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.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Discussing the Use of Mortar & Pestles

This is a post that I started on Google+ and is embedded here since I consider it a significant discussion on a common tool used by many trades that is probably never given much thought. Please join the discussion in the comments section below.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Guild Mirandola's Oak Gall Ink Kit

Or, Isabel and Aife have a playdate.

At one of the recent SCA events I attended there was an auction and one of the items was a bag full of scribal goodies. Of course I had to have that baggie, but if truth be told I feel a little guilty for paying so little for goods worth A LOT more. One of the items in the baggie was an Oak Gall Ink Kit from Guild Mirandola, a small scribal supplies vendor here in the East Kingdom.

Aife needed ink for something she's working on, and I just happened to have the supplies available. What follows isn't my own work, it's what happened when we followed the instructions included in the Kit. I'm not going to specifically detail the instructions and ingredients here as I feel that would be unfair to Guild Mirandola (Doscelina's contact information can be found on the website). The Kit contains very easy to follow instructions and I strongly recommend that people buy the Kit. This is period-style ink making made so simple that ANYONE can do it.

Although the Oak Gall Ink Kit contains exactly the about of ingredients you need, we actually ended up making double what was specified because I had my own supplies already but had never actually gotten around to using them. Other items needed are easy to lay your hands on and should be readily available to most people.

Crushed gall nuts in the mortar.
First order of business was to set up the gum arabic crystals to dissolve while we followed the rest of the instructions. Once that was set up we needed to crush the gall nuts. They were shoved into a plastic ziplock bag, that was then wrapped in a kitchen towel and then smashed vigorously with a hammer borrowed from my "shop gnome". Once they'd been reduce to much smaller pieces they were transferred to the mortar and pestle and ground into "a fine powder".

I do want to comment on how annoying these were to grind, they proved to be much tougher than I had imagined. They are surprisingly hard and I actually ended up with a blister in the center of my hand from the grinding. Get around this by getting them as broken and small as you possibly can with the hammer. The smaller they are before they hit the mortar and pestle, the less hand grinding you'll need to do.

You'll end up with this...

Gall nuts reduced to "fine powder"
Continuing to following the instructions, add the water and let it sit. So just how patient are you? We were working on a couple of other projects at the same time, so our little container of brown gunk actually ended up marinating for well over an hour. It has a VERY earthy smell which I surprisingly found quite pleasant.

Back to following the instructions that came with the kit and we find that it's time to add the green ferrous sulfate. The instructions say that when you add this to the brown gunk it will start to turn black immediately, and it did! We both stood there, staring into the jug saying "that's SO COOL!". We then stirred vigorously so that everything was thoroughly mixed.

Oak gall "tea" after the ferrous sulfate has been added.
Next step was to filter the mixture through some linen to remove all the nasty gunky bits. We used a piece of natural coloured linen which we first saturated with water to help the process along.

Oak gall ink mixture being filtered through linen to remove the debris.
We ended up with about a half of a pint-sized Mason jar of black liquid, basically a dye, and to this was added the gum arabic which we had been dissolving. The addition of the gum arabic provides the binder (glue) that turns the dye into an ink, making it stick to a page.

Upon testing, we found that we had achieved a nice writable ink in a viscosity that I liked. I will admit to being a little surprised at how black it was straight out of the jar, I was expecting it to initially write quite faint (it darkens over time) and be almost translucent but it wasn't.

Very rough draft writing with the ink made from the Guild Mirandola Oak Gall Ink Kit.

A word on dissolving the gun arabic crystals. We found that keeping the solution warm helped the crystals dissolve at a much better rate. We had allowed the water to cool while we worked on other things, it really delayed the process and the crystals stuck to our stir-stick.

For detailed instructions and supplies please purchase one of these
Oak Gall Ink Kits from Guild Mirandola

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How to Care for Your Metal Dip Pen Nibs

Most modern calligraphy nibs are made of metal, and like most things they need a little tender loving care to keep them in good condition. Inks not only have the potential to clog your nibs as they dry, but some inks are actually corrosive and damage them.

Disclaimer: This is MY way of doing things and works FOR ME, others may do things differently. There is not "one true way", so find what works for you.

There are commercial nib cleaning solutions available for purchase, however I've never used one as I don't really see the point. I consider my nibs disposable items and I fully expect them to deteriorate over time, needing to be replaced. That's not to say that I don't try to keep them in good condition, so here are my tips for cleaning metal nibs.

