View My Stats

onsdag 29 juli 2009

It's finished!

After years of sporadic, hate filled work, the panzar is finished. It has left me with a feeling of emptiness, but more important - a will to make a new, better one. This one isn't perfect from a cosmetic poin of view, and it doesn't fit as good as it could. It is in part based on an Italian fresco (this was a long time before I decided not to use Italian sources), but I have made a lot of changes (i.e. mistakes), because I am simply not a craftsman. This picture of the original is scanned from my copy of Medieval Military Costume by Gerry Embleton - a must have for the military reenactor. I am certain I have a photo of the same fresco somewhere, but I can't seem to find it.

I really liked the type of panzar pictured here - the "bags" to fit the elbows are really vivid, plus the quilting is unusual in recreations. That's why I immediately decided to give it a try, about four years ago.

This is how I went about. The top of the shoulders are heavily padded to reduce chafing from my plata (coat-of-plate), as are the outside of the arms and the chest (four layers of woolen blanket). The waistline and the lower arms have very little padding (2 layers or less), whilst the inside of the arms plus the armpits have no padding at all. This is to allow easy movement.

So far so good. You veteran readers have certainly read about my "button making industry" earlier (check earlier posts under the topic "arms and armour" for example). I made 70 buttons - 15 for each arm and 40 for the chest. It was a tedious work, but it came out alright. The help to give the armour a tight, nice fit. Plus it looks gorgeous.

If only it was true. Let's look at how it really turned out. I look more or less like a stuffed crab in it. When this picture was taken, in Morimondo this year, I was just about finished with it. I very soon realized that I had to remove tons of padding from the elbow joint, as I couldn't bend my arms. To look a bit normal I also needed to remove padding from under the arm. You can have a closer look on how this turned out at the picture labelled "4" below. The patches and the extra, tacky seams are clearly visible. And by the way - the "elbow bags" are nowhere to be seen...

Next error: The damned patching. My opinion is that a panzar was made by a professional, and that would mean that beginners mistakes like mine would be absent in a finished panzar. My biggest mistake was to forget that the outermost layer have to be bigger than the ones closer to the body. This mistake cost me lots of extra work, as I had to patch every edge keeping the armour together. The patching can be seen at the pictures labelled 1 (the side), 2 (back) and 3 (front) below. As the quilting form a quite special pattern, the patches form really distinct contrasts. And it looks ugly.

Next, we have the chest (labelled 3). It is also patched (it's hard to see in the picture, but I marked the seams with yellow), but the big thing is that I was forced to abandon buttoning; the edge was simply to stiff (and the panzar itself too tight) to allow buttoning. I tried at first, but it took me about 5 minutes to button two of them, so I decided to skip the buttons and go for lacing instead. 70 buttons in the bin, and another step away from the main plan...

I also needed to remove quite a lot of padding from the cuffs, as my gauntlets couldn't fit over them.

All in all, it's crap. And I have already started to buy new materials for the next one. Hopefully I won't be making all those mistakes again.

måndag 27 juli 2009

New cauldron

We have a new cauldron. On the picture it is filled with enough porridge to feed the whole of Lund. It contains 25 litres and it is really, really heavy. And I love it. Robin, the blacksmith of Kulturen, made a handle for it. Now it's complete, and I am looking forward to years of good use, together with the steadily growing collection of kitchen utensils.

The tent is finished!

It was a lot of work but we finished the tent a couple of months ago. I haven't got around to post anything about it yet, be here goes.

At present, Albrechts bössor have three smaller tents and two bigger ones. All of them is made by triangles sewn together. The bigger ones aren't much bigger than the smaller ones, but the difference is everything; there is much more space in the bigger ones. You can actually keep your equipment at your bed.

We recently found out however, that we need some sort of device for shutting the tents - when it's windy the flap that forms the "door" is really out and about. Let's see if anyone will make it happen...

New knives

I have been lobbying for a set of knives for the company. Up until now we have been chopping onions with daggers and hunting knives, which is creative, but not very practical. Besides I am going ballistic if I have to chop another onion with a weapon.

