Just a quick note that I am almost done with the odyssey of novel revision, and I’m about to send off queries. It is generally not a fast process, so I’ll have some time on my hands.

Things in the SCA pipe:

A long overdue tunic commission.

Cleaning out the stash.

Learning to use my new Osberg style loom.

And getting ready for Medieval Lent 2017. The lentening.

So there it is. See you soon!



Well, fell off that wagon quickly…

Life has been a little busy lately.  We’ve been focused on finding the husband a job, continuing to unpack, and my muse, after being dormant for a year, roared back to life and decided to finally write that novel (or, possibly, trilogy) I always wanted to write.

So, a quick recap of SCA Projects in the works and life changes in the last couple of months.

*  Still working on the super spangled wool dress.  Ran into a snag with spangle shortage.  Hoping to get more spangles soon.

*  Still working on new hoods for the husband and I.

*  Trying to find where all our supplies for various crafts got packed in our move. This has been an exciting thing (we lost a packing week due to illness, so my nice and orderly system fell before “Just get it in the blessed truck!”). It’s not unlike archaeology, as we ask, “Why on earth do we still own this?”

*  Most recently, stepped up as the new Chatelaine of the local Shire. Also, being a judge for regional A&S.  And writing a new class up on medieval flavor profiles.

* And finally, the project that jumped the queue- husband needed new SCA arm armor.  Local guy had some he was looking to get rid of, and he hates sewing. Offered trade of Viking men’s basic kit (tunic, rus pants, hood) for said arms.  The pants are 75% done. Hoping to knock out the rest pretty quickly.

So that’s where we are at.  I am going to set myself a new reminder to try to blog more often, and make a note to take more pictures as I go.  Thanks for bearing with me!

Operation Clear the Stash

So, a number of my friends are embarking on SCA New Years Resolutions, and that’s awesome.  As for me, moving this year has taught me that I have a LOT of stuff.  A lot of it craft supplies.  So, this year, in furtherance of my 10% goal, and in the interest of getting materials used and either given away or part of the kit, I’m instituting Operation Clear the Stash.  My parameters are as follows:

  1. 90% of a project’s supplies need to come from stuff I already have.  Exceptions would be if I were being asked to craft something for someone else, for a specific purpose.
  2. Purchases are allowed to complete projects.  For example, I am making Peter and I new hoods.  I don’t have floss in the right color to do his embroidery.  I can buy said floss.  And, for that matter, handwork thread in a correct color if I need it.
  3. I need to keep track of what I am doing and what supplies it’s using, and document it here.
  4. Projects that aren’t for SCA purposes are okay too.  I do have some non-SCA appropriate materials that need to get used up.
  5. No new purchases until the stash is down to 75% of what it is now.  Even if it’s an amazing whatever.  Even if it’s on sale.  Just nope.

So, with that in mind, here are January’s projects:

  1. New dagged hoods for Peter and I.  Materials being used: red ottoman weave wool over on both.  Mustard yellow linen-cotton lining on his. Forest green wool twill lining on mine.  Red silk hand work thread.  Green silk hand work thread.  Yellow silk handwork thread.  Yellow silk floss (purchased).  Green wool/silk floss.
  2. Green and black wool viking hood for a prize.  Green and black scarp wool from previous project.  Black linen.  Black silk handwork thread.  Green silk/wool floss.
  3. Leather coin  pouch for prize.  Scrap leather from stash.

Pictures coming upon completion.

Keeping Up Appearances at Lilies

So, as long promised, here is a short write up on what my apprentice sister, HL Sibilla Swaine, and I did at Lilies this year in terms of hygiene supplies.

Let’s start with what we didn’t do.  We didn’t try period oral hygiene.  From my standpoint, at least, I didn’t have enough time to do the research, or make the needed tools, and, well, a fresh mouth goes a long way to making me feel human.

Now, for what we did do:

Sibilla made period washing balls for us using, I believe, Castilian soap and herbs.  I used these fairly exclusively all week on both my skin and my hair.  For my hair, I’d rub up a good lather on my hands, then scrub through my hair, then rinse.  For my skin, I actually scrubbed using a synthetic sea sponge (to attempt to save nature).  The look and texture of the sponge were right, so I went with it.  Overall, I had a good result.  My hair was, for the most part, clean, and my skin felt so too.  We used these both in the showers (lacking servants and a large bath), as well as washing in the privacy of the tent when we couldn’t use the showers.  It worked well.

Sibilla also brought a couple of essential oils for us to try, as well as witch hazel for a face astringent (although it’s a New World product).

