Covering the Kingdom of Æthelmearc of the SCA
Updated: 6 min 58 sec ago
Citizens of Æthelmearc, good morning.
Our Monarchs Marcus and Margerite will be travelling to foreign lands and would like examples of the bounty and excellence of their people.
They are looking to put together gift baskets for TRMs to take to Market Day at Birka (East) and Gulf Wars (Meridies). Needed are artisans to contribute to these baskets. Needed are items that Their noble cousins can give to their populace as well as supporting their own Reigns. Suggestions include awards of excellence, or personal tokens that can be given out. Their Majesties are also hoping for someone to step forward to coordinate collection of these items over the next two months.
Their Majesties are also looking to commission an artisan or artisans to create personal tokens of their own to hand out while travelling. These would be given to individuals that inspire TRMs as well as thank you gifts for those that perform acts of personal service to Æthelmearc citizens abroad.
If you think you might be interested to add your talent to the pool, or wish to serve the Kingdom with your skills of organization, you are encouraged to contact TRMs’ majordomo Mester Janos. They are looking to have this position filled before the holiday break.
Their Majesties thank you for your continuing support and look forward to seeing many of you at Their 12th Night Celebrations this winter.
This month’s On Target: Stocking stuffers for the Archer you love!
It’s Christmas time and we’re all just a little lost about what to give that archer in our life. I found this cute little Christmas tree ornament you both can enjoy. Everybody that looks at it will say, “Where did you find that?” The truth is, I’ve forgotten… but if you Google “archery ornament” you’ll find some like it.
Now just like the “Marshals Field Box,” your archer may need nocks, fletching, glue, and points. For those all day trips, a modern shooter may need some jerky, power bars, and carb mixers to go in their water. Also, the hunter in him or her might need field dressing gloves and doe scent.
Finally, remember “GLG” – Guys (and Gals) Love Gadgets. No matter how many pocket knives or multi-tools we have in that overstuffed pocket, one more is always welcome. And at the end of the day, who doesn’t need a corkscrew or a bottle opener?
I hope this helps you out with your Christmas shopping.
This month safety tip: whether you’re driving to the range or driving to Mom’s house, it’s Christmas and people are always in a rush and not very careful. Drive safely, my friends!
THLord Deryk Archer
Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Marcus & Margerite, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: the Business of Æthelmearc Æcademy, November, 11, Anno Societatis LI, in the Shire of Nithgaard. As recorded by Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta, Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald.
Their Majesties called to be attended by Elizabeth von Halstern and Isabelle von Halstern. Her Majesty spoke of the service both of these youth gave to the youth track at the Pennsic War and so inducted both into the Order of the Silver Buccle. Scroll forthcoming.
Next Their Majesties sought to be attended by Eli Martinson and Jayce Martinson. Their Majesties spoke of the courtesy and service of both of these youth and awarded each with a Silver Buccle. Scrolls by THLady Renata Rouge.
The children of Æthelmearc were then invited forward and were given leave to chase after Eli and Jayce in order to claim a prize from the treasure chest and occupy themselves during the remainder of court.
Lady Aine O’Muirghesan then presented herself and gave her oath of service as she assumed the role of Kingdom Chronicler.
Master Creador Twinedragon approached the Sylvan Thrones and gave Her Majesty a fishing rod and presented to His Majesty a token of esteem.
The Chancellor of the Æcademy, Mistress Alicia Langland, then addressed the populace and announced the next Æcademy in Spring would be in Angel’s Keep, and that she is still looking for a bid from Region 4 for Fall 2017 Æcademy. She also expressed her thanks to the teachers and offered gifts. Lastly, Her Excellency Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope was recognized for her years of service to the Æcademy and was named a Fellow of the Æcademy.
Sybil of Nithgaard was next called to attend Their Majesties. They spoke of her as a worker and a valued member of her group, and so did name her a Lady and Award her Arms. Scroll by Diane Southwick.
Their Majesties then had words for Baron Silvester Burchardt. They told of his prowess, and specifically spoke highly of his skill in melee combat. For these qualities They did induct him into the Order of the Golden Alce. Scroll illuminated by His Excellency Master Caleb Reynolds with calligraphy by Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen.
Lord Tassim Treseol was brought before Their Majesties. Speaking of his valued service to Their Kingdom, particularly his service in the kitchen, Their Majesties did name him a companion of the Keystone. Scroll by Mistress Graidhne ni Ruaidh.
Their Majesties next wished to be attended by Lord Amano Zenjirou Nakatsune, and before the assembled populace praised him for his service in faithfully tending to the duties of the office of webminister and inducted him into the Order of the Keystone. Scroll forthcoming.
A call went out seeking THLord Madoc Arundel, who presented himself before The Crown. His service as voice herald was vast and difficult to overlook, and so Their Majesties saw it fitting to induct him into the Order of the Keystone. Scroll forthcoming.
Next, Their Majesties called for Lady Elena de la Palma. Their Majesties told of numerous instances of service; as retainer, chatelaine, autocrat, demo organizer, and so felt it just and proper to also name her a companion of the Keystone for these deeds. Scroll illuminated by Lady Vivienne of Yardley and calligraphed by Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen.
Lord Cormacc mac Gilla Bridghe was invited to join Their Majesties, who spoke at length of his courtesy and kindness, and recognized these traits by presenting him with a Cornelian. Scroll by Her Excellency Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Seeking to be attended by THLord Aindreas mac Ghille Fhionntaigh, he did presented himself before Their Sylvan Majesties. Their Majesties told of his many long years of quiet service and teaching, his kindness and generosity, his contributions as a fencing marshal and ensuring that local events occur, and so were moved to bestow upon him the Æthelmearc Award of Excellence.
Having further business with THLord Madoc Arundel, Their Majesties once again called him forward. They recounted his skill and craftsmanship in the research and production of period drinks through his art of brewing and vinting. Recognizing that such skill is rare and when recognized should be properly rewarded, did call for the Order of the Fleur d’Æthelmearc and did name THLord Madoc a companion of that Order. Scroll by Baroness Ekaterina Volkova.
Her Majesty then spoke of Her inspiration that day, a Lady whose strength and resolve is unwavering in the face of personal struggle, and bade Lady Wilhelmina Marion Bodnar, known as Mina, to attend, and did present Lady Mina with a Golden Escarbuncle.
Their Majesties then expressed gratitude for the scribes, wordsmiths, and other artisans who contributed their works and their time for today’s event so that others might be recognized, and Her Majesty presented each with personal tokens.
There being no further business, this Court of Their Majesties was closed.
Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta,
You can view the scrolls given at the Æcademy in the slide show below. All photos by Maestro Orlando.Click to view slideshow.
Mistress Alicia Langland, Chancellor of the Æcademy, reports on the doings at the fall session held on November 12, A.S. 51.
No matter whether you were hungry for a smorgasbord of classes or an all-day tuck-in, the recent Æthelmearc AEcademy and War College, hosted by the Shire of Nithgaard, surely had something of interest.
Some of the highlights on the menu included:
For those who craved a smattering of learning, the schedule included topics to tempt almost every taste. Accessories, Embroidery, Food, Literary Arts, Music, Soap-making and more were represented. Make-and-take classes as well as history and service-oriented classes were offered.
Many of the classes had never been offered at Æcademy before. For some teachers, this was their first time teaching at Æcademy; for a few, this was their first-ever teaching experience.
A testament to the excellent offerings on the schedule and to the event staff’s terrific publicity, attendance was nearly double what was expected. Kudos to the event staff – particularly the kitchen crew – for being so welcoming and accommodating.
Following the end of classes, Their Majesties capped the day with a court that had everyone in stitches. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day.
We hope you will reserve Saturday, June 17, 2017, and plan to attend the next session of Æthelmearc Æcademy and War College, which will be held in the Shire of Angel’s Keep (central New York / Auburn NY).
Greetings and a friendly reminder that College of 3 Ravens will be here before you know it!
I am class coordinator and am looking for classes and teachers. Please contact me to schedule your class, and include “C3R” in the subject line.
Her Avian Excellency Sadira and her Barony of Thescorre are pleased to invite you to the College of Three Ravens, which will be in held on January 28th, 2017. The College will take place at the Western Presbyterian Church, located at 101 E. Main St, Palmyra, NY 14622.
The site will open at 9 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. Those present after 9 p.m. will be welcomed as volunteer clean-up crew. Classes will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until at least 4 p.m. The site is handicapped accessible and has ample parking.
We are anticipating a variety of classes. If you have a class that you would like to teach, please contact the Chancellor of Classes, Lady Adelheid Grunewalderin otfridssister at yahoo dot com – please include“C3R” in the subject line.
Event registration includes a sideboard lunch prepared by Lady Marguerite De Neufchasteau (Nancy Weed). For allergies and other food concerns, you may contact her at (315) 947-6968 (please no calls after 10pm) or nancyfuller1964 at yahoo dot com.
Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina is planning a Tudor-era English dinner with the help of the Cauldron Bleu Cooks Guild. For allergies and other food concerns, contact Katja at katja at thescorre dot org. The fee for feast will be $9 for adults and $5 for children. Seating is limited and cannot be guaranteed unless reserved by 1/20/17. (Head cook’s note: Anyone who wishes to play in the kitchen, please feel free to contact me.)
The site is dry (no alcohol is permitted) No flames, open or enclosed, are allowed.
Pre-reservation for this event is always appreciated for planning both the sideboard & feast. Please send reservations to the reservationist/tollner Baroness Baroness Bronwyn nic Gregor (Wendy Sardella) 1728 Qualtrough Rd., Rochester, N.Y. 14625 (585) 264-1496. Please do not call after 9 p.m. Checks are to be made payable to SCA NY Inc – Barony of Thescorre. Please include modern name, SCAdian name and membership status for each person to be covered by your payment. Also, indicate if any are minors, and for whom feast reservations are desired. Inclusion of contact info will be invaluable in clarifications. As usual, the only good reservation is a paid reservation.
For further information or questions, please contact the autocrat: Lord Simon Caminante (James Fitch) jamesfitch3 at gmail dot com, (585) 802-2999 (voice or text, calls before 9 am will not be answered by a properly caffineated autocrat) 5315 W Henrietta Rd, Henrietta, NY 14467.
Directions: Take your best route to I-90 (the NYS Thruway), Exit 43 (Route 21). Turn left on Route 21 North. Follow Route 21 6.2 miles to Route 31. Cross Route 31 onto Church Street and turn right into the Church parking lot.
Submitted by The Honorable Lord Madoc Arundel, Region 2 Representative of the Æthelmearc Brewers Guild:
The Brewers Guild of Æthelmearc held their annual competition at Bacon and Brewing Bash III on October 22 in the Shire of Hunter’s Home. This is the third iteration of this competition and the second time it has been used to choose a regional champion. Judging was done face-to-face with each contestant, and involved two judges using the current A&S rubric for brewing and vintning (posted on the Guild website). This year, entries were limited to beer/ale, mead, wine, and hard cider. A total of five brewers entered nine beverages for consideration, although only seven of the beverages were eligible for the championship as the other two were submitted by a competitor from outside Region 2.
The overall winner of the competition was Lady Rhiannon filia Catell of the Barony of the Cleftlands with a score of 104/120 for a cinnamon melomel that one judge was heard to proclaim “tasted like Christmas.” The winner of the Region 2 Championship was Baron Rauthbjorn Lothbroke with a score of 96/120 for an aged pyment that had an extraordinarily rich flavor.
The other entries included:
Congratulations to the winners, and vivant to all the entrants. Remember – it’s not too late to start brewing for next year.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Æthelmearc Gazette! May your day be filled with good friends and family, good food, and good cheer.
For weeks now, I’ve been studying the rocket arrow and gunpowder. First I must say that much Chinese Warfare in history was written years after the fact, so historical information is shaky. Gunpowder was the first chemical explosive invented somewhere between the early and mid 9th century. The Chinese word for gunpowder is “huo yao xuo yau.” The Chinese wasted little time developing flamethrowers, rockets, bombs, and landmines. Another culture, believed to be Italian, even developed a torpedo rocket.
Here are the rockets that I’ve personally developed:
Parental discretion is advised, keep this away from children! The rocket I made did move and would have gone further if I added more fuel. For safety reasons, I will not be telling anyone what I used for fuel, but it was not gunpowder. A demonstration was held at Archers to the Wald and with the marshals’ and sites’ permission, I’ll be doing demonstrations throughout the upcoming year. The video below was taken at Archers to the Wald by Lady Catalina Iannarella d’Colliano.
This month’s safety tip: again, please do not do this at home. I’ve been studying this and doing tests for months.
Yours in service,
THLord Deryk Archer
By Master Benedict Fergus atte Mede.
I’ve heard some confusion about the new mask inspection policy, and I’d like to clear it up. First of all, what we are doing is adding a step in inspections, not changing the rules. This new inspection procedure should begin immediately. Society policies may change wording to make things more clear at some point in the future, but we have been instructed to implement this change now.
The following comes from the Æ rapier policies:
This last point: “Masks and helms must be secured to the fighter so that they cannot be easily removed or dislodged during combat. The combination of a snug fit and the spring-tongue in a conventional fencing mask is not sufficient by itself to secure the mask to the fighter” — justifies the necessity for padding or suspension in a standard fencing mask to keep the fencer’s face protected from hard shots. Granted nothing is perfect, but this requirement has been handed down from the Society Earl Marshal, and we do have provisions in our rules to back it up.
Now, I know that this will cause some masks that lack any kind of padding or suspension to be disqualified. My own mask is now disqualified, as a matter of fact.
Here’s what you can do:
First, there are inexpensive masks made with the proper suspension available.
Second, some masks may be modified to provide that same suspension or padding. Stitching in fabric, or closed cell foam padding across the upper interior, against the forehead, and along the chin should do the trick.
The point is to provide something to secure the mask on the head so that a hard shot will not dislodge it or allow (to the best of our ability) a fencer’s face to be struck by the mesh when the mask is struck.
I realize that a very hard shot might indeed do this regardless of padding, but the theory is that this procedure should reduce injuries. Again, this is a requirement from the Society Earl Marshal.
Rapier Helmets will see some new inspection procedure soon, but the requirements have not been finalized yet. If you use a helmet (not a fencing mask) you can count on a couple of changes. First of all, you will also be asked to have the interior of your helm inspected before putting it on. If there are any internal protrusions (such as bolts securing a chin strap) these must be padded so that a hard shot will not result in your head getting hit by a bolt or other protrusion.
It is likely that you will need to have a suspension system, or padding to secure the helm as well, but we do not have a final word on how much padding, or what kind of suspension will ultimately be required. This should be cleared up soon, and when it is, you guys will get the information. If you have any questions or concerns please share them.
Thank you, Fergus
Kingdom Marshal of Fence
By Lady Miklos Magdolna (Kathleen Dehring).
In the SCA, we need to stay focused not only on retention of our membership but also on recruiting new people. Sometimes in group dynamics, we think “Well, hey… we have 15 people, I have played this game with them for the last five years… why do we need anyone new?” Without new people, a group becomes stagnant and members tire of trading officer positions and autocratting duties between such a small number. This leads to people being overloaded, and suddenly you find older members fading away.
By having demonstrations (“demos”) and recruiting new members, the work can be passed around, resulting in less burned-out veteran SCAdians. As a former canton chatelaine, I will share what I have learned about doing SCA demos.
Before you schedule your first demo, look at your group. What is your SCA group’s composition? Is it mostly people working 9-to-5 and/or over three dozen people with small children? Or is it a lot of college-age people with variable schedules? The reason why you need to ask yourself this question is that you probably should not attempt scheduling a demo at 1 pm in an elementary school if 99% of your populace is at work and won’t be able to get time off.
Questions to ask your group
The best way to avoid having to cancel a demo is to ask these questions at an SCA meeting:
In this busy world where there can be an event every weekend, plus sewing circles, dance practices, heavy fighting and archery practices, people will burn out quickly if they have three or four demos a month. Some groups only wish to demo once a month; others twice or three times. It’s also best to agree on bad dates, such as Pennsic war week, the week between the holidays of Christmas and New Year’s, etc. It is also a good idea to ask how on short a notice can your group organize a demo? A week? A month? Twenty-four hours?
Should we charge for the demo?
That is a question best decided by your group. I know that in my canton, if we do a demo at a movie theater, it usually gave us free tickets. That was pretty cool, very visible, and got us media coverage. It made for a great exchange of services. We did demos for some non-profit organizations where we opted for either a greatly reduced fee or none at all. If the event is for the sole purpose of making money (such as a Renaissance fair), or a wedding coordinator or event planner wants to hire your group, then you should receive some compensation for your services. Once again, this sliding fee scale is best determined by your officers and populace.
How to get demo requests?
How do we get demos if no one requests one? Well, most likely no one knows about you. The best way to solve this problem is to find out who is the event coordinators at the local library. If you have a small library, it’s properly the librarian. Send a letter, maybe a few pictures and let them know your group is a non-profit organization dedicated teaching people about the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. They will put the information on file and the next time they have an event such as Chaucer’s birthday party or a Shakespeare week, you may well get a call.
You will want to do the same for local theaters, colleges, and schools. Your letter has to be simple, to the point, and able to give them the basics. It’s also advisable to send informational letters to bookstores and fabric stores. Some fabric stores offer classes on how to make things, so they may want a person to come in chat about what clothing of the Middle Ages looked like, how to work with what patterns are out there, how to select fabrics. Most of the time, people will just want basic Renaissance fair stuff, but occasionally you will encounter some one who genuinely wants to learn how to make good period clothes… that person could be a potential SCA member. Remember, in sending those letters, be very careful you never sell your group as a “Renaissance-fair-in-a-box.”
What is a “Renaissance-fair-in-a-box?”
If you use this phrase, people will assume you are promising your group as entertainment. Many people think we are an extension of a Renaissance fair, with fire-eaters, jugglers, and jousting with horses. If not corrected, this misconception can lead to misunderstanding and a unsatisfactory demo for both parties. In order to avoid this, keep a pad of paper by the telephone and when you are called, ask these questions:
What if what they want is not what we do?
If they ask for something outside your group’s scope, then politely tell them what your group can offer: a display of medieval arts & sciences crafts, fencing, or heavy fighters. If no one in your group dances, then don’t mention it. Also, if the demo is supposed to occur over several hours, make sure you discuss how long the fighters can fight and how often they’ll need rest breaks.
During the first contact, repeat what you have been told and make sure you understand the person correctly. Let’s say our fictional demo is a Shakespeare week kick-off party at the main library on a Saturday that doesn’t conflict with a major event. They want people in Elizabethan clothes and fencers to do a fighting display in the main entrance with 20-foot tall ceilings and a 25-foot-square roped-off area with a marble floor. Hopefully, they would like someone to talk about life in the age of Queen Elizabeth for children between the ages of eight and 12.
At this time, tell the person you need to talk to your group and you will call them back in a given time frame (week, day, whatever) to confirm. This gives you the time to get on your group’s discussion list/Facebook group/etc. or go to a business meeting to present the demo and ask whether there is interest, how many people can participate, etc. You will need a marshal, authorized fencers, and people with Elizabethan clothes. Does anyone want to do the children’s class? Hopefully, there is a show of hands, and the date is good, and you call the person back and commit.
What to do if there’s no interest
What if the group is lukewarm at best and no one wants to do the demo? To put it simply, call back the person and say you cannot do the demo.
If the demo is just too good to pass up, you might want to check with the baronial chatelaine (if you’re in a canton or shire) or with the chatelaines from nearby baronies to see if recruiting people from those groups will make it possible.
What if they are asking for nothing like what we agreed on?
This why you have your notes of your group’s decision. Refer to what was agreed upon — the time of day, what activities you’re providing. If you arrive at the demo and the person says, “But where’s the live steel demonstration?” you can reply, “I talked to Joan on July 7th and I told her at that time we use rattan in combat. We agreed to three 15-minute displays over a three-hour period.” In the years I organized demos, I rarely had a complaint because when you have your notes as reference, it tends to help people remember things more correctly.
I also suggest that when doing a demo for a Renaissance fair or an event planner, send them a copy in writing. An example would be:
October 3, 2016
Weddings ‘R’ Us
Attn: Tara Lyn Colby
123 Main Street
Anyplace, NY 13902
Thank you for allowing the Society for Creative Anachronism, Shire of Sterlynge Vayle, to organize a demonstration at the Broome County Renaissance Fair. We will be on site by 10:00 am as agreed on February 8, 2016.
We will have two period pavilions in place. From the hours of 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, we will hold one 15-minute set of fighting either with rattan weapons or fencing. We will take an hour lunch break at 12:00 noon. We will have people wandering the fair in clothes of the Middle Ages to contribute ambiance, and we will have a tent with our crafts displayed.
We appreciate your offer of room to camp overnight and use of the gymnasium showers. We understand that there are no ground fires allowed, and we must be careful when setting up our tents to protect the sprinkler system. A groundskeeper will be on-hand to help us.
We also agreed on a fee of $50 to be delivered in a check made out to “SCA – Canton of Edgewater,” to be given to me at the end of the demo on the February 9.
Event Coordinator for the SCA Shire of Sterlynge Vayle (Chatelaine)
SCA Name: Peg the Alewife
123 Bythway Road
Anyplace, NY 13902
When it’s time for the check, there should be no misunderstanding of amount, time commitments, or just what you agreed to provide.
It’s the day of the demo – now what?
Try to get there ahead of the participants. That way, you can be a traffic manager and get people set up the way they need to go.
It’s also important to interact with whomever you’re doing the demo for and make sure you’re still on the right page. Contact them before, during, and after the demo. If they’re happy, they will tell a few people; if they’re seriously unhappy, they will tell a lot more people.
You also will want to set up a table with SCA information for interested people to take home with them. You also will want a sign-up board so you can e-mail or send information to those folks who sign up on it.There’s a guy here from the TV or the press
You or the seneschal should talk to them to give them the basic information about the SCA and why you’re there. If people are interested in you, tell them how to contact the SCA. Remember that any time you face coverage by the media, the seneschal needs to be informed (and your media officer, if you have one).
At the end of the demo, be sure to thank all the people who helped, and stick it out to clean up if needed. Follow up with the person who requested the demo to make sure they are happy. Then go home… and hopefully you have made new contacts for your group.
By Lady Miklos Magdolna (Kathleen Dehring).
Unlike other historical organizations, the SCA does not have a specific defined time period, rules for historical garments, or the need to approve a participant’s tent, clothing, and accessories to allow entry to an event.
With that said, there are two major schools of thought concerning attendees and the amount of accuracy (“periodness”) any one should be. Those are:
There is a third option which is, I think, a better one: Give people support and allow them a learning curve to explore and discover the culture and era they wish to emulate.
In that vein, this is an overview on achieving a “period” look without ordering expensive garments from a company or spending your whole paycheck on fabric.
If you can sew fairly well and have access to a sewing machine, then the most simple of garments can be made in a weekend and look wonderful. The T tunic dates from the earliest to middle parts of our time period, covering several different centuries and countries. Generally, the tunic was constructed of linen or wool fabric (sometimes silk) with embellishments such as embroidery, narrow works, or beadwork, and contrasting fabrics at the neck, wrists, and hem. Linen generally varies in cost from $10 a yard to $25, and wool likewise.
So, how can an affordable garment be made?
Where do you get fabric?
The obvious answer is the fabric store (Jo-Anns, etc.). Fortunately, they often have coupons, doorbuster sales, and the beloved clearance section. The prices for wool tend to get better in the summer, while linen (considered a summer fabric) tends to go on sale in the winter. Other venues for purchasing fabric are online stores (such as Fabrics-store.com for linen, Fabric.com for wool, Carolinacalicoes.com for linen and linen blends, and Thaisilks.com for silk), resellers like Ebay or Etsy, or, for the truly adventurous, the thrift store can have those materials at a fraction of the cost.
Thrifting involves creativity. There can be bolts of donated fabric, or you may uncover 100% linen curtains and wool blankets. The drawback to employing this method is that there is no guarantee you will find something. Also, the materials may not be the color or amount needed for your project. In another class, bleaching, dying, and pattern stamping will be addressed so you can make more fabrics usable.
Another place to find fabrics is at some Walmarts (although not all sell fabric anymore), and the prices are generally very inexpensive. The issues with this store are the lack of accurate cutting, fabric content labels, and knowledgeable staff who can answer questions. Sometimes you can get a bargain, but more times than not it’s yards of frustration.
Tip: Always look at the fabric content marked normally on the end of the bolt. Remember that the higher the man-made fibers, the less the garment will breathe. This can elevate body temperature and make the wearer extremely uncomfortable.
How do you identify the type of fabric when there is no fiber content label?
When you are at home, you can do a burn test. However, doing that is out of the question when you’re still in the store or thrift shop! The best you can do there is feel the fabric and determine if it feels like a natural fabric. If possible, pull one thread loose and try to break it. Unnatural/synthetic fibers tend to snap while cottons, linens, and wools tend to stretch or pull apart.
A cellulose fiber, it takes longer to ignite. It is easily extinguished by blowing on it. Other properties are similar to hemp and jute.
A manufactured cellulose fiber. It burns without flame or melting and may flare up. Unless there is a fabric finish, it doesn’t leave any bead. After the flame is removed, it may glow a bit longer than cotton. It smells like burning paper and leaves soft, gray ash. It’s smoke is a little hazardous.
A protein fiber that burns slowly and curls away from the flame. It leaves a dark bead that can be easily crushed. It is self-extinguishing and leaves ash that is a dark, gritty, fine powder. It smells like burned hair or charred meat. It gives out little or no smoke and the fume is not hazardous.
A protein fiber that burns slowly. It sizzles and curls away from flame and may curl back into a fingernail. It leaves beads that are brittle, dark, and easily crushed. It is self-extinguishing and leaves a harsh ash from crushed bead. It emits a strong odor of burning hair or feathers, as well as dark smoke and moderate fume.
Protein fibers that burn quickly and can flare even after flame is removed. The bead is hard, brittle, and can’t be crushed. It melts into a very hot bead and drips very dangerously. No ash is left by it and the smell is like hot vinegar or burning pepper. It gives out black smoke and the fume is hazardous.
Manufactured fabrics made from petroleum. Due to their fabric finish, they quickly burn and shrink to flame. The beads are hard, grayish, and uncrushable. After flame, they burn slowly and melt. They are self-extinguishing but drip dangerously. Their odor is like celery and they leave no ash but the fume is very hazardous.
A polymer produced from coal, air, water, and petroleum products. It burns quickly and shrinks away from flame, but may also flare up. It leaves hard, dark, and round beads. After the flame, it burns slowly and is not always self-extinguishing. It has a slightly sweet chemical odor. It leaves no ash but the black smoke and fume are hazardous.
Acrylic, Modacrylic, Polyacrylic
Manufactured fabrics from natural gas and petroleum, they flare up at match-touch, shrink from flame, burn rapidly with hot sputtering flame, and drip dangerously. Beads are hard, dark, and with irregular shapes. They continue melting after flame is removed and are self-extinguishing. When burning, they give out a strong acrid, fishy odor. Although no ash is left, their black smoke and fume are hazardous.
My name is Jenna MacPherson of Lions Tower and I’m the coordinator for this year’s Ice Dragon A&S Pentathlon. Their Excellencies Rhydderich Hael invite artisans of all levels to bring your works for a day of friendly yet fierce competition on April 8, 2017.
This year we have some new additions to the Pent (outlined below) such as the 5-in-1 category and the special theme prize category. We have added one or two new subcategories and one new main category. We also have returning favorites: the projects display-only area and the magnificent “failures” display, both hosted by Master Thorpe as in previous years. There is something for everyone.
