telerib: (sca)
Long time, no post and all of that. Work, parent, write; work, parent, write.

Slowly starting to edge back to SCA stuff again, starting with some garb research. Poking around Gale Owen-Crocker's Dress in Anglo-Saxon England, I saw her mention that it's thought the decorated bands and patterned fabric visible on some 7th-9th century illuminations were silks (as opposed to embroidery or the illuminator having fun with decorations).

So I start kicking around the idea of a gown with decorated silk bands at the wrists and hem, possibly down the front (although that's more Frankish than Saxon). And I find pretty quick that the best source for modest amounts of highly decorated silk is sari shops. And pretty quickly after that, I have a dozen bookmarks of various saris decorated in about the right ways to be cut up into trim.

Then I wonder, hey, is this what Pintrest is for?

I hop over there and try and look at a few pinboards; none of the pictures want to load. And there's all the copyright infringement I suspect slapping up other people's images entails.

Anybody out there use Pintrest? What for? What do you like and dislike about it, and would you recommend it as a way to quickly organize Internet-based research?
telerib: (sca)
I field tested my new red veil on Saturday. The "straight edge over the crown" look seems to suit me better than the "oval gathered onto the forehead" look.

I think most of the weight was being held by the fillet for most of the day, and it wasn't uncomfortable. I had an auxiliary strap which was supposed to pass from the nape of my neck over the temples and then up the crown, to secure the veil in the center and help support the weight. That didn't work so well. As has been my experience with modern elastic circular headbands meant to be worn the same way, the thing slipped off the back of my head repeatedly. Didn't matter if I fastened it over or under my hair. I wasn't careful about pinning it to the fillet at the temples; maybe that's the trick.

The obvious options are 1) try again with better pinning, 2) do away with it or 3) use a chin-strap/wimple instead. I'm not sure when the wimple starts showing up, but I believe Walton Rogers shows it in her book (which covers the era up to 700 CE) as a possibility. I believe I will try options 1 and 2 first, as I am not a big fan of things on my neck, particularly in the heat.

Upon an amblere esily she sat,
Ywympled wel, and on hir heed an hat
As brood as is a bokeler or a targe.

- Chaucer describes the Wife of Bath on her horse, wearing a wimple and a hat as big as a small shield
telerib: (sca)
Must remind myself...

The Persona Pentathlon is tomorrow. The deficiencies in my entries loom larger in my mind than their virtues because, as a perfectionist, I still feel like I should have fixed them.

It's okay that the tafl board uses wooden craft knobs.
It's okay that the music isn't in perfect period style.
It's okay that it's a capella.
It's okay that the veil isn't hand-stitched.
It's okay that the woven band is only faux-brocaded instead of really brocaded.
It's okay that the pins are not 100% authentic.
It's okay that not everything is absolutely authenticable to precisely the ninth century.

It is okay. It really is. It will even be okay after I get back the judging forms telling me that I need to fix all of the above, even though it will make me feel like I need to go to all the judges and say, "I knew that!" because heaven forbid anyone think that I'm not clever.

The embroidery on the tafl board is really striking.
The pieces looks rather elegant.
I actually hope to play a game with it soon.
I'm growing my Anglo-Saxon bardic repertoire.
The songs sound good.
They probably ought to be a capella, even if harp/lyre would look/sound cool.
The veil looks so much more appropriate than my current 12th century Norman one.
The veil is red. Awesome!
I did my first leatherworking project - will shoes be next? I hope so!

Interminable embroidering of black lines aside, I had a lot of fun working on the projects and I learned a good bit. The rest is gravy.

Grumble

Feb. 21st, 2010 09:20 am
telerib: (sca)
The red wool crepe I bought? Advertised as 100% wool? Has small, rubbery, stretchy fibers in it. That's a weird sheep, right there.

I thought it draped too smoothly to be all-natural. It's probably 2% Lycra or something; it's meant as suiting, so this would give it better drape and anti-wrinkle properties.

Oh well. Not much to do about it now.
telerib: (sca)
There is really not much to the veil project. Take long rectangle, hem. Pin to band on head. Done. So it seems like a good place to go all period technique, doing that long hem by hand.

If there is something I have learned working on a smaller silk veil, it's that I don't especially like hand-sewing. Especially long, boring projects. Like an 8' long hem. I know that if this weren't a scored competition, I would not even think twice about zipping this through the sewing machine.