In addition, I made a fragrant hair powder from Trotula, described as follows:

But when she combs her hair, let her have this powder. Take some dried roses, clove, nutmeg, watercress and galangal. Let all these, powdered, be mixed with rose water. With this water let her sprinkle her hair and comb it with a comb dipped in this same water so that [her hair] will smell better. And let her make furrows in her hair and sprinkle on the above-mentioned powder, and it will smell marvelously. ( Trotula ) (Source at Mistress Jadwiga’s Website). 

As a general rule, I would use this largely after washing my hair, and usually while my hair was still damp.  I tried it both as a dried powder combed through on it’s own, and as a wet rinse mixed with rose water.  The second method definitely gave it a stronger smell, and it was nice that as I sweated throughout the day (because Lilies is on a Missouri plain…next to a lake…in June), the scent would renew itself.  The downside was that even with modern mechanical grinding on the roses and watercress (after first going at them for over an hour in a mortar and pestle), and sometimes still had flakes of plant matter large enough to be visible.  Again though, for camping outside for a week, that felt rather par for the course.  When making the mixture, I did two parts plant matter to one part dried spices, and I was fairly happy with the result.  I also definitely over prepared, because even with both of us using it all week, I still had most of a jar left at the end of the war.

The other item I did was a period deodorant redaction, the recipe for which I got from the website of Donna Heodez Sofonisba de Talento Minotto from the Midrealm.  I would start out by saying, this is a deodorant, not an antiperspirant.  You will still sweat while wearing this.  Or glow, I suppose, lady friends. (Ha!  I glow like Chernobyl).  Anyway, this was a late in the game addition for me (like Wednesday before I was leaving on Friday), and I didn’t have time to order granulated camphor online.  I found block camphor locally and ground it up myself.  Don’t do this.  It takes forever.  And 19 washings to get it all out of an electric grinder.  Also, I suspect that it was not designed to melt as cleanly into other ingredients, as my bars never really set up firmly.  I split my mix between one set borax/camphor/rose water and one set borax/camphor/orange blossom water, just as an experiment, and both worked.  I got a lot of bars out of it.  Enough that I handed out samples to probably 15 other people, aside from Sibilla and I.

Initially, I tried following the instructions to wet a little bit of the bar, and then rub where I wanted it.  But as I noted, my bars were SUPER CRUMBLY.  So I tried an alternative.  Using either plain water or rose water, I would dampen a piece of cloth, rub it against the deodorant (or shake bits out onto the cloth), and then rub it on.  And it worked.  Holy crap, how it worked.  Usually, using even really good, prescription strength modern deodorant, on really hot days when I am super active, I can still smell me around 7-8 hours in.  This stuff kept me feeling odor free for 24-36 hours at a go.  With one application.  And I did still sweat.  Lord, did I sweat (again- Missouri in June with all the humidity).  But I didn’t have a funk.  And it held steady through both sweating and the occasional Lilies deluge when we might, maybe, have been dancing in the rain.  Like you do.

Overall, it was a nice step in my 10% goals to make my kit as period as possible.  I still have plenty of the products I made left over, and more soap balls from Sibilla.  Eventually I would like to look at period Oral hygiene when I have some time.  And the next time I am in the field, the modern bath and body products?  Those will stay at home.

So, I promise I really am not dead…

To catch up:

Notified of layoff in early June.

Layoff effective mid-July.

Accepted a new job mid-August.

Moved across country (and inter-kingdom) in early September.

Started new job the day after Labor Day, which involves a LOT of travel (I do targeted recruitment for a couple of undergrad programs for a University).

Still getting settled, unpacked, and starting to get active on projects again.  Also, helping the husband job hunt.

So, what’s next-

I’m coordinating visiting Royalty for my new Shire’s February event.

I’ve taught my research and documentation classes locally and they went well.

I will finally be doing that post about Lilies War and the hygiene experiment in the next few days.

And starting New Years, I am going to aim for two posts a month as a goal.
So, thanks for sticking with me, and there will be more to come soon.

I’m Not Dead Yet…

Or Ill.  So sorry for the long absence.  It’s been a very interesting summer.

On June 2, I was called into a meeting with two of the Deans in the pecking order above my position to be told that due to an administrative reorganization of my division, the role of my position was going to be drastically changing and I was no longer the employee they needed.  I was being let go.  This didn’t completely shock me (pro tip employers, if you ask on Thursday or Friday for a meeting late in the day on Monday with no previously disclosed agenda, a smart employee will figure it out).  Since apparently some people in these situations will…be destructive, protocol said I was given to the end of the day to clear out my office, and then I was sent home with a work lap top and some make work for a 45 day work from home period until my employment officially ended on July 16.  After the initial “Oh, wow, I got laid off!” wore off, I was actually relieved.  I hadn’t been happy in the position for a while, but I hadn’t hit the terminal displeasure needed on my own to make a move.

Being a smart monkey, I immediately polished up my resume and started looking.  A position that looked good on campus ended up falling through.  Since we were still being paid in that time, my wonderful spouse, P, insisted I still go to Calontir’s internal war event, Lilies, since I had obligations (Order Meetings, helping with Taste of Calontir, etc).  I had a nice war, and played with period cosmetics and body products with my apprentice sister and roommate.  Then I came home and began applying in earnest.

As of today, it looks like I will have one firm offer tomorrow or early next week, and a second office is highly interested in me.  It will be a move, either way, but both of us, while loving our time here, are actually comfortable with the idea of being somewhere new.  However, this has all meant that my productivity on blog production has been…shall we say, small.  I will be back, no worries.  The move should be done by Sept. 1, either way, so I hope to have notes about my field experiments with period body products at the war up and a small write up on an Introduction to Redactions Class I taught done soon after.

Thanks for hanging in there, friends.  I can’t wait to get back at it.

Putting the Creative in Creative Anachronism

So, ever since I was a little kid, my favorite holiday has been Halloween.  I suppose it’s no surprise that the SCA would appeal to me, since the holiday for me was about being able to dress up and be someone else.  Now, since becoming an adult, I’ve tried to hang on to the fun by dressing up for work, decorating the house, and going to parties with friends.  But the last few years have seen a bit of a slump for me.  We don’t have a lot of kids in my neighborhood, and most of them do the Mall Trick or Treat instead.  Almost no one else decorates their house.  There haven’t been many parties local to me, and I’m not much for the amateur hour bar crawl.  Long story short, I just haven’t been feeling it.

This year, I came up with an idea for couples costumes for my husband and I.  Halloween is on a weekend, so driving up to one of the out of town parties with friends seemed possible.  I was getting excited.  And then my local group scheduled their event for that weekend.  Sigh…what’s a girl to do?

Now, my original idea was to do a modern day take on Hades and Persephone.  All black suit for the husband, bright colored dress for me.  Subtle accessories with asphodel and pomegranates and Cerberus.   But what if….what would Hades and Persephone look like in the 14th century?  And a plan was born.

Now, the husband loves black clothes, and he’s been joking about wanting a black from the skin out outfit for a while.  I’ve always argued, because we don’t have documentation for black under garments, blah blah blah.  But, well, this is supposed to be fun, and let’s be honest, 14th Century Hades would do it.  So for him, he’s getting the following: black linen hosen, black linen braise, a black St. Louis shirt in linen.  For his over tunic, I’ll be doing black wool with appliqued white asphodel flowers and dagging.  So, imagine something like this:

Spoleto, Rocca di Albornoz,

Spoleto, Rocca di Albornoz, “Camera Pinta” 1390-1410: si può notare l’affrappatura del fondo

But add a ring of decoration similar to this:

MINIATURIST, Italian Dante: Divina Commedia 1380-1400 Manuscript (It. IX. 276), 430 x 280 mm (folio size) Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice

Dante: Divina Commedia
Manuscript (It. IX. 276), 430 x 280 mm (folio size)
Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice

Then we’ll accessorize from there.

For my Persephone gown, I’ll be going with white undergarments.  I’ll do a black base dress to represent her role as Queen of the Underworld.  For the overdress, I found a gorgeous green/grey herringbone linen on clearance from Fabricmart Fabrics that is very spring like.  I was debating whether I wanted to do block printing or embroidery or applique and then I struck on a through.  I googled “Pomegranate trim”.  And I found 5 yards of 4 in wide sage green duponi ribbon with gold embroidered and beaded pomegranates.  It’s wired, but I should easily be able to cut the wire off and do a rolled hem on it. The look I am going for is a late 14th women’s Italian gown with wide trims, seen in this style of miniature.

Manuscript Bodmer 78 Historia destructionis Troiae Folio 28r Dating 1370 From Venice, Italy Holding Institution Fondation Martin Bodmer

Manuscript: Bodmer 78 Historia destructionis Troiae Folio 28r
Dating 1370
From Venice, Italy
Holding Institution: Fondation Martin Bodmer

In the later Italian art for the later half of the 14th C, you find a lot of uncovered women’s hair, so I will likely be shamelessly Italian and leave mine uncovered.  However, I have sneaky plans to make myself an additional laurel wreath, but work Asphodel style flowers into it.

So, that’s the current plan.  And because it seems like a fun project, I’ll be sponsoring a competition to encourage people to do the same thing for the event, for the best period garb representation of a legend macabre.  Happy Friday!  What are you working on?