Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part One

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part One

For a while now, I’ve been wanting a six board chest, in which to keep my feast gear and other sundries at events. I have resigned to myself to the fact that I don’t have time to do all the things I want to do. And even more importantly, I don’t have to do the things I don’t have any interest in doing, even when the outcome of those activities is a thing I want or need. I am not a wood worker, and I don’t really want to cultivate those skills right now. So I put out a call-out to my reenactment friends, to see if any of them would be interested in doing an artisan trade.

Master Juan Carlos, a Laurel in my local Barony, let me know that he’d be willing to make a chest for me (I’d already seen and admired one that he made for himself, so I was excited) in exchange for a couple of embroidered pouches similar to those from the Cantigas de Santa Maria. I looked through the illuminations he sent me and settled on two designs. One like this, with a pouch flap and a neat rounded motif…

cantiga-maria-1

And one like the yellow ones below, with no flap and a diamond design.  cantiga-maria-2 I picked out my colors (red and black on natural linen, and indigo blue on yellow) and sketched out my designs on the fabric. I decided to go with DMC Pearl Cotton, since I have a metric ton of it, it launders well (I try not to use delicate fibers unless I know who they are going to), and makes a nice bold clean line.
New handwork project, for Master Juan Carlos.

I decided on chain stitch, as it makes the boldest line with a single row of stitching, and the designs are all linear. I also started off using a hoop, but gave it up as I found it was more trouble than it was worth. This red and black design has the flap motif incorporated into the back; the pouch flap will fold over at the top of that line, halfway through the circle.
Working on my embroidery art trade tonight.

The pouch laid out, so you can see basically what it will look like when it’s all folded up.
. . . I finished up all the red, and then began the black, just embroidering another line right next to the one that had already been done.
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I really like how they look together; so bold and graphic.
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All finished up with the first embroidery, about to start on the second. Part two will be the second pouch embroidery and how I made them all up. Tune in Monday!

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Bliaut Modifications

Bliaut Modifications

A friend of mine, Mariana, gave me a whole bunch of her old garb. Which is so sweet, but seeing as she’s more than half a foot shorter than me, there needed to be some modifications made. This particular piece, a Spanish bliaut, is a lovely shade of sea-glass green, with navy blue velvet ribbon trim. I had some linen I had dyed a soft dusty rose pink, and decided to use it as a guard on the bottom, and to make arm bands to tie in that color to the rest of the dress. bliaut sleeve 1

I centered some leftover velvet ribbon in the bands as well, for some added visual interest. You can also catch a glimpse of the pink cord I finger looped for the side lacing too.
bliaut arms 2

This picture is ridiculously orange, but you can see the drape of the guard. It doesn’t follow the flare of the dress, but instead hangs straight down from the hem, so it looks funny hanging like that, but it’s not something that’s terribly noticeable when I’m wearing it.
finished bliaut1

Here the colors are truer, and you get a glimpse into the wreckage that is my work room. The bags are gone; I’d just culled my yarn stash and they were waiting to go away, and the rest of the detritus has been put away. I’ll try to get some pictures of me wearing it soon. finished bliaut 2

Queen’s Champion Invitations

Queen’s Champion Invitations

Sometimes life throws a curveball. Not to me, this time, but to the lady who was meant to make the invitations to our most recent Queen’s Champion event. The steward of the event, my sweet friend Marie, texted me to ask if there was any way I could make invitations in the four days before they needed to go out. So I sat down at my wonderfully medieval computer and whipped up a calligraphy template (with decorative cadel!) in photoshop, and used it as a guide for the final piece. I think it came out well, for a last-minute day’s work. 
invitation 2

In Progress: New Red Hose

In Progress: New Red Hose

This weekend, and next week, I am from home on a trip. I hesitate to call it a vacation, as we are, this weekend, in Maryland for Edmund’s grandmother’s funeral (ave, Atlantia!). Next week we will be back on schedule for happy Thanksgiving visitation plans though, which should be more joyous.

