As announced at ÆLive last Saturday, Their Sylvan Majesties King Maynard von dem Steine and Queen Liadain ni Dheirdre Chaohamnaigh are pleased to let it be known to all that They are looking forward to choosing Their Arts & Sciences Champions at the Virtual Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship to be concluded on Saturday December 5th.
We are still ironing out some details, but we wanted to announce the Tourney and its concept now so that you can get your act and entry together in time. While some things may still change a bit, the event will be organized as follows. The Kingdom A&S Championship will be held entirely virtual, much along the lines of the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney that we ran in the Spring. We will create an online entry form, where you will upload some basic information, your documentation and a few photographs.
This being Kingdom Championship, we require written documentation, however don’t let that deter you from entering. The judging itself will be face to face over zoom during private sessions between each entrant and their judges. Judging will be as close as possible to the normal judging at the traditional A&S Championships: two sessions with two judges of about 30-45 minutes for each entrant.
Judging will be performed with the help of a rubric that will be shared with entrants and judges ahead of time. The scores will be tallied once all judging is completed and relayed to Their Majesties who will choose Their Champions. Right now, we are planning to spread out the judging during the week prior to December 5th so that we can coordinate suitable time slots for the entrants and judges with a limited number of zoom rooms. We plan to have part of the presentations public, so that the populous can also chat with the entrants and admire their entries over zoom. In addition, we will share all entries publicly on the Kingdom Office of Arts and Sciences website and create a public forum to leave comments, just as we did for the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney. Unfortunately, at this point, again due to the nature of virtual judging, and the practicality and legality of shipping foodstuffs and alcohol, anything that needs to be sniffed, tasted, or quaffed for proper judging is unfortunately not eligible. Don’t get us wrong – we really would not mind having consumables shipped to us in this time of need! But we don’t want you to break the law either. That being said, we totally encourage and accept research-paper entries in these areas. However, if we do still come up with a way to make it work, you will be the first to know.
We want to emphasize that we totally love to see partial projects! It doesn’t have to be a completely finished entry to be eligible. As usual, you may also enter up to three related objects as a single entry. Prior entry in another competition or display does not disqualify you from entering, we love to see continued progress on existing projects. Finally, given the virtual nature of the competition, we encourage everyone to go overboard with progress and final pictures or get creative with a short video. Show us your project from every angle as if we have it in our hands!
Their Sylvan Majesties and the Kingdom Office of Arts & Sciences are very much looking forward to seeing what our Kingdom has to offer! Keep an eye out on this channel for further information!
Yours in service, Hrólfr and Elska á Fjárfelli (KMoAS) Robert of Ferness (A&S Webminister)
I decided to do this project after Sir Ulrich sent me an image of the brass effigy of Count William Clito and several pictures of similar helms to ask if I could make him one.
It looked like a fun project. Count William was born in Rouen in 1102 and died in July 1128. From the brass effigy and looking at other Norman/crusades era helms from the period I decided on a spangen style construction with supports in the center of each section. The helm looks as if it was made to wear over a coif with the ocular protecting cheeks and nose to the the upper lip.
This helm is a duplicate of the one I just finished for Sir Ulrich.
1. Measuring the head: I began by measuring Ulrich’s head. It was 23.5 inches. I needed a helm that could contain, at a minimum, ½ inch of padding. So I did the math (23.5 x .314) /2 + 23.5 = 27.18. I rounded up to 28 inches (with a extra inch to overlap in the back and rivet closed) for the length of the brow band. I cut the front to back strap at 15 inches and the side to side strap at 14 to produce a slightly oval helmet top. The reinforcing strips are 1 inch by 7 inches and cut to a point.
2. After cutting the brow band, transverse band, inverse bands and reinforcing straps, I marked them for rivet placement, curved them, and dished them, then riveted together the frame. I used solid steel rivets and peened them with my shaping hammer.
3. I cut the quarter plates for the helm. They are a roughly triangle shaped piece made to fit in the frame. I dished them until they fit the frame and trimmed them to fit cleanly.
4. I then riveted in the quarters while adjusting the reinforcing strip to line up correctly on them. I then riveted the reinforcing strip in place.
5. I cut 8 crosses from a brass sheet and riveted them into the 8 sections of the top.
6. I attached an ocular or mask similar to the one on the effigy. I made mine of Chromoly steel trimmed in brass.
7. I then polished the whole piece for display.
The Norman Half Helm based on Brass Effigy of Count William Clito, as seen in the Kingdom 12th Night Arts & Sciences display.
I plan to add things to this helm later to make it legal for SCA heavy fighting.
They will be as follows:
8. Cheek plates and back slats will be added to make it SCA legal. They will be hidden under a chain drape to more closely match the look of a helm over coif appearance.
9. I will drill all the holes for strapping and attaching the drape before hardening the steel. It would be much more difficult after the hardening process.
10. The steel I used is an alloy called 4130 Chromoly steel. It is similar in strength and work ability to the high carbon steels that the better armor in the period was made from. It can be hardened and spring tempered. I chose it because it can be made strong enough for SCA combat at thicknesses similar to period helms (whereas most mild steel and stainless helms are far thicker for SCA than their period counterparts). I will heat it to 1500 degrees for 5 minutes then do a cold water quench. This will harden the steel to a brittle state. I will then heat it to 450 degrees for 30 minutes and let it cool. This tempers the steel so that it is no longer brittle but very strong and springlike.
11. After it has cooled, I will soak it overnight in vinegar to remove the scale from hardening and tempering then polish with a cloth and polishing compound.
Most armoring techniques we use today are guesses extrapolating backwards from looking at surviving pieces, using modern techniques that do similar things. The making of armor was a trade secret passed from master to apprentice; rarely was anything written down.
The finished Norman Half Helm, ready for action.
1) Warriors and Warlords, the Art of Angus Mcbride, Osprey Publishing Ltd., England 2002.
2) Warlords: Ancient Celt and Medieval, Tim Newark, Sterling Publishing, England 1996.
3) Techniques of Medieval Armor Reproduction, Brian R. Price, Paladin Press, United States 2000.
9) The Art of Blacksmithing, Alex W. Bealer, Castle Books, New Jersey 1995.
10) From Viking to Crusader: Scandinavia and Europe 800-1200, Else Roesdahl and David Wilson, Rizzoli 1992.
With the Arabella Stuart doll entry I continue the journey of researching and recreating various period inspired toys, which have inspired me over the past decade. Though by far, my personal favorite has been spending time making dolls. Re-stepping in familiar territory, each project presents new challenges and skills never before attempted. This was one of my first projects in the SCA and its been a joy to finally recreate one as close as possible from a period masterpiece of art. The series of research is meant to be in-depth with the known depictions of dolls in 16th century art. Then it is to be meticulously recreated in period materials and methods. This is the third in a series of 10 dolls from these depictions.
