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A Crafty Project Day

December 10, 2011

Today, the Hubs went to Cleveland to a special fighter practice with his knight, some other high-level fighters and unbelts.  He hemmed and hawed a bit about going, but I convinced him it was a good idea, despite the long drive.  He had originally talked about me going to keep him company, but ultimately he ended up driving himself.  I just got a call from him that he’s on his way home, had a good time, and actually has another local fighter with him who decided to come back this evening, so at least he doesn’t have to drive back by himself!

I got to spend the day doing a variety of project things!

I started out the day getting some candied orange and lemon peel going.  I’m using the instructions given by Dame Alys Katharine in her article in Stefan’s Florilegium.  I made candied orange peel a couple of years ago when I had some particularly gorgeous oranges and didn’t want to just throw away the peel.  I probably used a modern recipe, which is not significantly different from historical ones, and it turned out just fine.  However, this time the peel is for the A&S display at Wassail next week, so I am following a process described in a late 16th century source – just inside the SCA period.

The historical process requires repeated boiling and resting of the peel over several days (8 days, in the original recipe), but Dame Alys has found that this can be condensed down to just a few days, as long as one allows the peel to rest for 5-6 hours between periods of simmering gently.  I have two oranges (just regular navels) and two lemons (whatever variety they sell at Meijer) that I quartered, juiced, and scraped out as much of the pulp as possible.  I didn’t worry too much about removing the white pith, as my previous attempt showed that the pith could be more easily scraped out as it softened in the hot water.  So far, I’ve boiled the peels once and done one gentle simmering, letting them rest in fresh, cold water for about 5 hours between.  The peels are currently undergoing their second rest period and I’ll probably simmer them once more tonight and then let them sit until tomorrow.  The house smells pleasantly of citrus and the steam from the simmering pots of water has offset some of the winter dryness!

Ooh!  I just realized while the photos were uploading that I can put this in my AS50 project section, too!  Woot!

The next thing I worked on, while the peels were boiling, was to put resist on the new silk pennant I’m working on.  I have pictures, but since this is a commission for a friend and is to be given as a gift next week, I’m going to keep it secret for the time being.  Now that the resist is on, I’ll let the piece sit to dry – probably until Monday – and then apply the paint.  That will give me time to go through the arduous ironing process on Tuesday or Wednesday and have the piece finished for the weekend.

I did a little shopping at lunchtime and picked up some Christmas tins to pack with cookies and give as gifts.  Normally, I use disposable aluminum tins with plastic lids, but I’ve kind of gotten tired of how those look.  I’m going to put a note in the tin letting people know that if they return the tin when it’s empty, I’ll refill it next Christmas.  That way, folks don’t have a stray tin laying around, not knowing what to put in it as happens too often!  I also went to a local needlework shop to see if they had any silk embroidery thread.  No such luck!  They apparently stopped carrying silk several years ago because it just wasn’t selling.  I’ll probably end up looking online if I decide to go that route for some brickwork in the future.  I’m not thrilled with this idea because I’d like to see the colors and feel the material before I buy it, but we’ll see.

Once I got back, I started the citrus peels on their second simmering and went to work on a gilding project.  This is also for next week’s A&S display – another notecard with initial letters on it, this one in the style often used in Gothic manuscripts.  This is not a period project, but I consider this an element of the “creative” part of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  Not everything has to be “perfectly period” to be a worthwhile use of period skills and techniques!

This is my first attempt at gilding on gesso, and I think it worked out pretty well!  I think my gesso was a bit too thick when I applied it, but it worked out all right anyway, considering it’s been sitting around since the Hubs picked it up for me at an event last fall.  Now I’m going to let the card sit overnight, or perhaps a day or two, and then start painting.

Now, dinner!

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