At Chieftains in Three Rivers, my friend Mistress Elianor begged the boon for her apprentice Countess Catalina de Arazuri to be admitted to the Order of the Laurel. I was asked to do the scroll for Catalina, and I am so thrilled, for it was Catalina (and Donngal Eriksson) who gave me my Calon Cross for Noblesse Largesse, and to give back to her in such a way truly was wonderful.
To start my prep and research, I started looking for Andalusian illuminated texts as Catalina’s persona is 13th century Andalusian. I also started looking for reed pens (which Dick Blick carries) and goat parchment, which I was able to order from Pergamena. The illumination I based the main piece of her scroll from is from the 13th century Andalusian manuscript “Hadith Bayāḍ wa Riyāḍ” (“The Story of Bayad and Riyad”), which is located in the Vatican Library. I also used decorative elements from a 12th century Andalusian Koran to further augment the text.
To start the actual scroll, I took the scroll text and put it into a word processor and found a font that was similar to the manuscripts. I knew I wanted an Arabic-look hand, as there was not really time to translate the text into Arabic, but I didn’t have time to try and create a hand myself. So, I took the lazy scribe route and used a font as an inspiration for the hand and to give a better idea of what it could look like.
The other thing I did was block out where the text was and where the art would be. From there, I did the text first. Being a lefty and using a reed pen, I found it was easier to dip the pen, and then blot much of the ink onto a more absorbent paper (I had construction paper nearby, so that’s what I used) and then use the pen as it was intended. There’s less flex with a reed pen than with a traditional metal nib or quill, which I found I enjoyed quite a bit.
After the text was completely down on both pages, I started adding in the ornamentation and illumination. I used some pigments I made in a class taught by Mistress Jehanne Bening, Royal Talens for the rest of the colour, and the gold was deliciously smooth Holbein gold. I thoroughly enjoyed the layers of pigment and colour that this Andalusian-style artwork allows for, and the subtleties of shading and even the colour blocks in the wrapped fabric.
Thank you, Mistress Elianor, and thank you, Mistress Catalina, for letting me be a part of your day.