In this article we shall discuss the layers of 16th century court clothing worn in 1577; comparing the portrait image represented to the construction of on the extant doll as previously researched. Observing the creative process and material choices for this project. Plus, discovering more representations of other fashion dolls in art around the world in the 16th century.
Extant Fashion Doll: The only extent one that physically survived the centuries supplies the core research on which all my other depictions are based. The extant doll is housed in the Livrustkammaren Museum (Royal Armory) in Stockholm, Sweden (see image). She is not a display item at this time and would most likely be in storage. So, with a little luck and the internet, I was able to locate some closeup images of the doll from “Isis Wardrobe” a personal internet blog. Some of these images are displayed on other sites like Pinterest, following the trail back to the museum website (see source 3 for the web address). I noticed this doll while turning the pages of my copy of “Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d” over a decade ago. This little doll is depicted in black and white, saddened there wasn’t a color picture in the book. Color pictures were not found untill recently on a persona blog “Isis Wardrobe” and subsequently on the Livrustkammaren Museum website.
Looking at the Livrustkammaren Museum Facebook page there is a small reference of the traveling of Fashion dolls “This modedocka, or pandora as they were called after the first woman in Greek mythology, must have been manufactured by Maria of Palatinate, Duchess of Södermanland, married to Duke Karl which eventually became Karl IX. Fashion Dolls were common in the business of fashion until the end of the 17th century and was a way to spread new trends before fashion journalism took its place. “Pandora traveled by horseback (?) to different countries and not just royalty and nobility was reached.” This is also referenced in the Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d about how the mode of fashion that traveled with the tailor’s trade. Later in this article the changing mode of fashion is discussed; how these did become a feature in art of children, an eventual evolution as a plaything and found in later inventory of the affluent.
The website of the museum supplied many useful pictures and much information. The recently added full color photos of this doll show at least 19 images in total. I also was able to obtain a list of the materials that the doll is made from, though it is difficult to locate some of them. Since either the type of material is no longer made, it called something else in modern times, or for the sheer translation issues into English. I was able to decipher as much as possible and through looking at prior inventory lists was able to figure out a reasonable kind of material. The doll has a steel wire armature body wrapped in silk and silk thread. (source 3) The extant doll has an elaborately embroidered muff with silver gold threads lined in gold silk. (source 3) Painstakingly detailed gold lace decorates the outer dress of lavender silk, including 3 petticoats; one pink silk lined, one gold velvet lined with silver lace, and an outer gown of purple silk lined gold lace trimmed and blue silk hem. (source 3) (See image illustrating the visible silk fabric, 3 petticoats with decoration and linings, also visible are the thread wrapped wire feet.)
From personal observation it is clear the feet are visible in one of the close-up photos on the blog “Isis Wardrobe”, and they look to be silk thread wrapped; unfortunately, closer inspection blurs the images. Her hands are not visible from any angle due to the muff; I tried blowing up the blog images to see if I could see a peek of something, but to not avail. The face seems to be an off-white or tan colored silk, the face is embroidered on and stretched over the stuffing base with some defining features for the chin and nose, I found by studying the 19 images from the museum website. (source 3)
Portrait of Arabella Stuart: From all this information about the extant doll as a basis then form a real object. Now we also have the portrait painting of Arabella Stuart from 1577 for our fashions for this doll (see close up of the portrait of Arabella Stuart age 23 months. The fashion doll held in left hand seems similar to images of Queen Elizabeth I of the time.) Looking at the image I think the portrait dolls is taller than the extant doll. Therefore, I made my replica about 10” tall. With all the details, I was able to begin the long process of project planning. This entails sourcing materials, pricing and budgeting. Though I also needed to look at the making process of this, how it was going to be done. So also follows; thread wrapping, running stitch, back stitch, couching stitch, whip stitch (wig).
Various techniques like gold-work, wire-work, sewing, and mild embroidery were implemented in constructing my replica. I sourced some handmade bobbin lace in a small enough scale without making miniature bobbin lace. Which I am in the process of learning the skill of making regular size lace. I just gained a book on making miniature versions for dolls. Which during the process would be an undertaking more than I could execute in the current time frame to have the project completed, at least at a semi respectable level. Although it is on the list of learning as my SCA journey continues to develop.
English 16th Century Court Clothing Features: After seeing the extant doll, I knew there needed to be proper preparation for such an undertaking. I noted a few items with major similarity with the extant doll, as the style of the sleeves, gown and fitting of the clothing. I also observed some features that would have been standard in the 16th century, like hair covering and neck ruff, which were not featured on the doll at all. So I made a small survey of the images similarly dressed to the extant doll including the layers that would be proper for the time period. Some of these images were more difficult to find as identifications changed when persons were identified as different individuals contemporary to the time. I identified as many from court life as possible. When I narrowed it down to a 30-year window, a regional trend in fashion became evident. I discovered similarities of a bedecked headdress, neck ruff, and decorated cuffs that were all in the versions of the portrait paintings I located.
I noted all the examples have a fitted bodice, most likely corseted, with metallic trim decoration and flowing pleated skirt. All the gowns are voluminous due to under layers, some split front some closed. All the clothing has decorated long sleeves; some with embroidery. The portraits show a decorated head covering, neck ruff, all have a lace decorated cuff at the end of the long sleeves. This small survey of court fashion over a period of time in the same country, shows there are some similarities between the decoration, style, and accessories about the time the doll would have been made. With such detail as seen in the extant doll photos, there is no way someone would have rushed in putting this together and achieve such quality. Plus, similar court fashion seems to have travelled to other countries similar to the fashions on the Arabella Stuart doll in England at about the same time from 1570’s (see image of Queen Elizabeth I- Pelican Portrait of circa 1575).
The layers of clothing would been as follows: shift (linen); corset (reed/whale bone); outer (silk fabric); petticoats ( silk); padded roll (bumroll); outer gown (red silk taffeta, gold silk slashed sleeves); neck ruff (starched linen); head covering (silk-net, pearls, gold wire); shoes (thread wrapped silk). This is based on the doll and based on the above English court wardrobe and layers of 16th century court dress.
Preparation Materials selection: When making selections for this project, I looked at the material list from the museum website. They are listed on the website as follows: taffeta, wire taffeta, silver wire (tip), silk (embroidery), silk on silk-embroidery, velvet-uncut, pearl velvet, lace, and gold thread. (source 3) Not sure if all of it is translated well enough in detail from Swedish, though it gave me a starting point.
