Monday, July 6, 2009

Garters, coats, and Pick-up-Sticks....

I just realized that it has been a full two months since I have written last. Where on earth did the time go? I haven't been as on task as I would like, but I have actually gotten a few things done.
First, I did get the wedding garter finished. Whew! I put the last few stitches in the ribbon and elastic as we drove from Fairbanks to Anchorage. I personally think it turned out beautiful, and the bride seems to be quite pleased with it, so I can't complain. The stupid bit is that I never took a picture of the final project :( The bride has promised me a good picture of it once things get settled down. As soon as I have one, I'll post it and show off a bit :)
The second accomplishment of the past month or so was the completion of my daughter's rapier "armor" coat. She is involved in rapier, or as known in the SCA "light fighting", and needed a coat and hood for protection. These items needed to be made out of material that equaled 4 layers of trigger poplin and could pass a puncture test. I lucked out and was able to get a few yards of "spectra" cloth that is used in the layering of professional fencing jackets. It is puncture resistant, and is equal to two layers of trigger so the jacket will be as safe, but lighter to wear. I sandwiched the spectra between the remaining two layers of trigger needed, and with a few design modifications was able to make her a safe, durable and reversible coat. That was the tricky part really. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to fasten the coat so that it could be worn either way and still be usable. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out, and she seemed to be as well. I am still adding some trim to the hood to jazz it up a bit, but otherwise the coat set is done. All that is left now is to get her a gorget (a neck protector) made before July 10th. I have a bit of help for that, but we just have to get our schedules to connect, and that is no small task.

The other bit I had to deal with was our end of May SCA event, Spring Captaincy. This is actually a pretty full event as there is heavy fighting, often a class or two, and a feast. It was a very fun event this year because the autocrats in charge decided upon a Viking theme with Valkyries included. During the event I hosted a competition for period toys, that is any toy that could be documented pre-1600. For my "seed" entry (an entry to show an example, but not one that will be judged) I entered a set of Pick-up-Sticks that I had made using skewers with the points cut off. Here is my write up for the set I made:

Pick-up Sticks

Pick-up sticks have been around for a very long time and in many different cultures. Their origin can be traced back to ancient China when painted sticks were used for divination in a “game” called Chien Tung. These sticks were placed into a tube and then sealed with a lid that had a hole in it. The tube was shaken and one stick was allowed to fall from the hole. Based on the painting on the stick a fortune was told. Later the divination game changed into a game of chance where the sticks were picked up one at a time with the help of a black “Emperor” helper stick. This game eventually made its way into Europe where it became known as Spilikins (or Spillikins). It can also be found in France as Jonchets and the Americas as Pick-up-Sticks or Jackstraws.
The sticks themselves have been made of various materials such as ivory, bone, wood (like maple, oak, walnut, cherry, and bamboo), reed, rush, yarrow and even wheat straw (thus the name Jackstraw). In a variation of the game, the pieces are not sticks but little carved weapons or tools. The sticks can be painted colors or carved and different points can be given for the different types of sticks.
The main thing with all the variations of the game is that it is a game of physical skill and dexterity. The sticks are held in one hand with their bottoms touching the surface, and then are let go to fall in a pile. Players then take turns removing one stick at a time without disturbing the remaining sticks. If another stick moves, then the player is out and loses his/her turn. A separate stick can be used to help a player remove other sticks depending on the version of the game. The winner of the game can either be the person with the most sticks, or if colors/carvings are used, then the person with the highest points may win.
For my set I used bamboo skewers. These are easy to find and to cut to size and bamboo was a natural material used long ago. I chose to remove the taper from my ends although that can be a choice of design. I then colored my sticks with ink paints resembling madder, yarrow, and indigo dyes and the combinations there of. I made one stick black to be used as the “helper stick”. If I could have used natural dyes, I would have. I didn’t have easy access to them so I chose to use “sharpie” markers in the right tones. This provided a solid color that would last through children’s tough play. To finish the game set, I put together a pouch of cotton material double layered so that the sticks would not be able to easily wear a hole through the fabric. Although I used cotton (due to the fact that I had the fabric available) it is more likely that wool or linen remnants would have been used.

Culin, Stewart; University of Pennsylvania (1895). Korean Games With Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan. (Ed. 1958/1960) Games of The Orient. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company. 177 pages. (orig. Ed. 1991) Korean Games With Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan. Dover Publications. 256 pages. ISBN 0-48-626593-5

Bell, Robert C.; Oxford University Press (1960 & 1969). 2 volumes. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations (rev. ed. 1979). Dover Publications. 448 pages. ISBN 0-48-623855-5.

Wikipedia. 13 April 2006.

I am hoping to get a toy set made for the Kingdom and Principality by the Purgatorio event this August. My intent is to have several strictly period toys and games in a small box so that the Minister of Children can always have at least a few toys and game ideas on hand. It is far too easy to forget that kids need activities also, and it can be rather jarring to be enjoying the medieval atmosphere of an event and be confronted with very plasticy and modern toys, as well as kids running willy nilly because they are bored. I have the materials for pick-up-sticks, a dice game, nine pin (table top style), and tic-tac-toe (or nine man morris) so far. The materials will all be wood and cloth and I hope to have a small booklet with instructions and rules for other styles of medieval games. I am mainly aiming this kit at ages 4-10, but it could easily be used by older kids as well. I'll get pictures up as I get things finished.
On a non-medieval craft sort of note, I finished up another couple of small projects I had been doing. The first one was a name tag for our local needlework group. I love my old one that I did with plastic and paper canvas and beads, but I recently got a hold of a bunch of rather flamboyant colored Perl cotton that just begged to be used. I had a small bit of vinyl canvas that would be a good base for something as used as a name tag, and so I got creative. I do have a fondness for bumblebees, so I tweaked a couple of various partial patterns I found and combined the fibers, the canvas and a slew of various beads...and voila! A name tag that sure sticks out! I think it turned out cool. I'll still keep the old one and tuck it into my workbag also. It's too cute to not keep.
The old one....
The new one!

The last project for this blog is the witch I needle felted. I bought a kit, several years ago, for a needle felted wizard. I finished him up last year and was quite please. However, I had a great deal of the material left over...more than enough to make him a companion. So I created a witch. She was actually a lot of fun. I made her the basic same way as the wizard, but gave her much more shape through the body and spent even more time on her face. I am still not 100% happy with the hands, but I think doing them will get easier with practice. My next "wish-list" project for needle felting is a schnauzer. I have the stuff, now it is just finding the time...

That's it for today...much more tomorrow...

No comments:

Post a Comment