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Fall Crown Finals

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2016-11-05 14:38

The finals of the Fall Tournament for the Crown of the East will be comprised of the best of five matches, with matched weapons forms.

En Français:

La finale sera un meilleur de cinq, avec des armes identiques pour les combattants.

Master Ávaldr Valbjarnarson fighting for Mistress Eva Woderose will face Master Ioannes Aurelius Serpentius fighting for Mistress Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt

Filed under: Uncategorized

Fall Crown Semi-Finals

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2016-11-05 14:17

The four combatants remaining in the tournament are as follows. Five wins will be required to advance. This means an undefeated fighter will need two wins; a fighter who has already lost a bout will need three wins.

En français: Les quatre combattants restants dans le tournoi sont listés ci-dessous. Cinq victoires seront nécessaires pour avancer à la prochaine étape. Ceci veut dire qu’un combattant n’ayant subi aucune défaite devra obtenir deux victoires, tandis qu’un combattant ayant déjà subi une défaite devra obtenir trois victoires pour progresser

Duke Randal of the Dark fighting for Duchess Katherine Stanhope versus Master Ioannes Aurelius Serpentius fighting for Mistress Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt

Sir Hrafn BoneSetter fighting for Lady Sigrún Soldottír versus Master Ávaldr Valbjarnarson fighting for Mistress Eva Woderose



Filed under: Uncategorized

Fall Crown – Field of 16

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2016-11-05 13:23

These are the fighters and consorts that have advanced to the field of 16.

En français:

Voici maintenant les seize paires de combattants et inspirations qui sont encore dans le tournoi.

Duke Randal of the Dark fighting for Duchess Katherine Stanhope
Jarl Valgard Stonecleaver fighting for Lady Gracia Vasquez de Trillo
Sir Edward MacGyver dos Scorpus fighting for Lady Katerina LLiova Vladimirov
Sir Marcus Blackaeart fighting for Lady Solveig Bjarnardottir
Master Ávaldr Valbjarnarson fighting for Mistress Eva Woderose
Sir Matthew des Arden fighting for Mistress Fia Kareman
Sir Ivan Ivanov Syn Dimitriov Vynuk Tzardikov fighting for Baroness Matilde DeCadenet
Master Ioanness Aurelius Serpentius fighting for Mistress Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt
Sir Hrafn BoneSetter fighting for Lady Sigrún Soldottír
Sir Matthias Grunwald fighting for Baroness Æsa feilinn Jossursdottir
Baron Sigurthr VigurHafn fighting for Baroness Medhbh inghean Cheallaigh
Lord Richard Crowe fighting for m’lady Ameria Brown
Lord Thomas de Winterwade fighting for Lady Sara of Stonley
Baron Rory MacLellan fighting for Baroness Astridr Sigrun Ulfkelsdottir
Lord Matthew MacGyver fighting for Baroness Lillian Stanhope
Lady Vasia Von Königsburg fighting for Lady Æsa Sturludottir

Filed under: Uncategorized

Vasari’s Last Supper restored after 50 years

History Blog - Sat, 2016-11-05 10:29

It’s been exactly 50 years since the Arno river in Florence broke its banks and flooded the historic city with 22 feet of toxic sludge. Some of the greatest art in the world, 14,000 artworks and books, were lost forever. Many thousands more pieces of Florence’s immense cultural patrimony spent a day soaked in a dangerous, volatile and destructive mixture of water, mud, gas, sewage and naphtha forced out of underground home fuel tanks by the 40-mile-an-hour floodwaters.

One of the worst hit was the monumental 21-by-8-feet panel painting The Last Supper made in 1546 by painter and art historian Giorgio Vasari. Kept in the Basilica of Santa Croce which is a few blocks from the Arno and at a lower elevation than much of the rest of the city, The Last Supper was completely submerged in filth for more than 12 hours. When the waters receded, they literally pulled the paint and gesso underlay off the five poplar panels which were now the consistency of a sponge.

The Mud Angels, volunteers who flocked to Florence to do everything they could to save its mortally wounded art, waded through the sludge scooping up any tiny fragment of paint they could find. Art conservator Marco Grassi, carpenter Ciro Castelli and others worked together to salvage the moribund panel paining. They affixed sheets of Japanese mulberry paper to the surface with methacrylate resin to keep the blistered and peeling paint from coming off. The painting was then taken apart and its five component panels laid out flat on racks in the conservatory of a lemon orchard. The relatively humid environment, it was hoped, would allow the panels to dry slowly and minimize cracking and warping. It was the best they could do at the time, but the panels dried hard anyway. They lost two centimeters in width and developed cracks. The gesso primer dried poorly too, becoming unstable and crumbly.

The technology to repair the overwhelming amount of damage simply did not exist in 1966. It wouldn’t exist for another 40+ years. The breakthrough happened in 2010, when the Getty Foundation gave a $400,000 grant to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the stone mosaic workshop founded in the 16th century which has become one of the world’s leading art restoration institutes, to bring The Last Supper back from the dead and enlist the great expertise and experience of retired or retiring panel-painting conservators to train a new generation.

