Sunday, January 27, 2013

Largesse Project has been mailed

I joined an A&S Gift swap "event" called the Midlands Largesse.
The description provided is as follows:  "A&S based 'secret-gift' exchange for the Midlands Region. The swap sign up is going on now and will go through September 8. Participants will receive their recipient assignments by September 15. You will also receive information on the recipient at that time. You do not know who got *your* name until you get your gift!
This is the SECOND ROUND The object of the game is to create, for less than $25, a product that can be used by the recipient in the SCA. Items will be due by January 31, and there will be a face-to-face exchange at the Festival of Maidens. Anyone in the Midlands, or who considers themselves a Midlander, is invited to play."
After joining I received information regarding my recipient:

SCA Name: Eadric the Smith
Modern Name: Max isenholt
Persona: 10th Century Anglo-Saxon West England
Preferences: Colors are medium gray and forest green (white and black work, too); prefer to not have foodstuff; I do archery, thrown weapons, and learning blacksmithing. 
Heraldry: Gyronny argent and vert, two ravens volant and an anvil reversed sable.

Well, I did some digging around on the internet.  I felt a bit like a stalker I must say.  I wasn't able to find much in the way of useful information.  I found only one picture of the gentleman and a sample heraldry which was submitted when he registered it.

After much time spent on Google and much pondering I settled on making an Archery bracer.  Eadric went to the trouble to register his device which I was able to find on the SCA website and therefore I settled on creating something with a version of that device on it.  I decided to make a leather bracer to be used in archery.  Eadric had indicated that he did archery so I supposed that's as good an idea as any.  I had been in the mood to start doing some leather working anyway, and have never really done any tooling (since I was in Boy Scouts some 30 years ago).  I've recently been making my own leather working tools with the intent on making a bracer and quiver for myself.  Good first attempt.

This post will be the steps taken to make the bracer from start to finish.

I planned on tooling the item with his device on it, but in a more Anglo-Saxon design.  I did some digging for design ideas, but my leather tooling is still beginner so I went with some plain knot-work style border surrounding his device.

Here is the initial sketch.  Well, there were a few versions of varying sizes, this is the one I ended up using though.  I sketched it on notebook paper and then kept tweaking it to see if it would fit my arm.  I mocked up some straps, which changed 3 or 4 times along the way, as you'll see.

After mocking up on paper I cut up an old cereal box to mock up a stiffer version.  At any given time I have about 10~12 of these type boxes just for this purpose.


Here is the vegetable tanned leather I purchased from Tandy.  Honestly I don't remember the weight.  It is rather thick though.  I purchased three thicknesses and ended up using the thickest one.  The thin ones I planned on using for strapping, but threw those out and revised that plan.  This leather about 8~9 ounce leather I think.


Freshly cut out I dampened the surface and then traced the image from my design.  I used a simple ball point pen pressing hard enough to mark the surface of the leather along the way.


Once the image was marked well enough into the surface I used a home-made carving knife to cut along all the lines before tooling it up a bit.  This part was new to me.  I've only done a few mock-ups of this type of stuff.  This was my first actual project using this approach.


Thought I had more pictures along the way, but I guess not.  Knotwork was a bit tricky.  Trying to press the varying degrees of depth to make the knotwork flow nicely.  I finished this and then took it up again about 5 times adding more detail and trying to fix the shading over and over.  I might do some of this differently next time, but I guess it came out well enough.  I need to make some more tools though.  I didn't have a shader with a sharp enough edge on it.  I was pressed for time and had to use the tools I had.  Wanted to make this entirely using my own home-made tools.  I ran out of time for making new ones.  I have about 6 more styles of punches I plan on making before my next project though.


I debated about dying the surface all black, oiling it and leaving it brown or simply painting it.  I really don't like the look of painted leather.  It may be period, but I just don't like it.  I was debating between the dye and simply oiling.  I made my own vinegaroon and planned on using that.  After some issues with it I decided against it.  I applied some of the dye to a few sample pieces of leather and it looked great.  Below you can see the jar of vinegaroon I made and a few of the sample pieces.  Took only one coat and very quickly covered in a rich black.  I then tried it on another piece of leather that I tooled a bit.  Wanted to see how long it would stink and if it impacted the detail.  Stink faded after only about two days.  Detail wasn't impacted at all.  Issue I found was that there was some oil stains on the leather.  I feared that my tools would rust after non-use so I coat them with a light coat of oil.  I thought I cleaned them all off, and yet the dye had trouble coating nicely.  Must have been dirt from the leather store or oil from my tools.  Either way I had a problem.  I posted on some leather working boards for ideas.  Got some ideas.  None really worked well enough.  Went to Tandy and spoke with an instructor.  He recommended an oil based dye.  We tried that and it didn't cover well either.  He also recommended a deglazer and oil.  I used the deglazer to clean the surface and then coated it with neatsfoot oil and let sit for a day.  He indicated that the oil would open the pores and allow the dye to soak in well.  It did.  I coated better, but not enough for me.  I was really worried about getting 1/2 way across the surface and finding a blemish which would not coat.  Next time, when I have more time I'll do it on my own piece.  Time was a factor and I ended up simply treating the leather with the oil alone.

Since I wasn't going to add color to the surface I used a heraldic blazoning technique to demarcate the green areas.  The color green (vert) is indicated by a diagonal line from top left to bottom right.  I scored the surface of the leather with a knife lightly before applying the oil in hopes that it would show enough.


Here is the oil I invested in from Tandy leather.  As you see, the straps I have here are not the ones I had above.  Those were not thick enough.  I made a new set.  Those sucked too.  I tried making a buckle, but it didn't have the movement I wanted and so I broke down and bought a brass buckle from Tandy.  Bummer.  Next time... more time... I'll make the buckle.




Here is a close up of the leather used for the straps.  It is a much softer already dyed leather that I bought from a vendor at an SCA event.  I purchased a bundle of "scrap pieces".  Lots of odds and ends and small pieces for small project stuff.  I wasn't crazy about the color, but once I dyed the other stuff I was OK with the two tone look.  I hope the recipient likes it as well.  I used a brass riven to hold the buckle on.

The FINAL piece.  These are the last pics before I stuck it in the package to send out.  The strap was quite a bit longer that I would need, but I'm not sure how big the recipients arm is.  Hope he can cut it to size easy enough.