Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How the SCA teaches us things (AKA I just totally had a brainstorm)

One of the common things you hear about the SCA is that at its hearts it's an education organization. In fact, that's really the entire basis for the organization's non-profit status.

And while it's true that many local groups do educational demos at schools and such to talk about history, I'm not really sure that's the bulk of the education that we do. We do lots of learning all the time as we research new projects or skills. A lot of that is self directed, but it's learning and education none-the-less.

Since becoming our Barony's Arts and Sciences Minister, I've been part of the process for filing quarterly arts and sciences reports. I've always wondered what the purpose of these reports was, and figured they probably just got dropped into a box somewhere as a piece of paperwork that was mandatory but never really used (although I do know that at the baronial level Their Excellencies do use these reports to flag people who might be worthy of awards). A comment from our Kingdom MOAS did bring it home though when she said that these reports are what actually shows that we are learning new things and meeting our educational requirements.

All of that to say not only did I learn a new thing, but just today I figured out a way to improve another project thanks to that new skill.

Let me go back:

Over the past few months I've been working on my first pair of turnshoes (as you'll see from previous posts on this blog). To make the turnshoes I had to learn a new leather stitch, called the tunnel stitch or the edge-flesh stitch. Here's a link to what the stitch looks like, but it basically means the needle goes only partially through the thickness of the leather before coming out the edge, so that it keeps the skin side of the leather un-damaged.

I finished the shoes about a month ago and didn't really think much about it other than I learned to make shoes, yay me.

But today Thor's hammer clearly smucked me upside the head because it finally occurred to me that the tunnel stitch is the answer to one of my construction questions about my stick-purse project!

The design of the stick-purse I'm trying to replicate is different from most, in that the pouches have round flat bottoms with a tube of leather sewn to them to make the pouch. Here's a previous post with a good view of how I was doing the bottom before (ignore the rest, I've since updated my design).

Other pouches with this type of bottom don't have the edge of the leather visible though, and don't have visible stitches on the bottom, so I wasn't sure how to cleanly sew the two pieces together. Now I know, because I can use the same tunnel stitch and basically do a turn-pouch (instead of a turn-shoe).

So, from doing my turnshoes, I certainly learned a bit about how to make shoes, and I learned a new leatherworking technique, but I also learned something about my stick-purse project, which was the last thing I expected.

I'd call that educational.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Catching up and Planning Ahead

I haven't posted here in a while, largely because I haven't really done much leatherworking lately.

I did manage to finish my pair of leather turnshoes and entered them in the A&S competition at Summer Siege in June, but never did take a picture of the completed set. :) Guess I was too busy taking pictures of the other entries.

Beyond that, I did a little of bit of tooling work on an award badge I'd started a while back, so its ready for dying/painting now.

I did have a bit of a idea on how I can engineer a way to mount my award badges on belt loops without needing to use glue or anything modern, and without punching holes through the actual designs. I need to use thicker leather to do it though so I can't test the idea with my current batch of badges.

For my secret project, I've done some design work and tested the tooling patterns a bit. It's going to test my ability but should be doable. I'm now in a bit of a holding pattern.

Not having done much leatherworking, you know I've been doing something with my time though, right?

Actually, I've been testing a bunch of period recipes for future use. We've always said we wanted to get a good collection of recipes that we've actually made so that we can pull off a feast with less planning needed (see the miracle Kersteken and Sven pulled off at Coronation as reference). I've made a good dent in that for sure, including a couple of recipes I don't think I've ever seen at a feast (probably because they would be hard to pull off in a normal feast kitchen - one needs a rotisserie and the other needs to be steamed, which would be hard to do for a feast of 40-50 people).

I need to start thinking about the QPT, which is coming up again this fall. My original plan was that my secret project might make a good entry but I'm not sure if it will be ready by that point at the rate we're going. I could do another pair of shoes, maybe with a bit more complexity to the design? Or, I could present where I am right now with the stick-purse (with non period-appropriate materials) and get feedback on that? The documentation is in good shape, I've just be stalled while I search out the right leather to use.