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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

30 July 2007

Folio - In The Forest

When I have finished the script analysis (only a bit more to go! Yay!) and studied the illumination style of the Bedford Psalter, I am going to do a big piece to show what I've learned.

For this, I need some text of approximately 100 words (counting 18 lines, about 6 words per line).

I selected a paragraph from the piece "Unpopular Gals", from "Good Bones and Simple Murders" by Margaret Atwood.

It doesn't have a title, being only a paragraph, but I'm calling it "In the Forest".

I'll do this page of pangrams using the smaller nib that I'm currently working on, and because that is going well I'll then work on this text, including practising it and working out it's layout.

I want to practise it on 'good paper' as well. I usually only use good paper (I'll be using Arches HP for this one) when I'm doing the draft of and the 'real' one, so I'm not very comfortable on the paper, as it's unfamiliar. I'd like to get more familiar with the paper as I will want my writing to look it's best.

And yes, I have a twisted and macabre sense of humour.

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29 July 2007

Script Analysis - Pangrams 2

I've done some more pangrams, and am now pretty happy with it all. I do still have to do some sorting out of the ligatures.

I am now going to move down to my 1.5 mm Brause pen.

I wanted to have a look at which ink would be best. Until now I've been using my Art Spectrum, which is fine for general practise, but as a smaller x-height, I want the script to be as clear as possible, so want a good ink.

I tried Ling Lung Copperplate ink, Higgins Eternal, FW Acrylic and Will's Quills China Black.

The different lines (the last 5) are marked in the practice sheets above.

The Ling Lung gave me the finest hairlines, the crispest lines and was a good black. I did have slight flow problems.

The Higgins was pretty grey and not much better than the AS ink.

The FW Acrylic was good - but I'm reluctant to use an acrylic for practice because I'll have to keep cleaning my pen. (which is fine if I'm doing a proper piece but not for practise unless I have to). It dried slowly enough that I had enough ink for hairlines but the hairlines weren't particularily fine.
It was the best black.

The Will's Quills China Black was second to the Ling Lung. It did occasionally look 'greasy' on the paper. It does have a nice shine.

The Ling Lung, being a copperplate ink, just feels so good with the hairlines, which I so often struggle with.

I do really want to try some Sumi ink tho!

The Will's Quill page with the two Chinese inks I used, plus Sumi inks :

Yowsers, sumi ink is expensive!!

In going to the smaller x-height, I handily already have the guidelines drawn up - I did that back in

Beard's (Robert of Stonemarche) comments :-

"I loathe reservoirs, they seem to encourage blobbing.

If you're writing as slowly as the hand demands, the ink will start to set in the nib, that little coagulated bit of ink screws things up.

The ink will also affect blobbing. It's all surface tension, if it's a watery ink, there's a greater chance of letters blobbing together

If it's a lacquer style ink, like Sumi, it can congeal on the nib while you're working. Though, even with that flaw, I think Sumi has a more period look to it on the page, it rises above the paper slightly and has a gloss that I can see in the manuscripts I like).

Regarding blotting, I find that Sumi ink works more or less okay on printer paper. And hitting it up with some Gum Sanderac makes it work quite nicely. (not perfect, but good practice" material)

Since the Will's Quills page mentions that the Ling Lung ink is a thicker ink, and Beard mentions that with thicker ink (I think this is true as well as for lacquer inks), it can congeal on the nib. Which would explain why I find the flow a bit choked.

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28 July 2007

Script Analysis - Abbreviations

Here's some paleography stuff, but I haven't worked out one of the symbols and am looking for help :-)
I don't really need to know what the abbreviations used in the Bedford Psalter page I'm analysing are, since I don't plan to use them when I'm doing calligraphy pieces, but I thought that I'd look up the ones used, for the sake of further understanding.

I've got the Ductus software (thanks Nick!), described at

It reproduces the text of "The Elements of Abbreviation in Medieval Latin Paleography" by Adriano Capelli.

( I also found Capelli's Dictionary of Latin Abbreviations on-line at . The explanations are in Italian, which is a great pity, but it does provide the lists of abbreviated letters with their full Latin word counterparts.)

I am jumping around, reading bits and pieces of a rather complicated subject, but this is a little start on it, and hopefully I've interpreted the symbols correctly.

