In the spring of 2006, my oldest was a freshman at a private boarding school. Every family was expected to donate items (and then spend money buying other people’s items) at the annual fundraiser dinner and auction. Most of those other parents were far wealthier, doctors, and lawyers, and successful businessmen. So I tried to come up with something that wouldn’t cost me much cash, but would attract auction bidders.
I’ve always loved the Lindesfarne Gospels, so that was an obvious choice, if I wanted to do calligraphy & illumination. I decided on the Beatitudes as a well-known text that would layout easily. It seemed that at a Catholic school, that would go over well.
To get more mileage out of this task, I also decided to enter in Queen’s Prize Tournament. This would be my first real foray into calligraphy, although I’d been doing some pre-print painting. I’d only started doing scribal work so I would have a clue on how to guide and supply my eldest, who was doing pre-prints. I discovered several things with this project.
I don’t just work best under pressure, it seems I ONLY work under pressure. I did most of the work in the last few days, and spent time sitting at my QPT table relining the illumination. (This is the start of a consistent theme.)
Conversely, when you do nothing but scribal work for several days, the wrist will swell up. A LOT. I worked for the last 24 hours with a bag of frozen peas on my arm, while I kept painting.
During my judging, Countess Lyriel said something that really struck me. “I encourage you to pursue calligraphy with as much time and attention as your life allows.” I was floored. The calligraphy had been a necessary part, not really enjoyed, so I could do the geometric layout and painting. 10 years later, I still recall her words. Apparently, she recognized that I WROTE the text, and did not draw it. Her keen observation has proved true, I don’t necessarily do perfect calligraphy hands, but I write them. I can study a new hand in the document for awhile, copy each single letter a few times, and then write each word a time or two, and I’m set. So the speed of doing the text is nearly as fast as writing cursive. Which is a good thing. (See my note on procrastination above.)
Last, the work of a scribe has real value. After Queen’s Prize, my entry got framed, and went to the auction. I asked a local artist and good friend to help me set a value for the donation, and she said $125. That seemed high. But the night of the auction, the winning bid was $135.
I’m not sure if any photos exist.