Thursday, July 20, 2017

kolrosing

in which our plucky heroine wants to add decoration to all the things...
Whilst at ATWW earlier this month, I took a class on "kolrosing" (a method of decorating wooden objects by incising lines with a sharp knife, rubbing charcoal into the cuts, then smoothing the surface to allow the design to be visible)... when I got home, I realised that this one wooden spoon in my kitchen would be an ideal candidate. It is a quick, fun, relatively easy way to add simple embellishment to everyday objects.

a closer look at the handle of the wooden spoon decorated with an interlace pattern

There is not a lot of information out there on how far back kolrosing goes in history, primarily I suspect since the objects so decorated have not survived. Here is one article that attempts to document the process. The process is similar in some ways to tattooing, and also to scrimshaw.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

workbench Wednesday


in which our plucky heroine has a dream come true...

I have wanted a European style metalworking bench for decades. Instead have made do over the years with assorted thrifted desks, and most recently for the last almost twenty years with a kludged together combination of Ikea IVAR components, which allowed for adjusting the benchtop height to a better level. When Blue Cedar House let me know that they had a source for surplus 3/4" furniture grade plywood, a cunning plan ensued.

My first thought was to use the plywood to greatly stabilise the basic Ivar structure, using it almost like creating a partial torsion box; the plywood skin is much stronger than the thin steel x-frame that usually keeps the IVAR structures from rack and ruin.

Since it doesn't take much surface area to do the job, I had Farbjorn cut a variant on my house decorative motif into the top edge of the back, and mount that panel a little bit lower than the top of the framework, but just high enough that anything on the upper workbench shelf would not roll over the edge and onto the workroom floor. The side panels only cover the benchtop area and partway down the sides, about half of each side panel in total, which adds a significant area that can be now configured for storage without making the bench too heavy to move.

This view makes me all kinds of happy, with all the different complex curves. Right now the workbench is empty of contents, but the corner spots on the upper shelf that usually hold lazy susan turntables are visible in the variable color of the upper shelf. I had created the upper shelf from a standard IVAR shelf when I moved here to Acorn Cottage, as a way to keep more of the small hand tools accessible, and as it works well, saw no reason to change that aspect.

The workbench top, however, was significantly reinforced, gluing and screwing two layers of the plywood to the former benchtop, for a total of just over 2" thick. Since my sabre saw wouldn't be able to cut such a thick chunk, Farbjorn marked out and cut the curve from each layer separately, then attached them together, and finally spent time with a rasp and file making all the curves smoothly align. This thick benchtop has a very solid feel now, and the additional layers bring it up to a good level for me to comfortably rest my arms while working on tiny details. We had to raise the upper shelf one notch to compensate for the increased height.

This style of workbench with a central cutout is more commonly found in the Old World, and not commercially available here. I am not sure how far back in history the concept goes. The basic idea is to have a tall workbench that supports your work and your arms at a useful height to avoid back strain. I found some useful hints about bench ergonomics on this website about the "FrankenBench"

This half circle cutout is close to the shape of a traditional jewelry/metalworking bench. The bench pin to support sawing and filing small pieces will fit neatly in the center of the curve, I plan on a visit to Oregon Leather, for a chunk of hide to make the traditional hanging leather underbench drape that catches anything dropped from the benchtop. The refurbished workbench will make my shop a bit more congruent with the premise of William Morris, I know it to be useful and believe it to be beautiful... plus it will make that aspect of my "going to work" much more pleasant and functional.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday tidbits


...in which our plucky heroine shares some recent items of note...

this tiny OCF peach, made from a disc of pure silver just under 3/4" in diameter, and stamped by Bill Dawson... I enameled it using an attempt at the medieval basse-taille technique, where the bas-relief of the base plate is enhanced by adding transparent enamels in various colors across the surface, without using wires to separate the color as in cloisonne.
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All the small decorative enameled discs for the Wastekeep coronets are finished, and were sent off northwards to be added to the component parts in process, bringing the project that much closer to completion. In addition, I have now acquired cobalt blue and golden yellow dupioni silk, so as to start on creating the striped silk coronet padding, which will be an interesting project in itself.
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This is, in fact, a tiny drawstring bag, inspired by a Japanese style of rice storage bag... made by me. I was inspired by the talented Gwen Bury to start creating small cloth bags-of-holding to contain my assorted bits inside the lovely tine box that Drusa made for me, so that when opening the lid, the interior does justice to the beautiful exterior. Also small bags keep the contents of sewing box or purse well organised and tidy

