Thursday, 27 December 2012

New Pouch Design - With Pictures

As mentioned in my previous post, we spent a good chunk of our time-off for the holidays planning and working on SCA stuff in the basement.

I like the way Avelyn put my work into perspective. I spent a good part of the week discovering many ways not to make leather dyes. After all, it's period to bodge things together and use trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn't...right? :)
Rather than continue to beat my head against that wall, I decided a change my plan of attack and work on something else for a while.

Since I still haven't heard from the museum about my stick purse, I'm going to work off the artwork I have and some of the information in Purses in Pieces to come up with a pouch design that will work. I can adjust the measurements etc. once I know the specifics.

The pictures below show my first attempt at a mock up, using some leather bits I had lying around.

The little flap over the pouch is seen in some of the artwork and one of the two extant examples has them. For example, here's some artwork from the 1500's showing a stick-purse with coloured flaps: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marinus_van_Reymerswale_-_The_Banker_and_His_Wife_-_WGA19323.jpg

It's often round, but I gave it a bit of a different shape, just for fun. The little toggle on the top is what keeps the flap down, and is just made from a piece of leather rolled in on itself and attached to the pouch.

The pouch itself has a slightly wider mouth than the base, which is a pouch shape that was seen in period (according to the drawings in Purses in Pieces).

The idea would be that about four of these pouches would be attached to the central stick, and I would have little pouchlets on the front of each pouch for additional coins.

Once I figure out any fine-tuning, I may do another version with veg tan that's closer to the weight of the goatskin I bought for the project. I can use some modern dyes and mix up some appropriate colours so I can get a sense of what it will look like too.



Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Blue Leather Dye - Attempt Number Two

Since my powdered gum arabic came in before the holidays, I decided to make another attempt at the blue dye this week while I was off work.

I followed the same process as previous, boiling down the indigo and then adding the gum arabic before letting it cool and letting the pigment settle.

Unfortunately, much like my first attempt, it just won't stick to the leather. It just wipes right off the surface at even the slightest hint of moisture.

At this point I think my original suspicion may be correct, and this recipe may just not be workable. The water is clearly taking on the blue colour but I just can't get it to transfer that colour to the leather itself or bind to the leather at all.

I'm thinking it has something to do with the leather itself. Maybe the process used to tan the leather in period introduced something that would allow the dye to sink in or stick. Short of using one of the tanning recipes in the Plithco (which just isn't practical for me), I think I'll have to write it off for now. Which is a shame, because all of the other blue recipes use heavier chemicals, which I don't want to deal with until I can setup outside in the spring.

I've also started the process of getting a green and a red dye going. Not sure how well they'll work either. The instructions for the red are rather confusing so I'll probably have to try a couple of times before I figure it out. The green is also a bit of a concern because all of the recipes use fresh buckthorn berries and the ones I have are dried.

Guess there's more trial and error to come.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Another Leather Dye Update

The elves did another fabulous job for me. My order of dying materials from New York came in yesterday, just in time for Christmas. Guess what I'll be doing over the holidays. :)

I'd ordered my powdered gum arabic, along with my ripe buckthorn berries (which are for making a green dye).

Shipping from New York City was about $12, which isn't too bad. And it didn't get held up very much at all at the border. The payment went through on my credit card on the 12th and it had arrived by the 19th.

This is all good news because this is the only supplier I've found that carries the ripe buckthorn berries.

With the gum arabic in hand, I'll also be able to do another attempt at making my blue dye, and see if it works better this time. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Update on Blue Leather Dye

I've searched the city for powdered gum arabic with no success, so I ended up ordering it from a US pigment distributor along with my ripe buckthorn berries. Hopefully they won't take too long to get here. I could have probably gotten it from another more local company (I did find an online store near Toronto that carried it), but since I needed my buckthorn berries anyway I figured I may as well tack on the gum arabic at the same time.

In the meantime, I got impatient and did a bit of an experiment using the liquid stuff from Michael's.

The challenge with using the liquid is there's no indication of the concentration. Is it mixed at a 2:1 ratio? 3:1 ratio? More? So, when my recipe calls for an ounce of gum arabic, I really have no way of knowing how much of the liquid to use. I ended up just eye-balling it, which is always a good way to go with chemistry. :)

I boiled down the indigo dye as instructed, then added my gum arabic. I then let it settle overnight so the indigo sediment settled. To get a decent coating without too much natural colour showing through I needed to do at least three layers, but I suspect that would vary by batch.

The colour is very much a blue, but when I apply it to the leather it gets very dark. You can see the blue tinge but it really depends on the light. In some light it looks like a dark grey or even black.

It also didn't bind at all to the leather. I was able to use a damp paper towel and almost completely wipe the colour off the leather, after it had dried. I was worried this might be a problem with this recipe, since every other recipe using indigo I've seen requires a strong chemical like lye to break down the indigo. It could also be because I used the liquid gum arabic, maybe it wasn't strong enough. From what I've read, the gum arabic is supposed to act like a glue and help bind the colour to the surface, so its certainly possible. I'll have to try again when I get the gum arabic powder.

Even if the next batch binds better to the leather, I'm not entirely sure I like the colour. It's just not "blue" enough in my books. There are a number of other recipes in the book for blue, including one that calls it "light blue", so I may need to keep experimenting.

Me waiting for the watched pot of indigo to boil
This is the finished dye. You can see the blue on the glass is pretty nice.
In the light of the flash the dye looks black-ish but in normal light it is a dark blue.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Special Delivery - Dyeing Supplies

I got home from work yesterday (Monday) and discovered that the elves had been by early and delivered my shipment of leather dye materials. This was exciting as it wasn't scheduled to be delivered until Wednesday.

I had ordered a small sampling of some of the materials I need from a company in Vancouver, in the hopes that they would be good. That way I don't have to deal with currency exchanges and getting the stuff across the border.

As a start, I ordered some indigo (blues), some brazilwood (red) and some green buckthorn berry extract (yellow). The only key ingredient they were missing was ripe buckthorn berries, which make a green colour. I'll have to order that from the US.

Here's a pic of what came in:



I'm super impressed actually. Not only did it arrive early, but it came with printed copies of their instructions on how to use the materials (at least, how to use them for fabric dyeing). I think I'll be using them again!

So last night, while Avelyn was doing some sewing, I went down and started translating my recipes into usable instructions. I've got the indigo recipe ready to go, since that is my next project.

But, I couldn't resist doing a quick experiment with the brazilwood, just to see how the colour would turn out. I mixed a small amount of the brazilwood dust with some water, which is the first step in my recipes anyway. If the leather gets a colour anything like the colour in the water, I'll be really happy. Here's a pic:

Brewing a bit of a brazilwood extract.

Before I can do my indigo dye, I need to track down some gum arabic powder. All I can find at the art stores locally is pre-dissolved liquids used for mixing with paints. I've tried the local bulk stores and most of the natural foods places, so my next try will be at the Middle Eastern grocery store. If not, I'll have to order some and get it shipped, which will delay things a bit.