The following is the list of categories and some general rules for the competition. Over the next few months, information will be forthcoming on the Æthelmearc Group/List, as well as in the Æstel and on the Facebook Page. Questions can be emailed to me.
I am looking forward to seeing the beautiful works of all the artisans!
2017 PENTATHLON CATEGORIES:
The list of categories this year is similar to previous years with a couple of additions that I hope will inspire new levels of creativity as well as new avenues of expression for the artisans.
Please note the following requirements:
Decorative items that enhance a person’s appearance (belts, hats, veils, jewelry, gloves, etc.)
ANIMAL ARTS Tools of the trade or accessories made for the use of animals (equestrian, beekeeping, hunting, farming, fishing, etc.)
APPLIED RESEARCH Extremely well researched items too simple or modest to compete fairly in a more traditional category. The score would be split between the research paper and the item, with the paper being worth more than half of the points.
A liquid prepared for human consumption.
The one-year stipulation on completion of entries starts at the time the beverage has completed fermentation and sufficiently aged to allow the flavors to meld, as per the recipe. When the entry becomes drinkable, the clock begins.
The documentation should include the details of your process.
Once a beverage has been entered it may not be entered in subsequent years.
CERAMICS AND GLASS
Items made of ceramics or glass
Garments that cover a person’s body.
Since the cut and fit of clothing changed during the 14th century, it is up to the entrant to choose which category they enter items based on 14th century garments.
Items prepared for human consumption (beverages excluded)
CURIOSA Unique or unusual entries that don’t fit in any of the traditional categories.
Entries in this category must be approved by pent coordinator.
The arts associated with making yarn/ string or items made from this type of material
HERALDIC DISPLAY Any item embellished or enhanced through the addition of heraldry
HISTORIC COMBAT ***New Category** entries of artistic endeavor showcasing a martial art of SCA period and/or used currently within the Society. The format is limited only by the entrant’s creativity and safety considerations.
SPECIAL NOTE: No entry will be accepted if the presentation requires a marshal or safety equipment to be present. No active combat (by Society definition) of any type will be allowed.
HOUSEHOLD ARTS Items produced for everyday use in the home. (Toiletries, cosmetics, candles, needles, decor, etc.)
LEATHERWORKING Items made of leather or use of leather as a decorative element
Entries in Literary Arts must be received by me ***no later than March 11, 2017***
(See more information on Literary Arts Entries below)
Items made of metal or use of metal as a decorative element
NEEDLEWORK Decorative sewing, embroidery and lace making
PERFORMANCE ARTS – MUSICAL
Entries should not exceed 15 minutes and must be performed in the area where the judging is taking place.
PERFORMANCE ARTS – NON-MUSICAL
Items that would be made by a scribe.
Handwritten and/or painted pages based on documents or manuscripts
Various visual arts that require a specialized set of tools or space to create.
TOYS Items whose primary function is to be played with.
Articles that provide amusement or a way to pass time.
Items made of wood or use of wood as a decorative element
Youth are not required to enter in these categories. They may choose to have their work judged as an equal to any adult entry in the category appropriate to the materials and/or construction.
SPECIAL PRIZE CATEGORY (new this year and as yet to be named)
The pent coordinator in consultation with Their Excellencies will announce a theme/item/topic do this category. Entries are limited only to the artists interpretation of that theme/topic/item. THE THEME CHOSEN BY THEIR EXCELLENCIES IS “All Things Welsh.”
SPECIAL CATEGORY 5-in-1 Project. Any ONE item that can qualify for entry in a minimum of 5 of the above listed main categories. This item may also be cross entered into ONE main category to count toward the grand Pentathlon Prize.
***Any category or sub-category may be expanded or combined to meet the needs of the entrants and/or judges.***
Entries in Literary Arts must be received electronically or postmarked by *** March 11, 2017 ***
Entries may be sent electronically or via hardcopy 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 me.
Please contact me in advance if you are sending hard copy.
My mailing address or answers to any other questions you have about the Pent are available by emailing me.
please watch the Pent website and the Æthelmearc Kingdom calendar for more announcements.
By Lord Alessandro Devereaux.
I mostly write about kenjutsu, the Japanese sword art, but that’s only one of several arts that I practice. Another is the 16th century Spanish rapier style La Verdadera Destreza (literally “true art and skill,” and the image above is my wife and I practicing this style).
A note about my background here: I was taught Destreza by a man who learned it while serving in the Army and stationed in Panama. He was taught by a Spanish expatriate living in Panama, who was taught the art in Spain. Assuming that all of this is true, I learned this as a living art, and (other than the few others who were taught by my teacher and the folks I’ve taught myself) I don’t know of anyone else who can say that.
Many people (notably the amazing Puck and Mary Curtis, with their Destreza Translation and Research Project) are attempting to reconstruct the art from the period writings. I’ve read their work, and as much of the period writings as have been translated to English (my Spanish is, shall we say, weak…or, more accurately, completely nonexistent). The principles of what they do are very much the same as what I was taught, but many of the specific techniques are different, and there’s a body of technique around my art that isn’t documented in any of the writings.
So, I thought I’d write a series of articles about Destreza as it was taught to me, for the benefit of anyone else who might be trying to learn. This first article in the series will be about the basic philosophy of Destreza, and how it differs from other similar systems; subsequent articles will look more closely at specific techniques and principles.
The central tenet of Destreza is don’t get hit. That probably seems unsurprising, but it’s actually quite different from other contemporary styles, such as the far-more-common Italian and French styles. To illustrate this, picture a simple attack-defense sequence in each style. In the Italian style, a typical version would be: attacker steps straight in and attacks; defender parries (possibly attempting to hit in a single tempo). The thing to note here is that if the defender misses his parry, he’s hit. He has no backstop.
An equivalent Spanish exchange would be: attacker (who we’re assuming to be Italian, since that’s what Destreza was primarily designed to work against) steps straight in and attacks; defender steps off line and interposes his sword, keeping his point in line but not necessarily attempting to hit in a single tempo. The body movement is the critical thing: as long as the defender gets off the line of the attack, it mostly doesn’t matter how badly he screws up his defense, he isn’t going to get hit regardless. Conversely, if he succeeds in interposing his sword, he’s safe even if he didn’t successfully get off the line in time. Of course, he’s sacrificed some time by stepping – his riposte isn’t going to be as fast as it would be if he stood still – but he’s a great deal safer.
The theory here is to build an impenetrable defense, and wait for the enemy to make a mistake. Of course, we (the Spaniards) are going to do everything possible to encourage that mistake. In particular, by moving offline, we force the enemy to turn to address us, which Italian and French fencers aren’t necessarily used to doing; if there’s a fractional hesitation before they can reestablish the line, we have our opening.
Even once the opening is found, however, our attacks are carefully chosen to maintain the exit line. Given a choice, we won’t attack straight down the enemy’s sword, because if he counterattacked simultaneously we’d both get hit. Double kills are not an acceptable outcome. We’ll nearly always move away from the sword, and preferably cover the line as well to prevent it from following us. Alternatively, we can control the sword as we move in, so that we can attack without risk of being hit.
