Monday, September 17, 2018

Barony Coronet - Aiden

I blame Eva for this one.

This was actually a pretty fun project to work on as it's been a while since I've done anything with leather working.

Long story short, I took on a commission to make a coronet who was to be honored with  Court Barony.  Thomas of Effingham put up with me asking a ton of questions about his idea/mock up until I had a running idea of what I could/could not do in a tight 3 week turn around.  I say a tight turn around because I was also making LARP props for myself due the same weekend and I also lost a few days of crafting due to new parent fun-times (because babies....seriously.  No regard for deadlines).

Eva let me bounce some artistic designs off her and I had a plan.  This plan (in my head at least) was going to be Jaws meets a Red Bull can.  The idea of the (sugar-free) Red Bull can design was a main component when Thomas detailed his idea to me.  I made a few artistic and logistical choices once everything was planned out.

Things to include:
- Sugar-Free Red Bull can pattern (teal and silver)
- Sharc Pit house theme (sharks)
- and inset "pearl"design using prefab rivets
- wave pattern (because sharks!)

Materials used:
- 4-5oz veg tanned leather strap, 1.75 inches wide
- stone rivets (commercially available from Tandy Leather)
- Liquitex paint
- gesso
- leather edge beveler
- leather punch
- various brushes

I had the good fortune to have a leather coronet pattern around already...and the terrible sense to decide it wasn't right and that I should make a new one and do a bunch of math for it.  If you've worked in the same room as me while I'm going a scroll layout, you know I have a hard time with that math.

General layout was going to be a"wave" patterned coronet with seven waves along the top and six pearls inset between the waves on the band itself.  I used my own baronial coronet (shown below) as a template for the wave.  Obviously my coronet is a little bit "daintier" in terms of band thickness, but I only used it for shaping.  The band length was done to I believe 23 inches with an open back since I didn't have exact head circumference.  I split the difference in circumference between my coronet (tiny noggin) and my husband's coronet (bigger noggin).

My coronet.  The front part is what I'm calling the "wave".

The wave was traced onto the back/rough side of the leather in the center.  The one wave pattern is 3 inches long from dip to dip of the wave.  From there, the other waves were mapped out laterally.  Vertically the lowest points/"dips" measured 1 inch from the dip to bottom of the coronet band.  The way this all worked out is that the banding pattern for the Red Bull can was three inches long as well. Each of the color blocks is 0.5 inches tall.

Design traced out on the rough side.
The excess leather was cut away using a box cutter and X-acto knife for some of the cleaning work.  Once cute out, the entire thing was coated in gesso as a base layer. I bevelled the inside edge for comfort and some of the waves to make them look even.

I chose gesso as it smooths out the surface and "covers up" any imperfections in the leather.  This is the process we used for leather masks painted with acrylics for our LARP events.  Normally with SCA projects, I'd use specific products used for their appropriate medium (leather dyes or leather paints for leather), but this was something I was familiar with and knew would hold up well.  After drying, the design was measured out and painting began.

Painting in progress.Yes the teal is REALLY bright.

I used a flat brush to make sure the edges of the lines were as neat as possible and used a size 0 round for touch ups.  If I were to do this again, I'd do a base layer of a light gray where the silver is because I don't like the coverage I got in the final product.  I was a bit nit picky with the brush strokes being seen, but eventually acknowledged it was a losing battle.

Next was the sharks!  I did some freehand sketches/mock-ups to see how they would look first.  Shark fins point inward to the center "Jaws" shark.

*cue the music*

Shark and fins were painted with liquitex paint as I didn't like the consistency my old (and probably bad) leather paint was giving me.  I did add it to the gray to add some contrast in the shading.

"I'm a shaaaaaark!"

Everything was sealed with a matte spray.  I used my precious stash of Neat-Lac (no longer sold to my knowledge) to seal the entire thing.

Now here is where catastrophe struck.  The last thing I needed to do was add the inset pearls (ie, go punch holes in your art).  I started punching the holes in the wrong spot with the first punch. I decided to punch them at the intersections of the color square, but was supposed to count them out from the middle of the piece and not start from the back.  I plugged the hole with the leather dot that came out of it with super glue, gessoed the area to fill in the gap and repainted it.  It's not noticeable unless your get right up in the coronet's business and look for it.

You can probably notice it because I pointed it out and the paint is still wet in this picture.

Once that was fixed, I added the decorative stone rivets and called it a day.  Thank you Aiden for mentioning your favorite color on your EK Wiki page.  It made my job easier!  

Finished coronet picture and detail of the open back:

Final project was Athena the Cat approved as she was snuggling with it while I was working on my other LARP project.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Silk painting - Pennsic Vigil tent

This project was 100% Fortune St. Keyne's brain child.  The bulk of the planning, work, sleep deprivation, and effort was done by Fortune and House Strangewayes.  I came along for a few night to help paint and add my special brand of humor to the crew.

Fortune's other works can be found on her blog "Fortune Favors".

By the time I joined the painting party, all the resist work was done so I just "colored inside the lines" as it were.  I helped with the Chivalry, Pelican, and Defense banners along with the Rose window.

