Friday, 2 December 2011

what crooks the back and curls the fingers

I'm working on some scrolls. For those of you in the dark this is what scribes in the Society for Creative Anachronism do. We create medieval style works of art that act as certificates of merit for a variety of awards signifying some sort of good deed or work done, a passage of time and craft well learned or just being helpful. You get the picture.

While not historically accurate in their presentation we like shiny pretty stuff so we copy pages from things like 14th Century books of hours or burn out our eyes trying to emulate Celtic mysteries in the form of knots and stylized creatures.

I'm not entirely sure WHY we do this since it's all original art and we give it away for free. But we do.

I've been at this for a while now and my library shows this. My skills have definitely improved and sometimes I even like what i do. Mostly I like the process and the exacting nature of it all. It's tight art. you stay in the lines and stick to a script. It's about knowing and understanding the patterns used by many monks sitting in drafty halls cursing the dark and smiling at the antics of cats. ( sometimes even writing poetry about said cats)

We steal from the past to recreate the past only with a modern twist since we use electricity to see by when it's dark and more often than not our paints come from factories and our paper is not made from the skin of dead animals. ( although there are many who do try to go all the way when it comes to getting it right and being historically accurate)

I like the exacting nature of this art form. I love when I get it almost perfect ( because it's never 100% perfect ever) I love when the gilding shines the way it should and the paints blend just so and the white work or filigree is bang on. I'm in my comfort zone here. I haven't actually stepped out of it for a while because the next step is actually using medieval pigments and parchment and I'm not there yet but it's coming.

Of course I have come a long way since my first attempts so the journey has been fruitful.


  1. I'd like to point out that not all SCA entities are lucky enough to have members like Fiona, who make the whole scroll starting from blank paper. In our local SCA, for example, about half the scrolls are merely Xeroxed forms, with the designs pre-printed, and the bits colored in with pencils. No where near the beauty of Fiona's scrolls.

  2. We tried that route a while back with awards that also had physical tokens ( like rings) attached to them and it went over like a lead balloon.

    So we just dropped the idea and went back to hand done. We're lucky in that for such a large spread out kingdom we're quite small in population so we have a good balance of scribes and people getting awards to make it happen.

    thanks for the really kind words :)


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