No, no, not with me. Sewing is not my love and I don't know that I could keep one track for a solid month. This, however, is going to be amazing. It will be hosted by Sophia Helen who is a wonderful researcher and artisan. I very much encourage those interested in learning to build out their kits to participate!
2020 is going to be exciting on the art front for me. Last spring, I finally purchased a kiln so that I can properly anneal my beads. I went with the Paragon Caldera kiln (which I purchased through Mountain Glass). I actually spent about a year pondering which kiln to get. In the end, I went with the Caldera because I can get additional pieces (such as the bead door or an enameling window), but also because it goes up to 2300F degrees. Many glass kilns don't go past 1500F, and I wanted to be able to use this for anything, including possibly eventually melting copper or bronze.
Not long after, I made a purchase of Precious Metal Clay (PMC for short, though that is both a brand name, and a generic term for the many metal clays on the market).
Metal Clay has changed my entire art world. It is magic. Pure magic!
For those who are unfamiliar with this product, it is a moldable base that is comprised of a an organic material and tiny particles of metal (silver, gold, copper, bronze). It works as pretty much any clay in that you can manipulate it into a variety of forms, apply textures, use molds to create uniform shapes, even put it on a pottery wheel and throw a cup. After allowing it to completely dry, it is placed in a kiln and fired. This process burns out the vegetable binder, and allows the metal particles to fully sinter together leaving you with a solid metal object.
I have how-to books for metal clay. I have watched dozens of videos. I still did not fully believe it until I was removing my first silver pieces from the kiln and I accidentally dropped one and it made a distinctive metallic tink-tink-tink as it clattered across the floor.
Pure magic. And I have to say this has absolutely opened up a whole new artistic field to me and I am loving it! Below you can see the first two pendants I made from silver (Art Clay was the brand). (Silver clay is pricey, but it is easier to work with than base metals such as bronze or copper, so it is typically recommended for those starting out.) After these two items I got overly ambitious and attempted a silver and ruby ring, which crumbled while in the greenware state because I was a bit to aggressive cleaning it up before firing it. Later I made another silver/ruby ring that fired beautifully, even though the work itself is clumsy and less than aesthetically pleasing.
I purchased Prometheus Bronze Clay next. I used it to do a few test pieces, as I read that getting the correct firing temperature for base metals can be tricky, and had one pretty one that failed to sinter at all, and another that worked well and is most definitely solid metal.
After getting a bronze item to work, I set out to make a set of Saxon annular brooches for Pennsic. Yes, yes, I know that is not how they were made in period, but things like this allow me to refine and art while also affordably adding necessary items to a kit for a complete picture. I consider this to be the metal working equivalent of machine sewing something. It will also definitely not replace expertly crafted items for reenactment items in which I have a deep research/time investment. Things like my good Viking items will always come from those artisans who have honed their skills and who are producing quality period reconstructions.
I did have one brooch fail to sinter (I fired them separately just in case), but it was easy to make a replacement. I tried to roll out clay to make a pin, but also had issues with that so I purchased bronze wire and hammered and sanded and heated and drove myself nuts, but eventually successfully made the pins for them. (Metal work is completely foreign to me, so I was unaware that bronze is such a pain to deal with or I might just have used copper instead.)
Last month I finally had some more time and I prepared a Saxon girdle hanger as well. The pieces have not yet been fired though, as I accidentally broke one while sanding them down in the greenware (dry, but unfired) state. I have made a repair and should fire them in a couple of weeks.
And then I decided to try out Cyprus Copper clay on some modern items that I could use to develop better skills in working with this clay. I am having an incredible time dreaming up pieces of jewelry and then seeing if I can shape them from magic clay.
Below you can see the three pieces I am quite pleased with. All three came out pretty much as I envisioned, and the setting for the sapphire in the top one is much cleaner than the ruby I tried this summer. These pieces have all over-fired though, and you can see the bubbles in the large annulet on the right side (all of these pieces have the bubbles on the back side). I am now running test pieces to properly dial in the temperature.
I also got exceedingly ambitious over the holidays and attempted to hand sculpt woody nightshade flowers into a pendant. I added a bail after taking this photo, but the piece was drying last weekend, so I have not had time to look at the back and check for cracks. I don't know that this has any chance at firing properly, but at the moment, at least, I am very pleased with the results.
My mother got me a tumbler for Christmas, so I no longer need to hand polish pieces after firing. I can drop them in the barrel and come back half an hour later to collect my shiny metal items.
