Tarsolys

I’ve been making a few of these lately, for myself, as gifts, and as stock for sale at Birka in January. I have a decent pattern now, scaled up a bit from historical artifacts, to make it more useful holding modern smartphones, wallets, and wads of keys.

Here’s mine, done with a heavy brown cowhide, thin blue garment leather for edging, and gold-plated hardware from Armour & Castings in the Ukraine:

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Figuring out how best to do the edging was the hardest part. The best way I’ve found is to cut the edging pieces like 2″ wide. I use a buttload of masking tape to make nice clean glue lines on the edging pieces and the pouch parts, glue it all up, then wrap the edging on with a TON of overlap, front and back (after applying even more glue to the glued-up edges of the pouch). Then I sew it all up, and use my leather shears to trim off the excess edging, being careful to maintain as consistent a distance from the stitching line as I can.

Here’s a picture of mine on my belt, with my seax, to give you an idea of size:

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Recently, I was involved with Team Norse, a small group of artisans in Æthelmearc that worked together to craft period Viking Age garments, head to toe, for Gareth and Juliana, Rex et Regina. My tasks were a belt, pouch, and winingas for Himself, and a Hedeby bag for Herself. Here is the tarsoly I did. White and red cowhide, and bronze hardware from Armour & Castings again.

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Here’s a picture with a banana inside it for scale, to give an idea of size:

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And a picture of it on the belt I made for the project. Both the belt and the tarsoly hardware are replicas of artifacts from Birka grave finds in Sweden.

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This is a simpler one, also with replica Birka hardware. Silver plated, from Armour & Castings.

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This one is for sale at my shop, Æthelmart, at Market Day at Birka, an East Kingdom event in January: http://birka.eastkingdom.org/wordpress/

Finally, here is the documentation I did for Team Norse’s project page: The-Tarsoly

Throwing Spears

 I got a lot of questions about my spears at Harvest Raids 2017, and at Seven Pearls a couple weekends ago, so let me tell you all about them.

The heads are from Kult of Athena: https://www.kultofathena.com/product/forged-small-spear-javelin-head/

They’re $17.96 each plus a few bucks for shipping. Don’t bother getting them sharpened, they’re good to go as-is for SCA throwing.

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The shafts are from Lowe’s: https://www.lowes.com/…/Quickie-Hardwood-Handle-wit…/1102115

Lowe’s also sells a hardwood mop handle without the metal ferrule. It’s already tapered on the end, too.

DO NOT GET THIS.

The reason is that these pre-tapered ones are 1 1/8″ diameter. That’s just too thick and heavy to make a good javelin, in my opinion. The ones with the metal ferrules I’ve linked above are 7/8″ diameter, which is perfect. Buy those.

Once you have the heads and handles, start by sawing off the threaded metal ferrule on the mop handles. I use a chop saw for this, but literally any saw will work.

Once that’s off, you need to taper the end. I use a belt sander for this, which is probably fastest, but you could do it by whittling down the end and then sanding, either by hand-sanding or with an orbital sander. There’s no right way.

Sand them down until the handle fits into the head past the hole in the socket. You want to be at least 1/2″ past that hole. A super-snug fit isn’t necessary – all of mine have a bit of wobble. Set them into place by holding the spearhead socket and pounding it onto the shaft by banging the butt of the shaft on a concrete floor.

Once it’s set, use a drill with a 9/64″ drill bit to drill through the hole in the socket and through the wood, until you hit the other side of the socket – but don’t drill through the other side.

Once you’ve made that hole, take a common 10D or 12D box nail, and cut it off with a hacksaw, leaving 7/8″ of shank below the head. That’s just enough to go into the hole you drilled all the way. Then stick it into the hole in your shaft through the hole in the socket. For a slightly less “nail-like” look, you can pien the nail head a bit with a ball pien hammer.

This will be a little loose, and that’s fine. I haven’t yet lost one during use. As the spearhead loosens up a little on the shaft, it’ll pull against this nail and keep it in place, but if you break a shaft or damage a spearhead, and need to replace it, it’s a simple matter of pulling that nail out with some pliers or prying it up with a blade. It’ll pop right out with minimal effort.

And that’s it – an excellent throwing spear for about $25. These are legal in Æthelmearc, but not necessarily so in other kingdoms, some of which have rules about length, weight, and so forth that I cannot guarantee these meet.

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Æthelmearc Thrown Weapons Champion!

I promised myself that once I achieved Master Bowman, I’d allow myself to relax my focus there and enjoy some other things the Society has to offer. I decided to give thrown weapons a try. I like darts, and this is like darts, just… more dangerous.

That was appealing!

I attended one practice at Delftwood before Pennsic, and threw my War Points at Pennsic. I set up a couple target butts in my backyard, too:

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I spent a good bit of time practicing. Axes seemed to come easily, but knives were a lot harder, so I spent a LOT of time on them. I also really like spears, and made myself some (which I’ll talk about in another post) and practiced with those too. Even so, I’d never thrown in a tournament before Harvest Raid.

