Tuesday, 25 September 2018

An update to my most popular post: Fabric shopping in Montreal

This blog has been pretty quiet lately, largely because I've done very little leatherworking. I did teach my period leather dye class twice at Pennsic this year (hi any new followers), but otherwise my focus has been elsewhere lately. I just finished a term as Queen's champion, so I have been travelling to many more kingdom events than usual doing rapier.

It was also announced at last weekend's Coronation event that Avelyn and I have been selected as the next Baron and Baroness of Skraeling Althing, to be stepping up at Feast of the Hare in November. (Gulp)

So that leads me to a bit of an update on my most popular post about where to go when doing fabric shopping in Montreal.

Avelyn, Emelote and I did a stealth trip to Montreal a week ago after we found out we had been selected (Their Majesties kindly gave the candidates a bit of notice of Their decision so preparations could start under the cover of secrecy). We wanted to see what fabric we could find, so we could get garb production going - six weeks will go by super quick.

So we didn't do any social media posts or anything to suggest we had snuck across the border into Dragon Dormant on a recon mission. :)

We hit many of the same stores as last time, but the timing was a bit different (we went about a month or two later this time), so what each store had available had shifted. We were also looking for different things than when we were shopping for garb for AElfwyn's knighting.

So without further ado, I'll get to the updates. Please read the original post as well for more detailed background and thoughts:


The stores:



A C Textiles
7390 Rue St-Hubert

This was our first stop since we had so much luck here last time. The wool selection wasn't as great but prices were certainly still reasonable. I'd say he was on the lower price end for sure. We were able to get about 8 meters of red wool, plus about 4 meters of a nice green wool.

The owner told us  that he's starting to think about closing/retiring, so while the store is still full of stuff he probably won't be bringing anything more in unless its specifically for a customer. He'll probably still be open until next summer at least, but he's certainly pricing to sell.

C&M Textiles
7500 Rue St-Hubert

Definitely found the same thing as last time, they are very high end but the prices at the Montreal store are much more affordable than in Ottawa, so its worth the trip. They had a sale on all the wool, so yay us. :)

We found some really light weight wools and ended up buying a couple of different red wools, plus some cream. We also got a really good deal on some light blue wool that had some sun damage on the fold down the middle (but we can work around it when its on sale for $10 / m). They are still in the upper tier price-wise, but they have really high quality stuff and the store is pretty well organized so its easy to find things. Staff seemed helpful. We also got some swatches for some of their higher end wools for future consideration.

Tissus Marina
7515 rue Saint-Hubert

We hit the jackpot here, but for a bit of a sad reason. Tissue Marina was having a liquidation sale. She said she was closing within days, so she's probably closed by now. The couple of months difference in timing for this visit meant she had a huge selection of wools compared to last time. We got a huge roll of red wool (ended up buying 19 m of it) at $5.99 / m, plus some other really lovely green and yellow. Emelote also found some black/brown wool that she's been searching for for years so she was super happy. We dropped most of our money here, the clearance deals were just too good to pass up in some cases.

The owner did say that while she is closing the store front and selling her notions and other fabric, she will likely still sell the higher end fabric - just direct to customers. So we gave her our contact info to arrange future purchases for those in Skrael who always need wool and linen. We've got your back Skraels :).


Tissues St-Hubert
7399 rue Saint-Hubert

and

Textile Couture Elle  
7361 Rue St-Hubert

We spent so much money at Tissue Marine that we skipped these two for this trip.


Goodman Carlyle 
7282 Rue St-Hubert

By this point we were being picky since we'd already bought so much at the first three stops. They'd reorganized the store so it took us a bit to find the wools, and there wasn't anything that jumped out at us in the colours we were looking for this time. Most of the rolls weren't labeled for content or price either (which we noted last time), so we ended up just browsing through and then moving on. They still have a lot of selection, just didn't hit the mark for us this time.


Sam Textiles
7195 Rue Saint-Hubert

Didn't buy a stitch here this time, and if anything the staff were even more irritating. They had the same high quality linen as last time in the correct colours, but the prices were still high and that wasn't what we were hunting for this time. The wool section was OK, but even the sale prices were easily double what we were paying at the other stores (at least $35-40, if not more, for essentially the same fabric)

The staff (maybe he's the owner? Think he was there last tie as well) was hovering right beside us interjecting into our conversations, and just making us feel very uncomfortable. Last time we bought stuff because it was the only place that had what I was looking for. This time, not so much. We really just wanted to cover our bases.



Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Stained glass class at Practicum

I didn't teach any leather classes this year at Practicum, but that freed me up to take an all-day stained glass class. I've never done anything like that before so it was a good chance to take the time to learn the basics.

My finger tips are still recovering from all the little cuts but I had a lot of fun. I wasn't able to get it quite done before court, but Sciath was nice enough to let me finish up afterwards so I went home with a finished project.

It's definitely the kind of thing I could see myself doing more of, since I can use pre-done patterns to do the designs rather than rely on my lackluster artistic abilities (unless people want stick figures on their stained glass, I could handle that. From that perspective its similar to leather tooling or silk banner painting.

That first time to break the glass is stressful for sure. I wasn't sure if I'd done it right and didn't want to put too much pressure on it and have it shatter. But it just kind of worked right by magic. :)

It was also the first time since grade 8 IA class that I used a soldering iron (although Avelyn tells me I have one in the basement with my dad's old tools). Not sure how good a job I did but everything is attached and it hasn't fallen apart so it must be a passable job for a first try. :)

So, I think I'll put this on the list of things I could pick up down the road. The challenge is I don't have the space in the basement to setup another workstation, and I don't think little bits of sharp glass on the workstation mixes well with leather. So, it may have to wait until we have a bigger space so I can set something up.

I did look into it and there are two stained glass stores in Ottawa, so tools and equipment would be available if I need to acquire some stuff.

Here's the finished project:

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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Voyage of the Stick Purse (AKA Crazy European Adventure)

I know, it's been a while since I've posted, real life and work have meant I've done very little A&S activity this past 6+ months. But I have a doozy of a post for you this time.

This fall Avelyn and I spent almost a month travelling through Europe. We stopped in Paris for almost a week, and then did a tour through Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. On the trip, I was on the lookout for representations of the stick-purse. I also planned a visit to the Fries Museum to actually see the original artefact and see if I could see for myself some of the construction questions I still had. So, without further ado, here are examples of the stick-purse that I found.

France:

We saw lots of really cool things in France, but only one stick purse to be found. It's a post period painting from the Louvre called A man weighing gold by Gerard Dou. I've posted the pictures on my smugmug account at: https://dgotlieb.smugmug.com/Travel/Europe-2017/France/Louvre/i-7PdhPqp/A



Belgium:

More luck in Belgium. We stopped in both Brussels and Bruge and I found an example at the Old Masters museum in Brussels. This one is  also post-period and is called The Money Counter by Willem van der Vliet. Here's the link: https://dgotlieb.smugmug.com/Travel/Europe-2017/France/Louvre/i-7PdhPqp/A



Netherlands:

We found a few good examples here but not as many as I expected. I'll go in order. First up is the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam. They had a couple of post-period etchings that I hadn't seen before.

The first one is "Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple" by Rembrant.

https://dgotlieb.smugmug.com/Travel/Europe-2017/Netherlands/Bojimans-van-Buningen-Museum/i-hRLBd8v/A
https://dgotlieb.smugmug.com/Travel/Europe-2017/Netherlands/Bojimans-van-Buningen-Museum/i-Tx54XkT/A


The second is an engraving done by Salomon Savery based on Rembrant's work, also post period.

https://dgotlieb.smugmug.com/Travel/Europe-2017/Netherlands/Bojimans-van-Buningen-Museum/i-7L6PS3b/A
https://dgotlieb.smugmug.com/Travel/Europe-2017/Netherlands/Bojimans-van-Buningen-Museum/i-DdFxrmp/A




There were no stick-purses in Amsterdam that we found, but then we went to the Fries Museum to see THE stick-purse. :)

I took dozens of close ups from multiple angles. Main discoveries were that it looks like I did in fact engineer the bottom and the back seem correctly, which is what I really was hoping to be able to check (yay). However, in discussion with Avelyn and looking closely, the pouch probably had flaps originally. There are what look like leather buttons still attached to the pouches. Here are a few pictures, but all of them are posted in the Fries Museum album.