"0.2 All medieval abbreviations, for both Latin and Italian words, can be divided into six categories..... Abbreviation can be indicated by 1. Truncation 2. Contraction 3. Abbreviation marks significant in themselves 4. Abbreviation marks significant in context 5. Superscript letters 6. Conventation signs."

Most of what I've seen in my page of the Bedford Psalter is either truncation or contraction with one possible abbreviation mark significant in itself (at the end)

The following is from "Manuscript Studies - Medieval and Early Modern ... Abbreviations" unless otherwise noted:-

"The two most common (and most variable) marks are a macron above a letter or an apostrophe-like curl after or part of a letter; both can mean "some letters are missing" (though in late medieval manuscripts the apostrophe-like mark is frequently otiose: purely decorative, without significance).

A macron usually indicates a missing m or n, or a missing syllable involving one of these nasals; it can also indicate other suspensions, such as a missing i in ion (it also frequently represents a medial or final syllable with i).

I was confused as to whether a macron was a bar or line, as opposed to sometimes being a curved line (tilde) as referred to above, representing an 'a'/syllable containing an 'a'.

Wikipaedia gives

"A macron, from Greek μακρός (makros) meaning "large", is a diacritic ¯ placed over a vowel originally to indicate that the vowel is long. The opposite is a breve ˘, used to indicate a short vowel. These distinctions are usually phonemic."

Never mind the definition, which is a pronunciation based one, at least it tells me that a macron is a bar/line.

From the Bedford Psalter. Even tho it's 'decorated' to make it looked curved, I say that this is a macron, and is the abbreviation of "cundum cum" ("something with")

A curled macron (a tilde) represents a missing a or a syllable with an a. Assuming that the symbol above is a macron, there aren't any curled macrons in the Bedford Psalter.

A curled line extending from a final letter, or an apostrophe-shaped mark (it can be a small "9" shaped mark in a raised position after a letter), most frequently indicates a missing terminal us: "ver9" = "versus"; "ven9" = "Venus."

From the Bedford Psalter, showing the apostrophe shaped mark and the "9" close together :-

It also is used medially and finally to denote e or er: p'iodic = periodic.

This medieval suspension mark is the origin of the modern apostrophe to indicate missing letters in contractions, as in "don't."

Still to find - an diamond placed above a non-terminal letter,
Capelli says
"1.4 The first truncation sign, a period or dot, is generally placed after the abbreviated word and is still in use today with the same meaning.
But the Bedford Psalter examples have the dot over the word, not at the end :-

I don't know about psaltiu(m?) but egypti would seem to me to be a complete word. So what is the dot doing?

On page 16, Capelli work through the development of a wavy line "3.41 sometimes very pronounced, almost like the letter 'u', is written above the word to indicate the omission of the letter 'r' or a syllable which contains an 'r', such as 're', 'ra', 'ar'. "In many cases, however, this wavy line is used to indicate the letter 'a' or a syllable that ends in 'a' this case being a transformation of the letter 'a'.... "In manuscripts of the 14th and 15th centuries, especially those written in the Gothic script, this wavy line develops further into a broken horizontal bar, or two heavy dots closely spaced"

From the Bedford Psalter :

From my reading of Capelli, I am thinking that the first character shown here is a specialised symbol, indicating a specification abbreviation of letters.

On another page of the Bedford Psalter there is

A couple more double dots, indicating endings in an 'a' or a syllable containing an 'a'.

Capelli says

"1.5 Amongst the various abbreviations by truncation, the sigla are easily the most important. They are also the most difficult to interpret since they reproduce only the initial letter of the abbreviated word. Fortunately it is only the most frequently used words and phases that are so abbreviated..... It is generally the majuscule form of the initial letter that at is used, followed by a period."

I think the following paragraph may be relevant to the following weird thing - the "lxx" topped by two dots :-

"1.55 Doubled sigla generally indicated the plural number or the superlative degree, or sometimes also a word in which the letter in the abbreviation occurs two or more times."

I wonder if the 'infinity symbol' (an 8 on it's side) is a Bishop's knot.

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26 July 2007

Script Analysis - Pangrams 1

My first page in English!

I noticed another case for using a particular variant of a letter. I've marked the word "wizard" on the second line. There's a 'hole' there. If I'd used the other version of the 'a', there'd be less of a hole.

I want to pay attention to the fine lines (eg the bar of the 'e'). This script is a contrast between the 'texture' or heavy weave, and the fine lines.

I also want to get past the point where I am thinking about spacing and letter forms, and be working on the overall beauty of the script. Of which consistency is a big part.

