Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Scrap Box and Fiber Expo

Last week I went to The Scrap Box in Ann Arbor, and I get it now.  I've had a lot of people tell me how awesome this place was, and it's totally that awesome.  If you're a crafter (or if you have kids who like craft projects), you need to go visit this place.  I should've taken pictures when I was in the store, so I could show off all the neat things this place has.  It's full of all sorts of craft supplies, and they are all really, really cheap.  Here's the pictures of my loot!

I got a bunch of sheets of plastic mesh, because it's good for stiffening the sides of fabric bags, and I need to make a bag for my loom.  I recently used it to make a basket for Snow's (a 16 month old) dolls - I'll post pictures soon.  When I bought these sheets from JoAnn's for that project, the sheets cost me ~$6-7 for 4 or 5 sheets, if I remember correctly.  At The Scrap Box, they were a quarter each.

I also got five sets of knitting needles, as a friend of mine runs a knitting club at her school, and always wants more needles to give the students.  They were $1 each.

There were also a ton of wooden buttons!  I paid good money for wooden buttons that are similar to the large stained ones below for my steampunk breeches (which I also have pictures of and need to post...).  These were $2 for each bag.  :)  So awesome!

They had a bunch of sample tiles of varying thicknesses.  These ones are about 4 inches to a side, and about a centimeter thick.  I bought them with the hope that they will hold up the pounding of leather tooling (where you impress patterns into leather by hammering on them with special tools).  If they work, they will be wonderful for teaching a class on leather tooling in the SCA.  They were $1 each.  If they don't work, The Scrap Box also had five bigger slabs, which were about an inch thick and maybe 6 inches long and wide for $2 each, and I will go back and buy those (if they're still there).  Those slabs were much, much heavier, though, and I'm hoping these sample tiles work!

And then for my big haul - a lot of leather!!!!  These are all nice size pieces of leather.  I got twelve pieces for $15 - anywhere else, this much leather would have cost at least three times that much.  At least.  Two of them are red, which is always helpful as my barony's colors are red, white, and black.  These aren't initially my favorite kind of leather scraps, which usually involve the edge pieces (I like the raw look to the edges), but a lot of them are really nice thick black leather that would be really good for making shoes.  As I'm looking to get into making shoes at some point, I grabbed them all up.  This kind of thick leather is often expensive when I can find it, so it's pretty exciting.  $15!!!  Jeez.  So cheap.  I will definitely be checking back here periodically for more special finds like this one...

A couple weeks ago I also stopped by the Fiber Expo, which is one of several yearly fairs that revolve around all things fiber-related.  I was originally looking to buy another loom, but none of the merchants had the one I wanted.  Instead, I stumbled across some beautiful sheepskins.  As I was petting them, the shop owner mentioned that one of them was for a really good price as it has a worn spot in the middle of it.  My friends who were with me were complete enablers, and I went for it.  This beauty is now sitting in the hallway in front of my bathroom.

It's so luxurious.  You can't really see the worn spot in it, but it's in there - probably about the size of one of my cats curled up.  But the rest of it is so wonderful that I don't care.  I love walking on it with my bare feet, and I even occasionally will curl up on it on the floor myself.  Surprisingly, my cats don't appear to like it.  They love the other sheepskins in the house, which are really short (they are just kind of fuzzy, with no long hairs coming off).  This one, though, they tried for a bit, and now they even walk around it on the edge of the hallway to reach the bathroom.  I did manage to snap a quick picture of Kobold after I set him on it before he bounded away, though.  ~Kel

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Stone inlaying in leather

Oooooo, guess what's in the box!!!  So excited for this.

Stones!  I bought beautiful stones from the Etsy store DNA Gems.  The owner was very prompt and kind in our correspondence before purchasing, too.  The item was listed as five green agate triangles, and I saw them and immediately thought "hey, those would make a great triforce."  Some of the stones looked somewhat yellow, so I asked the owner to send me the most yellow ones he had!  Not only did he do that wonderfully, but I asked if he could add a sixth (seeing as how I could make two triforces, then) and just adjust the price a little, and he included it for free.  :)  If you like gemstone beads, check him out!  He's also currently having a sale for 20% off everything with a purchase of at least $10 if you add the coupon FALL20 at checkout.

Aren't they gorgeous?  I'm going to inlay them into leather and make an awesome something-or-other with them.  Probably a pouch/bag of some kind.  Any ideas on what I should do with them?  For inspiration, you can always check out the ever-amazing Les Cuirs de Belfeuil - he's the one who's inspired me to try stone inlaying.  :)

I also bought these big sheepskin jasper beads.  Have I mentioned how much I love jasper?  I don't think I have.  Well, I love jasper.  So many amazing colors and patterns.  In August I found a few pieces of my favorite jasper (which I've seen called jasper wood and desert jasper).  I'll have to post some pictures of them.  Also, if I ever manage to find my rock collection (which I hope is still buried somewhere in my parent's home), I can finally have my original piece of jasper wood from my childhood... *sigh*  Anyway, these sheepskin jasper are also from DNA Gems.

Here's a few random rocks and copper pieces I bought up at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap in August, with the idea that they might be flat enough to do some inlaying.  This was before I discovered (two weeks ago!!) that I really should be looking for stone *beads* to find the large flat stones.

And the reason I discovered this?  Because an awesome bead and hand-made jewelry merchant that is always at the SCA events I go to: House of Chaos Productions!  I was wandering past their tent and saw these large, flat stones... turned out to be beads!  The holes were hidden because they run along the length of the stones, and they are perfect for what I want to do.  :)  I immediately bought strands of the two kinds they had (they had many other beads, but they were smaller).

Here's my first stone inlaying into leather!  Unlike Les Cuirs de Belfeuil, I've started with non-veg tanned leather.  For my first piece, I cut out a diamond, and placed the stone between it and another piece of leather and sewed around the stone.  I added a second ring on the inside for decoration.

That turned out pretty neat - I think the pouch is pretty awesome - but I wasn't completely satisfied with the raw edges of the leather showing by the stone.  What do you think?  On my second project, I cut the middle cross-lines in the center of the diamond (from point to point across), and then turned the triangles under and sewed them down.

It also finally occurred to me to add a quarter for sizing, rather than trying to put everything in my hand.
Here are the two next to each other.  The two pieces are the same color of leather, by the way - I need to find a better place in my house with more natural light so I don't get these shadow effects.  Actually, I need to learn a lot about how to take better pictures before I start taking pictures of my goods for the eventual Etsy store... 

That's my adventures in leather inlaying so far!  I've also been playing more with leather burning recently (pyrography), and it might work to just burn the inner edges of the diamond so the edges near the stones aren't raw.  Something to try!  I've managed some neat effects with leather pyrography recently, and I will try to post pictures soon!

Let me know if you have some awesome ideas on what I should do with a leather triforce or other stones.  :)  ~Kelly
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Rapier Peerage Thoughts

This post concerns the proposal to create a peerage for rapier in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).  The proposal is found here:

The Board of Directors of the SCA is soliciting commentary from the membership on this proposal, and this post is my current draft of my thoughts on the rapier peerage (I may revise it slightly if others convince me to change aspects of it). Comments on the proposal are due by December 1, 2013.  I implore all people to send in their comments, please.  If you agree with anything I say here [or if you don't], PLEASE send your comment (you are free to copy and paste from my post if you want!) - the more people supporting the peerage and, I think, my thoughts on them, the better.  :)

To send comments:  Please use the title "Additional Peerage Proposal" in the Subject line.  Email comments to or mail them to SCA Inc., Box 360789, Milpitas, CA 95036.  Again, they are due by December 1st, so the end of this month!!

Rapier Peerage Thoughts
Birke die Jägerin
Midrealm Rapier Fighter, Pentamere Regional Rapier XO

First: I fully support having rapier fighters become peers.  It takes a lot of skill and prowess to be a top-notch fencer, and they deserve recognition.  So I think a peerage of some sort for rapier fighters should definitely occur.

Second: There is the issue of whether a fourth peerage for rapier should be created, or whether rapier fighters should be allowed to join the Order of the Chivalry/Master at Arms.  I can see the arguments either way.

Arguments in favor of joining the Chivalry/Master at Arms:
  • All of the martial arts could be together, similar to how all the service arts are under the Pelican and all of A&S are under the Laurel.
  • It recognizes that rapier and heavy are both accomplished methods of fighting for different time periods and scenarios, but both requiring similar levels of skill, leadership, dedication, and service.
  • A slightly varied proposal to clear up confusion of “what’s your white belt in?” and have us be slightly separate: Have rapier fighters join the Order of the Chivalry/Master at Arms, but with different livery.  Same title, same order, but a different livery depending on how you got the peerage (see my section on regalia later). 

Arguments in favor of creating a fourth peerage just for rapier:
  • Heavy fighting and rapier fighting, while both requiring great skill and martial prowess, have quite different cultures, in ways that A&S and service don’t have separate and distinct cultures as a whole, so it makes some amount of sense to have separate peerages.
  • You wouldn’t have to ask “what’s your white belt in?”  (Though if rapier and heavy are merged in the Chivalry with different regalia, this wouldn’t be a problem.)
  • We could have different regalia that is more fitting to the rapier community (see my section on regalia later). 

This still leaves out the question on where to put archers, equestrians, etc, if we decide to let them into the peerage in the future.  I am strongly against any plan to put rapier, archery, equestrian, etc, all in a fourth peerage separate from the Chivalry.  This smacks of “separate but equal” treatment, in which all other martial activities are considered secondary to heavy fighting, so they can all have a peerage together but heavy fighting gets its own peerage all to itself because it’s “better.”  Heavy fighting and rapier are more similar to each other than rapier is to the other martial activities, since they are the two arts that are direct combat against opponents.  This is a separate issue than the one being currently discussed, but I think it is important to consider, as I can see archery gaining enough popularity to become peerage level in the future (the others are questionable due to level of activity).  I just want to make it clear that if we do make a fourth peerage for rapier instead of allowing fencers to be knighted, that I feel it needs to be a peerage only for rapier, and not the peerage for “rapier and later maybe other martial activities.”

Third, I will address the specific points put forth for the creation of a fourth, separate, peerage for rapier.

Name and Title

Proposed: Name: Order of the Masters of Defense. This name is patterned after the London Masters of Defense, a royally charted guild of teachers of fencing in England. The name is compatible with period naming practices for secular orders and is free of conflict with currently registered items in the SCA Ordinary and Armorial as of June 2013. The title for a member of the new Order would be Master or Mistress of Defense.

My thoughts:  I love the name of the Order – Order of the Masters of Defense is pretty great.  But I really hate the idea of the title of Master or Mistress of Defense.  I understand that in the period Masters of Defense guild that Master was the highest title, but I don’t like how it smacks of “separate but equal” again.  It feels like the Chivalry gets its own title, and everything else gets to be Master/Mistress.  Plus, I really wouldn’t want to be a “Mistress of Defense” someday if I got to peerage level in rapier – frankly, it sounds too much like a dominatrix to my modern ears.  The rapier peerage is a martial peerage, and it should be given a title that is martial, similarly to the Order of the Chivalry having the martial title of Sir/Dame.

My changes:  Make the title either Provost (for both genders) or Sir/Dame, because these are more known to be martial titles.  I know there are lesser positions currently using the title Provost, but they are below Peerage and not Society-wide, and therefore can be changed by the individual Kingdoms who use them.  Sir/Dame is reserved entirely for martial arts, specifically heavy fighting, and would note rapier fighters as martial artists also (edit: this would be a great compromise between those who want one martial peerage and those who want different peerages: have the rapier peerage be separate, but all martial peerages have the same title of Sir/Dame).  The livery and order name can note us as different from heavy fighter Knights.  Or change the title to another martial title, say Knight in other languages such as Ritter.  But I really like either Provost or Sir/Dame.


Proposal: Badge: Three rapiers interlaced in pall inverted proper. This badge is intended to be representative of the various aspects of weaponry included in the new peerage.

My thoughts:  None.  This is fine.


Proposal: Regalia: White or silver livery collar with badge of the Order depended from it. This form of regalia was in fashion throughout the later part of period, roughly contemporaneous with the appearance of swords identifiable as “rapiers.” It is gender-neutral, and is intended to be easily visible on the field of combat, much like the regalia of Knights and Masters at Arms. Note that white or silver livery collars without the peerage badge pendant would not be in conflict.

My thoughts:  I have several different thoughts on this.

About the white/silver livery collar itself:  I like the idea of the livery collar.  I don’t like that we have to also have the peerage badge on it, and that a plain white or silver livery collar could mean something else.  Knights don’t need to have anything on their white belt in order for them to be seen as Knights, or Pelican proteges anything on their yellow belt.  We should give the same consideration to the rapier fighters (again with the “separate but equal” icky treatment).  If anyone is currently using a white or silver plain livery collar, that’s their individual issue to sort out, just as anyone who wants to wear a white or yellow belt but isn’t a part of those Peerages can’t.

The Purple Scarf Regalia:  Other peerages have several items of livery each:  knights have spurs, white belts, gold chains, and a sword; laurels have the laurel wreaths, medallions, and cloaks; pelicans have cloaks and medallions/symbol of pelicans.  I think the rapier community should have several different items of livery, too.  In this manner, I strongly, strongly argue that a rapier peerage needs to have a scarf, too.  A colored cord or scarf tied to the upper left arm is synonymous with rapier fighter and has long history in the rapier community (red for cadets, white for White Scarves, bronze for Bronze Rings, various other groups having their own colored scarves).  To have a rapier peerage without a scarf seems highly disrespectful to our history as a community.  To my knowledge, purple isn’t a color used widely for scarves in the rapier community, and it is a color that was associated with high nobility in period, making it perfect for a peerage award.  So I put forth that, in addition to a white/silver livery collar (with or without the badge, I say), a purple scarf on the left upper arm also be made part of the official regalia of the rapier peerage.

And that’s what I have so far.  Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading. 

~Birke die Jägerin, Midrealm Rapier Fighter and Pentamere Regional Rapier XO
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