The Traveling Scribe
By Lady Chiara Francesca Arianna d'Onofrio
"...And he said to them, 'Therefore every scribe
who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder
who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.'" -
There are 30 verses in the Bible that talk about scribes, all of them
are traveling scribes. This would be a good indication that traveling
scribes in the eyes of this religious sect were just as important to
the court as a herald. If you wish to be one of the proud, the few, and
the passionate, you too can be a Traveling Scribe!
The Traveling Scribe may often find they will be doing scribal work
at an event. They are usually recognized as a well-known scribe or recognized
when they inform the court herald and the Autocrat that they are there
to work. The most popular request will be to fill in charter scrolls
on site. Less popular requests are creating original scrolls, or impromptu
teaching of the scribal work. This article will go over these three aspects
of a Traveling Scribe.
The Field Teaching Scribe
This scribe has been asked to teach scribing at an event. This can be
very productive and fun. Recruitment of new scribes can begin here for
all ages. This scribe will need:
- A set of blank award scrolls for the number of people you think will
be at the event. Never make photocopies of award scrolls on your own
unless you are the appointed person in your area to do so. There are
specifications that must be followed when these are made.
- Have a portfolio or box to protect the scrolls from the elements
and other stuff. Have a portfolio of finished scrolls.
- Have as many of the following as possible:
- Paints: Fill the palettes prior to the event with primary colors
and a few with metallic and other unique colors. Try to match
palettes to charters for ease of use. Label them if there is
- Brushes and round tooth picks - watercolor brushes that are
good enough to last the event and do not mind losing to the sand
or down a fighter's breastplate. Tooth picks for making small
dots and mixing the paint.
- Rags and scrap Paper for practice and to keep hands from smudging
- Cups for rinse water. Cups for dipping water.
- Bottled water and droppers for adding that water to the palettes
- Sawdust to help dry the finished work.
- Ziplock with wipes for hands before and after. Or the Antibacterial
- An area with tables and chairs. Although art boards are inexpensive
they get heavy to tote around. If your area chapter can afford to get
about 5 of them for events do it. Get the larger clips. These can found
at the hardware store for a lower price than at the art store.
- Most importantly, the box the finished products will go into. Get
tissue or rice paper to separate the painted scrolls if they are not
being used at the event.
- Disposable calligraphy pens to fill in the blanks if the scrolls
are to be used at the event.
- Have a large ledger size envelopes for the recipients to put their
- Chocolate for the painters! Make sure they clean their hands after
they have had some.
Have handouts about charter painting for the Kingdom. Begin by handing
these out and explaining that the first thing to do is to add water to
the paint. Tell them how to lay out the table if this was not done ahead
of time. If two are sharing a palette and water, set up the items between
them. If there are more, set up in a round for them if possible, always
keeping the palette, water, and brushes central to them. As the paint
is saturating go over the instructions on the charters and have the students
pick out the one they want to work on. Try to have good selection that
has proven quick and easy for beginners. This will boost their confidence
and recruit more scribes. Have them select a brush and a palette that
matches the description on their charter. Have samples of the finished
product in a portfolio for show and tell. Keep these in page-protectors
so the scribes will not feel afraid to touch them.
The Court Scribe
It may be 2 minutes to court, and there are charter scrolls AND award
scrolls that need to be filled in. You have that much time to get 15
scrolls to the Monarchs to sign. This may have been planned for ahead
of time but most likely not. This scribe is the one that gets to fill
in all the blanks on the award scrolls that the guilds have all been
diligently painting for just this event.
You will need:
- A solid 8.5x11 art board with flat clips.
- Clipped to your board have an emergency pad of small 8.5X11 fake
- Have large ledger size envelopes for the recipients to put their
- In a lightweight fishing tackle box have:
- ALL the calligraphy-nib sizes. There is no telling what size
nib was used for the scroll.
- Nib holders. These can be prepped ahead of time with the nibs
already in them
- Practice sheet. This is for testing the nib and to help match
the hand on the scroll. Write a few samples out in the recipient's
name to match/check the nib size to the scroll and to practice
and get the writing style flowing smoothly.
