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).

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Giovanni and his cotrel.

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Dietrich’s leatherworking toolchest.

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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

Adventure in Indigo

One of the things that I have been meaning to do is attempt indigo dyeing. We did it at Willow’s dyeing weekend last year, and since I started knitting the Egyptian Socks of Doom, I knew that I wanted to make another pair with a more period kind of yarn, indigo dsfddyed by me. So during a Poppet-free day, I set out to make it happen.

First I soaked all my yarn (I figured that since I had a dyepot going, I may as well dye up some silk tram and wool, too) while I got the pot started. Indigo Dyeing

This is the kit I used. I got it at Knit Picks, but just about anywhere that sells dye materials will have it.  Indigo Dyeing

After mixing. There is an iridescent blue bloom on the top that Willow referred to as the “mother” and the kit calls the “flower.” I dunno; it’s pretty. Underneath, you can see how green it is. This is the proper color for an active indigo dye-pot. The blue color comes from the oxidation after the yarn comes out of the pot.
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The yarn during dyeing. Look how green!

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Right out of the dye-pot. You can see the oxidation starting there on the right.
Indigo Dyeing Left to right: wool, cotton, silk tram. The lightest tram in the middle was literally only dipped for a second. I wanted to see how light a color I could get.
Indigo Dyeing

I eventually abandoned my rubber gloves, after the dye spilled over the top. Turns out that 5-gallon buckets are deeper than regular gloves are tall. Luckily I have no job to get mad at me for being part ice-giant. Indigo Dyeing

All the Indigo yarn. I added a lighter blue wool, too. Indigo Dyeing Indigo Dyeing

And then I did something stupid. The cotton yarn wasn’t rinsing as clear as I would have liked, so I decided to try rinsing it in the washing machine. But I forgot to turn off the agitation, so it all ended up a tangled mess.

Still hopelessly tangled, after a couple hours of (fairly) patient untangling.

I cut one string, just to have someplace to start from, and in the course of untangling, found the actual ends. I tied buttons to them so I wouldn’t lose them, and continued. It took forever. I am SO tired of untangling yarn. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though.

But ten days later, after much tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth, it was all done. And ready to be re-dyed, since it lost so much color in the agitation. It needs to be navy, not cobalt. Victory is mine!

Gesso and Gilding

Remember when I went to KWHSS and took classes on gesso and gilding? Well, I thought I’d try it at home to see if it worked as well as I hoped (hint: it didn’t).

I reconstituted the mostly-dried gesso unto a thin paste and painted up some pretty leaves and an illuminated letter. The off-white is sheep parchment, the white is bristol board.

Gesso experiments on sheep parchment and Bristol board. In my haste, I didn’t smooth out any of the gesso, so the fake gold leaf didn’t stick very well at all. I am given to understand that the fake gold doesn’t much like to stick to anything. Also, the gesso didn’t re-hydrate very well either, even after nine or ten deep breaths. Normally a couple of deep breaths blown open-mouthed (my friend Penny says she likes to pretend she’s Aslan) onto gesso has just enough moisture in it to make the surface tacky, so the gold will stick.

Hm. Gesso results are disappointing today.


I tried another layer of gesso (bottom right corner as we look at the above picture) and some garlic extract (top right corner), and while the situation improved, it wasn’t totally successful. Then Cat, the lady who taught the gesso class, told me I should really smooth out the gesso, as all the lumps and bumps create spaces that the gold leaf can’t get into to stick.


Better results this time, after smoothing the gesso. Still a little shaky around the edges, but it improved greatly.

I tried it out and it worked like a dream. It’s still a little rough around the edges, but still. Improvement.


Beautiful Food

It’s shots like this that make me think of the Dutch Masters, and all the beautiful food they painted.
Riding Holly


And in other food-ish news, Edmund and I have decided to get together with our friends Cecilie and Oddketil and start experimenting with brewing. Our first batch of beers will be three one-gallon variations on a gruit, or herb-flavored, beer. Since hops didn’t get imported to England from Holland until 1420, this is right on the money for Cecilie and I. The boys are either later (Elizabethan for Edmund), or not from the Isle (Oddketil’s Norweigan).

 I’ve never had beer made without hops, and I’m really interested to see how it all turns out. Since hops has an anti-bacterial property that isn’t present in the herbs we used, it will have to be drunk relatively quickly. The plan is tentatively to hold a garbed dinner (with period-ish food, of course) and invite some friends to help drink it.

Parchment and Quill

One of my continuing goals is to be as authentic in my craft as I feel I can reasonably be. Sometimes that means that I machine sew my clothes except for visible stitches. Sometimes that means I order three ounces of white silk tram to dye with natural dyes for embroidery.

This time, it means that I got to play around with real parchment, with iron gall ink, using a goose-feather quill I cut myself. First test on a parchment scrap with a goose quill pen.


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.

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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.
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The Queen’s Champion made silly faces.
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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.

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And the smarmiest Barons. Look at that face!
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My friend Safiyya recieving her AoA.
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Remember that scroll that Penny was working on? That’s it! Isn’t it pretty?
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