April 2024
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The Final Spoon

The final spoon, with a monster carved in the handle.

I need to go back and carve the bowl of the spoon out more.  The wall of the spoon is kinda thick, so its not as easy to use as I would like.  I was a lot of fun to have at the Beowulf event, and now I want to make some more spoons.  I need to look up types of wood that are ok for food, since some can make you sick.

The Spoon

Artisan's Challenge Replicated Glass Beads

The Challenge:

Document and create 3 to 5 beads from the same time and place. Documentation of your source/inspiration beads is the minimum required, but there are extra points in you can find evidence of locations of local glassworks to your chosen time and place, and super extra points if you can document (or reasonably so) where the mineral salts came from to make the colors in the beads. Also extra points for more difficult beads.

The Beads:

I attempted to recreate two sets of beads from grave sites in Dublin, Ireland at the Norse Cemeteries in Kilmainham-Islandbridge.  Both sets of beads were described by E. C. R. Armstrong in his 1921 paper entitled, Two Irish Finds of Glass Beads of the Viking Period.  Included in the paper are drawings of the beads from both sites.

Glass Beads found at the Norse cemetery at Island Bridge, Kilmainham, Co. Dublin

The beads, as can be seen from the illustration, are of various types: the first (a) is a dark blue bugle-shaped bead, with white bands blue shaded, in the centre, and at each end; the second (b) belongs to the roped variety, the back ground colour being green and the ropes shaded with white threads; the third (c) has an inlaid wavy pattern of white with a red inset, on a dark blue back ground; the fourth (d) has an irregular ribbon pattern of white on a green back ground; the fifth and sixth (e) and (f) are plain, (e) being a clear pale blue, and (f) opaque green, glass; the eighth (g) is a grooved ring bead of pale green glass.

Glass beads found at the Norse cemetery at Island Bridge

The first (j) is a ring bead of green glass, set with yellow studs; the second and third (k) and (1) are plain ring beads of blue glass; the fourth (m) has a black ground worked over with a lattice pattern of blue; the fifth (n) shows on a black ground a diamond, centered by a spiral in blue; the sixth (o) has a blue back ground shaded with a herring-bone pattern of white lines; the seventh (p) is plain clear green glass.

Equipment and Glass:

I used Effetre Glass, COE 104 for all of my beads, using a Hot Head bead making torch head and MAP gas fuel.   All of the beads were brought down to room temperature slowly in a ceramic fiber blanket.  I used bead release  that I have made consisting of 1 part Kaolin, 1 part alumina hydrate, 1 part high temperature kiln wash and 1/4 part diatomaceous earth.

My Reconstruction:

My Reconstruction of Glass Beads found at the Norse cemetery at Island Bridge, Kilmainham, Co. Dublin

My Reconstruction of Glass Beads found at the Norse cemetery at Island Bridge.

The colors on the bead images were put in as a reference guide for me as I made the beads.  All of the pictures I had of the beads were black and white, although the colors were described by Armstrong.


Due to the black and white images, I could not tell exactly what colors the beads should have been.  For my first attempt at bead n, I used a dark blue for the spiral pattern.  This color was much too dark and you could not see the pattern over the lack background.   The new color that I used for beads m and n, is a very light blue.

I had a great deal of difficulty with bead m.  I believe that these problems arose from my own limited skill and the thickness of my stringer.  I attempted to make a thinner stringer, but I was not happy with the results.

For bead o, I used a pick to create the chevron shapes with the white glass.  I had attempted to create the chevrons by glass placement alone, but I was unsuccessful.

I believe many of my beads were smaller than the originals and between my own limited skill, and the size of my torch, I was not able to make beads much larger than the ones I made.  The smaller size of my beads also made it difficult to get the fine details.

There were four beads that I was not happy with at all.  While not terrible beads, I do not feel like they were reasonable recreations of the beads I was attempting.

Beads that I were not happy with.

Information about the Extant Beads:

C.S. Briggs compiled a paper for the National Monuments Record, Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments, in which the Kilmainham beads were discussed.  Using the image from Armstrong, Briggs noted that bead c is a characteristic Viking bead.  This type was classified by Callmer, as Class Bf, which was common in Scandinavia between 820 and 860.  According to Briggs, Scandinavia may have been their place of origin.  Bead d is similar in design to bead c and is likely from Scandinavia as well.

Beads a and b are known as string beads, and although I did not try to recreate them, they are worth mentioning.  That type of bead is not uncommon in Ireland, and according to Briggs,  that is their likely place of origin.

According to Briggs, the beads from this find are likely from 840-900 C.E.

Biggs also discussed the composition of some beads from the Kilmainham-Island cemeteries, not necessarily the ones described above, citing research done by Mallet.  A dark blue bead which resembled modern cobalt glass, but filled with tiny bubbles, was found to have oxide of cobalt as the coloring agent and also contained trace amounts of copper.  Another bead, which was light blue verging on green, was found to contain copper oxide as the coloring agent.  A third bead, which was nearly clear with a small tint of green, was found to have no coloring agent apart from trace amounts of iron oxide.