And there is more! I also dabbled in a bit with glass frit fusing towards the end of the year. I mean, I have a kiln, so why not do all the things! I made glass tree ornaments, and got a mold to make some garden things. It was fun, but not addictive for me in the way that the clay is.
And speaking of glass, my amazing boyfriend has purchased an oxygen concentrator for me! That means I will be stepping away from a hothead torch soon, and stepping up to duel fuel and some serious melting potential.
I hope that 2020 is full of amazing explorations of art!
It seems as though every year or two, someone makes a thread online in an attempt to resurrect the terrible "tradition" of passing the "cloven fruit" at SCA events.
For those unaware, this was a thing that happened at events long years ago where an orange studded with cloves was passed around (man to woman) and the principal was that when it was passed to you, you got to choose where the person would kiss you hand, mouth, etc), and of course you could decline. In practice this thing could be terrifying to many people, myself included. I am not at an event for a flirting game, let alone one that I am automatically force to be part of, until I have to decline to play (with others watching). People literally quit over this back-in-the-day. Others were traumatized over it (whether due to social pressure over it or because they had a gross creeper pawing at them). These were not isolated incidents either. Just in the angry responses I have seen to these threads, more people hated it than loved it.
Now, the good thing is that when these threads pop up, most people are more comfortable today having discussions about WHY this is a bad thing, and are doing a fantastic job of sharing why they found it uncomfortable (or horrible) in the past. Most people, even those who adored the game decades ago, absolutely agree that the whole thing really must die. I really do not think this hot mess of a "game" ever needs to return to a public space (though if people want to invite others to a private camp, with everyone knowing that if they show up they opt in... more power to them, I hope they have fun), but I still think the discussions need to be had for those who cannot wrap their head around why even mentioning this to day is just plain gross.
The original post is below (with my comments in red/italics):
If people in the SCA would follow these guidelines, cloven fruit could be enjoyable again.
Wait, this was enjoyable for everyone that was trapped in a room while this was going on? It was enjoyable for those who do not go to events for such activities? This whole thing starts out as tone-deaf and only sets the stage for worse things to come. (Oh, and the answer to those questions is NO, it was not enjoyable for many).
"History of the Cloven fruit During the Middle Ages, citrus fruit and spices were very expensive and highly prized in many parts of Europe. Both had to be imported via sea routes which were slow and hazardous. Some spices were literally worth their weight in gold. In those days, spices were used in a wider range of ways than we currently use them. Spices were used as medicines and as methods to keep demons and disease at bay. People wore pomanders, containers of spices and other good smelling things, from chains at their waist or wrist.
Pomanders and other methods of air fresheners were common in the Middle Ages. The use of herbs and spices alleviated the not so pleasant aromas of the time period. They were even thought to protect against the plague.
If a gentleman wished to show a serious desire to court a lady, he would stud a lemon or orange with whole cloves, gems and other expensive baubles. Then he would present this pomander to the lady of his choice. This demonstrated that he was wealthy and could provide for the lady. If she wished to be courted by him, she would accept it.
I have not personally researched this, but a researcher I very much admired has called BS on this bit, so the idea of it being a documentable activity is sketchy at best.
This custom has been adapted to use in the SCA as a meaning for flirtation and introduction. The custom was revived (invented?) in AS VIII in the Canton of the Towers in the Barony of Carolingia of the East Kingdom. During a Christmas Revel, a cloved lemon was produced, along with an explanation of the history and significance of the custom. And thus began a tradition that is both loved and loathed by many.
And because a few loved it in a different day and age, the rest of us should again be subjected to the horror as we approach 2020?
When we play the Cloved Fruit game, there are certain rules and bits of etiquette that should be observed. First, remember this is a flirtation game and not a method for less-than-hygenic tonsil diving. The recipient is under no obligation to accept the fruit, especially when the person handing to them is inebriated and simply hands it to them with the expectation of full contact smoochage.
One thing to remember when playing this game, is that the lady is almost always in control. Whether presenting or accepting, the lady chooses the body part to be kissed, unless she gives up that control when she is the Presenter. This can be a hand, a cheek, lips or other more inventive areas. The Recipient chooses how far the kiss will go.
Oh how nice, it is noted you are under no obligation to take it. What about being obligated to even be approached with it to begin with? And lovely to acknowledge that the "lady" is in control... except she isnt because she might not ever have been wanted to be in this position to start. (And do I even need to go on about "inventive areas" at what might be a public space? lol)
There are some basic guidelines to follow. The Golden Rule of the Cloved Fruit is to accept the decision of the other party with grace and wit. One does not simply lob the fruit at the victim and dive for the lip lock. One presents the fruit with grace and poetry and compliments. One accepts or rejects the fruit with equal grace. In my estimation, one should never reject a fruit. One can always accept a kiss on the hand if a lady, if a lord, offer to kiss her hand to honor her intelligence and good taste for approaching you in the first place. It’s all about style, baby.
In my estimation, one should never reject a fruit. This is absolutely the most horrific line in the whole thing. So we are under no obligation to take it, but suddenly, one should never reject it? This is archaic, horrible thinking. This puts pressure on every single person who is already trapped by this potential creepfest. I cannot believe that ANYONE in this day and age can seriously publish a comment like that.
When presented with a cloved fruit, you can choose to take a clove out with your hand, and this signals to the Presenter that they are to kiss your hand. You can take a clove out with your teeth, remove it from your mouth with your fingers and the Presenter can kiss you on the cheek. If you take a clove and bite it, it allows a deeper exploration of your lips and if you swallow the clove, you are inviting the Presenter to go looking for it. One rather debated tradition is what is implied if you take the last clove in a fruit, some suggest it is an agreement to spend the evening with the Presenter. Again, this is up to the Recipient to decide. Of course, my sister and I have been known to walk around with bowls of grapes with one clove in each fruit.
I have no words for this bit at all... especially when I remember the vile fruit being passed around at feasts.
Andreas Cappellanus wrote in the 12th Century on the ideals of Courtly Love. While his thoughts are not always relevant today, some of his Rules are still very true.
“The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized.”
“Every act of a lover ends with in the thought of his beloved.”
“A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.”
“Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.”
If you approach the game of the Cloved Fruit more as a method for showing respect and admiration of someone rather than an excuse to swap spit with a near stranger, you will be very close to the true purpose of the exercise. The ideals of Courtly Love are displayed by courteous behavior and gallant endeavors. Anyone can waggle their eyebrows and say. “Hey baby, ya wanna?” It is a far cry to present a cloved orange to the object of your affection with compliments and courtship.
So now we are expected to play along with the horror and assume that every person passing the stupid thing has lovely, chaste intentions, even though the past ABSOLUTELY PROVES THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.
The game of the Cloved Fruit offers many opportunities for grand gallantry and inventive flirtation. It should never be mistaken for permission to take liberties, unless suggested by the Recipient. It is fun and makes for great entertainment. Remember the goal is to meet someone and present them with compliments as well the cloved fruit. Well, ok, the smooching can be fun too."
By Sofia Matriani della Tempesta
Yes, I am very, very angry right now.
One of my many responses to this is below because there are actually idiots online arguing that it is a fun thing and someone can always say no (ignoring completely the the situation is unavoidable to start and could be traumatizing for someone just to be asked... remember, women have been killed for saying no and that is something that lingers in the mind of many a person):
For those who have confusion over this (despite the massive creeper potential that has already caused real damage to people), it is a matter of OPT IN vs OPT OUT.
Currently, you are forced into a situation where everyone assumes you are "playing" which makes it OK to be approached even if you would literally rather die. It doesnt matter if it is uncomfortable for you to have to say no "opt out", it doesnt matter if it means you might say yes when you mean no because of some real or perceived social pressure. It does not matter that this might bring back terrifying memories or that it might create new worries about a rejection going wrong. You, the person who does not have any interest in flirting, sexual games (because most people see it as some form of sex or related too, even if it is "harmless flirting") are burdened with the responsibility of saying no. This situation is seen as inherently unsafe to many people
Other activities in the SCA are clearly OPT IN. If you show up in the middle of a melee battle field, with your auth card and in armor with rattan, it is well known that you OPTED IN and are doing heavy combat. In theory there is even a safe guard of Marshalls around in the event that something goes wrong.
If you come to my class on Viking Clothing, you have opted in to me delivering some form of information on the topic.
If I eat a feast, I have opted into the foods (and ingredient list) being presented.
There is no opting in for this horrible game. You are automatically assumed to be playing because you are there. It is OK to approach you in a manner that some will ALWAYS view as sexual (even if someone else doesn't).
THIS IS WHY IT IS NOT OK.