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I was in the backyard, summer pruning the apple, when I noticed that the young feral grapevine has two tiny bunches of grapes!! This grape plant showed up in the middle of the backyard three years ago, probably planted by squirrels. When I realised what it was, we transplanted it next to the chain link fence, where it has been growing for the last two years... this year it grew exponentially, and had some tiny flower bunches, and some now seem to have turned into grapes... No idea if they are a tasty variety, but can always be used for verjuice... I figured to be happy with some grape leaves I could use for making dolmas, actual grapes are a plus.
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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep apron dress yard waste bin
2 tiny peach enamel workbench refurbishbag to Goodwill
3 tiny linen bag x x
4 x x x
5 xx x
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Monday, July 17, 2017

media Monday

in which our plucky heroine remembers that some friendships go way back...


Dogs and humans have grown up together for a long time. Millennia...
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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep apron dress
yard waste bin
2 tiny peach enamel workbench refurbishbag to Goodwill
3 tiny linen bag x x
4 x x x
5 xx x
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Monday, July 10, 2017

home again home again jiggety jig


in which our plucky heroine returns broken but unbowed....

This year ATWW was extra long, instead of a long weekend we got almost a weeklong SCA event at the lovely site near the southern Oregon coast. The moon was rising towards full, so the nights were well lit, and several mornings the cool mist from the ocean twisted its way down the valley and cooled the weather.

That lovely site, however, along a twisty creekside road, is several large pasture fields, with trees here and there and no real pathways or flat places. Cows and horses don't care about that, but the long event was really challenging for me physically, since getting anywhere involved walking (over very uneven ground mowed farm field) and my already damaged ankle was most unhappy at being asked to repeatedly take me overland from my tent to the portapots, particularly in the middle of the night, and to the few things I determined I had enough spoons to manage.

The good parts were that the class on block carving I taught was well received, I got to witness Vanya propose marriage to his ladylove (I have known young Vanya his whole 22 years of life, and his parents were some of my first SCA friends), and I had a chance to have a bit of a visit with Eilis who I dearly love and as she lives in Berkeley, almost never see these days. The other good thing is that all the clothing I made for them, and for Blue Cedar House over the month of June worked out really well, fit everyone, and were put to good use during the event.
Vanya and Elizabeth
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Other than those few good aspects the event was pretty grueling. I was in tears more than once. I began to doubt that camping with my friends was a good idea. I spent a lot of time remembering all the various activities that just a few years ago were so very easy that I rarely gave them thought, like walking from one end of the site to the other, or from camp to the portable shower truck on the other side of the creek... I sure am not 25 any more. I am not even 45 any more. Not only do I have no spoons left, I am not sure there is anything left of my "kitchen utensils" at all...
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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep xx
2 tiny peach enamel xx
3 tiny linen bag x x
4 x x x
5 xx x
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Monday, July 3, 2017

media music Monday



in which our plucky heroine is speechless...


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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep xx
2 tiny peach enamel xx
3 x x x
4 x x x
5 xx x
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday fragments


in which our plucky heroine embraces antinomy....

After two days with no improvement, my trip to the actual eye doctor didn't yield any new insight, but she was not terribly concerned about how my eye was doing, so apparently her exam turned up nothing obviously scary? Just told me to keep on with the warm compresses, to keep taking the antibiotic eye drops, for 10 days instead of just 5 and to use artificial tears (ie eye lube) to help with the soreness, and that the swelling should gradually go away? I don't know whether to be relieved or worried that there was no obvious reason for the continued discomfort... maybe today will be better? There is somewhat less swelling in the eye socket, but still obviously something not right...
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sometimes, I get so very weary, because everything is wrong and we have killed the planet for humans and it is all over but the mopping up, and stupidity seems to be winning... finding a bit of brightness, a bit of thoughtful attention to beauty and hope, reminds me that maybe being tired and overheated doesn't help with maintaining equanimity and resisting destruction, that just because I can't see any good outcome doesn't mean that there is none...

