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Medievally speaking, what gets your creative juices flowing?
Is it getting your hands dirty making stuff?
Is it figuring out how things were done?
Delving into the when and where and why of medieval life?
Is it learning something you didn’t know before?
Is it learning more about something that intrigues you?
If you answered “YES!” to any of these questions, consider teaching at Æthelmearc Æcademy and War College, hosted by the Shire of Ballachlagan (Wheeling, WV), on June 11.
So far, we have 25 classes (that’s 31 class-hours!) scheduled, on these topics: Bardic, Brewing, Clothing, Dance, Embroidery, Heraldry, History, Metalworking, Research, SCA Life, Scribal, Youth Track, War College — Fencing (for a listing of class titles and descriptions, please visit the Æcademy website).
But sadly, there are NO classes (yet) in Cooking, Equestrian Arts, or Fiber Arts. If you’ve never taught at Æcademy (or if it’s been a while), no problem! It’s easy to register — Just go to the Æcademy registration page and supply the requested information about yourself and your class.
If you’ve never taught a class (or have taught but are still a bit nervous about teaching), I have a solution! On Saturday of Æthelmearc War Practice, from 3 to 4 pm, I’ll be teaching a class called “Documentation to Class,” which will give you ideas to turn what you know into a successful class.
If you have signed up to teach at Pennsic, consider teaching at Æcademy as a “dress rehearsal.” Teaching in June will give you time to fine-tune your class. Plus, the feedback and experience will boost your confidence.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Yours, in Service to the Arts,
Mistress Alicia Langland
Looking for something to do at War Practice? Wishing to try your hand at a new art?
Come to the Great Hall and do just that!
In addition to classes in music and dance, and an embroidery salon run by THL Cristina inghean Ghriogair, you can try calligraphy and illumination under the helpful guidance of Mistress Yvianne de Castel d’Avignon and Mistress Liadin ní Chléirigh na Coille, play with fibers with Mistress Mahin Banu Tabrizi, or try cooking over an open fire with Mistress Katla úlfheþinn.
Scribal play time and the embroidery salon will run 3pm to 6pm on Friday; on Saturday, the various play times will be from 10am to 4pm. Stop in and try your hand at something new – embroidery, calligraphy, illumination, cooking, weaving in between attending the classes being run in the Hall. Or stop in and lend a hand to one of the areas, or just come spend the day doing something you love and sharing it with others!
Looking forward to the day.
Baroness Orianna Fridrikskona
Documented from the Rolls and Files of the Coram Regibus of Thomas Byron Rex and Ariella Regina, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: Being a True Record of the Business of Their Royal Court at Blackstone Raid XXV, 30 April, Anno Societatis L, in the Barony of Blackstone Mountain. As recorded by Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres, Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald, with the assistance of Lady Katherine McClung, Millrind Herald, and Lord Arias Beltran del Valle, and Baroness Anastasie de Lamoure, Silent Herald.
Their Majesties invited forward those children in attendance. With the permission of their parents, the children were encouraged to see Lady Astrid vigaskegg for activities and treats to amuse them during Court.
Their Majesties brought before Them Baron Ichijo Honen and Baroness Cerridwen de Skeine. Before giving them leave to conduct the business of their Baronial Court, Their Majesties demanded that the Baron and Baroness duly swear their fealty to the Crown. Such fealty being given and received to Their Majesties’ satisfaction, Their Excellencies held their court.
Their Majesties next invited Count Sir Jehan de la Marche to approach. His Excellency offered his own personal fealty to the Crown, and thereupon asked the Court to witness as he renewed his relationship with Master Morien MacBain as both squire and apprentice.
Their Majesties then received Octavius Flavus, a visitor from distant lands. This gentle carried with him words of wisdom from a far shire, which he had transformed into a scroll of his own illumination, calligraphed by Beatrix. Their Majesties accepted it with pleasure and promised to provide Their own message for Octavius to take with him on the next leg of his continuing journey.
Their Majesties next sought Lord Borislav of Novogord. Her Majesty spoke of the many steps fighters must take to perfect their armor and weapons, the dedication necessary to fight in all weathers and at all times, and the skill developed over time in the face of such dedication. In recognition of Borislav’s efforts and skills, They named him a Companion of the Golden Alce. Scroll forthcoming.
Next Their Majesties summoned The Honorable Lord Tegrinus de Rhina, and questioned him regarding his service to his group as Knight Marshal, as well as performing setup, teardown, and other labors for groups throughout the kingdom. To recognize his long service, They named him a Companion of the Keystone. Scroll by Misress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Their Majesties next sought Lady Reina Dulcedame. The Lady being not in attendance, Their Majesties asked Dame Hrefna Úlfarvinnsdóttir to carry Their words, and named Lady Reina a Companion of the Keystone. Scroll by The Honorable Lady Ismay Ponde on wording by Count Jehan de la Marche.