After use I either swish my nib in the rinse-water jar I've been using or use a pipette to squirt water over the nib, but I'm not overly concerned with getting all the ink off the nib. Afterwards I take the nib out of the pen holder so that it can be fully cleaned and dried. My next step is to take a Q-tip and dip one of the ends into rubbing alcohol (both can be purchased in any pharmacy or supermarket), then I use that wet end to thoroughly clean the nib surface. Using a Q-tip allows you to get into all the nooks and crannies on the nib, and the beauty of rubbing alcohol is that it dries VERY quickly through evaporation, leaving the nib mostly dry and reducing the potential to rust. Dried on ink will need more pressure than "fresh" ink, but be careful not to bend the nib ends.Once I've gotten off as much of the ink as I can I just let the nib and pen holder sit on some paper towel for a while so that they can dry further before I store them away.

Some nibs have attached reservoirs on them, especially if you're using the Speedball brand nibs that come in the variety packs at the local art/craft stores. These can be a little annoying when trying to clean your nibs as the reservoir creates a space where ink can get trapped, allowing it to dry and gunk up the nib. Personally I've found these reservoirs more trouble than they are worth as I find that not only are they difficult to clean but, for me, they also load to much ink on to the pen when writing. I've ripped the reservoirs off when ever they've been attached to a nib that I use. This is where the pipette comes in handy, use it to flush the rubbing alcohol under the reservoir. Another option is to try to side some paper towel between the nib and reservoir, be careful as you do this though as you don't want to pull the reservoir to far off the surface of the nib.

Nib Tune-Up:
You will need a whetstone, I bought mine from John Neal Booksellers - Hard Arkansas Stone.

My first step is to put a drop or two of water on the end of the whetstone and just rub it into the stone a little, I'm not 100% sure if it's actually needed but all the things I've seen and read tell you to moisten the stone with either oil[1] or water.

Step 1: Sharpen the very tip of the nib.
Step 1: Next place the very tip of the nib on the whetstone so that it perpendicular to the stone. You are now going to stroke the nib back and forth (sideways) a few times on the whetstone to achieve a straight tip. It's VERY IMPORTANT that you make this motion from your shoulder and NOT your wrist. Moving from the wrist will twist the movement and has the potential to round the edges of the nib, by moving from the shoulder this is less likely to happen.

Step 2: Smooth the edges of the nib of any burrs.
Step 2: I will then turn the nib so that the side of the nib is resting on the edge of the whetstone. Again, moving from the shoulder, stroke back and forth a few times to remove any burrs. Repeat this for the second edge.

Step 3: Smooth the back of the nib at a very slight angle.
Step 3: At this point I I lay the back of the nib against the edge of the whetstone and then angle it up a little, using the same back and forth motion to remove any burrs from the back.

Step 4: Sharpen the front of the nib.
Step 4: The last step with the whetstone sees me working the front of the nib. Lay the nib on the stone and then angle it up to about a 30% angle, use the back and forth motion a few times.

If you look closely (use a magnifier if you like) you will see bright clean metal around the areas the nib has brushed against the whetstone.

My very last step is to run the edges over the leather whetstone sleeve to soften them off a little.

It's important to remember that although you're "sharpening" you nib, you don't want it so sharp that it actually cuts the surface (paper, parchment, etc.) you'll be writing on. Once you've tuned-up your nib try writing with it, if it's catching on the surface you can dull the very tip a little by going back and repeating step one with a couple of strokes.

My habit is to tune-up my nib at the beginning of my scribal session. On occasion, if the piece I am writing is really long, I will need to pause part way through to give another quick tune-up. Once you've done this a time or two, you'll get a feel for how much or how little you need to tune-up your nibs. It's not difficult to do and it will not only prolong the life of your nibs a little but also help the nib move a little easier across the page.

[1] Don't use oil on the stone your using with your nibs as you don't want that transferring to your finished page.

Sources & Bibliography:
Class taught by Eva Woderose at Known World Herald & Scribes Symposium in CT, 2012.

Other various sources of which I don't remember.

BROWN, Michelle P. & Patricia Lovett. The Historical Source Book for Scribes. London: The British Library, 1999. Print. ISBN 0-8020-4720-3