This poem brightened my all too warm nighttime:

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This is rather a record for me, that this month I have completed thirteen garments (not for me, but sewing commissions): six undergowns, three undertunics. two pairs of pants, one embroidered tunic, and one apron dress with block printed trim.
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June SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelvingbag to Goodwill
2 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelvingbag of corks
3 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelving bag of corks
4 Thora undergown back for kiln table bag of wood
5 Asa undergownx floor lamp
6 Asa undergown x workshop lamp
7 Thora blue undergown x bag to Goodwill
8 Genivive undergown x bag to Goodwill
9 Vanya tunic x paper recycling
10 homemade homegrown
strawberry rhubarb sauce
x paper recycling
11 Vanya pants x x
12 Liz undergown x x
13 Liz apron dress x x
14 Liz block printed trim x x
15 Farbjorn pants x x

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

eye spy

with my little eye...

that I have an eye infection, bleah! woke up today with my right eye all swollen and red and bulgy and full of tears. Spent a good chunk of the day getting it seen to, so I now have antibiotic eye drops and the instruction that if it doesn't improve in 48 hours that I need to see the actual eye doctor, and I have an actual referral there, which is rare and precious. Hopefully I will not need it, and my eye will begin to heal by then.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday fragments and Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine attempts not to imitate the wicked witch of the west...

Current temperature on the front porch in the shade is 95+. I have been hiding indoors since about 9:30 this morning. After an unsuccessful ride to New Seasons first thing in the AM (their power was out, so store shut down), I went to Green Zebra instead and then went back to bed! Now I am really rested, and it is about twenty degrees cooler in the house than outdoors, maybe more! I am NOT going to enamel today,. but instead get further along on the commission sewing projects, as running the iron occasionally is less heat trauma than the kiln!
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Yesterday, Tullia came over for a workshop day, and made superb progress in her metalwork efforts. Her current project is to create "hercules knot" components to re-create a Roman necklace. This was her second attempt, and while her first efforts were amazing for a true beginner, she really improved both her soldering and her wire forming. Torch soldering is not an intuitive process, as I well know; the more time spent actually doing it the easier it gets, but studying up on how it is supposed to work is also helpful. T is nothing if not eager to learn, and has acquired several well regarded technical books on metalwork skills for home perusal. I fear that I am being spoiled and that future students may not be as adroit.

She had also decided, since the previous that the kitchen here at Acorn Cottage would benefit from some non-stick ceramic frying pans, so arrived with a boxed set of two. While I am entirely unwilling to use teflon, was willing to try these out, and was astonished at how the scrambled eggs literally slid out of the pan! The light weight of the pan seems also a plus; I may recommend these to my venerable parents as Useful Kitchen Tools.
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I continue to make gradual knitting progress on the knitted octopus baby toy... I found the chime ball that I have had since back in the late 80's, when they were first a "thing"... It occurred to me that a pleasant sounding baby rattle would be a nicer gift for my beloved friends than one that rattled like a spray can, (which is how the jingle bells sound inside the octopus head)so have set the chime ball aside to embed inside the octopus mantle when I am at the stuffing and sewing stage.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday musings and media


in which our plucky heroine maintains forward momentum...

because science comes in more than one flavor

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My pal Ariadne is going to have a baby due this October, and so I figured it was time to get started making things for a gift basket... This is going to be a handknit wooly rainbow octopus rattle, and I am quite amused by the eight multicolored tentacles.

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This is my first actual ever "harvest" of homegrown rhubarb... every prior year it was no bigger than a pipe cleaner, this one is about as big as a pencil. The strawberries are from the backyard. Not enough for a wee jar of jam, but I am thinking about stewing them into a spoonful of topping for some yoghurt...

It was a challenge to cook such a small amount, but this tiny bowl of rhubarb/strawberry sauce travelled zero food-miles in relation to Acorn Cottage. I intend to enjoy every teaspoonfull...

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June SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelvingbag to Goodwill
2 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelvingbag of corks
3 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelving bag of corks
4 Thora undergown back for kiln table bag of wood
5 Asa undergownx floor lamp
6 Asa undergown x workshop lamp
7 Thora blue undergown x bag to Goodwill
8 Genivive undergown x bag to Goodwill
9 Vanya tunic x paper recycling
10 homemade homegrown
strawberry rhubarb sauce
x paper recycling
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday snippets...


in which our plucky heroine is pretty darn tuckered out...

