Inspiration and plagiarism are two very different things

A short while ago I read a column from the New York Times with the title ”Slaves of the Internet, Unite”.
Being a journalist by profession and having many artist friends I know the subject of that column way to well.
Lots of writers and artists are asked to do original work for free and for what usually is called ”great exposure”.
This made me think a bit about the SCA too.
We have a wonderful way of sharing knowledge and helping each other find new sources and get more and new knowledge.
What gets me is the times when someone walks up to me or e-mails me and asks me to just hand over all my research.

And the reason they usually feel entitled to my research is because they have been asked to teach or they have been told they need to write up some documentation if they want to advance, and they really don’t know much about the subject because they have up to this point just been making pretty and lovely things but not really studied the field.
Their interest focus has been on making the items – not knowing how the items really were made, who used them and from what materials the items were made.
I am not saying this approach is wrong! Not everyone likes to do research.

Usually I don’t think the person asking me to hand over my research does it out of malice and I really think that they don’t understands what they are asking me to do.
I think we are so used to the sharing and helping in the SCA that we have lost parts of the respect for what goes in to doing the research.
Would you ever come up with the idea and offer to teach a class/hold a workshop on a subject that you have no or very little knowledge about at school or at work?
Would you ever – in the mundane world – ask someone else to write up your assignment to hand in to the teacher to get a grade?
I don’t think so. Unless you belong to the group of people that cut corners by plagiating someone elses work.
And if you are not ok with plagiarism in the mundane world – then you shouldn’t be ok with plagiarism in the SCA context.
Stealing is stealing. People will get upset.
Using someone elses research as a base for your own – that is ok. Just as it is in the mundane world.
But if you are not prepared to do some research on your own – don’t say yes to teaching a subject you do not know and don’t participate in A&S competitions where a proper documentation is required.

The internet and the possibility to google just about anything and have someone else give us all the answers have made many of us lazy and made us think that well what the heck – I’ll just google it. And in the SCA – we sort of google by going to the person we know that knows the most about a subject.
Don’t get me wrong. We should share and we should help each other in the SCA.
But to ask someone who has spent YEARS on researching a subject to hand over all the research so that you yourself don’t have to do any work and then use that material for your own advancement and teaching – that is plain rude.
Some of my own research comes from material that I have gotten by contacting museums to get articles sent to me in languages like Czech, Polish and German and that I then have spent time on translating. Not to mention what work went into actually finding out that there was material to ask for…

In my work as a journalist I have to rely on other peoples information to get the basic understanding of a subject – but when I write the article – I do my own original piece.
Or when I see some other newspapers layout that is brilliant – I can of course lend the idea – but then adapt it for other content that suits my newspaper. I do not just take the entire subject and layout and do the exact same thing.
Inspiration and plagiarism are two very different things.
And this is what I wanted to get to.
I happily share my handouts.
I have posted a link to my LibraryThing where people can see all the books I own (or they will soon when I get the time to add the rest of the books) and hence see what books I have used to do my research. I like owning the books so I have invested quite a lot of money in my research materials.
I also happily teach.
I can even tell people in what book they can find the information they are looking for.
What I do NOT do – is to do the research for them.
I do not make handouts for others.
I also won’t put together classes for others.

If you want me to comment on your handout, your lecture structure and what you plan to bring up in your lecture – I will happily comment and help.
But you have to do the work yourself.
In the end – you will feel great about what you have accomplished and on top of that – you will have shown those who have done research in the same field before you, that you understand the hard work they have done and that you value their help.
So this is my SCA take on how I do not do original work for free for others.
I can help you, show you in the right direction – but the reading and writing I will not do for you.

My new viking dress

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Me at Burg Ludwigstein in Witzenhausen, Germany, during the Drachenwald 20 Year Celebration in my new viking dress.

