Scrolls and Soup
Now that the holidays have passed and the new year is upon us, I can try to start getting back into the regular swing of things. Of course, 12th Night is this weekend and I have things to make for that. The new semester starts on the 14th and I have to get my online classes set up. Busy, busy! I’ve missed a couple of weeks on my scroll challenge but I’m going to keep working as much as time permits and I’ll try to keep up as much as possible. I have an assignment for myself from the 12th Night court list, so I’m going to count that as my scroll for this week!
I think the traditional meal for New Year’s Day is supposed to black-eyed peas and collard greens. Well, I’m not really a fan of either, but I do love split pea soup. We were shopping at World Market a couple of weeks ago and found this soup mix in their food section. They have a really entertaining selection of international foods and pantry staples that’s always fun to browse around. We decided to give the soup a shot and I cooked it up this morning for tonight’s dinner. The directions say it only needs to simmer for 90 minutes, but longer is usually better for soups like this!
The recipe on the package calls for the standard mirepoix base of onion, celery, and carrot, plus 4 cloves of garlic. I like the fact that it wants so much garlic – most recipes say a clove or so, and I usually end up adding more anyway. Happy mirepoix in the stock pot!
Along with the mix of green and yellow split peas and some dehydrated carrot bits, there was a seasoning pack in the bag. After the mirepoix is sauteed a bit, the peas and seasoning are added with six cups of water. We also put in a smoked ham hock to cook down and add flavor. Before serving, the hock will be diced up and the meat added back to the pot.
And, the finished product! The soup simmered for its required 90 minutes and then sat on the stovetop for about 4 hours. The Hubs kindly took care of chopping up in the meat and we had soup for dinner with some fresh garlic toast. Very tasty! I didn’t add any extra seasoning to the mix and the soup on its own was very good. We may have to try some of the other varieties that were in the store – there’s a pasta fagioli that looked good, too!
Meanwhile, I also worked on some scrolls for this weekend’s court. I’m lettering a couple of blanks and doing one scroll from start to finish. The award is for a person who does Russian costuming and so I looked around for some examples of Russian illuminations to work from.
I found a manuscript at the British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts (MS Egerton 3045) that was produced in Russia in the last part of the 15th century. While it looks somewhat complex at first, when I really looked at it I could tell that the swirling border is very similar to one that I have done many times over the years inspired by many French and English leafy borders. I have a handout on doing faux calligraphy hands that look like foreign languages including Cyrillic, so I thought about things for a while and eventually a design came to me – I like to say the designs come to me in a vision and I have to follow them!
So, my vision is thus: A large header of capitals in gold for the start of the text, similar to the line running through the middle of the original page. The floral border will run down the left margin and across the bottom of the page with the text in the center. I’m not going to do a large illuminated capital since I need to leave enough space for the text and the paper I’m using is only 8×10″.
I practiced my “May it be known” line on scrap paper, once using black paint and once using gold ink, just to work out the spacing and decide how I really wanted the letters to look. Many Russian manuscripts that use this feature are essentially in all capital letters of the same height. There are frequently letters that are stacked or nested inside one another. After the gold practice line, I still wasn’t happy with “known” having just the large K and W but nothing else reaching the top line.
A little bit of thought produced another vision! Here is the first line of the actual scroll done on Pergamenata paper with the rest of the design penciled in. I made the two Ns in “known” full height and nested the O inside the W. Tomorrow I’ll take care of the rest of the text – I plan to do the recipient’s name in gold ink as well, with the main text in black. After that I’ll paint the border and finish the rest of the detail work.
Ideally I’ll have all of my scribal work done by the end of the day on Thursday so I can spend Friday making goodies to share at the event!