Sunday, March 25, 2018

Post Gulf Wars Project List

One of the great things about going to a week-long event is being able to come out of it with a list of things to work on or improve. I have found that there are deficiencies in my kit that I can only really become aware of by putting it to the test. Coming out of Gulf Wars, I have quite the list of projects, primarily in the areas of my recreation I haven't put much thought to in recent years, or with things that require investments I've found it difficult to commit to. Many of the things I talk about below will require funds that it will be some time before I have. Others are relatively easy fixes that will be added to my running list of current projects.

One thing that has become clear to me, as a side note, is that I’m entering a “next phase” in my recreation. I find lately that I’m repeatedly hitting the “upper cap” of how much I’ve been willing to invest in both with my money and my energy, and while I can’t make either of those things appear out of nowhere, it does give me pause. A big question I’m asking myself now is, “What is the experience I’m looking for?”, and along with that, “How can I maximize my enjoyment with the limitations I have?” Striving for more authenticity doesn’t have to be a linear process. It’s alright to put the brakes on some things so that other things can catch up. It’s alright to focus on the things that don’t need to be made or purchased or acquired for a while, just to hone the joy I get out of being at events, and to figure out what the character of my recreation will be as I move into this new stage. It’s definitely alright to say, “I can see that this is what I need, but it’s not within my means, so I will make do some other way.” I will surely talk more about this as I understand it all better, but know that I can see that things are in flux, and it may mean that I feel there is less to share here as I sort it out.

Easy Fixes

Shoe Repairs or Temporary Shoes

Behold the terrible thing I've done to my favorite shoes!
I’ve known for several months now that my shoes need to be replaced. I've worn holes in the soles of both of my pairs of turnshoes. This week, my brown pair (my favorite pair) finally gave up the ghost. While a new pair of shoes was on my list to purchase, I wasn't able to find a pair that matched my wants and needs. For the moment, I’m willing to settle for an inexpensive pair to get me through, like this pair of ankle boots from Boots by Bohemond in black, or some jerry-rigged solution on my current pair to patch up or seal the holes.

More “Laurel” Items

While the Laurel wreath dress made for my elevation is an outstanding piece, it’s also woefully unfinished. There aren’t a great number of events that call for it, so I’ve been okay with letting it linger, but I did realize as I was standing among my Laurel cousins at the A&S War Point Display, there are significantly more ways that I can display that I’m a Laurel.

I love my square hood, and knew after making it that I’d probably want another one. I had the idea back before my elevation to make one with laurel leaves on it, but that didn’t come about. So better late than never, right? My general concept is below- a gray hood with green leaves and lining, and pewter buttons from Billy & Charlie. My best friend will be making this item for me when I’m able to get all the materials to her in An Tir, and I’m really excited by how this looks in my head.

I would also like to make a new belt with Laurel wreath mounts to replace my green apprentice belt. I'll talk about more of my belt idea in a later post when I get more materials on hand.

More Chemises

It's never been fun for me to make additional chemises, and I've always been pretty good about talking myself out of needing them. Except that I do. If I'll be doing more camping events this year, having additional chemises is a must that I need to stop being lazy about. This is especially a priority because I’ve gained a little weight, and I’m putting more strain on my chemises than they were designed to handle.

Fewer Mundane or “Medieval-oid” Items in View

This one is more of a reminder to myself. Sometimes in the camp environment, it’s easy to let standards slide. I try to combat this with attempting to keep things tidy each day, but this time in particular, I was aware that the modern stuff made its way out into view very easily, and in some cases, never got put away. By the end of the week, I was a bit miffed that while I have the ability to keep those things out of sight and give that space to the more accurate stuff, I wasn’t. It’s not a requirement in the SCA to keep that stuff out of sight, but that’s no excuse, and I want to do better in this area.

A Simple Dress for those “In-Between” Moments

I found myself snagging my husband’s wool tunic a bunch of times during the week for late night trips to the bathroom, or tossing on one of my loose old dresses for showering. Something more specifically dedicated to these purposes would be an easy thing to make, and nice to have on hand. Something like the loose, shorter Herjolfsnes gowns, similar to this recreation, would be ideal. I’d like a lightweight wool for this, and perhaps also heavy linen version for summer.

Minor Investments

More Summer Weight Wool Dresses

My current garb wardrobe performed fantastically for the week, and I actually have no complaints about the options I had. I was able to create nice outfits each day that I didn't have to overthink or really worry about how they looked. The fact that it worked out so well, however, highlighted something that will become important in the hotter season in a few months- I don't have very many dresses that will work in sweltering heat.

Most of my problem in this regard is that I focus too much on trying to find “the right" color. In my effort to get that exact shade that would allow me to match period imagery, I overlook other colored wools that are documentable in other ways, are just as nice, and are the perfect weight for year-round use. (Not to mention the fact that fabric dyes and paint pigments are two different things, and there are some colors that could be painted that would have been very difficult to create with dye, but I’ve always given more priority to the visual result of my recreation than the technical one.) The bottom line of course is that it's better to be comfortable, even if I can't point to an image and say, “You can see this color here.” As I am able to purchase fabric through this year, I will endeavor to acquire more lightweight wool, in whatever color, to round out my wardrobe to work well in any temperature.

