Monday, July 28, 2014

We've moved!

Come over to - we've moved over to wordpress for a bit tighter control on our posts.

See you there!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Going Greek. Sort of.

The upcoming reign is a classical Greek reign, which is why I'm furiously working on garb for this weekend, which is Coronation.  After raiding Walmart for sheets (they make fantastic peplos!), I realised I needed to have something to actually turn a bedsheet into piece of clothing.

I raided my jewellery box, and unfortunately nothing.

Go go gadget research (and a Pinterest trawl), and I found this - and while I don't have a forge, I do have wire.  A lot of wire.  And a hammer.  And a bit of patience.

Behold my faint copy.  It will do in a pinch (Coronation is tomorrow morning), but for quick and dirty and won't ruin my new bedsheets too much, I've got four fibulae and time to work on getting my house back to some semblance of working order after being gone for essentially a month. 

While I was gone, I got to go play with the Norse at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.  L'Anse aux Meadows is known as the first Norse settlement in North America (done in the 8th century), where western and eastern migration met again when the Norse and the Beothuk met to trade.

I got some photos of the recreations at Norstead (not far from where Leif Ericsson and his people settled, actually) and L'Anse Aux Meadows.  Let me tell you - there is nothing cooler than seeing a sod longhouse with icebergs in the distance.  It really helps capture history in a unique way.

In addition to this, I also went to the former Colony of Avalon, and saw some beautiful beads that were used in rosaries, as well as some used in trade.  The Colony of Avalon is from the other end of the spectrum - early to mid-17th century, however, many of the items found dated from SCA period

I'm really inspired to work on something from my period, and then some.  I also received some gorgeous silk that needs to be made into garb, and soon.

I've also been asked to work on some items for the kingdom's Pennsic gift basket to Caid.  Once these are complete, I'll be posting them.

Welcome home, inspiration.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

EKAE Swap #5

I just got done with the latest East Kingdom Artisanal Exchange, and I have to tell you, this one challenged me a lot.

To be fair, my Laurel did lay down a couple expectations about doing something a bit more . . . involved . . . than my last few swaps.

So I did do something really out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways.  I did go with some things that were comfortable to me (check out the veil pins!), but I also did the paternoster that you see to your right.

This paternoster used a couple of lampworking techniques that I'm still learning (like playing with making my own stringers and very basic canes - the flowers used twisties and filigrana that I made myself!), and I also worked on a more consistent bead shape.

 If you look at the detail of the purple gaud bead, you can (faintly) see the yellow filigrana I used.  Filigrana is a technique where an opaque rod of glass is encased in clear glass and then pulled.  A twistie is exactly what it sounds like - two colours of glass twisted together.  The centre of the flowers used a twistie of colours.  As for the details of the flowers - little dots using a very fine stringer.  The bigger portions of the flower (inspired by my recipient's love of forget-me-nots) were dots from a rod.  I'm proud of this, as the blue beads are relatively consistent in shape, size, and texture, and the flowers, while being rustic, are definitely flowers.  The only bits I did not actually make for the paternoster were the silver ring (which was from a box of beads a friend gave me), the commercially made metal spacer beads, and the silk for the tassel.

In addition to the paternoster, my recipient also wore veils, and in order to wear veils properly, every good woman needs veil pins.  These were at times problematic.  I used brass, both as it is inexpensive, and because the Romans used a copper alloy (check out the link and the Roman digs).  Brass is usually comprised of an alloy of copper and tin, so it would make some sense that the Romans' copper alloy would be similar to brass.  Unfortunately brass causes glass to bubble and react, and while it can look really interesting, it can cause some issues.  I had to redo one pin partially because my torch melted the brass slightly, and two because the bubbles from the brass touching the glass caused the glass head to break, so it was back to the torch to redo another.  (sort of a "things you learn from experimenting.")  All in all, my recipient was very happy, and I was quite satisfied.

And then I received the coolest little enameled medallion based on a Byzantine medallion.  It was a great swap, and I definitely want to do another, but I have to look at Queen's Prize.  Something tells me it may be awesomely Roman.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

And that's official . . .

It's been a busy few months for me as I prepared to take the mantle as Principal Herald of Calontir.  Garb to make, contracts to write, calligraph, and illuminate, ceremonies to write, and then bits to learn and create and find out about.
Photo by Marie le Faivre/Kate Gill

So, garb.  I was gifted some absolutely gorgeous teal silk by my lord that was purchased in the Middle East.  I don't trust my sewing skills, and especially not on silk, so I sent this to a friend of mine (Anna, of to work her magic on it.  I do, however, trust my skills on decorating garb, and so, after it arrived, I started beading it with freshwater pearls, peridot, moonstone, and amethyst, which I must confess I selected because of how it would look, and not because of periodicity.
Beading the Byzantine on an off day.

I sewed several very tiny beads onto the silk (and not period trim), taking care to couch them so they wouldn't move too much.  All are sewn on with size 11 straw needles and a doubled length of regular sewing thread.  I did find that the beads were occasionally problematic, as I purchased hand-cut rounds, which sometimes didn't fit on the needles, so I found myself overbuying beads to ensure I had enough.  I clocked about 40 hours, if not more, on the actual beading of the dalmatica.

