The Ice Dragon Pentathlon is an arts competition that dates back to the second Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon ( basically, a long time ago). While it has had many forms over the years, the most recognizable and often used is the format we’re using this year: multiple categories anyone can enter and win, with an overall competition among those who have chosen to enter a minimum of five different categories.
☞ You can enter one item in one category at Ice Dragon.
☞ You can even enter up to five items in one category at Ice Dragon.
This enters you into the competition, but only for that category.
So essentially, we’re having 19 separate arts competitions.
If you choose to enter the Grand Pentathlon, you will need to enter a minimum of five separate categories. You can enter more. Only your top score in each of five categories will count. The 19 categories are listed here with explanations.
The folks who choose to enter the Grand Pentathlon will have their top score from each of their top five categories added together to determine their Grand Pentathlon score. So
If you entered Culinary Arts with five entries and got five perfect scores, only one of those will count toward your Grand Pentathlon score (but we WILL be at your next feast).
If you enter ten categories, only the top five scores FROM FIVE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES will count towards the Grand Pentathlon.
There are nineteen categories. If you enter – and win – ten categories, it is possible for someone to enter – and lose – five categories, and still beat you in the Grand Pentathlon based on the scores because it only counts each competitor’s top five scores in five separate Categories.
How does the SCORING work?
To determine an item’s score, each item is evaluated on five criteria on a scale of 1-6 by three judges. These are added together for a potential score from 15 to 90 points The criteria used are dependent on the category entered and are broken down into four groups:
Material Culture (THINGS, including all written word entries except research papers)
Youth (minors are welcome to enter as adults if they wish to do so)
The winner of each Category is based on the best individual or group score of all items entered into the category. Winners of major categories will be announced and prizes awarded for them at the event.
An entrant’s Grand Pentathlon score is calculated by taking the entrant’s single highest score in each Category they are entered in. If the entrant has entered more than five Categories, the top five are used. These are added together to produce a Grand Pentathlon score. The Winner of the Grand Pentathlon is determined solely by the scores.
It is possible for a person to win five or more Categories and lose the Grand Pentathlon to another person who has won NO Categories. We have 19 Categories. A person scoring 50 in each of five Categories, winning those Categories, has a Grand Pentathlon score of 250. A person scoring 60 in five other Categories, but coming in second in each to five other people thereby NOT winning the Categories, will have a Grand Pentathlon score of 300. This is why we base the Grand Pentathlon on score, not on the number of major categories won.
And what about YOUTH ENTRIES?
People 17 and under may – but are not required to – enter in these categories. They may choose instead to have their work judged as an equal to any adult entry in the category appropriate to the materials and/or construction.
I also heard there are SPECIAL COMPETITIONS, separate from the general categories…
Special competitions are established at the discretion of the Pent Coordinator in consultation with the Event Autocrat and the Rhydderich Hael Baronage.
Any ONE item that can qualify for entry in a minimum of 5 of the above listed Categories. This item may not be used to qualify for the grand Pentathlon Prize. Scoring is based on the same criteria used in the Pentathlon. To determine an item’s score, each item is evaluated on the five criteria on a scale of 1-6 by three judges. These are added together for a potential score from 15 to 90.
KING AND QUEEN’S CHOICE
Chosen at the discretion of the Æthelmearc Royalty. All items in all displays are eligible for and automatically entered in this competition.
BARON AND BARONESS’ CHOICE
Chosen at the discretion of the Rhydderich Hael Baronage. All items in all displays are eligible for and automatically entered in this competition.
Looking forward to your entries.
Kingdom Event page on the AS 54 Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon. Home page of the Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon. Home page of the Passing of the Ice Dragon Pentathlon.
The Passing of the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon has released the judging criteria for its second category, and just in the nick of time! The literary deadline listed for the Ice Dragon Pent, originally scheduled for February 1, 2020, was recently extended to February 14th as the judging criteria were not available ahead of time for this category. The Pent Organizers apologies for this delay, and are happy to share them with you now. To download your own pdf copy, please click here.
If you have not yet sent in your entry, you are welcome to utilize the judging criteria to self-score your work and tweak any areas you feel might benefit. And if you have, not to worry, you can resend – and we promise next year they’ll be out on schedule now the heavy lifting is done.
Hard copy of the research paper Black Parchment – displayed at the AS 53 Pent. Make sure to come and check out the literary art entries, as well as the general A&S entries!
Entries may be sent electronically or via hard copy in the mail. If you do not receive a confirmation email that an electronically submitted entry has been received within 24 hours of sending it, contact the Pent coordinator. Please also contact us in advance if you are sending hard copy.
Research Papers are part of the Literary Arts Category, which may include, but is not limited to: Musical arrangement & composition, Poetry & prose and Research paper. A research paper may be written in any style which the entrant chooses (e.g. Chicago, ALA, etc.). The entrant is strongly encouraged to be consistent in the use of the style they choose. The judging of the research paper is to be focused on the research presented, and any theories or conclusions presented. You can read more on the different types of research papers, like the argumentative paper, the analytical paper, the compare and contrast paper, &c., on the A&S Pent/researchpaper webpage.
In the next week or two we will add the remaining judging criteria for Live Performance and Youth entries. Keep an eye on our website and on social media to see all we’re up to. The end of March is creeping up fast, and that pesky Ice Dragon sure is in need of some slaying!
Looking forward to your entries.
Kingdom Event page on the AS 54 Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon. Home page of the Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon. Home page of the Passing of the Ice Dragon Pentathlon.
All of the black manuscripts that we know about were made during the time of Philip the Good and Charles the Bold from Burgundy, but only seven survive today; among them are the Morgan Black Hours, the Black Hours in the Hispanic Society in NY, the Black Hours of Galeazzo Maria Sforza in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, and select pages in the Hours of Mary of Burgundy in the Austrian National Library. The Morgan Black Hours (MS M. 493) was made in Bruges, then part of Burgundy, (modern day Belgium), in 1475-80 by an Anon. artist in the circle of Willem Vrelant. The book measures 17×12 cm (approx. 6 ¾ x 4 ¾ in.) and has 242 pages with 14 full page miniatures. It is written in gold and silver ink with opaque pigments that stand out from the black parchment.
The black dye process makes the parchment unstable. Instead of lasting for two thousand years, most black parchment will only last for a fraction of that; an estimated 50-600 years and considering that half of the surviving manuscripts are in poor condition that is an accurate estimate. The Morgan Black Hours are currently undergoing conservation to see if the paint can be stabilized as the parchment has become brittle.
