Little maple box

So we were brainstorming things for a viking persona award, since paper scrolls don’t really fit well, and I had been contemplating making a little box using viking era techniques and suddenly it all fit nicely together…

Maple craft board, made using finger joints and a tongue and groove lid. Glue used to hold it in place.
Man, having a band saw in my garage is awesome! But I couldn’t have done the groove without Troy and Lisa’s help. They had a router and the ability to control it.

I’m planning on making a box for myself next, this time using poplar and doing all the joining by hand. I’ve learned my lesson about carving maple craft board, it’s harder than it looks. This box was a fun little proof of concept piece that gets to live an adventurous life. I’m a little sad it’s getting painted as the maple is so pretty to scrape to a mirror finish and then oil, but I have more maple for later.

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Redrawn queen for a month pictures – now in more accurate colors

Check back to the previous post for the underlayers.

Here’s the main garment, with the two different over-layer options.


And here are two more things I’m contemplating making to go with this project:

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I have some pretty purple wool that might be fun to make a coat like that, also some dark blue, though I think they might both be too heavy for something with sleeves.

The gray lacing overdress is an interesting experiment that will dress up the reversible dress, and can be decorated with trim. I’ll also need an apron. Or two.

Here is the reversible dress I already have made (for the consideration of color matching) and one that I plan to make as I have the fabric for it. It has a neat twill pattern in the cloth, I tried to draw that into the sketch, but it’s not as hideous as my sketch makes it look.

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*Queen for a *month

*Where in queen just means gets to dictate what project the sewing room will work on, as much as anyone can steer the sewing room, which is essentially a loose affiliation of various cats using a large bathtub as a boat in the middle of the ocean.

*Where in a month is a non-specific time frame, thus far a month has taken approximately 4 months and we haven’t really started yet, and that’s ok.

So after a long and arduous year of making things for other people, we (the people of the sewing room) decided that we needed new garb, and wouldn’t it be fun if we could get our friends to help us make things that we wouldn’t be able to do without help.

The first up on our list is Andi, which we are finally getting started working on – and I’m second, but since Andi and I’s projects are vaguely similar (both late period English(ish)) we are somewhat starting on mine now too. I realized that I haven’t posted my sketches for this project when I was trying to explain it yesterday on google+. So this post is to share the sketches and the evolution of what I’m doing for this outfit.


Step 1) An underdress that actually fits me. I found out last week that one should make the shoulders the size of your shoulders! (yes, I know that’s really basic, but most tutorials take your largest measurement and make a tube which you then add sleeves and gores on to, this does not work if you have small shoulders.

Step 2) So I’ve seen partlets done a number of ways, I particularly like this option, which is over the underdress, but under the bodice. One of the major benefits as far as I can tell is that you can tie it under the bust so it doesn’t move when you fidget. We’ll see if this actually works in practice, but it seems worth trying at least. This is also where the collar comes in, which is handy in some ways as you can then change out collars depending on the outfit and or where you spilled your ice cream.IMG_20150821_145052933

Step 3) A reversible kirtle, we still deciding where it laces, probably on the sides, maybe in a V on the sides, depending on which works the best for my un-medieval body shape. The front garment construction in general may well also be more \_/ than | _ | because of the difference in circumference at my shoulders and my bust. It’s going to be purple on one side and dark green on the other. (I also have fabric to make one in a neat teal twill that will also be reversible as the fabric is reversible and I have one already in a different teal and brown)

Step 4) Sleeves! Doubletly thing! No idea what is going on with that belt, or where the partlet went to, or precisely what that hat is, but it’s based on the coif/forehead cloth thingy.


Step 5) A wool jacket thing! This is based off a brown wool one that I got from one of my grandmother’s reenactor friends
(I think Phyllis McCluskey? Or possibly Marnie Sumner?) when I was a teen. I wore it for many years until I got too big for it, and I have always wanted IMG_20150821_145109327to make another as it’s so pretty. I bought some gorgeous grey wool in Toronto this spring which should work nicely.

Step 6) Probably not part of the initial project, but! I want to make an over dress out of some russet brown linen that I have, it would be open in the front (which this picture is not showing) and would lace over the bottom kirtle. This is a much more continental look, but given that there was a great deal of trade, intellectual and physical between Amsterdam and the eastern part of England, this makes sense. I also haven’t really decided if I want this persona to be Dutch or English, but at the economic standing I’m building (middle to lower middle class merchant/tradesman) there’s very little difference in the structure of the clothing. The New Englander in me is drawn to East Anglia, as that’s where most of the stylistic things that we take for granted in New England (houses, food, speech, morals, and so on) come from. (See Albion’s Seed)

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A belt for Lynne

We had a bit of a problem back home while we were at Pennsic, and Lynne (and Lackey) helped us out. Since She wasn’t at pennsic, but had gone many times in the past, I wanted to get her something that would be special but that she wouldn’t have already. Wandering off on my own on Wednesday night I spotted some yarn that jumped out at me and said, this is what you are looking for!

So I decided to make her a belt on one of my hand made looms. I used a belt buckle that I had picked up at Gulf that was hand cast.

The yarn is cotton Dragon Tale Yarn. 4/2 2ply 1600yds/lb Crystal Couc? – 2 ounces from my favorite vendor at Pennsic: As I said to them this year, if I were to merchant, this would be my shop as it has nearly everything I love.

Total time to make the belt – well I bought the yarn on Wednesday night, didn’t start working on the belt until after teaching my class and hanging out with Beth, so Thursday evening until I ran out of light and then Friday when we weren’t disassembling the camp, I was working on this. I finished weaving it when we ran out of light on Friday. I sewed on the metal bit when I got home.



my first full scroll!

(yes, I know there’s a ‘typo’ in it, I noticed it just as I was walking it over to hand it off for the tournament. oops)


This is the first scroll that I’ve done everything (well, not the wordsmithing, but eh, that’s so not my art). I had planned to make it more complicated and period, but in reviewing the requirements, I decided simple made the most sense, particularly as it’s theoretically going to be traveling to and from Pennsic.

It’s not my “best” work. But it is my first done work. And pulling off the band-aid and just getting the calligraphy done was by far the hardest part. I’m also pretty sure that my brain is incapable of doing things the same way twice, or evenly, or spaced right. I doubt I’ll ever be good at calligraphy or enjoy it, but I might get to the point where I don’t hate seeing my work.

It’s theoretically a humanist hand. Really, it’s basically foundational which is a modern amalgamated hand based on Carolingian, Humanist and italics. The little people based on this photograph:0

Box of dooooom.. I mean, a beautiful, hand carved chest.

So I decided that I wanted to try some relief carving for this round’s East Kingdom Artisan Exchange project. My matched person wanted a “chest”. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I mean in period, a chest could be anything from a tiny casket for ritual items to a large sideboard like item where you’d keep the china. Clothing/Blanket chests existed, but are relatively rare in museums because they were more utilitarian objects. There are a few marriage chests available to study, but they tend to be pretty simple.

So looking at the chests at the Met that are within time period (roughly) and of the materials I have at hand we have these five beauties:

(1) A local, slightly out of period chest –
(2) A 16th century wooden chest that shows its construction methods (Dovetail) –
(3) Another 16th century wooden chest, this one in the panel style –
(4) A 15th century wooden chest with amazing relief work –
(5) An early 16th century wooden chest done in the panel style –

Given time constraints, my budget, my current skill level and the needs of the modern Scadian, I decided to go with a simplified version of (1) and (3) that would be big enough to put a coronet inside, along with other precious items, but not so big that it couldn’t be brought along to an event. I was specifically inspired by the wooden mirror boxes I saw at gulf wars. I then contemplated various pre-made box options that I could embellish, and discarded them all as not right.

So I’d have to make my own box! I then found this fascinating website about early joinery (the act of making boxes, cabinets and other things like that) – and decided that the best technique for this project would be frame and panel. The carving design is based on strapwork images from the late 1500s.

The easy way to do this is with cope and stick joinery. The way we see this most often in our daily lives is through IKEA: pegs and holes are used in place of nails. This made up the frame portion of the box. After fitting the whole thing together, I marked all the pieces and then took it apart so I could carve it.

2015-06-03 19.30.56 2015-06-03 20.23.56 One of the nice things about this method allowed me to take the uprights with me to various events and such to work on them in any spare time I managed to find. I went with a simple quatrefoil tracery design that would have been common in period on a middle class person’s small chest.

Despite having much better tools, most of the carving done on these frame pieces were done with my cheapest knives, the ever helpful Niji knives. I ended up using them so much that I had to round the end of them to be more ergonomic because I was using them for so many hours every day. But in comparison to all the rest of my much nicer knives, these were the ones that were small enough to get into the tiny spots and were best suited to incising the design and then 2015-07-03 14.28.07removing the extra material. 2015-07-08 20.41.12  2015-06-17 14.48.59