So, that's what I'm going to do. Whether or not it's hand-sewed is not important to me. (If it ever does become important, I can rip out the machine hem and do it over, too. It's not like I'm welding it in place.) So, I'm not going to spend precious hours working on something I don't care diddley-squat about, all to squeeze another point out of a competition.

Woo! Wool!

Feb. 16th, 2010 05:30 pm
telerib: (Default)
My red wool came in the mail! I won't need to use an acrylic scarf for my A&S Pentathlon entry after all!
telerib: (sca)
I'm so glad I went to the trouble to flip through my new copy of Walton-Rogers' "Cloth and Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England." She's got a ton of information on early veils and lays out evidence for (and against) the kind of project I'm planning. (It seems - unsurprisingly, IMO - that there's more than one way to make and wear a conversion-era veil.)

Also, I ran into my copy of "A Veiled Reference," a Compleat Anachronist issue on veils. While it wasn't as useful, it did give me the forehead-slapping realization that, in addition to rectangular and half-circle veils, there could have been half-oval veils, which would solve some problems.
telerib: (sca)
It went pretty fast - it helped that the item is not large. Sort of. More on that in a bit. I learned that both flesh-to-edge and flesh-to-skin stitches would be appropriate, and since flesh-to-skin is a straight stab through the leather and flesh-to-edge is this fiddly curvy thing, I flattened out a diaper box and got stabby with a round awl. Whip stitched the inner seams, soaked the thing, turned it right-side out, stuffed it and Ta-Da! Then I sewed it to a flat base (backstitch, I think?) - dunno if that's traceable to shoemaking, but then you don't do something like that in shoemaking, I think.

So. When I measured out the circumference for the thing, I added a touch extra - seam allowance. Then when I cut it out, I added a touch more. You can't have too much seam allowance, right? You just trim it off... except when you're whipstitching over the edges of the 'fabric.' And the stitches were placed 1/8" - 1/6" from the edge... rather less than what I'd allowed. Because my brain was in default fabric mode.

It's, um... substantial. Not impossible, but... dang.
telerib: (sca)
Sanity check: The stain I used on my taflmen wasn't as red as I wanted and I started to obsess over it because it wasn't "right" and... geez. This started because I wanted a tafl board that was more portable than the commercial board I saw. Just because "OMG someone is going to read my docs and score the work!" doesn't mean I have to jump through hoops unless I want to. I think I want to find better playing pieces, because 1" pieces on 1" squares is a tight fit. I'm not sure I will find better pieces, but I do want to.

Leather: Asked the Dear Spouse, "Do you think I'll make a turnshoe in the next three years?" Him: "Yes." So I went ahead and ordered $50 worth of awls, needles and thread from Tandy. Because I really couldn't justify $50 on a joke A&S entry, but I will probably make a few pairs of medieval shoes and/or other small leather goods. They have shipped, hurrah! (Yeah, Tandy is just up in B-more but I think it'll come by mail sooner than I'll have the chance to get up there.)

I think I will sew the item turnshoe-style (edge-to-flesh stitch) and try some different stuffings. Cloth mockups don't actually make sense, since cloth and leather are too different. If none of the stuffings work well, then I'll consider boiling it. I'll use some purchased inkle-woven garters as bands. Wait... then what'll I hold my socks up with? Hrmph.

Veils: The red wool is in the mail, hurrah! I am planning an oblong rectangular wool veil, based tentatively on some 7th century cleric's criticism of nuns. And I've started a rolled hem on a smaller silk half-round veil for fun/comparison/addition to my closet. You can see my learning curve on the hem... it's right where I said "To hell with 'make an 1/8" fold and then another 1/8" fold'" (as teh Internetz said to do) and started actually rolling the edge with my fingers. I may go back and redo the first 3-4" of the thing, we'll see. (I was smart enough not to start with the edge around my face, so it may not be too obvious.)

Latin love song: I listened to some actual chant and got my initial impression confirmed: the tune I came up with is much more 16th-17th century ballad than it is 8th century chant. This is happily fixed by elaborating the melodic structure a bit and paying attention to my isosyllables.

Saxon love song: Old clothes for new competitions; this piece is years old and good to go. I just need to tweak the documentation and decide whether or not I'm using a lyre, harp or nothing for the performance.
telerib: (sca)
Having a racetrack in town means having some tack shops; Outback Leather does tack, motorcycle gear, shoe repair, custom work... if it's leather-related, they'll give it a go. I brought in three pairs of shoes for repair and bought two leather scraps. The proprietor couldn't say for sure that they were veg tanned but he thought they probably were.

Experiment 1: I soaked a small leather scrap in water for over an hour. Then, I heated up some water to "almost too hot to touch" and put the scrap in for two minutes. There were no visible changes. Then I pulled it out and tried putting a curve on one of its flat edges. It worked just fine. Then I wrapped it around a pen to dry, to see how stiff and hard it would get.

Preliminary results as of last night: Surface finish has remained smooth, but the leather is just barely stiffened. It might have still been damp, so I'll check it again later. Also, after leaving it at room temp for most of the day, I relocated it to a heating vent overnight. Not exactly uniform warm drying, but at least it'll get periods of heat.

Problem: I really don't know what stiffness I'm looking for, and "live fire" testing is not in the cards.

Next up:
Fabric mock-ups of different shapes (two petal, four petal rounded end): Fewer seams vs. better shape

Comparing stuffing materials (wool roving vs. something like rice or barley: Enough roving seems like it would make a lot of thread, but would a "beanbag" work?

Trying to figure out which leather stitch is the best option: Are abutted edges water-tight enough? How uncomfortable would seams be?

Ordering awls and needles from Tandy: I forgot that you can't just run this through the sewing machine (or even do it by hand without pliers)
telerib: (sca)
I'm planning an English conversion era (seventh through ninth centuries) veil project. The evidence for them is scanty, since burials-with-stuff faded out early in the conversion era, but we don't get all the manuscript illos til the tenth and eleventh centuries. Gale Owen-Crocker's book summarizes most of what we do have.

* Nuns being scolded for trading in their dark grey veils for white and colored ones, hanging down to the knees (or feet? I can't recall. Long, anyway.)

* Depending on how you translate it, the veil is ornamented with ribbons or held on by them (e.g., a fillet)

* Nuns being scolded for curling their hair at the forehead and temples with a curling iron - so hair was visible

* There's a stone carving that also shows a veil over hair - the veil lays smoothly over the top of the head

* I refuse to believe the owner of a fabulous necklace like the one from Desborough would hide it under a wimple

Some Continental manuscripts show what look like oval veils, but the straight over-the-head look that the visible hair implies says, to me, one of two styles:

* A long rectangle worn with the long edge going up over the head and down again. (Like putting a scarf over your hair.) It's very easy to imagine this as appropriate to the narrower medieval fabrics. It could hang down to the knees or feet easily - that's the warp thread. On the downside, the width of the fabric will only fall to the shoulders or so. You get the "long veil" look by tossing the "scarf ends" back over your shoulders so they hang down your back. Fillet definitely required to keep this in place.

* A half-circle, with the "half" line worn to the front. But to get it very long, you either need a very wide piece of fabric or you need to piece it together from triangles.

Any thoughts on which is more likely?

And secondarily - material? "Dark grey" would imply undyed wool to me - that's befitting humble nuns who are supposed to be mortifying the flesh a bit. The "white and colored" veils - also wool, just bleached or dyed? Or silk? (I know the Arnegunde burial (sixth cen) had a fabulous silk veil.) I'm assuming not linen, as I've heard it doesn't take dye well.
telerib: (Default)
Because seriously, it's getting old.

Anyhoo, the board is done-for-now. I eventually want to decorate the borders but I don't see that happening between now and March. I have a veil to hem and a leather object to make. The board looks pretty spiffy, if I do say so myself. The black and red wool floss look great on the gold chamois. I wasn't able to do the decoration I wanted - I don't trust myself to freehand it and I couldn't reliably draw it onto the chamois with a pen. Too many small fiddly bits, too much suede in the way.

All that's left is to stain the playing pieces. Really. Even the documentation is done.

I corresponded with the Pentathlon organizer about documentation, because they were asking for research papers to be sent in ahead of time. :) (Although actually the tafl research is pretty shoddy; there's no new work, just using others' work to make my board.) But she said, correctly, that Research Paper is an A&S category; it is not documentation. And sending my docs ahead of time would give me an unfair advantage. So I should just keep the docs to two pages.

The tafl doc is two pages... of text. The pictures pad it out to more like seven, and the appendix of tafl rules makes it more like eight. I put a note on the front saying it was two pages, honest! I hope that's okay.

In other news, I continue to be flabbergasted at the amount of scholarly literature available on leather (objects). I suspect there's even more than I've found, because I've been quite conservative about doing NSWF searches at work. All I can say is: Thank you, Queer Studies! *two thumbs up*
telerib: (Default)
"A Northern naughty nun of the ninth century."

I think that'll be the organizing persona - a bored noblewoman consigned to a convent with no vocation and a lot of time on her hands. The five items will be:

* The tafl game, for whiling away time she ought to be spending in prayer

* A white or brightly-colored headdress and fillet, like Aldhelm condemns in nuns

* A (translation of a) Latin women's love song from The Cambridge Songs and (original) music for it

* A (translation of an) Anglo-Saxon love poem and music for it (Wulf and Eadwacer, already done)

* The Leather Object

The tafl game is close to being done (except for the ornamental border but I don't think that'll happen before March)

I have a gold faux-brocaded fillet already, if I don't get to make another one, and I have some white silk and purple silk thread. I could make a nice veil out of that.

Wulf and Eadwacer is done, although I have to get the score right. I don't think it'll take me long to do up one of the Cambridge Songs.

My next hurdle on the Leather Object is finding appropriate leather and a form to mold it on (if I use the cuir bouilli technique, as opposed to stuffing it). An old-fashioned wooden broomstick would be ideal, but I can't think of the last time I saw one. They're all plastic and metal now. Maybe they'd have one at Home Depot?

Square One

Jul. 9th, 2009 09:41 am
telerib: (Default)
I feel like I should be taking notes. About calligraphy.

I've been mostly focused on one general research topic for the past few years: medieval music. I've been branching out a bit into medieval poetry as well. Ah, let's call it medieval performance. And I've gotten pretty deep in, to the point where I can just glance around and see all the unanswered questions I have, all the different routes to furthering my knowledge.

That can make it hard to remember what it's like to get started in a new field.

I've got my two beginner's books on calligraphy and my felt-tipped pens. If I were to try an A&S entry right now, my documentation would be something like, "And this is Unical, as described by Duffin and used in (some manuscripts). I'm using a felt-tipped pen because I'm still learning; a metal nib dip pen would be better, and a quill would be most appropriate." And my references would be two books.

Because what more can there be, right? "This is a period handwriting style, I've duplicated it, therefore this is period."

Of course there's more. There's layout and design and decoration (or lack of same). There are materials used. There are thousands of manuscript pages one could look through to learn... who knows what? Variations on technique or style? Methods of correcting errors?

I'm sure there's even more. But, having just barely scratched the surface of this art, I don't know enough to know what questions to ask! Which, in its way, is a positive. First, the trip itself, the "journey to knowledge," is fun and exciting in its own right, and I look forward to it. But second, if I "knew everything," I'd feel compelled to try and do everything, and paralyze.

Apprentices were not plonked down, lectured until they were stuffed full of lore, and set to work making masterpieces. They were given simple tasks, with explicit guidelines. When they mastered those, they could move on, and on, to more complex tasks and to understanding why the guidelines were the way they were. I'm at this apprentice stage, or even a pre-apprentice stage in which I'm learning the most basic skills an apprentice would need to do useful grunt work. It seems appropriate that the scholarship reflects that level of artistic involvement.
telerib: (Default)
My proposed two-hour extravaganza, "Anglo-Saxon Poetry and Performance," was accepted for the next Atlantian University! And - to my pleasant shock - two people have registered for it already. Woo!

And look out world - I have a chat cam, basic video editing software, and a YouTube channel. Look for such gripping hits as "How to use a wrist strap on a lyre", coming soon!
telerib: (Default)
"Refs or it didn't happen." ("refs" = references, as in research.)
telerib: (uhh)
That Google query landed someone on my music research weblog, Mi Contra Fa.

First, I find the form of the query somewhat amusing, like a lead curse tablet thrown into Google's holy well. It's not a search string so much as it is a petition.

Second, I find it unpleasant to contemplate that my online research might be "helping" students cheat. I've got no beef with actually helping them, if my work points them in a good direction or they reference it (the fools). But I look at that search string and want to translate it as "show me a eulogy I can copy, change a few lines of, and hand in tomorrow."

Happily, my sister (the high school English teacher) assures me that, at the high school level anyway, it's dead easy to tell when a student has done this. When a fifteen-year old suddenly starts writing like a 32-year old PhD, the teacher notices.
telerib: (Default)
I has a blog!

Typepad is a pretty spiffy service. I even can has podcasts if I want them - and as a bard, yes, I think I want them! I'm not sure if I can upload PDFs to store on-site, which would be even spiffier (sheet music, yay!). It would be weird of them to host giant audio files but not PDFs, but who knows.

Work on the maypole continues over there.

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