Lady Crystal MacUrsus was brought before Their Majesties, who noted her labors on behalf of events such as the Tournament of the White Hart and others in her group. In recognition of her acts of service, They were moved to name her a Companion of the Keystone. Scroll by Mistress Maria Christina de Cordoba.
Gremian Ulfhednar was next summoned to attend Their Majesties. Again, Their Majesties remarked on the service he provided to White Hart and other events, performing setup and cleanup alike. Being moved by reports of his dedication, Their Majesties saw fit to name him a Companion of the Order of the Keystone, thus Awarding him Arms. Scroll by Mistress Maria Christina de Cordoba.
Their Majesties called into Their presence Kismira Rothiem, and spoke with her of her work as reservations clerk and at the registration desk for Blackstone. In recognition of her service to the Barony, Their Majesties created her a Companion of the Keystone, further Awarding her Arms. Scroll by Master Caleb Reynolds.
Their Majesties called for Tiberius of Sylvan Glen, who was also not in attendance. Once more, Dame Hrefna Úlfarvinnsdóttir came forward to carry Their words of praise to him, as well as Their wish to name him a Companion of the Silver Buccle. Scroll by Baroness Ekaterina Volkova.
Then was Lady Onora Inghean ui Donmhnaill asked to attend Their Majesties. Their Majesties praised this noble lady’s clothing and embroidery, including the clothes she was wearing at the time. Faced with the obvious evidence of her skills, and knowing the reports of her good works, Their Majesties saw fit to name her a Companion of the Sycamore. Scroll by Baroness Ekaterina Volkova.
Their Majesties next required The Honorable Lord Gareth Whytebull to enter Their presence. They spoke of His Lordship’s constant service to his Barony, region, and the fighting community as a whole. Mindful of the acclaim of others to this same accomplishment, Their Majesties called before Them Their Order of the Millrind and inducted him into its rolls. Scroll by Meisterin Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen.
Before releasing the Order, Their Majesties called for Lady Odette D’Arques to attend Them. This lady’s service as exchequer, cook, and housing coordinator were among the many reasons Their Majesties were moved to Grant her Arms and name her also a Companion of the Millrind. Scroll by Baroness Alexandra di Campagnella.
Her Majesty then spoke of the one who inspired Her on this day: Bear, who had newly authorized as a Thrown Weapons marshal. He had supplied the butts for the day’s range and spoken with Her Majesty of his plans to transform his estates into an archery and thrown weapons range for all. Her Majesty presented him with Her token in appreciation for the inspiration he provided.
Their Majesties also thanked the event staff who made the day so enjoyable for all, and the cooks who provided food for Them despite additional restrictions and constraints governing Their Majesties’ diet on the day.
Their Majesties also thanked all scribes and regalia wrights who contributed their talents and largesse to enhance the Court’s proceedings. They further invited any and all who might take up the scribes’ pen to speak with or contact the Sylvan Signet, as the Scribes of Æthelmearc have particular need of reinforcements and wish to grow their community again.
There being no further business, Their Majesties’ Court was closed.
Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres
Submitted by Mistress Alicia Langland.
Surely one the of the things that has helped our Society flourish for fifty years is our willingness to share what we’ve learned with others. Let’s continue that tradition to the century mark … and beyond!
May 19-22: Æthelmearc War Practice XXVII, Canton of Steltonwald
One of the many activities offered at this busy event, classes are a great way to meet new friends and meet up with old ones. If you would like to teach a class, please contact the Class Coordinator, Baroness Constance Glyn Dwr, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday from 3 to 6 pm and on Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, stop by the Great Hall, where various salons focused on different art forms — such as fiber arts, cooking, C&I, embroidery and needlework, music, dyeing — will be on display. Come and try a new art form, or learn more about a familiar one! If you have questions or would like to participate, please contact Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona at email@example.com
May 28: Thescorre Baronial Champs, Barony of Thescorre
Among the many competitions at this event is an A&S competition.
(HINT: Documentation with your entries allows you to “teach” others about your art even when you’re not in the room! Sweet!)
Thanks to Laegaire Mac Conaill Meic Shiadahail for allowing us to share his poetic and evocative recounting of the finals from Crown Tournament.
I couldn’t have asked for a better match up to watch to determine the Heirs of Æthelmearc. Two knights who I look up to greatly came together in love, chivalry, and brotherhood to fight under the eyes of the populace, their King and Queen, their wives, and the Gods. When Duke Marcus and Duke Timothy stepped into the list, a thought occurred to me and I voiced it to those around me.
No matter which of these men takes victory today, Æthelmearc wins.
And so it was. Two titans of honor and martial skill crashed together, laughter and joy heralding their steps, even as their sword blows brought thunder and fire. At the choice of Queen Ariella, the first of five bouts was fought with polearms.