I want this "tradition" to die permanently. But let us make a ridiculous situation where it would be ok (out side of a private camp scenerio where people get an invite and know if they go they game will be played).
Assume all players have to wear a crown of real foot high bananas. Everyone in the hall KNOWS that those interested in having the stupid fruit passed to them have on the crown, and anyone without the bananas is absolutely, definitely NOT playing (any more than someone without armor who wanders onto the battle field is not ready to get thumped with a stick). Everyone also knows that if they pursue someone with no banana crown, that they will be kicked off site by the Seneshal. THAT makes it an OPT IN activity and avoids someone from having to TAKE ACTION to NOT participate.
The post that has been a long time coming…
Periodically someone will post a “reminder” to one of the SCA costume forums or general groups. The message behind these “reminders” is always relevant, even if the delivery sometimes feels like grandstanding (at best) or virtue signaling (at the worst).
Yes, we absolutely need to take care with our commentary so as not to frighten away newcomers with either our zeal or our knowledge. We need to nurture those that want to join us and it’s most definitely imperative that we make a space for them at our table and make them welcome enough to return.
The problem with most of these messages is that they almost invariably forget that not all of our newcomers are novice tailors, or are not new to history or research. Many of our prospective newcomers arrive as professional seamstresses (or at least have that level of skillset already). Many come with knowledge or college degrees and are looking for an outlet to explore the skills in there field. They come from other reenacting circles and have a strong grasp historic context and how to apply it. Some newcomers are none of those things, but still want to join in and “do things right” from the start.
(I need to take a moment here and define “right”. My idea of doing it “right” is different than someone else’s, and, within the scope of our rules, that is not only perfectly fine, but it is most definitely welcome. Some individuals might only make an attempt at pre-17th century garb, but could love working in a kitchen or spending all day at the archery range, while another person might prefer to spend all of their time and resources crafting a single garment that is as historically correct as possible. Both of these people are absolutely “right”. A newcomer who wants to dive in to history and accuracy as soon as possible, is just as welcome to do so as the next person is to borrow Gold Key garb and just show up. None of us get to be the person who qualifies “right” as long as folks are following the rules.)
Back to the newcomers and these repetitive missives and groups and lists, what keeps getting forgotten in the well-meaning rants and reminders, is that many of our newcomers are not actually “new” at all to the things we do, they are just new to the Society. These individuals need to be just as cherished as someone who wanders into an event off the street. There is, however, inherently less respect for them than others. When others command that we be nice, and to welcome people, and to help people and make them feel at home, they mean that only for those who are struggling to get into garb and get to an event. (People feel they are being more inclusive than that, but their language far suggests otherwise, even if it is likely unintentional.)
Do you know how many conversations I have had with newer members or fringe players who enjoy certain facets of the SCA, but refuse to really join in because they are tired of getting shouted down (or seeing it happen to others), every time a simple question is asked?
(For that matter, do you know how many people have had leave forums that they have helped nurture for years, and that they truly love, because they are sick of being screamed at, condemned or even threatened? Do people not even see that these long-time members are leaving the SCA because they can no longer even have conversations with like-minded individuals without being attacked online?)
I will say this for the 100th time, but “THE C STANDS FOR CREATIVE” should never, ever be an answer to a question. “IT DOESN’T MATTER IF IT IS PERIOD AS LONG AS YOU LIKE IT” is not ever an answer either. There is nothing wrong with the sentiment behind these statements, because some people need an answer like this to allay their fears about “doing it right” and to better feel welcome, but there are most definitely ways to phrase these things that do not also run off those who want an actual, legitimate answer to a question.
What we need to do is talk more to the person asking a question. What are their interests? That can better inform us on how to reply. Did they simply find a pretty picture online and want to make that dress because it fits the pretty-medieval-princess look that they have wanted since childhood? If that is all they want, an answer can be “that garment is quite pretty! That is not based on what we know of history, but is rather loosely inspired by 14th century France. It is perfectly acceptable to make and wear to an event as it is. If you want to see more about the inspiration for that dress here are some great images that can help inform your next garment”. That response is kind, generous with knowledge, and still makes their dream-dress feel welcome and valid. 53 comments about how history does not matter, about the only thing that matters is having “fun”, diminish the conversation for dozens of other viewers who likely have an interest in history or about learning more.