I also looked at the colors and textures from the portrait doll and those influenced my choices: steel wire, twine, air dry clay, red dupioni silk fabric, burgundy tablet woven silk trim, red silk velvet ribbon, off white- silk organza, gold-silk chine, white, red, gold- silk thread, gold gilt wire-hard, smooth purl gold gilt no.8, rough purl gold gilt no. 8, gilt o’s 6mm size, seed pearls, gold embroidery twist, hide glue, gesso and gauche paint, wooden plague, linen fabric, cotton batting, wood and glass display case, doll stand. I looked at the prices and over the first three months of the year (2019) budgeted $300 for the materials, shipping, and sheer cost of some of the materials. I wanted it to really look like something for royalty and using as close as possible materials and not shy away from the precious metals.
And I wanted to address the color choices for this project, compared to the portrait doll. I wanted a deep red silk that had some body to it as based on the pictures. Plus, it needed to address the burgundy tones observed on the photos from the internet. I preferred to use a dupioni silk fabric since it has texture. This one is a very smooth weave, more than normally found easily. I wanted to show which bright colors the doll would have displayed as a new creation in the 16th Century.
The hide glue, also known as gelatin glue, I discovered a medieval recipe in The Compleat Anachronist issue 134 by Maya Heath. I needed glue not to just to secure the hairstyle, the hair needed to be dirty of sorts to behave correctly. I knew this information from having done this hairstyle many times and hair needs some oil and unwashed consistency to stick to itself. This glue was used on the washed human hair procured from a beauty supply store. It could maintain the hairstyle and also protect it from being snagged when sewing the silk hairnet with woven gold wire in it and securing the braids.
The Tudor Child pattern for dolls was used on this project. (source 2) I wanted to try this version, to give a nod to more peg like doll features that represent some earlier styles of fashion dolls. In this pattern there aren’t legs on this doll. Therefore, no stockings, shoes or garters are needed for her. Since I modeled after the Tudor Child doll pattern, this doll uses a wood round base inside the linen lining along with the cotton stuffing to hold everything upright instead. (source 2) Studying the portrait, I wanted to maintain the round conical shape of the skirts. I think there is something more sturdy there than two stuffed wired doll appendages. So that is a distinct difference than the extant in Sweden.
Crafting Process: I began with the accessories first, since they would be smaller and easier to travel with me. I kept the doll itself as a project at home most of the time, although towards the end I took it to work on breaks, lunch, and after work. I found this to be relaxing as well as another way of directing my thoughts to a better place. A therapy of sorts during the day at work.
My process of making the replica doll is as follows:
The body is made of linen fabric, stuffed with cotton batting (see image showing construction). The head and hands are hand sculpted from air-dry clay sealed with gesso (from hide glue and white gauche). The miniature bust is then painted with gauche paint to a natural skin-tone and features. The wig is a strawberry blonde human hair wig made from hair purchased at a beauty supply shop. Although I am still collecting my hair for future dolls.
The hair is styled carefully in a rounded rolled-form with a large netted bun in back, and gold silk twist along with coiled gilt gold wire woven into the head-covering. This took some of the longest to get right like the portrait image. Hide glue attached the wig to the clay head, needing lots of drying time at home. The image to the left shows the process before any accessories were added to the doll, you can see the linen arms wired to the body, and the wig drying. Great to see that the scale was working for the accessories created while at work. This can be problematic and I kept making sure it was still fitting to proportions.
The smaller parts were easy to transport in my purse. I assembled the ruff and cuffs first, then the miniature silk clothing. Added trims and decoration as much as could be done before sewing the clothing to the doll. The under-layers first, the shift, corset, padded roll and embroidered petticoat. From there I sewed the outer gown with back and running stitch, while taking care to not loosen the hair that had been styled so carefully.
The image (image on left with black dress & ruffs) shows the doll before the outer layer gown was added. You see the styled hair, the sleeves, accessories and under-layers. It is all set for the over dress and all the detail for completing the doll. It was a real joy to see all the pieces coming together to form a good quality replica doll. And knowing it is dressed from the skin out properly, even if you cannot see it. This kind of detail makes a good representation of 16th century fashion for the time, and adds to the overall purpose of the dolls as traveling fashion news for that time in history.
The image (image on right of red dress) shows the base decoration of the outer-gown. With beading on the bodice belted accessories, beaded hanging sleeves. You can see the decorated petticoat underneath. The gold silk slashed sleeves show behind the bobbin lace cuffs.
This became a very eye-catching piece, just like the inspirational portrait. Although this is not the end of the journey for me. On the portrait image of the doll there seemed to be a lozenge pattern laid gold-work, beading in those lozenges, and all this seemed metallic gold thread. There was difficulty finding a good quality image from the internet that had clearer details on the outer gown decoration. Recently obtained images show the gold-plated details of o’s that will have pearls centered inside. Also, rows of O’s of 6 mm hammered gold sewed on the skirt, shine when light hits from all directions. The pearl work will be done soon and will be freshwater versions since those are the easiest to obtain in the scale size needed.
I am working on a good laid gold-work twist that will help with the lozenge pattern. The laid work on the petticoat was troublesome in the smaller gauge so I am looking at something in a thicker composition that would be appropriate.
So far so good, and a sturdy based doll with shiny bedazzled gown, appropriate for court of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1570’s has been created. A fashion doll that could make a journey to a distant land to convey fashion, as ordered by Helena Von Snakenborg for her sister (source 1)
Lessons Learned: I definitely plan on many other projects like this again. There were challenges around every turn, I filled many pages of notes, including drawings, scale considerations, materials choices, technique notes, sources, picture details from limited sources. I also need to learn to make a more miniature lace version for future dolls. Although the learning process takes time, I don’t want to make a project without proper techniques represented well, even if not my own. I am happy with the basics I have learned in lace making and will strive to make an ever finer finished product. Luckily period artisans didn’t make every step by their own hand, so sourcing is not out of bounds.
If I had to do it all again, I would like to go to Hardwick Hall and take images of the actual painting instead of relying on the internet. Along with the V&A in London and other museums to see the paintings in person, firsthand accounts are ideal. At some-point in the future a visit to the Livrustkammaren Museum in Stockholm, Sweden is warranted. I looking forward to making the many versions of the dolls as seen on the other period paintings.
The Honorable Lady Mairin O’Cadhla explaining all about her elaborate Arabella Stuart Doll project at the Kingdom A&S Championship.
This article is an abbreviated version. For the complete Documentation please visit Mairin’s blog and click the link “Arabella Stuart Doll” under 16th century Documentation.
Arnold, Janet. “Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d”. Maney, London, England United Kingdom. 1988. Pages 107, 157-158, 248-fig 248 and fig 248A.
Huggett, Jane and Mikhaila, Ninya. “The Tudor Child- Clothing and Culture 1485-1625” Quite Specific Media Los Angeles, Ca-USA and London, England United Kingdom. 2013. Pages 49-50, 150-151.
“Costume Doll “Pandora”. Inventory# 77 (56:15) 260, 2016. Livrustkammaren Och Skoklosters. Slott Med Stiftelsen Hallway ska Museet.
Upon being selected Kingdom Arts & Sciences Champion by Her Majesty Anna Leigh last autumn, it quickly came to my attention that I was the only champion standing in court with nothing to represent the position. The archery champion holds bow and arrows; the thrown-weapons champion sports an axe. Other champions stand in court with swords or shields. Arts & Sciences had nothing, even though the terms lasts an entire year. That’s a lot of events to attend empty-handed.
After some reflection on what item might be appropriate for court, there seemed to be no good answer that would represent the diverse types of arts and sciences practiced within Æthelmearc. That is, until I realized that a book would work: it could represent knowledge, research, study, documentation, teaching. After bouncing the idea off of a few friends, who offered support, I contacted Renata Rouge, the Minister of Arts & Sciences, who agreed that it would be a suitable solution.
Fortunately, a year or two before at Pennsic, I had caught up with a friend from college who had just had a son, and who made a book for people to offer advice for him as he grew up. His bookmaking skills impressed me at the time. Thus, I contacted His Excellency Hayashi Youichirou Norikata about his interest in the project. He graciously offered his skills gratis if material costs were covered, and so we began a collaboration on what he would make.
To summarize, after discussing time period, his comfort level with options, and costs, we chose an early Gothic leather binding, brass furniture (clasps) and Pergamenata for its approximately 100 pages. He incorporated two large raised decorative elements to the front cover: the Æthelmearc escarbuncle and the candle-in-archway insignia representing the arts and sciences. The back cover sports stamped designs, one of which is, again, the Æthelmearc escarbuncle impressed with a brass stamp I had made for the project. His Excellency has provided documentation for the book, including decision points, materials used, exemplars, and in-progress photos; it’s linked from the book’s web page referenced below.
While His Excellency worked on the project, I began to mull over the possibilities the book might serve aside from a bit of regalia. No one would know from afar what the pages contained, or even whether they were totally blank. But why have a perfectly good book with nothing in it? Why not, instead, have each champion write about their project, the one leading to them being chosen as champion? That way there could be an on-going journal of the diverse projects that might inspire future artisans and perhaps educate them or lead them to resources or people they didn’t know about.
Thus, it came to pass, after further thought and discussion, that the book’s first pages would talk about the purpose of the book, and charge successive champions with continuing its raison d’être. Following that would be an index, listing all of the champions since A.S. XL and the monarchs who chose them as champions. Two pages would then be allotted and assigned to each past champion up to the present, followed by a good amount of free space for future champions to summarize their projects.
Not being a scribe, I contacted Lady Asteriya Royarchevicha who lives locally and whose work I had seen previously, and she agreed to write out the initial text, indexes, page headings, and so on (see image title page). I left the book with her for a couple of weeks and was pleasantly surprised to find the first page had become an illustrated title page on its own. Most of her work can be seen on the book’s web page mentioned below.
Finally, with the text skeleton laid out, I began to flesh it out by adding my own entry well into the book on its assigned pages. I wrote a bit about my embroidered-shoes-on-bone-ice-skates project (see image) and then passed it to Elska á Fjárfelli for her to enter her material on Black Sope and she passed it to Hrólfr á Fjárfelli who wrote about his Warp Weighted Loom and textiles.
Now that new co-champions have been selected for the coming year, the book has been passed to them to have and to hold for their term. As stated in the book, it is hoped that past champions will be able to borrow it for a while in order to complete their entries, either directly or with the help of a scribe or illustrator. I very much look forward to reviewing the book in the future to learn about past champions’ projects and see what they are to add to this Kingdom document.
More information, photos, and the text of its first few pages as well as some Champions’ entries can be found on the book’s Kingdom web page.
By Elska á Fjárfelli, of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn
Abbreviated documentation for my entry in the Category Curiosa at the Passing of the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon, AS 53.
The two curious artifacts of Schloss Ambras The medieval castle of Ambras in Austria houses quite a few unusual 16th century artifacts as part of its collection of rarities, including two wreaths assembled of many identical wooden pieces. While this description may sound familiar to the farmhouse brewer, such was not the case when the artifacts entered the collection, and both are catalogued as ‘use unknown.’ The wreaths are remarkably similar in design and construction to traditional Scandinavian yeast rings which raises the question: why are the artifacts there, and what could have been their contemporary use?
The two wreaths are part of the ‘Kunst- und Wunderkammer’ collection – in English the Chamber of Art and Wonders – a collection of rarities collected by Archduke Ferdinand II (1529-1595), Prince of Tyrol and Further Austria. He opened his court in Innsbruck in 1567 and had the medieval castle Schloss Ambras retrofitted into a Renaissance style residence. He specifically added an Unterschloss (lower castle) – built between 1572-1583 – to house his collections, making Schloss Ambras the oldest museum in the world still in existence. It is also the only Renaissance Kunstkammer of its kind still to be in its original location.
The unique collection of the Ambras Kunstkammer consists of armor, weapons, portraits, natural objects, rarities, ‘wonders of natura’, most recent scientific instruments, musical instruments, precious items etcetera, which in later times would be classified as artificia, naturalia, scientifica, exotica and mirabilia. The two artifacts were likely thought to fit this profile because they are visually intriguing, even for those unfamiliar with its function. Ferdinand II was the first to present his collection according to a systematic concept, within a specially constructed dedicated building. A variety of unusual artifacts such as glass figurines, coral artifacts, mechanical toys and clocks are on display and open to the public to this day, administered by the KHM-Museumverbands as part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna.
Museum photo of artifact AM_PA_742 (a twisted torus)
The extant artifacts
According to the museum, the Ambras Kunstkammer contains three artifacts of similar shape. Only two of the artifacts are mentioned as part of the inventory of 1596, and were described as such:
Ain cranz, von holz gemacht. (A wreath, made of wood.)
Ain selczames holz, so creizweis under einander gewachsen. (fol.472’) (A rare [unusual] wood[en object], inserted cross-wise under each other.)
There is no other providence available for the artifacts, apart from being stored in cabinet 18 of the Kunstkammer labeled as “darinnen allerlei holzwerch” (in there all sorts of woodwork).
What is a Twisted Torus
The artifacts in question are two wooden wreaths (Kranz), now located in the Unterschloss Kunstkammer, cabinet 10. They are both made of wood (Holz), without specifying the species of tree, how it was worked or if the wood was treated in any way. One has a diameter of 24 cm (9.4 inches), and the other of 27 cm (10.6 inches). The wreaths are assembled by cross-wise interconnected rectangular slotted links of wood (kreuzweise ineinandergesteckte Blättchen) and the resulting chain is doubled back and connected beginning to end to form a circle, a wreath. (pr. comm. Ambras Museum) The design is in the same tradition of celebrating geometry as the German graphic artist Johannes Lencker in his woodcut of 1567. (Hart) If the number of units is more or less than a multiple of three it will display a natural twist – for instance 75 pieces gives an untwisted circle, while 76 and 77 links will give a twisted circle, like a mobius ring. Studying the museum provided photographs shows the 24cm wreath to be an untwisted circle, and the 27cm wreath a twisted circle.