It was backbreaking labour. Removing the mulberry paper proved a devilish task, with swaths of paint, detached from the brittle gesso layer, coming off with the paper. Fixing the panels themselves was an immense challenge as well. They had to be enlarged to their original size in order to put the curled and lifted paint back into place. Ciro Castelli devised an ingenious method to resolve that conundrum. He cut tiny slits in the back and filled them and the original dowel tracks with jigsaw puzzles of poplar wood filler. This precision system stretched the panels and will also help preserve them going forward since it gives them room to expand and contract naturally.

In 2013, the five panels were put back together for the first time since 1966. In 2014, fashion house Prada donated a big chunk of change for the last phase of restoration. With this extra boost, restorers hoped they’d be able to complete their work in time for the 50th anniversary of the flood and they succeeded. On November 4th, 2016, Giorgio Vasari’s The Last Supper went back on display at the Museo dell’Opera in the old refectory of Santa Croce.

There’s a wonderful article on the flood and restoration of the Vasari painting in The New York Times by Paula Deitz, who was in Florence on the day of the flood November 4th, 1966, in which Marco Grassi talks about his how they worked to save The Last Supper.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Court Report: Kingdom A&S Champion’s Event

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-11-04 09:23

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Marcus & Margerite, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: the Business of Æthelmearc Arts & Sciences Champions, 15 October, Anno Societatis LI, in the Shire of Sunderoak. As recorded by Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta, Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald.

Their Majesties invited Mistress Alicia Langland to address the populace whereupon she shared news of the upcoming Æthelmearc Æcademy & War College and invited all to attend.

Simon, winner of the Youth A&S Championship. Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.

Next, Their Majesties called for Simon a Fjarfelli and Hannah– the day’s two entrants in the Youth Arts and Sciences championship. Having spoken of each entrants submissions and the craftsmanship of each, Their Majesties faced a tough decision as to the winner of the competition. After much deliberating and consideration, Their Majesties named Simon as Their Youth Arts and Sciences Champion. Words and calligraphy by THL Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne with illumination by Lady Catherine O’Brien.

Their Majesties then bid Hannah tarry a bit longer. They praised her artistry and craftsmanship and did award her a Silver Sycamore. Scroll forthcoming.

Then, all children present were invited before the Throne and were advised of the chest-of-treasures in the possession of THL Alrekr Bergsson. Seeing the treasure-lust in the eyes of Their young subjects, Their Majesties released THL Alrekr from court with the chest and the children in pursuit.

Master Fridrikr Tomasson next approached the Throne. He read the names of the day’s entrants in the Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship. He also read the names of the judges and offered tokens of gratitude for their service. Master Fridrikr also noted that Lord Hrolf Fjarfell was the winner of the populace choice.

The Kingdom Arts and Sciences champion, Lady Elska a Fjarfella, was then invited forward. Their Majesties thanked her for her services as the Æthelmearc A&S champion but noted that it was time for another to take her place, and so the winner of the day’s competition, Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen was called forward and named as the new Æthelmearc Arts and Sciences Champion. She was given the regalia of the position and was then invited to join Their Majesties Court. Scroll wording by Duchess Dorinda Courtenay, calligraphy and illumination by Lady Abigail Kelhoge.

Next, the following gentles were recognized as nominees for the William Blackfox Awards. For Best Regular Feature: Lady Eleanor of Pembroke, Cooks Corner, Authors: Cooks Guild; The Apple Press, Shire of Sylvan Glen. For Best Artwork: THL Rhiannon Elandris, Cover Illumination, Ice Dragon, June 2014, Barony of Rhydderich Hael. For Best Layout and Design: Lady Aerin Wen, Windfalls, Shire of Coppertree. For Best Article: Lady Aerin Wen, Viking Navigation & the Sunstone; Author: Mistress Mathilde des Pyrenees, Summer 2014, Windfalls, Shire of Coppertree. For Best Overall Newsletter: Fuji’na no Takako, The Althing, Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands. For Best Poetry or Short Fiction: Leo Ronin, The Tale of the Wandering Lion: My story in verse. Across the Hills, Spring 2015, Barony of Endless Hills. Commendation for Best Special Edition: Lady Margarita Carpintero, Full tilt- 10thAnniversary Arts & Sciences Special Edition, Barony of Delftwood.

Mistress Illadore de Bedagrayne was then called before Their Majesties and gave her oath of fealty.

Their Majesties then invited Lord Hrolf Fjarfell to attend Them. They spoke of his skill in woodworking and named him a Companion of the Sycamore. Calligraphy and illumination by Lady Kaðlín Sigvaldakona, words by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.

Their Majesties then called for Lady Fenna Rioux. Praising her for her dedication and service in running events did induct her into the Order of the Keystone. Scroll forthcoming.

Next, Lady Oribe Tsukime presented herself to Their Sylvan Majesties, who spoke of her work on her Japanese persona and of her resist dyeing, and so did induct her into the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll forthcoming.

Lady Jerngurd Omgürd next came before the Throne. Their Majesties spoke of good food, and how Lady Jerngerd was responsible for not only today’s good food, but is known for such labors. Being pleased with her craft in cooking did induct her into the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll forthcoming.

Lady Rachel MacMichael receives a Golden Escarbuncle.

Her Majesties then wished to be attended by Lady Rachel McMichael, who was not present. Her Majesty spoke of the importance of the care of the youth of the kingdom and of how Rachel spent her day tending to the children and providing them activities that were both fun and engaging. For this service, Her Majesty named Rachel as Her Inspiration and awarded her a Golden Escarbuncle.

Their Majesties then thanked the scribes and invited any scribe who contributed work to the day’s event or Archers to the Wald to come forward, be recognized, and receive a token from Her Majesty’s hand.

There being no further business, this Court of Their Majesties was closed.

Faithfully submitted,

Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta,
Jewel Herald.

Categories: SCA news sites

Challenge to the Children of the East

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-11-04 09:00

Greetings Children of The East Kingdom!

We, Emma Lovell and Caleb Patrasso Tigers Cubs and Pages to The Crown would like to challenge the children of the East Kingdom!

Our Queen is beautiful and she should have beautiful favors to give out to her people. We may be children but even kids can help and every person helping makes a job easier. We will be making favors for our Queen and we are asking that you, the children of the East, make favors too. Even if you just make one, that’s great! You can see what the favor should look like at this web address.

You will probably need your parents help and that’s ok. Doing stuff as a family is a lot of fun!
You can email our Mom Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell and she can tell you where to send or drop off your favor when it’s done. If you don’t have email you should ask your parents. We hope you enjoy making pretty favors for our Queen!

In Service to The East,
Caleb Patrasso
Emma Lovell

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: brion and anna, favors

Message from the Royal Gifts Coordinator

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-11-04 07:00

To the Makers of Things in the East Kingdom:

I have recently been honored with the position of Royal Gifts Coordinator for Their Royal Majesties Brion and Anna, may they reign in health and prosperity forever.

As we are expecting many Royal visitors to the East this winter, and as Their Majesties plan to attend events outside of our kingdom, it is my honor and duty to ask those with the skills, generosity, and inclination to craft various items both beautiful and useful with which we might fill the Royal Gift Chest.

We will need both general items for the largess chests as well as items for gift exchanges with specific kingdoms’ royals at foreign wars. If you are interested in creating something personalized for the gift exchanges, please contact me directly and I will reach out to you once we know with whom we will be exchanging.

This kingdom is full of talented craftspeople. It is always with a home-team pride that our Royals give the fruits of our artists to others. Please consider making something for the Royal Gifts Chest. Their Majesties (and I) are grateful for your generosity and dedication to the East Kingdom.

In Service,
Duchess Caoilfhionn

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: brion and anna, royal gifts

120 boats carved on building near pharaoh’s tomb

History Blog - Thu, 2016-11-03 23:02

Archaeologists excavating the mortuary complex of 12th Dynasty Pharaoh Senwosret III (r. 1878-1841 B.C.) in Abydos have unearthed a building with more than 120 drawings of boats incised on the walls. The structure was first discovered in 1901-2 during the excavation of the tomb of Senwosret III by archaeologist Arthur Weigall. He was only able to excavate the part of the barrel-vaulted roof before the mudbrick vault collapsed when he attempted to clear the debris underneath it. He caught a glimpse of a few boat drawings at the top of the whitewashed walls.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Museum has been excavating the complex, one of the largest royal necropoli ever built in Egypt, since 1994. In the 2014 dig season, the team finally got the building that had remained untouched since Weigall’s abortive attempt at excavation. The interior was excavated in 2014, and the front of the building from November 2015 until January 2016. Unfortunately the surviving edges of the vaulted roof were angled inwards and under pressure from exterior brickwork and limestone blocks. They could not be preserved. The team carefully removed them in order to be able to excavate the interior.

Once the remains of the barrel vault were removed, archaeologists could see a crowded tableau of nautical designs incised on all three surviving walls. The dense cluster of images cover 82 feet, carved into the gypsum plaster surface of the interior walls. Details depictions of ships, sails, masts, oars, . Making less frequent of a presence are some animal figures — – more roughly drawn than many of the ships.

The boat images range significantly in size and complexity. At the upper end of the variation are large, well-rendered boats depicted with masts, sails, rigging, deckhouses/cabins, rudders, oars, and in some cases rowers. At the lower end of the range are highly simplified boats, schematically rendered as one or two curving lines depicting a hull, surmounted by a schematized rectangular deckhouse, but devoid of other details. The size of the drawings varies. The larger boats measure nearly 1.5 m in length. Smaller examples measure only c.0.08–0.10 m. Interspersed among the boat images are occasional depictions of animals and other figural elements: cattle, gazelles and floral designs. The imagery in the tableau can be broadly subdivided as follows: 1) simple curved boat hulls of one or two lines and a rudimentary rectangular cabin; 2) boats with a rectangular cabin, and/or rudder and oars but no mast; 3) boats with a rectangular cabin, masts and rigging with the sail furled; 4) boats with a rectangular cabin, masts and rigging and sail unfurled; 5) boats with a rectangular cabin, masts, rudders and oars as well as human rowers; 6) cattle; 7) gazelles; and 8) floral/lotus motifs.

The commonalities between the carvings — they’re mostly masted ships, they have raised prows and sterns, there are cabins on the decks — indicate they were all done around the same time, albeit by different hands of differing abilities. The building is subterranean and the entrance was sealed with mortared bricks more than three feet thick, so the carvers couldn’t have come in after the boat was buried and building closed off. It’s more likely the structure was built, but the burial still not concluded when they added their decorative flavors.

Weigall thought the building was a tomb constructed significantly after Senwosret’s — not a wild conjecture given that the tombs of three 13th Dynasty pharaohs were added to the complex as were eight royal tombs from the late Second Intermediate Period — but the mudbricks of the boat building are the exact same size and material as of those used in Senwosret III tomb enclosure. The exceptional quality of construction also confirms this building dates to the period when Senwosret’s tomb complex was being built, around 1850 B.C.

They also found a very good reason for the motif. The building was not a tomb, as Weigall had thought, but a boat burial, likely one of several associated with the tomb of Senwosret III, a fleet to accompany him to the afterlife. The long hall has a central cavity with sloping sides cut into the desert floor for the full length of the building. Archaeologists believe this is a hull cavity, meaning the ship was buried intact rather than in pieces. Surviving wood planking fragments have been found, albeit in very poor condition. The usual preservative powers of the desert were powerless against the armies of white ants that gorged on the wood. What’s left needs very cautious handling and stabilization before it can be analyzed for age and wood type, but the size and dimensions match those of cedar deck planking found at the pyramid complex of Senwosret III at Dahshur.

A report on the findings has been published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, and can be read in its entirety free of charge here.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Queen’s Favors Needed!

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2016-11-03 21:00

Unto the Creative and Talented Citizens of The Kingdom of the East do I send Greetings!

I am truly honored to take up the position of Favor Coordinator for Her Majesty Anna, whose beauty surpasses that of a thousand twinkling stars in the night sky.

Please help me provide our Queen with favors that are embroidered, beaded, painted, stamped, appliquéd or any decorative art that befits our time periods. Directions and dimensions for the favors can be found here.

Our Kingdom is vast and I will have help in this endeavor. These Ladies will be happy to answer your questions about the design, coordinate and accept delivery of favors.

For the Northern Region:
Lady Tola knitýr

For the Central Region:
Baroness Charitye Dale

For the Southern Region:
Lady Mýrún Leifsdóttir

Should you already be in possession of finished favors or a favor kit please contact myself or one of the Ladies listed above so that we may begin to assess the number of kits and favors being worked on. I look forward to seeing beautiful favors from our citizens being gifted by our Radiant Queen.

In Service to our Glorious Kingdom,

Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: brion and anna, favors

Unofficial Court Report – Neddingham County Faire

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2016-11-03 19:14

On the 17th day of September AS LI Their Royal Majesties Kenric and Avelina held court at the Neddingham Country Faire in the noble Barony of the Bridge.  The following business was set forth that day:

Item. Clotilde von der Insel was recognized as a Seamstress to the Crown

Item.  Lucinda de la Tambor was awarded the Silver Wheel and given a scroll by Fiona O’Maille

Item. Having held the business since Their Coronation, a scroll by Fiona O’Maille fomalized the induction of Vargus Ulfr into the Order of the Silver Wheel. T

Item.  Their majesties bestowed the Order of the Silver Wheel upon Amia Turner with a scroll made by Fiona O’Maille

As reported Kenric Rex and filed by Rowen Stuffer.

Filed under: Court Tagged: court report, Kenric and Avelina

From the East Kingdom Minister of Lists

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-11-01 16:39

Greetings to the Populace of the East Kingdom,

I will be finishing my 4th and final year as the East Kingdom Minister of Lists this February 2017. Term limits dictate that I step down at that time. This makes me so sad, as I truly love serving the martial community of the East Kingdom. To me, there is nothing more exciting than running a double elimination tournament to determine the Heirs of our Kingdom.

What the office of Minister of Lists entails:

Supporting the East Kingdom Martial Community in a kind, efficient and engaging manner.

Run the scorekeeping portion of all Crown Tournaments to determine the Heirs of the Kingdom.

Run the scorekeeping portion of all King and Queen’s Rattan and Rapier Championships.

Print and have ready all score sheets and tournament brackets for any and all tournaments.

Print and have ready all authorization forms for Heavy and Rapier disciplines.

Receive all authorization forms and transfer the information to a database accessible to the marshals monthly, if not more often.

Educate and support the MOL community and marshal community in all aspects of paperwork and tournament staffing.

Be able to work closely with the current and future Royals of the East Kingdom, the Earl Marshal’s office and the Troubadour Herald’s office.

You must be able to travel to all reaches of the kingdom, or designate a deputy to do so when needed.

A computer and email access is a necessity.

There is roughly 16-20 hours a month of behind the scenes work involved in the production of authorization cards and the fighter database. Dealing with “emergency” issues is common and being flexible is helpful.

For the Kingdom MOL to be successful, they truly need to love what they are doing. They need to be happy to be there and enjoy working with the Rattan and Rapier community. Smiles and positive attitudes are contagious and will bring you far in this office.

All Candidates for the position of East Kingdom MOL should send their resumes and letter of interest to mol@eastkingdom.org, king@eastkingdom.org, and queen@eastkingdom.org by January 3rd 2017 for consideration.

Warmest Regards
Baroness Sabina Luttrell, East Kingdom Minister of Lists


Filed under: Announcements

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #14: Making a Leather Swan Helm Crest

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-11-01 16:26

Our fourteenth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lady Angela Mori of the Barony of Bhakhail, who demonstrates and explains the process of making one of the splendid helm crests so familiar from manuscript illuminations of tournaments. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Making a Leather Swan Helm Crest

A German heraldic crest for a tournament. Sold at auction by Pierre Bergé & Associés.

How to Model Crests or Helmets: “Whenever you have occasion to make a crest or helmet for a tourney, or for rulers who have to march in state, you must first get some white leather which is not dressed except with myrtle or ciefalonia, stretch it, and draw your crest the way you want it made. And draw two of them, and sew them together; but leave it open enough on one side so that you can put sand into it; and press it with a little stick until it is all quite full. When you have done this, put it in the sun for several days. When it is quite dry, take the sand out of it . Then take some of the regular size for gessoing, and size it two or three times. Then take some gesso grosso ground with size, and mix in some beaten tow, and get it stiff, like a batter; and put on this gesso, and rough it in, giving it any shape of man, or beast, or bird, which you may have to make, getting it as like as you can. This done, take some gesso grosso ground with size, liquid and flowing, on a brush, and you lay it three or four times over this crest with a brush. Then, when it is quite dry, scrape it and smooth it down, just as you do when you work on panel. Then, in the same way, as I showed you how to gesso with gesso sotile on panel, in that same way gesso this crest. When it is dry, scrape it and smooth it down; and then if it is necessary to make the eyes of glass, put them in with the gesso for modeling; do modeling if it is called for. Then, if it is to be gold or silver, lay some bole, just as on panel; and follow the same method in every detail, and the same for the painting, varnishing it in the usual way”

– From Chapter CLXIX, Il Libro dell’Arte (The Craftsman’s Handbook), Cennino D’Andrea Cennini


The Process
Terms and Definitions

The following text is the description of the helm crest shown above. This piece was sold for 8000€; interestingly enough this is a fraction of what it would have cost at the time of making it.

“A German heraldic crest for a tournament Great helm, Zimier, in 14th-15th century style. Formed as a Swan’s head, accurately constructed of gesso and coarse fibre, probably jute, over a hardened sculpted leather core, the base hollowed for fitting the crown of the helmet skull, with pairs of lace-holes at the sides, painted white and heightened in grey, the base and the beak with traces of gilding over a red base coat, and in “aged ” condition throughout. Height 37 centimeters; weight: 1095 grams.”

This paper describes the steps I took in making the Swan Helm Crest based on Cennini’s text and the picture of the extant helm crest described above. I wanted to do my best at recreating this swan while staying true to the original materials and techniques used during the time it was made.

Materials for crest construction. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

The Process

“you must first get some white leather which is not dressed except with myrtle or ciefalonia,”

The white leather is what we know of today as Vegetable Tanned Leather. Myrtle was one of the plants used to make this kind of leather. So far no one has been able to translate what “ciefalonia” is, though I’m sure it is a plant similar to myrtle. Vegetable tanned leather can be used in a process called Cuir Bouilli. This is a process in which the leather is wet with water (the water may or may not be hot), and then it is molded into a shape of sorts and then dried (sometimes with heat). It will keep its new shape quite well once dried.

“stretch it, and draw your crest the way you want it made. And draw two of them, and sew them together”

I would like to take a moment and state that in Cennini’s writings, he takes little time to really explain how to copy a shape and make it so that it will fit on a helm. Taking two pieces of material to get the shape down doesn’t work unless your piece is essentially very simple. And he does not include that the bottom really should have a shape sewn in that is similar to the shape of the helm. After making 3 helm crests I can most definitely say that a pattern would have been more complex than what he states above.

A line drawing of the design. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I made a line drawing of the original crest. I then went and cut this shape out of 2oz vegetable tanned leather. After looking at the shape I chose to modify the neck some because I was concerned that the curve I made would be too extreme and force the head to touch the chest. So I cut out some extra shapes and added them to the neck to prevent this. In hindsight I should have made a pattern first out of fabric or felt sheet to get the proper shape.

I then went ahead and used linen thread that I had spun and plied to sew the swan pieces together. I used a whip stitch to hold them together. I did this because it will have some give when shaping the leather with the wet sand. Leather stretches a good bit and would shift. A straight running stitch will not have as much give, preventing the leather from taking the shape that you are trying to give it.

“but leave it open enough on one side so that you can put sand into it; and press it with a little stick until it is all quite full. When you have done this, put it in the sun for several days. When it is quite dry, take the sand out of it.”

I wet the leather swan and packed sand into it, and let it sit in the sun. When it was dry I then removed the sand at the base of the swan.

The swan form filled with sand. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

“Then take some of the regular size for gessoing, and size it two or three times.”

I used rabbit hide glue for the sizing. To work with it, you must first soak the dried glue in water; I would say around 2 ½ parts water to the glue granules. Once the glue has softened, it must be carefully heated to liquify the glue. If it is heated to too high a temperature, it will break down and not hold together as a glue. I put hot water in a bowl and then placed another bowl containing some of the gelatin (glue) in the larger bowl. This will indirectly heat the glue to the right temperature and keep it liquid while you work. When the heat is removed the glue starts to turn back to a solid gelatin.

Left: rabbit hide glue after soaking. Right: rabbit hide glue being heated. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I applied the glue to all the pieces. This not only helps the gesso stick to the leather later on, but also helps in hardening the leather as well. The leather absorbs the glue into its fibers which helps give it strength not just on the surface, but on the inside structure as well. One must be careful when applying the glue to make sure that you only work on either the flesh or the grain side of the leather at a time —if the leather is soaked through all the way it will lose the shape that you just made and you will have to re-shape your pieces. I find that coating the grain side first works better because it absorbs less of the glue, but will give a good base structure for when the other side has glue applied to it. Make sure to let the first side completely dry before moving on to the next.

The crest completely covered in glue. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

“Then take some gesso grosso ground with size, and mix in some beaten tow, and get it stiff, like a batter; and put on this gesso, and rough it in, giving it any shape of man, or beast, or bird, which you may have to make, getting it as like as you can. This done, take some gesso grosso ground with size, liquid and flowing, on a brush, and you lay it three or four times over this crest with a brush. Then, when it is quite dry, scrape it and smooth it down, just as you do when you work on panel.”

The next step was to make the gesso grosso with size and add beaten tow.

Review note – Prior to making this helm I had made another one using a premixed “Italian Gesso” from Natural Pigments. This pre-mixed gesso consisted of calcium sulfate dihydrate and dry rabbit hide glue. When reading the directions on mixing the gesso grosso ground with size I thought this was the equivalent. When making it I had noted that it was a bit undesirable due to the inconsistency of the ratio of glue to calcium and this made it hard to get the right amount of water in the mixture without it being too soggy or too dry. I had made the decision that I would later on mix them differently. I chose to prepare the glue to its liquid state before adding the calcium.

To make the gesso mixture I heated up some of the rabbit hide glue as done before when sizing the leather. I then added calcium sulfate dihydrate and mixed it in, using my fingers to try and break down any lumps of the Calcium. I kept adding the Calcium until the consistency was like a thick cake batter. I then slowly added tow into the mixture making sure it was thoroughly coated with the liquid gesso. Once the mixture started to become a lumpy but still gooey mixture I started applying it to the leather. Sometimes I used my hands and sometimes I used a brush to apply it. The cooler it became the more thick and less flowing it would become. If I needed the mixture to be flowing I just put the bowl back into the hot water bath to warm up the glue. After it dried I then scraped the high points down some with a knife.

Left: crest after gessoing. Right: closeup of gessoed surface. Photos by Angela Mori.