One of the things I wanted to work on this year was the creation of some more foundational pieces for my wardrobe. Would you believe I only have one pair of hose? So on Monday, gearing up for a week and a half absence, I cut out two pairs of linen hose to handsew on the trip. Yeah, I’ve also had the hand sewing bug lately. I was going to make a woolen hood for a friend, but I didn’t have enough fabric. It will show up as a pair of warm sleeves instead, embroidered with some of the woolen embroidery thread I hand-dyed a while ago.

The first is this pair of lovely crimson hose (the other is a pair of tawny-ginger colored ones). I am sewing the long seams with a tiny backstitch for quickness and strength. Believe it or not, it’s actually just as quick for me to sew backstitch as running, and I find it’s a sturdier seam. I’m using Gutermann silk sewing thread and a short, skinny quilting between for a needle.  Sewing Red Hose

When the seams are finished, I flat fell them to keep the raw edges of the linen from unraveling. Having had a doublet I made completely fray apart at the seams, I am fanatical now about finishing techniques. I cut one side of the seam allowance down by half, and fold the taller side over it, and then fold flat and whip stitch it down. It makes for a really sturdy, strong seam.
Sewing Red Hose

The linen, cut on the bias, makes for a lovely flat seam, even along curved seams like the instep.
Sewing Red Hose

I mistakenly managed to flat fell one of the seams so that the “ugly” side of the backstitch shows, but I don’t think it’s going to structurally impact the way the hosen wears, so I’m not worried about it.
Sewing Red Hose I’ve managed to finish one of the hosen so far (The top is hemmed with a running stitch; I forgot to grab a picture of it), and I’m looking forward to working on the next. I think my favorite part about these hose is that, combined with those garters I wove a while ago (that first picture shows the only other pair of hose I have, incidentally), they’re my colors!
Sewing Red Hose

Fox Embroidery Pattern

Fox Embroidery Pattern

Remember that fox embroidery I did, back in the day? The one, I uh, apparently never posted finished pictures of? Huh. I should do that. Only three years late…

This was for a Sable Swap a couple years ago. The recipient was an embroiderer and had a Kievan Rus persona. I know what it’s like to never have pretty things for oneself, after giving them all away. So I wanted to make a little kit that was relevant and useful and pretty. It consists of a pouch, a needle roll, and a scissors fob.

 

Rus Embroidery Project

The design for the pouch was taken from Kievan temple-brooches from the relevant period. Most of them show animals or saints mirrored. I went with foxes, since the recipient listed those as favorites. Embroidered in split and chain stitch with DMC cotton floss. Rus Embroidery Project The needle roll was embroidered with a dragonfly (also a favorite) and some Kievan motifs to tie them in together, with a blanket stitch in varying long and short lengths to be a decorative finish. Rus Embroidery Project The scissors fob echoes the shape of the temple brooches, and has a lucet cord loop to attach to the scissors.  Rus Embroidery Project So. Now that that’s done, even though I didn’t necessarily intend to do a project recap in this post, let me show you why I DID want to write today. I finally cleaned up the fox brooch motif. A few people have asked for it, and I’ve forgotten about it multiple times. So here it is! Enjoy! fox-embroidery-1

Dragon Pouch

Dragon Pouch

Ave, everyone! I know, it’s been a bit since I’ve written. Life got busy. But I thought I’d take a minute and post about a little collaboration project I did with my friend Lia. Our local Barony had its fall event over Halloween weekend. One of the fun things that happened was that every fighter that wished to compete int he Championship tourney had to be sponsored by an artisan, who was in turn required to make a small thing to add to the prize baskets. Lia enjoys embroidery and she and I agreed to collaborate to sponsor a fighter with an embroidered belt pouch.

She told me in advance how big the dragon would be (about 1.5×2.5 inches) and I didn’t want the pouch to overwhelm the tiny embroidery, so I decided to make it the perfect size to hold a cell phone on a belt. I know many people have issues with modern tech being visible, but I know too many people who NEED to have them handy. My friend Helene uses her mobile to monitor her diabetic son’s blood sugar levels.
pouch1

I measured some linen in coordinating colors against my own phone, leaving a rounded fold-over flap , and then appliquéd the embroidered dragon to the outer layer.  pouch2 And finished off the edges with a quick chain stitch border. pouch3 Then I sewed the outer fabric and lining together with right sides facing each other, and turned the pouch right side out, and ironed everything. Oh gosh, I need a new ironing board cover. At this point, I also added a loop on the back to thread the belt through. I forgot to take pictures of it, but it’s a very simple belt loop.
pouch4 I whip stitched the edges of the pouch together, and then finished it with a chain stitch along the side. The inner edge and the flap were finished with a simple running stitch. Et voila, a lovely cell phone belt pouch. I liked collaborating with Lia on it, and I am excited to do some more joint projects in the future.
pouch 5

Review: Scribal Workshop

Review: Scribal Workshop

As you may have noticed, I do some scribal stuff. A little bit of calligraphy and illumination. Sometimes. I may also have a ridiculous collection of inks. Remember these?

I may have an ink problem.

Yeah, there’s more now. I have a problem, really.

One of the companies I buy from is a very small organization called Scribal Workshop. I met Lucas, the owner, at his booth at Sherwood Renaissance Festival a couple years ago. He was dressed as a monk, with full tonsure and everything. We had a wonderful conversation about inks and pigments and illumination and I took one of his cards.

About a year later, Ansteorra hosted the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium (KWHSS, for slightly tongue-tying short) in San Antonio. I knew that Lucas was local-ish, and I sent him an email saying he might consider merchanting there. It was a whole symposium full of his people! To my delight, he did and we also ended up forming a friendship along the way. I own several products of his: a lead plummet, four different kinds of ink, and six pigments.

Scribal Workshop The plummet is basically a sharpened bit of lead-tin that makes pale pencil-like marks on paper and vellum. I use it for marking calligraphy guide lines and sketching out basic lines for painting. The plummet is made from one of Cenini’s recipes, and does contain lead. I am very careful about having it out around Poppet, and making sure I wash my hands thoroughly after using it.
Lead tin stylus by Scribal Workshop. Blogged at opuselenae.com

It’s not very big; about 3″ long, but isn’t as soft as a #2 pencil. It’ll last me a good while. Lead tin stylus by Scribal Workshop. Blogged at opuselenae.com The guidelines there were made by the plummet. Next up are brazilwood and buckthorn inks. The brazilwood is a very beautiful pinkish-red translucent ink. It was used mainly for making ruling lines. I’ve found that I have to be careful how I use it. It needs a very clean nib or quill. Any iron gall residue will result in a darkening of the ink to a very pretty (but undesirable) purple color. The buckthorn ink is a translucent yellow-green ink with LOTS of chasing. It was used as an enhancer for green pigment, and later as a pigment itself. 
Scribal Workshop

The walnut ink is from a slightly later-period recipe than the medieval inks; it’s a Colonial era recipe. It has a lot of shading as well, and a lovely brown color. The iron gall is what I use is most of my scroll work. It’s a violet shaded grey ink that turns black on the paper as it oxidizes. It’s hard to achieve an iron gall ink that will remain stable over a long period of time, but Lucas’ experience with chemistry means that his inks are all pH balanced and stable. Scribal Workshop The six pigments I got from him came in seashells, just like a medieval palette. They come in basic earth colors, sap green (incidentally, from the same buckthorn berries as the ink), yellow and red ochres, cerulean blue, black and white. The sap green is really only good for shading, as no matter how thick I paint it, it remains transparent, But the rest can be treated the same way as modern gouache.
Today is about mixing pigments and making a reference sheet. Lucas also offers other scribal items as well: wax tablets with wooden or metal styli, scribes’ pen-knives, pre-cut quills, and paper scrolls on his Etsy shop.