Timothy took the bout decisively, and Marcus chose to fight the second bout great sword. Like the very plates of the earth they came together again, exchanging blows and words until Timothy fell, choosing that the third round should be fought two-weapon.
An honorable move, as Timothy’s bailiwick is sword and shield, and he chose an even fight over that which would give him the best odds at victory. This round may have been the longest, as the combatants circled one another, engaging cautiously at first, until finally in a brutal bind, Timothy found the opening, bound Marcus’ weapon with his axe, and won the bout with a windmilling strike from his sword.
Emulating Timothy’s decision to favor the most even fights possible, Marcus chose to fight their fourth bout with sword and shield.
This was when something amazing happened. The stuff of dreams. Timothy ceded the bout. These two had come far, and fought hard, and were holding the weapons commonly held to be the “traditional” weapons of Society Chivalry. So, he ceded the fourth bout. And so it came down to one last fight. The joyous tension in the air was palpable. Tents were emptied. Conversations silenced. All turned out for this fight. I repeated to myself, quietly.
No matter which man becomes Prince, Æthelmearc wins.
The beginning of their bout was a beautiful thing of laughter and friendship. “Sweep the legs!” cried one from the side, as the two took a “crane’ stance, much to the amusement of the many spectators. More words were exchanged, but what I remember most is just before the bout, Timothy simply calling out to Marcus, “my friend.”
Finally, after much ado, they clashed. Zeus and Odin, the Morrigan and Athena. Launcelot and Arthur. John McClane and Rambo. Mountain and Mountain. They fought back and forth, traversing the entirety of the list at least three times. To me, it felt that a killing blow might never be struck. No matter how hard one pressed the offense, each man defended himself with grace and prowess. Even when Marcus lost a shield strap, he elected to continue the fight, maneuvering his shield with alacrity. In the end, the fight wasn’t decided by brute force, or a long series of blows. The friends tangled a final time and broke apart, circling each other. With the dexterity of a viper, Marcus lashed out with a thrust, the tip of his blade flying towards his opponent. The air hung still. No one breathed. From the sides, it was impossible to tell. Had the blow struck true, or had it stopped a fraction of an inch short? After what may have been a moment, or a year, Timothy fell.
The crowd gasped, collectively. With one blow, it was decided. With one thrust, Marcus had seized the crown, and become Prince of Æthelmearc, in a tourney worthy of story and song.
Finally, the Shield of Chivalry is given to the fighter in Crown who the Ladies of the Rose and Garnet decide showed the most honor and chivalry.
Of course, Duke Timothy received the Shield, excellent, yes. But the ladies charged him with a geas to, at each event, select a fighter who displays excellent chivalry, and make them the bearer of the Shield for a day. There are so many reasons I find this beautiful. It helps the kingdom to recognize chivalry all throughout its borders, instead of singling out only one individual. This is a quest which I know His Grace will love greatly, and enjoy undergoing throughout his time as the Shield-bearer. Lastly, it shows a sense of love for the entire kingdom, and pays respect to our need to recognize chivalry whatever we find it. I love this.
I hope only that my words have conveyed some part of the magic of that day, and the monolithic honor and prowess that I saw.
Greetings dear populace,
It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that, due to circumstances beyond our (the Canton of Beau Fleuve) control, we must cancel the Brass Ring Thing Demo. The demo was to be held June 4th from 11-6 at the Hershel Carrousel Museum.
Thank you for all of your support in the past and look forward to the future!
THL Govindi of Dera Ghazi Khan
The theme for the Ӕthelmearc Kingdom Party at Pennsic VL will be “Arthurian Legends”. Dress as your favorite hero from the time of King Arthur. Even better, imagine how your persona would view King Arthur and how your persona would dress for Arthurian tournaments (which were surprisingly popular in medieval Europe). We will have more details about the Party as Pennsic draws near, but the King and Queen wished to give the populace plenty of time to think about costumes. The Ӕthelmearc Kingdom Party will be held on the evening of August 8, starting at 8:30PM, in the Ӕthelmearc Royal encampment. All members of the populace and friends of Ӕthelmearc are invited.
Our thanks go to THL Elss of Augsburg, who provided the idea for the theme.
Byron and Ariella, Rex et Regina Ӕthelmearc
Unto the populace of the East Kingdom, greetings,
It has been my pleasure to serve this realm as EK Archivist for these past 12 years. It is now time for me to step down and pass the office unto another gentle.
The responsibilities of the office include maintaining the accrued items that presently are in storage and to organize any new items that are passed onto the office. Presently the items are being stored in north New Jersey, but can be moved to where they are convenient for the new officer.
Anybody interested in the position should contact the Kingdom Seneschal or myself no later than June 30, 2016.
In service to the East,
Filed under: Announcements, Uncategorized
The Æthelmearc Gazette reports that their kingdom has new heirs, Prince Marcus and Princess Margerite. For more information, read the Æthelmearc Gazette article.