Review note – At this point I had gone only by the comments made by D. Thompson jr. in his translation of ‘Il Libro del Arté’. I recently read an article “Questions about Medieval Gesso Grounds” by Beate Federspiel, where the author had gone through and done further research to show that “examination of grounds in Italian paintings by the Laboratoire de Recherches des Musees de France elaborates on the double structure of the Italian gesso grounds. This double structure was also shown in the examinations by the National Gallery’s laboratories in London.” (Federspiel, 62.) Which means that they did a chemical analysis, finding that the base layers of paintings that also had gesso grosso as the base layers consisted of calcium sulfate anihydrate mixture with calcium sulfate dihydrate. In layman’s terms, the plaster of Paris used was actually made of calcium sulfate anihydrate (which absorbs water less than the modern day plaster of Paris, calcium sulfate hemihydrate) and some dihydrate as well. The author stated that perhaps the full chemical change did not happen because the only water to be absorbed was through the gelatin of the animal hide glue. I have done testing and found that the water content in the glue had no effect on the chemical reaction of the calcium sulfate anihydrate when mixed with it. If anything it acted very much like that of adding the calcium sulfate dihydrate to the warmed glue that I had done with my work previously. I took some of the gelatin and ground it down with the calcium sulfate hemihydrate and then heated it. It reacted the same way with no heat (I have found to be indicative of water absorption and chemical reaction for plaster of Paris) like that of the dihydrate. So I must conclude that the reason for using this as a base layer must be to help in the prevention of moisture damage to the piece being made. Further testing will help me in analyzing the reason for this procedure and choice done by the artists of the Middle Ages.

“Then, in the same way, as I showed you how to gesso with gesso sotile on panel, in that same way gesso this crest. When it is dry, scrape it and smooth it down; and then if it is necessary to make the eyes of glass, put them in with the gesso for modeling; do modeling if it is called for.”

I then made a mixture of the glue and the calcium sulfate dihydrate but this time taking care to sift out any small hard pieces from the powder before adding it to the glue. I kept adding it until it became like a runny pancake batter. Then I applied it to the crest with a brush letting it pool in the recessed areas left by the first layers of gesso. When it was dry I scraped and sanded down the high points again and reapplied another coat until most of the shallows were filled. I also went ahead and added lids to the eyes. I also gessoed in a tongue that I had previously cut and gessoed. I used the gesso as a glue to set into the inside of the mouth. After everything dried I then went back over everything with my knife to scrape down any rough surfaces. I then went over the surface with a damp cloth to smooth out the gesso and take off any dust and shavings that may have been left on the surface.

Left: crest being scraped with a knife. Right: a closeup of the scraped surface. Photos by Lady Angela Mori.

“Then, if it is to be gold or silver, lay some bole, just as on panel; and follow the same method in every detail, and the same for the painting, varnishing it in the usual way”

I also went ahead and burnished down the beak, eyes and base. The beak and scalloped base were gilded on the extant swan so I went ahead to prepare the surfaces on mine for the bole.

Applying bole to the beak. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I took some dried bole and ground it down and added a little water to make it into a smooth paste. I then took some glair and mixed it with the bole. I painted on numerous layers of the bole, waiting for it to dry between coats. I burnished the bole to make sure the surface as smooth.

Bole on the beak after burnishing. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I took some glair and honey and mixed it with water to make a fixative for the gold leaf. I brushed it on where I wanted the gold leaf to be applied, only going along in small areas. Each time I would apply a piece of gold leaf to the prepared area. When this dried sufficiently, I then went ahead and burnished it. I ran out of gold leaf while working on the beak. When I got more I went over the beak again with the size and the new leaf, because it was a different in color. When it was sufficiently dry I went ahead and burnished the gold.

Painting the swan crest. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I worked on the base area of the crest with imitation gold leaf using the same technique as for the real gold leaf. I plan on redoing the base in real gold later on because I am not happy with the results and it strays somewhat from what I have been trying to achieve, which is a crest made as close to original medieval techniques and materials as I can achieve. With that said, I will also state that gold was a very expensive metal and there are many writings that discuss ways to make metals that are not gold, have the look of gold. So to use a imitation gold leaf is not really straying from recipes and techniques used during the Middle Ages.

The finished crest atop the helm! Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

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Terms and Definitions

Animal Hide Glue – a size (primer) and hardening agent as well as a binder for gesso. It is made by soaking small pieces of rawhide in water and then boiling it for a long time to break down the collagen. When it is finished it is dried and crushed in to a granular form. Later it is used by taking some of the dried glue and soaking it in water. When it has absorbed the water it is then heated indirectly with a double boiler until it liquifies. At this point is it ready to be used as is or as a base for mixing other materials into it.

Bole – a fine red clay, commonly termed “Armenian bole” during the middle ages because of its origin, used as an underlay for water gilding because of its “waxy” character allowing the artist to burnish it to a smooth finish which is what was wanted for the surfaces that were to be gilded.

Cuir Bouilli – the shaping and moulding of Vegetable tanned leather. Vegetable tanned leather is leather that has been tanned with tannins used from plants. Some main plants used are Oak Gall, Myrtle and even black tea leaves. These tannins give the leather a property where the leather can be wetted and then molded into a shape and then dried with or without the aid of heat. When the leather is dry it will retain its new shape.

Flax– A plant that is harvested and used to make thread, which is woven into cloth.


  • Calcium sulfate hemihydrate, Gypsum (also known as plaster of Paris). Made by heating calcium sulfate at 128 deg celsius allowing most of the water content to evaporate.
  • Calcium sulfate anihydrate – similar to plaster of Paris, but absorbs water less readily. It is made when calcium sulfate is heated in a kiln between 163 deg. celsius and 300 deg. celsius it becomes calcium sulfate anihydrate.
  • Calcium sulfate dihydrate – made from Gypsum. If the plaster of Paris is slaked, soaked for a long time in water, instead of air drying it becomes calcium sulfate dihydrate.

Gesso grosso – calcium sulfate anihydrate (see above)

Gesso soltile – calcium sulfate dihydrate (see above)

Glair – a sizing made from egg white.

Linen – the thread and cloth made from Flax. Linen thread was used to stitch the leather together to make the helm crest.

Tow – the left over scraggly shorter bits of material that is removed from the Flax before it is spun into Linen. Tow was added to the base layer gesso to help give it strength and give it bulk.

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Cennino D’ Andrea Cennini. The Craftsman’s Handbook: The Italian “Il Libro dell’ Arte.” Thompson, Daniel V., trans. New York: Dover Publications 1960, c1954.

Federspiel, Beate. “Questions about Medieval Gesso Grounds.” In Historical Painting Techniques, Materials, and Studio Practice: Preprints of a Symposium, University of Leiden, the Netherlands, 26–29 June 1995, edited by Arie Wallert, Erma Hermens, and Marja Peek, 58-64. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 1995.

Waterer, J.W. Leather and the Warrior. Northampton, England: The Museum of Leathercraft, 1981.

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Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences

Announcement From Laurel: Job Opening – Wreath Sovereign of Arms

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-10-31 18:18

The following is an official announcement sent out by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.

The Wreath Sovereign of Arms is an educational deputy of the Laurel Principal Sovereign of Arms, responsible for the consideration of and decisions concerning armory submitted for registration by the College of Arms.

Wreath is an unpaid position, currently requiring approximately 20 hours a week. Some knowledge of period heraldry is useful; knowledge of SCA heraldry is essential. The position requires considerable tact and patience, research and reasoning ability, a clear understanding of the Standards for Evaluation of Names and Armory and past Laurel rulings, the ability to write clearly and succinctly, the ability to work within tight deadlines and coordinate closely with Pelican, Laurel and other staff to produce a Laurel Letter of Acceptance and Return monthly, computer literacy and word processing skills, reliable e-mail and telephone access, and time and ability to travel. Given the current structure of the office, a high-speed internet connection is required.

Resumés must be sent electronically to Laurel at bids@heraldry.sca.org. Resumés must be received by Saturday, December 31, 2016, with an expected start date of February 2017, to be determined with the Laurel staff.

Filed under: Announcements, Official Notices

Artwork and Ordering Deadline for East Kingdom Calendars or Note Cards

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-10-31 07:40

Aquarius by Mistress Kayleigh Mac Whyte

Aries by His Excellency Master Ursion de Gui

The deadline for ordering East Kingdom calendars or note cards is November 6, one week away.  We’ve posted the final scans of all the artwork so you can see the unusual and beautiful contributions of the scribes of the East to the project.  Orders will ship at the end of November, so they will be available for holiday gift giving.  You can order yours at the project’s website.

If you would like to dedicate a month to someone who inspires you or send a message to the kingdom, a few months still need sponsors.  A sponsors’  message is printed on their month’s page, and they receive a complimentary calendar and set of note cards.  For more information, contact Baroness Lucie Lovegood.

Cancer by Lady Christiane Crane

This is the third year for the project.  Sales help pay for the royalty’s travel and the cost of hosting visiting royalty from other kingdoms.  Due to the success of the project in prior years, this year’s proceeds with be split between both the seated royalty and their heirs.

Capricorn by Lady Lisabetta Medaglia (illumination) and Duchess Thyra Eiriksdotter (calligraphy)

More information about the project and the artists can be found at the website – www.eastkingdombookofdays.com.

Gemini by Boyar Aleksei Dmitriev

Leo by Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell (illumination) and Mistress Eva Woodrose (calligraphy)

Pisces by Mistress Eloise of Coulter

Sagittarius by THL Katrusha Skomorokha

Scorpio by Master Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova

Taurus by Lord Vettorio Antonello

Virgo by Mistress Rhonwen glyn Conwy

Filed under: Arts and Sciences

Throwback Thursday – HRM Semjaka

PainBank - Thu, 2016-07-14 03:00

This was our last PainBank episode from 2005-6 timeframe. We interviewed His Royal Majesty (at the time) Semjaka, King of Calontir.

It was enjoyable and we never intended to stop podcasting, but alas we did. Maybe one day we will get going again.


Categories: SCA news sites

Throwback Thursday – Duke Felix – aka Scott Frappier

PainBank - Thu, 2016-07-07 03:00

This throwback episode goes back to an interview I did with Duke Felix (Scott Frappier).

It was a great time and our friendship has only flourished since then. In the image though is Duke Edmund and Duchess Katrina.



Categories: SCA news sites