And let’s talk about “fun”, I fully accept that for many people “fun” might be coming to an event, putting on a tunic, and having a cold drink next to the campfire (hell, I embrace this type of “fun” as that describes half of my household, half my SCA family and a large portion of my beloved E17 Pennsic family). “Fun” can be more than that for many of us though, and just as I mentioned with “doing it right” there is more than one valid type of “fun”.
A series of rabid screeches reply to a question that states nothing more than “it’s about having fun!!!” that totally dismisses someone else’s potential interest in accuracy or history is doing the entire SCA a disservice. THIS is driving people away, and it is making both newcomers who are interested in learning more and long-time members feel massively unwelcome. Especially if it has been said once already, it does not need repeated in the same thread multiple times over. That sort of piling on has no use anywhere. Ever. It is completely awful.
Another example is, “Is this fabric period?” Imagine that the fabric in question is a quilting cotton in a giant modern floral print. Talk to the person asking the question, do they have a time and place in mind or are they just trying out different things and doing some stash busting in the process. It is not a crime to state that the fabric is unlike anything in the SCA period (it is a statement of FACT, after all), but we can still suggest ways to use it. Would it be good for a mock-up? Would be almost-kinda-sorta-passible as a dress from X Place and X Period? We use lots of fabric for other things too, maybe suggesting those is the route if the real desire is to stash-bust. Does the person just really want to use THAT specific fabric for a dress (for whatever reason)? Yes, we can help them find a pattern and work out how to make it (and possibly show period images for a future project at the same time), and they are moving forward knowing exactly what they have and are doing.
What is utterly useless (and often detrimental) in these cases is multiple individuals launching onto the thread and insisting that it doesn’t matter at all if it is period (especially if it reads that it SHOULDN’T matter at all, ever, to anyone, and yes, that is frequently how it reads). The people in the previous paragraph are providing helpful input not only to the individual asking the question, but to the more broad audience as well. It is not dismissive of the person asking the question, or those who might really want to learn more about period textiles.
And for the love of all, if someone states upfront that they are interested in accuracy, those multiple comments about how it doesn’t matter, and it is just about having fun, quite simply do not belong. THAT is dismissive not only to the person asking the question (who might very well be a newcomer), but it is also beyond hurtful to anyone who is taking time out of their own day, and away from their own projects, to help others. Hammering away at someone answering a question (especially if they were already thanked by the asker), does just as much damage as walking up to someone and telling them that their garb sucks.
Just stop. You aren’t making anyone feel more welcome. If you want to pretend to care so much about our newcomers, please be inclusive of ALL newcomers and including those who are here to have "fun" exploring history.
One of the ways you can readily tell that someone is beyond the basics of reenactment research is by looking at their sources and how they are using them in their work. Blatant assumption that museums, Laurels, other reenactment groups, and even academics, are always “right” is a method of thought employed often by beginners. This is not necessarily bad (as we all start somewhere), but as we grow and start to put the pieces of the puzzle together, we often discover that information is dated, ill-thought out, or sometimes just wrong. Realistically, this is a natural part of the process, and “growing up” in this field and we all have been there at some point. The trick is to start to develop an eye that can readily sort out fact-based items, as well as works of fiction.
I actually started working on this about a year ago after some discussions online made me realize that people who I thought had a deeper understanding of the material were, in fact, relying on assumptions that just because they saw it in a museum or on a living history reenactor meant it was absolute fact, without taking time to look into it further. A recent discussion on an erratic museum display caused me to complete this post so that I can share my thoughts.
Before I share examples, I do want to note that there is no one single approach to this subject matter, but there can be good or bad approaches. I had a previous post titled “A Difference of Opinion” ( http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/difference-of-opinion ) that shows two excellent, yet wildly different, lines of thought on the Oseberg Queen’s costume. Both are very well researched, both are evidence based, and both are equally valid interpretations. The difference in items such as those and the 'less good' things I will mention below is the approach the artisans took and how they came to their conclusions.
As I mentioned, recent issues with a museum display are, in part, what triggered this post. This controversy is about the Viking exhibit at the National Museum of Denmark.
In an effort to drive more traffic to the museum, the authorities there have employed Jim Lyngvild, a television personality and fashion designer to craft a display that would appeal to the modern eye. I highly recommend doing some reading about this celebrity's on and off screen antics, and one perhaps can see how his participating in museum displays of ancient history can be problematic.