Once again, I am shocked by how lucky I get when I practice a lot. My favorite part was slaying the dangling unicorn not once, but twice:

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I did well enough that TRM Gareth and Juliana decided to make me their thrown weapons champion. The job came with a lovely scroll, done by Maria Christina de Cordoba (Donna Parsons) and Graidhne Ni Ruaidh:

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and an enormous axe:

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I’ll try to be worthy of this honor.

Order of the Golden Alce!

Yesterday at Harvest Raid in the Shire of Heronter, I was awarded the Order of the Golden Alce, Æthelemarc’s order of merit for martial prowess.
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I received this most excellent scroll, illuminated by Caleb Reynolds and calligraphed by Sophie Davenport:

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Many thanks to TRM Gareth and Juliana for awarding this to me.

Thrown Weapons Champion Regalia

I was asked by Lady Amalie Reinhardt of Delftwood if I’d help her out by making an axe mask. She is the outgoing TW champion of the Barony of Delftwood, and saw a need for some official regalia for the baronial champion, and so acquired an axe. An axe alone, however, isn’t really all that regalia-ish, so she asked me for help.

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I made a simple welted mask for the axe, tooled the Delftwood windmill onto it, dyed it all blue, and used white oil-based paints to detail the windmill. I glued it together, and sewed it on my Tippmann Boss machine. I used a belt sander to make the sewn edges uniform, melted beeswax into them, and burnished them smooth and hard.

It still didn’t feel “regalia-ish” enough to me, so I added a simple baldric and frog:

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I stamped DELFTWOOD into the strap with some new letter stamps Tandy had on sale a couple months ago, using my 1/2 ton arbor press to get deep, clean impressions. I then filled them in with gold oil-based paint, and also filled in the grooves I put on the strap.

I added a simple frog to the strap, and painted some of it white.

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Voilà! Regalia.

No documentation, this is fantasy fabulous.

EDIT: To be clear, I am not Delftwood’s TW champion. I’m just modeling the regalia. 😀

Pointy Hats, Part Deux!

As I’ve written about before, I (perhaps foolishly) offered to make new leather coronets for the worthies of my shire – not knowing there are a dozen of them! Having already made one for our Seneschal, Baroness Mathilde, I next offered to do one for Baron Master Daniel del Cavallo OL. Much of his reenactment gear was stored at his parent’s house, and they recently had a house fire. No one was hurt, but lots of property was destroyed or damaged, including Danny’s leather coronet, so I made him next on my list.

He wanted a more flared-out shape, rather than an upright one like Mathilde’s, so I made a new pattern. To get the flared out shape, you have to use a LOT of leather, because the whole thing’s a curve:

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As before, I developed a working pattern, tooled in some details, dyed and painted it, finished the leather, then added hardware.

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The dye is a dark red mixture of Fiebing’s spirit dyes, mostly red. The yellow and red paints are Vallejo acrylics, and the gold is Testor’s gold enamel. I used an Army Painter brand black wash on the coat of arms to give it depth.

The (almost) finished coronet has freshwater pearl finials on the six points, and gilded sun mounts from Armour & Castings in the Ukraine.

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Rather than make this one adjustable, I wanted to keep the lines clean and so omitted the lacing on the last coronet I did. The back edges were butted together, attached with epoxy, and had a small patch of black leather glued to bridge the gap with Barge cement.

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There were also supposed to be garnets mounted on this, in gold bezels, but sadly I ordered the wrong size bezels, so could not mount the garnets in time for Pennsic this year. This coronet is now on my bench again, and, having sourced the correct size bezels from a jeweler in Israel, I’ll shortly find time to add them and get it back to Danny.

No documentation, these aren’t period.

Vigil Books

I’ve recently been asked to craft several vigil books. A “vigil book” is like a guest book that people sign and/or write little inspirational tidbits in on the occasion of a SCAdian’s elevation to a peerage.

The process for these is pretty simple:

1. Acquire some paper for the pages. I like heavier weight paper. Cut and fold these into little booklets (called “folios”). I like mine to have ten pages, so I use five sheets of paper.

2. Cut some leather for the cover. I like my covers to be a bit oversized, so I cut them to be an inch larger than the folios. This gives me a half-inch overhang all around.

3. Decorate the leather. For a vigil book, I generally tool and paint the person’s heraldry on it – but there are other things requested, as you’ll see…

4. Finish the leather. I burnish the edges with beeswax (for smooth hard edges), buff the front with neatsfoot oil (restores the suppleness of the leather after using harsh alcohol dyes), brush on Tan-Cote sealer on the front (gives a hard, smooth finish), and rub Sno-Seal into the flesh side (the Sno-Seal prevents the leather from rubbing dye off onto the pages).

5. Punch holes in the folios, then punch matching holes in the leather. I use a tiny drive punch, many use an awl.

6. Sew in the folios. I use a heavy waxed thread for this, and a saddle stitch.

Vigil Book for THL Sir Beatrix Krieger, KSCA

 

 

Vigil Book for Mistress Jaqueline De Molieres, OL

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And then, there’s this. The Vigil Book for THL Thorsol Solinauga, who will be knighted this Saturday at Harvest Raids. Lord Thorsol, or THE THORSOL, as he is occasionally referred to as, is a stalwart Bon Jovi fan and a lover of all things cephalopod. He also has never registered arms, so it’s not obvious what to put on his book. Fortunately, he’s given me a hint:

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After verifying this is, in fact, the direction he wanted, I set to work:

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No, I don’t know either, but it makes him happy, so I’ll just roll with it.

No documentation. While bookbinding is an ancient art, it’s not something I’ve researched at all yet. I’m just making books.

The Gage

Count Andreas Morgan asked me if I’d do a small project for him, on short notice, and I agreed, mostly because I have a bit of a soft spot (as much of a soft spot as I can have for anyone) for Count Andreas. He was King of Æthelmearc when I first started playing in the SCA, and won crown as an unbelted lefty fighting with a punch shield. Pretty inspirational stuff, as I was fighting heavy at the time. Then I met him at Pax Interruptus in the melees and he was a good guy, real friendly, and gave me nice compliments on my gear – cool stuff for someone at his first SCA event.

Anyway, in Æthelmearc, our order of high merit for heavy fighting is the Gage:

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and Count Andreas asked me if I could add the golden escarbuncle to a gauntlet, if he sent me one, and some of his heraldry on the cuff as well. I have no idea what he’s doing with it, some kind of ceremonial thing I’d imagine. Anyway, I was snowed under with work, but thought I could find a few hours to do this for him, so I said I would. I didn’t have any yellow leather on-hand, so I ordered some yellow kidskin from my favorite leather supplier, Springfield Leather.

Once I got the gauntlet in the mail, I measured the back of the hand. I figured I could get a 4″ escarbuncle on it, and the bigger the better, because I have to hand-cut these, and the larger they are the easier it is to cut them.

I started by using my vinyl cutter to cut a 4″ escarbuncle of sticky-backed vinyl, which I peeled and applied to the flesh side of the yellow kidskin. I used an X-Acto knife and about six blades (they dull quickly and I need them sharper than a razor for this) to painstakingly cut out the escarbuncle. This took a couple hours. Then I peeled the vinyl off the back of the leather, and glued the escarbuncle onto the back of the hand of the gauntlet.

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Fearing that this would be insufficient, I also sewed down each of the eight points, using a common sewing needle and yellow cotton thread. I made a tiny awl from a straight pin set into a small scrap of wood with superglue, and used that to make the stitching holes: one through the yellow leather, and one on either side of the point through the glove only. Each point is tacked down on both sides of it. I used superglue to secure the thread knots on the inside of the glove.

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Sewing  down the points took a couple more hours. I had to work the needle with needlenose pliers to get it up inside the glove, as my hands did not fit.

Once done with the escarbuncle, the rest was simple. I made a pattern for a Tau cross and two acorns, traced them onto the flesh side of some white kidskin, and cut them out. I mirrored the acorns by flipping the pattern over while tracing the second one. I glued these in place, and sewed them down with white waxed linen thread using a saddle stitch through pre-punched holes, which I did with a tiny drive punch.

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No documentation for this project.

 

15th Century Belt with Gemstones

IMPORTANT UPDATE: THIS BELT WAS STOLEN! Please keep your eyes open for this belt, particularly if you’re in the central Pennsylvania area, in pawn shops, secondhand stores, and the like. The package containing it was stolen from the recipient’s porch, minutes after it was delivered.

/end update

I signed up for the Æthelmearc Ærtisan’s Æxchange a couple months ago. I signed up for the “red” group, which has to spend more than $25 on their project, and have it documented (as opposed to the “white” group, which was supposed to spend less than $25 and did not need documentation). I received Baroness Oddkatla Jonsdottir as the person who would receive my gift, and started talking with her a bit to figure out what she might want.

After much discussion, the real answer was that she wanted something pretty. Okay, I can do pretty!

She expressed both a fondness for purple and pink, and a fondness for the gemmed belts I’d been producing, so a belt it is!

I hopped over to Armour & Castings, my current favorite site for period hardware. I like them because they’ll gold- or silver-plate items on demand, for a 50% surcharge. The downside is that production and shipping means that it takes 3-5 weeks to receive your orders. I found some hardware that I thought was “pretty”, chose silver plating options for everything, bought a bunch of other stuff for other projects (I do a bulk order with Armour & Castings about every six weeks) and clicked “buy”.

I also went on eBay and found some pink chalcedony cabochons, then bought some sterling silver serrated-edge bezel mounts for them on Rio Grande.

Fast forward to four weeks later, and there’s an envelope in the mailbox from Ukraine. It was about then that I discovered I was an idiot and only ordered one of the belt mount, instead of the six I meant to order. Back we go online, and this is going to mean I’m cutting it a lot closer to the exchange’s deadline than I like. Disirregardlessly, it’s gotta get ordered, so I do the thing and order five more.

Some time later, the parts are finally all here, and I got to work:
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I ended up dyeing the belt purple, stamping it with an 8-pointed escarbuncle-ish stamp I have, and carving little flowers in a regular pattern. I set two stones between each mount for a nice regular pattern.

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I hope she likes it. She’ll receive it in the mail today.

Documentation: OddkatlaBelt (PDF)

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