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Category: Ansteorra

Tablut Game

Tablut Game

Last year, I participated in the Sable Swap, a kingdom-wide secret gift exchange. You may remember that I made an embroiderer’s kit for my assigned giftee. It was easy to decide what to do because, as an embroiderer, I know what I would love to receive.

This time, though, I got a gentleman with an Icelandic persona, who is into medieval artillery and archery. Uh…
Super secret project.

So I decided to make him an embroidered game bag that folds up into a pouch for easy carrying. I did some research on variations of a game called Tafl, which was played ll over the Scandinavian world.

Super secret project: all the green is finished!

Despite it being a Laplandic variant, I chose to go with a version of the game called Tablut, since it was the best documented. Lapland and Iceland aren’t that far apart, in the grand scheme of the Viking reach.
Tablut Board

The board consists of a 9×9 grid, with the central cross being one color, and the Ts at the end of the arms in a different color. The squares are embroidered in chain stitch, and the lines are stem stitch. Everything is stitched in DMC cotton, because you never know when you’re going to have to wash out a spill. (As an aside, I’m not sure what prompted me to choose baby food or 70s appliance colors, but he did say he liked earth colors.)

Tablut Board The defending army starts off in the center blocks, with the king on the middle square. The attacking arms starts on the T shaped areas on the ends. The goal is to either get the king to a corner, or to capture him, depending on which side you’re playing. All pieces can only move orthogonally, or in straight lines.

Tafl Game

Traditionally, the king is a taller piece, but I only had these glass pebbles and no time to make a different marker for the king, so I just included a different color instead. I love the way they look all lined up and ready to go. Tafl Game And when you’re done, the strings pull tight…
Tafl Game …and make a neat little pouch for carrying. Tafl Game I made the strings long enough to stay in the eyelets when the game is laid out flat, and that means that they wrap around the pouch neck a few times to insure that none of the pebbles fall out. It would tie onto a belt quite nicely, too. I am always glad of diversions during the longest bit of an event, which seems to be between the end of fighting and the beginning of feast or court. I hope Karl likes playing his Tablut game as much as I enjoyed making it! Tafl Game

Pelican Gift

Pelican Gift

A friend of mine, Alden Drake, received his (very well deserved) Pelican at Laurel’s Prize Tourney. I had been planning on making him a gift of a cup cover with his badge on it, but since his badge is a half-white, half-black dragon (with teeth and claws and spines and wings) on a half-black, half-white background… Yeah, that didn’t end well.

Laurel's Prize 2013

I decided instead to make a cup cover with a pelican in her piety (ie: feeding her chicks with blood from her pierced breast), and a dedication around the outside.

Laurel's Prize 2013

The cover is a linen-rayon blend, embroidered with silk. The pelican and the outside of the nest are stitched in stem stitch, and the chicks and nest details are stitched in Holbein stitch. The blood is satin stitch, and the letters are a combination of straight and lazy-daisy stitches.

Here he is in his vigil tent, when I gave it to him. I think he liked it. These pictures were taken by my friend Liz.

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Laurel’s Prize Tourney

Laurel’s Prize Tourney

A week ago, I had the opportunity to attend what is probably my favorite event, Laurel’s Prize Tourney. It’s an Arts and Sciences event, but not a competition. Rather, it’s a body of work event, where artisans bring what they’ve been working on for the last year or so, and Laurels sign up to sit down with them and give advice or direction. It’s amazingly fun. I wish I had two of me, one to walk around and see what my fellow artisans are doing, and one to sit down and geek out with the people who come visit my table.  I didn’t even make it all the way around the room I was in, let alone get out and take more pictures. I didn’t even get any photos of my own display.

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Scribal Playdate, Part the Second

Scribal Playdate, Part the Second

When last we left our intrepid scribes, they were taking a wee cordial break. After we finished imbibing, it was time to make some iron-gall ink. First we started out by grinding Aleppo oak galls (you can use domestic US oak galls, but you have to use so many more because they are not as tannic as the Aleppo galls) into a coarse powder.

Scribal Play Day

Scribal Play Day

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When they reached the desired consistency (above), we brewed them into a tea for about ten minutes (below). Oak gall tea smells about how you would expect it to. Scribal Play Day

After the tea was done, we strained the gall-pulp out.
Scribal Play Day

 

Then we added the copperas (copper sulfate), which turned the brown tisane dark lavender-black.

Scribal Play Day

 

Then we dissolved some gum arabic and added it to the mix, to help with flow and consistency.

Scribal Play Day Then another straining. You can see how deeply purple-black the liquid is. After this, I think we added a tiny bit of red-wine vinegar (I forget why), and then it was ink!