Period-style Traveling Clothing Rod

I’ve used a rod strung up in my tent for my clothing for the past several years, and I love it. What I need, though, is a rod that isn’t dependent on the framework of my tent so that I can use it in the tent or outside of the tent, or wherever I need it. I’ve got some sketched plans for stands that will allow me to swap out different rod lengths depending on my needs. All this requires is a little help from friends with the right tools, and for me to remember to get the wood next time I’ve got a bit of extra cash.

Simple Wood Furniture Pieces

My major purchase at Gulf Wars was a pair of trestles. They will need a table top, but that will be easy to come by. We were also gifted stools from our King & Queen, and I have made a little cushion for one based on an image from one of the Comedies of Terrence manuscripts. I would also like to make a really simple bench like the one at the front in this image. With all these items, I will have the major pieces of furniture I need to set up my tailor’s workshop without needing to borrow anything. Which is very exciting, and definitely makes me eager to set it up more often.

Period-Style Eyeglasses

I've known for a few events now that going without my corrective eye wear at events isn't the smart choice, and always leads to headaches. I don't like to wear contacts, so this problem really only has one viable solution- add a pair of period glasses to my kit. I've had the chance to briefly wear some glasses from my friends, and I've got some information about how to make a pair that uses my actual prescription (I need them for distance). I've looked into the options, and while bone or horn are more ample in the extant record, wood is the better way to go at least to start. It's possible to purchase period frames, or I can attempt to make the pair myself, but in either case, I'll need the lens, so that may take some work.
Testing out a reproduction pair of glasses made by my friend, Baron Conal O'hAirt.

Major Investments

More Authentic Turnshoes Shoes

I’ve been dreaming of a specific style of turnshoe for about 2 years now after I came across a pair of shoes on the MIM site (which I can no longer link to directly). I was drawn to the style, but after looking through some period shoe books, I found a handful of design changes that would move them closer to accurate to the early 15th century. Until recently, this specific shoe has eluded me. After my shoes failed at GW, though, I decided to phone a friend and see who people were recommending for custom shoes. I received a handful of recommendations, and followed the path of one to find a pair very close to what I’ve been looking for. They would be a custom pair with a standard pointed toe (not the fancier pointed poulaine), and in a matte black. The price is, plainly, steep, but for exactly what I’ve been looking for, it would be worth it to me to save up for them (and to also invest in pattens to help them last as long as possible.) If nothing else, though, I now have some reference images that I can point to if I ever decide to try making them myself, or if someone local to me can give me a good deal.

New Pavilion and Shade

Watercolor sketch by me of our camp at Gulf Wars. My garb had gotten wet, and was laying out to dry for the first 2 days.
This topic may ultimately get it's own post later on, because there's so much to it, but the crux of it is that our square marquee is no longer the right fit for our needs. We bought it used about 6 years ago, and it was great as an upgrade from a modern tent. Through it, we've learned about how to care for and setup a period canvas pavilion, but it's now no longer the correct style, size, or construction for us. It's time for another upgrade.

I've gone through phases of looking at pavilions, and particularly checking out period images of pavilions, several times in the past few years. Still, there are so many options and variations available, not to mention going the DIY route for a completely custom pavilion. For the most part, I think we're leaning primarily toward an oval pavilion with a detachable fly, then a second shade fly that can be used for other purposes. At the moment, I’m the most smitten with a two-pole design like the one in this pin. I know that this is something I'll dissect and evaluate a lot, and there's no real rush at this time, but we're making a commitment to try to save up over the year to have something new for Gulf Wars next year.

There are a number of things in this list that are outside the scope of my typical skill set. In some cases, going for outside help will be the best route, but I do also enjoy learning new things and trying to expand my abilities. Sewing a pavilion might just be in my future.

Painting of an "ideal outfit" for my persona done by me to help motivate me to continue putting effort in my kit.
If you went to Gulf Wars, or any event recently where you put your kit to the test, I’d love to hear about what projects it added to your list.


  1. FYI on the period glasses. I've been eyeing (haha) these on Etsy:

    I wear contacts at event but usually use reading glasses over my contacts when doing close-up sewing.

    1. I saved a pair from that shop on Pinterest and have been considering that route. They come from the Ukraine, I think. They do also say they can help with the prescription lenses, which is a bonus.

  2. Edyth, I am still working on my kit (and yours is such an inspiration). I portray early 16th century Tudor.

    I have found I keep adding to my list too, because in one of my FB groups the question was asked, what do you put on that makes you feel like you are in your period. For me it was my flat cap, but I realized I don't have enough smocks or aprons, I love my period shoes and I really need some partlets.

    I love the watercolour idea for outfits, I do really need to do that. :D It would help me plan. Love your work!

  3. I, too, am looking for proper turnshoes. You may find Simurlan Shoes (on FB) to be handy. He does reproductions from Stepping Through Time and other books of archaeological finds but, being in the Ukraine, is far cheaper than NP. I know a woman who has some from him and she says they are fab.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check them out!

  4. There's a guy here in Poland who makes period eyeglasses with prescription lenses (as he's a modern optitian in the mundane life, so he really knows what he's doing and you want to be safe with prescription lenses, right?). His prices are very reasonable. A couple of my friends own his glasses and they're all very very pleased with them. Here you have his fb profile: