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Old Tired Squire In Action

Old Tired Squire In Action

Friday, August 31, 2012

Swordmaiden reborn!

A quick plug for a Facebook friend and a great site, reborn.

Swordmaiden.net 

This is a revamp of the old Swordmaiden site, brought to you by Isabella Evangelista (m/k/a Amanda Michaels) with the permission of Lady Eichling, the original web mistress. Much of it was salvaged from an Internet Archive snapshot from 2009, but Isabella is working hard to bring it completely back to life. 

I've checked it out and it has some good stuff (including some armor ideas I will be incorporating in my kit).

So, if you are a woman fighter in the SCA, or are are thinking about it, or know a woman fighter, check out this site!




Monday, August 27, 2012

Purpose

I was honored to receive a comment to my last post by Dr. David Friedman, known in these current middle ages as Duke Cariadoc of the Bow, KSCA, OP, OL.  Receiving the comment, and responding, brought into better focus some of the reasons I started this blog, which I wanted to share.

I am a recovering underachiever.  There; I've said it. Up until my 40s, I simply could not seem to get my act together. I was always the guy with "so much potential" who couldn't seem to prosper. There were always too many distractions, or I did not have enough self confidence, or some other lame excuse. 

Somewhere along the line, I got past that failing, for the most part. I mean, I went back to undergrad and got a degree, attended law school, graduated and passed the bar. But I still sometimes would find myself sabotaging my own progress.

One area I feel that needs work is procrastination. I have conquered my tendency to put things off in my work life and, in fact, I'm very deadline oriented in the practice of law. In my personal life, not so much.  I have in the last year found this to especially be a problem in getting my armor together to hit people with rattan swords. 

I believe that this is because I get a picture of how things ought to be in my mind, but I know that as soon as I put cutter to leather, that thing will no longer be perfect.  A silly concern, I know, as know one (except me) is expecting me to be perfect.  But a nagging concern, nonetheless.

That is why I quoted Ms. Frizzle in my last post -- "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy."  That is what I need to do in building my armor.  And I sense that I may not be the only one with that problem! Perhaps some others can take heart from my experiences and do things they might not have attempted. 

So, one purpose of this blog is to get me to take chances, make mistakes and get messy, and by example to help others do the same. 

So stick around and see what OTHER mistakes I can make.  It might be fun.  At least, it should be educational.  

I leave you with a quote from Thomas Edison, who failed many, many times in perfecting the incandescent light bulb:  "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  

That is what I like to think I'm doing - finding all the ways that won't work!  :)




Sunday, August 26, 2012

Experiments in Leather

I decided to try and build some elbows from some of the leather scraps I picked up at Tandy a few months ago, using the plans from Duke Cariodoc's The Perfect Armor Improved. My results were less than spectacular, but it was a learning experience and the only failed experiment is one in which you did not learn something.

I began with the elbow patter HG Cariadoc published.


Simple, right?

Well, easier said than done.

I cut two mirror images of the pattern from my leather (5-7 oz vegetable tanned bellies), which I had soaked in water before cutting.  Then I attempted to following HG Cariadoc's instructions. 

First hiccup -- someone lost the thermometer!  The process requires that you heat the water to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius).  So, I "eyeballed" it to see what I could do.  After all, our ancestors didn't have mercury thermometers in the 14th Century, right?

After heating the two pieces (separately) for what I thought was the right time at the right temperature, I took each piece out and tried sandwiching the piece in two bowls, each of which has a diameter of about 6.5 inches.  


As I had feared, the process left major folds and creases in the leather, which I attempted to smooth out with my fingers. 

The resulting pieces look like this:


 

The piece on the left shrank more than the piece on the right, and is thicker and harder. Both pieces are not in the optimum shape for an elbow cop because there was too much leather that needed to be removed or folded to create the right shape.  

So, what have I learned? 

1. Water temperature (and immersion time) is very important in getting a consistent product.
2. Modifications must be made to the pattern or process to obtain a "cop" shape for the elbows.

For the next step in the experiment, I am going to try softening the larger cop in water, then removing a gusset of material on the front and rear of the cop and riveting or  bolting it together.  Then I will try  re-hardening it in 180 degree water with a thermometer!  

Hopefully, this will give me the desired shape and size. If so, I am considering reinforcing the cop with plastic to add some extra protection, followed by adding a strap that will ride in the fold of my elbow, holding the cop on. I also intend to experiment with baking wet leather in the oven at 200 degrees and liberally basting the leather with hot rabbit glue or other organic glue to more accurately reproduce what is believed to be the period procedure (or at least, one of them) for creating cour boulli. (See excellent articles here, here and here).

My fantasy is that, once I have a good pattern and consistent procedure down, I can turn the cops out fairly easily and create new loaner/new fighter gear for our Barony. 

And remember, do as I say, not as I do -- "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!"