Monday, July 17, 2017

Silver Brooch - Gregor

This assignment turned into a crazy two part project.  The time frame for this to be completed was while I was elbow deep in painting for Fortune's Silver Crescent scroll.

This would have been a simple update if not for the story attached to it.

Original Scroll:
Award: Order of the Silver Brooch
Recipient: Gregor von Medehem
Calligraphy by me - hand is gothic
Illumination: Mergriet van Wijenhorst
Illumination add-ons (badge and illuminated capital) -by me
Words: Alys Mackyntoich

My gothic looks nice, actually.  May it live on in blessed memory.

This scroll was another piece of scroll karma where I picked art that connected with the recipient so much more so than I ever thought.  When I got the assignment, the recommendation didn't say a whole lot about the recipient and the recommender was different than the listed contact.  Being on a tight timeline, I used my time to practice the hand and do some additions to the art I had set aside for this.

Panteria comes and goes....this scroll was given out on Sunday and I had left Saturday night.  Per usual, I can't sleep in and go check the interwebs while drinking coffee.  So I get a message from Christiania (because she has a knack for knowing when I'm tuned in to respond to messages) with a tale of woe, tragedy, and every scribe's worst nightmare.  This incredibly nice gentle who received my scroll was cursed by a cruel twist of fate and what was described to me as a Rube-Goldburg-esque series of events that cause his guitar strap to break, the swing of the instrument to hit his beer, the beer to arc upward and over to the scroll, splash all over the calligraphy, and the guitar to be smashed upon the ground after in a final destruction and mayhem.

Somehow...someway...could I reproduce the scroll?


Well....huh....I'd like to say at this juncture I looked at my event schedule, the timeline for finishing Fortune's scroll, the likelyhood I've have another assignment shortly given the reign schedule, and said sure but it likely won't be until after GNEW.

A few days before GNEW I had just finished the chibi scroll for Fortune and had an idea. I took the deceased's scrolls sister that I had earmarked for another project and went to work on it it.  My deadline would be tight and there was a chance I wouldn't finish.  Still, I jumped for it and forged ahead.

I finished the additional artwork to Mergriet's illumination and specifically hand drew a new snail on this one.  The illuminated capital got away from me and decided to be large, awesome, and super fussy with some white work. I ended added the leaves to make the artwork of two people blend just a little bit more and make the piece look polished.

Snail rides again!

At this point, it's my bed time.  I just finish the fussing with the illumination and I'm debating fighting with my gothic hand at 10pm.  Like an angel appearing in the night, Thyra casually made an offer to do the calligraphy for me so we could hand it off done in person rather than waiting until after Pennsic.  In return, I'd owe her some illumination for one of her upcoming projects.  This meant I could prep for the wedding I had to go to and pack for GNEW the next day.  Wooooo!

The scroll was completed and given to Aneleda and Christiana for hand off now with Thyra's lovely calligraphy and an unholy bargain of TBD illumination.  All in all, I'm happy with my art additions and the snail is adorable.

Oh, actually both scrolls were handed over so the tale of Martin Scroll-Killer (Gregor's guitar) could grow in infamy and legend.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Silver Wheel - Bianca

Sometimes you do stupid things for people you like.

Sometimes you do stupid things because you have a friend next you to also contemplating doing a stupid thing and you're in it together.

This scroll for Bianca was done as a "combat" scribal assignment at the event it was to be awarded at.  I found out this was going out last minute at the afternoon court and there was no scroll for it.  Another scroll was in the same boat as well.  Both Thyra and I had out travel scribal kits with us, but this time I happen to have blank scrolls with me as well.

The thing about Northern Region War Camp this year?  It was hot and soupy!  And we still managed to finish out scrolls.

Award: Silver Wheel
Recipient: Bianca Anguissola
Calligraphy: Done by me, Humanist bookhand
Illumination: Carmelina da Vicari
Words: Malcolm Bowman

I honestly would not have been able to do this like six months ago.  I used capital letters!  The spacing was nice!  *swoon*  Congrats, Bianca!  And thank you to the herald staff for letting me know about this one. :)

Silver Crescent - Fortune, Part 2

Getting down to business...

I went with Simona to Claytime in Shrewsbury which is a paint your own pottery studio.  This place would be my base of operations for May and June....and is like five minutes from Fortune's house and a frequent hang out for her household.  If you did not think I was paranoid she would just burst in while I was in the middle of painting, you are wrong.

In our first visit, Simona and I wandered around looking for a plate with a nice, large edge and a shallow bowl.  I didn't find what I wanted.  We wandered around some more, chatted, and then we find one.  It's the only one in stock, wasn't too big, and looked like it would work.