Germany:

Our next stick-purse sighting was in Cologne Germany at the Wallraf Museum. Here we found two new paintings I'd never seen before (they have no mention of money changers or anything related in their titles).

The first is a painting called The Quill Pen Cutter (I know, right????) from 1627 by Jan Lievens.




The second one is Sampson and Delilah by Jan Steen from about 1660. Again it had nothing really to do with the topic but there's a money lender in the corner of the painting.



None of these paintings were part of my original research of the stick-purse, so I feel like I've added to my knowledge, even if they were all post period. Plus I was able to confirm that my informed guesses about the construction of the Fries purses were bang on, which makes me pretty happy (even if I do need to make a new one now to add the flaps.) :)

Monday, 28 November 2016

Epic QPT (as always)

This blog post isn't about anything that I have made, but rather about all the things I saw at QPT.

This year, for the first time, I wasn't eligible to enter Queen's Prize Tourney. It felt really odd not entering QPT.

Having received my Crucible at Feast of the Hare, I had a couple of weeks to find someone to sponsor....and boy did I ever.

I'm super proud of  Marguerite of Boldt Castle. Not only did she make some really awesome period gingerbread, but then she turned it into a gingerbread diorama (which is a bit of a running joke locally thanks to her dad). She totally made the recipe herself (with just a little bit of help from her mom for the steps involving heating the honey on the stove), but she actually adjusted the spicing of the recipe based on taste, rather than just sticking with the recipe as it was printed. There are adults that don't do that kind of adjustment, never mind a six-year-old!!!! The best part is both she and her mom were super jazzed about the day and really seemed like they had a good time.

As my sponsor prize I brought something that would be appropriate for a youth entry (I actually brought a couple of things for different age groups). I ended up giving my prize to Saraphina of Caldrithig. My prize was a starter set for silk banner painting, including a piece of silk, 8 colours of dye, a tube of black gutta and two brushes. I chose Saraphina because I heard that she didn't really enjoy the spinning she did for her project, so I thought I'd give her something new to try - maybe she'll like that better. She's also really local (like 3 minutes from our house) so I offered to come over at some point to teach her how it works.

I also helped judge four projects, which I think went pretty well. I feel like I was more actively involved in the discussions this year (Master Dafydd may have made a comment about "our newest Crucible proving his mettle..or would that be metal ...or something like that). :) Hopefully I was able to help some people out rather than scaring them off. Also got a really nice compliment from HE Lidr that kind of made me think.

Lots of other people entered some really cool stuff. Both Avelyn and Emelote had entries, along with a whole bunch of other Skraels. Sounds like everyone I talked to had a really positive experience.

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of everyone's projects this time, didn't have time with everything else going on during the day. But I know THL Alexander took pictures all day so I'll just have to look forward to them like everyone else does. :)

I have my pictures from court posted though, you can see them here.






Friday, 11 November 2016

News and Thinky Thoughts from Feast of the Hare

So, now that the post about the projects for Feast of the Hare is out of the way, I can report on the rest of the stuff that happened at the event. This is going to be another long one I think (sorry).

It was a crazy busy Feast of the Hare this year, even more than usual. Part of that was because we hosted the Rick Mercer Report, which was pretty cool. I spent a large part of the day running around to support Avelyn while she did her job as Kingdom Media Relations Deputy, and of course taking pictures.

Here's a pic I took while I was playing paparazzi.


The other thing I did over the course of the day was a little bit of fencing. I haven't been to practice much lately, but I always try to enter the Baronial Champion Tourney, which is run at Hare. I feel its part of my job as a former Champion to participate.

This year the format was different. It was a single elimination tourney with retained wounds, which means when I lost my left arm in the first fight, I couldn't use it for the rest of the tournament. We started out with eight fighters but due to a double kill in the first round, we had three finalists. I suggested to Her Excellency that we do a last man standing melee to solve it, rather than a round robin. She grinned and giggled with glee (she may have also chanted Kill, Kill, Kill, I can't remember).