The Morgan Library says that this vellum (1) is smooth and shiny. Looking at the digital images, you can see some cracking on the paint, and flaking or uneven uptake of the black on the parchment. Some of this may be due to wear and tear, but I think most of it is original and reflects the natural textures of the surface. Facsimile Finder and Wikipedia both claim that the parchment was dipped or soaked in an iron-copper solution, which is possible as that follows some black leather dye recipes of the time, but judging by the look of the finished product, I would say this was painted on in layers as per Cennini’s instructions.
Dipping can be a problematic process at best, and disastrous at worst; other parchmenters have tried dipping without much success and it is not recommended as it creates a big mess, uses a large amount of dye/ink, and leaves the parchment with a bad texture that is difficult to work on.
Below are Cennino d-Andrea Cennini’s instructions from Il Libro del Arte (translated by Daniel V. Thompson Jr.), written in the late 1300’s, and rearranged by me for process clarity.
“When you want to tint kid parchment, you should first soak it in spring or well water until it gets all wet and soft. Then, stretching it over a board, like a drumskin, fasten it down with big-headed nails, and apply the tints to it in due course, as described above” (below).
(He gives instructions on how to mix colored ink). “Then take a large paint pot, big enough for these ground colours, and put in enough of this size to make it flow freely from the brush. And choose a good-sized soft bristle brush. Then take that paper of yours which you wish to tint; lay some of this tint evenly over the ground of your paper, running your hand lightly, with the brush about half dry, first in one direction and then in the other. And put on three or four coats of it in this way or five, until you see that the paper is tinted evenly. And wait long enough between one coat and the next for each coat to dry. And if you see that it gets shriveled from your tinting, or horny from the tinting mixture, it is a sign that the tempera is too strong; and so, while you are laying the first coat, remedy this. How? –Put in some clear warm water. When it is dry and done, take a penknife, and rub lightly over the tinted sheet with the blade, so as to remove any little roughness that there may be on it.
If it should come about that the paper or parchment is not smooth enough to suit you, take this paper, and lay it on a walnut board, or on a flat, smooth slab; then put a sheet of good clean paper over the one which you have tinted; and, with the stone for burnishing and working gold, burnish with considerable strength of hand; and so, in this way, [p. 10] it will get soft and smooth.”
Using Cennini’s method for coloring a piece of parchment (black), I did a test swatch on sheep with iron gall ink, front and back. It worked well, so I decided to try an entire piece of parchment.
I received the hide of a downed sheep (that means it died in the field), and it was filthy. The hide was full of holes and discolored on the flesh side. I fleshed (2) and dried it, then soaked it in water for a week to remove as much dirt as possible (at which point it froze, and fortunately absorbed the tannin (3) that would become necessary to make good black parchment – I did not know this at the time). Then I prepared the parchment as per Theophilus’ instructions.
Theophilus, a 12th Century scholar offers a set of instructions:
“Take goat skins and stand them in water for a day and a night. Take them and wash them until the water runs clear. Take an entirely new bath and place therein old lime and water mixing well to form a thick cloudy liquor. Place the skins in this, folding them on the flesh side. Move them with a pole two or three times each day, leaving them for eight days (and twice as long in winter). Next you must withdraw the skins and unhair them. Pour off the contents of the bath and repeat the process using the same quantities, placing the skins in the lime liquor and moving them once each day over eight days as before. Then take them out and wash well until the water runs quite clean. Place them in another bath with clean water and leave them there for two days. Then take them out, attach cords and tie them to the circular frame. Dry, then shave them with a sharp knife after which leave them for two days out of the sun. Moisten with water and rub the flesh side with powdered pumice. After two days wet it again by sprinkling with a little water and fully clean the flesh side with pumice so as to make it quite wet again. Then tighten up the cords, equalize the tension so that the sheet will become permanent. Once the sheets are dry, nothing further remains to be done.” (Reed, 1975, p. 74).
I rinsed it as well as I could and tried a second fleshing on the beam to remove the stains from the flesh side. They did not come out. The finished parchment felt lovely, so I decided to dye it.
Ceninni emphasizes how important it is to use a dry brush. He is working on pre-cut sheets, re-stretched tight like watercolor paper. I left the parchment on the original stretcher rather than waste materials re-stretching and re-cutting.
I used a softer hog bristle brush and iron gall ink as I had a lot on hand. I brushed the ink on both sides in one direction quickly, letting it dry flat on each side. Then I repeated perpendicular to the first application and let each side dry again. I applied the final coat on the diagonal and let everything dry overnight.
It was critically important to keep the ink coats light and dry, because too much moisture caused softening and a permanent gasoline-like stain where I accidentally dripped, even after trying to sop it up. In subsequent experiments with other inks & dyes this has held true, so this is why I doubt the dipping theory – too much liquid is a recipe for disaster on parchment.
I cut the black parchment off the frame and made it into 8×10 sheets. I made the mistake of using a metal ruler, which left silver-point lines on the parchment. I used the offcuts to patch holes with a small amount of commercial hide glue; some patches were more successful than others. This is one of the most even pieces of parchment I’ve made to date (March 2019).
Several people have worked on this black parchment with varying degrees of success. It has a slightly chalky texture, which creates a bit of drag on brushes & pigments, but it seems to be relatively user-friendly. The gold watercolor took beautifully; the cobalt blue watercolor needed titanium white to show. I will definitely try again, though with more purposeful use of tannin next time. Test swatches show that the uptake is not as good without the mordant. (4)
(1) I will refer to this as parchment from here on out because all vellum is parchment but not all parchment is vellum; vellum being from calf exclusively.
(2) Fleshing is the process of removing any remaining tissue from the inside of a hide or pelt. Once that is done the hide can be frozen, salted, dried, or moved on to the next stage.
(3) Tannin is used as a mordant to help iron-based dyes adhere to fabric and leather. I inadvertently mordanted this hide, which allowed the iron to chemically bond to the tannin, creating a near-perfect black substrate.
(4) A mordant is a chemical treatment to fiber (in this case skin) that allows a molecular bond between the dye and the fiber. It “fixes” the color in place. Without tannin, the iron does not bond as easily to the parchment.
The camicia displayed before you is a men’s undershirt shirt constructed in the style of the mid to late 16th century. Often crafted by women of the household for loved ones in the public eye, undergarments and other finely embroidered accessories of this type were cherished wardrobe pieces and suitable even as gifts for royalty. This shirt is specifically tailored for my partner and is based on extant patterns and period portraiture the spirit of this practice. I made it using period sewing techniques, such as cartridge pleating, and materials, such as linen thread and fabric. The embroidery is made from modern acrylic thread for cost-prohibitive reasons, but is extensively detailed with personal imagery (in this case referencing my partner’s heraldry) as would be typical a fine shirt of the era.
Introduction This undershirt was designed with my partner in mind and intended as a colorful addition to their SCA wardrobe. It is patterned on numerous 16th century extant pieces, primarily those discussed in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 4 and three pieces in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute collections in New York City. These historical pieces are unique in that fashion at this time began to favor a more gratuitous silhouette. It was customary to display one’s wealth by wearing more material and finery. Consequentially, sewing methods adapted to accommodate the practice of wearing textiles in bulk and it is during this period the technique of cartridge pleating became more prevalent, particularly with undergarments. These pieces also showcase a large amount of labor-intensive embroidery, which I feel has at least as much to tell us about the daily lives and values of the women who made them as the men who wore them. It is with great appreciation for the cultural weight of these garments that I undertake this project.
What is this thing and why it is interesting? Undershirts, shifts and chemises (or camicia in Italian) were worn as barrier between the body and the outer garments. These pieces of clothing were full and absorbent by design to serve as protection between the exterior layers from the wearer’s sweat and body soil. They were always made of vegetable fiber (Landini & Bruna, 125), likely because vegetable fiber is absorbent, easier to launder and breathes more comfortably than silk or wool. Underwear of this type were worn all over Europe and were donned by the working class and nobility alike. The finest pieces, such as the ones which have survived in the museum collections of our modern day, were made of the whitest, finest and most transparent linens. (Landini & Bruna, 125) Such items were embellished and maintained; decorated with colorful embroidery of silk or gilded thread. Some were adorned with cut-work and lace. All were gathered and fitted with as much excess and finery as could be afforded.
In the 1500’s a fine shirt was a gift both suitable for royalty or to one’s own family. (Arnold, 9) These pieces were traditionally made by women, either professionally contracted or as a service within the household. This task was common among both upper and working classes. Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador to the Tudor court during the reign of King Henry VIII shares one such anecdote in his writings wherein Queen Anne Boleyn threw a jealous fit over the right to make Henry’s undershirts (as opposed to the then out of favor Katherine of Aragon). One can conclude from this story that there is something more significant to this practice than standard women’s chores and was worth fighting over. Add to this, the fact that much of the labor-intensive embroidery was used to cover seams and were utilized in places which might never be viewed except in the most intimate of settings. I submit that these garments were Renaissance status symbols in their own right and true labors of love, often made specifically for the wearer by a woman close to them (a wife, a sister, or a mother). Further the act of making these pieces was a coveted duty, and a mark of virtue to be sought after in prospective wives.
Fabric In the medieval and renaissance Europe, linen was much different than the linen found in the modern day. Flax was harvested by hand which resulted in longer fibers and thus finer, more sheer fabric was possible. We know, based on portraiture that the upper class preferred linens that were as white and as sheer as possible. Landini (as I’ve cited earlier) agrees with this statement, but I would call attention to the fact that this source looks most closely at the wardrobes of Eleonora di Toledo. On the other hand, the Nils Sture shirt, scrutinized by Arnold, was described as being made of “firmly woven linen, which is quite coarse”. (Arnold, 68) This example, worn by Nils on the day of his death, was more likely every day wear rather than exceptional attire. I propose that at the very least, day to day upper-class menswear was somewhat more practical with regard to the quality of linen used. While the linen I have obtained may be of modern make and not the ideal optic white sought after by the nobility, it is of a weight and texture appropriate for regular wear and, more importantly, it’s what my partner wanted.
Pattern and Construction Looking closely across the surviving men’s shirts documented in Patterns of Fashion 4, of which she has done a wonderful job of extensively dissecting and documenting, I have noted that the widths of the body panel range from about 30-40”. I have estimated this figure given that Arnold does not note seam allowances. Thus, I set out to design my pattern with an assumption that my bolt of fabric came from a 40” wide loom (see Figure 1). Further, bearing in mind that linen (for me) is expensive, I opted for a design the utilizes as much fabric as possible with little waste. My pattern is mostly rectangular, relying on pleats to fit to the wearer rather than curved seams (see Figure 1.2 for pattern – image included). Given that undergarments were unlined, I joined all sections with felled seams in the fashion demonstrated by Arnold (Figure 2.1) though upon response to my inquiry from the MET, it seems that there was some variance in technique throughout the period. I opted to go the aforementioned technique as it only it recommended two passes of whip stitching along each seam (figure 2.1) as opposed to one pass and then another two lines of back-stitches to secure further (figure 2.2 – image included). One could argue the smock which employed this variation has held together admirably as a result, but I just don’t have the free time to duplicate it with deadlines looming.
Cartridge Pleats As I mentioned earlier, all fitting has been achieved in this design with pleating. For a garment of this make, cartridge pleating was the preferred method of gathering fabric because it is the most efficient approach to condensing large quantities of material. Cartridge pleating is achieved by lining up multiple running stitches perfectly so that when the support threads are pulled, the fabric folds up on itself like a fan. The compression rate for this method is variable based on the thickness and length of the fabric and spacing of pleats. Tighter spacing, and more material will result in tighter gathers, thus for the beginner’s class I teach on this technique, we begin by double rolling our linen first to make it easier to work with and scale up the spacing required for of our stitches. This approach of condensing fabric differs from other pleating techniques in that cartridge gathers are not fixed in place until they are finished, and that these gathers may be compressed or spaced out as needed to fit. The result thickens and stiffens the fabric and is suitable for the addition of collars, cuffs, neck and waistbands. Unlike smocking, which condenses fabric in the same way but then adds embroidery over top, the support threads (created by the running stitches) are left in place and the pleats are then further secured with an additional piece of linen. Historical pleats of this make were gathered by hand and were exceptionally tiny and evenly spaced.
As part of my research into the creation of this garment, I contacted the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City order to get a better understanding for how these pleats were achieved. I was interested in three 16th century undergarments in their collection, all of which showcase cartridge pleating. I found that these gathers ranged from one to three pleats per 1/16th of an inch. (see figures 3.1-5.2: image 3.2 and 5.1 included). I have spent extensive time and research trying to duplicate pleating like this in previous projects and this piece is the first time I had actual scale references for these extant garments and garments like it. I now believe the tiniest of these gathers were achieved with a long piece of fine of linen with stitches no less than 1/16th of an inch wide. In the case of my project’s neckline, which would have to support a double thick collar, I have double rolled the linen first before pleating to give the seam some added integrity. However, all other pleats were achieved with a single piece of linen with the goal of duplicating this method faithfully.
Once gathered, it is necessary to finish the pleats by securing them in place. With the MET blouse, these pleats were carefully whip stitched to a double thick band of linen (Figure 3.2). For the MET shirt it appears the gathers are placed between a double thick wristband in which a double running stitch secured everything in place. (figure 5.1 and 5.2) For my partner’s shirt, I have chosen to backstitch the outside and whipstitch on the interior. I deemed this method most sturdy and aesthetically appealing.
