Friday, July 20, 2012

New Brick Stitch - An Arm Guard

I've been looking into updating my archery kit to be a bit more authentic for the early 15th century.  Looking at the available images, there appears to be a pretty big lack of the use of arm guards in medieval archery.  In the modern world, however, they are a ubiquitous part of the tools of an archer - same as a helmet is to those fighting with heavy weapons.  I wanted to find a middle ground- an arm guard that wasn't so obviously an arm guard, but that still provided protection.

Ultimately I thought it would be fun to make an embroidered arm guard, not because it's period, but because it seems like something neat to make.  Plus it gives me an excuse to do more embroidery. 

I'm using linen floss from DMC and 32 count linen evenweave. And it hasn't been easy.  I don't want to give up, however, because I want to have that satisfying feeling that I embroidered something on such a tiny thread count! It is making for some pretty slow-going, though.

I'm using a modification of Pattern No. 7 from Medieval Arts and Crafts.  I swapped the "SZ" squares for the other square pattern, just reversing the colors.  The linen flosses are light, so the whole embroidered field should actually end up a bit subtle, which is fine.  I like the whole "But, no- you should see it up close!" effect that projects like this induce!

And, no, I haven't given up other, larger projects for embroidery altogether.  In fact, I'm putting together some experiments with converting rectangular construction garments into fitted garments, but I'm trying to think that whole process completely through first.  When I figure it out though, rest assured you'll be the first one's to hear about it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Some Resources for You: Phase 1

I'm starting to add some long overdue pages and information that deal more with research and resources than simply sharing with you the projects I work on. The projects & research obviously go together, but I sometimes feel that I get so caught up in the "how" of my projects that I forget to evaluate (and share) the "why". I can blame some of this on that problem we all have- forgetting that the things we know aren't necessarily the things everyone else knows. But I can't blame that for everything I've failed to share!

One of my original goals for this blog was to help you know what I know. I can't, of course, transplant everything I've learned and understood into your brain, but I can share with you my tools and show you why and how I've come to the conclusions that dictate the items I make.  I'm rolling these additions out in a few phases, and Phase 1 is already complete.

The first item in Phase 1 is a new page, called "Resources". A link is provided at the top of the sidebar on the right. At the moment, you'll find there my current research bibliography. I've got notes on certain entries to give you a bit more information about it to help you determine if it's worth a read to add to your own research bibliography..

The second item (which will eventually make it to the Resources page) can be found on Pinterest in a pinboard called "Digital Manuscripts". Links on these pins take you to online libraries with either extensive digital catalogs or several great image collections of medieval manuscript pages and miniatures. These libraries are AWESOME. Give yourself a good chunk of uninterrupted time before getting into searching these libraries. And be aware that not all scans were completed in high-resolution color. These libraries are a great source when you're looking for more imagery than what's easily located through an Internet image search. If you've been looking for something specific for a while, you've probably come across the same handful of relevant images way too many times. In that case, it's time to take your research to the next level, and search for new (to you) images. These libraries are where you go. Note: Be careful when using these images beyond your personal research. The museum probably owns the copyright on the digital files (think of them as photographs owned by the photographer). Always ask for permission before using in a public setting.

In Part 2 of my research additions, coming within this next week, expect to see a Links page specific to the links I utilize all the time, and a page about a tool I use for understanding how medieval clothing depicted in imagery can exist in the real world.  I also have plans to update my tags.  I've realized that having all headdress grouped under the same heading makes it pretty difficult to locate a specific type of hat.  And that just won't do.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Quick Medieval Veil Video Tutorial

Here- I made you a corny video.  Hope you like it!

I started doing this veil style about 3 years ago and it's been my go-to ever since.  Elina at Neulakko does the folding bit in her tutorial also.  If I think back, hers was probably my inspiration, so if you haven't checked hers out, I suggest you do so!

In my veil classes, I talk about using "head underwear"- my favorite of which is the huvet (or Saint Birgitta's cap)- and I also discuss how to properly use a fillet to keep your veil in place.  It occurred to me after the last teaching of this class, however, that only the "formal" methods of wearing a veil required the use of any underwear.  When I placed this quick veil on my head that same evening for court (in which I was actually called up, so thank god I decided to put a veil on!), I realized that if you secure the veil on your head using the tight-around-the hairline/pin-at-the-back method (which I utilize in the video), you can achieve a large number of looks and never need the assistance of an extra piece underneath.

I often grab a veil and some pins and "play" in front of the mirror- using the "non-underwear" technique to see how many styles I can come up with.  I've come up with well over a dozen that I would actually wear, and many more that were interesting to say the least.  In fact, just this evening, I created one that I aptly called "The Pretzel".  Is it period? No.  Is it fun to wear? Yes.  Sometimes it's difficult to draw the line.  Keep and eye out- The Pretzel might show up at an event near you.

The point is that, while there are certainly "rules" to follow if you're trying for authentic veil styling, those aren't the be-all end-all of possibilities, and they certainly don't hold the monopoly on beautiful, girly styles that are in keeping with the spirit of the Middle Ages.  The quick veil style in the video straddles that line.  And occasionally, I like setting up shop on that line.