You know what I should have been doing? Painting models for CaptainCon. You know what I did instead? I broke out my inks and I painted the art for an Award of Arms. A great magician never reveals his secrets, but you’re in luck! I’m not a great magician! Though I can make a whole pizza disappear…
So in the SCA – that’s the Society for Creative Anachronism, donchaknow – there’s a bunch of awards one can receive for playing the game, be you inclined towards the arts and sciences, working to make events fun for all, or the martial shenaniganry of wailing on valiant opponents with rattan weapons. The first award most folk receive is an Award of Arms. The Award entitles the recipient to use the title Lord or Lady within the Society, and grants the right to bear their arms – a heraldic device unique to that one individual throughout the entirety of the known world.
One good gentle in the Kindgom of Ealdormere – Lady Tirza – tragically lost her Award of Arms several years ago when the scroll was destroyed by a vengeful Poseidon, irked that she’d spurned his advances. A tide of molluscs was unleashed, and the scroll was destroyed when they all started singing “Under The Sea” off-key and the supernatural harmonics disintegrated the paper fibre of the document. Okay, that may not be 100% true, but one way or another her scroll was no more.
Enter the good scribes of Ealdormere! Discussions followed, and it was agreed that I would do the illumination for a new Award of Arms, and my pal Dietrich would do the calligraphy and wordsmithing. It’d been awhile since I’d cracked open the Squidbox, but after getting some direction as to what art elements were desired, the box was opened to reveal its inky goodness.
The Squidbox – so named for the squid atop its lid, which you’ll see later in the post, bears the holy Astrolabe of the Lost Hemisphere and a number of golden ratty guardians. It also holds over two dozen assorted bottles of ink, a gouache pallet, and a selection of pencils, calligraphy dip pens, and other such tools. I also keep a pack of the Games & Gears brushes in there, because they travel well, and I can bring the Squidbox anywhere I might want to put ink on parchment.
Lady Tirza requested that the scroll have ivy and forget-me-nots, but otherwise gave me free reign to do whatever the heck I wanted. A little sneaky research revealed that her heraldic device featured bells, a book, and a candle. I can to that, thought I!
After sketching it out in pencil, I went about inking the lines with a dip pen and my favourite bottle of Winsor & Newton Black India Ink.
After all the detail was traced out – and yes, I got a smudge in the bottom right there, but thankfully smudges and drips and spotting just add to the historical accuracy – it was time to start filling in the details. The solid border was blocked out using the same India Ink, brushed in with one of the Games & Gears brushes.
Next, the little blue forget-me-nots, also painted using ink. The candle was done with gouache. I had picked up a set of muted inks awhile back, which are wonderful to have given that most of my other inks are bright colours. After some veining was done, I went over the ivy again with a different green, and a third green for the forget-me-nots.
The book and bell were next. I pulled out the P3 Brass Balls for the base colour on the bell before going over it with some inks, so it actually has a faint metallic sheen. One last step…
Some white ink traced along the veins and parts of the bell, and we’re done. Bell, Book and Candle, along with Ivy and Forget-Me-Nots, as requested. Next step is to get this into the hands of Dietrich so he can wordsmith it up. That circle above the book is for the Kingdom Seal, to be afixed once all the wording is done.
And there you have it! One Award of Arms illumination, next to my gorgeous Squidbox (art by the amazing Katie Alicyn Studios). It was a lot of fun to illuminate again, a nice palate cleanser from miniature painting, even if it means I won’t have my dudes fully painted for CaptainCon. Plarzoid will forgive me… won’t he?!?