Embroidery The embroidery on this shirt is heavily influenced by the extant in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (Figure 6.1 – image included). As is featured in this example, I have chosen to use button hole stitch to finish all the hems along the collar and cuffs. In period, this would have been done with silk thread, but I have used acrylic for to keep within budget and avoid bleeding with regular wear. This design also features a collar which is made from two pieces of separately embroidered linen panels as is best demonstrated in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum extant in Munich (Figure 6.2 – image included). For my project, I have made references to my partner’s heraldry along the exterior of this collar and intend to also decorate the interior at a later date.
It is interesting to note that most surviving pieces showcase some form of embroidery. Even in more practical examples, such as the Nils Sture shirt referenced earlier, (Figure 7.1 – image included, as well as image of entry) there is at the very least some white-work, or pulled thread detailing. Many more museum specimens display extensive decoration, often in places that would be invisible when worn. Setting aside the bias in our body of evidence that ensures such cherished heirlooms are more likely to survive, the fact remains that this type adornment is time consuming and labor intensive to create. Regardless of the fact that noble women may have had the time to devote to such effort, it is not easy work and many of these touches were hidden by exterior clothing. Further, these works of art would have been unknown to all but the wearer and those intimate to them. Where embroidery might cover a seam, or finish a neck slit, these ornaments would have been close to the heart. I found that during the course of adding these details on my own project I could not help but think of my intended and this process was meditative and fulfilling in its own way.
Buttons Many of these undergarments were secured with cord tie off, but there are a handful of examples which use buttons as well. Arnold documents at least two such examples including the MET blouse discussed earlier (Figure 8.1). The Museo del Tessuto in Prato also has a camicia in their collection which uses button wrist closures. (Figure 8.2). These buttons were made by wrapping silk around a wooden core and all feature a zigzag pattern across their axis. I have attempted many variations on this method but have yet to perfectly replicate this design. In light of this road block, I have instead replicated buttons from another garment from the same time period. However, I will continue efforts to replicate this design for future projects and may yet yield success in the 11th hour for this one.
Conclusion As a result of this project have acquired a greater appreciation and understanding for the women of the 16th century. In total, I estimate this project has taken me about 25+ hours of work and I could yet commit more. In this undertaking, I have become aware of my modern privilege and entitlement with regard to clothing production. Sewing, gathering and embroidering underwear is tremendously time consuming and labor intensive and I admit I did and still do wrestle with the idea of creating works of art which are not intended for public view. However, having put in these hours I recognize their value would argue that perhaps this makes these items all the more precious. When I tackle a project like this again, I’ll saving up to do it with finer textiles, such as long fiber linen and silk embroidery thread. At the very least, my materials should match my effort.
THL Fede de Fiore at the Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship, discussing her entry with the jurors.
For a pdf of THL Fede’s documentation, as well as a complete collection of project and extant garments, please visit here.
Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 4. (2008, London)
Landini, Roberta, and Niccoli, Bruna. Moda a Firenza: 1540-1580. (2005: Firenze)
Greetings one and all from your Bardic Champion as the Bard of Æthelmearc Championship is almost upon us! This year, there will be two categories: your best piece and something about Æthelmearc. It is the intention entrants will perform a piece in either category – if there is not enough time to do both the entrant will get to choose which one they want to use. It is preferred the piece be written by the entrant, but if they prefer to use a historical period piece then that is also acceptable.
Come all, and enter for the privilege of becoming the Kingdom Bard! Entertain our Sylvan Kingdom, and help record Kingdom events and history. The glorious position of Kingdom Bard welcomes composers of original work, and encourages research into period work. If this sounds interesting to you, or if you would just like to perform for the heck of it, we’ll be looking forward to your entry!
Their Royal Majesties King Timothy of Arindale and Queen Gabrielle van Nijenrode, and I, current champion Hersir Torvaldr Torgarson, will be judging. I look forward to seeing all the talented and wonderful performers. The Bard of Æthelmearc Championship will be at Æthelmearc Kingdom 12th night in St. Swithin’s Bog on Saturday, Jan 11th 2020.
Earlier this month, I had the fortune and privilege to enter Kingdom A&S Championships with an entry that had been in progress for the better part of a year.
After multiple entries into other displays and competitions, trial and testing of different methods, and sifting through possible ingredients from a terroir that spans two continents, I selected the two recipes I thought would give me the best chance. The krupnik that I made, flavored with fruits and spices, might stand a chance to win.
For those unfamiliar with krupnik, it is an alcoholic drink that begins with a neutral grain spirit. As in nearly any area of the study of food, alcohol has long been a staple of human existence and has taken a variety of forms. For the people who settled East of the River Elbe and North of the Caucasus Mountains, their cultural liquor contribution was vodka, as well as its various adjacent types. These were created by using additives such as herbs, spices, or honey. Honey, popular in its own right for its use in mead production, was a useful addition for softening the bite of grain spirit. Eventually, the practice became common enough to earn the right to a separate classification of alcohol. Called krupnik by the Poles, Barenfang by the Germans, and krambambula by the Belorussians, honey liquor culturally came into its own.
Many of these liquors are difficult to trace the origins of. Krupnik is no exception. Allegedly, it was created by Benedictine monks in a monastery in the northeast of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, now known as Belarus, in the 16th century. After its inception it presumably became very popular with the nobles of Poland-Lithuania, called szlachta, who modified and expanded their personal recipes for the drink and passed them down through. However, as I read through various books related to the Pre-Christian period of Poland-Lithuania (pre-15th Century), this story became less and less credible to me.
While the Teutonic crusades did their best to erase pre-Christian religions and cultures from the Baltic areas, some evidence of the animistic Romuva religion does survive. Analysis of the primary sources closest to the period indicated that the Romuva faith had a loosely organized pantheon and was highly animistic, allowing for the incorporation of deities of all kinds. While authoritative lists of canonical gods are difficult to come by and often don’t agree with each other, they still demonstrate consistent themes.
Among these consistent themes were gods and rituals directly tied to the healthy production of honey, its fermentation, and storage. Using the logic of sympathetic magic and post-structuralism, or “if people had gods that they prayed to about this thing, this thing must have been important and had some serious cultural bearing to it,” I came to the conclusion that krupnik was likely a drink made by the common folk long before some enterprising monks picked it up as a monastic trade item. Thus, it is unsurprising that I couldn’t find a direct recipe or method. And so, I wrote up my research, added justifications from my ingredient choices, and wrote up my method for making this drink.
