Making a Scroll

Scribes of the Middle Ages were the authors and copy machines of their time.  Take all the documents that scribes wrote and we find that writing court documents, let alone Awards, Grants and Patents of arms was actually a pretty rare thing to be doing.  Scribes wrote books and scrolls.  And they spent a lot of time copying those books and scrolls.

The book is “The Deed of Paksenarrion,” by Elizabeth Moon.  It is comprised of three other books, “The Sheep Farmer’s Daughter,” “Divided Allegiance,” and “Oath of Gold.”  I have been reading these books over and over since I was 16 years old. The prologue of the compilation book, “The Deed of Paksenarrion,” tells us that the story we are reading is the scroll that was given to Paksenarrion’s father telling them of her adventures.

I decided to start copying my favorite books as a way to use my calligraphy for my enjoyment.  I am also enjoying using the experience as another way to explore how the scribes of the middle ages set up, did page layout and generally created the documents they most commonly made.  And I’m taking pictures as I go along.

Remember the previous two posts about the tools and materials I have on my scribal desk?  Well here you get to see the results of them being used.

To write in a straight line you should probably draw the lines on the paper.  It helps the reader, as well as the writer, to keep the lines consistently places on the writing surface as they read along.  So how do you do that in a way that doesn’t take forever for each and every page?  You create a master sheet and then you place pages underneath it and you prick them with a sharp tool like this.

Handmade hand forged parchment awl and a parchment pricker.

Handmade hand forged parchment awl and a parchment pricker.

I used the green one on the right.   I also chose to use paper instead of parchment as parchment is extremely expensive to use in the large quantities that would be needed for this project.  I am using 11″ x 14″ (27.9 x 35.6 cm) Strathmore Drawing paper 64 pound weight.  (104 g m2).  I am writing in the landscape orientation of the paper and I used the golden ratio to split the page into two writing areas.  Specifically I used the Van de Graaf Canon  I then drew the writing lines x height to be 3 mm and the interlinear space is 6 mm allowing ascenders and descenders to not overlap (much) when I do the calligraphy.

Then I placed my master sheet over two blank sheets and used my pricker to poke holes through all three sheets.  On the bottom blank sheets I used a lead/tin stylus to draw the lines between holes.  In the picture below it is the middle tool.

Left to right: Wax tablet stylus, Lead/Tin Stylus, Embossing tools.

Left to right: Wax tablet stylus, Lead/Tin Stylus, Embossing tools.

I am using my ink, stone ink pot and metal nib.

Carved stone ink pot.

Carved stone ink pot.

 

 

Calligraphy Pen and resting block

Calligraphy Pen and resting block

All of these together are producing some wonderful results.

Master on top the blanks lined beneath.

Master on top the blanks lined beneath.

You can see the holes in the master sheet.

Look to the left of the lines and you will see the prick holes.

Look to the left of the lines and you will see the prick holes.

And yes, they went all the way through.

The prick holes and the lines match up from the master to the blanks.

The prick holes and the lines match up from the master to the blanks.

This project is very fun for me to be working on.  I am enjoying the writing just to write and the experience using almost entirely period tools and materials , (minus the paper.)

I plan to continue to write this and I plan to use this blog to update my progress with this project.

2 responses to “Making a Scroll

  1. I’ve thought of undertaking a similar project, but haven’t started yet. Good for you for using the period methods and tools for lining your pages!

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