First of all, I ordered a couple (the first two) from a business dealing in reenactment/LARP-stuff. They were really cheap, so I decided it couldn't hurt much if they sucked. I worked a couple of hours to sharpen them (I had to remake the edge totally), and then I found that they worked satisfactory. The steel isn't very good though - you have to sharpen them quite often for them to stay sharp enough to use. I like their shape (especially when cutting meats) and balance, but they are a bit too light for me. My days as a chef has left me really picky when it comes to knives.

The second buy isn't really a buy yet. I have lent a couple of knives made by Simon's pal Kristoffer. He seems a good man, interested in joining the company one day. The knives are kind of rough to the finish, and the sharpening is uneven, plus I'm not sure I like the shape (either I really like it or I really don't - I haven't decided yet) and size of them (they should be a bit shorter). The most important thing is how they will work when they are properly sharpened. A great and significant difference between the first ones and the second ones are that the second ones seems to be made from a much better steel - they will be able to keep their edge a lot better than the others. We'll see.

It is however a good thing that we have decent knives - it will greatly improve the cooking.

My chain mail finally arrived!

Here it is. It's a flat ring, riveted chain mail. It fits like a knife when I wear it, but I had severe trouble putting it on, not to mention taking it off. It must have been quite a sight; I was on the balcony (Eli didn't want me to put grease stains everywhere in the flat), wearing underpants and a gambeson. I was panting and sweating like a pig, and really needed help to put it on. I jumped up and down to make it slide down, but it stuck on my nose and on my ears, and pulled my beard and hair. Solid pain. Grunting. Muscles tiring. Panic closed in - hot dam - I was stuck, and could never get out. But as soon as I had negotiated my head through the almost too small head opening, it was a lot easier. Great. Let's put that helmet on and take some photos. Done.

And then I needed to get out of it. Not possible. Not even remotely. Damn. It stuck halfway, on my ears and nose again. Why, mother? Why the big ears and the potato nose? A close up on the picture reveals how close a shave it really was - it is not only sun burn on my face... I asked Eli to go get a pair of pliers to cut me out of it, but before she had gone I managed to squirm my ears and nose lose. 75% of all the hairs in my beard and on my head followed as I bent forward in the shape of an upside-down "U", jumping like a kid in dire need of toilet. Again - solid pain. Clad only in underpants and gambeson. Out on the balcony. The chain mail finally slid of. And I realized I need to get a few modifications done...

But it sure is pretty!

fredag 24 juli 2009

Happy days in Lund - Gunnery and storming the Dean's house

Sunday, the last day of the event. We were to show off the same combat display as Saturday and then we had a gunnery display a well.

We started off with the gunnery. Johan held an excellent lecture on early fire arms. He has been fine polishing the same lecture for years, and it is getting better everytime. Me and the others waited to load and fire - Guffe and Roger from Fraternis Militia Carnis were posing as gunners as well. Guffe felt kind of naked without his full plate, but I believe he had a good time anyways. He smiled a lot, although not in that picture; he and Roger are far too concentrated keeping up with the loading speed of the rest of the gunners.

Johan finished the lecture and ordered us to load and fire. It's all caught on tape. The gun teams all load up really quick and fire even quicker. I felt it was a splendid display, which showed that we have been growing better - the practice in Morimondo payed off. It is always more fun to shoot the guns than you remember, so I was quite happy with it. That's me in the big helmet by the way.

After lunch it was time for yet another combat display, but this time, we weren't as many; some of the guys had gone to the Dean's House ("Dekanen") to prepare for our storming. They brought a couple of handgonnes and waited lazily at the top floor, scouting our display out from a window. Johan was supposed to give them a sign, and then they would fire on us. We would take our stuff and storm the place with the ladder via the balcony. Simple enough.

