítskeggjaðr heyrðu

Ok hann sagði:

Engis gulla augar óðrærs æna smyrill; flugastinga súpa sæta mjölkblóms lævíss. Vængar með höggvanda vínsvelgr fljóta til býhus Þer hunangs ymrþjuða þrekliga stemma lækrgull. Meyja hroska meldrar mala luma hunangs - lærdóms glaðast landvörð ljoseld halda blossi. Runum Freyjas fela - fjarðlog herjar hirða. Riki býheims hrósa ræriróðs prúðlig meyja. Birtigulla býtár bekkr damstæð leka játir barajastars yndiligr bekkr vindsgnýr. Hrannir út hann dynjað Hárs á saltunnu skáldit siglað Óðinns segjað skaldskipit ok ölhrönn.  Ágæta Óðindisa afusa meyja gullin. Bóndar mikill býkongs berrat órdsmíðs bjórveig.

Þá er heyrðu þessa, Titus ok Anna Leigh fundu Oðindisa bykona, aldæll ok víta, mætr ganga í bönd með bróðernit lárviðs af vísi býhalda vítr ok læring hana af vísi þat. Gjöf gefu henni, nafn aeðlæst ok skjaldnafn: Fjólublátt, sól í dýrð hans, á æðstu gulli þrjú perur grænt, eiginn hennar af opið bref. Ok gleðusk állr! 

Þus endast nóttsaginn einvalds Titus ok Anna Leigh, Konungr ok Kvenna Aethelmearc.

English Translation:
Then, in the forty-ninth winter from the Founding, on the Feast day of Richard the King, being the 22nd night of Thor-month, and the seventh night of the fifth month of the reign of Titus and Anna Leigh, the King of AEthelmearc and his Queen traveled in the depth of winter to visit their WindMill Stead for the Seven Deadly Sins Feast. There they heard the White-Beard Skald speak. And he said:

Meadow´s golden-eyes gathers the hawk of wisdom The sting-fly sips sweet blooms' strong milk Drunkard with wings staggering floats to home at bee house There the buzzing-tribe strongly stems the stream-gold. Maiden of the mill wise measures golden honey. Brings to landward  brightest beacon´s light of learning. Keeps she Freya's secrets, keeps the baron's fjord-flame. King of bee-home praises wisdom's stately maiden. Bright-gold bee-tears frozen brook the golden dam-yard leaks. Charming bee-tear brook squall yields finest yeast-wave. Har's waves flow to high hall barrel quenches skald's thirst. Skalds ships sails all ways over Odin's ale-wave. Thanks to golden maiden, Oðindisa's glory, Bee-king's minions many bring to wordsmith strong drafts.

After hearing this, Titus and Anna Leigh found Othindisa bykona, gentle and wise, most worthy of taking the oath of a Companion of the Laurel Brotherhood for her studies in the science of keeping bees and her teaching of that science, and They gave her a gift of a Most Noble Name and the shield-naming: Purpure, a sun in his splendor, on a chief Or three pears vert, hers alone by Letters Patent. And all rejoiced! 

Thus ends this night-saga of the reign of Titus and Anna Leigh, King and Queen of Æthelmearc.

Scroll ID: Isabel C 50
Time Invested: 17h
Completed January 25, 2015.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pierre de Tours (Court Barony)

Court Baron
Bjorn’s Ceilidh and Baronial Investiture, Barony of Concordia of the Snows
Awarded November 8, 2014 A.S. 49 (XLIX)

Melchior Kriebel (Order of the Golden Rapier)

Order of the Golden Rapier
River War, Barony of Iron Bog
Awarded September 13 2014, AS 49 (XLIX)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Camille des Jardins (Order of the Golden Rapier)

Order of the Golden Rapier
Great Northeastern War
Awarded July 12, 2014 AS49 (XLIX)

Calligraphy by Mickel von Salm and illumination by Isabel Chamberlaine. Inspired by the 15th century Sforza Tarot Cards held by the Pierpont Morgan Library MS M.630, no. 23.

