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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Garb Making - 16th C Bloomers (aka underwear, pantaloons, braes)

In my ongoing quest to make one late period outfit I decided a pair of underwear/ braes was the first order of business. I looked around the Internet and found a pair of 16th C undergarments that suited my needs as an example to work from. This image was taken from Met Museum item #83869

I chose to use a very lightweight, almost gauzy, linen so that I can wear these under a dress without getting terribly overheated. I am also hoping the fabric is strong enough to withstand moving, sitting, and squatting.

When I measured myself for these I incorrectly measured my rise, the amount of space your bum takes up in your pants when you sit or squat. This resulted in the addition of a very wide waistband. Since I was using the above image as inspiration rather than making a replica this did not bother me to much.

I flat felled the seams to give them added strength. Unfortunately, I didn't pay close enough attention to the direction I folded them in until it was to late. At the crotch, second image in the set, you can see where I went left on one side and right on the other.

Rather than do a button closure on my underpants I chose to use a drawstring. My drawstring is a braid of silk/ bamboo blend yarn.

Originally, when I looked at the extant example I thought the coloured cord near the waist was a straw string. Now, after looking at the image several times, I believe it is a cord that has been added to embellish the opening at the front of the pants.

I could find no detail photos of the lace on the bottom of the legs so I decided to try to create the overall look of individual peaks and loops with needle lace.

Needle lace is not something I have learned before so my first effort was messy to say the least. I first made single thread loops on the hem of the legs, then used a buttonhole stitch to create each peak working back and forth. First one row, then the second, and finally the third. Only after I completed all the peaks on each leg did I then go back to create the single thread loops, which I now know are called picots, all the way around.

The top image below is the first leg. The second is the other leg. I can definitely see an improvement from one leg to the next. The first leg the various loops are different sizes, and unevenly space. I also know tension, pulling my buttonhole stitches to tight, was also a problem. This caused my peaks to twist and fold over rather than  stand up.

The second leg the picots and base loops are more even. The picots themselves are more evenly spaced along the outside edge. The peaks stand up and create the look that I was going for.

The original lace was made with metallic thread but I chose to go with rayon as a substitute for silk. I was recently told that needle lace was more often made with linen thread instead of silk but if I had known this ahead of time it would not have changed the thread I used for the lace. I chose it as much for the colour as for the materials.

Now that I have completed a pair of underwear inspired by a 16th C pair I find myself contemplating making a replica pair. That would include the gold embroidery, the metallic lace, and the button-up waist band.


Monday, 27 June 2016

The Jorvik Cap - 10th C

 I generally leave my head uncovered, except at outdoor events where there is not a lot of shade available. At outdoor event I wear a straw hat with a length of thin linen down the back to protect my neck.

I agreed to teach a couple of classes on sewing and embroidery to some of our newest members and thought a simple head covering that could work for different eras would be a good choice. Easy pattern, simple stitching, and then decorated with the basic embroidery stitches to personalize it. And for new members it would also be their first complete piece of garb, a win win in my opinion.

While looking through the vastness of the Internet I came across a website discussing the Jorvik cap. It looked to be just the thing, and it was only a century or two out of my preferred period to play ( 7th-9th C Anglo-Saxon).

The original was made from silk but I opted for linen for a few reasons.
  1. I do not play a Lord or Lady. I play a peasant or a craftsman class persona.
  2. I had linen on hand.
  3. I have a tendency to overheat easily and decided linen was far more breathable and cooler than the other option of wool
  4. I am allergic to most wools and it would have to be lined anyways, increasing its heat factor.
A couple of websites suggested there was embroidery on the original but looking at the image of the extant item, located at the JORVIK Artefact Gallery, I could find no indication of embroidery at all. The only evidence of embroidery were other people's hoods and the decorations they added.

I decided to try to learn the long armed cross stitch and use it as decoration on my hood along the front edge seam. I had tried the long armed cross stitch before but had failed and moved to something easier.

