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.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Silver Wheel - Fabrisse

[Edit - there was a kerfuffle with delivery to the event and it was delivered only recently/last week]

This was scroll #2 due in a six week period.  Marieta happened to have a lovely blank set aside for "the next time a Silver Wheel gets assigned" and I asked to yoink it for this assignment.

I spent most of my prep time learning the hand that goes with this illumination which is proto-gothic.  My trusty "Calligrapher's Bible" happened to have a decent proto gothic miniscule ductus to base the text off of.  Based off the small snippet of source material I had, it looked to be a pretty close match.   I did find the lack of capital letters for any sort of proto-gothic in my books a little concerning and I'll try to remedy this in the future.

This scroll had a bit of a challenge as the perg was a bit warped due to how wet it got during the illumination process.  After this scroll, I also bought more artist tape so the next time I can properly tame unruly scrolls.

Recipient: Fabrisse of Owlsherst
Award: Order of the Silver Wheel
Illumination and gilding: Marieta Charay
Words: by me, but inspired by the great Alys Mackyntoich and her amazing blog series for more period sounding scrolls.
Hand: proto gothic miniscule

Not sure if you can see the warp, but I obviously needed more tape.

Finished scroll.  Cleaned up some calligraphy and added a face to the illumination.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Maunche - Thorfinr

The idea for this scroll came to me pretty quickly as soon as I read the write up for the recipient.  The curveball with this one was the recipient is a Norse persona studying Chinese brewing among other things.

My research into finding a runestone that had any type of brewing, led me to the Stora Hammars stones in Gotland, Sweden.  Two of the four stones are still legible and the third stone (Stira Hammars III) has an image of Odin stealing mead in the form of an eagle.  Through the creative process, I ended up only going with images from the Stora Hammar I since the images from Stora Hammar III weren't as clear.  The Norsemen on boats sailing around I thought were a good nod to the variety of talents the recipient had as well as the study of brewing in a far off local.

The big creative departure from the original stone to my piece was the addition of runes.  The Stora Hammars do not have any runes themselves.  I provided with some amazing words that deserved a place to shine on the finished piece, so I took some creative license and ran with it

Stora Hammars I

I went back to my old familiar friend Liquitex acrylic for the paints and found a lovely few pieces of slate at Home Depot which became the canvas for this.  What I likes about these patio tiles vs the slate square tile I'd previously used was the irregular shape of the stone itself.  It made it feel more like a mini-runestone.  A mock-up of the actual stone was made to figure out the rune/words spacing.  After I have already committed to using this particular stone, I realized how uneven it was in sections.  Lines for the runes were made with my drafting ruler and Ames lettering guide.  I tried a bulk transfer of the images using graphite paper (which did a terrible job, btw) and ended up faking it/free-handing WAAAAAY more than I actually planned to.  Much of the detail in the top panel was lost and much arting had to be done to make it look like the original.  The bottom panel was slightly better, but that's not saying much all things considered.

After some peer opinions from my scribal group, I went with the consensus to do this monochrome and fill in the background pieces with red.  There are some obvious mistakes made, but I think at this point I might be the only one who can pick them out.

Here are some progress pics:

Scissors included for scale.  The rock is ~9.5 inches tall, 6 or 7 inches wide.

The original sacrifice in the top panel has a blank space where there is a valknut in the original.  I had originally put the Maunche symbol here, but it was too small and almost unrecognizable. 

Tiny Maunche was not doing itself any favors here.  

I filled in the space and moved the Mauche to one of the shields of the warriors on the bottom panel.
The Maunche circle is the size of a dime. Also good to know I can still free-hand a Maunche symbol
I credit my free Ikea pencil (the one you get to write you item # and bin location) for being the toughest leaded pencil I own to show up nice and dark on the stone.  Both of my nice mechanical pencils failed for hard core editing of sketches in the rough sections.

I asked for and received permission from TRM to sign for them.  It turned out to be a good thing too, because the only space really left was the most uneven and terrible spot let on the whole stone (bottom right corner).  My pics were taken before I had received permission to sign for them, hence the lack of signatures.

Painting was done with one of my "loaner" size 0 round brushes, TRM signature (not shown) and credits on back were done with a 30/0 liner brush.  Yes, you can tell I used to paint a lot of miniatures. :)

Recipient: Thorfinr Hróðgeirsson
Award: Order of the Maunche
Materials: acrylic on slate (Cadmium Red Deep Hue Liquitex)
Words by Vika Grigina z Prahy
Rune translation by Magnus hvalmagi
C&I by me

Finished pic, minus TRM signatures.

Back of stone, credits given to the wordsmith and translator.  I added my artist mark and the date...oh and wrote my name because it's a thing I have been forgetting to do recently.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Vigil Planning - Thyra

I'm pretty good at keeping secrets.  Keeping a secret from someone you see multiple times a week while also trying to prep for said secret...yeah  Now that's a challenge.

