Scroll disaster averted

So you know how you aren’t supposed to leave things until the last minute? I’m bad at that rule. I picked this source a few months ago, I even picked the page – Something about it just called to me and said, do this one for Katla, even though it’s not Norse, I think she’ll like it. I printed out a few pages and tucked them into my practice notebook since I haven’t done calligraphy in many months, figuring I’d need all the practice I could get. Then I failed to act on this pre-planning.

Fast forward to the weekend before it was due, I still hadn’t started and I didn’t have words. So I started emailing my wordsmith friends and they were busy, so I brainstormed and plotted and eventually gave up and asked Matthias Grunwold if he’d be up for it, thankfully he was.

Monday night I tried to work on it but just couldn’t concentrate. Tuesday I got the layout done and penciled in all the lines. I even got a little of the painting done. Wednesday night my brain was fried, so I said no. Thursday was no better, but I got the colors blocked in. Friday I had friends coming over for dinner so I had to clean the house and cook. But after they left, I sat down and did the calligraphy with basically zero practice. It came out pretty good, I’m glad that muscle memory is a thing. Most of the errors were from me being tired. So this picture is when I called it quits at midnight on Friday, having attempted to start outlining and realizing that was a bad plan.

So I got up nice and early and went to start working on the illumination. I put my hand down on the calligraphy to steady my hand and smudged the ink that had been drying for the last 7 hours! Panic sets in, I consider scraping the whole thing, I come up with contingency plans, I text friends, I generally freaked out about this mess I made.

Then I took a deep breath and said, I know how to fix this, let’s just try to fix this and see how it goes. Worse comes to worse, I can hand in this terrible mess with an IOU since I sort of know Katla, and at least she’s local. I got out my pounce and poured it all over the page, making sure to evenly coat all the calligraphy. I let it sit for a good half hour to absorb the ink. Then I shook the pounce off the paper and took a picture – you can see where the wet ink is because those are the letters where the white pounce is sticking to the ink. (picture taken at 8:15 am)

Smudged scroll with pounce to dry the ink

I then carefully continued to work on the outlines, adding the details that make it look good, it started to take shape and the pounce fell away as it dried the ink below. Maybe all was not entirely lost – this picture is from 9:06 am, you can better see the smudge damage here since the pounce is mostly gone now.

Around this point my husband who was going to the event is like, er, so I was going to leave soon, how much longer are you expecting? And I respond that I’m supposed to be leaving the house at 10 am to get to where I was going that day. I pick up the pace and start shading and highlighting like mad. Around 10:15 or so I am done painting, but now I need to do the thing I was most dreading, erasing my calligraphy guidelines. This would be the real test to see if my pounce plan had worked. I started from the outsides where there was no ink and things were ok, and then I went to the areas where the ink seemed the driest, and things were ok, though I had to go very slowly so I could stop at the first sign of any smudges. When I got up around the area where the smudges were, it wasn’t perfect, I definitely caused a few fresh tiny smudges at that point, but I got the pencil lines out for the most part. This is what it looked like post erasing, at 10:30 am –

All erased, time to try to scrape off the offending ink!

I got out my blades and started scraping. Sadly the blade I like the most (penBlade #15) has become too dull for this task, so I had to switch to one of pointy kind that always make me super nervous. But things went well. I was more conservative than I normally would have been, but at this point I had a pretty decent looking scroll and negative time to work. Here’s what it looked like when I stopped at 10:37, the the on the fourth line down could use more work, but the ink there wasn’t fully dry and so I didn’t push it. (Katla, if you want I can fix it at a later point, or you could ask one of your local scribe friends, they should be able to fix that quite easily now that it’s had some time to dry)

Post scalpel scraping. Nearly all traces of the earlier mess are gone!

So I printed off the cut sheet, packaged it up with a backing board, mat and archival bag and took one last picture before jumping in the shower to get ready to leave, I managed to only leave an hour later than planned, which considering my morning, I decided was doing quite well.

I hear that the packaging may have not gotten to the recipient, but hopefully someone ended up with that ‘scroll case’


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