Infallible Spell: Completed

Since this piece has been received (and approved!) by the commissioner, I can talk about this now. My friend Mel wanted a small piece showing the Infallible Spell for Beauty from CS Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Only the top part of the text was written in the book. The other words are crappily translated nonsense-Latin based on the spell performed in the movie version. That’s okay, though; it’s the Harry Potter principle. Spells don’t need to be real Latin, they just have to sound it.

Infallible Spell

I based this little piece (it’s 5″x7″) on an English Psalter from the latter half of the 15th century.  I had a really great time doing the whitework and shading. I used pigments from Griffin Dyeworks and Scribal Workshop. The gold is an imitation shell-gold (it’s bronze powder, I think) mixed with gum arabic and a little bit of glair.
Infallible Spell

I wanted there to be a representation of Aslan on the page, both because there was one mentioned in the book (he snarls at Lucy for contemplating using the spell) and as a reminder that even if you were use it, he would love you anyway. Infallible Spell

Teal and Orange Bliaut

I finished the teal and orange bliaut. Did I even talk about it here? God, I’m such a bad blogger. Okay, so my friend Cecilie is doing a vow renewal this coming spring, at our local Renaissance Festival, which is Robin Hood themed. So she wants everyone to be dressed in 12th century garb. Since I’m to stand with her as her maid of honor, I needed a dress. And when our Fall Baronial event theme was announced as Legends of the Third Crusade (read: Robin Hood) I knew I had to make a dress for it.

Cecilie and Me. You can see the neckline in this post, which was made by the simple expedient of a slit cut down the center of the dress. It messes with the shoulder/upper arm portion of the dress in a way I hadn’t anticipated, moving everything farther down the shoulder. I love the V it makes, though.


Me all kitted up. I’m wearing a half-cirle wimple underneath my usual oval veil. I kind of love the way it looks. And the colors. And the bit of gathering at my stomach. I need a longer belt to wear with it, though.


A decent picture of my whole silhouette. I got told several times that I looked authentic, which was the best compliment ever. You can see that I’m wearing my basic white smock that I wear under everything. It’s the most versatile piece of clothing I own.


A good shot of the side lacing. The torso isn’t lined, just faced at the collar and the side openings. The eyelets are deliberately placed far apart so that the excess length gathers on my stomach. The only part of the dress that’s lined is the bell part of the sleeves.


Embroidery tests for my bliaut collar. Not I need to get on my embroidery. There will be an embroidered collar and bands around my biceps. I did a couple tests for colors, and I’m liking the green-and-purple swatch best.


German Brickwork Reliquary Box

Part the second! To start with, I used a paper mache box, like these ones, and cut off the top and bottom circles. I chose some silk I had in my stash; the colors don’t match, but since the original inspiration seemed to be cut from leftover scraps and pieces of re-used tapestry, I thought it was still in keeping with the overall aesthetic.

Reliquary Box  I used the tutorial from Åsa and Martin’s medieval blog as a guide. I stitched scraps of silk to the tops and bottoms of the box, and to thinner card stock circles. Then I stitched them together, right sides out, with a tiny whip-stitch. Reliquary Box Then I stitched the embroidered piece around the walls of the box, making sure it laid as smoothly as I could get it to, inside and out. Reliquary Box Yeah, the stitching? Not that pretty. But it’ll all be hidden!
Reliquary Box

For the lining, I took a strip of the peach silk and sewed it to one edge of the box. I tried to keep a clean line, but wasn’t every fussy about it, because I planned on covering the join with a braided ending.
Sewing down the lining

Then I pinned the fabric taut to the other edge and sewed it down with a whipstitch, again being neat, but not overly fussy.

Pinning in the Lining

When both edged were sewn down, I turned the raw edge of the strip under and stitched it down. I was fussy about this seam, since it would be visible at the end. Sewing down the lining I forgot to get pictures of how I sewed the bottom to the sides, sorry! It was kind of a pain in the butt, actually, but the process was simple enough; I just whip stitched them together.

I finished the edges of the top, the edge of the box, and around the bottom edge with Racaire’s braided sewn edging, which, it turns out, is really Matcheld’s.

Reliquary Box

I sewed the top to the sides of the box in two places, so that it would open easily but be stable and not floppy, as it was with just one connection point.

Reliquary Box The bead closure is a purple lamp work bead I got as largesse from someone (I can’t remember their name; I’m sorry!), and the loop closure is a simple four-strand braid. I’m actually pretty proud of the structure of it. I sewed one end of the braid down into a loop, which I then pulled a longer loop of the loose braid through. So, to tighten the closure over the bead, you pull on the tassel.

