Saturday, March 30, 2013

Like a hole in the head

I went to a beginning scribal schola in Maryland a couple of weeks ago with a couple of people in my local SCA group, and oh good grief did I need that like another hole my head.  One of ladies I went with is our current baroness, and she and I had been talking about our lack of local scribes and need to do something about this, so we thought it might be a good idea to at least learn some calligraphy so we could make up some simple award scrolls.  Hah.  When I started playing with the books I promised myself (and my dining room table) that I would not, under any circumstances, start messing around with the calligraphy and illumination.

So much for that.

This is fun!  My first attempt you can see here, is not that great, but it's not that bad either.  I freely admit that the calligraphy style and the illumination style do not, chronologically speaking, match, but it seems I like the round calligraphy hands and the bar and ivy boarders are pretty easy to make look nice and the two just aren't found together in nature.  It seems like you get horrible boarders or horrible calligraphy, though I think I may have found some nice, not painful Carolingian boarders like this one at the British Library to go with my not-so-horrible calligraphy so that's something.  I've got a lot of room for improvement but for a first-ever try, I am not totally ashamed.

Now to put away the paint and get the hems on the pile of gowns I'm working on done.  I've got a fitted gown for the aforementioned baroness to finish off, a gown based on one of the styles seen in the Morgan Bible for next week to finish for me, the under gown for the Morgan dress to assemble and finish, and hemming to do on attempt one at a bliaut or at least something close to one.  And then Monday I'm off to an all-day napkin hemming party.  If I never hem again...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Filament silk questions

I ordered a small sampling of silks from Hedgehog Handworks (very nice folks with a great selection of metal threads and the full Au Ver a Soi line).  Playing around with the Soie de Paris, I am now in love with filament silk.  What was I thinking with stupid old spun silk?  Really?  I might as well have been using cotton. Oh, that's right, I can get it easily without all this on-line color card nonsense!

Anyway, for those of you have have greater filament silk wisdom than I (not hard I freely confess), I have questions!  First of all, I am looking for something suitable for doing the pattern daring on the Mary of Hungary smock.  I think silk would work best, and there really is no point in using silk unless I use filament, but it's also a smock and white and will thus need to be washed.  Let's face it, sauce will end up on the front of it at some point.  What is going to happen to the filament when I wash it?  Will it be a tragic loss?  Or will it be ok?  I'm ok with handwashing, just not so much drycleaning.

Second, has anyone used the kanagawa embroidery silks?  These are Japanese silks, and come on 20m cards, which is more length than you get with the Soie de Paris (5m spools), I'm just not sure if it's plied the same way, or how it compares.  I would assume it a good quality thread since that's what they use for the amazing silk embroidery they do in Japan, which is more complex than the opus anglicanum I want to do.

And lastly, when doing medieval style silk shading, how many shades of silk do you really need?  The technical references I have assume you have an insane palette of threads I am guessing would not be available to the medieval embroiderer, and most of the extant pieces I've been able to find decent pictures of don't seen that detailed or sophisticated in the shading but it's hard to tell when looking at pictures on computer screens.