Filed under: Tidings Tagged: aethelmearc
This day in the Barony of Delftwood, Crown Tournament has concluded and Marcus and Margerite were crowned Prince and Princess of Æthelmearc!
The semi-finalists were Duke Timothy of Arindale fighting for the honor of Duchess Gabrielle van Nijenrode and Duke Malcolm Duncan MacEioghann fighting for the honor of Viscountess Rosalinde Ashworth in the winner’s list, and in the losers’ list, Duke Marcus Eisenwald fighting for the honor of Baroness Margerite Eisenwald and Sir Gareth Kincaid fighting for the honor of Mistress Julianna Delamare.
In the semis, Duke Timothy bested Sir Gareth in one fight while Duke Marcus defeated Duke Malcolm twice to move on to the finals against Duke Timothy.
The finals were fought best of five bouts. Duke Timothy won the first round with polearm. Duke Marcus won the second round with great sword. Duke Timothy won the next round with two-weapon. Duke Timothy then yielded a fight to Duke Marcus, evening up the count, to great praise from the populace for his chivalry. The final and deciding bout was won by Duke Marcus, who crowned his lady wife as Princess.
The unbelted fighter who went farthest in the tournament was Baroness Beatrix Krieger, who was the only non-Knight in the round before the quarter-finals.
Vivant Marcus and Margerite, Heirs to the throne of Æthelmearc!
Thank you to Mistress Ekaterina Volkova for her usual excellent Facebook updates that allowed us to bring you this report!
A European web site, oapen.org, in cooperation with Leiden University Press, is offering a free e-book on the history of book publishing in the Middle Ages.
At last month’s Board of Directors meeting, the Grand Council was disbanded after a little over twenty years of service to the Society. After the decision was announced, it became clear that some members of the SCA weren’t aware of the Grand Council, its history or its activities. The Gazette thought it would be useful to provide this information. Our thanks to the former Grand Council and Board members who provided the information for this article. Without a comprehensive written record of the SCA, it took many people to recreate our own history. – Mistress Catrin o’r Rhyd For
The Grand Council was an informal committee created by the SCA’s Board of Directors in the mid-1990’s after a difficult time for the SCA. An Executive Director had been hired who wasn’t familiar with the organization, and his handling of proposed changes and the membership’s concerns were unpopular. The proposals included a “pay-to-play” policy that might have required memberships in order to fight, receive awards, hold an office, or attend events. In addition, the SCA was facing extreme financial problems, which took the membership by surprise. When members requested access to the books, the Executive Director and the SCA’s legal counsel interpreted the governing documents as not allowing members access.
Several things happened as a result of this. Members sued for the right to access the financial records and won the case. An “SCA reform” email list was created with hundreds of members that advocated for change. Three Board members stepped down. Ansteorra incorporated as a separate organization, although it remained affiliated with the SCA. The royalty of the kingdoms met at Estrella and eleven of the thirteen kingdoms signed the Estrella Compact. The compact stated that the kingdoms would recognize each other’s “laws, customs, traditions, ranks and titles in perpetuity, no matter what their affiliations and circumstances”. This would have allowed more kingdoms to incorporate outside the SCA’s corporate structure, while still preserving a connected game for its participants.
Several actions followed this activity. The non-SCA Executive Director left. The corporate financial records were made available to the members. The Board modified the “pay-to-play” proposal, removing some of the restrictions and adding a fee for non-members attending events.
In addition, the Board created two advisory groups – the Inter-Kingdom Advisory Council and the Grand Council. Each group was given a specific area of the SCA to examine and were asked to provide feedback to the Board. The Inter-Kingdom Advisory Council was assigned the “game side”, as in things that affected the historical re-creation and inter-kingdom activities. The Grand Council was assigned the SCA’s corporate and organizational structure.
It isn’t possible to describe the Grand Council’s activities as one static structure since they changed over the years. The following are some things that stayed the same and some that didn’t.
Over the years, the Grand Council discussed many topics that they proposed themselves. Early topics included outsourcing the corporate office functions, direct elections of Directors, and the impeachment process for Directors. Later topics included the Ministry of Children and child care rules; ending physical newsletters; the pros and cons of a new Peerage; how to decide whether to create another peerage; participant retention; alternative revenue models for the SCA; improved policies for social media/social networking; a new communications policy for the SCA; and officer training at all levels of the Society.
Topics requested by the Board over the years included how to improve the value of membership; a mandatory Code of Conduct for the SCA; creating a policy for dealing with individuals who have committed crimes outside of the SCA; an official start and end date for what is the SCA’s time period; whether to require membership for awards or combat; improvements to TI or CA; topics to add to the Known World Handbook; what should be, or what are, the requirements for a successful SCA reign; a tiered membership format; officer retention and recruiting; and analysis of the demographics of the SCA.
The Board disbanded the Grand Council at last month’s meeting with thanks for their service. John Fulton, Richard Sherman, and Andrew Coleman were assigned to investigate the creation of a new vehicle which could facilitate communication between the membership and the Board. At this point the format of the committee is unknown. A preference has been stated by the Board for the Kingdoms to have representation on and control over most of the committee. In addition, it will be expected to use social media to connect with the membership and give them access to the committee’s work. The Society’s new President, John Fulton, has invited anyone with suggestions for the design of the committee to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed under: Corporate Tagged: Grand Council
Their Royal Majesties have asked the Gazette to share the following with the populace:
Unto the Hospitable Barony of Blackstone Mountain and the Staff of Blackstone Raids Do Byron and Ariella, Rex et Regina, send sincere thanks!
We greatly enjoyed our time at your event last weekend and observed many enjoying the same! Your preparations for Us were extensive with food, drink, and accommodations beyond anything we might expect. Thank you to those who provided such delicious food all weekend and carefully followed our Whims. Having the tent set up on the field as well as all ranges and the battlefield was wonderful. Event staff was courteous and helpful to Us and our Entourage, even while running such a large and long event. We spoke with neighbors from other Kingdoms — Atlantia, the Midrealm, and the West — who were also smiling and having a great time. Our Kingdom is proud of how you host Blackstone Raids!
Unto all the groups of Æthelmearc does the Order of the Scarlet Guard wish to issue a challenge.
This year on Saturday, June 11, in the Shire of Hornwood at the Scarlet Guard Inn IV, we are inviting every Barony, Shire, Canton, and College to send an individual to compete in an archery competition.
To enter, each group can pick one representative who is a member of that group, and send along a signed letter from the seneschal of the group as proof of entry. Only persons with a signed letter from the group’s seneschal will be allowed to compete. We would also ask that each group send a small item or token from their group that would then be put in the prize basket for the winner. There is also a banner for the winner to keep during the year. It is our plan to have the name of the winner and group he/she is from added to this banner each year.
Members of the Scarlet Guard are not eligible to shoot in this competition. Also, the archer who won the previous year is not eligible, but that group may send another archer instead.
The winner of last year’s challenge was the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, which sent Takamatsu Gentarou Yoshitaka as its representative.
It is our hope to continue this challenge every year.
If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
At the request of Their Sylvan Majesties, Byron and Ariella, the thrown weapons community is starting a “Get Out the Throw” campaign!
We want people of every age and skill level to flock to the ranges and start throwing! We want to expand the ranks of Æthelmearc’s throwing community and show the Known World both our superior numbers and skill. I know the subject line made mention of a contest, and here it is:
This will be a participation contest, beginning May 1st and culminating at the Pennsic War! Points will be awarded for participation, not scores or tournament wins. This allows for a more level playing field.
But the big points come at Pennsic!
For any competition or practice that runs between now and Pennsic, marshals can use the email address below to send me a copy of the score sheets (or just a list of the names) and I will record them. As this is a Kingdom-based tournament, I am using the Royal Round scoring maintained on the Æthelmearc Thrown Weapons website.
The winners will be announced at an event of Their Majesties’ choosing following the War.
The prizes, you ask? Custom made thrown weapons bags containing items no thrower can do without!
Scores and any questions can be emailed to Master Antonio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throwers to the line, Æthelmearc! Let’s Get Out the Throw!
Arts & Sciences Research Paper #9: Making green paint medievally with spring irises and fall buckthorn berries
Our ninth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lady Adrienne d’Evreus, of the Province of Malagentia. She turns to the flora of her woodlands to learn ways that medieval painters made green pigments. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)
Making green paint medievally with spring irises and fall buckthorn berries
Many medieval manuscripts explain how to make green for illumination with seasonably available resources. Excited to make green from my local plants, I used iris in May and buckthorn in September to make some beautiful green paint using instructions from an anonymous medieval treatise, De Arte Illuminandi. Even with some incorrect assumptions about materials, by using translated fourteenth century instructions as a guide with iris blossoms and buckthorn berries, beautiful green pigment was produced.
According to Daniel V. Thompson in The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting, the primary medieval substitutes for verdigris in book illumination were iris and sap green (Thompson 169-171). I was inspired by his book and excited to make green paint using some medieval methods.
My love of iris began as a child in my father’s gardens as I learned how to grow with him. His observation that they tolerated and seemed to enjoy wet soil was driven home years later as a college student when I accidentally chose a tidal riverbed for a late night nap after dark and woke up with the break of dawn a few hours later getting increasingly damp in rising tidewater amongst these beautiful blue lilies! The place I chose for my iris at home is a garden spot that floods in the spring and stays moist but not sopping in the summer. They seem to be very happy and produce many blossoms every year.
Looking to medieval manuscripts to make recipes for iris or lily green (Thompson and Hamilton 2), instructions were found in Mappae Clavicula (Smith and Hawthorne 51), De Arte Illuminandi (Thompson and Hamilton 6-7) and a number of Mary P. Merrifield’s Original Treatises (Merrifield ccxix, 422, 504 and 678, 684), often as clothlets. On Merrifield’s page 678 and 684 she translates recipes from a seventeenth century manuscript. Those recipes inspired me to try fermented iris juice experiments too.
Clothlets are a means of storing pigments. The impregnated cloth could later be placed into a dish (Thompson 144) or clam shell (Thompson and Hamilton 17) and wetted with a bit of glair (egg white) or gum water, and it would release its stored pigment into the vessel, creating a transparent stain. The glossary of the British Library describes “clothlet” as “A piece of cloth impregnated with pigment (generally a vegetable dye)” and in The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting Thompson says:
“iris green… was made from the juice of iris flowers, sometimes mixed with alum and thickened… but more often prepared as a clothlet. Bits of cloth were dipped into the juice of iris flowers and dried, again and again, until they contained a sufficient quantity of the color.” (Thompson 171)
De Arte Illuminandi indicates that you should pound iris blossoms in a mortar and pestle then squeeze them through a cloth to extract the juice. Linen cloths pre-treated with rock alum should then be dipped in the juice and dried in the shade multiple times. These clothlets are then stored in books. (Thompson and Hamilton 7). Merrifield’s “Bolognese Manuscript” from the fifteenth century calls for dipping the cloths in rock alum first then iris juice and keeping these cloths in a closed box (Merrifield 422).
The recipes often consist of adding alum to the iris juice. I didn’t get the Dover edition of Merrifield’s Original Treatises until Christmas of 2015 so for the 2015 experiments I used alum acquired from a modern and traditional dye supplier—aluminum sulfate, Al2(SO4)3. What was actually indicated and used by the medieval craftsman was rock alum, defined in the Dover edition of Merrifield’s glossary as potassium aluminum sulfate, KAl3(SO4)2(OH)6 (Alexander xii, xxviii).
Taking the advice of Wendy Feldberg, I collected iris blossoms as they bloomed daily at the end of May and beginning of June in 2015 and froze them to try with the recipes when they were done blooming. Though there were not freezers in medieval Europe, this seemed like a reasonable compromise since spring inspires so many other activities and obligations. After freezing and thawing the iris blossoms, without the added work of ‘pounding’, they gave me 78.91g of gorgeous transparent blue liquid that I poured into a clean glass jar. I separated the juice into four portions, adding additional variables.
I wondered what would happen when you didn’t modify the juice at all or exposed it to alkaline materials (like clam or eggshell) rather than an acid like the alum suggested by the medieval sources so I tried it all: plain iris juice for a control, and iris juice with clam shells and eggshells for alkaline as well as iris juice with aluminum sulfate, an acid.
The aluminum sulfate and iris juice combination started turning a dark turquoise color. It was swirled to combine and allowed to sit undisturbed for approximately four hours. I decanted the aluminum sulfate saturated juice into a clean jar and used that solution to saturate three clean 8x10cm squares of linen. Then they were dried on a piece of parchment paper under a gentle fan protected from the cat and other disturbances. After waiting for each saturation to completely dry, this procedure was repeated five more times over several days.
After the first experiment with fresh iris blossoms, the bag of partially exhausted blossoms was returned to the refrigerator. Several weeks later the blossoms had fermented. Intrigued by the slightly post-1600 recipe ideas that used fermented iris (Merrifield 678, 684), I used the blue liquid squeezed from them too. After letting the white slimy precipitate settle I poured the cleanest juice off for new trials. These used clam shells and eggshells with and without aluminum sulfate, as well as three linen clothlets soaked in a 10:1 aluminum sulfate solution first, which follows the original medieval recipe procedure in De Arte Illuminandi (Thompson and Hamilton 6-7). These second clothlets were only soaked three to four times because I ran out of juice. As they were soaked they had a beautiful blue-green hue. They were dried, as before, between each soaking.
All clothlets and jars with variables were reserved on the refrigerator away from the cat and as cleanly as possible while drying under a fan.
The trials of iris juice with the addition of aluminum sulfate, from both ‘fresh’ and fermented iris juice, in an alkaline substrate like clam shells or not, all produced green results. A small brush was used to combine distilled water, Winsor and Newton gum Arabic, and prepared pigment from iris to paint out resulting materials onto Strathmore 100lb vellum surface Bristol board.
The plain iris juice, plain iris juice in a clam shell or eggshell without aluminum sulfate resulted only in browns whether fermented or not. I was a little surprised that the juice didn’t stay blue at all by itself after drying.
There were no iris clothlets prepared without aluminum sulfate. Both fermented and non-fermented clothlets made with aluminum sulfate produced pretty green linen yielding delicate green ‘paint’ when combined with some distilled water and gum Arabic. The fermented iris juice clothlet produced a slightly more brown-green than the non-fermented. The bacteria and fungus in the fermentation process may have caused the iris green to deteriorate slightly resulting in a more brown-green than pure light green produced from the clothlet prepared with non-fermented juice.
In the fall it took me what felt like forever to find Rhamnus spp. berries for the sap green. I searched the fields and ditches near my house, and even went to “Buckthorn Lane” in my local neighborhood. I found other trees with other fruits but no buckthorn! Even though my dad had taught me about many plants and how to garden, he never taught me about buckthorn. Non-native invasive species were to be eradicated in his experience, not fostered or encouraged.
Finally someone said “look for tall trees, usually somewhere wet” so I went back to my stomping grounds as a teenager in Westbrook, Maine and found spindly trees with small berries in what used to be a wetland for protected turtles. “This?! Is this it?!” I begged my friends to confirm cell phone pictures of my find. The leaves looked right from the National Agricultural Library’s invasive plant website (NAL 2015) and Mistress Isabel Chamberlain’s blog (Siconolfi); the berries were dark and the bush was spindly and taller than I might have guessed, growing somewhere wet. “Yes!”, they chorused, “that looks right, try it!”
Sap green from buckthorn berries (Merrifield ccxviii) is defined by Pigment Compendium as a flavonoid dye coming from buckthorn, Rhamnus spp (Eastaugh et al. 338). De Arte Illuminandi and Original Treatises have recipes to produce it, just like the iris green. The identification of the berries and when to gather them is described in De Arte Illuminandi (Thompson and Hamilton 43) which points to Cennino Cennini for their identification (Thompson 32n). Once identified, the buckthorn berries should be combined with lye and rock alum dissolved under heat to make green (Thompson and Hamilton 7). Recipes to make the green were also found in Merrifield’s Original Treatises (420-428, 662, 706, 708-710, 786, 808). The recipes after page 640 in Merrifield’s books are from manuscripts written after the sixteenth century. They were not as interesting to me but I feel that these other sap green recipes are relevant to researchers of the earlier sources due to their material and procedural similarities.
According to De Arte Illuminandi the green from buckthorn could have been prepared and stored as clothlets, like iris, or sealed in a glass bottle (Thompson and Hamilton 7). I decided to experiment with the second method.
On September 4, 2015, 100.00g of buckthorn berries were added to a 12oz glass jelly jar and crushed with a plastic fork. They were sticky and smelled slightly winy. They ranged from almost black and squishy through reddish to green and firm.
The recipe in De Arte Illuminandi contains lye as I previously mentioned. Lye or ley is defined in the new Dover edition as an alkaline solution made from mixing wood ashes with water (Alexander xxiii). In an online conversation with Geffrei Maudeleyne, he explained where in De Arte Illuminandi to look (Thompson and Hamilton 36-37) and Asplund confirmed that potassium carbonate, K2CO3, is what the medieval craftsmen would have made and used. Since I didn’t have the Dover edition with its glossary until Christmas 2015, I relied on the sage advice and resources of these online friends and fellow pigment makers.
In a Corning Ware sauce pan (to emulate the “glazed porriger” of De Arte Illuminandi‘s instruction) 11.60g of lye, K2CO3, was mixed with 100g of distilled water. Adding 5.05g of aluminum sulfate, Al2(SO4)3, resulted in immediate bubbling. The reactions at this point had increased the temperature a little to 80 degrees F. Warming the mixture on a simmer burner on low, I hoped to dissolve more of the alum. After about ten minutes the bubbling had mostly stopped. The temperature had risen to 120 degrees F and the solution had a pH of 6 and a milky appearance. Heating it up to encourage the aluminum sulfate to dissolve, a little mass and volume was lost by evaporation and in the sink when it was transferred into the jar with crushed berries. A little residue remained in the pan, and the total weight of the solution decreased to 87.07g. Pouring the liquid into the berries caused an immediate color change like I saw in the spring with the iris! Turquoise again!
The lye/aluminum sulfate solution was mixed into the berries with the plastic fork. The following day the solution had bubbled out of the jar a little. The jar was relocated into a glass bowl in an undisturbed corner for two more days. The third day after the addition of aluminum sulfate and lye, a clean square of cloth was used to strain the juice into another jar. The jar was capped and closed when not accessing this liquid for paint experiments. It produced another pretty green liquid! This is most likely the sap green I was hoping for.
A small brush was used to combine distilled water, Winsor and Newton gum Arabic, and prepared pigment from the buckthorn to paint out resulting materials onto Strathmore 100lb vellum surface Bristol board.