I was at a disadvantage without my left arm, but I probably had a bit of an advantage in having fought in a lot of melee situations, so it may have balanced out. We swirled around for a while and then after a minute or so of back and forth, first one than the other of my opponents were out and I was last left standing. So I am now both the Rapier and Thrown Weapons champion for the Barony (although apparently I'm not allowed to throw my rapiers, which really takes some of the fun out of it). :)

During Baronial court, in addition to officially being named as Their champion, I also assisted with the presentation of taxes. This year the taxes for the populace taking a class and teaching a class, which totally falls within the scope of my job as Minister of Arts and Sciences. So I plotted with Her Excellency Lucia to introduce some shtick. After everyone else presented their taxes, I presented Their Excellencies with a scroll that captured all teaching and learning that had been reported to me in our A&S reports for the year. I offered to read it out alphabetically, but given the scroll was 10 feet long, I thought I'd save the populace that pain and just rolled it out in front of Their Excellencies. It went down to my feet and across the floor, it was epic!

Then, during Kingdom court, something else happened. It's a bit of a blur, but I was busy taking pictures as usual when Their Majesties called up the Order of the Crucible. The next thing I know my name is being called, and now I am a member of that really impressive Order (I even have a really awesome scroll to prove it).



After I stood up I got swarmed by a whole bunch of people giving me hugs, AElfwyn being first in line. Beyond that it was all kind of a blur, but it was really awesome being surrounded by so many people who I really respect and consider my friends. The fact that they wanted me to join them and think I belong, and that Their Majesties agreed, was a bit overwhelming.

So this is where the thinky thoughts come in. For a guy with zero artistic ability (who nearly failed art class in Junior High and never took anything artistic except for performance arts after that), being inducted to a Grant-level order for my work in the arts and sciences is kind of mind boggling. I still think of myself as the same guy who took that very first Intro to Leatherworking class from Tiberius at Practicum 5-6 years ago.

But its also I think a really good story to tell new people who join the SCA. I can't draw, or paint, or really do anything that modernly we would consider "art", and yet here I am making things like the stick-purse or my black and white kidney pouch, and having people come to me for advice on leatherworking (that still feels weird, my first reaction is still to redirect them to someone who knows what they're doing). If I can learn this stuff, dig into it, and get to this point - anybody can with a bit of work and some elbow grease.


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Unveiling the Feast of the Hare Projects (with pictures)

Heading into Feast of the Hare, Avelyn and I may have set a personal record for the number of projects we had on the go for any one event. To the point where Avelyn was having to turn stuff down because we just didn't have time to do it all.

Now that everything has been presented, I can unveil the stuff I worked on.

Our Baronial Signet Mistress Alais contacted me to see if I would be willing to do a scroll for her. Given my total lack of any artistic ability, we laughed about that for a while, and then asked her what she had in mind.

Turns out Their Excellencies had a plan to award a matched set of five Hare Valiant awards to the five currently active Knights who call the Barony home. They would have matching wording, but Alais wanted each to receive some sort of customized scroll or token. I offered to take on the project for Sir AElfwyn and Avelyn offered to take on (or coordinate) the project for Sir Menken.

For AElfwyn:

I wanted to go outside the box. Everyone would expect me to make something out of leather, since that's what I'm know for and AElfwyn is my Laurel. But since when do I go the easy route? Plus, AElfwyn doesn't need me to make her leather items. So, I went the silk banner route. I went through a few different designs, but I eventually landed on something I felt I could produce (because my first few ideas were a little overly ambitious given the timeframe we had and my total lack of artistic ability).

Here's a picture of the banner in progress. The badge of the order is on the bottom half (on the right), while the top image is actually me taking a bit of creative license with period illuminations. I found period examples of a dog riding a boar, and another of a hare riding a dog. So in Photoshop I moved the hare over so it was riding the boar (AElfwyn's heraldic charge).

Around the edge of the banner in silver metalic gutta on black background are the mandatory elements of the scroll to make it official: Barony of Skraeling Althing - Order of the Hare Valiant to AElfwyn et Langenwuda by Their Excellencies Shahid and Catherine at Feast of the Hare November 5 AS 51. This was my first time doing text on a banner. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, although I don't think I'd want to go any smaller than the font size I used. I basically printed the text using calligraphy font on the computer (after checking with Alais to find one that was close as possible to an actual period calligraphy style of course) and then traced it onto the banner.



Here it is with the red coloured in (the shield on the original hare was green in the illumination, but I'm sure I'll be forgiven for going Skraeling/Ealdormere red). What you can't really see in the picture is that I also used silver and gold gutta to mark some metalic highlights in the swords to make them pop a bit.



