Not everything I’m working on at the moment is clothing, or modern.
Case in point, a Nine Men’s Morris board that I made for my partner’s birthday:
And a tiny geteld (an Anglo-Saxon tent):
Some heraldic experiments for SCA purposes:
And a recently finished little pouch. This was a kit from a class I took in February, but mumble mumble busy. Actually, much of what I’ve been busy with has also been SCA-related. I went to a camping event in May where I picked up a few goodies and took exactly one photo of the site.
I’m thinking of taking up a sport.
At the moment, I am reparing gores and finishing seams in anticipation of my very first PENNSIC (!). Once the existing stuff is up to scratch, I want to make an early Kentish or Merovingian ensemble along these lines.
We had a gray, cold weekend here, but I’m not complaining: that’s the perfect weather to justify spending time in the studio. Accordingly, there’s some progress on which to update you today.
First of all, I started the treehouse project! At least, I started the tree.
It’s already taken on a bit of a haphazard air. My original plan was to build a wire armature and sculpt around it with air-hardening modeling clay, but the only wire I had around was too fine a gauge and (to be perfectly honest) I couldn’t remember where I’d put the clay. So, Friday night I decided to do a test run in papier-mâché. I built an armature from the aforementioned fine wire, slapped on some soggy newspaper, and was pleasantly surprised with the stability of the resulting structure.
Of course, the next day I located the modeling clay. Since I found that it had only dried out a little since the last time I used it, I decided to coat the tree with a thin layer of clay to simulate a barky texture before painting. Had I thought through the matter properly, this would probably have been an ideal time to add smaller branches to the boughs, or at least to carve out some supports for the eventual treehouse structure. Oh, well. Making it up as you go is half the fun.
In other project news, I’ve decided to try branching out– somewhat less literally– in my spinning. As I’m told is normal for new spinners, my yarn has been getting finer and finer, not by any conscious decision on my part but thanks to the development of muscle memory. While fine yarns are nice to have around, especially for weaving, I’ve been frustrated by my lack of control over the process. I’ve also wanted to learn more about the ergonomics of spinning.
With this in mind, I started reading Respect the Spindle over the weekend. This was cheating a bit—the book was technically assigned to next month’s craft budget*, but the copy I had ordered arrived at my local yarn shop earlier than expected. Much of the material is familiar, but it’s always helpful to see it presented in a new way, and I’ve already picked up some handy tips. With book in hand, I produced a tiny skeinlet of bulky (well, bulkier) yarn. I also used the Navajo plying technique to keep the colors from getting muddled, something I’d learned about but not mastered in my spinning class.
I also dove into some sugru that showed up in the mailbox last week. As a first experiment, I put it to use as grips for my felting needles. Hopefully this will make needle felting more attractive (and preclude the need to spend money on an unaesthetic and junky-looking pink plastic needle holder). I have so many pieces of fluff left over from spinning– it would be a shame to waste it.
Finally, on the loom, I turned the infamous experimental warp into a doubleweave sample, my first attempt. I’ve only woven a few picks so far—which means about half an inch!—but it is, in fact, two layers of cloth.
So, after a few weeks of slow progress and false starts, the projects are starting to pile up again. Between the fiber arts and the miniature-making, I should be busy enough for weeks of happy crafting. What’s on your spring to-do list, fellow crafters?
*My system for normal months– in which I am not adding to my lap harp collection– is to divide funds more or less evenly between supplies (like yarn, fiber, and glue), tools (like shuttles, spindles, and scissors), and instructional materials (mostly books and the occasional video). Since I started reading this book early, I’ll have to hold off on new reading material until May. That’s where cheating gets you.
Why a mead hall? I’m not actually sure. This is why I need to keep records. I’ve always enjoyed building miniature things, but the Anglo-Saxon idea was hatched last summer when I was on an Old English kick.
Now, I did some preliminary reserach on miniature-making and English history, but when it comes to authenticity, I’ve assigned no particular date to the building, and the construction techniques are based heavily on superglue. If these facts horrify any historians or miniature enthusiasts out there, I sincerely apologize.
I started out by making a few artifacts: a fire pit, a two-beam loom, and some long tables and tablecloths. (I don’t think the tablecloths actually appear in any of these photos, but they do exist.) Most of the model itself is made of wood scraps from the hobby store, stained with a mixture of instant coffee and a bit of water and finished with a coat of shellac.
After the skeleton was finished, I acquired a folding table and put together a rough cork base for the model to rest on during construction. Sadly, it quickly outgrew the table.
Next came many hours with the instant coffee, and the addition of more artifacts. I also started adding wall panels. For anyone who might be inspired to take on a similar project, let me tell you that the cosmetic difference between painstakingly crafted wattle-and-daub walls and slapdash craft-painted basswood walls is negligible. Don’t bother.
Of course, there are plenty of tasks waiting to be done! Among them:
1) A floor, made of… something. According to my reading, timber is actually not the most historically probable. (I don’t have a source handy, but it’s somewhere in a stack of papers in my studio.) However, a dirt floor seems difficult to represent convincingly. I experimented with painting the cork on which the whole miniature building rests, but that was a no go. Other options? I’ve heard about a substance called paperclay, but it’s not available where I live. I do have some straw-like substance that might make convincing rushes, and I’m considering affixing the straw to a solid floor finished with a mix of craft paint and cornstarch.
2) A diorama-style backdrop for the shelf where the as-yet-unnamed hall now rests. As you can see, the current landscape leaves something to be desired.
3) Lamps, specifically cressets (a cresset being “an iron vessel or basket used for holding burning oil, pitchy wood, or other illuminant and mounted as a torch or suspended as a lantern : a fire basket.” Thanks, Merriam-Webster!). I keep trying to make these out of wire, but no success yet.
4) More chairs. Perhaps not the most interesting aspect to a blog reader, but I actually lost one of the seats for the central dais. (A common problem when you’re working with furniture the size of a thumbnail and have an unusually strong tendency to misplace things.)
Welcome to my fledgling craft blog! I’ve admired the online galleries and blogs of many different craftspeople and artists, and hope you’ll find something here that interests you as well.
At a certain point in my creative career, about when I began to observe an alarming quantity of my free time disappearing without a trace, I started keeping a to-do list. The following excerpt should be representative:
Blankets 14 epi
Still need to make floor: how to represent dirt? Rushes?
Leaves overshot draft—copy out
Wind and WRITE DOWN calcs this time
After months of scrawling these cryptic ideas in various notebooks and on the back of supermarket receipts, I am finding the brevity of the entries and the monstrous proportions of the list to be somewhat at odds. In other words, I can’t remember what half of it means! It seems that a more comprehensive approach to record-keeping is in order.
Enter the blog.
So, what do I make? Here’s a sampling of current projects.
First, a historically inspired, more than historically accurate, attempt at an Anglo-Saxon mead hall in 1/24 scale.
I am also learning to spin…
…and to weave!
In future posts, I plan to go into more detail about specific projects and techniques. Hope to see you then.