Both iris and buckthorn berries produced green pigment using the fourteenth century instructions from De Arte Illuminandi, despite using aluminum sulfate rather than potassium aluminum sulfate. Moving forward with the “correct” alum will be interesting next time. I wonder if it will produce the same green or a different one. My father would be satisfied that I made lovely green paint from the plants I grew and found using science. My science teachers would have been happier with better note taking and more pictures so I will attempt that with fresh and correct materials in 2016. There are so many colors achievable from other berries and more invasive and native plants and weeds using historic European recipes from hundreds of years ago. I can’t wait to see what else is achievable! What are you inspired to learn, experiment with, and achieve?
Alexander, S. M. Glossary of Technical Terms in Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting. By Merrifield xi-xxxiv. New York: Dover, 1967.
Asplund, Randy. Personal communication on Facebook and in e-mail, 2015.
Broecke, Lara. Cennino Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte, A new English translation and commentary with Italian transcription. London: Archetype Publications Ltd., 2015.
Brown, Jamin. Accessed December 2015.
Clarke, Mark. The Art of All Colours. London: Archetype Publications, Ltd., 2001.
Eastaugh, Nicolas, et al. Pigment Compendium A Dictionary of Historical Pigments. Boston: Elsevier, Ltd, 2008.
Feldberg, Wendy. Personal communication via blog comments and e-mail, 2015.
Maudeleyne, Geffrei. Personal communication, August 2015.
Merrifield, Mary P. Original Treatises: Dating from the XIIth to XVIIIth Centuries on the Arts of Painting, in Oil, Miniature, Mosaic, and on Glass; of Gilding, Dyeing, and the Preparation of Colours and Artificial Gems; Preceded by a General Introduction; with Translations, Prefaces, and Notes, In Two Volumes. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1849. (The new Dover edition with a glossary also suggests some of her dating of the manuscripts is not correct.)
Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting, Original Texts with English Translations. New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1967, 1999.
National Agricultural Library. Accessed September 2015.
Siconolfi, Claire. Accessed September 2015.
Smith, Cyril Stanley and Hawthorne, Daniel G. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society held at Philidelphia for promoting useful knowledge. New series Volume 64, part 4. Mappae Clavicula, a little key to the world of medieval techniques. 1974.
Thompson, Daniel V. The Craftsman’s Handbook. “Il Libro dell’Arte”. New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1960.
Thompson, Daniel V. The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting. New York: Dover Publications, 1956.
Thompson, Daniel Varney and Hamilton, George Hurd. De Arte Illuminandi, the Technique of Manuscript Illumination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1933.
Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences
Yesterday in Tir Mara, Duke Brion Anthony Uriel Tarragon won the right to make his consort, Duchess Anna Ophelia Holloway Tarragon, Princess of the Eastern Kingdom. He first made her a princess just over thirty years ago, and they ruled as the 34th Crowns of the Kingdom of Atenveldt. They have twice before ruled as King and Queen of the East.
The Gazette thanks Sir Simon Gwyn for the use of his photos.
Filed under: Court Tagged: Crown Tournament
Duke Brion Anthony Uriel Tarragon defeated Sir Wilhelm von Ostenbruck to become the Prince of the East, and Duchess Anna Ophelia Holloway Tarragon is now Princess of the East.
Many thanks to Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood and Mistress Tadea Isabetta di Bruno for all of the on-site reporting!
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Crown Tournament, spring crown
The finals will be best of 5 with rotating weapon forms.
Celle-ci sera déterminée de la même façon que les demi-finales.
Duke Brion Anthony Uriel Tarragon for the honor of Duchess Anna Ophelia Holloway Tarragon
Sir Wilhelm von Ostenbrucke fighting for the honour of Mistress Vienna de la Mer
Filed under: Heavy List Tagged: Crown Tournament, spring crown
The four combatants remaining in the tournament are as follows. Five wins will be required to advance. This means an undefeated fighter will need two wins; a fighter who has already lost a bout will need three wins.
Duke Brion and Sir Ivan need two wins, Duke Randal and Sir Wilhelm need three.
En français: Les quatre combattants restants dans le tournoi sont listés ci-dessous. Cinq victoires seront nécessaires pour avancer à la prochaine étape. Ceci veut dire qu’un combattant n’ayant subi aucune défaite devra obtenir deux victoires, tandis qu’un combattant ayant déjà subi une défaite devra obtenir trois victoires pour progresser
Duke Brion Anthony Uriel Tarragon for the honor of Duchess Anna Ophelia Holloway Tarragon
Duke Randal of the Dark for the honor of Duchess Katherine Stanhope
Sir Ivan Ivanov syn Dimitriov vynuk Tzardikov fighting for the honour of Baroness Matilde de Cadenet.
Sir Wilhelm von Ostenbrucke fighting for the honour of Mistress Vienna de la Mer
Filed under: Heavy List Tagged: Crown Tournament