Posts tagged ‘viking’

Song: Three Mavens

In the lead up to Great Northern War, I’ve been thinking on the songs I’ve been packing away in my arsenal. I think that must have been seeping into my subconscious, because at roughly 2am this morning I had a song pop into my head, almost fully formed. I’ve worked on it through the day, and I bring you my song:

Three Mavens (to the tune of Three Ravens)

There were three mavens sat on a bench
Down a down they tore her down
Staring at a badly dressed wench
With a down
The one of them said to her friend
Look how badly that dress is hemmed
With a down truly truly they tore her down

That outer layer’s Florentine
Down a down they tore her down
But that chemise is from an earlier time
With a down
That’s a Viking circlet on her head
Why does she mix her period
With a down truly truly they tore her down

They called her over eagerly
Down a down they tore her down
And she stepped to those mavens three
With a down
She hoped for wisdom and new friends
They lectured her on fashion trends
With a down truly truly they tore her down

This fact will shock you and appall
Down a down they tore her down
The garb she wore was borrowed all
With a down
She quickly saw she was outclassed
Her first event shall be her last
With a down truly truly they tore her down

I’m releasing this song under a CC0 Waiver. For those familiar with Creative Commons, this is the least restrictive licence they supply.


CC0

To the extent possible under law,

Kristine Sihto

has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to
Three Mavens.
This work is published from:

Australia.

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#47 Lucet

Some time ago, I came across an online image of a Viking line winder. You can find an image of the specific find here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/511440101403969955/. Falling somewhat in love with the image, I decided to make lucet with similar markings. So I prepared a nice piece of beef bone and here’s the finished product at roughly half the size of the original find.

Bone lucet based on a linewinder found at Sømhovd, Norway

Bone lucet based on a linewinder found at Sømhovd, Norway

 

#45 Antler Needlecase

At the Abbey Medieval Festival, I managed to pick up an antler. I’ve never worked with antler before, and I’ve wanted to try it for a while.

Logistically, I had never really considered the fact that antler is made of bone, not of horn. This is a fairly important distinction when carving something, as bone is spongy on the inside. This immediately put paid to a number of ideas I had regarding said carvings, as much of what is inside the antler is useless for making anything out of. However, the tip of the antler is quite useful for my first project: a needlecase.

I cut the tip of the antler off at what seemed a reasonable distance, then cut another smaller section in parallel to the first cut. I hollowed out the tip using a drill, then with a rotary tool I carved the lid so it would sit inside the needlecase.

A few carefully placed holes for the hinge and clasp were the last bits. Then I polished it up and tied on the cotton hinge and clasp.

Antler needlecase

Antler needlecase

 

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 #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.

 

 

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.

A two-fer: 22, Make a lucet, and 23, make a lucet braid

I’ve never tried lucet cord braiding before, but I’ve seen it done, I’ve hung out with people talking about it, it’s something you really can’t escape in the SCA.

For those who don’t know, a lucet  is a two (or more) pronged thingie with a hole in the middle, for the making of braid with.  Prior to today, I actually thought the cord was called a lucet, but it turns out that I was wrong, the tool is the lucet, and the cord is simply named after the tool that made it.

I actually made two lucets today.  The first was from bone, which broke while I was polishing it.  I was thinking of sticking it back together with superglue, but it’s going to have to deal with a fair amount of tension from the cording, so I may simply transform the remnants into naalbinding needles.  The second is from cedar, and took me much less time.

A note to anyone who’s never worked in wood but intends to at some point:  stay away from cedar.  It’s a crap wood.  I have a bunch of it because it was cheap and I was ignorant.  It’s too soft to be of use for anything, so I’m using it on stuff I don’t mind breaking.  That includes this lucet.  Leave it to pencils and pretty panelling, it’s no good for anything else.

Lucet + cord

The braid is produced by first running the thread through the hole, then wind the thread around the prongs twice in a figure 8 pattern.  The lower loops get pulled off the prongs over the upper loops, then another figure 8 loop gets added, tightening as you go.  It forms a square braid.  I’m still working on getting the tension right, but I think I’ll be right as rain by this time tomorrow!

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