Lampwork Glass - Imbedded Opal Class (05May2018)

This was our first level 2 class that pigged backed off the information we learned in the intro pendant making class.  The focus here was learning about encasing opals in glass and using them in pendants.

This followed the same process as making pendants.  The initial pendant glass used this time was a follow borocilicate glass.  The end was sealed then heated so the tube slowly filled up with liquid glass.  The opal was then dropped in carefully and the glass heated and rotated to prevent air bubbles forming in the tip of the pendant.  A contrasting color was added to the back of the pendants to better show off the opal.

This was the handout provided in the class.  It gives a quick background on Gilson opals and describes the embedding process with some neat pictures.

Gilson opals are commercially available at Profound Glassworks ( and where the class supply was from.

Lampwork Glass - Pendant Making (21Apr2018)

This intro class was taken at Fiamma Glass again.

This class differed from the bead making in a few different ways.  The glass used here was borosilicate glass (~30 COE) in solid rods.  No mandrels were used this time around.  Glass was manipulated on the rod of origin or using a glass punty (a glass rod used to transfer your work).  Borosilicate or boro glass isn't as "soft" as moretti glass so you don't have to worry as much about gravity until you have a large "glob" of melted glass.  Glass is then flattened by using either a press or by touching the heated glass to a metal plate and pressing down.

To create a two color swirl effect, a blob of a secondary color is added to the main piece (after securing a punty to one end).  The glass is heated and then the punty and main rod are twisted in opposite directions.  To get a tapered effect, heat one end of the glass blob and gently pull both rods apart.

Cold seal - Adding a non-heated end of glass to a hot piece of glass.  This created a brittle, temporary "joint" to manipulate the glass you are working with.  The finished piece can be detahed by hitting the glass sharply at the joint.

Chill-marks - A fingerprint-like impression in the glass caused by touching hot glass to a cold surface such as a press plate.  These can be removed by gently heating the piece.

These were our two pendants created in the class. The leaf shape was done by the stretching process described above and then a leaf impression press was used to get the veining.

Feilinn's pendants:

The light blue glass looks more clear after firing and setting in the kiln.  The "dots" of color in the leaf pendant didn't stretch as much as I had hoped either.

Sergei's pendants:

He had one of his "dots" on the flat pendant break off during firing.  When added raised dots, you use the same process as described in the bead making class but just do a gentle firing to even the dots to nice half circles sitting on the pendant flat.  If the dots are not partially melted on correctly, they can pop off or set oddly when firing.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Lampwork Glass - Bead Class (25Mar2018)

To make a long story short, my husband Sergei got very interested in trying his hand at making lampwork beads.  While he began gathering supplies to "try it out", I took the initiative to find some sort of instructional class where he could try it out before I spent a boat load of time and money on something he liked the concept of.  For his birthday, I got him lessons at a local glass studio.

This is the first part in the multi-part series of posts logging out glass making adventures.  All classes were taken at Fiamma Glass Studio ( in Waltham, MA with their kick ass staff of teachers and enablers.  These posts will be half recap of what we did and half resource record for my own use.

Glass beads use "soft" glass rods known as Moretti glass (named for a family in Italy) which have a high coefficient of expansion (~104 COE).

- bead release
- graphite mandrel
- moretti glass

After a basic instruction on flame safety and two very poignant reminders ( #1 - point hot glass AWAY from you when you put it down and #2 - don't grab the broken ends of glass, grab the middle since it's not sharp), we were away with creating beads.

The mandrel always needs to be turning (either overhand or underhand grip) and is held in your off hand.  It's usually held outside/behind the flame while you head your glass in the hotter part.  Once the glass is hot enough, the rod is turn perpendicular and glass is applied through the flame to the mandrel (which the mandrel turns away from you).  Since the glass is soft, it needs to be constantly turns unless you want gravity to pull the glass blob a certain way on the mandrel. Once you have "enough" glass on your mandrel, you move it away and "cut" it using the flame.  Keep turning the mandrel to even out the bead and use gravity if needed.

Best practice when applying glass to your mandrel is rotate the mandrel away from you so you make a cleaner application and cut.  Otherwise you will end up with a blob of hot glass which will take some time to work into a decent looking bead.

Adding dots

Like adding glass to the mandrel, you instead do a light touch to the already formed bead and pull away (cutting the glass with the flame).  A little glass goes a long way.  Dots can also be layered on top of each other after smoothing in the flame.

Adding lines

Instead of manipulating the glass in your dominant hand, you turn the bead in your non-dominate hand perpendicularly before adding the glass line.  A little goes a long way. Make sure to draw the line down the bead, not up.

Finished beads:

Feilinn's finished beads - 1 solid color, 1 dots, 1 "lines"

Tiny dots were the way to go.

My lines kinda suck and look like terrible "dots".

Sergei's finished beads: 2 solids, 2 dots

Large dots tended to run into each other.