 

Finished Project: Crow Cup Cover

Finished Project: Crow Cup Cover

It’s finally finished! I’ve had this as my SCA on-the-go project since Gulf War (which was in February, so it’s been a minute). I decided that I wanted to get it finished and usable, so I did a stitching spring to the finish line. Red Crow Cup Cover

I ironed the cover, but it sat in the hoop for so long that it still has the imprint. I’ll hit it again with some steam before I take it out to an event.
Red Crow Cup Cover

Close up of the crow. My badge (heraldry lesson: your coat of arms is meant to signify YOU or someone you have designated to speak for you, your badge is what you put on things to signify ownership of them) is “fieldless (no background), a crow rising gules (a red crow taking flight).” I want to put it on ALL THE THINGS. Red Crow Cup Cover

The hoop ring disappears nicely when it’s on the cup.  Red Crow Cup Cover

My innovation for not losing the cup cover; a simple lucet cord attached to one corner and sewn into a loop that hook onto the bead to keep it in place.
Red Crow Cup Cover

I attached it to the corner that would keep the crow moderately upright when it hangs, preserving the display of the badge. Cause I’m clever! Red Crow Cup Cover And cause everyone always wants to see the back… I did try to make sure that it was neat, because it will be visible. I am not always so neat when the back will be hidden, such as on a collar or bands on sleeves. Pieces in period are not as neat as we generally imagine, and I am sad when people kill themselves trying to make the backs as neat as the front.

 

In Progress: Bliaut Collar

In Progress: Bliaut Collar

Have I really not blogged about this beyond showing some samples? I know I’ve talked about it a BUNCH on the Facebook page (good reason to follow me there; I tend to post small updates on things that don’t make it to the blog as finished posts). It’s about time I did, then, since I’ve recently taken it up again.

When I made my twelfth century bliaut, I knew I wanted it to have a beautifully embroidered collar, a la Racaire’s lovely work. I did some research into pretty scroll-ish vines and found the tails of the mitre of Thomas a Beckett. I picked one singular motif (since they change in size from top to bottom) and played around with it in Photoshop until I had a template I liked. I printed it out (it’s so much bigger than I thought it would be!), and followed my prick-and-pounce technique to transfer the design to the red-orange linen I used on the lining of the bliaut.

Bliaut Collar Progress

Remember back in the day, when I bought these threads? I had it as my plan to use the green and purple for the embroidery on this collar. The lime green and red-orange is not an intuitive choice to the modern eye, but the medieval aesthetic is FULL of crazy color combinations. I started off using split stitch on the fill. I didn’t like how the clover-leaf finials were coming out, though, so I cut them out and redid that one there.
Bliaut Collar Progress

Here you can see the new clover finials, and the progress. I added in some additional ink lines in the middle of the Y-junctures of the vines, to help guide my stitch direction, which was a really handy thing to do.  Bliaut Collar Progress One side of the green all finished. It’s sitting at about 16:30 hours of work in that picture. 
Bliaut Collar Progress

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with the border, so I bought a darker version of the green fill. At least, it looked like the same color, but when I stitched it on to test it, the border green looked SO much more yellow. So, that’s not gonna work. I cut it out and decided to go with the purple instead. Bliaut Collar Progress Finished up the stem-stitch outline on the vine here. I thought about doing the border in stem stitch too, but it actually looked better in split stitch. I’m still debating what to do in the center of the border squares, but I have a bit of time before I have to decide. I could do a satin stitch square, or a small square outline, a pearl in the center, or I could just leave it as it is. I’ll figure it out at the very end.
Bliaut Collar Progress About halfway done with the second side green stitching. Aaand, that’s where it sits for AGES. I got busy with other projects and put it on the back burner.
Bliaut Collar Progress

But I missed working on it, so I decided to devote at least ten minutes of embroidery time on it per day. I think I’ve worked more on it the last three days than I have in the last six months. I don’t think I’ve stitched less than an hour on it since I started working again.
Finished up the last green spiral where the embroidery sits now. Threaded up the needle to finish up the purple so I can advance it to the next bit.