I'm also having problems translating some of the terminology in the book. I know what "lime" is, but I can't find a definition of "live lime". Same thing with lye, what's "sweet lye" and how is it different from just plain old "lye"? And of course, I still need to figure out the eternal question of how long is a Paternoster as a measurement of time.

Oh well, guess there's still more to learn! :)

**** On an unrelated note, we also ordered a silk painting starter set from the same store as my dye materials, so we can start working on banners etc. over the holidays.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Next Agenda Item - Blue Dye

Now that I have a lovely period yellow leather dye that I can use, my next project (maybe over the holidays) is to experiment in figuring out a blue dye. Since our Canton colours are yellow and blue, they'll be important colours for me to figure out.

I have what looks to be a fairly easy recipe for a blue dye, but its a bit odd. Most of the other recipes that use indigo call for lye to be used. That's even the case with fabric dyes and more modern web resources I've found.

I'd prefer to avoid using lye, at least during the winter when I can't go outside or in the garage to have better ventilation.

This recipe doesn't use anything like that, it basically just has indigo, water and gum arabic. That makes me sceptical, but I figure its worth a try.

I know I can get gum arabic at Michaels, and I've ordered some powdered indigo, which should be arriving this week (I've also ordered some green buckthorn berry powder that I can use to try another yellow recipe - why not since I was placing an order anyway).

If the blue works out OK, I'll probably use the blue and yellow for my stick purse. That way we can test it out at a Canton event and it will be colour coordinated.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Leather Geekery at Fight Practice

Avelyn wasn't planning on fighting at practice this week, but we did go out anyway, with Lone Star chips and salsa in hand. She needed to pay her annual site fees for the practice, and we wanted to bring out the lamellar armour for some of the more experienced fighters and marshals to take a look at for input.

Overall, it went over pretty well. We need to trim some of the leather back a bit in a couple of places around the arms (which I figured) and we need to check it with her gorget to make sure her spine is fully covered. Otherwise I'll need to add some extra plates at the back or something to make sure.

The general feeling was it's nice and light, but we'll need to see how it feels with the padded gambeson before she'll know if it gives enough protection.

I also got talking to Mistress AElfwyn on the side about Kingdom A&S and such. Turns out this year she didn't get asked to judge my project (even though she had something crazy like 15 projects to judge) and she wasn't sure who had looked at it.

It also turns out that she's done some experimenting with the leather dye recipes from the Plithco (she even has an actual copy), without much success on any of the colours. She was very interested in the fact that I got a nice yellow out of the one recipe, as she's had trouble getting anything but various shades of brown. I was able to pass on my process, so hopefully that will help. She certainly seemed interested in the results, as well as the idea of applying the dye hot.

I also talked to Shahid about his leatherworking setup, so when I go over for A&S day this upcoming weekend I'll take a look and see if he has what Catherine will need to work on her quiver project. If that's the case it will make things easier since I won't have to haul my gear out for her to try.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Armouring Weekend

This past weekend I spent a good chunk of my time working on Avelyn's lamellar.

We'd bought the plastic lamellar plates a couple of years ago and I had started to lace together the plates back then. I had the general shape of the armour done and had attached buckles on it, but didn't get any further. The problem we ran into was that the armour needs a padded gambeson and it was going to be hard for me to fit the lamellar without it.

As a result, the laced-together plates have been sitting in the basement for a while now, lonely and forlorn.

I picked it up again a few weekends ago and attached some temporary shoulder straps so that I could put it on Avelyn and check the fit. We decided it needed some fine-tuning because the plates were interfering with her arm movements. However, I had to scale the plates back so much that it was going to leave large opening with no protection. That's where leather comes in.

This weekend I took the measurements and cut out leather pieces to form the upper torso and shoulders of the armour. I then riveted it on to the top of the lamellar and looked at attaching the pieces at the shoulder.

I made a few mistakes, like:
  • Laying out he pattern wrong for one of the pieces so that half the leather is good side out and the other piece is bad side out. (Groan).
  • Measuring the shoulder strap length wrong so that I ended up with the armour hanging too low (it basically added an extra 4 inches to what it should have been).
  • Fixing the shoulder strap length to find out that the neck hole is now a neck slit and doesn't fit around Avelyn's head.
Ahh, the joys of trial and error and working without a pattern.

Once I shave leather off the neck hole so Avelyn can put the armour on, I'll see if I corrected the shoulder strap problem. I can then permanently attach the pieces together. I'll probably re-enforce the shoulder straps with an extra layer of leather, since that's where shoulder and arm armour will be hanging.

I can then look at the arm holes and areas where the leather is overlapping and trim it down a bit more so that it isn't interfering with her movement.

I'm hoping to have it ready for her to take to practice in the next couple of weeks to get input from the marshals and experienced fighters, with the goal of having it ready to test out for real at practice early in the new year.

Of course, we still don't have the padded gambeson ready so hopefully that won't throw the whole thing out of what.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Practicum

Every year in February, the SCA group in Ottawa (Caldrithig) runs an event called Practicum, which is basically a day full of various classes on SCA topics. I've been a few times to attend classes but I find most years there just aren't enough classes on topics that interest me.

They've just sent out the call for teachers, and its got me to wondering if I should perhaps offer to teach a class or two this year.

My hesitations are:

1) I'm still pretty early on the leatherworking learning curve relatively speaking, so I'd be limited in what I could teach. Maybe an orientation to the basic tools and types of leather, and maybe a basic pouch making type class. And, even on those topics I'm certainly no expert.

2) On the topics I could teach, there are several people who often teach classes at Practicum that are much better qualified to teach them.


Essentially, if there's a gap I could probably fill it, but really the students would probably be better served learning from someone with more experience.

Down the road, I could definitly develop a class on the stick-purse and on my work with period leather dyes (once my experiemnts and research are done). But I'm still on the fence about this year.

So, what do you think - oh blog reading public?

Is there stuff I could teach that you'd find interesting?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Period Leather Dyes - Mellow Yellow

This weekend, while much of the Kingdom was at our Kingdom A&S event and Avelyn was raiding the lands to the south for Black Friday, I decided to get started with my leather dye project. I started with one of the recipes for a yellow dye, mainly because it only needed basic ingredients that can be found easily in Ottawa.

From my previous post, you'll know that the trickiest part of the recipe was the odd period measurements, which required a bit of math and some problem solving to work out.

On the way home from work on Friday I did an equipment and supply run. I picked up a cheap stainless steel pot and a small portable burner, so I wouldn't mess up our stove and good pots and pans. I can use the burner for when I'm doing wax hardened leather too, so it's been on our list of equipment to buy for a while. 

I also picked up some alum from Bulk Barn, on the advice of some of our local dying experts. I already had a good jar of turmeric so didn't need to pick up any extra.

Here's a picture of my set-up:

My work area before I started making a mess....er...working on my project.