What I find intriguing is that the collection information mentions “verwendungszweick unbekannt” or, use unknown. George Hart, an early enthusiast of Rapid Prototyping also known as 3D printing, mentions on his web page Twisted Torus that he does not know what it could have been either, and goes on to speculate:
“Was it just a visual puzzle, challenging the viewer to think about how it was assembled? Was it a “masterpiece” displayed to prove the skill of the creator? Was it functional, perhaps a trivet, or laurel to be worn on the head like a mazzocchio? Were the parts leftover material in some workshop, perhaps a wooden furniture or carriage maker, which someone casually put together into a chain?” (Hart)
Bret Rothstein, a philosopher interested in intellectual puzzles, wrote several articles about the curious wooden objects. He argues the tori were intended to be visually and intellectual difficult. Rothstein theorizes that as interest in the tradition of making objects to confuse people increased around the same time the twisted tori entered the Ambras collection, the tori could be curiosity puzzles too. He thinks that, unlike most manufactured objects in the collection, the tori do not actually depict anything. They are what they are – wooden pieces that interlock in a seemingly impossible way. And then goes on to say:
“However charming one may find the helical tori, they simply cannot match that sort of craftsmanship. Though their configurations are elegant as well as beautiful, their components are rough, to put it mildly: gouge marks and tearouts mark virtually every piece. Furthermore, those pieces are not really works of art in their own right, but rather seem more like mortise pieces.” (Rothstein, 4)
If the wreaths are no more than practical tools, then what could they have been used for?
The practical use for a torus
Ferdinand II was not the only renaissance art-lover to collect unusual things. The Kunstkammer of Albrecht V (1528-1579), Duke of Bavaria, was another renaissance collection of all things natural and mechanical. Called the Munich Kunstkammer, it was one of the earliest universal collections north of the Alps. Albrecht had started collecting at the beginning of his reign in 1550 but already in 1557, his councilors found it necessary to curtail his expenses! By 1563 construction on a dedicated building began and even though it continued at least until 1578, the collections were already on display by the end of the 1560’s. (Kaliardos 2014, 1-5) All this as a convoluted way of illustrating the Munich Kunstkammer is very similar to the Ambras Kunstkammer – and low and behold, in 1598 the collection included an object remarkably similar to the Ambras Kranz:
389 (286 w) Ein hülzener Pfannenkhnecht, oder schüßelring, von clainem gestückletem holz ineinander verschrengt, umb und umb mit clainen schilten und aufgemahlten des Bayrischen Adels wappen. (Diemer 2004, 65) – A wood pot helper, or dish ring, of small slotted wood [pieces] combined together, alternating with small shields decorated with the Royal arms of Bayern.
This description is from an inventory assembled in 1598 and would indicate that at that specific moment in time the torus was identified as a pot helper, or dish ring – basically, a trivet.
The torus as a trivet
From the 19th century onwards, it is fairly easy to find examples of wood wreath trivets both in Scandinavian and in Hungarian culture. The digital collections of the Swedish and Danish museums especially list dozens of “pannring” objects collected in the late 19th to the middle of the 20th century. The same is found for Hungarian wood wreath trivets, there called cauldron wreaths – the oldest object is dated to 1840. But did they not get used, or did they not get collected and catalogued, before then? I think it unfortunately is the latter. The concept of ethnography, the systematic study of people and culture, had only recently developed. Universities and private collectors would collect data and objects, most often from strange and foreign lands and peoples. But not until the industrial revolution was it realized by governments and universities alike that rural life as had been known since living memory was quickly fading away, replaced by modern conveniences like refrigerators and dry-goods stores (supermarkets). Ethnographers were sent into the field in their own countries to preserve what was left, and this push for the past is still visible in the influx of collection acquisitions in the late nineteenth century. Honestly, it’s a good thing they did while it was still there to be found.
The Hungarian Kutyagerinc – used to keep round-bottom cooking pots from tipping. Photo: Arcanum online (copyright free)
A neat example of a wood wreath trivet is the Hungarian kutyagerinc, or dog’s spine, as seen on the table in the photograph of the shepherds’ couple dining. In the words of Barna Gábor in his book A pásztorok muvészete (The art of shepherds, 1989):
“In the shepherd’s apartments, most have chimneys, smoky kitchens, open stoves and multiple families cook on the stove. There is also a kitchen in the Keszthely Empire where six families cook on a stove. The feet, pots and pans are designed for this, and the fire is gathered into its circle. It is natural that the feet and the pot are rusty, which is not a problem; the people consider that, with open fire, the goal is a more delicious meal and a crunchy roast.
If the soiled dish is put on the beautiful white tablecloth, it makes a mess. For this reason, the shepherd carries a tablecloth-outside table-saver, which is called the kutyagerinc (dog’s spine) because it really resembles the backbone of the dog, but is assembled as a wreath (218). The kutyagerinc consists of two or three hundred parts intersecting each other, held together by the parts, so that one part is tightly connected to the other.
The good kutyagerinc is that which is cramped as close as possible. You don’t need to use a glue, an adhesive for the kutyagerinc, “because it holds itself together”. If the assemblage of the kutyagerinc is connected with two opposing parts, it can be turned so that the heads of the parts stand in a different direction [it rotates] and the wreath has a different image. The two ends of the wreath are so cleverly hooked up that the observer can’t figure out how to put the hundreds of pieces together so wonderfully! The shepherd does something that is for pleasure. There is no benefit, but it is nice!” (Gábor 1989)
When I checked the museum records of Swedish wood wreath trivets, called “pannring”, I found many examples but also found something else: Ulrika Torell curator of the Nordiska museet (Nordic Museum) explained the “pannring” as follows:
“A so-called yeast ring, or yeast wreath, originally used for brewing beer and malt drinks. The wreath is placed in the fermenter where yeast residues adhered and were allowed to dry into the hollows of the wreath. In this way, a good yeast was preserved for the next brewing. The wreaths were made of wooden sticks or straw. When the homestead brewing needs eventually declined [yeast could now be purchased, as well as beer] the wreaths instead began to be used as trivets for pots and pans and got a new name.” (Torell 2012)
The torus as a yeast ring
As Bret Rothstein, George Hart and even Schloss Ambras Museum found to their surprise, whenever the torus was displayed where Scandinavians would encounter it, they would immediately identify it as a yeast ring. The identity of a yeast ring seems to be deeply ingrained in the Scandinavian mindset, which made me wonder how old this custom could be. While there exists a Norwegian yeast log conveniently carved on the bottom with the date of 1621, there is no such luck with yeast rings. Same with Hungarian kutyagerinc, the museum objects in the Scandinavian collections are all dated and/or acquired at the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. And then I remembered the multi-volume 1555 book Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (A History of the Northern Peoples) by Olaus Magnus, which mentions many Nordic topics, including brewing. Maybe it is mentioned in there?