- Scrap pieces of paper. This is to lay your hand on while filling
in a scroll taking care not to smudge the work.
- Ziplock bags. These are for anything that is really messy and
cannot be thrown away or cleaned immediately.
- Ziplock with wet wipes or Antibacterial Hand Gel. It can be
found in the baby section of most stores. Use a drop or two per
- India Ink. Find fast drying liquid, as there may be only seconds
from the moment it leaves your table and goes into court.
- FOR BACK UP ONLY: A nice set of commercial disposable calligraphy
pens. This is in case the Monarchs do not know how to calligraphy
or if the very nervous autocrat spills the ink trying to speed
up the work while learning your name.
- Sawdust. This is to help the ink dry by the time the Monarchs
get to sign them. This can be found in any hardware store for
free. Go to the wood cutting area and look for a clerk. They
will gladly give it to you.
- A hand held light source. This is in case it is pitch dark
and no one can spare a light.
- A commercial container of nib cleaner. This is for the nibs
in case there is no time for them to be cleaned immediately.
- A container of water for you to drink from.
The Field Scribe
Scribes may find themselves asked to do a fast original scroll on site.
The field scribe is the one that is tagged to do this. This scribe is
also the one that gets to court scribing incase there is no one else.
This scribal job will need:
- Art board and clips.
- Rulers. Clear ones, short ones, curved ones. Ones with cork underneath
would be great.
- Text samples for the different awards. This can be in the form of
a small diary with the text written into it or a folder with printed
out text. Whichever is used the text should be of accepted usable texts
for the Kingdom and its region's awards.
- A sampler of a favorite hand's alphabet. This is in case the ink
the nervous autocrat spilt was on the only award scroll they had. This
scribe will be creating a promissory for the scroll that was destroyed.
- When at all possible have a set of scrolls already painted just for
- Portable light-table if you have one if not a piece of glass on a
frame and something you can prop it on so that you can work and a light-source
in case sunlight is not enough or gone.
- Graph paper for practice and then transfer the finished pieces to
the paper using the above light-table.
- A supply of paper.
- Waterproof box to keep the papers in.
- Have a large ledger size envelopes for the recipients to put their
scrolls into incase there is not one for them.
- Small paper backs of your favorite Illuminators artwork.
- Your sampler of hands that you are most confidant with.
- A bible of your choice of religion or non-religion, no not for illumination
samples, for help!
- Your box of magic filled with:
- The primary colors of your paints along with pearl gold and
pearl silver already set in palettes.
- One size each of your most popular brushes
- Distilled bottle water
- Small bottle with dropper tip.
- Scrap paper
- Scrap rags
- Sand paper for fixing mistakes
- Sawdust to dry the art
- Quick drying India ink
- All your nibs, calligraphy and drawing.
- Nib cleaner
- Ziplock bags for each of the palettes and anything else that
is still wet when you pack up.
- Wipes or gel to clean the hands
- Drafting tape
- Sharp, new blades for scraping the mistakes you cannot sand
Find an optimal place to work at with a sturdy table and good lighting
that is away from everyone so that others do not see the work or interfere
with the process of doing the scroll. One bump to a table can ruin the
work. Set up your ink, paint, nibs and brushes in a method that is quickest
to utilize. The critical factor here is time. Have a sample alphabet
of a hand that has proven easy and quick to do. Have a sample of art
from the same period as the hand that has also proven to be quick and
easy to do. Do a quick sketch of the art and text on a small pad of paper.
Get graph paper and layout the design. Leave about 1 to 2 inches around
the actual work. Since time is at a premium, having pre-illuminated paper
ready would be the best solution. This is a good thing to anticipate
at all times.
If there is no field scribe about with all the above, the court scribe
will have to improvise. The scroll you will most likely make is a thank
you note or a promissory for an award. Most rulers are 1 inch in width.
Use this to make your border. Find ruled paper and a light source and
place it behind the paper to help as a guide for the calligraphy. Look
at a scroll that is handy and use that as the source of art and hand
if one is not readily available in the scribal case.
Start early and never walk too far away from your work. Ask/find a helpful
person if they would occasionally bring some water, food, and watch over
the work if nature calls.