Medieval Holiday Gifts

Dame Aoife presents her guide to historical holiday gifts and their modern counterparts for the medievalists on your list.

Greetings my faithful readers!

It seems like "That Time Of Year" is drawing nearer. You know the one. The time when it's expected that you, the history fanatic, will have an edge over the other folks who give gifts during the holidays. You can't give ordinary bubble bath or hankies, of course not! You have imagination and history on your side! It's the time of year where there are pre-holiday parties and thus hostess gifts. The Holidays themselves abound with gift-giving opportunities, and then there's the round of 12th night parties. Only, if you're like me, you're on a holiday budget. And what that translates to, giftwise, is a massive session of giftmaking.

It's often hard to find inspiration for the making of gifts, and this year I'm hoping to help you out a little bit. Below you will find a source of ideas for historically themed or inspired gifts, all handmade and for many skill levels, suitable for SCAdians and perhaps others as well. If you are even remotely handy with crafts (like most of us), this may the perfect time to begin planning your list. Because if you don't start now, you could end up at Wal-Mart at 11 PM December 24th, wondering what the heck to take to your best friend's children and spouse the following day.....

Good Luck! I intend to try some of these myself. So to all those of you on my gift list, don't be surprised if you find some of these things under the tree.

Cheers

Aoife


LEATHER PROJECTS

Phiala's Stringpage: Small Leather TW Bag
http://www.stringpage.com/tw/bag.html
(Site Excerpt--and congrats to Phiala for her upcoming induction to the order of the Laurel :) Pouches were an essential feature of medieval clothing; a survey of art of the Middle Ages from nearly anywhere in Europe shows that both men and women wore one or more pouches attached to their belt. I was inspired by a small drawstring leather pouch from London described by Egan and Pritchard (1991).
SEE OTHER GIFT IDEAS: Tablet Weaving Projects at:
http://www.stringpage.com/tw/tw.html
SEE OTHER GIFT IDEAS: Felt Balls Project at:
http://www.stringpage.com/felt/felt.html

Lothene Experimental Archaeology
Medieval Leather Pouch

http://www.lothene.demon.co.uk/crafts3.html
(Site Excerpt) The design shown opposite requires no sewing. The body of the pouch should be cut with a diameter approximately three times the required depth of the finished pouch. Leather thong or thick thread is passed through the holes and the body portion is gathered up to form a bag shape.

Lady Sveva's Leather Bottle Patterns
http://geocities.com/ladysveva/Leather/LeatherPatterns.html
(Site Excerpt--not the main page of this site caused my sustem to seize, so DO NOT navigate to it! This page is fine, however) There are basically two methods to shaping your bottle...the 2 pieces sandwiched together, or the 3 dimensional pieced together. This second method is more difficult, and I would recommend not doing that as your first type unless you have good sewing skills and patience.

Decorative Leather Techniques as Used in the Middle Ages, ca. 1000 - 1500 AD Presented by Viscount Colin deBray, KSCA, OL, OP
http://www.albionworks.net/leather.html
(Site Excerpt) Stamping uses metal or wooden stamps, struck with a mallet, to produce a repeated design on the leather surface. Stamped designs are found on 11th to 16th century leather objects. A great many 14th and 15th century objects were decorated by repeating a stamped pattern; see examples in handout.

I. Marc Carlson's 3 Fingered gloves pictures and pattern
http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/gloves/gloves.htm
(Site Excerpt) You may note that these gloves are found pretty much on common peasants, and I suspect that they may just be a form of working gloves that still allow a certain level of finger control. Several people have since pointed out to me certain tasks, such as holding reins that these would be very useful for.

A Simple Medieval Shoe
http://members.ozemail.com.au/%7Echrisandpeter/shoe/construction.html
(Site Excerpt) Materials (per pair): Sole: vegetable tanned leather, 2.5-3 mm thick. Upper & heel stiffener: vegetable tanned leather, 2.5 mm thick. Thread: raw linen or equivalent. Nylon is not recommended. Thonging: 5-6mm leather lace, 45 cm length.