Yeast ring, hanging outside the brewery – from History of the Northern People, 1555.
There you have it: one yeast ring, hanging off a pole outside a drinking establishment, indicating the brew was successful and ready for consumption. Interestingly, it was apparently such a normal tool that the use of the ring does not even get a mention in the text of the book… And if you think it strange to hang the yeast ring out in nature, realize that brewers back then did not know yeast was a creature, only that the sun and an airy breeze would help dry the sludge out more quickly, and that that was good. Putting out the yeasty tool to indicate a job well done is not something unusual, there is a long tradition in Europe of using yeast related utensils as pre-period inn signs, like besoms (twiggy sweeping brooms) and ale-poles (the medieval variant of mash paddles).
Out of the twelve Scandinavian sources I’ve located and translated so far, my favorite about yeast rings is the Swedish article by Nils Nilsson called Jästkransen (Yeast wreaths) from 1981. While it is not as detailed as for instance Odd Nordland in his Brewing and beer traditions in Norway: the social anthropological background of the brewing industry (1969) or Gösta Berg in Jäststock och jästkrans (Yeast log and yeast wreath – 1949) what I love about it are the two photographs included. One is of a confirmed panring / trivet, and the other of a confirmed yeast ring. And it is clearly visible: the yeast ring is slathered in dried yeast, and the trivet has scorched edges from where the hot pots touched the wood. Interestingly, while yeast sludge can be soaked and rinsed away it is impossible to clean scorched wood. And most of the tori collected as trivets do not show any indication of heat scorching, which puzzles me.
From Nilsson: (left) Wreath braided with sticks, according to Kulturens folk art catalog 1932, a trivet from Skåne, that is to say, a stand for a frying pan. Diameter 23 cm. KM 35.767. (right) Jästkrans, one of a pair acquired from Harlösa in Skåne in 1945, information about the use is missing. The dried substance between the sticks contains, apart from various “debris” residues, starch and yeast fungi. Diameter 15 cm. KM 47,356:2.
In the words of Nils Nilsson, in his 1981 Jästkransen:
“Another method was to allow the yeast to dry, which gave significantly increased durability. The yeast must then be collected in a suitable way. From ancient towns in central Sweden and Norway it is known that they used to lay down a so-called yeast log or yeast stick in the yeast vessel, a piece of log of rough bark or recessed depths where the yeast mass was gathered. The stick was then hung to dry and the yeast in the holes could then be preserved for a long time.
The same method has been applied with wreaths, which were usually straw bundles, but which in southern Sweden and Denmark were often composed of small sticks stuck into each other, yeast rings. The wreaths could either be placed in the vessel like the yeast stick, so that the yeast flowed into the cavities, or “filled” by pouring the yeast over them. Otherwise, the approach was the same.
Wreaths composed of small wooden sticks are quite common in our museum collections. Very few of these have a clear function as yeast rings. In general, they are found as a trivet for saucepans, pots and the like. In this capacity, they still exist, usually manufactured and marketed as home-made supplies. The question is then whether the use of wreaths as a pot holder was developed only after ceasing to store yeast dried in wreaths, in other words a kind of functional retreat as it is called in scientific language. More likely, they have been used for both these purposes and that the connection with the beer yeast has been forgotten after the use of brewing beer at home disappeared.” (Nilsson 1981, 45-48)
Yeast ring made by me from backyard Swamp Birch (Betula allegheniensis)
Speculations on the past
With these newly found facts, we can speculate on the initial practical function of the tori. For instance, did the twisted torus started out as a trivet which was appropriated by an out-of-the-box thinking brewster and the technique was subsequently emulated by her impressed friends and neighbors? Or maybe the torus started out as a yeast ring but, with the invention of dried yeast in the early 1800’s, lost its job and that by the time the ethnographers stopped by for a chat and a brew the yeast ring had already mostly devolved into a trivet? If, perhaps the torus started out as a trivet, it was appropriated in the Scandinavian lands as a yeast ring but then reverted back to its original function when it was no longer needed? Or perhaps the use as a trivet, and as a yeast ring, was fairly simultaneous, depending on the needs of the people of a particular region at a certain place in time.
Food for thought: Bret Rothstein mentions the Ambras tori are likely made from beech. Most yeast rings are made of beech and birch, as the Betula species seems to be most favorable to yeast colonization. With only a little embellishing, this factoid favors the story that perhaps the two tori from the Ambras collection were gifted by a Scandinavian official for the Royal collection, or perhaps brought back as curious souvenirs from His Grace’s travels to the Nordic countries.
Group entry by Elska á Fjárfelli, OL (Susan Verberg), Baroness Aranwen Ap Rhys Verch Gwalter (Teresa Nall) and THLord Robert of Ferness (Ken Stuart) for the Passing of the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon Competition, April 2019.
By Elska á Fjárfelli, of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn.
Who was the Princess of Zweeloo?
In 1952, an unusual grave was found during the excavation of an early-medieval graveyard. The graveyard could not be fully recorded because probably a large part was destroyed due to commercial sand excavation. It was not until sand was taken from under the bottom of an ash tree that the discovery of a significant number of old objects initiated the archaeological survey. Grave finds indicate the graveyard started being used at the end of the imperial era or at the beginning of the Migration Period, in the late fourth or early fifth century, and ended in the eighth to ninth century. When a large equal-armed fibula and a row of large beads were found in the field, the locals and archaeologists alike were convinced of the wealth of the grave. On the basis of the burial gifts it could be established that this was a female grave, dating from the middle of the fifth century. Considering the wealth, it was decided to remove the skull and the torso of the ‘princess’ in-situ in order to continue excavation in laboratory conditions at a later date.
Left: grave finds of torso in situ (Es & Ypey 1977, 14). Right: Archaeological reconstructions. (Vons-Comis 1988, 42)
It was during the laboratory excavation that the two strings of beads and two disk brooches of gilded iron were discovered within the coffin. Different fabric residues were found behind both brooches and corroded against a number of the bronze rings from the belt. Over the years, several reconstructions of her clothing were made on the basis of these remnants. The woman buried in the grave wore a linen garment woven in diamond twill with woven-in card-trim which was closed on the shoulders with two round gold-plated pins. Placed on her waist area was a string of extremely large glass beads, likely spindle whorls, and two bronze keys. She wore two long necklaces, suspended from her shoulder brooches: one of large amber beads and one of single-colored and multi-colored glass beads. She had a beaver tooth around her neck as well as a silver wire toiletry set. She wore a bronze bracelet around her wrist. But she received the nicknamed of “Princess of Zweeloo” not because of all that splendor, but because of an even more splendid very large gilt bronze equal-arm brooch which likely closed a woolen cloak.
