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Do you have a project you'd like to share here? If so, send the text and any photos to either our Arts & Sciences Mistress, Freydis Heimdallson, or to our web admins, Freydis or Lord Mikhail Heimdallson, and they'll put them up here for you. You can email them with the info on our Officers page, or post it in the Forums.

(Done) Birka Coat & Hat (Karl)

posted Jan 28, 2017, 4:25 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir   [ updated Jan 28, 2017, 4:27 PM ]

The Norse used cloaks, but they also used coats. A popular style for recreationists is known as the Birka coat, named after the Norse trading town.

I've been working on one for Karl (with plans to make another for Astrid, and then one for myself), and finished the last of the embroidery yesterday.

The coat and hat are made from a sort of thick felt, intended for lining or back
ing quilts, left over from a previous project, as is the fun fur. I think the fabric is made of polyester as it bubbles and burns when I do a flame test, but Karl says it is super warm and blocks the wind beautifully.

It's hand-stitched together with embroidery thread. The toggles I made from cow bone (it started life as a stew bone; other bits are being turned into a bone comb, needle, and other small implements--not bad for two bucks!), and the loops are leather thong. It actually went together pretty quickly, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

(Done) Coffee Urn Triptych

posted Jan 9, 2017, 7:35 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir

Recently, the Stronghold acquired a 30-cup coffee urn (thanks, Mike!) which will work beautifully for providing hot beverages at our feasts: Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, mulled wine... whatever we want at that feast can be kept warm indefinitely even in the barn.

The only thing is, it's not very period-looking, and due to the way it heats up, the exterior can't simply be painted, or covered in vinyl fake wood, or wrapped in an appropriate cloth; it just gets too hot.

So I decided to make a screen for it, out of wood so it could stand on its own (although I did originally consider a wooden frame supporting a painted cloth, but dismissed the idea as too labour-intensive and too flimsy), in the style of a Medieval triptych.

And then I did.

The tap sticks out of a cut-out in the middle of the centre piece. I had a great deal of fun researching art styles and compositions on them, and overall shapes. At one point I was simply going to make it rectangular, with flat tops to each piece, as this best disguised the coffee urn and is perfectly period; but decided I liked the ones with a Gothic arch on top much better; they were more aesthetically pleasing to my eye, and looked more Medieval to it. So I compromised, with Gothic arches sticking slightly above a rectangular background. Cutting them out on the bandsaw was relatively easy, and I was able to use the narrow, vertical belt sander to shape them more precisely, before chiselling the painted rectangular backgrounds to each piece (the triangular blue bits iin the upper corners) down a bit, so as to bring the arches more to the foreground.

I painted each piece with a cream acrylic, to give me a consistent base; but got fed up with the blotchiness and poor coverage of the darker knots, and moved to my gouache for the rest of it, with the exception of the gold paint, which I do not yet have in gouache.

--May I take a moment to sing the praises of gouache? I first found out about it when I got some for the calligraphy and illumination workshop we did last year, and holy cow, it is amazing. If you've only ever used acrylics and watercolours, you MUST try some; you can get cheap starter kits at Wal-mart and Michael's for around ten bucks for about ten tubes. It reconstitutes and thins with water; but goes on smoothly and has a consistency one only dreams acrylics had. Plus it blends beautifully. Just--if you paint with acrylics, go and try some; believe me, you'll thank me.

The three pieces, cut, shaped, and ready for painting.

Anyways, over the course of the week preceding Cheryl's feast (and to a constant muttered commentary of, "Gods, I love gouache!"), I painted up the three pieces of the triptych, and then hinged them together with some grosgrain ribbon from the Dollar store, attached with carpenter's glue, so it ought to be pretty sturdily held together. The whole was also finished with a spray Varathane, so we don't have to worry about wayward liquids making the painting run.