It was noted by Briggs that Dublin County has many of these minerals present within ten miles of the cemeteries.


E.C.R. Armstrong.  Two Irish Finds of Glass Beads of the Viking PeriodMan. Volume 21, pg, 71-73, May, 1921.

C.S. Briggs.  A Neglected Viking Burial with Beads from Kolmainham, Dublin, Discovered in 1847. National Monuments Record, Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments (Wales)

Artisan's Challenge Hunter's Lunch Basket

The Challenge:

So enters the autumn, and with it does the hunter and his party go forth into the wood to seek out the stag and boar that will ease their bellies in the long winter ahead.
This being the first issue, of the soon to be continuing food challenge, prepare and document  the foods that will fill your hunting luncheon basket using foodstuffs and utensils available to your persona at this time of year. Remember, it is not all food for the belly, but food for the eyes and mind as well! Don’t forget the napkins!

My Entry:

My entry for the Hunter's Basket Challenge at the 2011 Artisan's Challenge

I made 3 different 15th century dishes, all from the cookbook, Take a Thousand Eggs or More.  I was trying to recreate a page from the Gaston Phoebus Book of the Hunt, which depicts the hunters having a meal outside.  I made a roast chicken, a cheese pie, and peas porridge.  I also served some wine that I had made with a friend.

I wasn’t sure I had enough time to let all of the liquid in the peas cook down, so after cooking them for 2 hours, I strained out the peas.  I then added broth back in, a few scoops at a time, and cooked the peas basically like risotto.  They were tasty and I turned the leftovers into pea fritters.

Crown Tourney Site Tokens

Lino Block and Print for Crown Tourney Site Tokens.  The final site tokens had printed text as well.

Color Map

Here is the final Known World Map.

The Final Known World Map

Hopefully the Final Map

More monsters and non SCA areas grayed out.  Is this an improvement?  Hopefully this is the final map.  Let me know what you think.

Hopefully the final map

A New Version of the Known World Map

So the comment I heard most from people was that I had left out a lot of area that is part of the SCA, so I have made a new map that covers it better.  Each half is to scale with itself, but not to scale with the other half.  Please let me know what you think.

Known World Map

I’m making a Known World Map for Pennsic 40 as part of the History Display. I would love peoples opinions about this one. I am going to print it on a 2′ plotter. So what do people think? I had a hard time figuring out how to add Drachenwald and Lochac to the map, so what do people think? I appreciate any comments or suggestions.

Known World Map for Pennsic 40 History Display

A Viking Spoon

I am heading to an immersion event centered around Beowulf.  There will be many different performers each reciting a section of the epic poem Beowulf.  To prepare for feast, the awesomeness who is Bertana came up with a great and insane idea that we should make our own wooden spoons.  We picked up some 2×2 or so maple and had great plans for big curved spoon handles.  A woodworker friend set about cutting the general shape out on a scroll saw.  Once he got about half way through, and had been at it for over an hour, we decided to cut the block in half and get two spoons, each half as thick, from what was already cut out.  Turns out this was more  than thick enough.  After much carving, whittling, and some bleeding, I had a rough spoon.  Here is how it looks so far.  I still need to do a bunch more sanding and I want to carve some toothy beasty on the handle.  But it’s a spoon.  I’m kinda shocked.  I’ll update again when I have more pictures and more time.

An almost complete first attempt at a carved wooden spoon.

An iphone wax tablet cover

I believe that sometimes modern items need to come out at SCA events.  I don’t have any problem with items like PDAs or smartphones, but I would prefer that they look the part of something from period.  With that in mind, I decided to make a cover for a friend’s iphone that would imitate a wax tablet.  I feel like I cheated in several main areas to make it more functional.  I used a commercially available wood iphone case made by a company called Vers.  I also attached everything together using velcro, so the tablet could be taken apart and the iphone used by itself in the wood case.

Iphone Wax Tablet Supplies

For this project I decided to use zebrawood, which I had on hand and liked how it looked with the cherry iphone case.   I tan suede to hold the two leaves together and keep the tablet shut.

Hook side of the velcro on the leather

The piece of zebrawood and the iphone case had the soft pieces of velcro so the tablet could be taken apart.  All of the hook velcro pieces were attached to the suede and then had 4 small holes punched in them.  I used adhesive backed velcro, but used x-stitches on the hook pieces as well.

X-stitching through the hook velcro.

The final tablet looked nice, but I’m not sure it was as functional as I would have hoped.  I think it may too bulky and hard to handle easily.  I will update when my friend has had more time to play with it and can give me some feedback.

Finished Iphone Tablet

Wax Tablet Style iPhone Cover

Wax Tablet Style iPhone Cover

Overall, I was pleased with how it came out, and although I think I would make changes if I did it again, I’m not sure what those changes would be.  The project only took a few hours, and was pretty easy.