You can see the promo photo located on the museum website (https://en.natmus.dk/museums-and-palaces/the-national-museum-of-denmark/exhibitions/danish-prehistory/ and that sets the tone for the rest). There are other images making the social media circuit now that are even further out there than this one. The point of this post is not to critique each image, but rather to provide commentary that this is not a reliable source for making accurate interpretations. There was a review this year in Antiquity that better sums up the things that have gone wrong here (and how it could have been done to make both fact and fantasy exist better in the same space). I highly recommend downloading this free PDF and reading it before looking for additional images (some of which loudly proclaim they are "The Real Vikings"). https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/A40E54491325BC2E3951F975F6452708/S0003598X19000012a.pdf/meet_the_vikingsor_meet_halfway_the_new_viking_display_at_the_national_museum_of_denmark_in_copenhagen.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3XG-4dB72apePrO7A8Liep6pl5Ha8ue7HFAVkakuVTxuIQ7Orn6PyHGxU
If you source additional images you will readily note an over-use of ragged furs, mishmash of time and place, and some very, very Hollywood style embellishments (such as ‘sexy’ slits up the leg of a woman’s dress and items that are pure reenactorisms that are not really even hinted at in graves).
This particular museum is not the only venue with issues like this. Some museums, often due to budget constraints, are displaying older recreated items that are based on information that is decades out-of-date. Sometimes artisans are employed to do reconstructions without the benefit of detailed research or access to time/materials to make a good representation of an item.
Sometimes it can be exciting to see a progression in displays of costume or other items. I will use Mammen as an example because years ago there was a lovely, plausible, reconstruction of the garment (for King Cnut) that appeared in the book Mammen: Grav, kunst og samfund i vikingetid. This item was made with research available at that time, and is quite striking. Currently, there is new work being done by some of the top researchers in the field. They are taking a very detailed and highly scientific new look at these textiles and the costume from this grave. I cannot wait for this work to be completed, and you can follow the progress yourself here: https://natmus.dk/organisation/forskning-samling-og-bevaring/fashioning-the-viking-age/the-three-project-parts/ (The great irony here is that this is also in conjunction with the National Museum of Denmark.)
Typically, museums displays of items, such as brooches, are a good source of information. Just seeing the object can let you grasp the detail and size of the item. Sometimes things like beads, however, can be misleading. Many of the older archaeological sites cared less about certain goods (like beads or textiles), resulting in all beads being tossed in boxes to be restrung later in any fashion for display. This could result in all of the larger, ‘fancy’ beads being grouped together in one strand (and leaving out the plethora of tiny beads completely), which can lead the impression that that was the norm. And yes, sometimes items in a museum can be mislabeled (or it could be labeled with data that made sense at the time the display was erected, but that was countered later by new evidence). Even a well-crafted display needs context. If you see something that interests you in this type of professional setting, it is still advisable to look deeper and do your own research to help get the most accurate information available.
Just because it is in a book doesn’t make it true either. This can be for a variety of reasons. One of the most common is that the book is simply an older text that is presenting older (and now debunked) theories. The most common thing I see, in this field, with this is the diagrams from Flemming Bau (the infamous open-front aprondress) still being used when interpreting evidence. A look at Hilde Thunem’s site ( http://urd.priv.no/viking/ ) or Inga Hägg’s most recent book on Hedeby ( https://amzn.to/2HKDesE ), will detail for you why those theories are out-of-favor.
Other books are simply just not as well researched or presented. There is a now infamous drawing by Rushworth from his book (Handbook of Viking Women’s Dress) that shows the back of an aprondress with pleats covered by long vertical bands of tablet weaving. There is absolutely nothing at all in the evidence that even begins to suggest this type of costume, yet because it creates lines that are attractive to the modern eye, and because it is published in a book, it is seen as “real” by someone who has not looked deep enough at the evidence themselves.
Other books have lovely images and nice tutorials, but do not use proper citations, nor do they discuss the methodology that lead to the conclusions that are made between the covers. Without that discussion, I do not view a book as a credible resource academically. This is poor scholarship at best, and now I see other books that rely heavily on those same titles as a source, and it makes me question the credibility of the work as a whole. An example of this is the Viking Dress Code, which was just recently released in English. This book is full of lovely charts and maps and has a very nice summary of evidence, but the heavy reliance on a few less critical works (and also some of the strange conclusions that are made about certain items), make it something that I personally can find a use for and am happy to own, but it would never be something I would recommend to someone with no prior knowledge of the sources.