Scribal Play Day

 

After that, we made quills. The lower shafts were soaking in water to… I can’t remember. Keep them supple? Something. We didn’t end up hardening these quills because we didn’t have sand (oops!) but they’re just more flexible that way.
Scribal Play Day

We started out by stripping the barbs off of the rachis (what the quill is made from). I liked leaving a little tuft at the end. It looks so jaunty.
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One of the things that has to happen is that you need to pick a feather that feels good in your hand. It’s no use cutting a quill that is uncomfortable.
Scribal Play Day

My preferred quill-cutting tool is a scalpel with a #10 blade. They’re very sharp, the blades come in packs of 100, and they’re pennies compared to X-acto blades.
Scribal Play Day

We make an initial long cut, and pull out the inner pulp. It looks like a snakeskin.
Scribal Play Day

Then we shape the shoulders of the quill. I took this picture specifically to remember the shape of a well-cut quill. After this, we cut the slit and the flat nib tip. Et voila: quill!
Scribal Play Day

They make awesome fashion statements.
Scribal Play Day

After the quills were cut, the gesso was dry enough to gild. I forgot to get a picture of the smoothing process, but we basically just used our scalpels to scrape the surface smooth; every imperfection is a place where the gold will potentially not stick. Then we breathed on the gesso with deep tummy breaths (Penelope told us to pretend we were Aslan breathing on the stone statues). Then we took our patent gold (the kind with the paper on the back) and plplaced it gold-down on the gesso letters.
Scribal Play Day

We rubbed the back of the gold through silk fabric, and then burnished the gold letters with agate and hematite.

Scribal Play Day It was soooo shiny. Scribal Play Day Then we used our new ink to write the rest of the quote in. Mine was my motto, which SHOULD read Deus Pascit Corvus, or ‘God Feeds the Crows’. Then we were done! I have since added more finishing touches, but that is another post.
Scribal Play Day

Scribal Playdate, Part the First

Scribal Playdate, Part the First

A couple of very lovely, wonderful ladies got together last Saturday and threw a Scribal Play Date for those of us who were interested in learning some intermediate scribal techniques. It was almost ten hours of scribal classes and experimentation, and we still didn’t get around to mixing pigments and painting. I’m going to break it into three posts, one for each class, so that they don’t get unwieldy.

First up, Penelope, who helped organize and teach, cuts vellum for us.

Scribal Play Day

 

Penelope’s mum, Martha, who is a calligrapher mundanely, and kindly hosted the day at her beautiful house.

Scribal Play Day

 

Rachel, and her tea. Tea featured very prominently during the day. I think I had two or three different kinds.

Scribal Play Day

 

Lady Cat, getting things together for the gesso class.

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Mistress Amata.

Scribal Play Day

 

Gesso ingredients: raw sugar, slaked plaster, titanium dioxide, fish glue, and gilder’s bole for color.

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Grind all the dry ingredients together. Forever.

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What it should look like when it’s ground properly.

Scribal Play Day

 

Add the fish glue. Which doesn’t smell nearly as bad as you might think it does.

Scribal Play Day

 

And then you get something that looks like silly putty, with the consistency of caramel sauce.

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Using pumice and gum sandarac to properly prepare the surface of the vellum.

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Drawing in our letters (or whatever) in gesso. Some of us used quills, some used brushes.

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My gesso was quite, uh, pillowy. Go big or go home.

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Martha had some gesso made with lead white, instead of titanium oxide, that we reconstituted and tried out, too.

Scribal Play Day

 

Then a break between gesso and iron gall classes for some cordial tasting. You can tell we’re classy because our pinkies are up.

Scribal Play Day

 

Next time: Iron Gall ink.

Guild Hopping: Leatherworkers #484

Guild Hopping: Leatherworkers #484

I try to make it out to a new guild meeting every month. When the Leatherworkers Guild started meeting again, I jumped at the chance to attend.
Leather Guild

 

I wasn’t the only one, either. There were six or seven new people in attendance, and we all went around the room and discussed what we wanted to make.

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There were lots of beautiful examples of past guild projects, from scabbards to cups, to costless (that corked jug in the background).

Leather Guild

 

Giovanni and his cotrel.

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Dietrich’s leatherworking toolchest.

Leather Guild

 

A couple shots of all the pretty drinking vessels.

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And Reneé made from-scratch mojitos. They were soooo good. I can’t say that leatherworking is on my short-list of things I’m frothing at the mouth to do on a regular basis, but the meeting was a ton of fun, and I had a good time working on my project (a scissors-case that i’ll post pictures of later) and hanging out with friends.

Leather Guild

Halfway Done

Halfway Done

Maybe a little more than halfway, actually. There’s the other two quadrants to be finished, and two lines of yellow chain stitch around the outside of the bowen knot, plus the stem stitch outlines.  Halfway done.

Known World Heraldic and Scribal

Known World Heraldic and Scribal

A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to go the the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium (or, cumbersomely, KWHSS). People came from all over the SCA world, some from as far away as Drachenwald (most of Europe), to take classes and share knowledge. It was tons of fun.

Penelope working on a scroll. She’s got her game face on. KWHSS 2013

Amata relaxing in the lobby.

KWHSS 2013

I took a class on making glair, a glaze made from egg whites, which has tons of applications in scribal work. And smells terrible when properly aged.

KWHSS 2013

KWHSS 2013 KWHSS 2013

KWHSS 2013

I also took a class on gesso making. Medieval gesso is waaay different from modern gesso, and does some really neat things, too.
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There was pewter casting going on all day.
KWHSS 2013 KWHSS 2013

The Queen’s Champion made silly faces.
KWHSS 2013

There were a couple of fantastic merchants, to whom I gave all my money.
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I took a class on gilding (omg, I want to put gold on ALL THE THINGS).
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There was court. I swear, Ansteorra has the best royalty.

KWHSS 2013

And the smarmiest Barons. Look at that face!
KWHSS 2013

My friend Safiyya recieving her AoA.
KWHSS 2013

Remember that scroll that Penny was working on? That’s it! Isn’t it pretty?
KWHSS 2013