After seeing the museum reconstruction when our family visited the Museum Drenthe in Assen, I realized my initial reconstruction was not quite right. Back in the States, I set about tracking down the original archaeological reports – with the invaluable help of Robert – to see where I’d gone wrong and what was truly known about her and her grave finds. I found many re-enactors fascinated by the Princess and making their own creations, as seen from the many websites and blogposts online. But like me, it seemed most were working off limited resources: if lucky, one Dutch academic article, and if not, often each other, especially in the case of those not reading Dutch or German.
To spread the information and help other re-enactors avoid the traps I fell into, I translated the German and Dutch articles into English. For my do-over, I then found specialists within the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, as well as mundane merchants, to help source and recreate specific parts of the costume. Together we created a plausible museum-similar recreation – as much as we can afford – of the Princess of Zweeloo wardrobe. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed this collaborative challenge!
Who did what?
Aranwen took on the challenge of duplicating the flamework glass spindle whorl ‘belt’ including the small bronze rings which were part of the assemble.
Elska sourced the materials we could not produce ourselves, which included the natural linen, the broken diamond twill wool, the plain glass beads, as well as the bronze shoulder brooches and equal armed brooch. She hand sewed a linen under tunic and a wool peplos, fringed the wool shawl, assembled the glass bead necklace, and carved the amber necklace.
Robert undertook the challenge of making shoes where there were none found, working from contemporary sources of the same region and era. He also helped source the lesser well-known articles through Inter-Library Loan.
How did everything come together?
Even with limited resources (thank you, everyone, for buying maple syrup at Ice Dragon) I think our recreation got pretty close. It would have been better to work with a dedicated metal artisan then trying to fashion a toiletry set myself, and I overestimated the size of the amber beads resulting in a string slightly larger than the original. The historic beads measured so much larger than anything I could afford, that by the time I decided to make them from scratch I figured I’d make them as large as I could to sort out size later. Who’d have thought that was not the smart assumption to make!
Aside from my not always as successful as I liked contributions, the additions of my fellow artisans were right on point. Both the spindle whorl collection and the Iron age shoes looked spot-on and only need another 2,000 years of burial to look just like the extant artifacts!
The ‘belt’ of spindle whorls, as compared to the extant piece:
On the Left is Aranwen’s collection (photo: Teresa Nall), on the right is the extant piece as photographed by the museum of Assen.
Iron age shoes contemporary to hypothetical shoes belonging to the Princess:
The Iron age shoes as imagined and executed by cordwainer Robert of Ferness.
The wardrobe assembled and on display; one version at Ice Dragon, and one at the Museum in Assen:
Left: Our group Ice Dragon entry. Right: The original beaded necklace, amber necklace, and spindle whorl belt on reconstructed broken diamond twill linen peplos, as displayed at the Museum of Assen in the Netherlands (photo: Susan Verberg).
Aranwen, the Princess, Elska and Robert posing at Ice Dragon (and no, we did not color-coordinate on purpose, I guess great minds think alike LOL)
I found Ice Dragon to be a great venue to inspire each of us to the best of our abilities, and although this type of group project does not quite fit the current categories there is already chatter on addressing that for future years. Group projects could concentrate on diverse subjects, covering many disciplines. For example, one team could enter a forged sword, a decorated scabbard, chape, and belt with fittings. Another team could prepare a meal of main dish, side dish, dessert, and drink. A third team could make a leather-covered, calligraphed, and illuminated parchment book. I think group projects like this are a great way to approach a larger project from the medieval mindset where for each part there is a specialist crafter who is often a specialized-Guild member.
Approaching more involved projects like recreating the Princess of Zweeloo wardrobe from the combined skill sets of multiple artisans also avoids putting all the different skill requirements onto the capabilities of one person. Even in our current Middle Ages artisans often specialize according to their interests and skills. Utilizing this specialization could lead to a higher quality outcome, as my not-quite-right metal accessories showed: it really does pay to work with the experts of their field. Experimental archaeology by experts now that is something to behold! So… who’s next?
Last year, Ædult Swim welcomed the inclusion of more A&S offerings. This year, the scenery has changed but the sounds of happy artisans will surely ring throughout the hall.
Here is a quick sample of what we have in store:
A&S Saturday Activities 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.*
All Day – A&S Play Spaces for all disciplines
Lunchtime Class – Documentation and Research, All are invited!
*1 to 5 p.m. Scribal Workshop
Afternoon Largess Project – Birka-style wire and bead pendants
A&S Sunday Activities 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Space is available, but no specific planned A&S activities (yet)
A&S Martial Classes
Rattan classes (interactive and stationary) held at the far end of the Heavy Fighter Floor. Schedule TBD
Rapier classes held on the third floor. Contact Master Illadore de Bedegrayne for more information.
This year, A&S activities will be taking over the first floor. While we have use of the space for both days, coordinated actives will only be running Saturday. We will not have many structured classes but we will be offering bountiful space for A&S Play Time for any and all disciplines.
If you want to be sure there is space for you and your art, contact Lady Margareta. We recommend that everyone plan for the possible chilly temperatures inside and if you wish, bring portable heaters.
We currently have space/interest set for sewing and fiber arts, scribal, and leather work. From 1 to 5 p.m., we will have the Morgan Bible Part 1 Scribal Tour Workshop. In the afternoon there will be a roundtable discussion for brewers. We have some cooks who will be dabbling with the idea of a field kitchen and siege cooking. There will be more on this as we get closer to the event, but if anyone would like to join in the fun, our chefs would love the company and may be calling for food donations. “Stones” for stone soup are always appreciated.
During the Lunch Hour (from 12-1(ish)), we will be opening space for food and a class on documentation and research led by Lady Rosie Dubroc (MKA Susan Holder).
There is a possibility of a group order of pizza; more on that later after quotes have been arranged. There is food for purchase on the second floor for a school fundraiser, and as always, we strongly encourage people to bring coolers and their own food.
Don’t forget to bring snacks!
After the class, there will be space and supplies for those who wish to participate in a largess project (Birka-style wire and bead pendants); items will be donated to the Kingdom of Æthelmearc. Donations of beads, wire, etc. are welcomed and can be dropped off the day of Ædult Swim or interested parties can contact Lady Margareta for drop off prior to the event.