Before the display was quite finished, the first shot was fired. We stopped in the midst of everything, glancing at Johan. He shrugged. The second shot was fired. We pushed our way through the audience and ran towards Dekanen, with a huge tail of spectators following us. As we came up to the building we were taunted from the balcony by the enemy. We told them our minds and reached for our sturdy ladder, only to discover that we had forgot it... Me and Simon ran all the way back to get it, only to discover that it wasn't in our camp. I was a bit confused. We ran back. And there was the ladder. I was two bits confused. It turned out that the helpful blacksmith of Kulturen, Robin, plus Stefan, an old friend, had seen us leave the ladder behind. The promptly picked it up to help us out. Funny.

We put the ladder to the balcony and I started to climb. The first step of the ladder broke. Then the second. Then the third. And the fourth. Then the left side of it collapsed. I hung onto it like a rat to a piece of wood in a stormy sea, but was forced to let go. The ladder was tested! I couldn't understand why it just crashed at that moment, but I soon realized that it wasn't tested for armoured people...

Simon, the smallest of us, took point, and scaled the remains of the ladder. We pushed him up to the balcony, but there were the defenders. Simon later told me he was inches from falling to his near death, as Ville pushed a sword in his chest when Simon tried to climb the banisters. He managed to "fight them off" and to gain ground on the balcony. The crowd cheered, while we stood wondering how on earth we were supposed to pull Simon's stunt off, once again.

We decided to charge the "locked" door, and to take the fight to them. I was first up the stairs, and put my shoulder to the heavy door, it slid open, and I barged in. My first sight was Simon, sitting on a bench, resting. He was dead tired and grinned at me when I pushed him on his feet - we were supposed to clear out this nest of cut throats once and for all. We stormed out on the balcony and smashed into the defenders. It was a relentless fight, real close quarters, with precious little space to manouever. Me and Alex pushed our opponents up the stairs, side by side. The stair case was so narrow that we more or less stuck there. Simon pushed us upwards by pressing his shield in our backs. Me and Alex were assaulted by Guffe and his heavy pole axe. Alex helped me to keep my shield raised, as we little by little took the stairs. The crowd roared and my muscles were aching like crazy. Sweat was in my eyes, but we were pushed up by a screaming Simon. There was no turning back.

At the first half landing some one cut down John. He was hanging over the banisters, playing dead. He later told me that he had done such a splendid job, that his saliva slowly had started to run out of his mouth, dripping in long strings scattering a group of kids underneath.

At the last half landing, we stood face to face with Guffe and Ville. I can't remember what happened, but I think Ville cut me down. I stumbled and fell, out of harms way. Or so I thought: Guffe did the same, landing on my shield arm. I was pretty sure it broke.
"Guffe! Pleeease roll off!"
"Dammit! I can't! It's too narrow here. I'm stuck!"
Don't ask me how, but I managed to wriggle out of that hellish position. I was relatively comfortable until the fight ended, and we stood up to enjoy the cheers of the audience.

After that, it was fighting time, just for the fun of it. Most of us had never fought indoors, and Dekanen gave us a perfect excuse. So we fought until I was too tired to lift my arms. We were grinning like children when we threw each other over tables, kicked each other into corners, used daggers, wrestling techniques and what have you. It was so funny! I don't think I have had as much fun since my first fight in Azincourt 2003.

After this, the event was drawing to its end. We packed up and wished John and Hannah a pleasant honeymoon in Sweden, before we jumped in the cars and drove back home.

All in all I had a great weekend, and we already have great plans for the next storming of Dekanen!

Happy days in Lund - fashion show and fighting

This was the first time we really displayed fashion. We have been working on different types of display to fit the needs of our contractors. This time they wanted fashion so we gave them what they wanted. The display consisted of Anna, Johan and myself. It was pretty haphazard (imagine a bunch of gunners trying to look perdy) but we managed to show the spectators one or two things about fashion, from head to toe. I don't think Johan was very pleased with it (he was holding the reins), but it worked all right.