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23 July 2007

Script Analysis - Script Practise 7

I've finished copying the page of the Bedford Psalter.

This is a scan of the copy of the page I've been using at my desk - not the clean copy that I've got stored on the computer. Poor dirty page!

I could do the other 3 pages that I have. The script there is not as dense, and not as 'curlicued' (not one to be seen!) but I think using my list of pangrams (in English) would be more valuable.

If anyone reading this wants my list of pangrams - there are 4 A4 pages of them, including some in Latin and French, and some with lots of S's - just drop me a note. They are from a cyberscribe originally.

I've seen some evolution of my use of the script as I've done this practise.

* I've decided to do long 'ticks' for the apostrophes for the 'i's. I was doing a kind of caret thing. Part of the beauty of the script is the heaviness of the letters combined with the lightness of the flourishes and extra bits and pieces, and I think a thin straight line for the apostrophe will fit in better. The apostrophe's on the source are all sorts of shapes - it's not a set thing.

* I had to do a "l l" in the practise above and hit a problem - literally. The serifs hit into each other.
It eventually occurred to me that using a variant of the ascender serif - one that didn't stick out to the sides - would be a good idea in these cases! And also to use such an alternative when descender flourishes of letters from above are hitting into the letter and creating a tangled muddle.

* When analysing the letters I talked about the 'drip' from the top of the 'long s'. I don't know where that came from! I didn't find any during the practise. I've been using a serif, same as the rest of the letters.

* I'm occasionally going non-straight with my verticals. I think it's because I'm not moving the page as I go along and so not looking at it straight. At least, I hope that's the problem.

* I need to watch

- the shape of my ascenders
- the shape of my descenders
- that I don't do a standard G.T.Q. 'u' instead of a B.P. 'u'
- letter width
- the ticks are placed correctly
- the crossbar of the 't's are straight
- length of first vertical of a versio n 1.

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Script Analysis - Ligatures and other letter form rules

From Drogin, page 64.

I made a list of all the letters with bows to the left and/or right, and then put them together in the possible combinations.

The ones with a "x" are combinations that don't occur in English (or Latin, as far as I know).
There are repeats in the list.

And here's the final list, with the repeats removed, and also the other relevant rules associated with letter forms (half r and long s).

I've struck out the ligatures to do with version 2 of 'a' just lightly - because I think when I'm using a source other than the Bedford P, which I'm copying faithfully, I'll just use version 1 of a - I like it better.

Oh - that last line should have 'o' as the row header.

Later : I found this comment in "An Introduction to Palaeography for Scribes", Migistra Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester

"They also began a practice known as "biting", in which adjoining letters with rounded parts (bowls) would be shoved together so that the bowls actually touched".

Drogin refers to the ligatures of the bows as "biting' somewhere as well.

She also says

The use of ligatures is part of this. In some hands (such as half-uncial), ligatures--one or more letters within a word joined together--were mostly used as a space-saving measure towards the ends of lines. In other hands (Beneventan, for example), certain letters were always joined in ligature, no matter where they were located in a line. Still other hands (Luxeuil, for one) feature a dazzling variety of possible ligatures--some used more often than others."

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Script Analysis - Script Practise 6

I've scanned the complete page - so it includes the last lot of practise as well, and the start of a new practise page.

That last line on the page, where it's a bit too low to write - I hate writing on that line! I think I'll waste some paper and finish further up, rather than doing twisted wrist acrobatics.

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21 July 2007

Script Analysis - Script Practise 5

I cracked it regarding the ink blotting on the paper I was using (printer paper), so invested in a pad of bleedproof paper. I'm MucH happier working on it. Tho I do have a bit of a problem smudging words - the ink tends to sit on top of the paper for longer, and take longer to dry.

I've re-written the top half of the page - all of the section I've worked on so far during the first 4 script practises :-

The original page looks like :-

I was reading Drogin, and when he is talking about Early Gothic he says :-

(page 54). (It doesn't seem to want to be any bigger)

Thinking of them in this way (a way to get back up to the top of the line) has helped me in writing them.

It also occurred to me that they have a use as a space filler (which I talked about last post) and to help identify letters like 'u' and 'ii' and 'n'. The tick being on the left hand side at the start of the letter is a dead give away.