If, at any point, we feel like we’re not completely in control of the situation, we’ll abort the attack and regain our chosen distance. If an opportunity is risky, says the practitioner of Destreza (diestro), it’s not really an opportunity. We have a strong defense, time is on our side, we can wait for the next one.
This philosophy shapes everything in Destreza. Next time, we’ll look at a few specific techniques, and relate them back to the central tenets. Also, in order to describe the techniques properly we’ll have to introduce the famous Spanish fencing circle, so there will be pretty pictures (or, well, pictures, anyway) next time, I promise.
(See more posts on this subject at Lord Alessandro’s blog, The Martial Traveler.)
Unto the Subjects of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, especially those who are martially inclined, Greetings from Duke Christopher, Seneschal.
The office of Earl Marshal will turn over at Twelfth Night. This office is going to undergo some changes. Traditionally, the Earl Marshal has been a heavy weapons marshal with significant experience marshaling the Lists and Wars. The position is going to be modified somewhat.
The idea is to have the EM be an administrator and less of a marshal. Thus, the primary quality of the successful applicant for this job will be that of an organized, capable administrator. The ideal candidate will have familiarity with a number of the martial disciplines, but, need not necessarily be an expert in any one of them. The EM will supervise the chief marshals of each of the martial disciplines, such as rapier, siege, archery, etc. as happens now.
A heavy weapons marshal will be added who will serve as the senior marshal for rattan combat. This person will be on the same level of the organizational flowchart as the senior marshals of the other martial disciplines. If the EM does not have sufficient rattan combat experience to serve as the marshal in charge of Crown, the heavy weapons marshal will then serve in that capacity. A Pennsic Marshal will also be appointed. This person will serve a three-year term which will culminate with them serving as Marshal 1 at Pennsic. Further details on this position will follow.
A deadline of November 1st was set for applications for Earl Marshal. There are no letters for this position at this time. At this time I would like to call for letters for anyone interest in serving as Earl Marshal. I would also ask for letters for the Heavy Weapons marshal. The successful candidate here will have several years experience as a heavy weapons marshal and be comfortable marshaling everything from local tournaments to Crown Lists.
If you have interest in any of these positions, please submit your letter to me and Duchess Tessa, the KEM. Courtesy copies should go to the Crown and Heirs as well. I would ask that letters be submitted by December 1st.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Christopher Seneschal, Æthelmearc
From the Kingdom A&S Minister:
Today is November 16th. As of today, I have received 1 — as in ONE — A&S 4th quarter report. These reports are due by December 1st. (Online report form is here.)
From the Kingdom Webminister:
Tap, tap, tap on little keys,
The online report form is here.
Greetings Local Seneschals:
All groups in Region 5 should forward your reports directly to me. If you reside in Region 5 and would like to be the Regional seneschal, please contact me.
– my adventures at the two and a half day Bow Making Workshop at Primitive Pursuits in upstate Arnot Forest during prime fall colors…
The third day started cloudy and quickly turned into drizzle. Even though we worked outdoors for most of the workshop, we fortunately had the luxury of a roofed pavilion, courtesy of Cornell University’s Arnot Teaching & Research Forest, as getting the bow staves wet or even damp should be avoided (I’d brought mine home to stay the night in the car, instead of all alone under the pavilion.). Moisture can swell the wood and make it harder or inconsistent to work with, as one of the students found out the hard way after she got some raindrops on one of the limbs. For our tillering convenience, the instructors had come up with an ingenious clamp system to secure the bow stave out of some rope and 2×4’s, which I duplicated at home the following week. I don’t think it will be used only for bow making!
After we had carefully hacked out the main shape with the hatchet, while staying about 1/8th of an inch away from all pencil marks, the bow was now ready for rasping and scraping. Using one of the clamp stations, I clamped down my bow and with a farrier’s hoof rasp started scraping off all tool marks right up to the pencil marks, leveled the back of the limbs, and shaped the handle. Most important in this stage is to keep checking progress so as to not go too fast, and to check both edges for symmetry (one limb side should not higher or lower than the other). The limbs are only as thick as their thinnest part, and special care needs to be taken in this regard, especially where the handle tapers off into the limb. From there on it’s pretty simple. The widest and thickest part of the limb is right at the taper of the handle, and from there the shape should gradually get narrower and thinner up to about halfway, to then thicken again to compensate for the skinny tapered tip design. Using mostly my fingers I would run them up and down the limb and feel for thickness irregularities, especially around the knots, and carefully rasp and later scrape them down. The thinnest part of the limb is about halfway, which is where most energy is stored, and therefore the most bend should happen when pulled back to fire.
From this time on, the instructors were kept busy and would regularly swing by to check our bows, adding crosses to show where to stay away and squiggles where more wood needed to be removed. This step was quite a challenge as it is hard to see; the differences are minute and were mostly only ‘visible’ by touch. It sure helped that I have experience throwing pottery, as that’s all about seeing with your fingertips too! Interestingly, as our instructors would remind us now and then, we’re still not making a bow – we’re making a bow shaped sculpture! Not until the tillering stage, where the limbs are starting to get flexed, is the bow sculpture slowly transforming into a bow.
When the limbs of the bow finally start to have a little bend, as tested by gently bending, it finally is tillering time! The first tentative bending is done by putting the tip on something solid like a concrete floor, pushing away on the handle with one hand (and that elbow braced on your hip if needed) – nowhere else – and steadying the upper tip with the other: the wood remembers stress and the wrong pressure in the wrong place can permanently alter the flex of the limb! Now the rasp gets put away and the scraping knife is put to good use. We used knives similar to carving knives, fairly long but with a slight burr added to one edge for efficient scraping. And once again, all tool marks, now from the rasp, are carefully removed and the backs of the limbs are smoothed out. Then it is a matter of carefully removing layers of wood from the belly of the limbs until they started bending more and more, and more evenly. Also at this time we made a bowstring using the Flemish twist technique, and added nock points to the bow tips with a small saw (handmade by three hacksaw blades taped together). Carving or filing nock points works as well; just don’t carve into the back of the bow, only the sides and belly. The string would still be fairly long, so the bow bends shallowly and gently gets accustomed to becoming a bow.
With each removal & tillering check, we would string the bow and flex it shallowly about thirty times to exercise the stave so the wood becomes used to the flexing and compression needed for proper bow function. This exercise is also important as the changes just made with scraping take a while for the wood to remember and might not show up in the next tillering if proper exercise is omitted. We tillered both using a tillering stick, and with the help of our instructors and fellow students by putting a foot on the string and pulling the bow stave up while they would squat in front, look & critique. It was very instructive to see many types of trees and bow shapes and strengths and see how the limbs would bend differently from one to the other. The big thing to look for is where does it bend. Where does the limb curve, and where does it not? Ideally, the bow limbs curve most in the middle, with a bit less at the beginning near the handle, and near the end at the nock point. Where it bends too much (it’s thinnest there), wood needs to be removed everywhere else, and where it is too stiff wood should be removed right there. Note that adding wood is not an option! And always check the edges of the bow to make sure they have the same thickness; that it does not slant from one side to the other, as this could introduce weakness and even twist.