Having only done paint your own pottery twice before, I needed to re-familiarize myself with how this process worked.  After picking a base coat of a light sand/ neutral color, I determined the brushes were not going to cut it for the detail work I needed to do.  Even the adult bushes (re: smaller than the gigantic ones the kids use) were not going to give me crisp lines and would make the portrait sheer hell to paint.  In this first visit, we finished the base coat and I added my marker's mark (a blue daisy) to the back over the price (in case that didn't burn off).  This was used for the identifier to the piece so I didn't have to write my name on it.  Turns out an identifier wouldn't even be needed, which I'll get to later.

Graphite pencils were a no-go for tracing.  Claytime cannot guarantee all of it will burn off in the kiln, so they suggest using felt tip markers.  The other valuable piece of information Simona was able to pull out of them was I could use watercolor pencils to draw on the place which would then be hidden.  I had no idea these even existed and of course Marieta came to my rescue with these.  Thyra also introduced me to chalk paper (instead of the graphite transfer paper I was planning on using) which let me sketch normally instead of making a mess on the plate itself.  This was INSTRUMENTAL in getting most of the designs on the plate itself.

I joke that I spent hours at Claytime, but I also spent a fair amount of time sketching at home, transferring the designs, and generally yelling at paper.  The other thing I did?  Layout design and measuring.  I have never done so much math and measuring for a scroll in my entire life! The layout I decided on relayed on the circles being radially symmetrical and their background sections with stripes to be proportional.  First this meant the entire lip edge of the plate had to be measured and marked off evenly.  I used a template for the circles and the border/wheel on Fortune's heraldry.  Everything marked off was done in watercolor pencil.

More measuring...more measuring....

I begin the sketching of the leaf and vine motif and I'm happy with it.  I go to transfer it to the plate and it's waaaaaay too small.  My solution was to repeat the vine pattern to fill up the space.  To me, this made it feel like the color had more to contrast to and struck a nice balance.  This also left me room for the tiny bee on the right panel.

It's at this point that I started to put the paint on the plate....

Embarrassingly, I had a flair up of pain from my lingering tennis elbow issue (hence the arm brace).  Good news - when you paint with friends, they can take progress pictures for you!
Claytime was enormously accommodating to my long painting sessions and spreading out on the table at points.  It turns out that when you're happy to share a table with other people (I'll get to that) and you behave like a normal human, they love you.  After each session, I took the plate home and thought about the next steps.

You can see the lines from the layout design.  These were all done in watercolor pencil (thin lines).  The thick lines are the first instances of the paint going on.  It looks like blue now, but it will darken once fired.

A few sessions in and I have some clear progress.  Most of the staff now knows about "the plate" and I have one regular gal on staff who knows me on sight.

So many lines to many....
Most of the "easy" part is done.
And now we get to the part where I dreaded working on this...the protrait.  It's been said elsewhere in my blog that I hate drawing people.  I feel like a massive art-impostor trying to draw people because I cannot make them look right.  The amount of sketches I threw out that no one saw or that were drawn,had comments,hated, and then threw out are numerous.  Part of my problem was fear of the derp face (though it's period) and the other part was trying to blend a real like protrait style with the majolica style.  I ended up going with just a majolica portrait after receiving some wise and balanced input.

Sometimes you need to eat junk food and use your light table as a desk while watching  HGTV to be properly inspired.

The hair under went some revisions at the Quintavia Business meeting, but this was the most successful sketch.  I opted to do Fortune's hair uncovered as that's how she wears it to events usually and the bun is one of her signature styles for no-nonsense mischief.  Most of the plates depicted a veil or hat of some sort.  That idea was discarded after disastrous attempts of putting a coronet on previous sketches.  I used my light pad to traces the curly-queues of the banner because at this point it was 10pm and I had to go paint the next day.  The lettering hand on the banner is a humanist.  The portrait was transferred using chalk paper (my savior) and I was then good to go!

Take that, tennis elbow!  I'm mostly free of your sabotage!

Lookin' good!
The next steps were the tedious parts: the scales, the brush lining, and the signatures.  Remember when I said I would share a table with other people?  Yeah.  One session of painting I was at the end of a table near and aisle where one kid would constantly hit the back of my chair as they ran by.  (Child running in a pottery studio...think on that....)  The fifth or so time it happened, I think I actually swore because my brush skipped.  At that point, the dad of said free running child finally noticed what the kid was doing (because up until now he's been wrangling two other screaming terrors).  And lo, holy hell was reigned down on said child by their parent and many apologies were made.  I was actually more embarrassed and apologized for swearing.  The next session I was at, I sat with Captain Shakey-Table himself.  I kept my expletives to myself this time.