Reliquary Box The original box had a turk-head knot on the head of the tassel, but I confess it was beyond me. I have some silk gimp to practice with, so I may add one later, but I left it off for now.  Reliquary Box And as an epilogue? This box and my documentation (which will be up soon on the documentation page) helped me tie for first place at the Bjornsborg Trials of St Anthony, a saint-themed event in San Antonio.



Every November, I do something called NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. It came about as a spin-off of National Novel Writing Month, which also takes place in November. The goal is to write a blog post a day, all month. I know I tend to wait until the end of projects to post pictures and a write-up, and hopefully I’ll be better about that this month. I will also be experimenting with some mobile blogging, so I’m not tied to the computer.

For the kick-off post, here’s a quick picture of me in a vaguely German kit, for a demo at the opening of the Imperial Augsburg exhibition at the Blanton Museum. I totally love my bright blue gefrens!


German Brickwork Embroidery

Ever since I dyed some of my silk tram, I’ve been thinking that I should do some brickwork embroidery. The long parallel stitches really show how beautiful the shine of the silk can be. I didn’t want to do a pouch, though. Everyone does pouches, and while I’m okay with that, I wanted to do something different. Enter Helene, who reminded me of a saint-themed event that was coming up, and suggested I make a reliquary box like this one from  Medieval Arts & Crafts. She was also kind enough to suggest one of the patterns she charted, that was suitable for something horizontal, like the sides of a box.

Gold silk finished

I chose to use the cochineal (incidentally, my dyeing source says that the reason the cochineal turned out so dark-purple was that it must have leeched out some of the iron from the jar lid), onion-skin, and undyed silk for the colors. I ran out of the purple and decided to finish it off with some teal-ish silk I made by over dyeing indigo with onion-skin.
Just ran out of purple silk

The finished embroidery. Next time, putting the box together.
Reliquary Box Reliquary Box Reliquary Box

Shields: Finished!

They’re done! And just in time, too. My lovely Baron and Baroness have decided to step down at Candlemas, in February, so I wanted to make sure that they cloaks were finished and wearable for our Yule celebration in December.
Well, that's the blue sorted.

I kind of forgot to take more incremental pictures of Avery’s shield. Oops. The blue is long and short stitch, the yellow is chain stitch, and the black background is a diamond shaped laid and couched stitch similar to (but more widely spaced than) Phelims’s shield. The ermine spots were stitched over the black to help hold the laid stitches in place.

Avery's device is finished! Woo hoo!

And all four shields, finished. I just got custody of the old cloaks, and am looking forward to making the new ones. They will be linen, so as not to be too hot in the Ansteorran weather.

All four finished baronial devices.

Whitework Versal

After seeing a series of amazing videos (but particularly parts 5a and 5b), I wanted to practice some whitework. One of the ways I do that is to make decorative borders and versals on small pieces of paper for my Baron and Baroness to use as note cards. I figure that sort of thing is always perfect for some in-persona correspondence.

For this particular card, I combed through my Calligraphy and Illumination Pinterest board and found a psalter from late 15th century England that fit the bill. I decided on this initial D, since that begins most letters.
Practicing some illumination from a late fifteenth century English psalter.

I painted it with the period paints I bought from Lucas at the Scribal Workshop, as well as ones I mixed from pigments I got from Griffin Dyeworks. An actual post on those will be forthcoming. In the meantime, though, I’m really happy with the way it came out. And I got a scroll commission out of it!

Finished versal. Turns out I really like white work.

Knitting for Ants

I have been informed several times in the last couple of days that I am knitting sweaters for ants. They will be the most well-dressed ants in the kingdom, and we will have ant fashion week and fashion shows and everything.

(For the record, these are size 6-0, that’s 000000, needles; they’re .75mm. The swatch worked out to 17 stitches and 24 rows per inch.)
0.75mm knitting needles are really, really tiny.

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.

Queen’s Champion, May 2013

I’m getting better. I actually brought my camera this time. I’m trying to get better about actually taking pictures. Especially because my Mother’s Day present was a new 16 gig memory card for my camera. I’m heading out to a Scribal Symposium in June, and I wanted to make sure I had enough space for three days worth of pictures. Anyway, yeah, I took some pictures. Of friends:

Champion Trouney

And of Edmund and I (recognize the apron?):

Champion Trouney

And us and Poppet. I love how urchin-like she looks in this picture:

Champion Trouney


Some of our friends:

Champion Trouney

The babies even played nicely together:

Champion Trouney

Champion Trouney

The big kids didn’t hurt each other too badly:

Champion Trouney

There was jousting. The Knight of Flowers (any George RR Martin fans out there?) took the field:

Champion Trouney

Champion Trouney

I think most of the kids had this expression on their faces when I tried taking pictures:

Champion Trouney

Feast was delicious:

Champion Trouney

Even though my husband is incapable of making a serious face for the camera.

Champion Trouney

Tell you what, though. His doublet looked damn fine.

Champion Trouney