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  • The Making of an Illuminated Manuscript

    The Making of an Illuminated Manuscript:

    Psalm 121

    First the the parchment is cut, guidelines and margins are marked (drawn with a lead stylus or pressed in with a bronzed stylus or penned with brazilwood ink) Once this is done, the writing is completed with a goose quill and iron gall ink. leaving space for the illumination and capital letters.

    Once the calligraphy is complete, the capital letters are drawn with a lead stylus (or pencil)

    Once the capitals are drawn, the remainder of the illumination is drawn, attaching it to the capitals.

    After the lead point or pencil drawing is finished, all of the underdrawing is inked with iron gall ink and a goose quill.

    Once it is thoroughly dry (about a day) the lead point is erased with stale bread (or th pencil is erased with a rubber eraser)

    The size (or glue) for the gilding is laid down, this is typcally gesso, gum ammoniac, or garlic juice and glair.

    It takes 3-5 layers of gum ammoniac to give a lightly raised surface texture to the page, and about 1 day of drying.

    All of the details that need to be gold must be layered with size.

    Once the underlayment is dry, the size is lightly breathed on to make it sticky again, and the loose leaves of gold are layed and pressed onto the artwork.

    It takes many sheets of gold to complete a piece this size, each square inch to be guilded taking special attention.

    Once the gold has been left to dry for a day, it is lightly burnished and then a brush is used to remove the loose gold

    Each outline is then cleaned up with a scribe's knife to remove any gold that is sitll hanging on in the details and crevices

    Once the gold is cleaned up, each base color is mixed by adding the pigments to egg yolk or glair, and then painted on.

    One color at a time

    Once all of the base colors are finished, detail work can begin

    The details involve highlight colos of each base color mixed with white, as well as just white. and some darkening with black and darker corresponding colors.

    The final step is to outline everything with black

    It is now a completed page, here is an image showing the detail of the historiated initial.  The entire page is 9x11 inches, which is quite large for a historic manuscript.

    Jan 04, 2018

  • Scribal Work Shop Fountain Pen Inks: A ballad (not really a ballad)

    I wasted a great naming scheme for a series of inks. At the time it didn’t feel like wasting it. Cryptid Fountain Pen inks…I still love the name and the idea. But frankly, they weren’t great, and I got my feelings hurt.

    I whined.  I was afraid to make a new line of fountain pen inks because, “I don’t want to play with those kids, they just don’t like me.” I failed.

    I’m over that now… sort of. Let me tell you a little about what I tried to do with those inks.

    I had an epiphany that most cheap paper used precipitated calcium carbonate (fancy chalk) to make it white.  I also knew that sodium alginate (Purified seaweed extract) formed a gel in the presence of calcium.  My big fancy idea was that If I added just the right amount of sodium alginate to a fountain pen ink it would create a gel where it contacted the paper and prevent feathering on the page.  You know what? It worked.  Almost like magic, it was a low-cost ink, with a low-cost way of preventing feathering on paper.  I was downright excited.  So, I made the ink, marketed it to fountain pen retailers, and started selling. Sounds good right? Well, people complained that it was inconsistent, that their pens clogged, that it was too dry, etc. Well, whenever I tested it it wasn’t too dry (it was a little dry).  What happened though was that the sodium alginate, over time in water broke down, creating both gel like materials, and oligomers (for those in the polymer world, the molecular weight distribution was increasing with an overall average decrease in average molecular weight).  For fountain pen enthusiasts this meant that the ink would become sluggish/clog your feed (completely reversibly, with a good flush of your pen).

    If I’m being honest, I tried something new, it didn’t work out, and the Cryptid line of ink was junk. Ok I said it, out loud, to the whole world, the Cryptid inks are junk.

    I hate them.

    I loved the idea, and I stuck with it for too long.

    But I’ve learned from them. Immeasurably more than if my first line of inks was as magical as I had hoped. I learned that natural products are finicky. I learned that stability is key with products on the modern market.

    Most of all, I learned that the bottle better be cute. People will hate your product, just because the packaging is ugly.

    I have a poorly kept secret though. I’m working on a new line of inks.  They are permanent/indelible inks. They are waterproof, bleach resistant, etc. They will feather a little, but they shouldn’t dry out in your pen.  I want to call them Cryptids...But I already wasted that name. I think I’ll call them Mythical Inks? It might work. I’ve learned about the fountain pen market, I’ve learned about what people want. But most of all, my opinion isn’t wat matters. It’s the opinion of the fountain pen community.

    Who wants to be an official tester of the new “Mythical Fountain Pen Inks”? Our Facebook page will be running an official contest to be part of our official test group. You will receive a bottle of “Raven Black” and will be asked to submit a review to us via email with any comments and/or reviews you may have. This contest will be posted on January 1st, 2018. It's a new year and a new ink.

    Lucas Tucker

     Dec 21, 2017