Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Duck and drake...

Duck and drake/Good quills make. Dearlings, attend to me. An illuminator should manage her own quills, as she who cuts the hay should whet her own scythe. One gets one’s pens from the five outer flight feathers, the pinions. Swan, goose, duck, crow, and raven make the best instruments, though you may use pheasant, pelican, peacock, and eagle as well. Some of you have swan, some goose feathers. Feathers from the left wing fit the right hand best and the right the left. First, we must heat the quill in the hot ashes of a fire. Less than a minute. Gently peel off the delicate skin by scraping the trunk of the quill with the back of your knife bladd. Now, rub the quill smoothly with the piece of soft silvery scales of lamprey found on your desks. Rub hard. The oil in the fish skin softens it. Next, spit on the barrel, rub briskly with the fish skin and put it in this ewer to soak all night in water. In the morning, we will harden the quills in a pan of hot sand. The cutting of the quills is easy enough, though you must work carefully. That’s for tomorrow.
-- from Akeldama, Melissa Green



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