Boooyah!  This baby is DONE!!
Yeaaaaaaaaaaay!  I'm dooooooooone!

My artist mark.

My Claytime staff friend snapped this photo for me. :)
I may have said to the staff if it breaks in the kiln, I'll cry. 

Weeks pass and then I get this photo in a text message from Simona who went to go pick it up.
Dear god, I'm a lunatic for doing this....

But wait...there's more!  I decided this needed a scroll for the royals to sign the week before it was due (in between another scroll project and silk banner painting).

Eva wrote a lovely sonnet for this because she is amazing.

Calligraphy hand - Humanist by me
Words - Eva Woderose

Congrats, Fortune!  May you continue to smile upon Quintavia.

Special thanks to:

The ideas department: Simona bat Leon
Claytime painting company: Simona bat Leon, Marieta Charay
Sketch consultants: Nataliia Evganova, Eva Woderose, Thyra Eiriksdottir, Marieta Charay
Sounding board: Sergei Rozvad syn
Cheering section: House Strangewayes, Darostur, assorted members of Sharc and Lochleven

Monday, July 10, 2017

Silver Crescent - Fortune, Part 1

Sometimes you find inspiration for a scroll.  Sometimes, other people brainstorm a crazy idea and you're the first person they think that might actually do it.  Okay everyone!  It's story time that has been in the making since March.  Grab a snack and hold on to your hats...

*Full disclaimer - I had fun with this scroll and would have asked to do it on my own anyways.*

The background: In which our intrepid scribe does not see the bad idea bus that hit her, backed up, and ran her over again.

I have a weekly sewing group I hang with (and sometimes we even sew).  It was on such a Monday that Simona walked downstairs into the sewing room where we were all gathers and let me know that she "had a great idea" and "got the Signet to agree to give me the assignment".   First of all I'm confused....then I'm intrigued....then I remember the backdrop for Edward and Thyra's second reign and yell "what the hell did I get volun-told to do this time?"

The glee and mischief in Simona's eyes gave me such dread that I almost ran.  Anytime anyone is that pleased with themselves, you just know you're in for it.  To paraphrase - "Fortune's getting her Silver Crescent!!!  We (meaning House Strangewayes) had a great idea to do a majolica plate and thought you'd be the best person to ask!"

It's at this point I think, sure I can do that....and then I see what a majolica plate is.  It is the bane of my artful existence....drawing people.  Not even just people, big honkin' front and center portrait that is the goddamn centerpiece of the entire plate.   I am placated and assured that and I quote "Meh, it's period to make them derpy.  You'll be fiiiiiiiiine."  Famous last words.

Research: In which our intrepid scribe stares into the derp and the derp stares back.

Simona helped me out by finding museum pictures of real maiolica (sometimes spelled majolica) which were heavily decorated plates that gained the most popularity in the 15th c Italy, but were also present in England earlier in the century.  The real plates were tin glazed; featuring very vibrant colors and displayed fanciful art of either a historical or mythical variety.  The deep blue caught my eye on a lot of the plates and I decided that would be my focus color.  Of the pictures I was given, I chose various element that I thought would work for a scroll.

The design: In which our intrepid scribe starts to make with the ideas.

The first plate - I liked the idea of the circles which would hold the order symbol, Fortune's heraldry for her Grant of Arms, and what I initially though would be a circle for each of the signatures of TRM.  Things changed over the course of the project.  Fortune received her GoA with her Court Barony at Panteria which I no longer needed to include, but since Panteria was in May I had already made the decision to include the arms.  Late into the project, it was suggested to put the signatures on one circle and actually write the damn date on the plate since I had a design change which would have left it out.

The second plate - The least derp of the portraits and my inspiration.  I found it easier to do a right facing portrait for some reason so I stuck with it.  The scroll would also serve to display Fortune's name and the award title.

The third plate - This is where all the edge design came from.  The pattern was very regular, not too busy, and most importantly looked like it could be something I could do in a reasonable amount of time without fussing with it to death.

The timeline:  In which our intrepid scribe begins to contemplate her fate.

I didn't start the core work on the scroll until late April and had a firm deadline to have it completed two weeks before GNEW.  This would allow for the 7-10 days for the plate to fire and I needed to have it done before I left for Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium.  I did not want this kind of project hanging over my head.  Oh, and I was still 1) actively working on live scroll assignments for the kingdom, 2) working as the Backlog Deputy to the EK Signet, and 3) also working as the Quintavia MoAS.  Somewhere in there I also have husband, real life work, and a personal life.  Good times.

To be continues in Part 2....