The painting! There are some subtle Easter eggs in there! The device we've currently got submitted for the group is the one on the far left of the piece, with the green embattled inverted chevron representing the Annapolis Valley (and the embattling representing the military aspect of being a stronghold), with a raven displayed, clutching two laurel wreaths (originally one a wreath of apple boughs) above. Here, our couple, enjoying a lovely, presumably hot, drink, stand in a small valley, deliberately echoing the one on our device. While the colours are wrong, the lady is wearing a sideless surcoat as that is the first dedicated Gold Key garb we have (her partner's outfit has no meaning beyond matching hers, and being common in the triptychs I looked at in the art style I was echoing--unless you see it having some deep meaning, and then, yeah, we'll go with that, heh). Above them flies the Stronghold's raven.

The four devices on the two side pieces are of the three groups we find ourselves within: East Kingdom, the principality of Tir Mara, and the Barony of Ruantallan, with the two largest groups (kingdom and principality) being closest to the centre piece. I debated leaving our own device blank until we had it officially passed, but from a practical standpoint, once I'd covered the piece with varnish, adding it on would be difficult and would look weird; and from a historical standpoint, it's the device we are submitting now. If it ends up changing before being passed, it's still our device as of the moment in time that this piece was made, and stands as a testament to that, whatever the final result is. I think that is of historical interest.

As I said above, originally, the sinister wreath was made of apple boughs, but changed to a second laurel wreath after the Ruantallan herald advised us that it likely wouldn't pass with it. So here, the branch overhanging our device bears apple blossoms, although it's a little hard to see, especially in low light. I painted that one before I did the roses on the other side; if I had done it the other way around, I would have made the apple blossoms larger, to match them, making them more visible against the cream background. Still, there you go: Apple blossoms.

So far as the hinging goes, I had wanted to do the little brass ones, but they were ridiculously expensive at Can Tire and I didn't have time to shop them around (beyond failing to find any at the Dollar store), so I went with my second option, the glued ribbon, which, frankly, is probably stronger anyways. But because the side pieces are each more than half the width of the centre piece, it doesn't fold flat. Many of the Medieval originals do, folding towards the front to protect the artwork when it is closed. Because this screen folds back instead, to wrap around the sides of the coffee urn, the artwork is exposed, although if it's packed into a bag with the urn and the tap placed into the gap where the second side won't quite fold flat, at least it ought to prevent the hinge from being forced too far and breaking if the bag gets bumped or sat upon or something.

Thinking about it now, though, I kind of wish I had glued it down slightly differently, because if, instead of just running it up the back of the gap between the pieces, I had glued one edge to the back, but then brought the middle through the gap and glued the other edge to the front (and then painted over it), so it was sort of Z-shaped, then it could have folded inwards as well as outwards, and the painting would have been better-protected while in storage. Still, I put quite a few layers of varnish on, so it'll probably be fine.

We tried it out at Cheryl's Christmas feast (I finished the last of the varnishing the day before) and I am pleased to say that it worked very well! I was very happy with the result, the effect, and its reception.

Currently, the urn and screen are being kept in with the Gold Key stuff.

(Done) Gold Key Sideless Surcoat

posted Oct 24, 2016, 2:33 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir

Here is milady Cassandra (mka Cassie) modelling our first official Gold Key garb! This sideless surcoat has a very long adjustable belt; the head-dress is also adjustable (yay safety pins) to fit a variety of sizes. The surcoat itself also ought to fit a good variety of sizes.

Freydis was able to sew it up quite quickly, since it doesn't involve any sleeves and involves minimal hand-sewing. Actually, the surcoat might be a good beginner's garb project for anyone nervous about sewing, because the most complicated part is pleating the sides, and even that is pretty straightforward.

In three pieces (surcoat, matching belt, and headpiece, all labelled "Ravensdale" inside), all the borrower needs to supply is a long-sleeved, collarless shirt in an appropriate colour.