The recipe itself was super easy. I just added all of the ingredients into the pot, mixed it up and let it boil until it had reduced by a third (about 20-25 minutes). If I'd used a bigger pot I probably could have done it faster, but it created a lot of foam and was in danger of boiling over, so I had to turn the heat down to a low simmer.

Here is a picture of the mixture:
Just add water,- before it got mixed
One interesting bit about the recipe was that it seemed to suggest that the mixture should be applied to the leather while it was still hot. This seemed unusual to me so I did a bit of an experiment. I did one square of leather while the mixture was still hot and then did a second square the next morning after it had cooled.

So far I've only noticed a slight bit of colour difference (the cold-applied dye was a bit darker), although the sediment in the mixture was more obvious when cold (I ended up having to wipe a bit of the sediment off the leather when I dyed it). I'll have to see if it makes a difference later.

The mixture definitely separates a fair bit when it sits, so mixing it well will be important if I use it cold.

Here's a picture of the jar of dye:

The finished dye the next morning. You can see the sediment settling on the bottom of the jar.
The end result is very nice actually. I think it will work really well as an accent colour with some of the other dye recipes. It's kind of a brownish-yellow colour.

Here's a picture of the end results:

On the left is the cold-applied dye. On the right is the hot applied dye. The bottom is the original colour of the leather so you can see the contrast.

Next Steps:

Since I'm happy with the colour, my next step is to figure out what to use to stop the colour from rubbing off. I don't want people with yellow marks on their garb from their pouch. I have the modern coating materials that I use with acrylic leather dyes, which could work. I'm sure there would be a period equivalent but haven't found a recipe yet.

I also think I'm going to do up a small pouch using this dye so I can see how it works in a larger piece. I may try a pouch similar to the kind that would be on the stick-purse, since that's ultimately where this is to be used.

Then I need to get my hands on some indigo pigment so I can make one of the blue dye recipes. I think the blue and yellow will work well together, and since those are the canton colours I may as well go that route for the stick-purse.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Period Dyes - Fun with Period Measurements

While I'm still waiting for the details from the museum on my stick-purse project, and now that I'm done the Kingdom badge leather carving project, my next bit of experimental leatherworking is going to be figuring out some period recipes for leather dyes. This will tie into the stick-purse as I'm going to want to use some of the dyes to help with that project as well.

This weekend, while everyone else is out of town, I'm going to start work on this.

The first and easiest recipe is for a yellow dye, so I'm going to start with that one. All of the ingredients are available in regular local stores, so I don't have to order any pigments online to get this one going.

The first step is to figure out the measurements. Most of the recipe is in ounces, so that's easy enough, but it does say to use "two half mezzette of clear water". First question to answer, what the heck is a mezzette?

I found a post-period reference from the 19th century that gives me some reference information for the mezzette as a measurement. It read " Liquid Measure. The Barile of wine is divided into 20 Fiaschi, 80 Mezzette, or 160 Quartucci, and contains 12*042 English gallons." (Source: http://archive.org/details/ahandbookfortra00firgoog)

I'm going to assume that the asterisk is actually supposed to be a period, so that the measurement is 1 barile = 12.042 gallons.

Since there are 80 mezzette in a barile, that means that 1 mezzette = 0.15 gallons.

As a starting point, I'm going to assume that when the recipe says to use two half mezzette it actually means two and a half (instead of 1/2 + 1/2), so that means I need about 0.375 gallons of water, which works out to between 1.4 and 1.5 litres.

I'll start with that I guess and see how the dye turns out. The main pigment for this dye is turmeric, and I've found some modern recipes for dying fabric with turmeric, so I can always compare the concentrations and see if they match.

Updates to come on the weekend.

*** Oops - bad math.2.5 mezzette should be 0.45 imperial gallons, not 0.375. That is 2.05 litres. Didn't seem to affect the end result though.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Some project updates

I haven't really had much time to work on leather projects lately so I don't have enough to update on any individual project to justify a post. Instead, I thought I'd just do a quick post summarizing some updates and thoughts on some of the things I have on the go:

Stick-Purse

I finally heard back from the museum in the Netherlands about their stick-purse. As I thought might have been the case, my original e-mail must have gotten lost in the shuffle as they were moving to their new location. I re-sent the note last week and heard back within a couple of days. They've passed my questions on to the curator, so at least that's progress.

I was also talking with Avelyn about the project the other night. I'm hoping to have the purse completed in enough time before Kingdom A&S next year that I can actually try to convince the gatekeeper at a small local event (event still TBD) to try it instead of a cash-box to see how it works. I think that's really how the stick-purse would have been used in period, so I'd like to actually apply the concept in real life and get feedback that I can include in my A&S documentation.

Thinking about that, I need to figure out how to tell what coins are in what pouch. I don't think there's any evidence of how this would have been done in period. Perhaps the money-changer would know based on how they positioned the purse on the table. I'm also thinking the use of different colours on the pouches or the draw strings might have been an indicator. Maybe when I hear back from the curator I'll see if we can tell how the colouring on the pouch was applied (were they all the same colour, or were some different).

For my purposes I may just use different colour lacing to do the draw strings on each pouch, unless I get more info from the museum that indicates a different method.

Kingdom A&S

My Kingdom A&S submission is done for this year and I've given it to Eluned for her to take with her to the event. I've also sent in my forms in advance (even though that isn't necessary for beginner level projects) and followed up with a confirmation e-mail to the A&S Minister since I know they were having problems with the online form at one point.

My documentation ended up being a total of 22 pages, but a lot of that was the annexes which include photocopies of my references and resources. My actual written information was about 6 pages.

Hopefully it will go over well and there will be some folks there to judge it. There aren't a lot of people that specialize in leather tooling in Ealdormere (lots of people do it to some extent for armour and such but not necessarily as an A&S activity), but there are some very accomplished leather workers. Hopefully some of them will be there.

I'm a little concerned how they will judge it. While leather tooling is entirely period, and we have evidence that heraldry was tooled onto leather items, my projects are very much modern-SCA in orientation. I'm hoping they'll be OK with using period practices to produce items for use in the modern SCA.

Other Bits and Pieces

My heraldry that I submitted at Pennsic is working its way through the system and is now showing up in the OSCAR system as being out for the commentary period. Hopefully if all goes well I will have both my Arms and Badge passed early in the new year. Then I'll have to figure out the carving pattern for both. :) The badge should be fairly easy, just a blue calamari (aka krakan or squid) fieldless. The arms are a bit more complicated because there are two caravels (basically a large sailing ship) in chief that are fairly complicated to draw.

We've been doing a bit of A&S at home the past few nights, unrelated to leather. We bought some fabric paint markers and are experimenting with them vs using standard acrylic paints with fabric medium. If we can get the markers to work well it will make banner projects sooooooo much easier. We bought a few different brands and are experimenting with them to see which work best, and which have the best colour pallets.

I quickly touched base with Nathaniel at Feast of the Hare about the leather Herald's folder for the canton that he was looking for help with, but we didn't really have time to chat. I'll have to send him a note so we can scope out the project a bit more.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Latest to-do list

It's been a while since I've posted, mainly because I have been doing so much overtime at work I really haven't had time to do any leatherworking.

