A while back I posted following a conversation with Mistress AElfwyn, where she asked me what my next project would be now that I'm almost done the formal portion of the leather dyes. Of course, I expect the leather dye work will continue for a long time, but I had posted some ideas of what I could work on next.
Then, a couple of weeks ago I ran into AElfwyn again at the local leather store, and she asked me a question about how I did my leather tooling. After showing her my technique using a swivel knife, we had a bit of a discussion about whether that would have been how it was done in period (using cuts as a basis for the tooling pattern).
So, the discussion has been sitting with me since then (with a few more brief exchanges with AElwyn thrown in about the topic).
And of course, I can't just leave a question like that floating out there without a solid answer. Based on the two books I have on hand it looks to be true, but I think this calls for a research paper. :)
So, here's what I'm thinking:
Research paper on specific decorative techniques that would have been used at various periods, along with possibly work on identifying the specific tools that can be documented to have been used.
Step 1: Online research to see what else has been done by others. This includes reading the Floriligium and other online resources. Will want to do my own cross-checks on anything but could give me a good idea of primary and secondary sources to check. Should also check research journals for relevant materials.
Step 2: Documentary search of sources identified in step one and review of materials.
Step 3: Museum research to look at artifacts to determine evidence of techniques and tools used (This would be a good time to do another trip to the UK to see them up close). If can't go in person, perhaps contact museums with significant leather collections to discuss if they have done any similar analysis.
Step 4: Analysis and writing up of research, and any follow-ups necessary. Probably for submission at a future Kingdom A&S.
So I figure that'll take me what...2-3 weeks. :) OK, maybe not.
I can then turn my research into a period leather tooling class to fit in alongside my Intro to Leatherworking I taught this year, and the period leather dyes class I plan to develop this spring. A pretty good triumvirate of courses I think.