Her hair here, which is shoulder-length (a bit lower when the curls are stretched out straight) is simply done up in two loops on either side of her head. Basically, the hair on each side is loosely twisted together (twisting towards her face), an elastic is put near the end, and a bobby pin hooks onto the elastic and secures the end above the ear, under the hair coming down into it. If her hair had been longer we would have braided it; this also works fine. It's a very period hair style that works very well with shorter hair.

It's a great look on her!

A bit hot, though, being an upholstery velvet originally meant for a cloak (since relegated to my discard pile when the cloak didn't work out); but at least it will be warm in winter, and is also washable (ideally on delicates, and dried on low heat) and should be reasonably sturdy.

Here she is!

Front view.

Side view, to show the back of the headdress.

You can just get a glimpse of the belt in this shot. It's hard to see, but it's made of the same slightly-lighter green velvet as the band on the bottom of the dress, and bordered, top and bottom, by the same trim that divides the two velvets at the hem, and is also around the neck.


(Done) Norse Tourney Chests

posted Jun 23, 2016, 12:58 PM by Mikhail H-   [ updated Jan 10, 2017, 4:58 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir ]

We used to have six of these back in the day, for storage and for seating around our table in the evenings; but left them behind in BC, not expecting to need SCA gear out here.

Now we are replacing them.

These are based off the Oseberg and Gokstad rowing chests. We copied the Gokstad proportions fairly faithfully, and after using them for close to ten years, found them a solid, practical, and lightweight chest. One of our biggest changes was to make the front and back out of tongue-and-groove pine wainscotting boards. One package makes one chest, with actual proper boards for the top and sides; the bottom, which of course is usually not visible, is just some plywood.

The top and sides provide the bulk of the strength, while the wainscotting front and back provide lateral stability while keeping the weight down. These are surprisingly light!

You will notice as well that the sides extend down into legs, keeping the bottom slightly off the ground. This seems to have been a pretty standard design for Norse rowing chests (they sat on these sea chests, rather than benches), and it allows for water to slosh along beneath the chest while still keeping the contents dry. When camping, they keep the contents out of the damp and mud; and are more stable to sit or stand upon than one with the entire bottom in contact with uneven ground.

Also, the sides and back are not completely vertical; they kick out at five degrees. This makes them more stable, and allows them to stack. Empty, we've had them stacked as much as five high, and they could probably go higher; it's just hard to reach after five. Even full, we've had them four high.

Once we get a second coat of varnish on, we will add rope handles either side. The handles have a loop in them that allow a pole to be threaded through for carrying between two people, over the shoulder. Not really needed when there's just garb in there; but handy if it's full of portable holes. The loop prevents it from slipping sideways.

Originally we had six: Two for garb; one for lanterns; one for feast gear; one for non-refrigerated food; and a last one, lined with styrofoam, that was a cooler. We hope to make at least four for War Camp; we will need the seating as well as the storage, as our family has grown since the last time we did this!

Norse Tourney Chests

The last time we did this, we designed them in AutoCAD; we redid that design in SketchUp (a very useful tool).

And here's the old chests in action! Wassail!


(Done) Freydis's Norse Shoes

posted Mar 15, 2016, 11:07 AM by Freydis Egilsdottir

Years ago, I made a pair of Norse shoes, based on one of the Jorvik Viking boot finds, that have served me very well over numerous events and many years. In fact, I wore them so much that I wore a hole through one of the soles; and the stitching, originally done in a white waxed cotton (dental floss, actually, making the shoes 'minty fresh', lol) when the fake sinew kept breaking, was wearing away and looking very ratty indeed.

So, having found some nicer, slightly heavier waxed cotton at Tandy's that matched better, I decided it was time to pull them apart, redo the stitching, and make some repairs.

Originally I was going to replace both the soles entirely, but decided that, since repairing them was period, it would be simpler (and take less leather) to just do that instead.

For the hole, I made a leather patch that went under the entire ball of that foot, shaving down the edges of the patch as much as possible, so as to make it as unobtrusive as could be under my foot. I then glued it in place with contact cement, which worked very nicely, although you could still see the hole from the outside, of course. So I filled in the hole as well, building the shallow gap up in layers with contact cement and leather shavings from the patch, and ended up with something you can barely see at all, especially now that I've walked on it a bit.

I then stitched it all back together, using the original stitching holes, and replaced the beat-up leather laces.

I'm very pleased with the result (and can't feel the patch at all when I'm walking), and hope to get many more years of use out of them!

The patch, seen from inside.

Much nicer! You can just see the slightly darker area of the patch on the ball of the shoe on the right, just above the month on the date.

(Done) Mikhail Heimdallson's Heavy Combat Norse CenterBoss Shield

posted Mar 10, 2016, 5:33 PM by Mikhail H-   [ updated Mar 13, 2016, 7:57 PM ]

"An eleventh I know, | if needs I must lead
To the fight my long-loved friends;
I sing in the shields, | and in strength they go
Whole to the field of fight,
Whole from the field of fight,
And whole they come thence home."

-Havamal, 157.

Silo-flex laced edge for durability, 8lb final weight; linen-laminated, raven-motif spine with 11-bight Turkshead knot leather grip; with unique, 5-pane Spangen design riveted center boss researched, designed and originally deployed aboard the half-scale Gokstad longship replica 'Munin' during build with Hus Ravenspeak, The BC Viking Ship Project, and The Burnaby Scandinavian Center, which is now moored at and sailing out of the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

Here is it painted. Next will extend the pre painted black edge that seals the fabric under the edging so water can not rot it. I think a second coat is in order and a contrasting color. The red is coming up very slowly and will require many more applications till I get the bright red I want.
The center boss design was destructive tested 'til failure a long time ago (we had some fun with live steel testing) via Hus Ravenspeak Heavy Spear, thrown and stabbed, then bashed while on ground via my bearded axe, and cut while on ground 'til failure with heavy viking sword 'Trollstooth' from the duel during the movie '13th Warrior'. An unplanned test of its design strength was discovered during the Tallship Regatta when a 35ft fibreglass schooner entered the docks too fast, lost control and T-boned the side of our wooden clinker-built longship 'Munin's starboard side.

An emergency inspection by the crew, and Chris Frostad, shipwright, revealed that the schooner's prow luckily struck one of the many shields on the side, and the slight scuff to the boss took the full force of the blow.

A design tried and true.


Twenty more rivets were added to this boss design, as it is intended for continual SCA heavy combat. Also added is the heavily-fluted running dog pattern taken from a Sutton Hoo boss find, for added strength, protection and sexy. Plus I like dogs. I gave them brass eyeballs .... which almost seem to watch you.

Two more blanks of the same design are cut and planned for creation for Stronghold HugginnDalr fighter use.

"When the gale blows hew wood, | in fair winds seek the water;
Sport with maidens at dusk, | for day's eyes are many;
From the ship seek swiftness, | from the shield protection,
Cuts from the sword, | from the maiden kisses."

-Havamal, 82

(Done) Lord Almaric's Shoes

posted Feb 13, 2016, 7:43 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir   [ updated Feb 13, 2016, 8:07 PM ]

Almaric has finished his Norman shoes. As he says, "I based it on the Norman design on the London museum site. It isn't a one-piece upper (like it should be) and it has two toggles per side instead of the one. The one would work better. Lol. I used a thicker leather for the sole."

I look forward to seeing him model them.

(Done) Ulrich's Shoes

posted Jan 1, 2016, 1:41 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir

Ulrich made a pair of Viking turnsole shoes, based on the workshop Freydis gave on Dec. 2nd (further info). They turned out very well.

They are a two-piece construction (top and sole), sewn together inside-out and then inverted so the seam around the sole is protected inside the shoe. The bulk of the construction went very quickly (he returned with them sewn together in just a few days).