This effort was no different except after the fourth time of starting and removing the stitching, I placed dots every 1/8th inch. I used a ruler so the line was dots was straight and used a soft lead pencil so the marks will disappear in time and with a gentle washing. With the markings this stitch became much easier to do and get even along the entire length.

I opted for 2 strand tapestry wool, 4 strand separated into 2 strand, for the decorative stitching. Once the crosses were done I decided to go back over the X's with a bit of wool to give it a little extra punch. I chose green and yellow as those are the primary colours in my SCA heraldry.

Now that I have done this hood, I am thinking about making a pointed hood just for some variety. I have seen them referred to as the Dublin Viking Hood or the Dublin Cap. I have found several pages that discuss them and show the site owners recreations but have not, yet, found an image or the original or the recreation in a museum. I will, of course, keep looking.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Smocked Apron

Aprons seem to be a pretty popular item in the early and middle Medieval periods. You can find images of aprons n men and women in various manuscripts. This  Larsdatter  page gives lots of links to many manuscripts. While most of them seem to simply be pieces of fabric tied around the waste occasionally, such as in the image of the woodcut Melencolia by Albrecht Durer, you can see a smocked apron being worn by the women.
While I usually play an Anglo-Saxon or Norse persona in the SCA I do like to learn new techniques. In April I was privileged to take a class on smocking at an A&S day hosted by our Baron and Baroness. The concept of the class was to learn how to smock and then create an apron.
I am one of those visual learners. If I see something being done I can usually pick it up immediately.  If I have to read the instructions and look at pictures I will struggle for ages to learn a new skills.

Smocking turned out to be one of the few that I struggled with even though I was shown, not once but twice. I became so frustrated that I put the apron away until we got home. Once I picked it back up I found that a trough, the bit of fabric that was supposed to be down, was picked up and sewn into my pleats on the first row. This completely threw my stitching out of synch.

To correct the issue, after the fourth or fifth time I started and restarted the pleating, I simply doubled up the column of pleats for that one area. That allowed me to complete the pleating and move on to making and adding the the wasteband.

Another mistake I made was using a very light weight linen fabric. This means the apron looks pretty but isn't very likely to be all that useful for cooking or any other task where an apron would be nice to have around. But it does look nice and will look good if I ever decide to dress as a 12th -14th century peasant for one of our indoor events.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Trillium Exchange 2016

I signed up for the Trillium Exchange again. It has been a couple of years since my last one. The Trillium Exchange is a bit of fun where members of the SCA Kingdom of Ealdormere are paired with another participant and then make a gift for that person. Everyone tries to match the gift to their recipient's persona, likes, or possibly even just based on their favorite colours.

My recipient this year plays a 14th Century Englishwoman, the daughter of a rich wool merchant. She likes playing period games so I decided to carve her a game box, embroider a "Game of Goose" board, and carve the game pieces. I am still debating on whether I want to make her a set of dice or simply purchase modern ones.

My inspiration for the game box is housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art The original is in bone but I am carving it in wood. So far I have managed to get all four panels for the bottom of the box completed and stained.

 This is an image of my carved panels. They were carved in basswood, painted white with acrylic paint, then stained with a thick walnut stain. The excess stain was wiped away. My hope was to make it look like aged bone.

These pieces will be glued onto a box made from poplar. A small box lock has been purchased and will be installed so that the box as closely as possible resembles the original, the pictures posted below.

As with last exchange, the post will not be published until after my recipient as received their gift.


Completed Project

I ended up not making any progress posts after my initial one so I am updating this post with the finished work and publishing it before I find another project to distract me.

I ended up making the box, the embroidered game board,  and six game pieces. When the amount of time it took to finish the embroidered board, I decided I did not have time to make the die so I purchased a standard set of white plastic with black pips. In the documentation I included the rules to the goose game as well as a few rules for dice games.

 The game board is approximately 15 inches square. On one page for the rules they mentioned that the original game could include a drinking tile, making it an adult drinking game, so I included a foaming mug of beer on tile 61.

