Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Scribal Work - Italian White Vine Award of Arms Blank

I have quite a stack of scrolls waiting to be worked on, and here is one of them. I really love this design! In Lochac, the SCA award known as the Award of Arms is standardised and recipients get a scroll customised to the individual.

Scribes complete the details such as name, blazon and device, and then paint in the details. This original design was created by a long time ago; I am not sure who the original designer was. It is my favourite scroll blank design.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Gifts

"Virginia" Renaissance Shoes (Brown)(1580-1630)

I hope you all had a lovely Festive break. I had a great day with my family and enjoyed good food, good company, and the fun of opening gifts.

I  got a lovely pair of "Virginia" reproduction Renaissance shoes for Christmas! I was very excited to receive them, and I can't wait to wear them to an event.

These shoes are produced by American Duchess, who also make the ''Stratford'' shoes that I love so much.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Another Gift Box Necklace

Here is another necklace that I made to be given as Largesse. It is made of ceramic beads and glass beads strung on tiger tail with 4mm seed bead spacers.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Green Necklace for Gift Box

Over the next few months I will be focusing on my Pilgrimage journey. Two aspects of this are Franchise and Largesse. Here is a necklace that I made to be given as Largesse. The beads are natural gemstone and glass seed beads. I am not sure what the long faceted beads are made of.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Season's Greetings!

Wishing all my readers a very happy and safe Festive Season!

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Noble Pilgrimage - 3

St James, attired as a pilgrim (1320s, Norwich; BL Stowe 12, f.279v)
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I have decided to keep a journal of my Pilgrimage journey. I found a notebook that seemed appropriate:

I have to admit that there is not much happening on the Pilgrimage front just now. South Australia is on it's third day straight of over 40 degree weather, and the heat is wearing me down. Today under the verandah (patio) it was 47 degrees. I think that is approximately 116.5 F. In this sort of heat, it is hard to stay motivated with projects. A couple more days and we should get a cool change which hopefully will take the temperature down to a much more respectable 30-ish degrees (86F).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Noble Pilgrimage - 2

I have been thinking hard about what I would like to achieve as part of my Noble Pilgrimage journey. The list seems to be getting longer and longer, so I have to be realistic! One aspect would be some new garb. I definitely need a new tourney dress, and a new court dress would be a good idea too.
I marked out a new chemise this week. I want to hand sew it, and I am not sure I will realistically be able to get that finished with all the other existing responsibilities and new challenges, but I hope so! Pictures soon!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Noble Pilgrimage- Franchise Project

As part of the Franchise (possession of noble bearing) aspect of my personal Pilgrimage challenge, I am working on improving the look of my garb and accoutrements. My feasting gear is a bit of a hodge-podge of thrift shop finds, mainly because my funds are very limited and also because I tend to be a little rough on my feasting gear and I only trust robust wood and metal items to stay in one piece!

I felt that it would be good to make some more embroidered cloths and napkins. I do have a few, and they are so handy for keeping flies off the food at outdoor events as well as using as a napkin. I would like to complete a few more (in varying styles and colours) before the Pilgrimage ends. I have just completed the first one, a cotton napkin embroidered with my heraldic device in split and double running stitches.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Following the Pilgrim's Path

The Baron and Baroness of another SCA barony here in Lochac have designed a programme of challenges and events based on the Camino del Noble pilgrimage. Although I will not be able to attend the events, I plan to take part in the challenge by setting myself goals based around the Noble Virtues to improve my experience of the game. I am working on a list of ideas on what I would like to achieve.

Here is a brief guide to what the Pilgrimage will entail. I have paraphrased and quoted Duchess Constanzia Moralez y de Zamora's words; many thanks to Her.

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Camino del Noble Pilgrimage

Prowess - Red Tassel.
Prowess is skill or expertise in a particular activity or field.
 The objective of this tassel is to  develop a new skill or show improvement on a skill.  It could be to increase your ability to sew or embroider, or paint, or to improve your skill at fighting. The list of what you could possibly do is endless.

Franchise - Purple Tassel
Franchise is the possession of noble bearing, which is being true to your station and to yourself. Given that we are all assumed to be of noble birth, there are a great range of things that you could do is to ensure that you are adequately equipped to be a Lord or Lady within the Society. Here are some ideas
 Equipping yourself to your Station
Registering your name and device
If you are a combatant, having a painted shield, surcoat
Ensuring that you have a banner, banner pole, portable hole
Looking to equip yourself with whatever you need to attend an event - such as feasting gear, period seating, etc.
Being able to speak as a noble
Being able to introduce yourself or your consort to the Crown or the Baron and Baroness
Being able to list your achievements in a way that is pleasing to the crowd if in a passe dármes
Dressing to your station
Making sure you have your own garb, that you dress to the best of your ability to your means.

