Friday, 9 January 2015

Starting my Research on Leather Filigree

Leather filigree or cutwork  is something I've never done before but after our trip to the UK this fall I'm thinking about doing it as my next type of leatherwork I want to explore. It will fit well as a way to decorate many of the types of items I've already been learning to make.

Basically, the idea is to cut out pieces of leather from your item so that you can see the underlying material. Often, the cutwork leather will be layered with a coloured piece of paper or fabric, so that the nicer colour will show through (often a colour that you couldn't produce on the leather itself). In the case of shoes, the cut-outs would reveal the colour of the hose being worn underneath.

There are lots of artifacts with cutwork or filigree. You often see it on shoes, jerkins etc. However, the most impressive I've seen was from the really cool Islamic leatherbound books at the Chester Beattie Library, which is what's really inspired me for this research. The level of detail was incredible (we're talking extremely complex patterns cut-out so that there was only milimeters of leather left between the shapes). I have no idea how they did it (but why not learn). Of course, something tells me its also going to lead me down the bookbinding path as well. :)

So as a starting point, I thought I'd gather some period examples of leather filigree here, along with links to useful information and more modern how-tos.

Period Examples & Documentation

Online article on the use of filigree in book covers from the 15th & 16th century:

Article on the bookbinding of the Ottoman Empire:

The Chester Beattie Library Guidebook (which we bought on our trip):

Pinterest board of filigree/cutwork artefacts:

Modern How-Tos and References
Discussion on about how to do filigree:

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Projects and A&S Goals for the New Year

While there were some highlights (like finally getting the stick-purse project to the point where I had something to show off at QPT), overall 2014 wasn't nearly as productive as I had planned. Particularly later in the year, with travel and real life stuff taking over much of my time, I feel like there were long stretches where I didn't really do much in the workshop. I know Avelyn feels the same, with most of her hobby time being taken up with officer positions.

So with 2015 now here, I thought I would put down on paper some of the things I want to get done this year. If past years are any indication, if I get even half of the stuff done it will be an accomplishment, and there will be other projects I take on that weren't planned that will take up large chunks of time. So, in no particular order:

Personal A&S Stuff

  1. Finally finish the stick-purse (potentially for A&S in April)
  2. Finish developing and teach my class on period leather dyes (submitted for Practicum in February)
  3. Publish my leather dye research and experiments more formally online so people can access it for their own research and use
  4. Decide on next major project for future QPT/A&S and start planning (possibly leather filigree work based on the period Islamic book covers we saw at the Chester Beattie Library - maybe as a scroll blank?)
  5. Do groundwork research on possible Pent theme to see if its feasible (does it hit the right categories etc.)
  6. Get the helm padded and strapped, and finish modifying my kit so I can finally start working towards getting my armoured combat authorization
  7. Get Avelyn's leg armour back in shape so she can get back on the field
  8. Finally make some banners or pennants or something for events.
  9. Continue uploading my UK artifact pics on Pinterest for people to see (still several thousand pics to go).
  10. Try to find a blue leather dye recipe that works (in the summer when I can work in the garage and vent it properly)
  11. Make a pouch with a kraken design on it
  12. Make a rainbow badge for Maggie :)

MOAS Stuff
  1. More consistently get the Twitter account going and do up a plan to promote it.
  2. Investigate idea of setting up group "research days" at local university libraries.
Non-A&S Stuff
  1. Start getting out to rapier practice more regularly
  2. Get my bow inspected and getting ready for the archery season now that I have arrows
  3. Do a better job of both sending in award nominations and tracking them so I know which ones are still needed