Each goose is freehand drawn so no two are alike. I tried to make the pose different for each goose as well.

Other images include bridges, a house, a well, a labyrinth, a cell door, and a skull and cross bones.

The recipient's favorite colour was purple. I had a violet cotton fabric that I used to line the box bottom and lid. To line the box I glued the fabric over a single layer of cotton batting onto a piece of veneer cut to the right size. This was then glued to the inside of the box.

The game pieces were carved from scrap wood I had laying around. The three lighter pieces are basswood, cedar, and poplar. The well and tower are made from red oak, and the mug is made from a piece of butternut. The handle for the mug was carved separately then joined to the body of the mug.

Once the entire box was done I went back over and made sure all the sides were as similar to each other in colour as possible. My original plan had been to make it white with some aging added with the stain. Unfortunately, the panels absorbed the stain at different rates and strengths so in the end I made the box a fairly uniform light brown with white highlights showing through.

This was the largest project I have completed to date. The relief carving was not a new skill but also not one that I had spent a great deal of time perfecting.

The same can be said for the embroidery. Not a new skill but not one I had spent a lot of time working on over the years.

Lining the box and mounting a flush lock were new skills but the relied on my previous wood carving and fabric skills.

With everything said and done I spent a solid 4.5 months, working every day for 4-6 hrs a day to complete this project. I am quite happy with the results of the carving but I see lots of room for improvement as well. It was good to push myself and I hope to do some more relief carving and embroidery work again soon.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Examing my Expections: The Laurel Apprentice Relationship

A friend of mine was given her Laurel this weekend and I am glad to say I made the effort to attend her Vigil if not the actual Elevation. During my time in the Vigil tent we got off discussing the Laurel Apprentice relationship.

She asked me a question that have had me examining my expectations and desires over the last few days.

Her question was pretty straight forward: What are you looking for in a Laurel Apprentice relationship?

I thought I knew the answer. I said I would want someone who could and would teach me one or more skills, preferably in wood working; someone who would be an advocate; and someone who could guide me through the quagmire that is the culture and politics in the SCA.

Seemed like a good answer at the time. But, over the last three days I have replayed that one simply question and answer 100 or more times and each time I find myself wishing I had said more. I wish I had emphasized certain aspects more than others. Or maybe, just maybe, I did exactly what my friend wanted and that was the really think about what I want and how I want to get there.

So what am I really looking for in a Laurel? Here it is in order of importance to me...

1) I want a deep connection with a person or a group of people that are as enthusiastic, slightly obsessed about Arts and Sciences, who are happy for my successes and commiserate with me in my failures, and who I can really be myself with. I want someone who can give me gentle guidance when I need it, or beat me over the head with a stick when I need that. I want to have the kind of relationship where I feel welcomed and there is a genuine affection for me and I for them. I want a person I can be honest with and who will be honest with me.

2) I want someone who can help me understand the politics, and how to successfully navigate it, within the SCA. If I make a mistake, I want someone who can tell me what that mistake was and how to prevent making that mistake in the first place. I also want someone who can tell me how to go about correcting an inadvertent mistake without having to completely humiliate myself in the procress.

3) I want someone who can help me up my research game, so to speak.

4) I want a Laurel who can and will teach me, guide me, and otherwise encourage me in skills. I have enough interests that I would love to learn from anyone but I am passionate about Woodworking (carving, joinery, finishing, etc), Costuming, and nalbinding.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

White Wolf Fian: Tools I used for this project

It was pointed out to me that I neglected to show pictures of the tools I used for this project. This post rectifies that mistake.

Here are all the tools I used for this project, except for the modern steel straight chisel. Instead I included the hand made one that I used for part of the project, until I realized that the edge would not stay sharp like the modern steel. The modern chisel was exactly the same shape and size as the hand made tool.

Full List of Tools:
  • Jar of Wood Ash.
  • Strip of heavy wool.
  • Hacksaw blade mounted into a Medieval Saw frame.
  • Lee Valley Brand Carving Knife.
  • Modern files one fine and one with both course and medium teeth.
  • Large Handmade Twist Drill mounted into a handle.
  • Small Handmade Twist Drill mounted into a handle.
  • Small hand made straight chisel mounted into a handle.  
I included the hand made ring and dot tool though it was never actually used for the actual White Wolf Fian Bone Strap End Replica.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

WWF - Replica Bone Strap-End Progress and Final

 I tried drawing the interlace pattern directly onto the bone but had a hard time getting it to look anything like the original. In the end I traced the original onto the bone using a light graphite transfer paper and a print out of the original from the book.

Here I have done the very basic etching using the tip of my knife to scratch along the drawn lines. I had to etch all the lines at once as the graphite rubbed off the bone very easily.

It is kind of hard to see in this photo but the indented area on the back of the strap has been started. I used my knife to etch a straight line and then a file to actually start removing bone material. I had a hard time keeping the file straight. I clamped a metal ruler along the line and used that as a file stop (used similarly as a plane stop for wood), which allowed me to make the first few passes straight along the line. Once the first few passes were made the lip of the bone served as a file stop.

The deeper carving has begun. I am using a Ramelson Wood Carving Palm chisel to do the deeper cuts and shaping on the carving.

My homemade chisel was not staying sharp long enough to really do the detail work. I will be trying to make another set of tools this summer using tool grade steel rather than the softer steel used for the first run tools.

As I carve the details deeper, I am also going over the frame line more and more to make it deeper than it was before.

 More detail carving done. I originally estimated I would need 60 hours to complete the entire reproduction. At this point I was very near that time limit already.
 The front is finished. At this point I had spent nearly 80 hrs on the replica. That included cutting the bone stock, shaping the strap-end, and doing the carving on the front.
 The back is started. Like the front, I had to trace the lines onto the bone and give them a rough etching with my knife blade to keep from rubbing them off.

The inside of the bone seemed a bit softer than the front. The etching was much easier to complete and the deeper lines, especially the straight lines went much faster.
The interior details have begun. I still can not decide if they are fruit, birds, or human faces.

The red stain is actually my own blood. There is a saying among wood carving that it isn't done until you have bled on it. Well, I bled a lot. While making one of the cross cuts the chisel slipped out of the groove and right across my thumb. I wiped away the blood and found that it had filled the grooves in the bone. After I took the photo I had to take a toothbrush to the groves to remove the rest of it.
 The carving on the back is finished.
 Here is the back of the finished strap-end all cleaned up and polished. You can see the glossy look as I hold it tilted slightly to the light. I used fine wood ash, water, and a piece of wool fabric to polish the bone.
And the front of the finished strap-end. The gloss does not show as well in this picture but it was taken on the same day at nearly the same time as the above photo. The polish did not work as well on the deeper carvings of the front but it still looks nice.

From start to finish this project took about 120 hrs to complete. Spending that much time really makes you appreciate the art and skill of the craftsmen of the 10th Century.

Once I have gotten over the "Never want to look at bone again" attitude I developed during the making process, I want to make a bone buckle that ties into the strap end in some way. Perhaps I will replicate the interlace or perhaps it will have the bird faces on it. I don't think the buckle will be done this year.

This is a photo of the original strap end taken by a visitor to the Museum and posted on Flicker. It shows the details, especially the ladder etchings much more clearly than the photo obtained from the museum directly (see second photo).

In retrospect, comparing my reproduction to the photo of the original, I can see that I made my carving far deeper than the original. Perhaps when it was brand new the original had deeper lines but I do not think so.

I opted to NOT recreate the ladder etchings. I suspect in the original it was added to make it more obvious which straps were up and which were down in the carving. Due to the depth of my carving and the relief aspect that I used, the ladder etchings are not a requirement and I did not feel that they would add anything to my piece.

At a later date I may decide to add the ladder etchings but for now I am done with my replica.