This was a collaboration piece between myself and Mickel von Salm, initiated by Carolyne de la Pointe.

Materials: For the illuminated contribution to this piece was Jerry Tresser's Liquid Gesso; 23k gold leaf; 23k shell-gold; Windsor & Newton gouache; homemade sap green.

Words by Lord Michael Arcensis

Scroll ID: Isabel C 46
Completed July 2014

Lillia de Vaux (Order of the Pelican)

Order of the Pelican
Pennsic War, Kingdom of Æthelmearc
August 6, 2014 AS 49 (XLIX

Monday, April 7, 2014

Antonio Patrasso (Queens Order of Courtesy)

Queens Order of Courtesy
First Court, Coronation of Brennan and Caoilfhionn, Barony of Settmour
Awarded April 5, AS 48 (XLVIII)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Christopher Serpentius (Silver Rapier)

Order of the Silver Rapier
King’s and Queen’s Rapier Championships
March 29, AS 48 (XLVIII)

Calligraphy & Illumination by Isabel Chamberlaine. Inspired by Russian Gospels (Egerton 3045) found in The British Library manuscript collection, dated to the late 15th century.

Paper: 300 Series Bristol, Vellum, 100lb.
Materials: Oak gall ink; Windsor & Newton gouache; Holbein gold gouache.

Scroll ID: Isabel C. 43
Completed March 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Parchment Research & Production by Jean Paul Ducasse

In this post I would like to highlight and promote the work of Jean Paul Ducasse.

Many know of him due to his success within the fencing community, but what is not so obvious is his experimental research into the techniques and production of parchment. Its a field of study that offers very little in the way of available sources, or even other people researching the same things. The vast majority of his knowledge comes from small tidbits found in historical sources, talking with what few people he can find and then experimenting with techniques. He and I have spent a lot of time having fun discussion while debating sources found in my scribal library. There are also a number of us that have successfully used his parchment for our own scribal work, examples of which can be found on this very blog.

I was thrilled to see his display at this past K&Q Arts and Sciences competition here in the East Kingdom. From what I saw he had a crowd of interested people around him for most of the day, letting some of them actually use the lunarium/lunellum to see for themselves what it is like, and randomly sending folks over to me since I had swatches of pigment painted onto one of his finished pieces of parchment.

I'd love to hear what other peoples impressions were.

JP stretching his wet goat-skin onto the rack for display.
Photo used with permission from Mistress Brunissende.
An onlooker trying their hand at scraping parchment under the instruction of JP.
Photo used with permission from Rosaline Wright.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Entering K&Q Arts & Sciences

First the negative. I'm generally not a fan of A&S competitions as I feel that they're far to subjective to the whims of those judging. I also dislike that most entries are focused on dramatic finished pieces, I feel that the craft gets overlooked because they're so mundane. That said, I was talked into entering this K&Q on the premise that a number of us band together to concentrate on the craft components of our individual disciplines rather than the end product. That appealed to me.

The intention had been to display more, but mundane reality took over so that my entry was reduced down to just two pigments, sap green and verdigris. Both were considered important greens to the medieval artist.

My Experience.
I went into this with eyes wide open. It was about display with the aim of discussion rather than competing to win anything. I feel like this was an important distinction for me and helped relieve some of the feeling of obligation that I often get around this type of thing. My entry was based around what I wanted to show and how I wanted to show it, it wasn't complete and I willingly displayed my mistakes and failures, even pointing a few of them out. Documentation was written in a style that suited me and my thought process rather than trying to fit it into a set of arbitrary rules about how long it should be or how it should be formatted. Basically, I did this MY way.

Judge #1: This was a positive but interesting experience. The judge read my single-page synopsis and then semi-speed read my full documentation. I appreciated this as I feel like just as much work goes into writing documentation as the research. We then discussed my entry at some length, talking about what I had on display and how I could (and intend to) push it further. The thing that struck me the most about this experience was the open negotiation over scores, I've never seen this before. It's an interesting approach that I think I might adopt for myself if I find myself being a judge again in the future. I am my own worst critic and I already knew this, but it was interesting to hear someone else's take on my own thoughts in live-time. The only thing I think that I would change about this style of judging would be to later add a comment or two on the score-sheet.

Judge #2: Again, a positive experience and I appreciated my documentation being read in full, with some injected discussion. The comment on the score sheet from this judge was very uplifting and recognized one of my ultimate goals, so it was a little of an ego-boost for me and suggests that I'm heading down the right path for my personal journey.

Judge #3: This judge challenged me but it wasn't in any way negative, questions were asked that made me think. I did feel quite flustered and tongue-tied while talking with this judge as I just couldn't seem to find my words. I should have been able to answer at least one of the questions asked because I know for a fact that I've read the answer during my research. It's a really basic question too. The other question that stuck out was something I know to be true but I don't know WHY I know it's true. Yet. This one will send me down a research path and there will probably be an associated blog-post at some point. I thought this judge would end up being the harshest of my scoring, surprisingly they weren't (not that any of my scores were bad). This judge don't read my documentation, but they did take a copy away with them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rendering Suet

Purchased beef suet.
Suet is raw beef fat [1] and is generally considered a waste product of the commercial meat industry. In hindsight I would have preferred to use pasture-fed, organic suet so that I can use it for creams and soaps, however since the original plan was to just use it for candles I'm starting with two packages of beef suet purchased from the local supermarket - 2.90lb for $1.69/lb. Next time I will be a more discerning shopper.

First, chop the suet into small chunks, the smaller the chunks the easier it will process (if you have a meat grinder available then use it). Raw suet feels greasy to the touch just like you imagine fat to feel. Discard anything that looks like muscle, tendon, bone etc.

Almost 3lbs of chopped beef suet.

Simmering on the stove.
Liquid after filtering.
 Put the suet chunks in a large pot and just enough water to cover it. Bring it to a boil CAREFULLY, making sure that it doesn't boil over as it will smoke, set off the fire alarm and potentially cause a fire [2]. If it does overflow it's disgusting, clean up any mess immediately.

As soon as it starts to boil turn the heat down to a low simmer. I left mine like this for about three hours mashing the solids every so often to release the fat [3].

When you decide that it's finished cooking, carefully pour the fatty water through a sieve into a clean bowl and squish the juices out of the fat solids (in the sieve) as best you can. You'll be amazed at how much liquid these retain. Let the bowl of "juice" cool until the top is a solid, creamy-white mass. I put mine in the fridge overnight.

Tallow after being
chopped for final cooking.
Use a knife around the outside to separate the mass of fat from the sides of the bowl, but be careful not to slop the liquid underneath. Lift it out and rinse it in cold water to get the scummys off, I used a knife to gently scrape them away. I weighed mine and it came in at 2.11lbs (down from starting at 2.90lbs. At this point some say to do a second simmering, however I chose to follow instructions that just went straight to chopping it up and putting it into a double-boiler set-up. Melt it down and let it boil off any remaining water. Mine sat on the stove for about two hours.

Strain it through a fine sieve to remove any remaining scummies. I used a piece of natural linen in my metal sieve. At this point you can strain it straight into your final storage container, it will harden to a creamy-white mass. Mine has the slightest hint of a beef smell when you stick your nose right up to it.
Finished tallow that will be used to make candles for the production of lamp-black pigment.

[1] Mirriam-Webster Online defines suet as "the hard fat about the kidneys and loins in beef and mutton that yields tallow".
[2] My "Shop Gnome" and I were having a discussion when he convinced me (stupidly) to continue it in the garage since the pot was nowhere near boiling. Not three minutes later I hear the sizzle of the fatty water hitting the stove-top and open the door to discover smoke billowing from the kitchen just as the fire alarm started to warn us of the danger. It was a HUGE disgusting mess of fat covering everything and took a decent amount of time to clean up before I could put the pot back on the stove.
[3] I've since read accounts of others leaving it to simmer for up to eight hours. Some using the stove, others using the low-setting on the crockpot.