Piety - White Tassel
Piety has been chosen to demonstrate service to the Society as there are some members of the SCA who are very devoted. Without this devotion, and this service we would not be able to have events and it is important that each one of us contributes.  This is tassel is to celebrate service.
Here is a list of ideas:
 Assisting with set up or break down at events and making sure that the area is cleaner than what we found it
Assisting the person at the gate to take money and indemnities, or being the person responsible.
Marshalling, or being the Marshall in Charge
Running a list
Stewarding an event
Ensuring that there is always water available for the fighters
Looking after the Baron and Baroness/Crown so that they can better focus on their duties.
Offering your services as a first aid officer if you are qualified and the need arises.
Cooking or being the head cook
Serving or being the head server
Organising the performers, or performing
Organising and teaching dance
Teaching classes to groups,
Building equipment needed to improve events
Being a bookings officer
Taking on an administrative office such as chronicler
Maintaining the website.

Largess - Gold Tassel
Largess is the act of sharing or generosity with individuals
 There are so many ways that you can demonstrate generosity within the SCA.
Teaching individuals skills
Looking after new people at events
Sharing your worldly goods - such as left over fabric, old garments to newcomers, lending equipment
Welcoming people at events or at your home
Assisting people with transport
Making items for people as gifts

Prudence - Blue Tassel
Prudence is the act of good judgement through wisdom or knowledge.
In order to achieve this, each pilgrim must have an understanding of the foundations of the rules that we play by, as well as having some sort of idea of what life was like in period times.
In order to achieve this tassel everyone will be expected to read a minimum of three things:
1. The Known World Handbook
2. An SCA Governing Document (choose one or more if you like)
The Lochac Laws:
Any of the officer handbooks
Policies from the incorporated body in relation to your country - Australia SCAA or New Zealand SCANZ
3. A Period Text
There are so many to choose from suitable for all ages.  You can choose to read some poetry, or a period recipe or some period texts.  If you have suggestions please let us know and we shall add them to the list.

Courtesy - Green Tassel 
Courtesy is the act of showing respect and kindness to others, and showing that you value others and the game.

Ways that you could possibly show courtesy to others is through:
 How you speak to people
It is important to be generally polite, however the next step from that is to look around and say thank you. At the same time it is necessary learn how to be thanked and to be able to receive complements with grace. Saying thank you when you have received a complement means that you value the person's feedback and the time that they have taken to tell you how they feel.
 How you treat people
Treating people with kindness and making them feel welcome is a key aspect of Courtesy.  This could be from saying hello, through acts of assistance by opening doors or helping to carry items to those who need it.  It could be to getting someone a chair to make them feel like they can join the group to chat.
The SCA is an interesting game where we make believe that we are all lords and ladies. So part of that fun is participating in that aspect which means learning about etiquette and using it.  This involves learning about titles and how to use them as well as when to curtsey or bow to those who may be of rank (such as the Crown or the Baron and Baroness).
Enhancing the Game, and showing respect to all who play it.
This is about respecting everyone who is attending the event by ensuring that you are adding to the game and not detracting from it. Little things like: turning your mobile to silent; pour your water/coke into a period vessel rather than drinking from the plastic bottle; and covering any mundane items.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

New thread source at Cos Bits

A re-enacting friend runs a haberdashery store and has recently started stocking an exciting range of embroidery threads. This week I managed to pop in and pick up some wool, silk and linen embroidery floss at fantastic prices. I am looking forward to playing around with my new acquisitions over the Christmas holiday break.

Take a peek at the range at  or pop in at 20 Gilbert Place, Adelaide, South Australia, 5000 (Tel: 0422 746 595). Tell them I sent you!

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Eleanor of Toledo Reproduction Buttons

A pleasant surprise recently was the arrival of my new reproduction Eleanor of Toledo buttons. I took part in a Kickstarter campaign a few months ago to fund the development of a reproduction of the buttons Eleanora of Toledo wore in this portrait:

Eleanora of Toledo by Agnolo Bronzino
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I am so pleased with how the buttons turned out!

22 mm gold or silver colored metal pointed Italian renaissance buttons (Eleanora of Toledo), set of 10
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because her stock image is so much nice than mine. You can also buy these fabulous buttons through this link. I can recommend them; they are as beautiful in real life as they are in the photo.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Illuminating AoA scroll blanks

I have a new set of projects that I am looking forward to starting (and am quite excited about) so I have been working hard on trying to finish off (or at least get more done on) existing projects. This week I have been working on illuminating Award of Arms scroll blanks. Naturally, I can't show the whole scrolls without spoiling the surprise, so I can only show a tiny hint!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Making Renaissance Feather Fans

I have been making a few new fixed fans and thought I would post a little on how I make them. Sixteenth century Italian and English noble women used feather fans (among other types of fan)- they are a symbol of wealth and influence as well as a very pretty and useful accessory.

First, I start with the fan handle. I have used  many things for handles in the past; mirror handles, wooden spoon handles, spatula handles and ping pong paddles. This time I am using wooden spatula handles. The brown one has not been cut to size yet. This type of utensil has a bevelled edge that I like to cut off and sand back. (This step is probably not essential because the top end is covered with feathers, but I like the idea that it is neatly finished under all the feathers.)

