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Posts Tagged ‘tablet weaving’

Regular readers of this little corner of madness will be aware that I’m a historical re-enactor. As part of that, my husband and I have a small business that caters to our fellow re-enactors. It’s little more than a hobby right now, with just enough income to pay for our supplies and attendance at events. Sometimes we come home with a little more than expenses and that goes into the kitty for as-yet-to-be-determined outlays.

The hubby plays with metal. He’s a blacksmith who uses a charcoal forge and beats steel into submission. He makes all sorts of camp necessities such as stakes and hooks; accessories for open fire cooking like tripods, trammels, and utensils; armor bits (we do pre-1600 Europe); and just about anything else he can think of. His long term goal is to move into larger items like doors, gates, and stair railings and work full time for himself. The biggest obstacle to that is work space, or lack there of. Working out of a residential garage in SoCal suburbia doesn’t exactly lend itself to expansive projects. So he putters away at what he can for now, as we work toward our long-term goal of leaving California. Here are some of his projects:

Decorative items:

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Hand hammered broaches in brass.

 

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Hand hammered broaches in copper & chainmail chain in mild steel.

 

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Twisted torc in mild steel.

 

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Simple penannular broach in mild steel.

 

Camp items:

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“Portable hole” in rebar and mild steel. Because the gophers never put a hole where you need it.

 

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“Gravity hook” in mild steel. The jaw goes around a tent pole and then you can hang items like a lantern or coat from the hook.

 

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Ridge pole hook in mild steel.

 

Cooking:

 

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Trammel in mild steel. Large hook over a horizontal pole and hang your cooking pot from the small hook. Adjust up or down using the holes. The closer to the fire, the hotter the temperature.

 

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Long handled soup ladle in mild steel.

 

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Long handled strainer in mild steel.

 

Armor:

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Simple elbow cops (armor for your elbow joint) in mild steel.

 

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Viking boss (hand protection for a shield) in mild steel.

 

Tools:

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Blacksmith tongs in mild steel.

 

And while my husband is outside playing with metal, I’m inside playing with string. I do various forms of needlework (cross stitch, black work, embroidery), and narrow-wares weaving working a lot in wool and silk because those were the primary fibers in our period of study. I sew our costumes using mostly linen and cotton because they are so much nicer to wear in our lovely desert climate than wool would be. I call myself a survivalist seamstress – I sew well enough to do basic garments, but don’t have the talent or desire for the more complicated stuff like full Elizabethans or Landsknechts. Here are some of my favorite projects:

Stitching:

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Cross stitched game board in cotton.

 

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Blackwork pouch on linen in silk with glass beads.

 

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Blackwork pouch in cotton.

 

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Cross stitch with cotton on linen. Viking apron for my wedding dress (still in progress 14 years later!).

 

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Embroidery in and on cotton. I braid all my own cords and make all my tassels.

 

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Cross stitch in and on cotton. Pouch, bookmark, needle book and scissor fob. Braids and tassels hand made in cotton also.

 

Weaving:

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“Patriotic” belt tablet woven with wool.

 

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“Spider” belt tablet woven with wool.

 

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“Strawberry” belt tablet woven in wool.

 

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“Fishy” belt tablet woven in cotton.

 

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“Diamonds” trim tablet woven in silk.

 

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“Ladder” trim tablet woven in wool.

 

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Chirurgeon’s (Medic) belt tablet woven in cotton.

 

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“Flaming Squire” belt tablet woven in wool.

 

 

Special projects:

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Large pouch embroidered and cross stitched in and on cotton. Donated for a raffle at specific event.

 

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Large pouch embroidered in and on cotton, with appliqué. Donated for a raffle at specific event.

 

 

So that’s some examples of how we avoid the real world around here. Hope you enjoyed them. I’m off to my next project, already overdue, of course, but, hey – I’m an Artiste!

 

 

 

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Creative people often do a variety of creative forms. Most of the world knows Jeff Goldblum as a fine actor, but few seem to know he’s also an accomplished jazz pianist. The comedic talents of Red Skelton are unrivaled, but he reportedly made more money off his paintings and prints of clowns than he did off television and movies. And writer Stephen King has been known to pick up a guitar every now and then to play a little classic rock for fun and profit (read: charities). Not content to be the proverbial one-trick pony, we creative types just have to get our hands into everything (da Vinci, anyone?).

The question is: where does that drive/motivation/curiosity come from? There has been an ongoing argument throughout the centuries about Nature vs. Nurture, sometimes translated as talent vs. skill. Are we born able to do certain things, or can we only be taught those things? The debate has been long and passionate on both sides, but recent studies indicate it’s more of an <AND> equation than an <OR> equation. We get handed a genetic package of possibilities – the predilections toward art or music or football – and that package can get us a ways down the line, IF we’re given the opportunities. Then to put us over the top, you have to polish that rough stone. Even so, there’re no guarantees you’ll get anywhere.

Music was my first creative medium. I was picking songs out on a friend’s piano when I was two. By the time I graduated high school, I could get by pretty reasonably on a half dozen different instruments, and had composed a piece for full orchestra. Writing was much the same. I was already reading and writing ahead of my age group by the time I started kindergarten. Seven years later, I took the formal lessons and turned them around into fictional explorations, writing stories for extra credit in English class. I’ve also drawn in pencil, sculpted in clay, blown glass beads, danced (yes, in public), tie-died fabric, designed and sewn historical garb without a modern pattern, built wooden furniture, fabricated metal needles, and fletched my own arrows. None of this is unusual from my perspective. But sometimes even my own family is boggled by my abilities.

Recently, I posted pictures on social media of a belt I crafted in wool using an old technique called tablet weaving.

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This is something I’ve done as a hobby for nearly a decade now, and I’ve posted other pictures of my work before. But this one seemed to spark something in people. I received a tremendous amount of feedback and questions, and my own mother marveled at how she didn’t realize I could do something like that. To me, it’s just understanding the engineering and then it’s pretty simple. To the rest of the world, it might as well be magic.

Well, maybe it is. I know plenty of people who are amazingly skilled at something, understanding techniques and theories for their chosen thing far beyond the average, but it is impossible for them to think outside the box. They are excellent craftspeople, but lack that intangible spark that would make them truly exceptional. The world is filled with amazingly skilled cellists, but only one Yo-Yo Ma.

And don’t tell me it’s all just about drive or desire or training. I’ve known several people over the years that wanted nothing more than to be “famous” singers. They sang everywhere they could, they took classes, they worked with vocal coaches – anything and everything you can do to learn the craft and be better at it. And you know what – even after all that, they still couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket (not that it seems to matter anymore, what with Auto-Tune – see American Idol…).

Plenty of people really want something with all their heart, and will never get it because they just don’t have even the basics for their great love. Some people will succeed amazingly well despite their lack of “talent” because of their hard work and dedication. Lots of people have natural abilities that could put them ahead of the game if they applied themselves, but they don’t have the push to build on them so their talent goes to waste. All of it is a crapshoot. There is no real answer to the equation, because the one thing that really decides whether or not any creative artist succeeds isn’t within them, but without.

Most creative forms are as much science as art. Writing has grammar and punctuation, music has scales and arpeggios, painting has form and color. You have to learn the rules so you know how to break them, and then you have to work hard indefinitely to build your brand and be ready for opportunities. But, still, nothing guarantees any of us will ever do more than sit in the dark with our wishful thoughts. ‘Cause most of the time it just doesn’t happen. Then suddenly it does.

And that’s why I think it’s magic…

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There has been so much negativity in the world these last few years. It’s spilling over everything, creeping into every day and every corner of our lives. The media oozes it at every opportunity, because “if it bleeds, it leads.” They don’t just simply report the facts anymore but put their own flawed spin on things. We are bombarded constantly with religious zealotry, racial bigotry, gender suppression, rights erosion, and all-around-just-‘cuz-hatred. I have reached negative sensory overload. And it’s not like I needed outside help for that, anyway.

I think it’s time we each stopped a moment and took a good hard look at ourselves. We each in our own way have perpetuated this ugliness. I have ranted here endlessly about the problems I see in the world, but often don’t have any solutions. I’ve “liked” a nasty meme on Facebook, or forwarded an email that bashed those groups I love bashing. I sit at home stewing in my depression, and then get mad because nothing changes.

So tonight I’m taking an emotional time out. I’m not going to stew about the things I haven’t done, but be proud of the things I have. Instead of griping about all that’s broken, I’m going to be thankful for all that isn’t. And I’m going to forget the things I hate, and remind myself of the things I love.

Like my hometown of Eureka, CA, with its iconic Carson Mansion, and many other gorgeous Victorian homes.

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And the duck pond at Sequoia Park in Eureka. That’s all six feet of me standing among some of the smaller coastal redwoods in the park. It’s always green and cool and peaceful there, and helps me de-stress almost instantly upon arrival. If you want to see more than ducks, go visit the Sequoia Park Zoo – the oldest zoo in California. It is small but mighty.

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And string. I love playing with string. I must have been a cat for at least nine of my past lives. Cross stitch and blackwork are my favorite needleworking styles (the German in me must still have order, your know), and I really enjoy tablet weaving, but I’ll play with just about any format, especially if it involves silk.

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I also love my home-away-from-home, the medieval tent my husband (that’s all 6’3” of him to the left) and I use for our reenactment events. It’s a bitch to get set up, but once it’s done, we have a comfy retreat that can withstand all sorts of weather.

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And my animals bring me great comfort. The dog (my husband’s before our marriage) tolerates me only because I’ve proven I’m the alpha bitch. Jasper the Wonder Mutant (he has six toes on all his paws) was sent to me for comedic relief. He’s about as graceless as any animal I’ve known, makes more noise coming down the stairs than the 50 lb. dog, and has been known to walk on the treadmill with me. We’re convinced he’s an alien in disguise. He’s convinced he’s here to help us by blessing everything we own with cat fur.

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Not to forget writing and music. Both have been with me most of my life, and have always given me someplace to go when I didn’t want to face the world. Which is most of the time, but I think that’s more to do with what’s going on out there than what’s going on in here.

That’s why we need to stop and get out of our rages. If we all take a moment to think peaceful, positive thoughts, maybe peaceful, positive things will begin to happen.

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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