Now, when I wasn't working on the dalmatica, I was working on the ceremony, which was based on Byzantine functionaries, who were required to swear fealty.   I found an oath, and I blogged about it here.  I then calligraphied the oath (after clearing the ceremony though Their Majesties), and signed it in court with a quill pen borrowed from my friend Mirabel.  My unsigned oath has been photographed, and was based on Byzantine illumination from the Rossano Gospels, which are a purple dyed codex of the Gospels.  I did not dye the pergamentata, but I did try my first gilding experiments on this piece.  I did put myself in the illumination, but I also put Their Majesties in Byzantine garb.  My calligraphy is not the best, but, being a lefty, I do have some issues with beautiful writing.

Photos of my investiture as Gold Falcon can be found here.  I look forward to serving the Kingdom in this role - it's going to be fun.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gulf Wars Largesse

This year, I was requested to make something "kickass" for a largesse gift basket for Their Majesties Calontir to give to their recipient kingdom.  It didn't have to be big.  But it did have to be neat.

So, given that my mundane job has taken up much of my spare time (I'm actually writing this on a very rare snow day), it needed to be something that would work well.  The receiving kingdom is currently in a dual reign: 14th century English, and early Muromachi-period Japan (which corresponds to about the 14th century through the 16th century at the late end).  While this complicated things, it also gave me some ideas.

You see, I found those glass veil pins from the 12th century (with similar ones made in the mid-14th century that were excavated in London).  And purchased some more wire and played.  The wire I purchased is not what I wanted to use: it's coated copper wire, which  was scraped off when I sanded the pins into shape, but, I'm otherwise pleased.  They're a bit big for veil pins, but there are other things to use pins for, including attaching items to clothing and to act as decorative items.

I will hopefully have a tutorial on how to make these soon, once I have someone who can photograph me making the pins themselves.  (operating a camera with hot glass is not recommended.)

There are more projects to come - I just have to have the right items picked up for those, including a duo of diamond point engraved goblets, which there will be a tutorial on, as well.

But, I have go sharpen brass to make some new veil pins - maybe some for my etsy shop!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Calontir Wiki and more!

So, Calontir has started a new wikispaces project.  I jumped on board, and now I have a wikipage.  I hope to update it soon with examples of my jewellery and scribal and other bits and things soon.

You can find it here:

I'm also in the middle of a largess project for Gulf Wars.  Not big, but I'm hoping it's going to be taken well.

Additionally, my apprentice-sister was made a Laurel last night at Birka.  Our Laurel requested that our family make beads, but there was also a request for earrings.  I also made some veil pins for her, as well.  The earrings are the Roman-style earrings found here, made with amethyst and pearls, as well as gold spacers.  The veil pins are glass headed brass.

Time to get into the workshop!  What projects are you working on?

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Panoply of Scrolls (and other things)

I've been juggling a couple of things lately, including three scroll commissions from the outgoing queen of Calontir, and learning how to use my new lampwork torch.  I also entered a blank border contest.

So, after my trip to the Middle East, I was inspired by the many, many, many Qu'ran pages I saw at Qatar's Museum of Islamic Art, as well as this page that I saw on Pinterest.  One thing I liked about this particular page was the variety of colour, as well as the ability to modify it somewhat for SCA use.  In the future, I think I'll add more bars, like what is in the extant (which is a 13th century Persian Qu'ran), but I'm otherwise pleased with this.  There's so many techniques to try and learn (I suspect the extant also has gold leaf, which I really must learn to do soon).

While that was being worked on, I also received a commission for three separate scrolls, and for a very important client: the sitting Queen of Calontir.  She expressed that she wanted something French, but she also wanted to personalise the scrolls a bit, as the recipients were for the Queen's Endorsement of Distinction.  The Queen's Endorsement of Distinction is listed as such on the Calontir Awards page:

As the patroness of all gentle and courteous behavior, the Queen of Calontir may, at her own discretion, bestow this recognition upon some few individuals. It may be given only thrice during any one reign, and only once in each category:
1. Unto the individual combatant or archer who has shown the highest of chivalric behavior;
2. Unto the individual who has best exemplified gentle and courteous behavior; and
3. Unto the individual who best exemplified the ideals and goals of the Society.
The Queen may bestow any or all of these recognitions as she chooses. She may bestow upon those individuals a badge of her own initials entwined with a rose, constructed as she desires. Members may place the initials QED after their names. Individuals may be so honored by more than one queen.
So, each scroll is personalised - one with bees, one with an archer and bunny, and the third with a later period knight.  I'm pleased with how they turned out.  You can see them here.  There was a part of me that wanted to add some more marginalia, and there's a lot more vining and detail that I could have added that in the future for a scroll from 14th century France really should have. On the other hand, each recipient loved their scroll.

Scribal work feeds both my service needs and my arts niche.  It's a lot of fun, but definitely takes a steady hand and a gentle heart.

My new lampwork torch and supplies have been a lot of fun - I've been making beads and veil pins and all sorts of glass fun.

There's a lot that I still can't remember or don't have all of the supplies to do, but the evening I figured out how to enrobe beads in clear glass very much made my day.  It's a bit of a challenge, really - it's making sure the glass is warm enough that it doesn't crack, but cool enough that the clear glass doesn't deform the cooling glass underneath.  It's a challenge, but the results are beautiful.
The veil pins, though - fun!  I found some 12th century veil pins (here) with glass that appeared to be wound around the brass. I used 18 gauge brass wire, hammered it in two directions, making sure to flatten and spread the wire a little bit to keep the glass on the pin, and then cut the wire at an angle.  After the pin is worked, the metal was heated slightly while being held in pliers to prevent thermic shock, and then the hot glass was added to the pin.  I then let them cool down in a heat blanket.

In the future, keeping the pin round, but work hardened will be work to figure out, but I look forward to the challenge.