I should note here that I do not have a documented method for this beverage as it stands. I learned how to make this drink from my and my partner’s family traditions, us both coming from long lines of Eastern and Southern European Slavs. We have both drank our share of strange brandies and cordials made by enterprising family members, and have been informed of the “correct recipes” with some ethnic muttering about who’s culture’s liquor is best thrown in. I cannot tell you with precision how period our recipes are. I can only tell you that Slavs have traditions regarding liquor that are assuredly more pagan than Christian, and that there are more ways to earn good luck and a good harvest than to properly drink a shot. It was a test of research and primary sources to find any contemporary recipes from the later end of the time period, and some of those were barely in the period definitions of the Society. In previous competitions, I had been heavily docked for providing no supporting method documentation, so I was on the hunt for nearly anything that I could use. Thanks to some timely and incredibly helpful recommendations, I was able to find some instructions from a Russian manual of household management. So, I wrote them into my method with caveats and headed to Kingdom A&S.
Lord Cassiano serving at the A&S Championship.
I was honored by visitors to my table, curious and effusive royalty, and by my insightful and exacting judges. Their feedback was supportive and precise. As a bolt flees from the firing string, so did they swiftly seek and certainly find the weaknesses of my project. Modern choices of fruit and modern processing tools, only partial documentation of the herbs used, and the usual dagger, a lack of a single recipe. Across all judges, I consistently lost points for this one. Despite written caveats, despite the tightening circle of supporting evidence and points for probability, there was no smoking gun, so to speak, of how this drink would have been made in period.
I have to note here. This is the SCA. We are in the business of the recreation of historical artifacts, methods, and techniques. We strive for this; it is perhaps our calling card amongst the class of medieval play-acting groups. It is a facet of the society that drew me towards it and keeps me engaged day after day. However, it is one particular rock that I also keep tripping over. In my mundane life, I am an Associate Principal Investigator for a cultural resource mitigation company. The title is a mouthful, but means that I work as a historian, anthropologist, and archaeologist all in one. I am in the business of collecting historical and archaeological data, synthesizing it, and presenting the best possible picture of what it can tell us folks in the modern day. As one puzzle piece does not make the picture, neither does one data point make a conclusion, and thus do we do our research and draw conclusions in my field. Very rarely do we get that “smoking gun,” but piles of spent shell casings often are ample substitute.
So, what to do now, with several months until the next Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon yet still bearing the same ultimate feedback that I received at the last one? Thanks to the diligence and support of my judges, I have a handful of new leads for other weaknesses in my work, but that pack of lost points that a recipe would ensnare is a frustrating target. There still exist more historical monographs about the Teutonic Crusades than the Lithuanian Empire that preceded them. There still exist paywalls over university-led research into these kinds of anthropological puzzles. I still can’t read Polish. These same roadblocks led me to the indirect methods of problem solving that I first began this project with, and now 40 sources and 4,000 words later I am running out of clever ideas to defeat this final boss. I can hear my thesis advisor from years ago asking me where my ethnography is to contextualize this data, but in this moment, it feels like I have none of the data and entirely too much context.
Ultimately, I have four months to seek another, more complete answer. I’m not ready to set this project down and there are stages of maturation techniques and more period methods that I want to use and try, but this question of authenticity is one that needs to be nailed down. But for now, as the holidays roll in and I prepare to celebrate three religions’ Christmases in the space of a month, it is time to step back. Friends, family, and ancestors all need to be toasted, and I have several bottles to empty.
May trouble never find you in the new year,
Lord Cassiano da Castello, Order of the Sycamore, Shire of Nithgaard.
The Happy Wagon, where Lord Cas and the other alcoholic entries, could legally sampled even though entered in a dry site. Lord Cas’s Russian clothing came in useful in the unheated cabin, as did their wonderful krupnik sufficiently warm the judges.
What was it like to be a medieval cartographer? And how did I come to be interested in “The Gough Map”? The R. I. T. (Rochester Institute of Technology) Center for Imaging Science hosted a lecture on January 23, 2019 given by Dr. David Messinger, PhD, Director of the Center and his PhD students: Di Bai and Morteza Maali Amiri. I attended this lecture which I discovered through volunteer activities at the R.I.T. and the University of Rochester with digitally archiving historical documents.
The Gough Map shown in Figure 1. is the first known surviving map of Great Britain and has been dated to approximately 1410 c.b.e. (completion date). Earlier maps exist such as Matthew Paris’ map held at the British Library and made in the early part of the 13th century. However, it is much less geographically correct than the Gough Map.
The lecture discussed recent work performed to learn more about the origins, materials and tools and uses of the map. It has been a collaboration between the R.I.T. team and David Howell of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University where the map is housed, Andy Beebe of the University of Durham and Catherine Delano-Smith and Damien Bove of the University of London among others – a group composed of physicists/image scientists, a chemist, a material scientist and two map historians respectively. “This unique collaboration includes researchers from the fields of Imaging Science, Conservation Science, Chemistry, Materials Science, Geography, and History.”
Here, the Gough Map is shown alongside a current map of Great Britain for orientation purposes (Britain; Project Britain). I have also displayed a poster produced for the Bodleain Library that is nearly the same size as the Gough Map (the poster is 17.5” by 35.5”) for reference as well in the A&S competition display site. This lecture led to my additional research on the Gough Map and ultimately the desire to reproduce part of the map, The London Vignette, in an authentic manner. Since the map is roughly 4 feet by 2 feet, bankrolling enough parchment to reproduce the entire map was not feasible.
The Gough map shows all of England and Scotland and part of Ireland. It was bequeathed in 1809 to Oxford Bodleian Library by the antiquarian, Robert Gough (pronounced “guff”). He first encountered it in 1774 and acquired it from the estate of Thomas “Honest Tom” Martin for two shillings and six pence. It measures about 115 x 56 cm or about 45 x 22 inches. This is very large for a manuscript of this era. The parchment is about two thirds sheepskin and one third lambskin. The needlework seam joining the two can be seen running across Scotland. The large size also made the map awkward to work on for the scribes.
The map was extensively revised after about 100 years of use. This was determined from the modern study of the map spearheaded by Catherine Delano-Smith who is also editor of the premier cartography magazine Imago Mundi, starting in 2011. Phase 1 of the modern study of the map was the initial analysis of the material and physical composition of the map. Phase 2 focused on the compilation of the map where three distinct map-making episodes were determined:
Layer 1 – showing the whole of Britain from the English Channel to Scotland
Layer 2 – a reworking of the map south of Hadrian’s Wall
Layer 3 – re-inking of place-names in the southeastern/central quadrant of England
Phase 3 of study will be aimed at in-depth topographical analysis. Currently Phase 1 is continuing with determining what materials appear to be different due to aging of the original materials or because they were added during later revisions and/or are indeed different pigments or inks. The R.I.T. team introduced new scientific tools including hyperspectral analysis to further the Phase 1 study starting in 2016.
