Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Purse Frame

With my class on learning how to do soapstone/pewter casting, I see the feasibility of doing a purse frame from pewter other than the size. I'm going to try to do a bit more research on whether or not purse frames from period were actually made of pewter or not. I've found bronze and brass at times, but I don't know that I've seen pewter. Go figure, more research.

Portable Antiques Scheme shows this purse frame that is similar to the one I'm wanting to reproduce, but it lists it as a copper alloy. Pewter, (from what I've gathered thus far) tho it has copper in it for hardening, is not considered a copper alloy. It's mostly (about 85-99%) tin with only a little copper. I obviously could be wrong, it's not really my area of expertise. There's a class on bronze casting (which is a copper alloy) at Vertigo this weekend that I was considering taking.

The general theme is that they were cast copper alloys. Copper Alloys are generally copper, brass and bronze. Looks like I either find someone who already makes them or learn how to cast a copper alloy purse frame. Fun fun fun!

Monday, October 15, 2007


My husband put me on a quest of sorts concerning the use of hops in beer. I'm going to take it a step further and research German beer in specfic.

According to Wikipedia History of Beers, The use of hops in beer was written of in 822 by a Carolingian  Abbot. Again in 1067 by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen: "If one intends to make beer from oats, it is prepared with hops." ... Hopped beer was perfected in the towns of Germany by the 13th century, and the longer lasting beer, combined with standardized barrel sizes, allowed for large-scale export. The German towns also pioneered a new scale of operation and a level of professionalization.

A History of Hops states - "So it was in Germany. In Cologne, brewers who wanted to use hops ran afoul of the archbishop who held the monopolistic rights to gruit. But the hop flourished in spite of such roadblocks, and its preservative quality made the brewing, storing and eventual shipping of the German lager style possible.

In Holland in the 1300's, the Dutch developed a taste for hopped German beer from Hamburg, much to the dismay of Dutch brewers of gruit beer. Over the protests, prohibitions and high import duties imposed by the nobility, Dutch drinkers imported hopped beer, then the hops to brew their own."

And A Short History of Hops says - "The earliest references to hop cultivation are during the 8th and 9th century AD from the Hallertau district in Germany. Although it is not clear whether these hops were used in brewing, by the 14th century the Dutch had developed a taste for hopped German beer. "

German Beer History

It's a beginning at any rate. :D

For further research a few of the sources are as follows:
  • A History of Brewing by H.S. Corran (1975)
  • Brewed in America by Stanley Baron (1972)
  • One Hundred Years of Brewing, published by The Western Brewer magazine (1903)
  • The Brewing Industry in England, 1700-1830 by Peter Mathias (1959)
  • New World Guide to Beer by Michael Jackson (1988)
  • Wines and Beers of Old New England by Sanborn C. Brown (1978)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Clothing Dummy Complete!

We actually did it. Using the method for the body on the website I posted in my previous Clothing Dummy post, we constructed the dummy from Duct Tape 2 and created the following:

The difference between theirs and ours, rather than make a stand for it (since we didn't exactly have what we needed to make the stand right now), we hung it from the ceiling at the right height using a ceiling hook my husband says is rated to around 60 lbs (dummy is maybe 15lbs atm), a wire hanger (so it won't stretch over time) and the hook from the wooden hanger in the shoulders. For now, it'll do. Now just to make the clothes necessary to make this useful!

Wow, a completed project... Who would have thought it possible.

[Figured I'd post the method we used in case the website ever dies.

Clone Yourself A Fitting Assistant Duct-tape dress form #2 is a little harder, but a closer fit to you
Duct-tape dress form #2

(opens in new window)

Leah Crain, a dressmaker and costumer from Cincinnati, OH, has another take on the duct-tape version of form making. You can find her complete directions, including stand ideas, photos, plus comments and questions from other sewers, on the Internet (www.leanna.com). Leah's forms look remarkably like their prior "inmates."

Here are the highlights: You'll start with a similarly underclad wrappee, but Leah suggests cutting off one sleeve from a second T-shirt and basting it onto the first to form a neck cover. Start wrapping under the bust, snugly, then proceed to a "cross-your-heart" taping that goes from one shoulder under the opposite breast then around to the back, to define the bust area. You'll use three layers of tape, with the second arranged vertically, but wrap more snugly than for Joyce's method, and extend the wrapping around the upper arms and onto the neck, always keeping the bust contours well defined. Mark the final layer carefully with plumb lines at center front and center back, around the waist, and carefully establish the proper height and posture by marking the same distance from the floor to the hip level on four sides, then cut the tape shell up the back as usual.

A strong wooden hanger placed inside before stuffing is the start of either a hanging form or a simple stand. For a stand, use a piece of PVC piping or a cardboard tube long enough that you can cut it to your height when the form is ready to set onto its base (you can use a Christmas-tree stand on the outside of the tube, or a microphone stand inside the tube). Tape the hanger to the tube and put it inside the form before stuffing it, then start stuffing by supporting each breast with a glued-in foam raglan shoulder pad if the bust contour needs the additional support (larger bust shapes may tend to cave in over time). Tape the opening at center back closed as you complete the stuffing, then use the hip markings to help arrange the form on the tube to match the wrapper's posture.

Cut a cardboard base using dimensions from the wrappee, and cut a hole in it so it can slip up the tube, then tape it in place. Stuff and tape over the ends of the sleeves and neck where you want them to end, then compare measurements from wrappee to form. You can adjust the form by cutting slits to form darts, squeezing the form to the new dimension, and retaping.]

Knife Pleats

Okay, I freely admit, tho I can't say I like to, I was overthinking knife pleats. Especially with linen. It's easy to overthink something you have no experience with, so I've been trying all kinds of ways to make it easier or make it faster and realized a little while ago that I was actually making it harder, not easier. At any rate, it's easy to see the threads in linen. Actually, I'm sure it's easy to see the threads in most materials if you try, but that's beside the point.

Here's what I'm finding is the easiest way, eyeball the thread I'm trying to follow. I'm not kidding.

To make it a step easier, I would trace a line on the material where the ground of the pleat is supposed to be sewn as well as on the peak of the pleat that's supposed to be sewn to it, so I don't lose my threads as easily, but that's for the next row.

Needless to say, I thought this method would be the hard way to do this, but it actually isn't. No wonder there haven't really been good instructions for it, because other than sewing them down, there really isn't a method necessary for making them easier. The only thing you need to know is how large to make the folds, but that's pretty easy too. Period Pleats shows the folds. See the ground fabric with the folded pleat on top? Simply draw your line where the folded pleat should lay on the ground fabric and draw a line on the point of the folded pleat. Match those two lines and voila, sew them down with a backstitch or something else you prefer right on the top about a 1/16" in. Granted, this method *can* work with a sewing machine, but somehow handstitching feels better to me.

It's going to take a little while to get these done, but I think it'll be good by the time it is. Hopefully it's not too small, but as a test piece, I think it'll be okay and I think I can likely take the pleats I'm making now and sew them to a larger piece of material later without much difficulty, so it won't be wasted.

Funny how you go through all this stuff to make something easy, only to find the original method was the easiest. I'll post pics when I'm done tho.


We went to JoAnne's today to get a metal yard stick for making my steuchlein pleats even. I suppose that's cheating, but hey, who knows really what they did in period. At any rate, while there, (incidentally, we had to get the metal ruler at Michael's) we found some really nice light weight 100% wool on sale. Suit weight is how they termed it. They had a lovely cream, about 4.5 yards, and a really deep brown, about 7.75 yards. Normally they were 14.99 a yard, but the sale was 40% off, so I bought it all for 8.99 a yard. I haven't, as of yet, been able to find them cheaper online, so hopefully we made a good purchase. :) These will be used for future kleid (or dresses) and hosen since they weren't in colors that would work for my husband's landsknecht unless we overdyed the cream, but that might be a waste... We'll see tho.

Camp Bed

Here's a camp bed that I think will be reasonable for SCA usage (since that was his point in designing it). Looks to be fairly easy to do, so I'll let my husband work on that one. :D


RUSH Classes

I didn't post anything yesterday due to the fact that I went to Fall RUSH and participated in a few hands on classes. (For those outside Calontir, RUSH is the Royal University of Scir-Hafoc, or our kingdom's university. They have, or are supposed to have, 4 sessions a year that are strictly RUSH related.)

The classes I took were as follows:

Sandstone pewter casting, which was used in period for most of the cultures we study. It can be a challenge for the patient impaired, but it looks pretty nice. I have a great handout on it and a few pieces of soapstone to play with, so it should be all good for bit. When I actually work on some of the things I need, like the bag or decorations for clothing, I'll document what I do through them, but here's at least the beginning.

Honeycomb Pleats (or Smocking), which was used on many of the landsknecht cuff and clothing. I have an example of a piece I did in the class as well as a link to the handout on Pleat Embroidery website. I'll post more on my progress with it when I use it.

Carving a Wooden Spoon, which I will work on documenting styles and such that were used in my periods. For now, I have a piece of maple in my possession that isn't quite complete, but I have enough knowledge that I think I can complete it. I still need the tools yet, but we'll work on finding them before the wood completely dries out in about a week (or a month, I forget what he said). As I figure out what I can and can't do with the spoon carving, I'll post my progress.

At any rate, I did a lot of hand's on work (more than I normally do with classes) and my hands and upper arms aren't happy with me today, but I learned a lot and I'm happy with it. I should be able to pass on some of that information to others once I figure out if I'm doing things right or not. ;)

Friday, October 12, 2007


I found something rather interesting this morning. It's a little thing from box.net (which I hadn't used prior to this), where you're allowed to put a widget on your blog for making files available. I've put it up there with a bunch of the files I've collected over the last few months. Now they should be more readily available and easily accessible to remind me of the research I'm working on. I think it's rather spiffy to be frank.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Silk Screen Printing, Silk Painting

Simply as a way to catalog for myself what *isn't* period for me, so I don't attempt to do the research more than once, I'm going to make a list of things that are "Not Period".

1) Silk Screen Printing - Isn't period for 15th-16th century Germany. In fact, according to The History of Screen Printing, screen printing was completely out of period for all but perhaps Oriental persona. (This one cropped up from looking at woodcut printed t-shirts. Our minds run in weird veins sometimes.)

2) Silk Painting - Painting on silk using resists, such as wax and gutta, are not period for anyone in the SCA unless they are doing either a persona from India or China. Apparently silk painting didn't actually hit the European shores until the time of the Bolshevik's or the early 1900s. Introduction to Silk Painting (This one cropped up, because of the drive to paint silk banners in our local area. It made me curious how period it might be.)

Playing Cards

Most of my information for this research was done at home and I, unfortunately, am at work at present time (bad me), but I wanted to remind myself to put the research up here, so here's my reminder! So as not to make this post totally useless...

History of Playing Card Printing

Also, I have an article entitled "The 'Stuttgarter Kartenspiel': Scientific Examination of the Pigments and Paint Layers of Medieval Playing Cards", which is very very excellent and very detailed. It is a study in conservation of a 1430 German pack of cards. With it, I'm going to attempt, at some point, to create a set of playing cards myself. :D If anyone would like a copy of the article, let me know and I'll send it to them. Just leave a comment to that effect and I'll be more than happy to pass it along. Share the information!