Æthelmearc Artisans Exchange, Round Deux

I keep signing up for the Æthelmearc Artisans Exchange, which is a gift-giving exchange for the kingdom’s artisans, organized by Baroness Oddkatla (https://www.facebook.com/n.l.bubb).

And things keep going wrong.

The first one I signed up for, I made a lovely purple gemmed belt with silver hardware, which was stolen from the recipient’s front porch immediately upon delivery. I ended up making the recipient a second gift, a leather Hedeby bag with her device on it, because I felt bad.

This time, I cleverly procrastinated making this gift until a week before it was supposed to be done. Then I got it about 1/3 finished and broke my arm. My RIGHT arm, as in the hand that I hold things with, like brushes and tools. Five weeks with no opposing digit.


Fortunately, I had completed the tooling of the leather before I broke my arm, so all that was left was dye, finish, and assembly. Turns out I CAN paint with my left hand, sorta. Kinda. And, naturally, I’d been matched with HRM Gareth Kincaid, Rex Æthelmearc. I mean, no pressure, right? Anyway…

The theme of the exchange was heraldry. We were supposed to give a gift that incorporated the recipient’s heraldry in some way. His Nibs has a very large, very proud, very excellent household, House Sable Maul, and after chatting a bit with HRM Juliana, Regina Æthelmearc, it was clear that he’d probably prefer something with his house badge on it, rather than his personal arms. I also got, as part of the exchange, a list of ideas and wants of my recipient.

Naturally, I went ahead and ignored all those.

Knowing that he is a minister, I thought I’d make a leather bible cover, and tool his house badge on it. I ran this all past Queen Juliana, who approved, and told me what version of bible he actually uses in church. I found a really REALLY cool one on Amazon – gilt edges, full-color illuminations from the Vatican, the whole nine yards. It was a hundred bucks, but I found one that was “used” for $25. “Used” is in quotes because the only sign of use was that the cardboard slipcover was beat up – the bible itself was pristine. Perfect.

I cut a piece of heavy vegetable tanned leather, leaving a half-inch beyond the dimensions of the book all the way around. I marked off some stitching lines, cut in his badge, stamped HOLY BIBLE down the spine (along with my maker’s mark), and gouged and creased the inside of the spine so it would fold. I used cross-hatch backgrounders on the maul itself, but didn’t do any other beveling anywhere, as this was all getting painted.


Once everything had thoroughly dried (and I took two weeks off to nurse my broken arm), I got back at it. I dyed the whole thing with a walnut-colored dye I mixed myself (Fiebing’s English Tan with a tiny bit of Fiebing’s Black mixed in, then cut 75% with rubbing alcohol). I blasted it real heavy with a lanolin-based sealer, then I started painting in the black parts.


Filled in the stitching lines and the spine lettering with a metallic gold.


Did the entire interior with several coats of white, the put the red over the white. If I just did the red on the brown, it wouldn’t pop like this.


Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the inside, but all I did was cut some stiff black garment leather to the right size, fold and glue the three outside edges down, glue it to the inside of the cover, and sew it down. Repeat on back side. At some point here I also sprayed the entire piece down with a no-shine matte varnish.

It took a good bit of hard pushing to get the covers into the leather pockets (I made them really tight), but with some help from my lovely and long-suffering wife, Annika, we got it into the cover.


No documentation, as this was a gift.

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