WRITING/CALLIGRAPHY/ILLUMINATION MATERIALS PROJECTS

15th century girdle book for note taking and other uses by Cynthia Virtue aka Baroness Cynthia du Pré Argent
http://www.virtue.to/articles/girdlebook.html
(Site Excerpt) To wear it, the knot slips under your belt from below, until the knot is over your belt, which keeps it from falling out. To use mine for taking notes, I can either leave it in the belt, and just pick it up and start writing (I write in it "upside down") or I can take it out of my belt easily and write.
FOR OTHER GIFT IDEAS (about eleventy billion good ones) SEE ALSO: Articles and Essays of Interest to Costumers http://www.virtue.to/articles/

Book Binding for Beginners
Learn Hand Bookbinding Techniques

Order Bookbinding Supplies and Bookbinding Materials
Construct Your Own Hardcover Book To Preserve Personal Papers
http://bookbindingfb.com/
(Site Excerpt) On this website, you will learn about the history of bookbinding, the parts of a book, bookbinding terms, and hand bookbinding techniques to construct your own hardcover book.

Making Handmade Paper in 10 easy steps
http://www.pioneerthinking.com/makingpaper.html
(Site Excerpt) Below you will find a simple papermaking recipe to get you started. If this is the first time you are making paper, don't be afraid to experiment with different fibers, you don't have to stick with paper related products. Add whole flower heads to the pulp mixture after it has been through the blender. You can add scraps of yarn, tin foil, even seeds. Its all comes down to what you want.

Recipes for old writing and drawing inks Evan Lindquist
Emeritus Professor of Art, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
http://www.clt.astate.edu/elind/oldinkrecipes.htm (Site Excerpt) I have pulled from my files some old directions for making ink. On this page I share them with students who would like to experiment.Beware! These inks may be corrosive and harmful to expensive writing and drawing equipment. There may also be toxic environmental effects in mixing them. Before experimenting with these recipes, you must consider the risks and accept responsibility for whatever happens.

Jean's Printmaking Home Page
http://www.jeaneger.com/
(Site Excerpt--note that this site has a flash movie showing the delicate carving motion on a woodcut) How to make a woodcut:Getting Started You will need:1/2 inch thick piece of wood, about 8 in. by 10 in. preferably pine or birch plywood. You can use linoleum, if you wish, but it is best to buy the stuff specially made for art work, called battleship linoleum.Woodcutting tools or linoleum cutting tools.... Safety Rule!...A woodcutting knife is a tool, not a weapon. Use your woodcutting knives with care and keep them sharp by sharpening them on a stone which you can buy in any hardware store. Watch the position of the woodcutting knife relative to how you are holding your hands. You don't want to cut towards your other hand. That is why this woodcut lesson is not suggested for children under the sixth grade.....

CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES

Perky Snood Pattern
http://www.knitting-crochet.com/found/snood.html
(Site Excerpt) I have a snood pattern I made for my daughter 2 years ago. It is from a book I have written in the 1940"s. All of the patterns are from that time but I kind of remember what the one that Scarlet wore in "Gone with the Wind" looked like. I think this will work for you. Very simple and my daughter that has hair to her waist could get all of her hair in it. It is an open weave though. She had to use a pony tail holder and a few bobby pins on her hair to keep it neat.

Early Medieval Clothes Patterns
http://www.lothene.demon.co.uk/crafts6.html
(Site Excerpt) The patterns and descriptions given here are intended for re-enactors rather than serious academic historians. Janet Arnold has written an excellent series of books which are based on disections of actual historical clothing from the 16th Century onwards and which give accurate patterns. Most of the evidence for Early Medieval clothing is in the form of fragments of garments and illustrations in manuscripts and other historical records, so there has to be a certain amount of guesswork involved in recreations.

Dawn's Costume Site: Cloaks, Capes and Wraps
http://www.reddawn.net/costume/cloaks.htm
Links, and includes a section on how to add a hood to an existing cloak SEE ALSO: How to make a Hood http://www.reddawn.net/costume/hood.htm

The Auld Garbmonger's free sewing projects (Tudor Cap, Cavalier Hat)
http://garbmonger.tripod.com/
(Site Excerpt) Herein you will find the two free hat projects mentioned on the Sewing Projects page of "The Auld Garb Monger's Renaissance Garb for Manly Men" website. Just follow the links below and you will find complete instructions for making either of the hats listed.

Making your own drinking horn By: Baron Vladimir of Esztergom
http://www.armourarchive.org/essays/essay__drinkinghorn.shtml
(Site Excerpt) Finding the horn: Try to find a horn that has relatively few flaws in it. Keep in mind that no horn is perfect. A lot of work will have to be done to make even the best raw horns presentable. Choose colors that will complement the pigment you will be using later. Clean the horn: The inside of the horn must be cleaned and sanitized before any work can be done.

