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söndag 26 april 2009

Woodworker, episode 2

Now I have made enough progress to present some more of my attempt to make 14th century chests (I am making 2 - one for me, and one for my wife).

The chests are based on a typical "hutch chest design", where the legs of the chest are actually part of the sides of the chest itself. It's a bit difficult to explain, but I'll make a try with a pic. I mentioned before that I am not a craftsman, and before you judge me, I would also like to state that I am not an artist either. Nevertheless - I am damned proud of the above pic. It is the schematics I should have had before I started to work on that chest. I never thought I could make something as accurate as that picture, and it gives me good hope that I am not that useless when it comes to arts and crafts after all! Sometimes I despair, of course, like when I look at my good friend Alex's stuff. He's like:
"Oh, I just made it last evening. It took me a couple of hours. I'm not particularly happy with it, but it does it's job." When I try to make something the like, I usually end up in a sweaty, swearing heap with a headache - after about two weeks of planning, preparations, work and mistake after mistake.

When I was at my first reenactment event, the summer of 2003 in Azincourt, France, I met a group reenacting Burgundians of the mid 15th century. When I saw their stuff I was astonished, and when I had some time alone, I cried a bit, and wanted to go home. I was so proud of the clothes I had managed to tack together, and it all went to dismay when I saw their heavenly outfits. "HOW!?" I asked myself. "How can they produce such fine stuff? I will never ever be able to sew clothes that are half as good."

But then I started thinking a bit, and came to the conclusion that these Burgundians had started out just like me - without anything to wear at all. And they had also made mistakes. Several hundreds. Maybe I can't be just as good as they, but I am steadily growing better at everything I dare to try. Even though I despair, and doubt my very craftsman-foundation from time to time, that thought is comforting, and keeps me on my feet when I feel worthless. Everyone has made countless mistakes, and very few are actually happy with what they make; my friend Johan has made more things than I can even imagine, but he still says he's been happy with only two of them. And one broke in Italy last year (the irony!)... On my own part, I am at my fourth panzar/gambeson, and as soon as I'm finished, I'll make a new one. Hopefully, the fifth will be the last, as I have now made most of the possible mistakes when stitching gambesons.

Oh well. Back to that chest. To this day, I have joined the boards of the gables and the long sides together, with strips of wood fitted in grooves in the edges of the boards.

The picture on the left, shows what I am talking about. Next step will be to make grooves in the edges of the chest legs, to fit the joint tongues of the walls, thus putting the chest together.

I worked the joint tongues with a plane to bevel them, mostly to make them fit but also to make it look good, and made with care; the bevelled bit won't be visible from the chest outside - it can only be seen when opening the chest, and most probably I will be the only one doing that. It is a lot of work for no one to see. I didn't even have to work them with a plane at all (and that was solid pain and sweat) - I could just have made them simple and straight, as I leave the other side of the joint tongue. It would have been period anyway. Silly me. The picture to the above left shows how the worked joint tongue looks (and the picture below shows the un-worked side - the one that will be visible from the outside. It will hopefully fit in nicely in the chest leg.

The gables won't be worked at all. A wide groove (at least in comparison) will be made in the flat of the legs, where the gables will be fitted. They will be fastened with wooden dowels. This means that I will be almost finished in a couple of weeks (not in time for Morimondo, Italy, though...). Apart from the lid. And the bottom. And the hinges. And the lock (OK - hinges and lock are made by blacksmiths I know - I wouldn't want to try making anything as important by myself - at least not this time). Anyway. I can see the light in the end of the tunnel. More coming up as I go along!

söndag 19 april 2009

Getting in shape

It is time to shape up the kit. The season is almost upon us, and I want to look smart, or at least not more scruffy than I usually look. That's why I pulled out my bascinet (or pekkilhuva if you like to use the medieval Swedish word for it) for a little shining up. It was a bit rusty, and kind of dull, so I worked it with steel wool and tooth paste (it's really good when you need something polished). I don't like my stuff too shiny - I am supposed to portray a soldier with a lot more to do than just polish my helmet. It came out alright, though. Over the years, it has became dented and rough to the finish - a most splendid resemblance that it probably saved me from nasty injuries several times.

The lining is held in place with stitching through loads and loads of tiny holes drilled on the lower edge of the helmet. I remake some of that stitching once every year, as it tends to wear out kind of easily. All in all, it was about an hours work, and my bascinet is ready for yet another season of relentless bashing. Thanks for being there to protect my head, pekkilhuva!

A case of pointyness

Remember I told you about a needle case? Well, I have had it for some time, but I haven't got around to posting pics of it yet. Here is one, anyway. The case is made in triangular shape, from pure silver, and it is hybrid based on two 14th century sources (I can't tell you which two, as I haven't made it myself, but I am sure they are accurate, as Martin takes his stuff seriously). It is pretty exactly 8 centimetres long, from the top of the cross to the bottom, and each side is circa 1 centimetre across. It has inscriptions on the sides saying: "Non mihi", "Non tibi", "Sed Nobis", which means "Not for me", "Not for you", "But for us".

torsdag 16 april 2009


The other day, a parcel lay on the door mat. My dear friend Johan, a co-founder and mover and shaker in Albrechts Bössor had made me a present. It is a real nice shirt, hand painted and a really personalized (is that the way to express it?) gift.

In the photo above you can see me looking grim and grumpy, military style, and below you can see details of the great art work. Thanks a million times Johan! I will wear it always...

I am a tent maker, episode 3

During easter celebrations we set out to finish what we hadn't - we wanted to finish that tent. Simon, me and Elisabeth gathered at Lunda's place. He and his wife Ann-Sofie were friendly enough to welcome us into their home - even though it was Ann-Sofie's birthday. As a birthday gift, me and Eli brought her hand dyed yarn.

We figured we were about half-finished with the tent, and started stitching about 10 in the morning, aiming to work during the night if we had to. We wanted so hard to finish before our event in Morimondo, Italy, in May.

Simon missed the bus and joined us some hours later, but apart from that, we all worked continuously during the day. Even Ann-Sofie joined the work force for a while - incredibly nice of her, as she is not into medieval stuff - yet :-). The picture to the left shows a grinning Lunda and Ann-Sofie (plus a freakishly big pile of tent), both working hard.

As the day progressed into evening, Simon pulled out a bottle of Bowmore to strengthen our weary spirits and aching fingers. We countered him by pulling out another bottle that we bought for his birthday some days before. This pic shows Lunda having a well earned dram.

As we were close to finishing the tent, we discussed the matter of an earlier mistake - when we first cut the pieces for the tent, we made them way too long. They were supposed to be 280 centimetres long, but due to a misinterpretation of a sketch, we cut them 350 centimetres long instead. We brought the nearly finished tent out in the dark yard to test it. Me and Lunda had gone scouting for a centre pole earlier, and with the help of Ann-Sofie's family (they were there for the birthday dinner - I cooked fish soup for the occasion), we managed to raise the tent to see how if our mistake would make it look silly or "wrong". We decided that it was a bit too pointy, and we went back to cutting fabric again. Next pic shows Simon measuring to cut another piece.

That extra piece was too much for us. We worked until 11 in the evening, and decided to call it a day, even if we were not finished. Me and Eli took it home to finish it. Perhaps Lunda will join us some weekend to help. Otherwise, it's not much left - we will fix the top part of the "roof" and hem the bottom. We figure it will take us 10 or 15 hours more work, but then it will be finished - and it will be roomy enough to shelter more or less all of the guys in Albrechts Bössor - and you, if you decide to tag along!

fredag 3 april 2009

An even five

Speaking of followers - By all the saints! I have five! Five I tell you!

Public figure

I just realised that I have 4 followers... Standing in the lime light certainly makes me dizzy... Thank you all for this token of appreciation!