I thought it might be a good time to update my to-do list, so I can organize myself for the fall and winter indoor season. Hopefully we'll be able to finish up some of the armour projects for Avelyn this year so she can shed some of the armour weight she has to carry around.

This list is in no particular order, other than when I think of it.
  1. Re-send e-mail to museum about the extant stick-purse
  2. Figure out engineering and pattern for stick-purse
  3. Prep Kingdom A&S project for submission
  4. Replace Avelyn's favour (likely make a second more sturdy one for wearing in armour as well)
  5. Finish Avelyn's lamellar
  6. Start work on designing new leather leg pieces for Avelyn's new knee armour
  7. Do commissioned children's archery glove for Eluned
  8. Do commissioned belt favour (with award badges) for Robert the Blue
  9. Design and make drinking horn hanger for Vod (based on Morag's design)
  10. Acquire supplies to try period lether dying project
  11. Talk to Nathaniel about herald's folder project for Harrowgate
  12. Figure out shoe pattern
  13. Help Catherine with her quiver project

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Planning for Kingdom A&S

Once again, Kingdom A&S is just around the corner. This year, the event is being held in Brampton (http://www.vestyorvik.org/event.html), so I don't expect that we will be going.

That being said, in some years they will accept entries in absentia, and Eluned has already said she could bring my project down if I want to send it with her. As last year's Pentathalon champion, she pretty much has to go. :)

The thing is, I have enough on my plate that I don't really want to start a brand new project and try to get it done in the next month, so I think I have a plan.

If they will accept entries for people who are not on-site (still need to confirm that), I'm going to put together all of my leather carving badges as a beginner-level leather carving project. The whole point of doing them was to work on  my leather craving skills, so they are definitly beginner level, but that project was a significant amount of work over the past 6 months so I think it would be a good entry.

It also shows practical, modern-SCA applications for skills and tools that were used in period. It would have been entirely period to carve, emboss and stamp heraldry and other patterns on leather. All I was doing is using Ealdoremere's approved award badges as my patterns instead of replicating existant examples of other people's heraldry.

In my resources from the Pennsic class I took, there are examples of heraldry carved in leather. I also have my Knives and Scabbard's book, which has a section on the tools they would have used (which are basically the same as the ones we use now).

I'll have to look at the badges and see if there are any I would like to redo (I'm thinking the Scarlet Banner and the Crucible maybe). Beyond that, I'd just need to pull together beginner-level documentation - I can probably use the forms from last year since I haven't seen anything go out from the A&S Minister yet about this year's competition.

Of course, since I won't be there to talk to my judges, hopefully my score sheets will actually be sent to me this year, instead of Dafydd ap Sion, so it won't take me six months to get their comments.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Shopping List for Leather Dyes

So the other day I went through the recipes in my leather dye book and sorted them into categories. There are some that I'm not going to try to do, either because they use ingredients that are toxic, super expensive or the yuck factor is just too much (yes, I know using urine is period but I'm just not going to do that - I'm not that hardcore).

However, I still have a good handful of the colour recipes that I can do fairly easily. I haven't gone through the black/grey ones yet.

I'll need to do some research on where I can get the ingredients I need, but for the time being, here's my shopping list:

Ripe buckthorn berries
Roche alum
Brazilwood
Gum arabic
Live lime
Indigo
Alum of lees (??? maybe substitute Roche alum from other recipes?)
Litharge of gold
Walnut oil
Curcuma
Woad
Sweet lye

Some of these will make duplicate recipes. So, for example, the ingredients listed would make two or three different blue recipes so I can compare and see which one I like best for specific purposes.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Badge Photo - Order of the Crucible

Well, this weekend I finished the last of my planned badge patterns. As expected, the Order of the Crucible badge was the toughest of them all, and I'm not really happy with how it turned out. The star in the middle is OK but I really don't like the way the concentric rings around the outside turned out. The red rings are supposed to be much narrower and the yellow raised rings should be much more prominent. 

The problem is my tools won't really let me make the rings much narrower, so I may have to rethink how I do them. Maybe if I use cuts instead of embossing the rings? It might help with the evenness of the rings as well.

Because the lines on the star and the rings are so narrow, it also made it really hard to paint it cleanly, even using my smallest brush. 

That being said, I got the weave of the star lines right and it looks not too bad so it isn't a total write-off. 

I think this will go in the "needs-work" category before I do it for anyone for real though.





Friday, 21 September 2012

Leather Dyes - Old School

So, the copy of "The Plictho of Gioanventura Rosetti" that we ordered through inter-library loan came in the other week. It is a really cool book.

I've managed to go through it quickly and I've photocopied the relevant sections. Most of the book is about fabric dying but there are about 30 pages relevant to leather, including about 50 different recipes for leather applications. This includes nine that are instructions on how to prep the raw leather (not something I think I need given that I'm buying pre-tanned leather).

Colour-wise, it includes: nine recipes for blacks and greys, two for browns, eight for various tones of red, nine for different blues and five for various greens. There are also recipes for yellow, a dark wine colour and two for gilding.

Some of the recipes will take some work to decipher, either to figure out the ingredients and steps or because they are using odd units of measurement (exactly how much time does it take to say 6 paternosters?)

The good news is there are at least a couple of recipes that should be pretty easy to do, as long as I can get the ingredients.

The yellow uses what the book calls curcuma, which means nothing to me. Fortunately, the chart at the back says this is turmeric, which I know about. :) Wonder if it's the same grade of turmeric that is used as a spice. This colour might actually work nicely for the stick-purse, its supposed to be a brownish-yellow.

There's also a blue that seems fairly simple and uses indigo, so I'd just need a source for that.

A number of the recipes call for roche alum or other types of alum.

To the research-mobile!!!!!! Time to find some merchants with pigment supplies.

It's funny, all of my work with period recipe books is going to come in handy, because the recipes here are formatted and explained the same way as a cooking recipe would have been. Now I just need to learn the terminology and I'll be set.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Leather Carving - Thorbjorn's Hammer Badge

I'm really happy with how this one turned out. I thought it was going to be more complicated than it actually was. I can probably clean up the handle of the hammer a little bit and I'd like to get rid of the little ridge that formed at the top of the circle from the tooling, but overall I think it turned out pretty well.


This is the second last badge to work on. All I have left is the Order of the Crucible. That one's going to be a pain, I can tell. I may also try to redo the Scarlet Banner badge, see if I can work on the wolves a bit.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Photo - Scarlet Banner Badge

I'm now starting to get into some of the harder badges to carve. This is the badge of the Scarlet Banner. The two black shapes are supposed to be wolves. I think the one on the left doesn't look too bad, but the one on the right looks more like a panther or something.

I think I'll have to work on this one some more, but it's not a bad start I suppose.






Monday, 10 September 2012

Pictures - Orion Badge Pattern

I managed to finish the carving pattern for the Orion award badge this weekend. The carving itself turned out pretty well, I'm happy with it. I painted the background around the badge a dark brown and I'm not so sure I like it, but I thought it would be a good idea to try something other than black.

