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 ( 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.

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