Next step was the combat display. I started to show the boys taking part in the display a thing or two about the wrestling techniques of Master Ott, some time before it was time to show it to the audience. Some of them had never been taking part in medieval wrestling before, so I put together a simple and brief programme at the spot. They all did well, and when it was show time, I was happy with their skills. The onlookers were clearly amazed. Wrestling is exciting when you get to know the mechanisms behind it - it is all about balance and how to influence it.

Next, Johan showed some dagger techniques, as deadly and brutal as they are ingenious. I think he has gone soft (or old), because he was nearly gentle with me. I remember the early days he used me as a dummy; I could hardly stand. Nevertheless, the spectators always seem to enjoy my pain, but that's OK. It's my job to make people laugh. Bastards.

Usually, when we make combat displays, we show off techniques from unarmed fighting via dagger to sword tricks. Lastly we gear up and show a non-coordinated fight with near full force. Hence it was time for sword and buckler. Simon and Alex showed sword patterns from Lichtenauer/Ringeck. It was a stylish show - a perfect mix of serious sword handling and pure fun. Hopefully Simon would like to develop his skills even further, and that he would like to be responsible for sword and buckler displays in the future.

Last, but not least, we had the uncoordinated fight. Not much to say about it to be honest. Of course it was a good fight and all, but if you do something enough times, it will often only be an ordinary thing. If you never fought a reenactment fight, it is a glorious experience. My first fight, in France by the way, had me gasping for breath. I had a headache from all the tension and I knew that I could never get enough of this. But this is not the time to tell about that.

During the day, me and Johan took John and Hannah on a stroll through Lund, to show them some of the sights. There are more than a handful of medieval buildings still standing, including the cathedral, so you can get your medieval stomach quite full of experience. Even though culture and history was on the agenda, I guess I made John's day when I steered him inside Systembolaget (on of the smaller ones) at Mårtenstorget. For those of you not from Sweden, or familiar with Swedish circumstances when it comes to alcohol, I can tell you that Systembolaget is a state owned business selling all sorts of alcohol. And they are good at it. John spent a near 45 minutes browsing the bottles, and left quite happy.

When the displays were finished for the day, we could concentrate on the good things in life; firing salutes to close the event for the day and then get to the eating and drinking. The camp became a merry scene; some of the musicians came to visit. We bribed them with cheap whiskey to keep them playing, whilst we were playing Glückshaus along with other guests, such as Maja and Elin, two great girls interested in joining the company.

Eli and Hannah tried on the company coat together (it's called company coat as it easily could swallow the whole of Albrechts Bössor) while they were drinking copious amounts of wine. John tried to sleep in the midst of it, and I pulled a blanket over him, as the night grew colder.

During the night some of the boys had been talking to the organizers of the event, and gained access to the 15th century Dean's House. This lead to big plans, and building of a ladder for storming the balcony of the said house during a display on sunday. The builders were a bit drunk, but managed to make a ladder alright. We tried it out by climbing it onto the balcony. It worked like a charm. Eli and Hannah tried to steal it, to strand us on the balcony, but they were stopped by Johan, lucky for us.

It was suddenly it very late, the guests had left and I felt really tired. So I went to bed. And fell fast asleep at once.

Great days, this.

Getting on my feet

What happened to me struck me completely off my feet, and I lost all will to live (although I didn't lose the will to be alive). It was the deepest sadness and despair I have ever felt, but luckily it didn't last very long. Things are better now. They are not perfect, but they will be - in time. One thing is for certain though - it will never be as it was. However I reckon that is a good thing, and this day I feel living enough to write again. And I will.

onsdag 8 juli 2009

Life is life

Stuff is happening right now, and it makes me sick with worry and grief. It feels like a big lump of horror is gnawing my guts. It makes my eyes tear, my stomach hurt and my muscles tense. Everything depends on what happens this weekend, and if it goes wrong, I might never ever write again. I hope (and I actually pray - which I have never done before) that everything turns out well. I have faith, though I despair.

Those of you that have been reading my notes I give my thanks. I really hope I shall find the strength and joy to write again.