The Orion badge pattern was fairly simple to do. The hardest part was figuring out how I wanted to the the harp strings since they are supposed to be yellow surrounded by the purple background. They are too narrow to carve properly so I just did decorative cuts that I then filled wit the yellow dye. Turned out not too bad I think.

Here's the badge fieldless:



Here it is with the background painted brown:



Saturday, 8 September 2012

Pictures - Latest Badge Carving

After my first failed attempt at doing the badge for the Order of the Wain, I did some more work on the pattern last night. I ended up reversing the pattern so that the light coloured section is pushed to the background, the dark is embossed. I think it turned out well.

Here's a picture of the badge "field-less", before I coloured around it.
Fieldless - Order of the Wain badge

 And here is the finished badge with a black background.
Order of the Wain badge on black background

Next up is the badge for the Orion. I've got most of the carving done, so I just have to paint it.

General Updates on Various Projects

Not really enough news to do an update on individual projects, but its been a while since I've posted so I thought I would do a general update note on a bunch of things.

Stick-Purse
I've written to the Fries Museum in the Netherlands about their stick-purse. This is the museum that Mistress Elizabeth spoke to about how the pouches are attached to the handle. I'm hoping they'll be able to provide me with information about the specific dimensions of their purse, as well as some details about the construction of the pouches themselves.

The picture in Purses in Pieces doesn't show any seams on the pouches so its hard to tell what pattern to use for the pouches (are there seams on the back and bottom, or is it a single piece of leather gathered at the mouth of the pouch). Pictures of the other extant example show that the pouches are standard rectangualar pouches like I've made in the past, so I can always go that route as well. Obviously there are different ways of making the pouches so either option would be appropriate, but I'm still curious about the construction. I'm hoping the museum will either have additional pictures from other angles, or can tell me about the pouch construction.

It's been about a week or two since I e-mailed them but the web site for the museum says they are opening a new location in September so they may be delayed in responding to enquiries. Hopefully my note won't get lost in the shuffle. All I can do is wait I guess.

Badge Project

Last weekend I did some work on developing my next badge pattern, this time it was the badge for the Order of the Wain. Unfortunately, I'm not at all happy with how it turned out. While the pattern itself was OK, the four stars didn't turn out right and ended up just looking like white blobs. I'll have to try either carving them differently or possibly reversing the pattern so that I can use my star stamp. I'll have to figure something out because the same stars are used in the badge of the Orion (although I think based on the colour pattern the stamp will work for that one).

On the bright side, I've already had a couple of people ask me about making them badges, so that's kind of cool.

Leather dye project

I'm in a bit of a holding pattern on this project while I wait for a book to come in via inter-library loan. If it doesn't come in soon, I may have to go to the University of Ottawa Library, as they have a copy of the book I'm looking for. I'll just need to get a new library card that lets me access all of the local libraries, including the colleges, universities and federal collections.

This is the book I referenced in my previous leather dye posts that apparently contains recipes. Hopefully, I can pull enough details out of it to work with Lyda on figuring out how they would work using illumination pigments.

Other Projects
At Pennsic, Eluned asked me if I would be able to make a small archer's glove for one of her girls, since she wasn't able to find one at any of the merchants that would fit a child's hand. I did some research online and found some instructions, which included what measurements to take. I may modify the pattern a bit but the measurement information was certainly helpful. I sent the instructions to Eluned so she can take the measurements. Once I get them I'll start playing with the design and see what I can come up with.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Carving Project - Maiden's Heart Badge

As you may recall, after finishing my pattern for the Ealdormere populace badge I decided I wanted to work out carving patterns for the various award badges both for Kingdom and Baronial awards. Since I'm still learning, I decided to start with the easiest ones first, so this weekend I worked out a pattern for the Maiden's Heart badge.

I'm happy enough with the carving portion. I think I need to improve the depth of some of the tooling to get a better 3D effect but otherwise it turned out the way I was expecting. I think I still need to work on the dying though. The blue is too dark and the yellow needs some additional layers I think to make it the solid colour I was hoping for. The dying is a bit rough around the edges too but I was just testing the design so I wasn't being as careful as I would if it was going on an actual project.

I experimented with doing a white coating under the yellow and it seems to have worked to make it brighter. Not sure if that's what I should do with the blue, or if I should just mix up a lighter blue. I may need to experiment and see what works better.

Anyway, here's the picture of the badge.


Saturday, 18 August 2012

New leather has arrived

I took a chance and ordered some new leather from Tandy online. I don't usually like to order leather that way - I prefer to actually pick it out myself so I can see any problems before buying. But our local leather store doesn't have what I was looking for and Tandy was selling it off. They aren't going to carry it any more for some reason so I decided to buy a couple of pieces while I still could.

The leather I got is 2-3 oz veg tan goat. My theory was that the goat would be much softer for my stick-purse. Zeli's does have 3-4 oz cow but it was a bit stiff, so I was hoping the goat would work better. Since its veg tan it should still take dye well and could even be tooled in theory.

Boy was I right. It just came in on Friday (it was ordered on Thursday so that's crazy fast). It's super soft, and as long as it takes the dye well it's going to make a really nice project. They only had one piece left after filling my order so I'm tempted to get the last piece too.

The sad part is I'm going to get spoiled working with this stuff and then I won't be able to get it any more. I wonder if I asked for it if Zeli's could find some?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Period Leather Dyes

As I mentioned in my previous stick-purse post, I've decided that I'm going to need to figure out period leather dyeing techniques for my project. This has led me to do some research into the area of period leather dyeing - what would have been used, what colours were available and what resources might be out there.

Given that I know absolutely nothing about dyeing or period pigments (whether for fabric, leather or illumination) I'm a little bit out of my element. However, I found a leatherworker in the UK who does all of his own dying using period dyes. His work is really awesome and if I can get even close to the colours he's doing (particularly the reds and greens), I'd be thrilled. He also has a good summary of his process, which gives me an idea of what will be involved. Here's the site: http://www.karlrobinson.co.uk/leather_dyeing.php

So, first step is probably to figure out what materials I can use to do the dying itself. I'll also need to figure out the mordants I can use.

In the link above, Karl Robinson references a book called "Plictho de Lare de Tentori ...." by Gioanventura Rossetti as the source of his recipes. Avelyn and Emelote are working their library magic to see if I can get a copy through the local universities or inter-library loan.

I also found this web link from a fellow SCAdian who, in addition to the Plictho, also refers to a second book called "The Secretes of the Reverende Maister Alexis of Piemount". He also published some of the recipes from this book. Here's the link: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/leather/ld.html

Ideally, what I would like to do is find out which materials are appropriate and then purchase them rather than having to extract the pigments from the natural source myself. There are a number of retailers who carry natural dyes and pigments so I really just need to figure out which ones will work with leather, and which mordants to use.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Stick-Purse Project - Next Steps

Now that I'm back from Pennsic, it's time to start thinking about the next steps for the stick-purse project.