Moretti glass, borosilicate glass, and supplies can be bought at Mountain Glass Arts (

Monday, April 23, 2018

Award Medallion - Silver Rapier for Eva

I found out less than a week before the event, my Laurel Eva was going to be getting Silver Rapier.  Cue Tuesday morning scribal chat with our plans for the evening....Thyra is going to be working on the scroll for this.  I casually question if there is a medallion lined up.  Long story short (and a quick EK wiki check that there is no Sharc legacy medallion), I have come up with a plan.

I'm still limited on scribal work due to carpal tunnel, but my hands have been much better this week.

The PLAN (tm):
- paint a Silver Rapier on perg
- use spare cabochons to make a medallion
- do some finger loop braiding to make a cord.

Tuesday scribal night had me finish up the painting and co-opting Thyra's cabochans (since my house ate my supply of cabochons) and her working hands for some work with a pair of pliers.  Wednesday and Thursday was finger loop braiding with the aid of my ever patient husband Sergei as we shooed the cats away from the string and watched TV.  He held the cord (and retied silk strings when they untied on me) while I braided

The cord is a blue and white spiral pattern using silk thread (size 10/2).

Medallion is gouache on pergamenata with commercially bought cabochon parts.


Finished medallion with cord. Probably the most even braiding I've gotten in a long while.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Silver Rapier - Liadan (backlog)

This scroll ended up being a year in the the day no less.

Originally awarded at the Coronation if Ioannes and Honig, it was finally given out at the Coronation of Brennan III and Caoilfhionn III. Here's some background as to the goings on of this bad boy.

I had heard this scroll went immediately to backlog and was like....seriously? Had I known, I would have done it!  I like Liadan and she's cool people!  Also early period scrolls seem to be my jam.  I should do the thing!  I coordinated with Anastasia da Monte, Liadan's OGR, to see if we could come up with something appropriate.  I asked her if she's like to do some words and between both of our busy summers, real work didn't start until September.  In that time, I solicited source ideas from a variety of people.  Started sketching.  Threw out sketches.  Re-sketched.  Nothing felt right.

Enter Marieta and the gift that keeps on giving - The Lindisfarne Gospel.  Also known as "What to give an early Irish persona when you don't want to do something from the Book of Kells".  The entire manuscript is available as a featured piece on the British Library's online catalog.

I made two solid attempts at the calligraphy (a Carolingian hand which is not correct for this document, but it's what I knew at the time) which both ended is horrible failures where for some reason, my hand gave out on doing anything useful.  It was so bad even my usual optimistic critic said something to the effect of "Oh it's not so....oh...oh yeah. No take a break from this one."  When your support network says walk away, you walk away.

Enter Master Robert - who we asked very nicely to run through the letter forms from the Lindisfarne Gospel at one of the recent Quintavia Scribal Moots.  Robert with his blend of teaching, storytelling, humor, and instigating had the entire room wrapped up in how to hack the forms apart and little tricks to make it look good.  Armed with newfound confidence, I did the thing I've been trying to do (and have had success with other assignments) which was being a "proper" scribe which was using the exemplar for the calligraphy letter forms.

Something to note - I had a minor panic that I had too many words for my 5x7 scroll area and decided to cut some out....only to find out I had too few.  Anastasia's words went right back in, but some creative license was taken to make them work with my panic error.

Long story short (it's complicated and temporary) - I had the calligraphy done and it looked lovely.  I then needed to do the painting and finishing work....with my newly developed carpal both hands.

The top line of capitol letters were painted using Pelikan ink (my ink of choice) after being freehand sketched.  I used a size 30/0 liner and a size 0 brush.

I cheated on the knot work in the center of the "L" and only did the top and bottom knot as well as making them less complicated.  All the lines connected, but I painted over my pencil drawing and had to fake it from scratch with a micron pen.

DOTS FOR DAYS.  They were nerve wracking and I hated them.  In talking to a few other scribes, the toothpick method while good is inferior to the cat whisker method of dot creation.  Given the state of my hands, I wasn't going to even attempt this even if I had found out about it prior to finishing the piece.

All in all this was a success.  I love the "g"'s in this hand (which is a insular hand with tweaks from the source) and it was incredibly worth it for someone who I like and turns out LOVES early period scrolls.

Lesson learned:  Sometimes you need to take a step back to take a few steps forward.

A+.  Would scribe again.

Recipient: Liadan ingean Chineada
Award: Silver Rapier
Words: Anastasia da Monte
Materials: gouache and ink on pergamenata
Source: Lindisfarn Gospel f131r

Scroll next to the exemplar


Let all know that We, Ioannes and Honig, Emporer and Empress of Our Great Eastern Empire, have had brought to Our attention the Handsome presence Liadan Ingean Chineada among Our rapier fighters.

Liadan’s many feats upon the tournament list as well as the melee field inspire Our allies and cause Our foes to tremble in fear. She commands troops and wields her blades with skill and dexterity. In light of these achievements and to the acclaim of those who walk beside her with blades in hand, We cause her to be inducted into Our Order of the Silver Rapier at the occasion of Our Coronation on this First of April Anno Societatas 51 in Our Barony of Dragonship Haven.