He found the single layer, leather sole a bit too thin for comfort, though, so he cut out a second sole of the same material and inserted it loose into the shoe; this he then topped with felted wool (done by his lady, Olivia). The felting is about a centimetre thick, and as the shoe came out just a little loose, he has the felting extending up the sides of the shoe slightly, to fill it out to make it more aesthetically pleasing and so his heel doesn't slip out. As he also required a little more arch support (this design has none), be cut out an additional small pad of the felt and after some tweaking got it to the right shape and location in the shoe, just below the larger felted insole. He says they are now the most comfortable shoes he has ever had.

He has closed them with a home-made leather toggle (further info). They look very handsome!

Pictures showing so will follow shortly.

(Done) Wooden Horse

posted Dec 20, 2015, 5:44 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir   [ updated Dec 20, 2015, 5:45 PM ]

Toy horses made of wood have been around since the Viking Age, at the least, and are still around, so I thought it would make a nice "Happy Becoming A Big Brother" present for Lord Almeric and Mave's son Drake.

I found a design that had longer legs than the Norse finds; but the Norse finds were cut with the grain running horizontally, not vertically, so it is entirely possible the legs were accidentally knocked off after they were made; I could only find photos of two and am not able to examine the leg stubs for signs of tool shaping or breakage. However, since the horses in various rune stones have full-length legs, I don't think it is a stylistic choice. Therefore I went with a design traced off a picture of a wooden toy horse (on wheels, which I left off) from the Victorian era.

I was lucky enough, however, to have access to some scrap from an unrelated project made from 200-year-old barn timbers. This is extra cool because I counted the rings on the board I cut it from and there were 105. Looking at how tight the grain was every twenty years or so, and considering that I had neither the "live" outside edge of the tree represented nor the heart wood, I think I can safely say that the tree must have been at a bare minimum fifty years older, and possibly much more.

Which means that the tree was at least a sapling in 1650 CE, which is a pretty awesome thing to be able to say about an SCA toy.

The supplier didn't know what kind of wood it is, but going by Mikhail's and my own experience, we figure spruce.

I traced the picture out in CorelDRAW, which allows me to easily resize, printed it out, glued it to the wood, and used the bandsaw to cut it out. Final shaping was done with a spindle sander, vertical belt sander, and by hand with rasps, chisels, and sand paper.

I cut a groove for the mane and drilled a hole for the tail, and finished it off with a few coats of boiled linseed oil, which two separate professional woodworking sites confirm is both child- and food-safe when fully cured.

The mane and tail are made from unbleached rough-spun wool and glued into place with the one modern construction material: carpenter's glue.

I considered mounting it onto a rolling platform with a string, the same as the Victorian version, but did not because the Norse ones do not seem to have used them; and in my experience, even with a very level surface, they tend to be tippy, which is frustrating; and I wanted a toy that could be played with anywhere.

He is about five and a half inches high, and about one and a quarter inches thick.

(Done) Baby Garb for a new wee babe

posted Dec 20, 2015, 1:56 PM by Karen MacDonald   [ updated Dec 20, 2015, 5:48 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir ]

Our first collaborative Art & Sciences project, which was actually made at the end of November into December, was a gift for Maeve and Almaric's new baby, Bran. We had to keep this project under wraps until we were ready to present it to Maeve and our Stronghold's first newborn at our December 19th Christmas Feast.

I made a Norse style tunic for the baby out of cotton and a cute little cap to match. It is trimmed with embriodery floss in a simple blanket stitch, the three colors being the same as Maeve and Almaric's colors. The ties for the cap are made also of the embroidery floss, and braided. The tunic is quite large (lots of growing room there) and the cap with it's folded back front edge will be adjustable for a little while.

This outfit was inspired by baby garb that Freydis had made years ago for her own daughter, Alvena.

Then, Freydis fashioned a beautiful wooden horse as a toy for Bran's big brother Drake. She did an amazing job with her carving, adding a wool mane and tail, and I'm sure this little horse is destined to become a cherished heirloom.

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