First, I think I've pretty much settled on not trying to get the project completed before this year's Kingdom A&S in November. I want to really do a good job so that I go from the beginner category last time to OMG that's awesome this time. :) To do that, I need to do some more work. Plus, this year's event is in Brampton, so we're unlikely to be able to go anyway. Hopefully next year will be closer to home.

First, I think I'm going to e-mail the museum to see if I can get some of the dimensions for the various pieces. Mistress Elizabeth's purse looked right based on the pictures I've seen, but I'd like to be able to document the dimensions of the handle and individual pouches and pouchlets, just to be thorough.

Second, I've decided that if I want to go for the OMG factor, hand dying the leather using period pigments is going to have to happen. Fortunately, I was able to get Lyda excited by the idea of combining her leatherworking and illumination interests to investigate the topic with me, so hopefully we'll be able to figure out the method fairly easily. I've already sent her some info with some period dye recipes so hopefully it isn't too different from what she uses for illumination.

Third, I'll need to do some practice with the leather braiding that goes over the handle. I've never done that before so if I want to get good results on the stick-purse I'll need to play with that technique a bit. Mistress Elizabeth recommended doing your own strips rather than buying the pre-fabricated leather laces, so my lacemaker will be getting a work out.

Once all of that is done (or at least once I've heard back from the museum) I'll start doing a fabric mock-up to check my methods and make sure it will all work. I can then use the fabric pieces as patterns for the leather. Zeli's, our local leather store, does carry light weight veg tan (about 3 oz) and I know Tandy online carries 2 oz goat and calf. I may order a couple of different types of skin to test it out and see what will work best for the project. I can always use light weight skins for other projects, so it won't go to waste.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Wrap-up: Pennsic 2012 Leather Classes

Well, we have returned from Pennsic with all digits intact and are now working through the pile of laundry. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to as many classes as I had planned. The mixed bag of weather, plus the fact that the buses were even less reliable this year than previously, meant I spent a lot more time in camp than usual.

However, I did make it to my two top priority classes, which were both on our first full day on site.

Stick-Purse

Given my interest in this piece and my plan to make one for an upcoming Kingdom A&S, this class was my top priority. It got a surprisingly large turn-out given how strange and obscure the stick-purse is. I suspect at least a handful of people really didn't know what the class was about until they got there and were just attending based on their interest in leatherworking or pouches.

The class itself was interesting because we go into discussions around materials. There were people with woodworking and metalworking experience attending, so we discussed the nails that would work best for this project.

I also got to see Mistress Elizabeth's completed purse up close, It's very cool. She's used a mixture of tan and dark brown leather.

It was also very cool that Mistress Elizabeth referenced this blog and suggested people check it out for additional resources. If anyone from the class is reading this -- Hello! :)

Overall I think it was a really great class and it was nice to meet Mistress Elizabeth. I hope she enjoyed teaching the class.

I'll do a separate post about my next steps for the project, based on this class and the other class I attended.

Period Leather Tooling

Immediately following the stick-purse class I scooted over to a tent in the next row for my second priority class, period leather tooling. The teacher was a professional leatherworker from the Midrealm named Lord AEric Orvender.

I mainly wanted to take this course to find out if the techniques I learned from the class at Zeli's are historically correct. The good news is they are. YAY! Essentially the techniques I learned all date back to period - it would just be the patterns being carved that would have been different based on the time period and culture. There's apparently a section in my Knives & Scabbard's book that talks about period stamping tools. I'll have to check it out.

We also talked about proper leather casing, which apparently is not what they showed us at the Zeli's course. And we talked about leather dyes, including the fact that period dyes were probably made form the same materials as illumination inks. This has lead to a bit of a eureka moment and Lyda and I are now all keen do do some experimenting which will eventually tie in to my stick-purse project.

All in all I got exactly what I was hoping for out of this class and everyone was able to ask a lot of questions. Since I was there mostly for knowledge rather than learning hands-on technique it was perfect for me. It was also funny that there were a number of Skraels in the class. I counted at least six of us.

Artists Row

Artists Row this year held two leatherworking days. The first day was on the day we were setting up camp, so I wasn't able to make it. The second day was Wednesday of war week so I wandered by with Avelyn as we were running some errands but didn't stay as I didn't have any projects to work on at the time.  Next year I'll have to remember to bring something to work on at war.

Other Leather Bits

Avelyn says that the draw-string pouch I made for her worked out well and was a good size, but the draw string is a bit stiff. I didn't quite gauge the amount of space needed for the two leather laces in the draw-string so I'm not surprised its hard to pull. I may redo it when I have a chance.

I was also asked to work on a new project for Lady Eluned. Her twin girls are getting to the age where they are interested in SCA activities, not just coming to events and playing with their friends. One of the girls has taken up archery, but Eluned can't find a set of finger tabs or glove that will fit. She's asked if I could make a small archery glove for her. I think I have a pattern for one, so it should be easy enough to down-size it.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Pictures - Completed Rapier Sheath

Last week I finally finished my work on Lady Thora's rapier sheath and presented it to her this weekend. She had originally "commissioned" me to do it but instead, I gave it to her as a going away present before she heads to An Tir. SURPRISE! I thought about doing it as court schtick but I don't think there are any local events before she moves.

Anyway, when last I posted pictures I had finished the carving and dying of the main piece (see my blog post here). Once that was done, I punched the holes along each edge of the leather so that they would match once folded around the core tube. I then took a PVC tube and put it along the inside lof the eather. The leather had been specifically measured so that it would fit around the PVC tube I had bought, which in turn needs to be measured so that it fits around the rapier blade and rubber blunt. The diameter of the PVC tubing will depend on the sword and blunt being used.

Once I had the tube placed correctly, I put a roll of scrap leather into the tip to re-enforce it a bit (the first one I did caved in when a certain Baronial Champion used it to lean on). :) I then applied some rubber cement to the inside of the leather and the PVC to help keep it wrapped around the tube. This was something I did because I've started using leather lace to stitch up the side, and I don't want it carrying all of the pressure from the leather trying to force itself flat. When I was using artificial sinew I didn't worry about it as much but the leather lace is not nearly as strong, so I did this as a precaution.

At that point I used some small clamps to hold the sheath closed and started the lacing process. And boy, is that process more painful than using the sinew. It looks good, but the lacing kept snapping from trying to pull it through the holes. The hardest part was near the top, where I attached an extra layer of leather dyed white to re-enforce the top where the sword hilt will rest. Going through four layers was a bit of a pain, so hopefully it won't come undone.

After the lacing was done, it was just a matter of doing a few touch ups around the holes, and putting my makers mark in it.

I'm actually really proud of the end result. This is the first time I've used my newly learned leather carving skills on a real project. When I compare this to the first one I did or the Baronial Champion's sheath I made, it's far more advanced skill-wise. It might even fool people into thinking I have some artistic ability. :) Not bad for someone who only started making leather pouches about 4 years ago after a Practicum class.