I'm going to make an executive decision here. I think the tick attached to the bottom diamond of an 'r' looks silly. It crosses across too much empty space. I want to do one at a more acute angle, heading up towards the point of the bow of the 'r' rather than trying to reach the next letter

My ticks tend to be too vertical in general. When i go to write the next letter, I find that it's bottom diamond won't connect with the last letter's tick, coz the tick is too high at that point.

I noticed, on the first line of the Bedford P page, that the scribe has written the 'o' so that it's bottom didn't quite meet the baseline. So he added a cute little cheat.

A little squiggle.

I was also looking at Knight's script analysis of the Bedford P, and was glad to seeing the following comment :

(Gothic Scripts - D4)

The interesting bit being "the LOWER diamonds to be elongated to a point".
I was thinking the upper diamonds were elongated as well, but never succeeded in getting them so.

Another thing stated somewhere (in Drogin?) is the trick of covering the top half of the letters, and seeing what the bottom half looks like. It should be all verticals and diamonds, with the occasional quadrant, and the occasional 30 degree quadrant (eg for the bottom of an "o"). It should look regular, to give the 'textura' or 'woven' pattern.
There's also the trick of turning it upside down and looking for the pattern then.

I haven't got it perfect yet. Something to aim for, tho I don't know if perfection is actually achievable.

Still have to watch the width (counterspace) of my letters - a (version 2), d, p and o in particular.

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18 July 2007

Script Analysis - Script Practise 3

I marked up the practise I did in Script Practise 2 :-

There are a few letter malformations, and I've only just now worked out how to do a descender serif that I like, but the major problem was the spacing.

The 1 p.w. spacing between the letters was pretty good.

The problems were

* I'm not turning my pen back to 45 degrees after doing a diamond at 60 degrees, so the verticals are too skinny.

* the spacing between the words is a bit variable - generally being too large.

Note : looking at the Bedford P, the 1 p.w. spacing between two words seems to have the following rule :

if the first word ends in a hook serif, (eg u, i, n, m, a, c, e, f, l etc) and the second word starts with a hook serif : the 1 p.w. is measured from the end of that last hook serif of the first word to the start of the hook serif on the first letter of the next word, not the last and first vertical (as you'd think).
This can give what appears to be inconsistent inter-word spacing, if you don't take the serifs into account, or they are faintly written.

if one or other of the two words has a hook serif but the other doesn't : the 1 p.w. space is measured between the serif and the vertial (eg ----d u-----, or ----n g---)

if neither the first word ends in a hook serif, nor the second word start with one : the 1 p.w. is measured between the verticals (eg ----g b----, or -----h c-----)

This also applies to pen flourishes (tho they tend to be below the baseline) and punctuation.

Gosh, that took a lot of words to explain!

I did another line, thinking about this issues as I went. It's a bit better, but I'm really tired at the moment, so it's not brilliant.

I'm not being picky, noticing all these errors. I don't want to get into the habit of doing the wrong thing, and then having to unlearn the incorrect habit and re-learn the right way later on.
It is a bit like patting my head and rubbing my tummy as I write tho, as I have so many things to think about.

I'm using the Bedford P page as a source at the moment, as it's basically a 'cheat sheet' showing everything correctly (except where the scribe made mistakes *grin*). I'll move onto pangrams and other sentences later.

I'm trying to strike a balance between not copying the same sentence too many times (and hence just learning those particular combinations of letters), and writing it often enough that the corrections stick in my brain instead of getting lost as I get distracted by new mistakes and issues.

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17 July 2007

Script Analysis - Script Practise 2

I was looking at the first script practise with Kit today, and she thought all of my verticals were crooked.

It turned out that
1) The margin on the right hand side was slightly crooked; and
2) I'd scanned the page slightly crookedly.

My verticals were actually straight (except the long s in the second word, last line, which leans forward a bit).


I never look at the RHS margin. I'm left handed. I don't know if that's why - but I don't look at the right hand margin unless I'm considering whether a word will fit on the end of the line or not.

I've done more practise since :-

And these are the original lines from the B. Psalter page :-

I've marked up the practise. Lots of little mistakes.

Tomorrow I'll look at the spacing of the letters and words.

As a general plan, I'm going to

* work on the script, sorting out various mistakes

* finish the script analysis
(I looked at Drogin today, and found a majuscule set that matches the majuscules that appear on one of the pages of the Bedford Psalter I've got. That was a bit easy!)