After it was dry and fixed, Avelyn sewed on some bias tape on the top edge and made some loops so AElfwyn can hang it somewhere.



For Menken:

We knew we wanted to do something different for Menken, not the same type of banner that I did for AElfwyn. Each person needed to get something unique.

Avelyn engaged Lord James (Menken's Squire) to help with it. He worked with a fellow fighter (Paddy) to make an actual spear, which is very cool. I think Avelyn was just thinking an armoured combat spear but this is even better.

So, we had to figure a way to turn that into an official scroll-like item. At that point Avelyn got pulled into the chaos of organizing Rick Mercer's visit to the event, so I took over the work.

We decided to make a leather sheath for the spear, and then to do a small silk pennant to attach to it. Since we didn't want it to be too similar to the banner I did for AElfwyn, I tooled the mandatory wording around the edge of the sheath (rather than putting it on the pennant) along with the main charge from his heraldry (a fleur-de-lys and three billets fesswise) on one side. I then stained the leather using an antique finish and painted a bit of gold outline to mark where the blade actually sits in the sheath. I then stitched the two pieces together using some brown linen thread.

Here it is. Hardest part was definitely tooling the lettering.


For the pennant, Mel told me she wanted the chequey to feature prominently in the pennant, and we wanted to include the badge for the award since it wasn't on the leather sheath. This is the design I came up with based on what she told me she wanted.


and here it is after Avelyn did the bias tape and ties for the pennant, attached to the final spear.


I think if I had it to do over again I might make the badge a bit bigger, and would increase the area of the chequey, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it. The badge was probably the most difficult part, those hares are pretty intricate for such a small size (up close, or backlit, there's a difference in tone between the black gutta and the black dye, so you can actually see much more detail).

Friday, 16 September 2016

Prep work for Feast of the Bear Part II - With Pictures

This is part two of my post on prep work we did for Feast of the Bear. Part one covered the making of AElfwyn's vigil book with Master Giovanni.

AElfwyn's vigil and elevation ceremony was based on Anglo-Saxon ceremonies. So we knew we needed to look the part. Now, I don't normally do early period beyond the occasional Norse, and I certainly didn't have any garb that suited a formal Anglo-Saxon event.  I also hadn't had any luck in the past making a pair of shoes that actually fit and looked right.

Sooo, new garb and new shoes were in the cards.

Shoes:

I'd previously made a pair of shoes but the ended up being way too wide and about two sizes too big because I did a poor job of tracing the sole. But they also weren't particularly early period, so I needed to adjust the pattern for the uppers as well.


I used my milled veg tan leather (which was the leather from the Stick-Purse) and dyed it using walnut dye extract that I bought on our trip to Montreal. It produced the same nice brown as the black walnuts without the mess of handling them. Just add water. :)

The shoes are stitched using waxed linen thread.

Here is the one shoe before I turned it and then after fighting with it to turn it right-side out.



And here are the two shoes turned and on my feat to test the fit (still a little bit wide and long but certainly wearable).


The original artifacts often have holes along the top edge, which may suggest edge trim was applied to clean it up. I also find it stiffens up the shoe a bit so it holds its shape a bit better, so I did that too. I left the leather natural colours as I thought it would give good contrast with the darker brown shoes.

Carlson also has an interesting latch system for keeping the shoes closed, which don't actually use any stitches to anchor the latches. I'd never tried that before but gave it a shot, and it seems to work OK. You cut small holes and wedge thicker straps through the holes and it locks into place.

So here's the finished shoe. You'll see them on my feet in the garb pictures below as well.


Garb:

While I was working on the book cover and the shoes, Avelyn was busily working on making me look good. :)

We got all the fabric we needed in Montreal, and commissioned Baroness Mahault to do up some nice boar-themed embroidery for the collars and cuffs.

Avelyn spent weeks leading up to the event sewing the tunics, and spent her day at the event hand stitching a cap for me.

I'll leave the details to her to tell since it wasn't my project but needless to say I'm super appreciative. She did an awesome job. Thanks also to Emelote and Bethoc for last minute help getting the finishing touches done on the night before we left. :)

The undertunic, cap and shoes

Here I am on the left in the overtunic.