Fairly quickly my bow stave was bending well and looking good. Interestingly, the limb with the two knots curved beautifully right from the start. The knot free limb had a reflex which was messing with the tillering, it kept looking flat and stiff. Rather than overcompensate and weakening that spot, the instructor decided it was easier to just heat treat the reflex straight. Which probably looked a whole lot easier than it was. When both limbs had a good bend, and looked even (also check the negative space when strung between stave and string), the bow still was too heavy for me. It drew in the upper forties which I thought is a bit much. But as the tillering was correct, instead of messing with the belly of the bow and making it thinner, which could change the tillering, now the best option is to make it narrower and thus remove from the sides. There is a balance between how thick a bow limb should be and how wide, as a wider bow has more air resistance which needs compensation in strength while thinning makes it weaker. Thus with the lower poundage draw weights it is better to go narrow in width than lose too much thickness. As mentioned before, twice as thick is eight times as strong, so taking off a little belly could quickly be way too much…
Finally, the time had come to completely sand the bow (except for the back of course!), measure the right length for the bowstring (about 6 inches from the top if I remember correctly) and string it! Use a brace height of about a hand width (between string at rest and handle) and do not immediately pull to full length, go little bits at a time. Never leave a bow strung longer than it needs to be, it can develop string follow (stays slightly bend when unstrung) and loose strength. And never dry fire a bow, the energy that would otherwise travel with the arrow does not leave and can blow up the bow instead… And then the most satisfying of sounds: the thock of hitting the target with your first arrow!
The bow is still ‘young’ and needs ‘training’; exercise it regularly, shoot with it regularly, and not until it is a couple months old and you feel there is no more tweaking to be done is it time to finish. Oil, varnish or a stain – it does not really matter as long as you like it and it weatherproofs. Smooth the edges if you have not done so already. Carve pretty knock points. Add a leather wrapped handle. But most of all – take your bow and enjoy the great outdoors together!
One last thing: be patient while crafting your bow. Take your time, put it away, come back to it; have a conversation. Read books, talk to bowyers: there are many different styles and techniques, and another way might work better for you. I found this course to be such fun, that I am already scouting our woods for logs to harvest, and with the experience I had enough information to make a quick bow with my son (and the band saw) from a stick harvested a couple days prior. We made it together and you should have seen him, he was so proud to shoot an arrow with a bow he’d made himself…
Simon (at right) with his self bow made from a 2” diameter green stick. Using a bandsaw for general shaping and tillering greatly shortened the time needed to make a bow, this one took about two hours, but also gave much more room for error as it is very quick and easy to take too much off. To save time (and limbs) a blend of modern and traditional techniques seems to work best: rough shaping with the bandsaw, and fine tuning with rasp and knife.
Want to read more?
Traditional Bowyers Bible’s Vol 1-4, Allely et al.; The Lyons Press, 2000
For more information on the Bow Making Workshop. click here.
All photography and drawings by Susan Verberg, 2016.
– my adventures at the two and a half day Bow Making Workshop at Primitive Pursuits in upstate Arnot Forest during prime fall colors…
Fast forward a year, and the log is peeled, dried and ready to be worked. If you know what you’re doing, it is possible to start with a live log and end with a dry bow in a couple of weeks. Luckily, at the workshop the logs were harvested the year before and dried to perfection. Now it is time to measure. We cut our log to the length of each person from floor to eye; this biometric length seems to work out for most people, and is one reason why a self bow is so personal. Then we established the back of the bow as reference. Do we include that knothole, or go around? We looked for the grain of the wood and marked the center length of our log and with pencil, dot the center width from top to bottom, while following the grain. With a straight grained log this will look like a mostly straight line from top to bottom. With knot holes (from a branch) and curves, this line will curve around & with them, and for optimal strength our bow would have to as well! With the types of trees available a flat belly bow, which is wide & thin, is a good design: the shape helps spread out compression as it is much stronger in depth than in width. The density of the wood and the poundage required give an indication as to how wide the bow should be. Twice as wide is twice as strong, twice as thick is eight times as strong!
The log’s length is measured and the exact center marked in pencil. From the center point, measure and mark a line 2” & 4” above and below. The middle 4 inches makes up the handle, and the 2” above and below will flare towards the outer edge of the bow limbs, and flare down from the handle to the belly of the limbs. Then on either side of the center line we add another line to mark the outside of our bow, about ¾ inch for a 30-40# and 1” for a 40-50# draw weight. Halfway up the bow limb we make another mark, and draw a line from there to the edge of the tip or knock point (which is about a half inch wide). This will make for a tapering shape to the top part of the bow limb, which helps reduce air drag and results in a faster, quieter and/or stronger release.
Then it’s time for some refined whacking of log with a hatchet! Day two started with this quote from the instructor: “all you have to do is cut away the wood that is not part of the bow inside”. Right! To help with coordination, the hatchet is held right below the axe head and only short quick chops are made. To help remove the excess in short chips and not long strips (which could run off right into your bow measurements by mistake) small nicks are chopped first along the path of where you intend to remove wood to cut up the wood fibers and then, layer by layer, wood chips are removed to about 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch around your pencil drawing and about three quarters of an inch for the bow limb depth. The bow is only as big as the deepest tool mark, so the first day of chopping was rather tentative with lots of checking and rechecking of pencil marks. By the end of the day I had the backs of the limbs, the handle and the edges roughly chopped out and was surprised at the level of precision possible with a sharp hatchet and some practice!
A few things to keep in mind:
– Always chop away from the center or mass. As the bow is widest at the beginning of a limb, a chop towards the ends which has a split that runs too far, will most likely miss anything important as the outer limbs taper into the nock.
And whatever you do, do not touch the back (the part facing away when shooting: visualize a bending person and you’ll “see” where the terminology came from) – once the surface of the back is established either by peeling or scraping the bark it is off limits!
Wood grain is like fiber rope within a tree: just as a large cable made up of lots of small wires is strong enough to moor a ship, the same is true for plant fiber; enough of them together can withstand thunderstorms! But if there is fraying or some sort of damage, then one wind gust can fell a mature tree… and one scrape, nick or dent can do enough damage to make a bow unstable and set a precedence for a fatal crack!
We finished the second day with lunch around the campfire – it was hard to put down the stave and take a break!
To be continued tomorrow….
– my adventures at the two and a half day Bow Making Workshop at Primitive Pursuits in upstate Arnot Forest during prime fall colors…
When my hubbie decided he needed a better bow, he teamed up with Edward of Delftwood to make a longbow from a premade bowstave. It took him about six trips to Syracuse to get her done, and the bow he made is an absolutely gorgeous contrasting color triple layer laminate with a narrow “D” profile, made with plausible period materials and techniques. And while laminating is a period technique (one only has to think of the short, curved horse bow of the Mongol hordes) it’s not what came to my mind when he talked about making a longbow. I’d thought of stone age bows… Norse longbows… the incredible English longbows…
Reading up on the subject I quickly realized that what I like are self bows made from one piece of wood, especially ones with character (also called flaws). I could not find anyone to help learn about making self bows, but fortunately, we live in an area with an active primitive skills group of people (or Ithaca hippies, and do they look the part…). As part of the Primitive Pursuits outdoor classroom, which specializes in kid’s summer camps and after school programs but also has occasional adult weekend workshops, once a year a Bow Making Workshop is offered right here in town! And this year I decided to take the plunge…
With just a couple of common tools like a rasp, a knife and an axe, and the abundance of his surroundings any person could, and can, make a bow strong enough to take a deer. Actually, a metal rasp, knife and axe is not even necessary, as one of our teachers demonstrated: he’d made a bow with a stone axe and a flint scraper he’d made himself, as well as creek sand as both file and sanding paper and it was completely indistinguishable from the bows made using modern tools! Like Europe, the American northeast has abundant hardwood forests with many suitable trees, and making a bow suitable to hunt from locally harvested materials is not out of our reach at all, even for us modern people!
First things first. We started the workshop with a sing-along to honor the trees and say thanks. Not something I am used to, but nice in a graceful kind of way. Then our two instructors introduced themselves: Justin, barefooted and wearing an inside out sheepskin vest and Sean, also barefooted and pledged to eat and work from and with local materials only (he had a smoked squirrel for lunch). And while normally feeling a bit out of norm as homesteaders etc, here I was likely one of the more normal ones of the dozen and a half students! I felt right at home…
Then we got right into bow making. As the bones of a bow is the wood, good care needs to be taken to find a suitable log. As a general rule, dense hardwoods like hickory, maple, oak, ash, and elm make good bows. Conifers like pine do not, and softwoods like willow and basswood do not either. Of course, the exception to this rule is yew, which is a low density conifer and makes awesome bows. But it also needs fairly specific strategies to work well with and is therefore not recommended for the beginner.
Next up is the quality of the wood. Of course, ideal would be a perfectly straight 6 to 7 foot, knot free trunk to be split into log staves. But who’s got one of those… Making a bow is much more forgiving that I expected and if reasonable care is taken in having a mostly straight, mostly knot free log, apparently it will be fine. What is to be avoided are twist and bends, especially for the beginner. A little twist could be worked around, and a reflex or deflex bend could be removed with heat, but these are more advanced techniques. Know your limitations and keep looking to find a log to go with your comfort level.
Our logs were cut between 6-7 feet (to fit the instructor’s truck bed). A 4-6” diameter log could be split in half for two staves, using a wedge, a mallet and some splitting wedges to keep the split going. When it is split wood glue is put on the ends. Paint and beeswax works as well, the advantage of wood glue being that it also works under tension (it’s stretchy) and can sometimes prevent cracks that might otherwise have happened anyway. The logs are dried in a cool dry place, like a garage or basement. Whatever you do, stay away from the hot woodstove!
About half of the split logs the students could choose from had the bark already removed as they were harvested in the summer, which was very convenient. Removing the bark facilitates drying and also prevents bark beetles from taking up home and destroying the potential stave. Some people advise getting winter wood as the wood is driest that time of year, others advise getting summer wood as the bark peels off easily. The grain of the wood gives a bow its strength and flexibility, but only if the back is one continuous growth ring from top to bottom. With the types of trees mentioned, the wood right below the bark is the wood used for making a bow, and baring the growth ring is easy if the bark is loose and can be peeled right off. The exceptions are locust and osage orange, where the outer sapwood needs to be removed and only the inner core is used. If the bark is not loose, it can also be carefully peeled first with a drawknife and finished with a scraping knife. Using a drawknife is an acquired skill, so practice first on some scrap wood until you get a feel for what’s happening. Whichever way you choose, always make sure to peel away from knots so as not to violate the grain curving around imperfections. Grain does not tend to go straight, so keep a close eye on what’s going on and always, always follow the ‘yellow brick’ grain.
To be continued tomorrow…..
by The Honorable Fool, Dagonell the Juggler
It was a very blustery day. Winnie the Pooh and Piglet left their homes in the Hundred Acre Wood and… Oops, wrong story. It was a very blustery day. My wife and I left our home at dawn to drive to the State University of NY at Fredonia to start setting up our demo for the first Fredonia Maker Faire.
It was originally planned that we would be outside the new science building so fighters and fencers could fight on the lawn. A couple of the officials decided it was too cold and windy and rainy and just too darn blustery. So they got a couple of volunteers to help us re-pack our stuff and transport it all to the Williams Center and help us re-set up. The volunteers all wore bright yellow t-shirts to identify themselves. Naturally, the exhibitors promptly renamed them Makers’ Minions. With their aid, we were fully set-up before the faire opened.
The faire was originally supposed to be just the Science Building, but they got so many exhibitor responses that they extended the faire into the next building and there were exhibits in both the Science Building and the Williams Center. Nearly 100 exhibits in all. We got the second floor of the Williams Center all to ourselves. The main hall in the Williams Center is two stories tall. The second floor wraps around it like a ring with pillars forming niches all along the balcony side. The organizers put up an extra sign announcing “The Shire” was upstairs.Click to view slideshow.
A&S display at the Maker Faire.
We draped banners off the balconies to hang down into the central hall. We set up an armor display in the first niche along with a chainmail making demo. In the second niche, we set up miscellaneous display objects including embroidery, garb, heraldry and a medieval cookbook. In the third niche, we set up a calligraphy and illumination display with a illumination demo. When the fencers arrived, they took over the fourth niche for their weapons and gear.
Master Otfrid Ammerthaler and m’lady Artemisa da Manarola arrived from the Rhydderich Hael just before the official opening. Lord Coinneich Mac an Leigh and THL Clarissa da Svizzera from Thescorre came shortly afterward. The doors opened and we had a slow but steady stream of fair-goers. We announced the teaching of a few simple country dances, and Artemisia, the Hael’s dance mistress, led the audience through them.
When our fencers, Lord Bjorn Einarsson and Baron Jacob of Dunmoore arrived and armored up, I announced from the balcony that there had been a falling out amongst the king’s musketeers and matters were to be settled by the sword. This was not choreographed, nor rehearsed nor pre-determined. Skill alone would decide the winner. Within two minutes nearly everyone from the hall below was now upstairs packed solidly from wall to wall awaiting the combat. Jacob and Bjorn gave a wonderful display of skill. When they stopped, we had dozens of people by our tables, trying on jackets, helms, coifs, surcoats, gauntlets, swords and bucklers while we talked about the SCA.
At 4PM, the fair closed and we started packing up. We had brought 40 flyers. We had 8 left. We had been interviewed by the Chautauqua Star, who had come to write an article on the fair itself. The issue came out Nov. 4th and is still available. Check your local grocery store for a copy if you live in Western NY. A tired few headed for home with our deepest thanks. The majority of us headed up to Dimitri’s in Dunkirk for Greek cuisine for a meal before going home to plan for next year’s Maker Faire.
All photos and video by m’lady Artemisa da Manarola.