Disclaimer:  I met Thyra in college and have been lucky enough to have her put up with my terrible sense of humor and shenanigans for YEARS.  That includes Household, wedding, and general life shenanigans as well.  I am unashamed in how much I'm a fan of her and my ridiculous desire for her to have nice things.

For those of you who may not know, I spent 15 years working on and throwing LARP feasts, being kitchen help, and generally cooking for large groups of people.  I've been in only one SCA kitchen since I've been an active member.  When I was asked if I wanted to be "food boss" for the vigil, I was very excited.

Some food was farmed out to some amazing people whom I'm very grateful for.  The rest was either bought or made by myself and my husband Sergei.  I wanted to do a mix of medieval and modern food to appeal to more people.  I have a limited amount of medieval cook books so I flipped through and tried to pick out some favorites.  I'm going to talk about the medieval recipes below:

Elizabethan Lemon Cookies ( A Feast of Ice and Fire-, p166; adapted from Lucanyos Cookbook 1690)

Yes these are out of period.  Yes this is from a Game of Thrones cookbook.  No, I don't care since these are always delicious.  I have a tremendous respect for the ladies that worked on this book (who I hear rumor are local to Carolingia) and it's a personal favorite book.  It's enough of a favorite that I made an entire LARP feast using recipes from this book (including the rattlesnake recipe).

Another reason for using this recipe is it fits my idea of Thyra in a proper tea party.  Moire was already making scones so I thought this would fit.  Bonus, the naked lemons I had left over were used to make lemon curd for her scones.  Win-win!

This cookie is a weird one to work with as it doesn't really form a dough so much as a sugar lemon crumble,  Milk was added to the dough so it hold together a bit better.  They are light, lemony, and have just enough crisp at the edge to play nicely with the soft center.

Norwegian Pasties:(Pleyn Delit, 4)
Pre-made pie crust was used due to time constraints.  These hand pies were beef with pine nuts and Jack cheese.  I omitted the currant due to their use in the Ember Day Tarts and the ginger due to an allergy.  The pasties got an egg white wash on the crust to give them a more golden appearance.

My thoughts - the beef could have seen seasoned more and would have benefited from the homemade dough.  They were still tasty and I might have the leftovers for dinner on Monday. :)

Hirchones: (Pleyn Delit, 138)

Sausage hedgehogs!  The translation of this recipe went in a different direction than the original text in a variety of ways that I didn't feel bad throwing their seasoning "suggestion"  o just using ginger out the window.  Pork, especially ground pork, is very mild.  In the immortal words of my grandmother : "No one likes stingy cookies" (referring to underfilled/underspiced cookies).  Well the same goes for meat.  The spices should enhance and complement the flavor of the meat.  I used a bit of pepper, salt, more ginger than the recipe called for, a bit of garlic powder, and pinch of parsley mixed with the garlic powder.  The flavor of the meat was still mild, but you could tell there was some depth in there.

Sliced almonds were lightly toasted in a pan with sugar before being stuck into the oblong "hedgies".

Totally hedgehogs....

Tarts in Ymber Day: (Pleyn Delit, 3)

Also know as Ember Day Tarts.  This food is a bit of an inside joke.  I've made these tarts at least twice for LARPing for about 60-100 people each time.  Yes they are tasty, but they are pain to make.   Thyra made a huge grin right at me when I groaned when that got added to her "in Case of Peerage" letter.  *shakes fist in culinary rage*

Both Sergei and I leave out the saffron when making these because 1) we never have it in the house and 2) it's expensive for LARP food.  Due to time constraints, a pre-made pie crust was used.  I also substituted the individual spices listed her for my pre-mix stash of Pouder Douce that I had prepared from a variant of this recipe.  Just a pinch or two is more than enough.  In true Italian cooking fashion, the eyeball test was used to increase parsley and currants as necessary for the batches.  I also use sweet onions vs white onions as I think they play better with the savory aspects of the other ingredients.

As much as I might complain about these tarts, they're really delicious.

Ember Day Tarts:  my sworn nemesis.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Silver Mantle - Bia

This is my first Silver Mantle which was going to one person in a squad of combat archers up north.  The first thing that struck me on this was the recipient's name.  Woooo!  I get to do another Italian scroll!  I went looking for a new source and found one that was pretty neat and I happened to really like the color scheme on this one.  Since the source had a Hebrew script, I opted for my trusty Humanist hand for this scroll to match the time/place of the scroll.

Thyra and Marieta provided commentary on my wording flow as that was my main hang up.  .  Thankfully the write-up had some good talking points.  This is another 5x7 scroll so I tried to keep the wordiness to a minimum while being true to the deeds of the recipient.

This is my first time doing this much rubrications (aka pen doodles).  Thyra lent me some of her stash of walnut ink to get the right look of the brown designs.

Recipient: Bia di Firenze
Award: Silver Mantle
Source: British Library - Burney 70 f.1
Materials: gouache on pergamenata, silver gouache, Shminke gold watercolor, walnut ink (for the pen work)

Finished scroll, just needs the margin lines erased.

Comparison to the original.