Links: Medieval Metal Casting (Silver, Pewter, Bronze, Gold, Iron, Steel) and Smelting
http://lists.gallowglass.org/pipermail/artssciences/2004-January/000302....
A Past Links List I found posted quite by accident (THANKS!) that has myriad sources on casting things from Metal.

ARMOR AND COMBAT RELATED GIFTS

How to Make a Chaine Maille Coif
http://www.chainmail.com/chainmall/patterns/coif/coif.html
(Site Excerpt) Coifs or chain hoods are traditional to nearly all eras and styles of European armor. While I have seen many different approaches to their design, there is only one I've found that combines grace, fit and style. I will attempt to explain how to create my preferred design. The only part that is different from what you have already learned is the expanding pattern that makes up the top of the head.

Links to Plans for Model Trebuchets
http://www.ripcord.ws/planslinks.html

GIFTS FOR KIDS BOTH OLD AND YOUNG

How to make Invisible Ink
http://www.iit.edu/~smile/ch9602.html
(Site Excerpt) The students in grades four - six will learn how to make two types of invisible ink and write a message with each type of ink. The students will write a paper comparing and contrasting each type of ink.

Justin du Coeur's Medieval and Renaissance Games Website
http://jducoeur.org/game-hist/
(Site Excerpt) Welcome to a page specifically dedicated to Really Old Games. This page is intended to cover anything and everything pertaining to games in the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

Stefan's Florilegium: toys-msg (lots of toy ideas here for young and old)
http://www.florilegium.org/files/CHILDREN/toys-msg.html
Note: There are MANY other files that can help you construct historical gifts in the florilegium. Browse! It's fascinating!

FOOD

Shire of Hartstone: Medieval Cookies and Other treats (note that this is one of my former holiday Links Lists--thanks Guys :)
http://www.shireofhartstone.org/cookies.html
(Site Excerpt) A collection of links pertaining to Medieval Cookies, Biskets, Waters, Fritters and many other "Sweet Tooth" delights.

Preserving of Foods through the Middle Ages
http://lemur.cit.cornell.edu/~jules/preserving.html
(Site Excerpt) I started by trying to find as many originals as I could, then went to the best secondary sources. I also spent a day with Betty Cook, and later many e-mail messages, and part of a day with Caridoc. So I thought I'd start with the oldest medieval reference that I could find and work up to the "newest" medieval recipes.

Medieval Beverages for a Hot Day Euriol of Lothian
http://westcooks.dracowolf.com/classes/Beverages.html
(Site Excerpt) The following recipes are found in An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century, translated by Charles Perry. The redactions of these recipes were written in A Miscelleny (9th edition), by David Friedman and Betty Cook. Dilute these syrups with water to taste for a tasty beverage, or serve directly over shaved ice or snow for a tasty cold treat. You can find some of these syrups at your local Middle Eastern market today.

Pynade (Medieval Candy)
http://www.medievalcookery.com/recipes/pynadecandy.html
(Site Excerpt) This is the "candy" version of the recipe, which leaves out the chicken. The result is a sort of "pine nut brittle" with a pleasant spice flavor.

Gode Cookery: Medieval Gingerbread
http://www.godecookery.com/ginger/ginger.htm
(Site Excerpt) The gingerbread being discussed in this article comes from recipes originally used in the 14th & 15th centuries, and isn't anything at all like our modern cake-like variety. It is in fact more like a candy or a confection; however, it's very good and quite a treat, and I can recommend it to anyone with a bit of a sweet tooth. I've made many versions of it and and it is always well received. This type of gingerbread was among the many sweets brought to Chaucer's Sir Thopas in Canterbury Tales: "They fette hym first the sweete wyn, and mede eek in a mazelyn, and roial spicerye of gyngebreed that was ful fyn, and lycorys, and eek comyn, with sugre that is trye."

SEE ALSO THE GODE COOKYS website:
http://www.godecookery.com/cookies/cookies.html



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Editor's note: We goofed! This was supposed to be published in late November, and it somehow slipped through the proverbial cracks. We apologize to Aoife and our readers for the delay.
—Justin

Last minute shoppers?

Last minute shoppers?

Judging from the number of reads on this story, I'm guessing that quite a few people are as procrastinative as I am about holiday shopping!

—Justin

Ha! Justin, should I mark whi

Ha! Justin, should I mark which items I'd like to receive? Milica