Upcoming costuming/personal kit projects

Post-Battlemoor brain dumping, mainly for my own reference. Other stuff will get added to this as I think of it, I’m sure.

Deadlined projects:

Sposa Dantiscana II – Outlands Fall Coronation (November)

  • base dress
  • undersleeves
  • oversleeves
  • opashen
  • repair/refit late-period corset
  • hat

Expanded Qipchaq kit – Gulf Wars

  • Green and gold brocade coat, lined in green silk
  • Blue and gold silk coat, lined in gold linen
  • yellow silk undertunic
  • grey linen undertunic
  • embellish existing linen lightweight coats
  • black silk pants
  • cone hat
  • gather existing metal bits and buy more to build pectoral ornament

Quiver – next Battlemoor

Open projects:

Blue shawl

Knife and belt sheath

Black late-period skirt

Repair Juan’s two late-period shirts (closures, small tear on unembellished shirt)

Finish prettying up the late-period working-class Italian, possibly refit

Sort, repair, and milieu-tag every individual piece of jewelry I own, make a list for each milieu for which I have a partial kit, identify gaps, and complete at least one tight, solid daywear kit, one court kit other than the big elevation Letgalian kit, and one late-period kit that can go with Italian or Spanish.


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I wasn’t sure I was going to Battlemoor this year; it was hard, both emotionally and logistically, and sad and scary.

Of course I went. Of course I had a wonderful time. I had no plans, I had no commitments, and so I was able to spend the entire war (or at least my three days of it) just talking to people, walking, looking at the stars (god, I miss the stars), laughing, holding my apprentice sister’s baby, petting dogs, sharing food and drink. I spent the entirety of Sunday, except for a little bit of shopping, in camp, noshing and day drinking and conversing deeply about SCA philosophy and love of the game and plans for the future, and it was glorious.

And I realize: part of why I’ve been feeling so at loose ends, out of place and lost, is because I’m not doing anything. The SCA is all about the doing. If I’m not researching something, planning and executing something, helping someone else execute something, making something, or practicing something, I’m not playing.

It’s not just since I moved to Denver, although my malaise has been especially deep since I’ve been here. For about a year before Juan died, I’d been working on some creative ventures outside the SCA. After five Battlemoors of turning out more than a dozen new garments over the summer in preparation for war, last year, I sewed one or two new pieces for each of us. Juan was doing stuff, but I was mostly on the sidelines watching and helping him. And after, I had no heart for it.

I came away from Battlemoor with:

  • plans for Gulf Wars (six months, y’all) and a (at this point very vague and open) trip to Trimaris sometime in the last half of 2017
  • a clear game plan for the next half-dozen high-concept costuming projects I want to work on, that will keep me busy for probably two years
  • a couple of schemes to facilitate, collaborate with, and promote a handful of underrecognized artisans whose work I find amazing and inspiring
  • a renewed commitment to getting back on the fighting field
  • a renewed commitment to do the groundwork research to prepare me for my 2018 trip to Lithuania and Latvia
  • a (for now) SUPER SEKRIT motivation for returning to work on the Motiño manuscript

And suddenly, I know what I need to do. I’m still sad, of course, for what’s lost, but for the first time in almost a year, I’m not unmoored. I love, I love, I love my people.

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a quiet moment in camp at dawn

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Sposa Dantiscana, Take II

It’s been a couple of years since my last go at this dress, and I’ve learned a fair bit about late-period costume since then, and I’m starting to ease my way back into the SCA, and what better way to do that than by starting a giant, ambitious costuming project right before leaving for war?

So. This is my Pinterest board where I have been gathering visual notes. I see two different things going on in most of the illustrations and reconstructions, and the Sposa Dantiscana dress is somewhere between the two, and I’m not sure what I’m actually looking at, what the artist understood or intended, or what the original historical garment the drawing is based on looked like, but by golly, I’m going to give it a shot.

The Trachtenbuch illustration and the Wiegel illustration are both showing what’s pretty clearly four layers: a chemise and gown, both of fairly unremarkable early-16th-c cut; an apron; an opashen/overgown. That’s also what’s going on in the three modern reconstruction photographs. Now the opashen as such is a pretty distinctly Russian garment (although overgowns were of course worn all over Europe), but the last of the three reconstructions is described as Polish, and based on Trachtenbuch.

The pair of Danziger matron illustrations at the end are interesting, because they both, from two different sources, very clearly show a chemise and an apron and between them a simple gown – no overgown, but those opashen-style sleeves, near floor-length with an oval hole cut at the elbow to put the arm through (as opposed to the long-slit or fully open oversleeves we see in Western European dresses of the same era and later). The neckline on both of these illustrations is quite similar to a lot of both period illustrations and modern interpretations of kampfrau/working class German of the period, which fits with with a fairly western locale.

Then there’s the Sposa Dantiscana illustration. At a first glance it looks like the other Danziger illustrations, but clearly has both fitted sleeves and opashen-style oversleeves. The first time I tried making this dress, I interpreted this as a fitted-sleeve gown under a short, fitted, doublet-like coat with opashen-style sleeves. But now I think this is wrong, partly because I have not found anything else that is even slightly similar to that, and partly because the distribution of layers on the body just doesn’t work; it’s not a functional garment.

Instead, I’m working on two theories. The first is that the costume should include a full opashen, body and sleeves, but the illustrator has for whatever reason eliminated it.It’s an interesting idea on paper but not particularly useful.

The second is that the gown has two layers of sleeves, possibly both sewn in, possibly one or both pinned or laced in. This is not unknown; the Katharina zur Lippe gown (Nuremburg and a almost hundred years later, so I’m being very careful to draw equivalencies, nevertheless) has sewn-in undersleeves that may have been cut from another garment.

So for the sake of versatility, my current approach to this gown is:

  • chemise
  • creme satin sleeveless gown with a boat-shaped neckline and attached laces
  • creme satin undersleeves with lacing points
  • creme satin and black silk oversleeves with matching lacing points
  • black silk opashen with attached laces
  • creme silk apron with black embroidered decoration

So the gown can be worn alone with one or both set of sleeves, with the undersleeves and sleeveless opashen, or with the undersleeves and the opashen with oversleeves laced in.

I’m not at all sure this is the most garment-history-authentic approach, but it’s the approach that hits all the points for illustration-based reconstruction, and I think it will be both comfortable and gorgeous. The question of whether a Lithuanian woman would have worn any of this at that time is another one altogether, but illustrations of Lithuanian elite noble women of any period are damned few and far between, and Poland and Lithuania were one political unit at this time, so Polish dress is still persona-appropriate, and it’s distinctive enough not to be mistaken for Russian.

I’m telling myself that I have no deadline for this project, that it’s purely for fun and as time permits, but in the back of my head I’m thinking it might be nice to wear to Coronation in November.




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I did a Laurel-y thing.

Actually, I did a very, very period thing. I became a Patron of the Arts.

I had the wonderful experience this past weekend of judging at the Outlands Tri-Baronial Arts and Sciences competition (that’s Caer Galen, Unser Hafen, and Caerthe, the hosting group this year – it rotates – and my new home Barony). I managed through some dumb luck to land entirely first-time competitors, which was absolutely a blast – these folks all had such interesting, varied projects, they all had been doing the work for some time but were just now delving into competition, and seriously, I could have spent the entire day with each of the three of them. So much fun.

The last of the entries was a jewelry entry, but it was only one of the gentleman’s five projects, and as Master Rhys and I sat and geeked out with him we touched on all five projects at least a little.

One, a Mongolian quiver, had been made as a commission piece, and as I listened to him and Rhys talk about the quiver, it dawned on me – the constraints the client had laid on him were in conflict with his own desire to make the piece more period, and his extensive knowledge about how to do that. It was a beautiful piece, but he could have taken it farther, and he knew it, and it was tremendously frustrating to him. That was so disappointing to me!

Now, I’ve been meaning to make a quiver and bowcase for ages, and I have the skills, and I have the funds for the materials, and I really could make the time, but I haven’t yet, and every time I go to the range I’m embarrassed by my $10 polyester sporting-goods-store quiver. Juan had been pretty excited about starting work on it this winter, but now, I just can’t even think about it.

So while I was off filling out the judging form, I realized – these are two intersecting problems, and the solution is throwing money at them. I went back, returned his documentation, and said, “I’d like to talk to you about a commission.” I proposed: I supply parameters, he supplies an estimate, we tweak the plan a little, and he gets to go bonkers. By commissioning the pieces, I’ll provide the patronage, and he gets to do the research, make it kingdom-level-competition-worthy, put into practice all that knowledge he’s accumulated and just not had a chance to manifest. And I take a project off of my plate that was supposed to be a “me and Juan together” project and would have probably been delayed ANOTHER few years while I get to a place where the thought of it doesn’t make me want to sob. Reframe the question. Make it something new and different, with some joy in it and something for the future.

The look on his face as he wrapped his head around the idea was worth the price of admission. Pure awesome.

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Taking measure

Sometimes, I like to take on a project that is at the bleeding edge of my current skills, take my time, and just assess the current envelope (for to stretch it, of course). I’ve done this with big cooking and costuming projects, but this is the first time I’ve done it with a scribal project.

Recently, I was honored with the assignment of Duke Albert von Dreckenveldt’s Doe and Mountain, the Outlands’ award for long service in arts and sciences. His Grace is a dear friend and an artisan I’ve admired for years (and his Laurel is a couple of months younger than I am) so “daunted” was a little bit of an understatement.

As he is an armorer, if I were better at figure work, I’d have worked from a late-period illumination or print illustrating very fine armor design. I didn’t find an inspiration piece I was happy with, but I did find the Almugavar Hours, a scribe’s dream of an early 16th-century Spanish devotional. I decided that the best way I could honor Al’s art was with the very best art I could bring, so I did. This was a whole lot of fun to work on, and a delight to see presented.

Arches Cold Press Watercolor, Deckled Edge, 22×30
Higgins calligraphy ink
Windsor & Newton (Cotman line) paints
Liquid Leaf
Pigma Micron artists’ pens

Finished scroll

Finished scroll

His Grace Albert receiving his Doe and Mountain from HRM Anna, with many thanks to Lady Adelaisa Bernois for the court photography!

His Grace Albert receiving his Doe and Mountain from HRM Anna, with many thanks to Lady Adelaisa Bernois for the court photography!

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Battlemoor VI Chai Cream Cordial

For the many people that requested the recipe:

1/2 bag Vitamin Cottage Brand loose bulk bagged chai tea blend*

1 1.75L bottle vodka of your choice.

2 c. sugar

2 c. water

1/2 gallon half & half

Combine vodka and spices and let rest for two weeks.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and boil until liquid is thickened and reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. Pull off heat BEFORE syrup reaches soft-ball stage/235 degrees. Allow to cool.

Filter vodka and spice blend through a goldtone coffee filter or other fine mesh. Add syrup and let rest for another two weeks.

Filter through a fine mesh again, then filter through paper coffee filters (you will need to change the filter several times as it gums up). Add half & half. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

*The chai blend is in the bulk spices area, and the bags run about 1/4 lb, between $4.50 and $5.00 for for a  bag at $17.73/lb. If you’re using a different chai, the volume is roughly 1.5 cups. (I didn’t measure – I actually doubled the recipe and dumped a whole bag in – but I will check and update the post when I make another batch, and I WILL be making more batches.)

More about Battlemoor later. It was a glorious event.

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I have just had the best couple of weeks! This past weekend was Outlands Heralds and Scribes, and the weekend before that was the new Kingdom A&S Collegium. I’ve been playing at a pretty low level since Fall Coronation, and although I’ve been recovered from the post-elevation fatigue for a while now, I haven’t been caught afire by any new projects yet. These couple of weekends have been just what I needed – coming back to what drew me into the SCA in the first place, the geekery and discovery, learning and teaching and sharing.

I actually only took three classes at KA&S, but they were really good classes. An all-morning reprise of the Battlemoor lampworking class and open torch time, timed just right to refresh everything I learned at Battlemoor and was starting to get anxious about losing.

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After lunch I took Mistress Eibhlin’s cheesemaking class, which was intended to be practical and turned out to be incredibly informative and useful on a theoretical level because the curd didn’t cooperate, and then Mistress Ursula’s arboriculture and medieval gardening class, which was fascinating on a theoretical level but also left me with a lot to think about practically as we lay the groundwork for moving to a new place.

But the best part of the event, as ever, was the people. The long drive and opportunity to really catch up and gossip and talk deep SCA philosophy with HE Leofsige, and a fantastic dinner with a bunch of Dragonsspine and Aarquelle people.

Then turning around the next weekend and heading up to north Denver for Heralds & Scribes. Classes on the history of heraldic tabards, on streamlining workflow for combat scribes, on applied gold leaf, and on faux non-Roman-alphabet hands (where my own Laurel scroll, which is done in a faux proto-Cyrillic that HE Avram developed specifically for that project, was featured in the examples). Every class was exciting, inspiring, and immediately practical. But the highlight of the event was the scribal display. I would have loved to have just blown off a couple of classes and spent hours just studying those scrolls – the extraordinary masterworks and the pieces of history. Many, many premier scrolls. Scrolls in every imaginable size, style, period, material, language. Just amazing. I’m absolutely humbled; I realize how far I have to go to be doing really masterful work, but I also have a better idea of how to get closer to it. And two current assignments that I am excited to start on. So much fun.

And because it just gets better, on Sunday, we went and ran a bunch of errands all over the city before heading home. At Black & Read, our favorite used bookstore, I found a lovely little calligraphy book, an annotated excerpt of Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta. At Colorado Fabric, I found wool for Juan’s Norse garb, a beautiful diamonds-within-stripes faux-silk satin for a new doublet and paned slops set, a half-yard of rich dark indigo linen (in the $2/lb discount bin! Seventy-eight cents!) for a new veil or light shawl, and a gold-stamped silk crepe that will become the accent fabric in a late-period project for me. Unfortunately, the big Korean grocery was out of goose, so I couldn’t pick one up to start recipe testing on Corazon.

And now I have a few weeks of breathing room before Coronation, no immediate deadlines except those two scrolls, and lots of fabric and wood and glass and food and ideas to play with.

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