* do the analysis of the illumination (see Mistress Rowan Perigrynne's paper "Analysing a Style", step 3 onwards, at )
which will be a lot more fun, and a lot easier and quicker than the script analysis

* select a piece of writing and practise it.

* produce a piece using the writing and the style (script, layout and illumination) of the Bedford Psalter.

* do some more casual, smaller pieces using the script and illumination and have a bit of fun.

* have a bit of an explore of historical and maybe even modern gothic textura quadrata styles in general (just exploring them, not script analysis of them)

* move onto the next historical script analysis that Paul Antonio recommended - Gothic Textura Prescisus, and repeat all of the above, including doing the script analysis a lot more quickly second time around since I know what i'm doing now

and then do it again for Gothic Rotunda.

And then Bastard Secretary, and the Batarde hands - but that will be a couple of years off!

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16 July 2007

Script Analysis - Script Practice

I've still got a bit of script analysis to do (like decide on a set of majuscules, and reminding myself of the ligature rules) but I really wanted to write.

I'm very pleased with how it's going, and I've learnt a lot already, from putting the letters together.

I was having problems with the ink spreading. Pouncing wasn't fixing it. I eventually changed my ink bottle for a clean bottle and fresh ink. The old ink was partially clotted, and had had water added to it to thin it a few times - the proportions of binder to pigment were probably all wrong, because it solved the problem, half way down the page.

Things I've learnt :

* Angles * After the first couple of lines, I went back and marked the 45 degree (and a few 30 degree, where relevant) angles.

I found that I needed to smarten them up a bit. I'm not too worried. Looking at Historical Source Book for Scribes angle-marked up extract of the Bedford Psalter, the angles were all over the place. But still - aiming for correctness is a good thing.

* Vertical Line Spacing * I did all that practise on getting my vertical lines evenly spaced, one pen width apart, using Drogin's "Gods of Snow" quote.
I could feel it kicking it as I did this script practise.

It's not perfect, of course. I've just marked up the edge of a piece of paper with the correct line spacing, and will start using it to check the spacing in my next lot of practice.

* E, C, R and T * Given the verticals are evenly spaced, I've noticed that the letters following the 'e' and 'c', 'r' and 't' need to be placed right up against that letter, because of their empty space to their right hand side.

I've also noticed that the crossbar of the 't' is longer than I thought - extending to the start of the next letter. Which makes sense. If it's 1 p.w. on the righthand side, and the letters are one p.w. apart .....

* Ligatures * I've started doing a few ligatures. The empty space caused by a letter with a vertical on it's right hand side, followed by a letter with a vertical on it's right hand side (eg 'b' 'e') looked a bit sad. (I wonder if that is the rule for what is ligatured? My brain is kind of full at the moment but I'll have to think about it)

* Margin Serifs * I've noticed that the first letter of the first word from the left hand margin of the page have a hook serif to begin with (unless the letter starts with a vertical, like 'l' or 'b') to give the letter a little 'breathing room' rather than being pushed up against the margin.

* Left Hand side Serifs * That letters starting with a diamond, that follow a letter ending in a vertical, have a hook serif added on the left hand side.

Like 'd' followed by 'u'.

Because the 'd' ends in a vertical, there is empty space of one pen width (sometimes this is avoided by using a ligature but not for all letter combinations) before the 'u' starts. The 'd' doesn't finish in a hook serif. So the 'u' has a hook serif on it's left to fill up the space.

* I don't like the descender serif (the fishtail as a descender). There are a few alternatives - I'm going to work on using another version.

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15 July 2007

Script Analysis - U to Ampersand

Finished! And thank all the Gods that ever existed for that. I thought that I was truly going to go insane.

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Script Analysis - P to T

Not related, but I really like the comment that Sheila Waters recently made in a Cyberscribes mail :

" Johnston insisted that his students ( and Irene Wellington was one of
his best) set up a cover sheet and write at the same "sweet spot"
level, moving the paper up line by line instead of moving one's head
(see the diagram in chapter one of my book)."

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12 July 2007

Script Analysis - P to R

I like the P's.
I don't like the Q's.

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11 July 2007

Script Analysis - G to O

I'm getting more into the 'character' of the script as I work through the alphabet.

Because I've only done 'standard' gothic textura quadrata before, it's quite a departure doing all these curved lines and points.

I had finished this page, but noticed the m's and n's weren't quite right - not enough of the connecting lines showing, so I went back and re-did them. I'm pretty happy with the result.

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