I have basically been sewing like the wind all month so far. The most interesting garment this month is this custom SCA tunic commission, with Viking Age bears embroidered on the front yoke, and a simple border embroidered on the cuffs:

A closer view of one of the Viking Age style embroidered bears. Holding a hammer, because Vanya, the man the tunic is made for, is a blacksmith:


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The last several days with my Blue Cedar House pals up here to help with housey work has been really busy as well -

Farbjorn came down here first, on Thursday evening, and on Friday we worked on wall anchoring some of the Ivar shelf units in the workroom, the ones that hold the kiln, and the drill press, and the pickle pot - which entailed adding plywood panels to the backs and sometimes the sides, adding 2x ledger boards to the wall, and then the actual anchoring. This has been on my to do list for several years now, and I am very happy to be able to cross it off, and bring my space just a little closer to being earthquake safe.

Thora came down Friday evening after the work week ended, and she put in hours of work weeding and mowing the yard all day Saturday, and then today helped encourage my decluttering and reorganising efforts in the workroom, which were in part necessitated by how much got moved around in attaching the shelving, and in part because it is an ongoing effort.

The impressive list of "stuff gone" from Acorn Cottage this weekend - three bags of corks, a bag of wood pieces, two lamps that needed work, two random bags of stuff to Goodwill, and at least two bags of paper recycling!

Sent my Blue Cedar House pals home with a big pile of new basic clothing, which, while not particularly exciting, will add to the SCA wardrobe they already have, so that they will be able to make it through the week of ATWW with *enough* to wear - in the last month I have sewn for them 3 Farbjorn shirts, 2 Thora undergowns, 2 Asa undergowns, and a Geniveve undergown... (still have to sew a pair of Farbjorn pants)
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June SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelvingbag to Goodwill
2 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelvingbag of corks
3 Farbjorn undertunic wall anchor shelving bag of corks
4 Thora undergown back for kiln table bag of wood
5 Asa undergownx floor lamp
6 Asa undergown x workshop lamp
7 Thora blue undergown x bag to Goodwill
8 Genivive undergown x bag to Goodwill
9 Vanya tunic x paper recyling
10 x x paper recyling
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday snippets


in which our plucky heroine is fighting off a cold...

Since I was the only person to show up to the Scribal Night North Thursday night (other than Marya and Lawrence), we took that opportunity to do a critique of my first original scroll, with the aim of thinking about what aspects would be useful to focus on for future improvement on my next scroll... Jessica Smith-Carlock (Marya) had several good suggestions, including the obvious more calligraphy practice (since I am really a beginner at calligraphy, is why it is "obvious"), focusing on getting nice flat colors and using light and dark of the same color for shading, and trying out some of the pen flourishes that are extensions of the pointed spiny bits on the foliage. I am really looking forward to pushing my efforts a little bit further.
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It looks from the weather forecast to remain moderate through most of next week, which bodes well for the enameling I need to be doing soon, once I feel a bit better
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Busy sewing like the wind, and as I have now completed all six of the white/cream color garments, is now time to re-thread the machines to something a bit more colorful. Thora is getting a blue undergown, and Geniveve (Asa's "twin sister of different parents") is getting a peach color undergown similar to the one I made Asa last year, and a russet plaid wool apron dress. Farbjorn will be getting another pair of pants; from whatever fabric Blue Cedar House will be bringing down with them at the end of next week.
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June SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Farbjorn undertunic xbag to Goodwill
2 Farbjorn undertunic x-
3 Farbjorn undertunic x -
4 Thora undergown x -
5 Asa undergownx -
6 Asa undergown x x
7 Thora blue undergown x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x

Thursday, June 8, 2017

some Thursday thoughts


in which our plucky heroine sews like the wind...

This month is all about catching up (on chores, and decluttering, and studiowork), about preparing to teach, and teaching workshops, about sewing eversomuch clothing for camping events later this summer, and on putting attention into self-care, without which none of the rest will be possible.

There have been some bike rides around the neighborhood, and an attempt to revisit cooked kale salad... which led to a surprisingly appealing and unusual morning meal, and my coach calling me a "breakfast badass"! I cooked the kale until it was quite softened, swapped out the bulgar wheat for kasha buckwheat, and sprinkled the salad not only with the recommended feta cheese, but with a small handful of raisins, and decided that not only is it delicious, but that it might be interesting to attempt other cooked crucifer "salad" mixtures.