This is where it is right now. I’m almost done with the purple, and then I’ll advance it to the next, clear section to keep working. It’s gonna be daunting, I think, to see a whole new blank space (and to know that I probably have another three “blank” sections to go, not counting the sleeve sections, before this is finished), but I will persevere in my ten minutes a day resolution until it’s finished.  Bliaut neckline. 45:58 hours. Http://www.opuselenae.com Time invested so far: 45:58 hours.

Rabbit’s Lion Scroll

Rabbit’s Lion Scroll

Hey guys! I have this scroll I did, but the person who commissioned it (Her Majesty Michelle) asked me to keep it under wraps until it was finished and given. But now that it has been, I can talk about it! The person in question has a Roman persona, and is often called Rabbit. I wanted to incorporate both of those things into his scroll.

I started off looking at pediments and tabernacle frames. Technically, the one I used for the most inspiration is a Renaissance creation, but it adheres to classical lines, so I went with it. I also looked at mosaic designs and repeating motifs from Pompeii and other Roman sites to add interest to the columns and pediment. I also found some interesting examples of Roman rabbits, and of course, the award badge had to go in there. too. I sketched out my design on graph paper, drawing in one of each motif, since they will get mirrored in the final design, and adding in a branch of Laurel leaves to reference his peerage.
DSC05311

I traced out the text box on another sheet of graph paper and played around with nib size and line spacing until I got it right. This hand is based on the Roman Rustic Capital alphabet in Marc Drogin’s book, although some of the line height and spacing was changed both to make it easier for me to write and to look more like the period examples shown. It only took me two tries to get it right! DSC05307

I did somehow manage to get my initial draft off by an inch (the scroll is on 9×12 Fabriano hot press watercolor paper, but my draft was only 9×11), so the scroll is an inch longer than I’d planned it to be. It changed the proportions a bit, but gave me enough room to add in that line in the middle margin that I didn’t have room for in the draft.  Rabbit's Lion Scroll

Next up: gilding. I used miniatum as the substrate, and patent rather than loose leaf gold. Patent means that it comes attached to a piece of tissue paper, so you’re not fighting with tiny pieces of tissue thin gold that falls apart with every breath you accidentally blow on it. After the gold is finished, time for painting!
Rabbit's Lion Scroll

Rabbit is a skilled artisan (there’s a reason they made him a laurel!) and scribe. I wanted to up my game for this scroll, so I used the period pigments that I have been studiously ignoring for the last year. It’s part of my goal this year to work more with period materials and techniques, and I figured: why not start here? Lion scroll progress.

About halfway through laying the flat colors. The paints I used were from Scribal Workshop and Griffon Dyeworks: ultramarine blue, cadmium red (don’t lick your paintbrush!), viridian green, and black. I also used a gold bronze-powder paint to add the dots at the very end. 
Lion scroll progress.

And, finished. I didn’t do any shading at all in the flat areas; I liked the way they looked with flat, graphic colors. The point of the colored areas is to offset and highlight the gold.

Rabbit's Lion Scroll

Detail shots: You can see how I didn’t manage to get the miniatum 100% smooth under the gold leaf. That’s something I need to work on, and I wonder (since I was trying to go flat gilding as opposed to raised) if I should have used garlic juice instead. But I thought the miniatum would stick better. Next time I’ll thin it out a bit before laying it, and see if that helps the smoothness.
Rabbit's Lion Scroll

Words. I wasn’t terribly precious about line breaks, preferring to keep a nice full wall of text. Romans didn’t care particularly much about having line breaks in awkward parts of words anyway. My friend Cecilie told me I should have omitted vowels the way they did too, but I said I wanted viewers to be able to actually read it if they tried.

Rabbit's Lion Scroll

Loving the clean lines and bold colors.  Rabbit's Lion Scroll

It was really hard to try to photograph the shine of the gold. Either it got blown out completely, like this: Rabbit's Lion Scroll

Or the rest of the picture was terribly dark, like this. Suffice it to say: it’s SHINY. Design to finish, this scroll took about 15 hours. Rabbit's Lion Scroll