Thursday, May 05, 2011

A Spear for Caleb

Caleb Spear
Working with one other person on a project can be difficult enough but this particular piece proves that eight artists can combine their efforts to create a beautiful final product.
Creating a personalized award for someone with an early period persona can sometimes be a challenge. I have worked to create rune stones and decorative shields for other early personas. The additional challenge to this piece was that due to military service, the recipient had lived in five SCA Kingdoms. How do you represent all of that?
This spear was created as a knighting “scroll” for Caleb Hogg. The production of this piece included eight artisans from five SCA kingdoms. The pieces of the final product all met up for the first time at Gulf Wars, were assembled and presented to Caleb when he was knighted on the field.
First, the spear head was cast by Iarl Brian Mac Brand of Meridies and mailed to Trimaris. The text of the award was crafted by Mistress Gwenllyan verch Morgan of Trimaris and is based upon the prologue of Beowulf. Next I secured a six foot length of pine, marked out a careful spiral down the length and then used a burnt sienna paint to apply the runes to the haft. The original plan had been to wood burn the runes onto the haft the the wood burner was just not equal to the task.
Weavers in five SCA Kingdoms each wove a campaign band that could be tied onto the spear. Each band was woven in a design chosen by the weaver and was crafted in the colors of the Kingdom which it was representing.
  • From Caid, Mistress Aldgytha of Ashwood wove a blue and white band decorated with the crescents of Caid.
  • From Meridies, Mistress Gabriella Francesca Quelja de Warre called Calleja
  • wove a beautiful black and white band and decorated the loose ends with beads.
  • From Gleann Abhann, Mistress Brigit Olesdottir of Gleann Abhann card wove a band in burgundy and black with rams heads and the text “Honor above all”.
  • From Atlantia, Mistress Genevieve d'Aquitaine of Atlantia wove a zigzaging band of blue and white with a white seashell at the end.
  • Lastly, from Trimaris, Queen Grainne ingen Aloin meic Cerbaill of Trimaris tablet wove a band of blue and white silk.
IMG_1963Pieces arrived from the various artisans and were delivered to me at Gulf Wars. All of these far flung artisans used their care and skill to create a truly unique final product. The spear was presented to Caleb at his knighting by King Lorcann and Queen Grainne of Trimaris.
The runes transliterate as follows:
"A wayfarer should not walk unarmed, But have his weapons to hand: He knows not when he may need a spear, Or what menace meet on the road." – Havamal
LO, praise of the prowess
Of mighty warriors, of spear-armed thanes,
in days long sped, we have heard,
and what honor the athelings won!
To Us a mighty hero was sent,
a son to this land, to favor the folk,
feeling the woe of his enemies.
So is named the Wielder of Wonder, with world's renown.
Famed was this Caleb Hogg and far flew the boast of him,
a son of Trimaris and many lands.
So becomes it to Us to quit him well by honor and gift,IMG_2021
by lauded deeds shall he have honor in every clan.
Then shall we bear him over the ocean's billow,
loving clansmen, as late he charged Us,
and therefore bind him in glory as nam├ęd
To the rank of Knight in the Society for Creative Anachronism
For We Lorcann and Grainne
the Crown of these three-shored lands
Do set it forth in written word.
and have these runes cut in Anno Societas XLV
Upon the 19th day of March.

After the spear was presented, I spoke with Caleb and let him know just how many people had worked on this project and he was truly humbled by the great effort that had been put forth for his knighting.
My thanks for the artistry and professionalism exhibited by all of the artisans who helped to make this unique project come alive. Each of these fine people is excellent at their craft.
  • Spear Head: Iarl Brian Mac Brand of Darkwood, KSCA, OL of Meridies
  • Tablet woven band, Caid: Mistress Aldgytha of Ashwood of Caid
  • Tablet woven band, Meridies: Mistress Gabriella Francesca Quelja de Warre (Calleja) of Meridies
  • Tablet woven band, Trimaris: Queen Grainne ingen Aloin meic Cerbaill of Trimaris
  • Tablet woven band, Gleann Abhann: Mistress Brigit Olesdottir of Gleann AbhannIMG_1738
  • Tabby woven band, Atlantia: Mistress Genevieve d'Aquitaine of Atlantia
  • Text based on Beowulf: Mistress Gwenllyan verch Morgan of Trimaris
  • Spear haft, transliteration and rune cutting by Mistress Maol Mide ingen Medra OL, OP of Trimaris
It was reported to me that upon returning home for the war, Caleb walked around his home to very carefully choose a spot for the display of his spear. He selected a corner that contained another spear, flung that one aside and then placed his knighting spear in that prominent place. Nodding to himself, he just stood and stared.

Monday, May 02, 2011

From Ethiopia, with Love

Sometimes I get challenging requests and I have to use a lot of imagination to find an inspiration for an illuminated page. In 2009 I was asked to create an illuminated page for my friend Simon who was being elevated to the Order of the Pelican. Simon’s persona hails from Ethiopia.

simon I searched and came across some photos online that showed illuminated manuscripts being displayed by clerics at the Monastery of Na’akuto La’ab just outside Lalibela, Ethiopia. The church at Na’akuto La’ab is a brick building built entirely within a large natural cave. The clerics at this church will happily bring out manuscripts and display them for visitors. Lalibela and Na’akuto La’ab were founded in the 12th century and are among the holiest sites for Christians in Ethiopia.

Although I have done much research, I cannot find a date for the manuscript being displayed by the cleric from Na’akuto La’ab. The style of the manuscript in similar to the wall frescos inside the churches at Lalibela and Na’akuto La’ab so I utilized it as a model that is representative of the painting style done in that region.

simon2 The illuminated portrait on Simon’s Pelican scroll is taken from an image posted by a visitor to Lalibela. The portrait from Na’akuto La’ab depicts a man holding a key and walking stick or cane. This may symbolize St Peter who is often depicted holding a key or St Lazarus who is shown with a cane. The text page was inspired by another page from the same manuscript. The calligraphy was inspired by the Ge'ez script in the manuscript.

There is a photo album on Flickr that shows more detail from this manuscript on display at Na’akuto La’ab . The photos are really lovely and striking. I also found a travel journal that includes gorgeous photos of the area around Na’akuto La’ab, the church, and the church’s treasures which include the manuscript upon which this piece is based.


  • Drafting: HL Gwenhwfyr ber Cain
  • Base Painting: HL Bryna of Kildare
  • Details and finish illumination: Mistress Maol Mide ingen Medra
  • Calligraphy: Mistress Maeva Eiriksdottir