The individual flowers are approximately an inch across, and have about a 1/8 of an inch of space between the flower and the 1/8 inch border. I had originally planned on carving the front panel and the top and bottom frames on the front, but I ran out of time. I think it ended up looking good in the more simple form. (Which is our modern fashion speaking) I had also planned on carving out each petal and the center bit, and my test piece shows this option, but it just proved too time intensive. I definitely want to a similar project again with more relief carving, but let’s remember this was my first time doing this. The first upright took me about a week, the second a weekend, the third two evenings and the fourth took most of one day. And most of my increased speed was due to realizing that it worked much better to incise everything first and then do one whole side assembly line style – cut out the top bar on all seven, then cut out the bottom bar on all seven, then cut out the side bar on all seven, then the other side, then the triangles on the edges of the flowers and then smoothing the background into a unified surface. 2015-07-08 20.41.18

Luckily we learned a very important skill during the reign – always complete everything to the same state before going on to more detail – that way if you run out of time (And boy did we ever run out of time, over and over again) you have something that is balanced rather than one highly ornate sleeve and no collar, cuffs or hems done. So I built the frame fully, then I built the panels fully, then I did the incising, then the bulk of the material removal, then a few rounds of detailing and smoothing, and then I put the whole thing together and stained it. Then I applied the wax finish to protect it.

Though I did leave one big detail out- the lid!

Due to the nature of poplar trees (they aren’t very big) I was unable to get a board that was wide enough to be the lid on its own. My initial plan had been to biscuit join to boards together and then cut out the lid from that larger piece, but I was reminded by my laural that that would take quite a bit longer and there were plenty of pieces of scrap wood hanging out around the shop that I could use instead. I climbed up to the wood storage and found a lovely piece of cedar that was exactly the right width. I then pieced the whole box back together again and glued it in place using wood glue (Animal glue was used in period for small wooden things (and cabinetry) like this as the pieces are too small to use just wood expansion to hold everything in place, and the glue made it much more stable in a variety of weather conditions.) and a framing jig to keep everything square while it dried.

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Once it was dry I took it home and fitted tiny carved splinters of wood into all the holes and gaps to improve the structural integrity and make it more secure for use. I then sanded it down and went over all the flowers with a fine finishing tool to make sure there the surface was ready for staining. I chose to use a light stain over the poplar to make it “match” the cedar a bit better. I decided to stain it in general because the wood has an interesting grain pattern and it would make the color more even, while providing it with a finish that will help the wood age more evenly. In period this box would probably have been varnished. But varnish is a pain to work with and requires chemicals to clean up afterwards, so I finished the whole box with a light coat of wax paste and buffed it out, leaving a finish that seals the wood’s pores and makes it more durable for every day use. Here is the finished box with the cedar lid with the arms of the recipient on the lid.  2015-07-09 20.12.362015-07-09 20.12.28    2015-07-09 21.17.03

Kinsley’s Tigger sweatshirt/dress

Cause I am so easily talked into making adorable, snuggly clothes for small children, I present to you my birthday present for Kins this year:

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I mean, how can you resist that grin?

Maple blunt end spoon? Spatula? Saute tool?

I’m not really sure what the technical term for this kitchen tool is, but it’s my favorite go to tool. It’s wooden with a nice sturdy handle, a blunt end, curved inner surface and open ended. It’s great for sauteing in pans where you are concerned about scratching the non-stick surface. It’s capable of “scraping” up the edges and getting the crispy bits, while also being useful for flipping and not terrible for serving. (Though it is often pointed out that we have many better tools for serving)

This I made from a maple board I bought at home depot. The wood is quite nice, hard but carvable, and very pretty when oiled. I cut the general shape out on the bandsaw and then carved it down to size using my knives, gouges and sweeps. I then made the surface smooth by scraping it with the cabinet scrapers, which were perfect for removing the tool marks without sanding the wood. They also leave the surface with a bit of a burnished feeling, which I quite like, particularly on this soft maple.

The neck is offset by a bit to make it easier to use, and to provide better control.

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new keyboard

Thanks to my habit of painting and carving over my keyboard, it needed cleaning this morning. When I pried off the spacebar I snapped a bit of the plastic holding it properly in place, expediting my need for a new keyboard.

I looked at my options, most of which were either way too big, way too expensive or just way too much until I found a reasonable shaped and sized wireless keyboard. It’s not quite full sized, which currently is a little bit of a pain, but it does have a full number pad which is important to me. Also it has chiclet keys like a laptop, which means that the larger pieces of dirt and such won’t get stuck in it. But more so, being smaller and wireless, I can put it away when I’m not using it!

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yay calligraphy practice.

Uncial Capitals – first half of Rumi’s A Community of Spirit – perhaps tomorrow I’ll do the second half, but tonight my arm hurt from this much effort. Really need to work on Ts and Ss. Also Fs. Entirely up for help/critique. I’m playing with a staedtler calligraphy marker and (obviously) graph paper for the sake of practice and trying to remember to keep my letters both straight, even and spaced properly.

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