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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Because, Yes, I Need Another Drain on My Time ...

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Because, Yes, I Need Another Drain on My Time ...

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art lives
... then I am taking up calligraphy and illumination in the SCA.

Yes, I am aware that they are completely separate disciplines. But I'm doing both because the only thing better than one time-draining new hobby is two time-draining new hobbies!

Actually, for all of my adult life, I've wanted to take up calligraphy. When we joined the SCA, that opportunity finally presented itself. Heavy fighter practice occurs every Friday for three hours, and there is also a simultaneous "A&S" (arts and sciences) meeting that goes on at the same place. So far as I can tell, most of A&S is catching up with friends, eating snacks, and doing the occasional craft.

Of course, the ever-ambitious 'gund could not abide with three hours of potential learning/practicing time wasted. (I say this sarcastically, but I know myself: It's totally the truth.) And since Bobby goes to heavy fighter practice every week now, then I thought, "Why not use those three hours to learn something cool?"

So I queried our barony's email list about calligraphy, hoping to find a teacher. I know the basics already, and I have some skill in art from dabbling in various disciplines (primarily sketching and miniatures painting), so all I really wanted was some light guidance: where to start, what to practice, and maybe an occasional critique of my progress.

Instead, I got a reply from a master illuminator: "Well, I can't teach you calligraphy, but if you want to learn illumination ..."

Once I settled down from squeeing and bouncing ecstatically, then I answered that, yes, I would love to learn illumination.

So Master Tristan (the illuminator) and I met on Friday during A&S to pore over samples of his work and talk about whether I'd be interested in furthering my study of illumination. Umm ... yeah? :^D

My philosophy on my own artwork has always been: if it can be done in four square inches, then why not try it in one? In other words, I love detail work; possibly my most treasured art tool is my detail brush that I refuse to let anyone else use (except Bobby, occasionally, under supervision).

Illumination seems a 2D version of miniatures painting. It uses the same kind of paint and many of the same techniques. There are even "non-metallic metallics." I tried my hand at non-metallic metallics last year for the Meryth and Talban models that I painted for digdigil. In the world of miniatures painting--where, admittedly, the bar is not set particularly high--non-metallic metallics are the crowning achievement. Anyway, I digress. Master Tristan's non-metallic metallics were one-hundred times better than my mediocre attempts at the same, but then, he's been doing this for thirty years and is a master illuminator, and I'm just an on-and-off miniatures painter who aspires to illuminations!

Today, at the Ren Fest, I found a book on medieval calligraphy, which I picked up.

So I am very, very excited at this point. My hands are itchy to give it a try; the next time we meet, we're going to look at some original illuminations, then I should get to start! Whee!
  • I've helped paint scrolls. They had already been made, all it required was for us to fill in the color. It was fun, I thought.

    I haven't played in a long while. Maybe someday I'll make a return. Maybe by the time I come back, I'll be able to change my name since I'll essentially be someone "new." Those that knew me before may have moved on... a new "identity" wouldn't be that hard to contrive. ;-)
    • Personally, I think you should join us next summer for Pennsic ... ;)

      It's only a few hours north of where we live!

      And we could rollerskate too! (Not at Pennsic, of course.)

      I'm in the process of working on my persona now. I'm itching to do all the necessary research but am currently in the midst of the pre-NaNo crunch, as well you know. It's sad when I look forward to the NaNo for a break!

      Pennsic! Pennsic! Pennsic!

      >:^]]]
  • Does this mean that you are now one of the Illuminati?

    It's kind of too bad you aren't Jewish. There is a real market for illuminators, as there are still quite a few Orthodox couples willing to shell out for a nicely illuminated ketubah (marriage contract). Great-Uncle Gersh does this for a living up in Rogers Park.
  • My philosophy on my own artwork has always been: if it can be done in four square inches, then why not try it in one?

    I think this is hilarious because you're writing style is exactly the opposite. ;P
  • OKay, I am going to ask the blonde question since my brains ran off since last friday and haven't returned just yet... what is Illumination? I really cant tell from the entry what it exactly is. It sounds very exciting :)
  • Okay, here's me being a bit jealous you're getting a chance to learn such wonderful things with professional guidance!

    Hope you have a lot of fun, and share some pictures of your work if you feel comfortable enough with it! Illumination amazes me to no end (even though my own attempts have little to do with the original concept ;)), and calligraphy is such fun. It's such a pity pretty handwriting is no longer needed much in our society...
    • I'm not sure, but I'd bet that the SCA is in Germany as well. There might be a shire or a barony in your area. ;)

      And the best thing about SCA is that you say, "I want to learn this," and people are willing to teach you. Or, if they can't, to help you find someone who can.

      I mean, I'm awed that Master Tristan would take his time with such an utter n00b as me. Surely he has more important things to do!

      But that is so many people in SCA that I have met so far. They tell newbies, "Just go up and ask someone what they're doing." To introverted me, that is horrifying ... but people really will show you. (Modern technology aids me in my shyness because I'll post to an email list before I'll ask someone in person for help. ;)

      So, long story short, if you have SCA in your area, we could be Illumin00bs together! :^D

      I will definitely share whatever I create. I'm actually much shyer about my writing than my artwork (though I have more of the former than the latter and am certainly better at the former than the latter).
  • You were there & I missed you?

    Woe.
    • *see Hugo pout*

      If you go again next year, drop me a line to let me know when! Bobby and I are seriously there every weekend. We were there both days this weekend on account of Mediaeval Baebes and the jousting tourney.

      Or look for the Elf in the blue gown and her handsome, tall knight. ;)

      We'll be at the PA Ren Faire this Sunday, but I suppose there's no chance of being so lucky to be in the same place at the same time twice in just over a week!
  • So very, very cool!
    • I agree!

      Eventually, I will learn archery too. Hopefully not with the result pictured in your icon. ;)
  • Sounds awesome, Dawn! I think I've met the person you referred to. I went to a few SCA meetings, and then determined that socializing was boring if I wasn't going to pick up a craft ;). So, good for you! I like to sew, so I could have made garb, but I never got into it. Calligraphy and illumination are so beautiful, and...to be perfectly honest...so Fëanorean. Don't ask me why, I don't think I could explain that!

    So squee and enjoy ;).
    • Any chance you'd take it up again? ;)

      I like pretty much anything crafty or creative. I also enjoy sewing, though I'm really not good at it yet. (I'm still my mom's apprentice! She is good at it! Very good.)

      I understand what you mean about it being Feanorian. Feanor did invent the Tengwar (which is a beautiful script, imho; I will confess that part of my desire to study calligraphy comes from wanting to write Tengwar in calligraphy!), and having a beautiful hand is something I always thought he would pride himself on.

      Besides, Elves live forever, so they can take hours to write a letter, if they want. ;)
  • OMG. I know I have a book somewhere on Celtic mythology. In it are examples of their art, including their own calligraphy. I must find that book! I've always been interested in calligraphy too. I'm not surprised that you'd be attracted to it because your handwriting is incredibly neat and well-controlled.

    Awww...those Meryth and Talban models occupy a very special place on a special shelf. Jenni hearts them.
    • Yes, that's right! You've seen my obsessively neat handwriting! :^D Sadly, when I made my post to the SCA list asking for a calligraphy instructor, I was very close to adding that I have naturally neat handwriting. I'm used to having to "sell" my virtues in the mundane world to get ahead, I guess. ;)

      Awww...those Meryth and Talban models occupy a very special place on a special shelf. Jenni hearts them.

      *squee!* I think of them sometimes and hope they're happy as Canadian Elves. Well, better than American Elves, given the current state of things. ;)
  • So, what are you thinking about illuminating first?
    • I haven't really decided on anything yet. Master Tristan was showing me some examples that are fairly easy but look impressive, i.e., good for beginners. ;) I'm sure he'll recommend some to start with so that I don't get too complex too soon. At least, I hope he does. I know myself; I'll take on the most complex manuscript I can find, just to prove that I'm up to the challenge!
  • And now I'll ask the Latin American question: What's SCA? (I tried googling it but it took me to the most amazing organizations and no clue about how it connects with illuminations)
    • I just Googled "sca" and it was the second result, so one of those amazing organizations was probably it. ;)

      "SCA" is the Society for Creative Anachronism. Their mission is to re-enact and preserve the arts and history of the Middle Ages.

      Illumination comes in because it was a medieval art form, and as SCAites will often say, if someone did it in the Middle Ages, then someone probably does it in SCA*. Actually, the awards given in SCA are period-authentic, hand-painted/written scrolls done on vellum, or animal-skin parchment, and this is where calligraphy and illumination really come into the SCA, besides people learning it just for the sheer beauty and joy of it.

      * Which always prompts Bobby and me to ask if there is a "medieval interrogation" or "inquisition" guild that makes iron maidens and racks and such.
  • I think thats ace! I do a bit of calligraphy myself, though not very well I have to admit... I'd never thought about illumination because my arty abilities are limited - I can write a bit, but drawing is strictly cartoons or stick people lol

    But it sounds like it will be great fun :)
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