Sewing has been at the top of my workdays for the last week, and will be so for quite a while to come. There are twelve garments for others that need done prior to the end of the month; An Tir/West this year is six days long, so the usual "garb for three days" Blue Cedar House weekend wardrobe is not enough, and I have another several pieces to make on commission for a friends adult son. So far, have finished three simple undertunics for Farbjorn Sindri, and a simple undergown for his wife Musa-Thora. Am currently working on on two undergowns for their young daughter Asa, who is of an age where every few months she grows another few inches taller! All of these are very basic, mostly machine stitched and sans embellishment. Thora and I will do any hand embellishment and all the hemming while we are on site in July.

I also have a few studio commissions to fit in, an enameling workshop at the end of the month, and somewhere in there I need to put some attention on my housecleaning/decluttering/reorgansation... Later this year, after the summer camping season, I am going to pull everything out of the SCA/camping/earthquake closet, and give it a good sort out. I have some ideas about ways to make it more useable, and make the whole event-going prep and put away an easier process, by setting up all that gear into grab-and-go bins and baskets instead of the current random situation that has not been organised since I moved here eleven years ago!
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June SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Farbjorn undertunic xbag to Goodwill
2 Farbjorn undertunic x-
3 Farbjorn undertunic x -
4 Thora undergown x -
5 xx -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday snippets


in which our plucky heroine is visited by a giant moth...

I got up Saturday morning and there was something LARGE on the other side of the screen door to the backyard:

A new to me variety of large butterfly or moth was resting there, and allowed me to take several photos before my efforts were disturbing enough for it to move away. My finger pointing gives some idea of the scale of the creature, it is at least 2" long!
apparently it is a "White Lined Sphinx Moth", aka "Hummingbird Moth", aka Hyles lineata
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Just in case some of my readers may be curious about when I refer to the SCA - I have been an active participant in the Society for Creative Anachronism for the last 25 years. This video gives a bit of a glimpse into some of the various aspects of history through re-creation that our worldwide group encompasses -

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June SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 x xbag to Goodwill
2 x x-
3 x x -
4 x x -
5 xx -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

P's and Q's, continued

in which our plucky heroine shares the tale of the completing of the first original scroll...

When we left off, I had completed the sketching of the overall design, prior to transfering it to the bristol board of the finished piece.
After checking that the calligraphy will fit in the space allotted to it, as shown here, the overall design is lightly penciled in, lines drawn to guide the writing, and the final calligraphy is done...

Then the whole design is inked in, to provide guidance for painting the decorative border

I am loving the Finetec metallic paint, which is easy to use and quite reflective, albeit hard to photograph well. This bright gold color is called "Arabian Gold", they make an assortment of metallic colors and iridescent paints

a closer view of the metallic paint

Once the base colors are filled in, (as shown here almost completed), additional details will be added, decorative patterning and diapering of the backgrounds, shading of clothing, feathers on the birds, and features for the faces, and then an additional detailing with ink outlines as needed...

The completed scroll is a piece of work that meets my ongoing criteria to create things I myself would be pleased to own. There are all sorts of small details that I hope will bring a smile to the final owner, who will be gifted this scroll to commemorate the honor of being StormRider champion for the last year, for the Barony of Stromgard (Vancouver WA)...

tiny bird, a butterfly, decorated metallic initial letters, and a closer look at some of the fine line painted detailing

another tiny bird, a small hunting scene, and part of the foliated border vine. The callligraphy is about 1/4" tall, for an idea of the scale

a small droll snail/person hybrid holds a shield with the heraldry of Susan de Winter, as part of the righthand border

A final look at the completed horse and rider design on the lower border of the scroll, with shading and linework details. I also hid my initials in the tree bark

and last of all, a close view of the large initial, 2" tall, with golden metallic paint, a diapered background, and whitework decoration. There were many rabbits in the manuscripts that inspired my design, so I saw fit to include one here... The original that gave me the idea was on this page in the Book of Hours, St Omer

get r done


It has been a while since our plucky heroine managed to make time for writing here...

In the interim, there was camping at Egils* last weekend, where I spent time with my SCA household, taught a class on carving blocks for printing, and realised that it has been well over twenty years that I have been camping with the same group of friends (and hundreds of other people - Egils is a BIG event, though not as big as it was formerly, there were only about 720+ people this year), some of the friends I have were not even born when I began to be active in this hobby...

While I was there I started the embroidery that will decorate the yoke of a new tunic for Vanya. While I remember him as a chubby toddler with golden curls, sitting outside his parents tent and banging on a saucepan with a spoon, he is now a strapping young man and apprentice blacksmith, tall and bearded, and about to get engaged to a lovely woman. Time flies, don't blink... Anyway, he requested bears, with hammers, and these Viking Age bears were the result. He, and I, are both pretty happy with how they turned out.

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There are actually two major SCA camping events that happen here in An Tir over Memorial Day weekend, Egils just to the south of Eugene, and Grand Thing out in Astoria... The illuminated scroll I was working on was awarded to Susan de Winter, outgoing StormRider of Stromgard, at the Grand Thing event. While I couldn't be there, my pal Dayna made sure the finished scroll got there safely, and even took a picture of the recipient:
(I plan on posting more about finishing the scroll tomorrow, there are a lot more photos to share...)
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Doing my best to focus on the positive, which is a challenge, but possible. Hard not to be grouchy, as the ongoing pain from my left achilles tendon issues continues to make walking really difficult, particularly when on uneven ground, like when camping. This morning I woke up with "exciting" new neck/shoulder pain, having slept badly last night, stretched on awakening and now have hot coals under my scapula. Grump grump grump...  but... on the other hand... I was able to set up my tent this year, with minimal help, unlike last year when I was too weak to be able to do it at all. And, thankfully, I was away camping this last weekend, and not riding transit during the horrific attack here in PDX that killed two men and left a third still in hospital recovering. I spent time yesterday just sitting on my front porch and being grateful, thinking about all I have to be grateful for and enjoying the shade and listening to the children of the neighborhood playing down the street.
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June will be busy. I intend to take time to set up a food plan, to help with budgeting and with my ongoing effort to take off a few pounds to try and make my legs less painful. There will be sewing like the wind, since I have at least eight or more garments to complete for others, prior to ATWW at the beginning of July. There is enameling - the Wastekeep hat enamels need done, and I will be teaching an introductory enamel workshop at the end of the month. Not to mention, it is time for summer pruning trees, the apple is looking quite shaggy, and I need to seriously thin the fruit set so I will get some nice big apples this year, and I need to apply the nylon footies to foil the bugs that want to live in said baby apples. Had best get out every morning early for a while for tree care. Plus somewhere in there, I ought to get back to the declutter efforts, which have been rather lax the last few months
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May SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey jersey pants loom weightsbag to Goodwill
2 brown trim bands sakura embroiderybag to Goodwill
3 brown jersey pants supports for peas x
4 planter box repair bathing suit x
5 calligraphy for scrollx x
6 Thora hat cone x x
7 illuminated scroll x x
8 bears with hammers x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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*Egil Skallagrimsson Memorial Tournament XLIII

Thursday, May 18, 2017

a scribal sojourn

in which our plucky heroine minds her p's and q's...

I recently volunteered to create an original SCA award scroll for Stromgard, as I really enjoy the drawing and painting aspect of the scribal arts. But since I want to be able to do the whole scroll myself, that means learning calligraphy as well. There are quite a few different styles of lettering; I am learning Gothic, since I love the style of illumination that was common in western Europe in the 14th century.

I started out by practicing lower case letter forms on graph paper, using a calligraphy felt pen, the larger size helps with learning to see how the letters are shaped, when good and when needs improvement. Then I switched to using a dip pen nib, in a much smaller size, that would work for the overall size of the scroll I am making, here the letters are less than 1/4" tall, written with a nib that is less than 2mm in width.
I realised that I needed to learn to make capital letters as well, once I spent a fair amount of time online looking at the three manuscripts that were my inspiration. While some of the text in history had inset versal capitals, it was much more common to only use versal letters for end caps, and to use calligraphed capitals inside the text block. So, I opened my trusty Drogin, and set about learning the "uppercase" letters too!

(the blurry edges and blobs are in part because I am writing on graph paper, which is too absorbent to handle calligraphy ink)

After writing through the text several times, over the course of several days, I had a sense of how it would work written out as a block, where to put the end capitals on the left, and the line fillers at the righthand ends... one last time on graph paper, so I can overlay it and begin to mark out the space where the rest of the design will happen.

While doing the research for this project, I found and fell in love with these ladies on horseback, and since this is a scroll for an equestrian honor, using those images as inspiration seemed appropriate.

(detail of my sketch)

... finally it was time to start actually writing on the bristol board surface that will be the actual scroll... it was so much nicer than writing on graph paper, and my pen work looked a lot crisper, though obviously still very much work of a beginner. I can only work at the level I am currently, it keeps me humble to try new things, and I can see gradual improvement from where I started. As always, my own standard is "would I be happy to receive this" and in this case, so far, my answer is yes. Hopefully as the work continues and I add the painted and inked decorations I will still be happy with the outcome.

I do go through a lot of graph paper and tracing paper when doing design work... it allows me to keep the good parts of a sketch, and go on from there, gradually working out how I want the design to look. This is several iterations in to my efforts to design the illuminated border decoration. I have been looking mostly at images of The Book of Hours (fragmentary), Use of St Omer, from the early 14th century, for my inspiration, though the women riding horseback are from a contemporary work The Queen Mary Psalter, and I found the little person holding a shield that is hanging from the foliage when I was looking through images of the Luttrell Psalter
Once I add a design for the large remaining space above the text block, it will be time to transfer the design to the actual paper, ink in all the motifs, and begin painting. I predict a fun weekend!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

midweek musings + wishful Wednesday


in which our plucky heroine notices what is going well, and what is not so much...

The previous week or so has had a lot going on in the steading here at at Acorn Cottage. Not just the baby fruit, but the Black Elderberry (Sambucus niger) that was planted last year in the parking strip decided to blossom! The whole plant is still smaller than I am, but there are buds and now flowers on last years growth, and an encouraging amount of further expansion in a skyward direction. My hope is to eventually have enough elderberries to make my own syrup, to help keep me healthy in the wintertime
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Farbjorn arrived down here from Blue Cedar House to help with the yard/garden/woodworking chores this month, the rest of the family had enough going on this month that only he could be spared. Nonetheless a rather amazing amount of work got done. First of all, on Monday when it was not raining, he managed to get both front and back yards weedwhacked, since it had grown much too long for mowing in the last three weeks, and he raked up all the clippings into the compost bins.

Some shelving scraps were turned into a new raised planter box for the backyard. Some of the older "used up" dirt from the planter boxes was used to fill in some of the divots in the back yard, that often catch me while I am walking, and attempt to cause grievous bodily harm to my nether joints. Tree branch trimmings from several years ago went into the bottom of the new planter, then the rest of the older "used up" dirt from the salad table and other planter boxes, then some of the partially composted leaf mulch from the chicken area, which wasn't anywhere near enough to fill it up... So the remaining good mixture of compost and potting soil was added to top it up, and we headed out to get another bale of good potting soil to refill the salad table, and some pine shavings for chicken bedding.

He also kindly helped me by rounding off the remaining three ends of the heavy dowels intended for my lashed tripod stool experiment, and drove me out to Ikea for a speedy acquisition of some LED task lights for the workbenches, and a clever clip-on one for lighting the wee drill press. It was a busy two days...

I mostly worked on completing the hat for Thora, which is a whole 'nother blog post tomorrow... but also managed to untangle the venerable rusty tomato cages, and attach them to the two round SWP rolling pots which are currently home to some hopeful sugar snap pea vine babies... the tomato cages should give them something to clamber up, providing they survive the forecast heat wave coming in this weekend and early next week. The former tomato cages are almost as tall as I am, if rather hard to see against the chain link fence.