We all know there are many amazing researchers, archaeologists and authors in this growing field and I can make wonderful recommendations for many facets of what we are studying based on my own list of favorites. It is important though, to make sure that you are looking at the current information. Sometimes there is a dissertation that is published that is easily accessible (and free online), but the book that came out later (and that costs money) actually has more current information on the subject. Another example here is Hägg’s work, while I highly recommend reading any of her papers regarding Hedeby, I would not recommend moving forward with a reconstruction project without looking at that most recent book mentioned/linked above.
And then there is the case of plain old bad scholarship. She-who-shall-not-be-named is one of the best examples of this (and sadly, is also cited as a source in the Viking Dress Code book). This author seems to prefer scandalous headlines over solid academic methodology. She made a name for herself with the Boob Brooch Debacle ( https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-02/uu-vdn022508.php?fbclid=IwAR3eVe9HLWCjnzIcnhH6sMM123zo1qO6bYsv7a-X-0gEjW6hyse7YlcALsY ) and then pretty much drowned any credibility she had left with the claims that if you look at a piece of tablet weaving backwards (using a mirror) and then add extra lines to the pattern (in what reality is that even science????) that the motif spells Allah in Kufic script. ( https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/allah-viking-burial-fabrics-false-kufic-inscription-clothes-name-woven-myth-islam-uppsala-sweden-a8003881.html?fbclid=IwAR3oYiLtcyNYJDwqp5MU-i-IEjDgR7FeYKOMH7fdQXBXA1e0A_nh2tYxGSs ). This is all problematic because at the time these items made headlines, she was still affiliated with a University, was participating in study of archaeological textiles, and it was easy to assume that this was all real. (Note also, the promised papers for these items never made it to publication, and that is frequently the case with very wild theories like these.)
This is an area that can be really touchy, but I am going to dive in anyways.
The summary here is that we want to make an attempt at authenticity, we need to dig deep and try to figure out what is good, what is bad, and what has stood the test of time (in terms of knowledge). It is not an easy road, but it can be very rewarding. I am always happy to talk resources with people if they want to listen to me drone on about it!
I am going to finish this rant with a power passage from Lise Bender Jørgensen (one of the top Viking Age textile researchers) about the role of proper reconstruction and the public eye. The article it is from is in NESAT 5 and is titled “Ancient Costumes Reconstructed: A new field of research”:
One of the points I intend to make is that reconstructing an ancient costume is a research project, just like any other type of research. Further, that a costume is a form of publication that is ,,read" by a much larger audience than any traditional, written publication. l feel that it is very necessary that we face these fact fully, and start acting accordingly. If we don't, costume replicas shall remain an obscure, unscientific feature of museum exhibitions, contaminated by a bad smell of courting the public.
It was brought to everyone's attention yesterday that there is a page missing from the Pennsic site book for this year. Certain events are STILL happening, and the list of those can be seen below. These include the A&S Display and also the annual and amazing Clan Blue Feather Ball and Fashion Cotillion.
Fortunately, the A&S Display still has a full page dedicated to the event, it just will not be in the printed schedule (it is, however, still listed in The Thing).
Another item that sadly got missed is the Clan Blue Feather Ball & Fashion Cotillion. The Facebook event page for it can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1352843131538865/www.facebook.com/events/1352843131538865/
From the event description: The annual Clan Blue Feather Ball & Fashion Cotillion will be held at Pennsic XLVIII on Tuesday night, August 6, at 9:00 p.m. in the Great Hall (immediately after Aethelmearc court). As always, the theme is, "You don't have to wear your best garb, but wear the garb that makes you look your best!" Music, dancing, revelry, prizes, food and drink for everyone to enjoy at this open and family-friendly event!
Do you want an excuse to dress your best or simply to enjoy an incredible evening? I highly recommend checking out this event if you have a chance.
Below is the list thus far (I will continue to up date it here as well). Each item is clickable for the full post!
As part of my Pennsic Improvements posts (found here - https://www.facebook.com/awanderingelf/ ) I talked today about coolers and how to keep them colder (and how to know when it is time to swap them out for a new one). I figured that post was worth a re-share here as well.
Yesterday I brought up one of my new favorite boozy beverages, and today I am going to talk about my test over time to keep the ice cold for my Pennsic cocktails. I will note that you can actually do Pennsic without a cooler at all (assuming you do not have medications you need to keep at a certain temperature), and some people do indeed do this. Duke Cariadoc has an article about doing Pennsic without a cooler here that some folks might be interested in: http://daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Articles/Camping%20without%20a%20cooler.html
Personally, the only food I take to War is a few snacks for land grab. After that, my cooler is for ice only, and maybe a re-used water bottle full of leftover coffee or tea for a cold beverage at a later point. Mostly I am just keeping ice for drinks, and possibly a small container of fresh fruit purchased at the Coopers store. My camp has a meal plan, and I love to eat in the market, and I certainly am not going to Pennsic to cook so one of the ways I have pared down the things I take with me is to cut out the food items (that often were going to waste).
I am, however, very picky about coolers, and doubly so if food is going to be stored in them. Coolers are not immortal. They have a lifespan, and often the cheapest coolers have a very short one. The easiest way to tell if your cooler is on the outs is to open the lid. If it lifts with no resistance at all, it is no longer air-tight and, therefore, it is no longer doing it’s job. You will go through much more ice at this point and it is time to consider purchasing a new one. (Do not worry though, that old cooler can be used to store your dry goods now, because old coolers are a fantastic way to keep bugs out of your food and rain off of it!)
For the past decade, I have used Coleman Xtreme coolers and really do like them. They last longer than some others I have had and tend to keep things cold for a decent amount of time. I have, however, been researching newer high-end coolers for almost two years now, because I am due for a new cooler and because I also want a smaller one as I really just need it for ice. After reading many reviews, I decided that I wanted to try a Grizzly cooler, with which my wonderful mother recently surprised me. I honestly cannot wait to test it out this year (and will definitely post my thoughts after the fact)!
Even if you are not ready for an upgrade just yet, I do have some tips for helping to make the best use of your current cooler.
Each year I repost two of my older articles that have tips for surviving Pennsic and also for enjoying it. Last year I included a compilation of my summer wardrobe tips as well. All three of these will be linked below.
New for this year is a running list on my Facebook Page, with (almost) daily tips based on things I have learned over the years that make my best two weeks of the year even better. I would love for anyone interested to come join the conversation!
My Pennsic Prep List: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/pennsic-prep-and-my-list-for-newcomers
Tips for Enjoying your First (or Tenth) Pennsic: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/tips-for-enjoying-your-first-or-tenth-pennsic
Summer Wardrobe: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/summer-wardrobe
Below is a missive from the coordinator for the Pennsic Fiber Arts Pavilion:
One of the joys for many people, as they anticipate Pennsic and their annual pilgrimage, is the knowledge that they can locate any activity there, from fighting to dancing to classes on every topic imaginable. As fiber artisans, we noticed that the fiber arts lacked a home at Pennsic. Fiber classes are scattered all over the schedule, often fill quickly to overflowing, and students leave with no place to come back together and work with each other to practice their new skills. We were missing a single place where fiber people could find each other and work together on a variety of possible fiber crafts.
To fill this need, we have created a Pavilion devoted to the Fiber Arts, and available for the duration of Pennsic. Their Majesties of Atlantia have graciously created an Artisans Easement within Their Royal Encampment, where artisans are able to erect pavilions for specific Arts, and practice their crafts together every day. We have taken advantage of this location, and made it our home.
Join us in Atlantian Royal Encampment in Block N40, two blocks down from the North Gate along the Long Way toward the Parking hill. Come meet other fiber artisans, take a class, teach a class, or just bring your fiber toys over and relax with like-minded folk for a morning or afternoon. We also have fiber toys available in the pavilion, if you'd like to get acquainted with new equipment before you invest. This pavilion can be whatever you want to make it.
If you want to join the discussion before Pennsic, go to Facebook and search for the "Pennsic Fiber Arts Pavilion" group. Ask to join, and you can see what we are doing this year. We look forward to meeting you at the Pennsic Fiber Arts Pavilion. Come join us there!
I dance, race cars, play video games and am on a fantastic journey to recreate the past via costume, textiles, dance and food.
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Blogroll of SCA & Costume Bloggers
Below is a collection of some of my favorite places online to look for SCA and historic costuming information.
More Amie Sparrow - 16th Century German Costuming
Gianetta Veronese - SCA and Costuming Blog
Grazia Morgano - 16th Century A&S
Mistress Sahra -Dress From Medieval Turku
Loose Threads: Cathy's Costume Blog
Mistress Mathilde Bourrette - By My Measure: 14th and 15th Century Costuming
More than Cod: Exploring Medieval Norway