Sunday, July 22, 2012

3 Weeks of Open Shop catch-up, 7-5 through 7-19

 For Crown Tourney they specified a particular size and shape of honor shield, which gave me a good excuse to make a new one.  I started with a 1/4" birch plywood blank cut to the specified size and sanded, then painted it with gesso to get a smooth white surface.  I took some original line art that Nora drew for me and reduced it to 45% of the original size before cutting it out.  Then as I traced it onto the gessoed surface I reduced the amount of fur detail by about 50% as well.  I made up one good "ray" template and traced it repeatedly around the shield.  Then I painted the shield from the middle out so that I wouldn't accidentally get my hand into the wet paint.  The only place the gesso still shows is in the hound's teeth.  With the red eye and tongue this looks like a very fierce war-hound indeed.  Note: the "gwyn" in Maelgwyn clearly derives from cun which means hound.  The "mael" is less clear but may be from the same indo-european root as maelstrom, malevolent or possibly mallet.

Here are a series of progress pictures for the 16th century gorget for rapier fencing that I've been making for Wyllow.  First I made an s-shaped stamping tool in order to achieve the roping effect.  I cut and shaped a piece of 18 gauge mild steel and then cut a notch in the end of a short length of 1/4" rod stock to receive it.   Note that it is held together by welding or even soldering was done to make this tool.  In the picture below you can see the sharp flare at the bottom of the neck piece which allows it to nest with the outer collarbone-covering piece and prevent gapping once the pieces are strapped together, while still permitting considerable freedom of movement.

 Here we have Colin's new gorget, with an extra flare at the bottom of the front piece to make him comfortable and a stainless steel plate over the front of the throat to make me comfortable.  My theory is that the front of a gorget should hold it's shape under impact in order to transfer the force to the muscles on the side of the throat rather than crushing the trachea.  Others are welcome to have their own theories...I like mine and I'm sticking with it.

We did an initial dying pass with iron disolved in vinegar to get this shade of black, but Colin decided he wanted it darker and re-dyed with a modern dye  before final assembly.

 In these last three pictures you see the final product in its native habitat, keeping Colin safe while he shoots anyone who would oppose us.  (Hi Gaston!)

With a gorget it is often wise to try the design out with the specific helm that will be worn with it, because an otherwise successful design just might not work with any given helm.

 Here Gunna enjoys the peace and contentment that comes from eating beef-and-barley porridge.
 Wyllow helps Frosti plan out his new tunic.

Kambreda (the artist formerly known as Nora) scares Gunna away from her unfinished porridge by grinding carbonized chicken bones into a fine powder for use in paints and other pigments.  The bones were placed in a nearly-sealed metal container and burnt in a fire to reduce them to ash without enough oxygen to actually burn.

Soon Gunna's porridge will be too cold and she will not want to eat it all up.   :)

 Meanwhile, Wyllow and I asked Kambreda to draw up a pretty capital U for our letter of intent to enter Crown Tournament. Her art and creativity far exceeded our expectations.  Kambreda didn't even know that the unicorn was part of our current Queen's heraldry.  The Queen was delighted when she saw this and exclaimed that she was Kambreda's newest fan.

 Gunna has decided that this sofa is just right for braiding and arranging Belle's hair.  She is sharing techniques she learned in a recent Kings College class taught by Jean Marie (who doesn't love us anymore, 'cause she never comes to Open Shop like she used to.)  Wyllow and Belle took notes and used the methods Gunna had demonstrated when they prepared their hair for the opening procession of Crown Tourney.

Wolf bevels and burnishes the edges of his half-gauntlets to get them ready to soak in glue and bake.

Josh is soaking his half-gauntlets in the glue bucket here.  Once bubbles stop coming out of the leather it is time for baking.  The second gauntlet got a lump of undissolved glue on it, requiring more rinsing in the glue solution to prevent an unsightly mess.

Here Wolf is placing his half-gauntlets back in the oven for another 15 minutes of baking before we adjust the shape again.  Soon they will stiffen up enough to hold their shape and we can let them bake without further adjustment until they are mostly dry.  Next week he will need to sew on a palm strap and sew together the cuff to complete these gauntlets.

Artorius and Jenna play chess while Gunna helps Belle design an underdress (13th century Norman) and Cameron ponders the wisdom of a 6th century BC Greek set of armour.

Maria cuts out part of her new dress with advice from Wyllow.

Linden is all set up for leather tooling and seeks inspiration from assorted reference books and costuming manuals.

Ben is trying to add enough padding to make his new helm fit his head.

Ben is using blue camp-pad foam as a temporary measure to pad his helm until we can make up his linen helm liner.  He purchased this used helm on the Internet and didn't realize quite how large it would be.  It will get him on the field in his own gear for now and perhaps later he can buy or make a more fitted helm.  Below you can see Ben and I starting to lay out his linen helm liner.  Pay no attention to the bald spot on the top of my head.  It is clearly an optical illusion or a trick of the light, and in no way indicates that anyone in this picture is getting old.

Deidre has made significant progress on assembling her Vendel-era Valsgarde 6 helm (7th century Sweden).  Soon she can add the nasal, cheek plates and face guards.  Then she can begin pillaging helpless villages throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

To quote the noted scholar Robert E. Howard:

"Serpent prow on the Afric coast,
Doom on the Moorish town;
And this is the song the steersman sang
As the dragonship swept down


Daniel has taken his turn out in the heat and managed to hammer out some elbow cops that are nearly ready to strap.  Clearly the heat was too much for his shirt and it has caught fire.

And if we give her a few moments away from helping everyone else, Wyllow is sure to be caught red-handed once again as she works to interpret and implement a complex recipe from the Plictho.  I think this one includes madder, brasil, cochineal, calcium carbonate, oxalic acid, and pretty much every trick in the book except eye of newt.

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