During the 1600’s, there was some damage to the map. The owner was told the text would be restored if he applied a mixture of oak gall and red Madeira wine on a sponge to those areas. This approach worked for a few weeks and then due to chemical reactions – resulted in complete destruction of the text and images on those area of the map. This hyperspectral analysis technique was used to reveal the text and illumination that has been chemically removed from the map manuscript.1
King Henry IV was reigning when the map was put into use. It includes 654 place names shown as text alone or in boxes or cartouches and 200 rivers. Other physical features are identified by symbols, with trees locating Sherwood Forest and other wooded areas. What originally appeared to be roads on the map has been suggested to be distances between these places. However, this theory is in dispute and the reason for gathering this data and how it was used remains a mystery. There are red Roman numerals next to these red lines but again the complete reason for these remains unknown.
Image: The Bodleian Library, Oxford, Duke Humfrey’s Library reading room (DeHamel).
What do we currently know about the Gough Map?
The text on the Gough map was executed by at least two scribes: the original 14th-century scribe and a second 15th-century scribe who was a reviser. The text by the original scribe is best observed undisturbed in Scotland section and north of Hadrian’s Wall. The text calligraphed by the reviser is located in south-eastern and central England. The majority of Wales and portions of the Midlands and Cornwall are damaged and faded extensively. Due to this, it is often impossible to be certain currently which scribe is responsible for this text.
Uses of the map
The movements or interests of the unknown map’s owner may well be represented by the selection of lines on the map. The lines between places were originally thought to represent distances with an unknown unit of measure, but that is not now believed to be true. Theories for the meaning of the lines include tax collection. The uses of the map are still simply not fully understood.
Materials and techniques
Town names are in black ink (oak gall ink was a common ink used during this period; carbon black ink came into use at a later time) and red ink. Districts, areas and lines between places are in vermilion red ink. Districts such as “Essex” are in cartouches or boxes. However, none of these districts are included within the London Vignette Plus. There are various characters on the map including fish, sea monsters, boats, and ships and the text such as “where King Arthur landed”. These objects and text can be seen in detail at the website. Places again can be searched for on this interactive map using modern or medieval names or partial names among many other features.
All the churches and buildings on the map are identical and are illuminated over four pin holes as the example shown in Figure 3. It is surmised that a template as was common in monastic illumination was used to draw them and held in place by the holes or perhaps a poncing technique using pricked holes with a template was used. An example would be the identical churches and a single building near London drawn most likely using a poncing template by one of two scribes, the 15th C. revisor (image fromhttp://www.goughmap.com).
The quote below from “Leather, Vellum, Parchment, Drawing and Copying Maps and Charts” gives further detail regarding the use of templates in cartography:
“Exactly how were coastal outlines transferred from the model to new work in the 14th century and what traces can be seen of that (or those) process(es)? Answer; with a template laid on the basic forma of the wind rose. There would then be no trace of the work except the pin holes to hold the template in place (as has been noted).” (citation)
The map was created in three phases starting in 1360 c.: first, the outline of Great Britain and Scotland, second – the other towns, and lastly London.
For more on how Máirghréad deconstructed the materials and constructed a vignette simile keep tuned for the next installment of Behind the Scenes – Kingdom A&S Championship: The Gough Map Decoded Part II!
THL Máirghréad proudly presents the Gough Map Decoded – and won the privilege of becoming the Queen’s Champion for her extraordinary efforts. She is a member of the Parchment Guild.
The Gough Map Project developed a wonderful interactive website where users can explore physical aspects of the map itself as well as access papers, presentations, articles and links to other research material about the map.
This article is an abbreviated version. The full documentation, including the full bibliography, can be downloaded from here
• De Hamel, Christopher, Scribes and Illuminators (Medieval Craftsmen), British Library Press
• Delano-Smith, Catherine, Understanding the Gough Map: an application of physics, chemistry and history, accessed 9/24/19
• ‘in, or close to, the reign of Henry V (1399-1413)’, Smallwood, T. M., ‘The Date of the Gough Map’, Imago Mundi 62 (2010), pp. 3-29, at p. 23.
• Smallwood, T.M. “The Date of the Gough Map”, Imago Mundi, May 2009, accessed 11/4/19
• Messinger, David, Hyperspectral Image Analysis of the Gough Map of Britain (1410): Who? What? Where/ When? Why? And How?, Chester Carl Center for Imaging Science Lecture, R.I.T., 1/23/2019
• Millea, Nick, The Gough Map: The Earliest Road Map of Great Britain, 2007 by Oxford University Press
• “The Future of the Past” Rochester Review March–April 2017 Vol. 79, No. 4
• Wilcox, Margaret, “Lecture on the Gough Map”, Aethelmearc Gazette, 2/2019 online publication
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.
Please don’t run away! I know that Research & Documentation may scare many of you. No need to fear, I know it is a bit frightening… like a young child coming face to face with a junkyard dog. But if you give me a chance, perhaps we might be able to make this journey less intimidating and more enjoyable. Believe me, this dog will not bite.
Take a deep breath. You alright? Ready to take your first step? No need to worry, I’m here beside you to help you on your way.
I cannot recall how many times I might see something and think to myself “That is so amazing, I wish I could learn how to….”. We are very fortunate in the current modern age that we have so much information at our disposal. Sometimes it is too much information, and we don’t know where to start. The purpose of this article is to offer guidelines, suggestions really, on where you might start your own research journey and how to document it to a desired audience (e.g. classroom notes, newsletter articles, competition documentation for judges).
Research vs. Documentation
What is the difference between Research and Documentation? Research is the investigation of a subject to discover or revise information on the subject. Documentation is an artifact that is derived from the research. Research can include looking at primary, secondary and tertiary sources of information including expert analysis and opinion as well as practical hands-on experience. Examples of research may include the following:
Online articles and pictures
Personal attempt to create an item that is the subject of your research
Books, Magazines and Periodicals (Printed and Online)
Viewing a painting contemporary to the time period of an item (secondary source)
Archaeological notes from a university publication (expert analysis & opinion)
Examining an item on display at a museum (primary source)
Many of us are not fortunate to have access to many primary & secondary sources of information, but most of us have access to online articles and pictures as well as our own personal experience in attempting to create an item.
How far you go with your research is completely a personal choice, but sometimes when you start following the breadcrumbs of information, you might not anticipate where that journey might lead you.
Now that we have made the decision to start researching a subject, where to begin? There are several starting points at your disposal.
Do you recall where you first heard or saw something about the subject you want to research? Perhaps it was at a class? Perhaps you saw someone wearing or working with the subject? Go to these individuals, and strike up a conversation about the subject. I can tell you that people really do enjoy talking about subjects that are of interest to them. Ask them if they have any information of how you can learn more about the subject and get their contact information.
Perhaps the subject was something you learned about while watching a TV show, movie, or some other video. Perhaps it was an article online or in a magazine.
You had to learn about the existence of the subject somewhere; if you can. make a note of where you first learned about it.
Additional starting points may be:
Search engine (i.e. Google)
Online Communities for the Subject (i.e. Facebook or Email Groups)
SCA Arts & Sciences Websites
Personal websites by Amateur Scholars
As you begin your research you also want to make sure you are keeping some sort of notes of your research. These notes are to help you keep a record of the sources you investigated and the information you learned from these sources. Pick a method of keeping notes that is most comfortable for you. Some methods that may be used are:
A blog or personal website
A notebook or journal
An electronic notepad (Word Document, One Note)
Idea board (Pinterest)
Below are some samples of a note entries:
Harvest of the Cold Months
Ice was used to cool wine in Italy during the 16th century.
The garden was specifically embellished with an inner sanctum – a smaller garden – meant to hold a flower-garden, uniquely kept to provide olfactory and visual pleasures
How to Crack Honey without Thermometer
June 14, 2017
I was finally able to get the honey to get hot enough that in cracked like peanut brittle when the nucato was cooled. You will get a whiff of smoke as the honey is boiling, and then immediately take it off the heat. Reminder, not to put the nuts nor spices into the honey while it is being heated, otherwise the spices and nuts will burn.
Documentation can be as simple as taking all your notes and putting them together in a manner that is directed for a specific audience. There are several different types of documentation you can create based on your research. Examples of documentation can include the following:
An article for a newsletter or a blog
An article for a magazine
A periodical issue
Documentation for a competition
Knowing your audience can help you determine the type of documentation to create. There are templates available for creating documentation. I also suggest having someone not knowledgeable in the subject matter review your documentation so anything that might not be clear can be identified and addressed.
Some of the details you might consider discussing in your documentation are as follows:
Introduce the reader to the subject and set their expectations for what they might gain or learn from the document
What about this subject has inspired you to research it?
Tell the reader about the subject and how it relates in context to a time period or through several time periods
Materials, Processes, Tools & Techniques
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Master Thorpe displays the African blade he made in his home forge for the third round of the show Forged In Fire. Photo by THL Fionnghuala.
By Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina (Chris Adler-France)
Æthelmearc fans of the History Channel’s metalsmithing competition, Forged In Fire, recognized a familiar face last week: Master John Michael Thorpe.
One of four competitors in the sixth episode of the fourth season of the show, Master Thorpe was named the champion of that episode’s challenge and won the $10,000 prize.
In each episode of the reality TV competition show, four entrants forge bladed weapons in a three-round elimination, with the first two three-hour rounds to create and improve a specific kind of knife out of a specific kind of metal in a Brooklyn, NY studio. The two finalists then have five days to create a specific historic sword in their home workshops before returning to the studio for their creation to be judged in a series of sharpness and sturdiness tests. Past competitions have challenged contestants to create such blades as Japanese katanas, Elizabethan rapiers, Norse battle axes, Scottish claymores, German katzbalger, and cavalry sabres. (See the Wikipedia article here for more about the show’s history.)
A metalworking Laurel and an SCA member since 1982, Master Thorpe has lived in Myrkfaelinn, Nithgaard, Thescorre, and now Delftwood for the past 13 years. He has three apprentices and is the founder and guild master of the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths. He has served in a number of officer roles over the years, including kingdom chronicler, baronial seneschal, and several rapier marshallates.
He talked to The Gazette about the competition experience:
Q: First, congratulations on your win! Second, how long have you been a practicing blacksmith/silversmith and what experience do you have with metallurgy?
I have been making knives since I was about 14 and forging them since about 1990 or so. I am mostly self taught as a blade smith, but have learned a lot about metallurgy and blade performance from ABS Mastersmith Kevin Cashen, and Tim Zowada, and have had long discussions with Dr. Roman Landes, who literally wrote (in German) the authoritative book on the metallurgy of sharpness. I started working with metal professionally as a bench jeweler at 19, although my first exposure to the jewelry trade was in fourth grade (when a silversmith visited his class as part of the American Bicentennial celebrations). I learned enough by watching him that I was able to teach myself chasing and repousse from memory eight years later and started making jewelry in my dorm room at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology).
When I dropped out for a year on sick leave I went to work at a wholesale jewelry repair shop in Ithaca, where I worked my way up from polisher to bench jeweler. Repairing thousands of chains and sizing hundreds of rings is a great way to refine the fundamentals of your craft!
I taught myself metallurgy so that I could make better knives, and so that I could make a metallurgically correct 13th century knife to prove Laurel wrong when he said to someone that you could make a perfectly accurate 13th century knife that would work as well as the period ones by filing a blade out of the welding steel you get at a hardware store. I learned enough metallurgy in the process that despite my math education effectively ending after 9th grade, I was hired as a metallurgical associate engineer at an aerospace superalloy manufacturing plant, testing the metal that spins at high temperatures inside jet engines, and at one point was literally doing rocket science with tools that Benvenuto Cellini would recognize (using a chasing hammer and miniature carving chisels to collect samples for chemical analysis from the castings that became the main engine nozzles for the last three space shuttle missions).
Q: From watching the episode, it certainly appeared that you were very familiar with the competition’s specific expectations, such as the tests to gauge that the weapons were actually usable and not just impressive looking. So, how did you learn about this competition show and when did you begin watching it?
I initially learned about Forged in Fire when my wife (THL Fionnghuala inghean Diarmada) stumbled on it somewhere in the first season. I came down to watch the “cooking show about bladesmithing” and recognized one of the contestants from one of the bladesmithing hammer-ins I am a regular at. I went back and watched all of the episodes that were available and started watching regularly.
As to the specific expectations of the show, at one level, my focus in bladesmithing has always been on performance. A knife is a tool, I have always put function first, edge geometry (which determines sharpness), edge metallurgy (which determines how long an edge will continue cutting), and blade geometry (which determines how well a blade will pass through the medium it is cutting), how it will dissipate stress, etc.
The society of bladesmiths I have been a member of for over a decade, the New England Bladesmiths Guild (http://ashokanknifeseminar.com/), is a group of bladesmiths who organized the Ashokan Seminar as a vehicle to allow advancing knowledge of metallurgical science and bladesmithing outside of the heavily hype driven atmosphere of the more mainstream knife communities.
Q: What made you decide to enter this competition?
I am a horrible person. I sat and watched the show, armchair quarterbacking as the competition progressed with my wife (she can now recognize problems developing and strategic errors almost as quickly as I do, and as time went on I started bouncing some of my strategic ideas off of her for input).
As time went on, my ego got the best of me and I began to think that I could stand my ground against at least half of the winners skill-set wise, and that I had a better grasp of metallurgical knowledge than the majority of the competitors I had seen. I know and have shared an anvil with more than a few of the past episode winners, and I have a great deal of respect for the ones I know, but I felt that I had about a 50/50 chance in any given group and challenge.
Q: How did you prepare for the competition?
Since I don’t typically make blades over about five inches in length, before I even considered applying, I tested myself by forging a series of three blades giving myself a two-hour time limit from bar stock to quenched. I figured that if I could do that using all hand tools reliably, that would leave an hour for dealing with whatever material challenge curveball was thrown at me. When I proved to myself that I could do that, I sent in my application.
Q: First, you had to forge a Kukri (a large angled knife from Nepal) within a couple of hours in the studio with the other three contestants, then you and the other finalist had several days to make a specific blade in your home workshops. Had you ever made a Kukri or bent blade before? What were your thoughts about the in-studio challenge? Had you ever used the specific type of metal you were given to use?
Funny that you ask… I had never made a Kukri before, and in previous seasons competitors had always been tasked with “making a blade in their own signature style” for rounds one and two. I do not really have large blade signature style that would be appropriate for the typical performance tests, so I was planning to do a Persian style with a curved, tapered blade and trailing point, as that would perform well in the typical performance tests from the previous seasons. Then, they served up a curveball having us make a knife in (show judge) Jason Knight’s signature style. I had never intentionally made a blade with that kind of curve before. During the application process, the producer asked me if I had ever made anything “curvy or weird” before, so I ran out to the forge and made a quick serpentine dagger blade and emailed her the picture.
As to the type of steel, W1, I have used it to make little hand tools for chasing and repousse, but not for making a big blades. It is chemically similar to some other steels I have used, it is one of the most basic common tool steels, but not one of my usual choices for anything big.
Q: Had you ever made an Akrafena (an Ashanti sword with a perforated bulbous blade) or other large blade with cut-outs before? Your immediate response on the show, when told what you had to make, was that it was “scary.”
I have made several straight-bladed swords before, but not finished any of them into complete swords as I did not have the appropriate equipment to successfully heat-treat anything big to my standards (and the one rapier where I farmed out the heat treatment came back looking like a pretzel). The day before I left to go compete, I made a 45-inch-long electric heat treatment kiln (in his workshop) on the off-chance that I might make it to the final round and have to make something big, but I had not wired it or tested it before I left for New York. I did not have a quench tank big enough for a sword either.
I was not expecting to make it to the final round as I had not had any time to actually practice between the producers contacting me that it looked like I might be a contestant and when I had to get on a plane.
Q: What were your expectations when you entered the competition?
I went down with two goals: the first being to not get eliminated in the first round, and the second being to not embarrass my wife (Okay, not getting permanently injured is was also important.) Everything else was just gravy and experience points. I was going down to have fun.
Getting to the third round and facing the challenge of doing this extremely curved African sword with weird geometry and cutouts in the blade was intimidating. Then, adding in the logistical challenges that I had not had time to build any of the equipment that would speed up the build and make dealing with the odd shape easy was an extra piece of intimidation, not to mention that I was facing an opponent who had pulled off the unthinkable comeback (in the second round). I literally wired up the temperature control and modified a pottery kiln into a top-loading heat-treat kiln and welded up a quench tank during my home forge time with the camera recording my every move and the clock running. There were tons of logistical challenges to meet, and that was before I scrapped my first blade on the third day, and forge-welded five bars together to make up a bar with enough mass for a second attempt.
Q: How did you approach the Akrafena challenge? What was your process, how was it different or similar to blades you’ve made for the Society? What went well, what was the most difficult aspect of the challenge? How much did you research the historical weapon and how did that affect your design?
I researched the Akrafena on the Internet in the 32 hours I had between finding out that I was a finalist and the time my home forge time started. I was hoping that I would find one in the African section at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the morning before I flew back, but no luck. I analyzed about 20 examples and did up a CAD template that was true to the characteristics of the historic examples, and found about 30 pages of Adinkra symbols.
Then, after three days everything went sideways and I approached it basically as an exercise in situational triage. I started out with plans to make a fancy, very historically accurate piece while still following the design specifics designated in the rules. Things started to go wrong and I had to scrap the first attempt blade because it would be 1/8-inch shy of the required minimum in one dimension after finish grinding and trying to pull it out was not going as planned. I hit a point where I was not confident and abandoned my three days of work, starting over while there was still time. At that point, my whole strategy was just trying to make sure that I had a blade that could be tested, which was going to be a challenge considering the largest piece of stock I had was ¼-inch by 1 1/2-inch in cross section.
Q: What surprised you throughout the experience?
I won. Beyond that, the number of people involved in the production of the show, who are never seen on camera. During the three-hour forge sessions, there are easily more than 10 people just operating camera and sound equipment on the forge floor, all of us have at least one, more likely two or three cameras on us at any point during the three-hour sessions.
Also the lengths that they go to to ensure that everything is fair, the rules are followed, and that what you are seeing is real, despite the fact that only a tiny fraction of the footage makes it to the final edit. Seriously!
Beyond that, you expect that a reality show-type competition would have all sorts of artificially produced animosity between contestants to make drama happen? There was none of that. The production team was very professional and did nothing to try to encourage fake drama. While the four of us ribbed each other constantly in between the timed sessions, it was all good natured and we were laughing constantly (even when someone was the recipient of a particularly good barb) and have stayed in touch in the weeks since. We have plans to continue a good-natured series of build-off competitions under the name “Drunken Monkey Brotherhood Forge” to keep the camaraderie going.
Q: Brock, one of the other contestants, wore Ren Faire garb. Did you ever discuss the SCA with him?
I asked him if he does SCA. He does Ren Faire and LARP (live-action roleplaying), and that is where he makes his money.
Q: Have you ever entered any forging competitions before this? Do you plan on entering any future ones?
I do not typically do competitions, really not my style. Just like fencing tournaments, I feel most competitions bring out the worst in people and I want no part of that. This looked like fun and a unique opportunity, so I did it, not really to win, but just to do it. I had fun, and the experience was great, so I would go back and do it again given the opportunity.
Q: Is the $10,000 prize going toward any specific equipment or materials?
Medical debt. I plan to pay off some stuff, then the money that is no longer going to the creditors will go towards getting back to Florence and Munich, and taking the curator of European Weapons Collections at the Royal Armory at Leeds up on his invitation to take a close look at some pieces in the collections there.
Q: Did you get to keep either of the blades you created?
All weapons produced are property of the History Channel.
Q: Any suggestions or tips for others who want to try entering this competition?
My only real tip is this is an extreme athletic event with a technical challenge and a fire show. The round one conditions in the forge are tough, and have taken out several competitors, including one who had to be hospitalized. Understanding metallurgy and edge geometry is essential, as well as the ability to think on the fly.
If you missed the broadcast on the History Channel, you can see it here on the show’s webpage.