The BMDL Fiber Guild was invited back to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh MAKESHOP on April 29, for a medieval embroidery demo. (This is our sixth demo for the museum!) MAKESHOP is a partnership between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). It is a space dedicated to making, reusing and designing things, using everyday materials and real tools. It has regular programs and special guests.
The goal of the demo was to introduce children and their families to medieval embroidery and basic techniques. As it can be a complex topic, there was a lot of fine tuning to make sure the program would be useful to the children who have never done any embroidery and to the more experienced adults. This required the talent and resources of many people to produce a successful presentation.
Mistress Ts’vee’a bat Tseepora Levi, Lady Gesa von Wellenstein, and Lady Rivka bat Daniyal generously donated their time and skills to the demo by teaching the stitches, drawing designs, and assisting with the kids’ take home projects.
Lady Rivka and Mistress Tsvia demonstrating skills to the children.
THL Renata Rouge sent us her embroidery stitch cards, which guided the kids through commonly used stitches using a “connect the dots” method (and the cards rhymed, too). They were so successful, that after the demo the Museum requested to keep a set. Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh of Coppertree donated a big box of embroidery floss, and we used a lot of it!
Embroidery stitch cards from THL Renata Rouge.
We also had a wonderful display of medieval embroidered items – the Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands Hilda and Brandubh loaned their embroidered heraldic hoods, Mistress Antoinette de la Croix lent us two amazing embroidered dresses, Mistress Tsvia brought her Elizabethan blackwork embroidery, Lady Gesa brought several traditional embroidery items, and Lady Rivka submitted her embroidered Ottoman Turkish coat.
Embroidered items display
Children and adults enjoyed the display, took home the embroidered designs they made, and learned about the use of embroidery in the Middle Ages. Great fun was had by the attendees and the demonstrators! We are looking forward to the next demo in the fall.
Photographs taken and article submitted by THL Luceta di Cosimo.
A change in the light? A soft smell in the air? A gentle kiss of a breeze instead of an ice-knifed gale? Well, ok, not today given the snowstorm blanketing much of southern Æthelmearc, but it’s coming!
If you are weary of the bite of winter, I invite you to think of the warmer months ahead … particularly June!
The good folk of the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais look forward to welcoming you to the Spring 2018 session of Æthelmearc Æcademy and War College, which will be held on Saturday, June 16. Event information can be found here: http://aecademy.net/spring2018/index.shtml
The theme for this session will be Adornments, Embellishments, Flourishes, and Garnishes.
We can all find ways to up our game, whether by adorning a garment with intricate embroidery, embellishing a tale, adding flourish to a calligraphed signature, or garnishing a tasty dish.
Teachers are thus encouraged to offer classes that will inspire others to “kick it up a notch.”
Already, we have classes in:
Making turnshoes (An all-day, make-it-and-take-it class!)
Protocol for RP events (Helpful tips for Royalty Liasons!)
Running an event (Great for autocrats wanting to up their game!)
Scandinavian boxes (Spiff up your camp!)
Sewing hats (Every outfit is better with a hat!)
Short-sleeved Italian gown (Just right for Pennsic!)
For this session, we will be using two sites: one is a church with typical classrooms; the other is a fire hall with one large open room.
Having two kitchens means that those wishing to teach hands-on cooking classes will be able to do so without interfering with lunch prep. The fire hall is especially suited for multi-hour, messy classes.
Brewers will be pleased to learn that the fire hall will allow us to offer a Brewers’ Guild Roundtable.
For the martially inclined, we have a large, flat open field that can accommodate any number of fighters and fencers.
In addition, Duchess Ilish is already working to line up a stellar slate of classes for our Youth Track. We welcome classes taught by our youthful artisans as well as for them.
I hope you will consider sharing your knowledge, skills, and passions with AEthelmearc by teaching a class (or two!)
It may be winter, but the Æthelmearc Equestrians have not been idle. On March 2, as part of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands’ demo which was conducted at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, the equestrians of Æthelmearc set up and displayed the tools of their trade. The Coordinator for the equestrian portion of the demo was Isabel Johnston who organized the various portions of the display. She and her husband, Tomas, also constructed several clever devices to facilitate displaying various components of the display and creating a fun and inter-active game for participants.
Tomas solved one of the difficult questions that faces equestrian artisans when trying to properly display “barding” or “caparisons” which are used to cover and decorate the horse. These historical “garments” had a variety of uses and functions in period. Because most A&S type events are not conducive to bringing in a horse to model the barding, it is difficult for the artisans to display these items to full effect. Tomas came up with a portable and life sized “dummy” to display a set of Mistress Gozen’s full barding which completely covers the horse from head to —- hoof.
A life sized display of tournament equipment.
The other interesting creation of Tomas was a mock horse that moved. Constructed of a wooden saddle rack and securely mounted on a sturdy wooded platform with wheels, this device was outfitted with saddle, bridle and barding complete with bells. Attendees to the Science Center’s Over 21 Event were treated to an opportunity to mount the “horse” armed with a sword, and attack a series of mounted heads while being pulled through our mock tourney field. This replicated a popular game on the SCA equestrian tourney field commonly called “Behead the Enemy.” This activity was extremely well received, with a constant stream of participants most who waited patiently in line for several minutes for an opportunity to “take a few swings.” Participants included SCA demo participants as well as the young and quite elderly visitors to the Center. Several of the equestrians worked hard in this area of the display including Isabel, Lady Rowena Macara, Lady Leah of the Debatable Lands, and Jackie Caulkins, one of our newest equestrians. They pulled the attendees through the course on the “horse.” Spouses and friends took many candid photographs in this area.
Besides this fun activity, attendees were treated to a display of arts and sciences by Mistress Gozen including a display of barding types in miniature as well as a display of the items needed in a tournament by a mounted rider. This included a medieval styled saddle, bridle, full barding, banners, surcoat and helmet mantle. Lady Gesa set up a display of jousting equipment. Participants were very fascinated by all these period recreations and asked many good questions.
The evening was an excellent opportunity to introduce these people to the wonderful world that is the SCA. Some folks came in garb, some wearing things from their cosplay experiences while others said they had the clothes from prior Halloween costumes. The Science Center allowed the SCA to display various crafts and activities on all the floors of their Center. On the Lower floor, where the equestrians were located, there was also heavy fighting and a local Steel Sword Fighting organization. All the areas were well attended and appreciated by the attendees. We, the equestrians of Æthelmearc were grateful to the Center and the Barony, especially Lady Zianna who coordinated the entire project, for the opportunity to bring our craft to the populace of Pittsburgh!
Article written by Mistress Gozen and the photographs were taken by Baron Friderich Swartzwalder and Isabel Johnston.
The Center’s official press release about the demo can be found here.