The plants in the front pot are some funky "walking onions" which are kept as both a curiosity for their unusual growth pattern, and as additional insurance of allium self-sufficiency. In the very far background of the photo, you can see the feral grapvine starting to climb on the fencing, and a bit of the comfrey clump behind the compost bin... Gosh it is starting to look a bit like an actual garden space!
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While we were both out in the backyard, Farbjorn noticed an unusual bird in the tall conifer in the back corner of the neighbors yard. It was partially brown/grey, and partially a kind of dull greenish yellow color, not a familiar denizen of the yard. A few moments later I was just delighted to see a flash of bright yellow and red, when what was obviously a male Western Tanager flew into the tree as well! I have only ever seen one of them once before. It would be particularly wonderful if they set up housekeeping in the backyard, I will definitely keep my eyes open
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May SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey jersey pants loom weightsbag to Goodwill
2 brown trim bands sakura embroidery-
3 brown jersey pants supports for peas x
4 planter box x x
5 calligraphy for scrollx x
6 Thora hat cone x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
☽ O ☾


For wishful Wednesday, I am wishing for a local helper with a car, so I can go and collect cocoa hulls for mulch, from Woodblock Chocolate

Thursday, May 11, 2017

infant fruit


in which our plucky heroine notices that there may be some Useful Contributions to the steading come this autumn...

Despite the very wet weather this spring, it appears that there may possibly be apples to harvest this autumn. Somehow, between the raindrops, some apple blossoms got pollinated.

Even more surprising, since the feral plums bloom even earlier, there are tiny tiny green plum infants on the trees.

Not to be outdone, the feral grapevine is throwing up new growth along the fenceline, and there are tiny clusters of what could maybe become grapes?

??? what do you think, is this a grape flower? baby grapes? I have no idea... I figure that if the vine simply provides me with some grape leaves to make dolmas then it is earning its keep. Grapes for verjuice would be a nice extra.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

the Golden Branch Laurel medallion...


in which our plucky heroine can finally share last months commission, for those curious about what I actually do for work

...this Laurel medallion, which took up a good deal of my time last month, was awarded this weekend, but the story started over a month ago, when S contacted me.

The central motif is a good example of adding something personally meaningful to SCA regalia. In this case, since the person being elevated is a former Bard of the Mists, the Golden Branch symbol made a delightful center to the Laurel wreath, which is done in a metalwork style inspired by the 8th to 10th C metalwork found in the Viking Age archaeological artifacts from Birka Sweden...

My initial sketch that I sent to my client, brass filigree in the center of a silver medallion, and the filigree bent to size and shape prior to soldering:
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The first idea doesn't always work out as planned, and we need to switch to plan B... sometimes when soldering brass/bronze to silver, particularly if using high temperature hard solder, the brass starts to dissolve into the silver. (since hard solder is basically silver alloyed with brass, and the flux and heat encourages the formation of a eutectic alloy which melts at a much lower temperature than either of the two separate metals)

Plan B... creating the central Golden Branch motif separate from the Laurel wreath:

The central motif is only about 3/4" in diameter, and will be riveted in place behind and central to the silver outer portion... I decided that the Golden Branch looked better with a solid golden ring around the outer edge, instead of a scalloped cut on the silver

Working on custom regalia sometimes often means repeated careful drawings... most of the folks that order my work do not live nearby, drawings are a good way to clarify what is being done, and what is desired (plus on paper is a lot faster to change things up than in the metal!)

The silver outer ring is roughly cut to shape on the outside; I carefully cut the inner circle to almost big enough, then kept filing away a little bit at a time until the two pieces fit together neatly.

Some very thin twisted wire shapes are bent into the Laurel wreath and will be soldered in place, as is the beaded wire for the outside edge. (this is remarkably similar to the wire bending needed to create the motifs for my cloisonne enameling) Important to mark the places where the rivets will hold the whole thing together, to allow space for them.

I love placing the almost finished piece next to the drawing, how it shows what I feel is a successful translation of idea to sketch to finished object...


Once the medallion is fabricated, the final portion is the bail, which connects the pendant to a chain or ribbon... in this case I first stamped a decorative pattern on some sheet silver, soldered wire along each edge, shaped it into a cylinder with an extension, and soldered a reinforcement where the ends joined inside the bail. That done, it was pickled to clean off the oxides and flux, the end cut to a neat shape that would fit on the back, and then the bail, inner motif and outer Laurel wreath were drilled and riveted together.

My new mini drill press came in very handy indeed drilling all the holes for this project. Fabricating the eleven silver rivets was next, as S and I decided at this point that silver would look more like the Birka metalwork than using my favorite brass rivets...


Once the whole piece was riveted together, finished and polished, this gives a better idea of the scale of the completed medallion:


*(personalised regalia is my specialty, commissions gladly accepted)