Lady Thora's completed rapier sheath - full view


Lady Thora's completed rapier sheath - Close up on the lacing





Lady Thora's completed rapier sheath - The front view
 


 

Lady Thora's completed rapier sheath - Close up on the populace badge


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Latest on Thora's Rapier Sheath

Over the course of the weekend, while I was resting my injured foot, I was able to finish off all of the dying on Thora's rapier sheath and punch all of the lacing holes. It looks pretty good and is now ready for assembly.

Unfortunately, after getting back from trip out to Zeli's on Saturday (we were in the neighbourhood and I wanted to ask about some materials I'll need for future projects) I realized that I don't have the right colour lacing to finish the project. I do have lacing that can be dyed, but given how much I'll need I don't think that's a viable option in this case. It would take too long, and I'd be concerned that the dye I have would flake off during the lacing process given that its primarily a surface dye.

That means that I need to make an emergency trip back to Zeli's at lunch today to get the right lacing. Once I have it, its just a matter of stitching everything up. It may even be done before we leave for Pennsic.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Pennsic Planning - Leatherworking Classes

With less than a month to Pennsic, I'm trying to pull together a tentative list of the various activities I want to do. This year we have decided to try to go for a bit more balance, instead of spending all of our time on the battlefields. We always make these big long lists of classes and get to only one or two. Since Pennsic is one of the only places where you can learn some of these things hands-on, we want to try to focus a bit more on knowledge and skill development this year.

With that in mind, I've gone through the Pennsic University list and there are a number of leatherworking classes I hope to take. A few of them are must-do's and then there are some other nice-to-have's.

Here's my list so far, with * marking the priority classes:


* Making a 16th Century Stick Purse
* Leather Tooling - The History and Application
Anglo-Saxon Ring Pouch
German Pouches: 1500-1540
* Cuirboulli: Water Hardened Leather Armor
Glovemaking - Elizabethan

Also, the Artisan's Row has two leatherworking days planned where you can pop by, hang out with experienced leatherworkers and ask questions/try things out. The first day is the Thursday we arrive, so that may not work. The second day is the Wednesday of war week, so I may be able to fit it in since there are no battles that day.

I also have a bunch of other courses on other topics (arrow-making, cooking, thrown weapons etc) so I think its going to be another busy Pennsic, even without the war point battles.

I plan to take notes at my classes and will post here after we get back (or from Mystic Mail if I have time on-site).

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Project Update and Pictures - Thora's Rapier Sheath

Over the past few days, I've been working on making progress on Thora's rapier sheath that she's asked me for. I had run the design idea by her a few weeks ago but hadn't really had time to get started on crafting it.

She's looking for a rapier sheath that will have either an Ealdormere or Skrael symbol on it for when she moves out west in the fall.Given my previous work on the Ealdormere populace badge, I suggested that would make a good rapier sheath.

So over the past few days I cut out the leather piece, marked out the divisions for the design and carved the badge. I then started the process of colouring it. Now that it's all dyed, it will just be a matter of assembly, which shouldn't take too long.

Here's the process so far:


Swivel knife work cutting out the pattern
Backgrounding filled in around the pattern
Pattern bevelled and stamped
Dyeing of the pattern done

Dyeing and carving complete. Some assembly required.



Wednesday, 4 July 2012

New project - Baronial and Kingdom badges

For those who have been reading my blog regularly, I have an confession. I keep adding new projects to my list. It's true, I guess I just keep getting these "bright" ideas and want to work on them. At least I don't have to worry about running out of things to do. :)

When I was taking my leather carving class, I developed a carving pattern of the Ealdormere populace badge (pictures are posted on an earlier blog post). This got me to thinking, if I want to keep working on my leather carving skills, I should really keep practicing. If I'm going to practice, wouldn't it make sense to practice with designs that I might actually use in an SCA context, rather than the typical flower designs and such in the pattern books?

So with that in mind, I'm going to start trying to figure out carving patterns for the various awards in Ealdormere and Skraeling Althing. Ultimately, I'll be able to use them to decorate various projects in the future if I'm making things as a gift. Some, like the Maiden's Heart, will be fairly easy. Some of the others are more complicated (I'm not really looking forward to figuring out how to carve the wolves on the Scarlet Banner).

Pictures of the badges at the Kingdom level are found here: http://www.ealdormere.ca//index.php/awards

At the Baronial level I've sent a note to our Baronial Persuivant to see if there are images available. I know it was being worked on a few years ago but not sure if it ever got finished.

I suspect this will be one of those ongoing projects that just pops up occasionally. I'll post pictures as I work on it and will tag the posts with "badges" so people can look for updates.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

New Library Addition

Thanks to my lovely wife Lady Avelyn, I have a new addition to my leatherworking library. One of the key books from a research perspective that I was missing was "Knives and Scabbards (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London)". Missing no more, since as an early birthday present it has now been added to the collection.

I haven't had a chance to look through it yet, but I'm sure there's going to be lots of interesting information.

From a recreating the objects point of view, I don't think you can beat the Goubitz books ("Purses in Pieces" and "Stepping Through Time") just because of the quality of his illustrations and the fact that he often shows you the shapes for the actual leather patterns to make the object, but these Museum of London books (I also have "Shoes and Pattens") seem to have a lot of historical research in them that could be useful.

The title has been added to my LibraryThing list in the right-hand column of the blog if you'd like to see what else is on my leatherworking bookshelf.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Research Links - Money Changer's Stick-Purse

This is a link dump of URLs for paintings, woodcuts and other illustrations of the stick-purse for ease of printing later. Some may go a bit later than period but I'll pick and choose what I use once I'm pulling together my documentation. A lot of these sources will likely be similar to those that Mistress Elizabeth has used for her class notes.

1) Vanitas Still Life
Edwaert Collier

Post-period (dated 1662)
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/110000351#fullscreen

2) The Rich Man from the Parable (Moneychanger)
Rembrandt
Post-Period (dated 1627)

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/rembrandt/the-rich-man-from-the-parable-1627

3) The Moneylender
Gerrit Dou
Post-Period (1664)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerard_Dou_-_The_Moneylender_-_WGA06649.jpg or
http://www.backtoclassics.com/gallery/gerritdou/themoneylender/

4) The Miser
Hendrick Gerritsz Pot
Post Period (1640's)
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hendrick_Gerritsz_Pot_-_The_Miser_-_WGA18198.jpg

5) Old woman with a candle
Matthias Stomer
Post Period (1640's)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Matthias_Stom_-_Old_Woman_with_a_Candle_-_WGA21809.jpg

6) The Moneychanger and His Wife
Marinus van Reymerswale
In-Period (1539)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marinus_Claesz._van_Reymerswaele_001.jpg

7) The Banker and his Wife
Marinus van Reymerswale
In-Period (1500's)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marinus_van_Reymerswale_-_The_Banker_and_His_Wife_-_WGA19323.jpg or

8) Beware of Luxury
Jan Steen
Post-Period (1665)
http://www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=871

9) Avarice
Workshop of Abraham Bloemaert
Post-Period (1625)
http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/79914.html?mulR=3616%7C5 (engraving) or
http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=52&FP=63049854&E=2K1KTSGGIE2LU&SID=2K1KTSGGIE2LU&New=T&Pic=37&SubE=2C6NU034B3@Q

10) Woodcuts & Pictures of Extant Examples
Goubitz reproduces woodcuts from Brugel and Amman in Purses in Pieces but I am still looking for links. He also has pictures of the two remaining examples of the purses, found in the Neatherlands.
In-Period (1500's)

Update: Dec 2012

11) Backgammon spelend paar,
Jacob Matham
In Period (1600)
https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/RP-P-OB-27.054

Monday, 4 June 2012

Planning my research - money changer's stick-purse

So I've been putting some thought into how I want to go about the work on my next Kingdom A&S project - the money-lender's stick-purse. Given all of my other projects I don't think it will be ready for this year's A&S event, but who knows.