Choose your handle with an eye to what you will use the fan for. If you really need a strong fan that will generate a lot of breeze, I recommend a ping pong paddle; it will produce a good breeze but make quite a squat fan. Spoons and spatulas are usually more elongated through the handle but have a smaller head or face to attach the feathers to.

Once the handle has been trimmed (if necessary), I sand it back lightly to remove splinters and rough edges.

Next I paint the handle. I personally prefer water based acrylic paints because they are non toxic, easy to clean up with soap and water, cheap and easily available, but of course this is just a personal preference. I have made brown, gold, black, grey and maroon handles in the past.

Do several layers of paint, allowing the coats to dry well before adding the next. Work the paint in well. Often, near the end of the painting and layering process, I will do another light sand and then a couple more layers of paint. Sometimes I will add some decoration like gilded lines etc. I like to use a nice varnish or sealer at the end of the painting process too.

If the handle has room, I often will attach a small hook at the base end of the handle. (The type I am using in these pictures does not have enough width to attach a hook.) The large handle is for a fan that is going to be part of a static arts and sciences display, so it will not need a ring and chain. If it did, I would have drilled a hole in the handle before I started sanding and painting.

Assemble your feathers and play around with the arrangement that you will have so that you know roughly where you will place the feathers and how it will look. I find that I usually need more feathers than I think I will. I like ostrich feathers but have used a range, including peacock and cockerel feathers and pre-assembled sections that you can buy in millinery sales.

Now that the handle is all nicely painted and varnished and you have your feathers ready, it is time for the fun part. Hot glue gun! In period, animal based glues were often used for this type of task, but I like the immediacy and strength of hot glue. It is a real novelty because I don't normally get to hot glue anything when making re-enactment accessories.

I like to glue the main part of the body to the backing. This means that only the top third (or less) of the feather will stick out over the base, but it will protect the feathers from too much damage. If you wear your fan on your girdle, it will get a bit of bumping and wear from moving while you are walking, and feather fans are a magnet for small children and dogs! I trim the hard ends from the bottom of the feather before I glue them. I use the edge of a scissor blade to press the feathers down hard. You need them to be very securely attached.

I keep layering my feathers until there are not any gaps and so that they are evenly and pleasingly arranged. As you are glueing, try not to let the thin glue threads get into the feathers. You will see them on the finished fan and they look nasty and plastic-y. They also damage the delicate feathers when you try and pull them off, so try to avoid getting on there in the first place.

When the first side is set, I turn the handle over and do the same thing in the same pattern on the other side. Once I even did peacock feathers in two different colourways so the fan was reversible'.

To finish the look, you can add a jewel or pretty accessory, a feather pad or any other type of accent. I have used metal plates, pieces of broken costume jewellery, feather pads etc. Keep an eye out in craft stores, bead shops and thrift stores for little pieces that you can use. Metal pieces can get very hot from the glue, so use a cloth to press the piece down.

Finally, I add a chain to the hook, or thread a ring through the hole in the handle and add the chain to that so that I can hang the fan from my girdle. I tend to add a clasp to each end of the chain too so that I can hang the fan in summer and my muff/snoskyn in winter. (This one is for display so doesn't need a ring.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ancient Roman-style Earrings Make a Comeback in Renaissance Italy

Well, look what I spotted in this portrait. Ancient Roman style earrings!
Portrait of a Lady by a Follower of Bronzino
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Some Faiyum Mummy Portraits-

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I decided to make some to go with the necklace I strung recently.

The gold glass beads were threaded onto small gold wire headpins. I only used one bead (as opposed to two or three as in the photo) because I didn't want the earrings to be too long.

I bent the headpin around a metal knitting needle to get the right size loop. Then I adjusted the loop with jewellery pliers.

I originally planned to use these earring hooks as they are closer to what was worn in the Renaissance, but the earrings didn't sit properly when attached to them.

The finished earrings

The completed set.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Beaded Necklace

I was honoured to receive this A&S award in August and it has taken me some time to decide on how to string it on a necklace. These beads were given to me by my Mum, and I think they are subdued enough not to detract from the token.

(Although the colours don't really show up well in the photo, the glass beads are gold and blue.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bow Earrings

I have been inspired by the popularity of bow-shaped earrings in the Renaissance:

Portrait of Isotta Brembati (c.1555) by Moroni
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Portrait of Lucia Albani Avogadro by Moroni
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Portrait of a Young Lady by Giovanni Battista Moroni
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Portrait of Three Princesses - (Unattributed)
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I found some small metal bow shaped jewellery findings at my local craft store. I gave them a few coats of nail enamel and added earring hooks and a pearl at the bottom. 

Next, I think I will experiment with fabric ribbons.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gratuitous Koala Photos

You may remember that last summer I had a koala living on my street. Well, he or she is back, and with a friend. I hope that they stay in the trees this time and don't decide to walk down the middle of the road again!

Here is the link to the last post about koalas in the street: