On the fourth Wednesday of each month, the Scribes Guild hosts classes at the Copperas Cove Public Library.
The Scribes Guild is part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, more popularly known as the SCA.
On Feb. 28, Kate Young, whose SCA name is Astrid, taught youngsters and adults calligraphy techniques.
At another table, after diligently mixing red, blue, gold and white paints, Wendy Marsh — whose SCA name is Mistress Willoc Mac Muiredaig (pronounced Willow McMurray) — taught the students the art of “white work.”
One aspect of “illumination” — meaning the decorations on documents such as SCA Charters — white work is all about adding accents to beautifully colored designs.
“They look like stained glass,” Marsh said.
Combining the calligraphy and illumination techniques, the Scribes Guild can create everything from thank you notes to elaborate documents.
It’s important to learn all the skills involved in the process, according to Young.
As she instructed the students about calligraphy, she explained, “It’s not how hard to press the pen, it’s how you move it.”
Each letter requires multiple strokes, as Young demonstrated, but the process has grown easier with the invention of calligraphy pens which hold their own ink.
No longer is it absolutely necessary to use a quill pen dipped in ink, which can drip and stain both skin and cloth.
In centuries past, when copying texts was a long, laborious process, “You really had to think about what you were writing,” Young said.
Another difference between those ancient times and present day: the students at Wednesday’s class were writing on a flat surface, where the tradition was to work on an angled desk.
Young has been perfecting her calligraphy over the past four years. Marsh has been part of the SCA since the mid-90s and enjoys the opportunity to share her knowledge with others.
There are practical aspects to the classes, as well. The charters which can be created using the calligraphy and illumination skills are given as awards at SCA events.
“They’re a work of art. About 20 to 30 are handed out per weekend,” Marsh said.
The Scribes Guild isn’t the only SCA-related group to meet at the library. The Medieval Arts and Sciences group also gathers once a month to share knowledge about various topics.
More information about local SCA activities is available at http://bryn-gwlad.ansteorra.org.