Other than Purses in Pieces and a few period paintings, there is very little information about the stick-purse that I've been able to find. However, I had a really lucky discovery last week in stumbling on the LiveJournal of Mistress Elizabeth Vynehorn of the East Kingdom (http://vynehorn.livejournal.com/) who, it turns out, has already done some research into the stick-purse and developed a Pennsic class on how to make them. She's actually planning on teaching it at Pennsic this year, so that will be going on my to-do list for sure. Mistress Elizabeth was kind enough to share her course notes with me, which totally rocks. I'm looking forward to the class.

Now, what I need to figure out is some of the details of how I want to go about recreating the purse.

Based on my comments from last Kingdom A&S, there were no real concerns with my research. I got very high marks there. The comments were in two main areas:
  1. Non-period materials being used
  2. Cleanness of the detail work
I'll do my best to fix up the second point but a lot of that is going to come as I get more experienced with leatherworking techniques. But I can do something about the first point, so I think that's where I'm going to focus.

Mistress Elizabeth's class notes revealed some interesting info that she got directly from the one museum on the Netherlands that has a surviving stick-purse. I think I'll likely send the museum an e-mail and see if I can get a bit more information about the specific materials used for their purse to supplement what Mistress Elizabeth provided.

I'd like to know if they can tell me anything about the thickness and type of the leather used (for both the pouches and the handle braiding), whether there is any evidence of colouring or other ornamentation (which would confirm the artistic renditions that can be found in period paintings) and any information about the measurements of the various components so that I can get the scale of the handle and pouches as close as possible.

On the assumption that the period paintings are accurate, I've started doing some research into period leather dyes to verify what colours would have been available in the period for leather. I may not be able to use actual period dyes (I have some recipes but not sure I want to go there yet) but I can probably replicate some of the colour tones by watering down some of my modern water-based dyes so they give a more translucent colour. That will help with the judging I think, as they had concerns about my use of chrome-tanned leather with a colour that wasn't entirely period.

I think I'll do as much research as possible pre-Pennsic, and then I can focus on construction after I've taken the course and hopefully heard back from the museum.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Leg Armour Modifications

While Avelyn has bought some new metal knee armour we haven't figured out how we want to mount them yet. We'll probably wait until she has her new padded gambeson and pants ready and then work it out for her new armour.

In the interim, we've decided to modify her old leg armour to make it easier for her to armour up. Right now all of the straps buckle behind her legs, making it almost impossible for her to get into her armour on her own given how bulky it is.

Last night I popped the rivets on all of the leg straps and moved the buckles so that they are at the front. It increases the chances of her getting hit on a buckle a bit, but it also will hopefully mean she can actually get out on the field more often to get hit in the first place. :)

Of course, by moving the buckles, the straps themselves needed to be replaced since they are not long enough any more, so that all got done as well. Tonight after the Canton meeting, I'll get her to put them on so I can figure out where to punch the holes in the straps, and where to trim the straps so they don't dangle too much.

I also checked all of the other straps and lacing and everything seems to be holding up well. The kidney belt I made is definitely doing the job, so it's possible we'll re-use it for the new legs. She's been using this set-up with very few repairs for at least three years now so I'm pretty happy with its durability.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Latest Updated Project List

So on the weekend Avelyn reminded me of a couple of projects I had promised her, so I'm updating my project list (completed items from previous list crossed out).

  1. Pouch for Avelyn to replace the one that got wrecked at Pennsic
  2. 3 prizes for rapier activities at Border Spat Was actually two
  3. 5-7 thank you gifts for Border Spat Was actually eight
  4. Figure out engineering and pattern for money-changer's pouch
  5. Look into late-period women's leather belts for THL Catherine Done May 30
  6. Re-strap Avelyn's leg armour to make the buckles more accessible
  7. Make sheath for Avelyn's Norse knife
  8. Replace Avelyn's favour (likely make a second more sturdy one for wearing in armour as well)
  9. Finish Avelyn's lamellar
  10. Make Lady Thora's rapier sheath Done July 22
  11. Start work on new leather leg pieces for Avelyn's new knee armour (priority will depend on how we do with updating the current legs)
  12. Add hip and back protection to Avelyn's armour belt Done July 22
  13. Figure out shoe pattern

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Researching - Money-Changer's Purse

With my major work finished for Border Spat, it's time to start thinking about what I want to work on next. I still have a request from Lady Thora for a rapier sheath, and have Avelyn's armour to work on but otherwise I'm done all my projects. So, while I work on crafting those, I can start my research for my next big project.

When I was first reading through Purses in Pieces, one of the pouches caught my attention. Not sure how practical it would be, but I thought it would make a really neat Kingdom A&S project.

I have to say I've never seen one in the SCA context or at any merchant, so that may tell me something. But, I'm nothing if not willing to take on stupid projects so I'm going to start looking into it.

It's a type of money-changer's purse so has multiple pockets for multiple types and denominations of currency. This particular style seems to have the various pouches hanging off a handle or stick (hence why they are also sometimes called stick purses). Here's a quote from Purses in Pieces describing the style:

"The other type has a stick handle, to which are attached four to six pouches, each with their pouchlets: a 'father purse'. All of the pouches and pouchlets were closed with a thong or strap according to the drawstring principle."

As a start, here's a painting of a money-changer with the type of purse I'm thinking of (Avarice, workshop of Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1625): http://www.photo.rmn.fr/LowRes2/TR1/Z9OZ4U/09-530024.jpg

Based on the images, it looks like the stick is also covered with braided or woven leather.

So, things I'll need to figure out:
  • Confirm the pouch style is period
  • What weight of leather should I use. Possibly different weights for different parts of the purse.
  • What colours? Will probably start out with whatever I have on hand that's the correct weight but for the final A&S entry I'll want to be more specific
  • How do I attach the purse(s) to the stick and/or each other
  • What are the proportions and sizes of the various components (stick, main pouch(s), pouchlets etc.)

Note: references and images found on http://www.larsdatter.com/pouches.htm, a really great resource for documentation.