Tuesday 21 January 2020

New Kingdom A&S Project

It's that time of year again. Kingdom A&S in Ealdormere is approaching in March, and as the host Baron and a member of the Order of the Crucible, I'm feeling like I need to pull out something from my bag of tricks.

As you may know from reading this blog in the past, I don't like doing the same old same old when it comes to A&S projects. I like things that are out of the ordinary, or that I haven't seen done before in the SCA context. That's how I got to the stick purse and the leather dyes, and I think I've come up with a good one this time.

I'm not going to get into too much detail here because I want the project to be a bit of a surprise, but I'll give some hints:

1) The item that inspired it was something I saw from one of our museum stops in Europe.

2) The type of item was not done in Europe in period, but would have been encountered by European travelers. The culture that produced it had extensive interactions with Europe, and the items go back to at least the 12th C in that culture. It didn't arrive in Europe until the early 17th C.

3) It is a leather item.....sort of. :)

4) As usual, I'm having to lean some new skills to make it.

5) As usual, I could be biting off more than I can chew, so we'll see if I can pull it off. Possible I'll enter something that's not completed or I might have to scale it down from the full period examples (which are large, incredibly ornate and complicated). To give you a sense, modern makers with extensive expertise at using traditional techniques usually take up to 5 months to make the thing I'm looking at.

On the bright side, my research is more or less complete, other than re-reading a few peer reviewed papers to make sure I've got everything for my documentation.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Stay tuned - New major project underway

Sorry its been kinda dead around here lately. Other than posting my class handouts I haven't really posted in a while. I haven't really been doing much leatherworking. Mostly just bodging little things together or repairing items.

Part of that is that we were selected as Baron and Baroness of Skraeling Althing last November, so most of my free time is going towards planning things for the Barony, and part of it is a lingering shoulder injury from last Pennsic which doesn't like certain movements needed for leather projects.

I've been doing some silk banner painting, and playing around with carving fabric stamps, but that's been about it.

But in the last few weeks I've started a major project that folks around here will likely be interested in.

As a continuation of my leather dye project, I'm developing a new database for period leather dye recipes.

Soon you'll be able to search for recipes that use particular ingredients, produce a certain colour or come from a particular region or time period. I won't have the actual recipes, since they are copyrighted. But I will include links to the sources, and will include my redactions and notes in cases where I've tried the recipe.

I'm hoping to have the full thing created and all the data inputed by the end of the year.

So stay tuned, big things afoot.

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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.