This is my Triathalon Entry for the 2023 Northshield Kingdom Arts & Sciences Competition, held 22 April. The project started because I wanted to enter one item in three categories. After consulting with my Pile of Shrubberies (i.e. my Laurel friends), I decided to enter a manuscript page. I would make some of the tools, do the calligraphy and illumination, and write an original poem based on an extant piece.

This was supposed to be an easy project: make a paint brush, write a poem, put ink and paint on a piece of parchment so that it looks like the Book of Deer

This was not an easy project. In order to make a paintbrush (my tool of choice), I needed to complete some research about paintbrushes. 27 pages later, and I still am not sure they existed. In order to make the manuscript page, I needed to ID the paints. After reviewing some chemical analysis of other manuscripts, I tentatively identified the pigments as orpiment (arsenic) and minium (red lead), both of which are toxic. In order to write the poem, I needed to identify and quantify the poetics. I later determined that this form of poetry is incredibly difficult to write in English and that I probably should have picked something easier.

The project took approximately 110 hours spread over 6 weeks. The financial outlay was significant as well: I spent over $100 just in printing costs and an estimated $350 on materials. 

At the 2023 Northshield Kingdom Arts & Sciences Competition, I was awarded first place in the Triathalon and second place in the overall open division for my research paper.

Please take some time to review the documents linked with the buttons below. 

The poem I wrote was inspired by my favorite blacksmith, Master Crispin Fletcher, OL, OP.

Scribe and Smith

Clever craft-folk, he and I Pen and forge are matched allies

Black iron tools to reach our goal Mine, gall-ink and his, charcoal

Checking once then twice for sure Ruler ready, he measures.

"It fits! Yay!" I gleefully preen Lines with letters like sardines


Inspired, he feeds his forge fire Bellows blow, flames climb higher

My own burning questions press Answers bring light to darkness

Red iron bends with shifting blows He commands, metal follows.

A quieter smith, I sit Forging phrases: my habit

Careful strikes create knife's edge Honing blades with deep knowledge

Honing stanzas, setting free Meanings made with right trochee

Fixing words, removing scale Expert eyes see each detail

His hands black from smoke and soot Mine stained too by my inkpot

Coals cool as he finds his rest Aching arm gives loud protest.

Three fingers write, eyes are sore Pen speaks, whole body labors.

A like pair, this scribe and smith, With rocks and spite, make mischief.

Smelting, shaping, making pure, Out of naught, something clever.

For one 6x8 manuscript page, I: