Posts tagged ‘sca’

Checking back in…

It’s been quite some time since I blogged here, and I haven’t been going to many events due (mostly) to time constraints, but that doesn’t mean that all has been silent on the A&S front. This being AS 49, I decided I need to get up and moving on my 50 things project, and to do this, I need to get up to date with my list. I previously was at Breadth challenge #27, so here’s my list continuing on:

28. My songbook has now expanded to include 55 songs, some of which are period and some not. This has been a depth challenge for me (and will continue to be ongoing… there are a lot of songs available  and a lot of pages in my songbook which are yet to be filled in.) I’ve got a YouTube channel where I’m gradually adding content. Due in part to bad speakers, another part to poor microphones, and a third part to the fallibility of my vocal cords, the sound is not always the best, but I believe it’s probably sufficient for other bards to pick up a tune from what I’ve posted. You can listen to me on this channel:   https://www.youtube.com/user/RevKristine

29. My wedding dress. You’ve already seen the fabric, here and here… the final product was entirely hand stitched to my own design. It didn’t entirely work the way I wanted, due majorly to my weight (and size) jumping all over the place while I was making the dress. However, I’m (mostly) satisfied with what I made, and apart from some minor freakouts on the day and the groom having a broken leg (that’s a story unto itself), the wedding went well. I’ve since used the dress at an event, and now that I am fatter, it fits me a lot better.

My wedding dress, from my own design.

My wedding dress, from my own design.

30. My wedding cake. This was made entirely of gingerbrede with marzipan icing. I will admit to buying the pink flowers on the cake, but am particularly proud of my own marzipan roses.

Wedding cake made on gingerbrede and marzipan

Wedding Cake

31. A painted buckler. I carried it into the wedding. For those who are curious, the text on the buckler is not period. It is, instead, made of Tengwar and written in Sindarin (one of the Elvish languages from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth stories). The text reads “loving twin souls” and “eternity”. Note: I did not make the buckler (which was rehomed to us from a heavy fighter who could no longer fight due to chronic shoulder injury), I simply painted it.

 

 

A painted buckler

A painted buckler

32. My wedding jewellery. Namely a strand of  black pearls, strung on silk, using a  toggle clasp.

A photo of me which displays my wedding jewellery

A photo of me which displays my wedding jewellery

 

 

 

33. A naalbinded phone pouch.

Naalbinded pouch

Naalbinded pouch for my love’s phone

34. Turks-head knot balls. I gifted these to Stegby a while back so the canton can build a children’s play box. I don’t currently have a photo.

35. Naalbinded bag. I make a lot of bags and pouches, it seems. This one became my token display area.

36. Bone pendant. This was a wedding gift for a couple of friends. This pendant was quite challenging due to the intricacy of the design.

Bone pendant featuring knotwork

37. Cider. My dear husband has taken to brewing his own cider, and so I have dabbled alongside him. Chief among my accomplishments is a dry pomegranate cider (yum).

38. Mead. I managed to find a period recipe for “weak mead”, which I have used, drank, then used further as a base for…

39. I am unsure what to name this drink. It may be considered a melomel, or it may be considered an ale: I used a weak mead recipe as a base and added barley. The result was dry, with a lemony flavour and a lingering but not unpleasant aftertaste in the back of the throat. I may try it again sometime.

40. Sekanjabin. This is a period Middle Eastern drink of  vinegar and sugar, heated until it becomes syrupy, and used as a cordial. I use red wine vinegar, but my father tells me it’s quite nice using apple cider vineger.

41. Embroidered handkerchiefs. Carrying tissues around at an event is (while convenient) something that detracts from authenticity. To this end, I have embroidered some handkerchiefs so that I’m not dropping tissues whenever I happen to have a runny nose at an event.

42. Illumination.  This was the product of an A&S class at this year’s Great Northern War.

Illumination

Illumination

43. Pilgrim bag for my father. Having at some stage read about Elizabethan era stitching techniques, and having a father who is about ready to entrust himself to the SCA and who accompanied me to Great Northern War, I decided he needed a pilgrim bag to put his feasting gear into. You can see the bag in the background of the below image. All fabric edges have been folded into a hem and secured with a running stitch, then seams have been whipstitched. I decided that, as the fabric I was using was unbleached calico and the stitches would be visible anyway, I would make the stitches become a feature of the bag. All stitching has been done in blue. I also followed this pattern with the strap, making the strap a long tube and placing the seam for the strap uppermost and in the middle rather than on one of the edges. I think this will probably add long term strength to the strap also.

Dad

My father. Note the bag on the table next to him.

That’s it for the moment. I’m so close to my 50! I do have a few projects on the go at the moment… one crewel work embroidery, a splitstitch embroidery, a blackwork collar, a girdlebook, and a carved spoon, which means that once they’re done, I have only two more items to manage for my list.

 

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A Proper Sonet, Wherein a Louer Dolefully Sheweth his Grief to his L. and Requireth Pity

This is a song I’ve had in my songbook for a few years now. I spent quite a lot of time researching it and its tune, as (at the time) I had a fair amount of trouble finding ‘Row Well Ye Mariners’ online. I eventually settled for learning the tune off a wav file that played at incredible speeds.

The tune is fairly complex and took me a while to get down. I physically can’t sing the song any faster than I’ve sung it here – my tounge gets tied and trips over itself. It’s lyrics also indicate that it’s been written for a male vocalist, so my mezzo-soprano vocals are at odds with the intended outcome.

Online, you can find the transcript (along with other pretties) here: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ballads/handful.html, and a copy of an 1878 print here: https://archive.org/stream/handfulofpleasan00robiuoft#page/20/mode/2up.

Breadth Challenge #26: Mittens!

I have, for the past couple of weeks, been recuperating from hand surgery.  I can’t do a hell of a lot with my right hand right now due to a lack of mobility, after stitches and a week in plaster left me with a stiff wrist.  Wanting to make sure I developed precision in my fingers once again, I’ve been reprising the stitch I mentioned in the last post (which has now been identified as buttonhole stitch), and have a variation which I’m currently looking up.  Sorry, guys, no process photos this time, but perhaps with my next post (which should be socks)

So I got through the first mitten, and started thinking about the way I attached the thumbs.  I grew up with integrated thumbs on gloves, so it seemed like the most natural way of attaching them, but as I worked the mittens directly off my hands rather than any researched pattern, I really don’t know.  I think I’ll be going on a research binge over the next couple of days, because I really want to know now.

 

Breadth Challenge #25: A wee little baggie!

It’s some sort of strange thing, I always seem to end up making pouches/bags/other things-to-contain-stuff-in, etc., as my first piece of anything textile related.  And so it is in this case.

I’m not sure what the technique I used is called.  I came upon it in a dream, as many of my varied ideas do.  At first I was convinced it was a type of naalbinding.  Then, after reading up some more on naalbinding, my certainty wavered, even though it shares many hallmarks of said technique.  Having only attempted naalbinding once, and remembering only a mass of tangles from the attempt, all I can do is show what I have done and let other, more knowledgeable people work out what I’ve accomplished.

Starting position

Start by taking your piece of wool and wrapping it around your finger.  Add a half twist as shown.

Second step

Next, you want to run your long end under the loop on your finger, but over the long trailing end of your wool, as shown.

Pull the loop snug

This should make a single loop, which you should pull nice and snug.

A run of loops

Continue a run of loops, going under the finger loop and over the long length of wool, roughly 7 or 8 times.

Making your starting circle

Slip the loop off your finger.  Pulling on the short piece of wool that you originally started with will pull the loops into a circle.  From here on in, you will be forming a spiral.

Stitch into each progressive loop

Instead of stitching directly onto the finger loop, you’ll now be stitching into each of the loops you’ve already made.  To expand in a circle, add a second stitch to each second loop.  To make a tube, make only one stitch for each loop.

My stripes were made simply by alternating the colour of the wool I used, as this is a technique that requires you use short lengths.  I found any length longer than my arm span was too difficult to manage.

A quick eye will notice that I’ve added eyelets.  I thought for quite some time on how to do this.  In the end, I worked each one by skipping 4 loops, then stitching 4, then skipping four, etc., whilst only pulling the running thread tight enough to span the length of the four skipped loops.  When the spiral reached the skipped parts, I continued to loop onto the straight piece of thread as if it were the original finger loop, for four loops, then stitching normally for four loops, etc.

The drawstring is a simple four strand braid, as I covered here.

The resulting fabric is thick, springy and stiff.  It feels fabulously durable.  Note in the first picture that the bag (which is empty) is standing unaided, which should give an indication how stiff this fabric is.

If anyone knows if this is naalbinding or some other form of textile, please let me know, as I’d like to be able to put a name to what I’m doing.

Breadth Challenge #24: Trichinopoly

So, something new for my breadth challenge.  I first saw trichinopoly last year at Rowany where, alas, I only saw about 2 minutes of the tutorial on said subject, and that two minutes was without any form of comprehension as I was just waiting for my next collegia to start in the adjacent tent.  I’ve been wanting to try it ever since, but haven’t had any idea how to start.

For those who are left completely at sea by the five syllable word that sounds like a prehistoric sea creature or something, trichinopoly is also known as Viking or Norse wire weaving, or Viking chain knit.

Yesterday, I came across the Viking Knit tutorial on the Tangible Daydreams blog.  I immediately set to trying it, but ended in a puddle of disappointment and horrendous knots.  Knowing that it was my understanding that was at fault rather than the tutorial, I set out to find similar tutorials that put things into slightly different formats.  A couple of searches later, I found this tutorial.  The two tutorials together got me knitting in no time.

I am rather proud of myself for going the extra step and using my man’s drill press, which I am somewhat terrified of, to drill myself a drawplate.  Eight different gauges of drill bit gave me eight successive holes to draw down, and produced a very even finish.

Alas, my camera is pretty much dead, however I’ve managed to snag some photos with my i-Pad.  Sadly, the quality is bad, but you’ll get the idea.

Weaving in action

Necklace once it's been drawn through the drawplate

My only hassle has been with the clasps at the ends.  This, I think, will require some practice.

A last note:  In one of the tutorial links the writer made a note about the chain becoming two times longer.  This is not necessarily accurate.  I stopped my knit at 15cm, expecting a choker sized length.  Instead, my completed length of chain is 55cm.

 

 

Songs 5: Annachie Gordon

I fell quite in love with this song when I heard Sinead O’Connor performing it (here).  So of course, I ran off immediately to research where it came from, and listen to a heap of other performers doing it.

Annachie Gordon does not strictly fall within the period covered by the SCA.  It’s Child Ballad 239, Roud 102, and it’s earliest appearance (that my admittedly limited research could find) is cca. 1824, though in 1828 it was apparently listed in Buchan‘s “Ancient Ballads and Songs 2”, suggesting it may be at least a few decades older.

This song has gone through a few odd permutations.  At some point, the town of Buchan (pronounced Buck-an) became the town of Harking, which doesn’t actually exist.  This seems to happen in a fair amount of folk songs, where often the song is passed on purely by ear, resulting in a “Chinese Whispers” style evolution.  Indeed, this phenomenon has happened a few times with this song, Lord Saltoun becoming Lord Salting or Sultan, Auchanachie being shortened to Annachie, and at one point our hero became Hannah Le Gordon (you may need to scroll across on the link to see) when the song moved south from Scotland into England.

Almost all commercial versions of this song can be tracked back to the rendition performed by Nic Jones (unfortunately I don’t have a link to the song to offer), and all renditions using the place name “Harking” can be tracked back to Mary Black (who, it seems, misheard Nic Jones).  Thanks to the Mudcat Cafe  for their lovely thread I got this info from.

In the tradition of singers everywhere, I’ve tweaked this song until it makes vocal and logical sense to me, so there’s a good possibility that you won’t find this exact set of lyrics anywhere else.  However, it’s close to most commercial versions.

Buchan is bonny, and there lives my love.
My heart lies on him and cannot remove.
It cannot remove for all that I have done,
And I never will forget my love Annachie.
For Annachie Gordon, he’s bonny and he’s braw,
He’d entice any woman that ever him saw.
He’d entice any woman and so he has done me
And I never will forget my love Annachie.

Down came her father and he’s standing at the door
Saying, “Jeannie, you are trying the tricks of a whore.
You care nothing for a man who cares so much for thee,
You must marry Lord Saltoun and leave Annachie.
For Annachie Gordon, he’s barely but a man.
Even though he may be pretty but where are his lands?
The Lord Saltoun’s lands are broad and his towers they run high.
You must marry Lord Saltoun and leave Annachie.”

“With Annachie Gordon I beg for my bread
But before I marry Saltoun his gold to my head,
His gold to my head and fringes straight down to my knee,
I will die if I don’t get my love Annachie.
And you who are my parents to church you may me bring
But unto Lord Saltoun I’ll never bear a son.
Not a son or a daughter, I will never bend my knee
And I’ll die if I don’t get my love Annachie.”

Jeannie was married and from church she was brought home,
And when she and her maidens so merry should have been,
When she and her maidens both merry should have been
She runs into her chamber and she cries all alone.

“Come to bed now Jeannie me honey and me sweet,
To stile you, my mistress, it would be so sweet.”
“Be it mistress or Jeannie it’s all the same to me,
But in your bed, Lord Saltoun, I never will lie.”
And down came her father and he’s spoken with renown,
Saying “You that are her maidens, go loosen up her gown!”
And she fell down to the floor, so close down by his knee,
Saying “Father, look, I’m dying for me love Annachie.”

The day that Jeannie married was the day that Jeannie died,
And the day that young Annachie came home on the tide.
And down came her maidens all wringing of their hands
Saying “Oh, you’ve been so long, you’ve been so long upon the sands.
Oh, so long upon the sands, so long upon the flood,
They have married your Jeannie and now she lies dead.”

“You that are her maidens, come take me by the hand
And lead me to that chamber where my love she lies in.”
And he kissed her cold lips until his heart it turned to stone,
And he died there in that chamber where his love she lies in.

My rendition:  Annachie Gordon

As an aside, I found another version, not based on Nic Jones’ version.  Raymond Crooke looks like he’s an excellent resource, look for him either on YouTube or here.

On Bone

Bone is lovely stuff.  I fell in love with it at the first SCA demo my partner took me to.  There was this wonderful lady who had some remarkable bits of carved bone on display, and we got into a prolonged discussion about the merits of bone carving as an art form.  I came away from that demo with a desire to try it, at least once in my life.

The first thing I found out was that it’s not that easy to get information about it on the internet.  I guess I’m a lazy researcher, if I can’t find it on Google, I pretty much won’t look much further unless I have a really good reason to.  So, after a few hours looking at sites that were only marginally connected to what I was trying to find out, I figured the best way to learn was to reinvent the wheel.

I didn’t do it all alone.  I’d had some good discussions with some SCAdians about bone and horn before I started, so I knew there were health risks involved.  If you’re reading this as a future bone carver, please note: there are SERIOUS health risks involved.  Bone is wonderful stuff, but when you carve it, you get powdered bone.  Powdered bone is not good to breathe.  If it gets into your lungs, it stays there.  It’s too heavy to cough out.  Powdered bone can also scratch corneas.  ALWAYS use safety goggles and a decent face mask that will stop fine particulate matter.  Keep your carving area well ventilated.  And, where possible, run a vacuum cleaner close to your work to suck up excess bone powder.  No piece of carving is worth you contracting white lung, or going blind.  On top of that, hand protection is a must too.  If you’re working scrimshaw, you’re going to be using lots of sharp implements that can easily slip.  If you’re using a rotary tool, not only do you have slippage to worry about, you’ve got to watch that you take frequent breaks.  The vibration of the tool can cause a problem known as white finger.  Use carving gloves, and don’t run your rotary tool for hours on end. 

Preparation

When I first set out to learn, I decided to go the whole hog.  The cheapest way, I figured, was to buy pet bones and prepare them myself.  I had been advised that boiling the bones was a good way to get the nasties off, and that a little bit of detergent into the water would help to break down the connective tissue.  That sounded awesome to my scientifically inclined mind, and made a lot of sense.  So I picked up a couple of bags of offcuts marked for pets from the local butcher, shoved them into a huge pot of water with a bit of detergent in it, chucked it onto the stove and sat down to wait for the magic to happen.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Some pieces of bone were ready almost immediately, and these were carefully removed with tongs as they became free of meat and marrow.  Others took much longer.  After twelve hours of topping up the water so it didn’t boil dry, I got rather sick of the smell and the heat, so I stopped.  There were still bone pieces with connective tissue adhered to them.  The theory behind the detergent is all well and good, but in practise, it’s not that great after all.

Translucency due to fat in the bone

Using offcuts wasn’t that great either.  I had a pile of different pieces of bone, but not all of them were usable, and they were all rather thin (<2mm).  I managed a lot of nice sized flat pieces early on, but they were fragile.  Boiling them for so long also managed to produce some strange colourations, as in some cases the marrow seeped into the pores of the bone, and in others the fat turned the bone yellowish or patchy and almost translucent .

  Later on I changed the source of my bone, having found a pet supply store nearby.  It’s marvellous what opportunities expanding your horizons can provide you with!  I began paying a bit more for my bones, but getting more bang for my buck, when I switched to using shin.

My mate, Jean the Hornmaster, told me I should only be boiling the bones long enough for the marrow to go nice and sloppy, so I did just that.  Forget the detergent, forget boiling for hours on end, I put the water to the boil, popped in my new bones, and roughly a half hour later I retrieved them.  I gave them a flush with cold water, poked out any marrow that was still stuck in the middle, and voila!  I had some lovely, white bone that was roughly 6 – 7mm thick throughout.

This carving clearly shows marrow that has seeped into the pores of the bone.

Carving

My first foray into bone carving was a small piece of scrim, using only a needle.

Mermaid, carved on beef bone, coloured with oils.

I chose a mermaid, as all my somewhat limited forays into internet research on scrimshaw had led me to the conclusion that “true authenticity” would be best upheld by a nautical theme. (N.B. I was rather precious at the time.  I have since relaxed somewhat).

It took me forever to carve this.  Well, maybe not forever, but a number of hours.  I think I can put this down to not yet realising something every scrimshander needs to know.

Bone is softer when it’s wet.

Dry bone is horribly hard and brittle, and doesn’t take a needle very well at all.  But soak that bone in water, and it’s hard not to mark it.

Also, don’t use a needle, or a pin, or any other sharp thing that’s really small.  Your hands will cramp up terribly.  Try a splinter probe, or a really sharp awl.  And don’t forget the carvers gloves, or some other sort of hand guard designed for carvers.  You will end up stabbing yourself, no matter how careful you are.

 For the record, using oil paint to colour my work was not an original idea.  I read somewhere (I forget where, but I’m pretty sure it was a tertiary source with no references) that oil paints was a common way of making scrim stand out on the bone.  I forget which particular period this referred to, but it was within a time period covered by SCA.  So I went ahead and painted my work with oil paints that may very well be synthetic tones (LOL) with the gusto that only the very freshest of SCAdians can muster, not documenting any of my research at all.  The older me winces.  It may very well be a period practice, but I haven’t seen anything about it since.  Please, if anyone has more information about the historic use of oils to colour scrimshaw, please leave a comment with sources, I’d be very interested to follow up on that one.

After this first attempt, I pretty much gave up on using the old fashioned methods and turned to a rotary tool (also known as a Dremel, for those who use well known brand names to signify the generic item).  It used to belong to my partner.  It now, through use and addition of added extras, belongs to me by default.

Originally my rotary tool had a flexible arm that I could attach bits to.  I don’t any more.  It seems they get hot very quickly (I melted the plastic on the outside of it within the first week of use), and they’re rather fragile (the second week, I don’t know how, but the inner drive shaft snapped).  Since then I’ve been working without the flexi-arm.  This offers some unfortunate limitations to angles I’m able to reach with my bits, but them’s the breaks.

A rotary tool allows you to do amazing things with bone very quickly.  I’ve found that using dry bone with a rotary tool is better than using wet bone, as wet bone tends to gum up the bits very quickly.  Also, if you’re using  a rotary tool on bone, use a low speed setting.  Bone burns very easily, and when it does, it turns a very unpleasant orange colour.  I actually learned this from attempting to buff an early piece of bone I was preparing for a local A&S competition.  Faster does not necessarily equate to quicker.  Unfortunately, the burn was in a place I couldn’t sand out, so I had to resort to hiding it, by inking the entire piece in black and rubbing off highlights.   My piece won, but I will always recall the shame of hiding the unsightly burn.

Polishing

Bone takes a polish very nicely with a polishing wheel.  I’m quite fortunate to have a large grinder in my workshop, with a rag disk attached, but you can get similar polishing implements that attach to drills, and tiny polishing bits for rotary tools are available from most hardware stores.

Polishing your bone will show you exactly where all your lumps and bumps are.  If you’re using a rotary tool for your carving, this is where your little stone bits come in.  Work carefully over your rough spots with your fine grinding bits until it comes up nicely.  I say carefully, because it’s very easy to remove pieces of detail.  Then polish.  You should be able to get a mirror shine when you’re done.

Polishing compounds will help you to get a nice finish, but the bone will generally pick up a tinge of the compound colour.  It doesn’t always buff completely out, especially in areas of high detail.  For this reason, I’ve stopped using a green cutting compound.  It simply looked wrong.  I generally use a brown, however I’ve been told that white compounds exist which would be a better choice.  If you do happen to get cutting compound into prominent, hard-to-buff places, there’s a simple solution.  Brush your carved piece rather briskly with hot water and a soft toothbrush.  The plastic is softer than the bone, so it leaves your pattern and polish intact, while removing the coloured cutting wax.

If you’re working scrim without anything electrical, progressively finer sandpapers will do the trick, until you’re eventually buffing with a soft cloth.  The level of polish you’re going to get depends on your level of patience.

Hopefully this little how-to has been of help to those seeking the knowledge I had to find out the hard way.  Happy carving, everyone!

My latest piece, completed this morning.

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