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About Varied / Hobbyist Member Cheryn RappFemale/United States Recent Activity
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Cheryn Rapp
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Hello, I'm Cheryn (also known as Merwenna)! I do a lot of calligraphy and illumination-related art, especially for the Society for Creative Anachronism to be used as awards - most of what you see in my gallery are award "scrolls". Several of my pieces are done with historically accurate ground pigments and animal skin parchment, though I most frequently use gouache on pergamenata. I also enjoy combining medieval aesthetics with modern subjects just for kicks! I've dipped my toe into bookbinding and panel painting, I enjoy painting unexpected accessory items like parasols and wooden chests every now and again, and I am currently learning more about paleography and manuscript conservation. I'm from the US but am currently living in Budapest - also trying to learn Hungarian! I do take commissions, so don't hesitate to contact me with any questions. :)

The Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta

War of the Wings VIII
Instructors:  Letia Thistelthueyt (
& Merwenna de Rannowe (

Manuscript History at a Glance

- Between 1561 and 1562 Georg Bocskay, court secretary to Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, wanted to show off his skills by making a model book of calligraphy.  (No really, he made it almost entirely to show off his technical skill, range of hands, and demonstrate his intellectual value.)

- Thirty years later (1591-96), Emperor Rudolf II (Ferdinand's grandson) commissioned Joris Hoefnagel  to illuminate the book.

- Became a visible debate between the two art forms!  

Looking at the Manuscript

The Illumination

    - Flowers, bugs, small animals, shells, etc. (some real, some imaginary)

    - Wealth and sophistication demonstrated by collecting these items (Example: Rudolf II's kunstkammer - "cabinet of curiousities")

- Made in a heavy trade area/seaport - lots of access to exotic items

- Interlaced flowers "woven" through the page

    - Nod to memento mori concept via dead critters

- New painting techniques - foreshortening & vanishing point, etc.  

The Calligraphy

    - Intended solely as a display piece!  No rhyme or reason to the written content.  Made up of prayers, canticles, psalms, and occasionally imperial briefs and other correspondences.

    - Historical, invented, and exhibition hands… Latin scripts include: Italic, rotunda, antiqua (based on Carolingian miniscule), and a variety of gothic styles.  Also contains some non-Latin texts, like Greek and Hebrew; and things such as mirrored hands, calligrams, "cut letters", superfluous flourishing, and various other embellished hands.

- Variety in layout from page to page.  Each page was created to stun the viewer on its own, not to visually fit into a larger picture, as most SCA scroll sources do.

Making Your Own Scrolls from the MCM


    - Always plan in advance!!! Also, we'd recommend doing calligraphy first, as the illumination is easier to fit in and around the lettering. Great system for collaborative pieces!

    - Adaptable! The MCM is adaptable in many ways.  Items that would normally be the symbol of an award can be painted as actual physical items (ex. pearl, coral branch - Letia even made a bug that had an opal pattern on its wings!).  You can choose a calligraphy style based on personal taste or persona, even if the recipient's persona isn't congruent with the MCM, one could still use an Italian Rotunda hand for an Italian persona and still be period.  Round out the scroll with decorative flowers, fruit, small animals, shells, or other natural items that you feel would be appropriate for the award/recipient (ex. dragon!).  If nothing strikes your fancy, pick one of the more elaborate (or just filling) calligraphy styles and add extra flourishes or a large capital letter.

    - Arrange all of these factors together ahead of time - we strongly recommend sketching out at least rough guidelines of where each element of the scroll will go, just to make sure that proportions and spacing mesh with each other.


    - Proportions of letters to lines to spaces - leave space for illumination AND matte room

- If flourishy, leave out ascenders & descenders - go back, draw in (with pencil) flourishy connections, then ink over (another reason waterproof ink is gooood).

- Quick ways to fancify one of the basic hands mentioned above:

    - Use long ascenders or descenders, or both

- Use a basic hand without heavy flourishes, but do three different sizes of writing

- Write wording in an unusual pattern, called a "calligram" - The Mistress Aneira method of doing this: Write out text with the size lettering you want; measure length of all the calligraphy combined; cut a string that length & lay out on paper in desired pattern; "trace" string; write calligraphy along the line..


- It's period to make things up!  You can use different flowers/bugs than in manuscript, or make up bugs/flowers (ex. Letia's opal-butt bug, Sibry's flowers)

    - Shading is very blended and soft; no outlines on the illumination

    - Don't forget the shadows on the paper! Keep your light source consistent!  If it helps, pencil in a little sun in one corner to remind you where the shadows should fall.

- Sometimes stems go through paper - don't forget the shadow that would be created by the bump of the paper the stem is going under.

- Leave room for a matte!

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nabeschin Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014
Happy birthday Cheryn! :D :hug:
Merwenna Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
aww, thankya :D
nabeschin Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014
Hope you had a good one! :)
irishsea Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you very much for adding me to your deviantwatch! :D
I feel honoured to be watched by such a great artist ^^
X-clyk48 Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014
I'm impressed by your calligraphy work and looking forward to more. You just earned a watcher :)
Anjali25 Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014   Traditional Artist
Your calligraphy is beautiful, you're very talented! I love your style and colouring also :heart:
Merwenna Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you! much appreciated :)
irishsea Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Sorry for flooding you with favs ^^
I'm simply stunned by your calligraphy and illustrations! :D It's amazing how none of them look the same. They remind me of the book of kells, and according to me that's a great compliment! ^^
Merwenna Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
aw, thank you!  ^_^  much appreciated
irishsea Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
you're very welcome! :)
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