Sing ho, for the life of a student scribe

The first Aughrim Scriptorium was small but lovely and I learned lots, most usefully to really look at what is happening with colour applications in a medieval painting – I’m currently working on some example initials that I’ll illustrate this point with in my next post.  I didn’t actually do much practical work, lazy me, instead I was shown a lot of amazingly cool stuff by Mistress Melisende and I oohed and aahed my way into the Book of Slander for my troubles.  (Book of Slander? Recording all those unfortunate sentences people say innocently that everyone hears as far from innocent)   I learned about the practical uses of Gum Sandarac for “pouncing” parchment gently with the heel of the hand to prepare the surface for writing on and Gum Ammoniac for gilding, about gesso and texturing surfaces with a scribal awl to create interesting effects in gilt surfaces.  I also now have a lovely hematite stone for burnishing my gold.  I also got to carefully not drool over books and other people’s scrolls, which is always good and I already have a couple of titles I want to start my scribal library with.  I’m already really looking forward to my second Scriptorium.

One of the many reasons I’ve been extra quiet here is that I have taken on with the Stanford University online course Digging Deeper: Making Manuscripts (details of the course (which has now almost ended) can be found at I *highly* recommend this if it comes up again if you have any interest at all in things scribal, especially starting off.  I actually very nearly forgot about it altogether, I’m really glad I decided to jump in late and work through the material.  There will be more, but right now I want to get my practicals sorted before the course winds up next week.

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