In March I decided I should finish the viking outfit I had started a rather long time ago by cutting out the under dress. Since the Kingdom of Drachenwald was having its 20 Year Celebration in June I figured that it would be nice to have something new for that occasion.
So from the beginning of March until the beginning of April I made an underdress from a herring bone twill natural linen, a dress out of a soft orange wool and an apron dress out of a naturally dyed and hand woven fabric that I got at Pennsic a few years ago. The weaver of the fabric has her own online store and you can find it here.
It turned out that I had bought a little bit to little of the hand woven fabric so a friend of mine who dyes and weaves offered to sell me a piece of a green fabric so that I would be able to keep the apron dress as naturally dyed and hand woven as possible. 🙂
The seams of the apron dress were then embroidered with Ösenstitch which is what in modern time is known as Vandyke stitch.
I used a naturally dyed filament silk that a friend of mine had dyed to pick up the orange from the dress. To cover the seam where I joined the purple and green fabrics after the apron dress turned out a bit short I learnt how to make viking whip cord and for that I used the same wool yarn as I used for the tablet woven band at the top of my apron dress and at the bottom of the sleeves on the orange dress.
At the top of the apron dress I wove a round band directly onto the fabric with a rigid heddle with the same wools as for the tablet weaving and whip cord. This saved some of the length of the dress as well since I didn’t have to hem the upper part of the apron dress.
The shoulder straps for the apron dress were sewn out of the same fabric as the majority of the apron dress. All linen was hand sewn with linen thread and all wool was hand sewn with silk thread.

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The underdress fabric and one of the seams.
The pattern I use for the linen underdress and this dress is very simple. Back and front are cut straight at the top and from the waist it starts flaring out to the hemline. I cut the front and back open in the middle and insert a gore. The sleeves are straight pieces that gets narrower towards the wrist. And I use square gores in the armpits.
The pattern I use for the linen underdress and this dress is very simple. Back and front are cut straight at the top and from the waist it starts flaring out to the hemline. I cut the front and back open in the middle and insert a gore. The sleeves are straight pieces that gets narrower towards the wrist. And I use square gores in the armpits.

 

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The cut of the apron dress. I use a 4 piece pattern that is from a Swedish website called Historiska Världar. Once cut out I still fit it so that it gives a nice silhouette.
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Before weaving the rounded braid onto the top of the apron dress I did a small practice piece just to figure out how the fabric and weaving behaves.
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The ösenstitch on the seams of the apron dress were made with naturally dyed filament silk.
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The top of the apron dress with the round woven edge and the very simple tablet woven band attached right to the rounded band.Image

After the basic dress was all done I wanted to make a front panel with lots of embellishments to make it suitable for such a big occasion as the 20 year celebration of my Kingdom.
Last summer we had bought a bunch of filament silk that we were going to dye. Now it turned out to be rather complicated to get all girls interested in the silk project in one spot so it ended up with our lovely dyeing godess doing all the work for us…
I created a pattern using some bits of the embroideries from the Mammen finds, and then I found inspiration for a vikingish Pelican and laurel wreath online and altered it to suit me.
I used split stitch for this embroidery. Now – I know that most of the Mammen finds are done with stem stitch but for some odd reason my hands refuse to make a neat stem stitch. Split stitch is also one of the oldest stitches and since my hands seem to be able to make that one – I chose to just roll with what I can make look nice. 🙂
The embroidery took about 3 weeks from start to finish. I had quite a lot of days off from work during that time but unfortunately I never bothered to write up all the hours.
Once the embroidery was done I moved on to learn how to make the posament decorations.
These decorations are almost exclusive to Birka and even there they are rather rare.
I had found a few websites mentioning them but there were no tutorials to be found.
I will mention the posaments only briefly here since the handout for the class I taught on the subject at Drachenwald 20 year Celebration is posted under the section for Documentation on this blog.
What I did was to look at pictures of the finds from Birka which can be found in this section of the Historical Museum in Stockholms website as well as the pictures on silberknoten.de
I
 stared at the pictures and tried and failed and tried and failed until I got it!
There was a lot of cursing in different languages – but finally I managed to figure it all out!
I ended up making 4 roundels that went on the embroidered piece, an edge decoration at the bottom of the front panel, a double threaded piece for the tablet woven band I put on my veil to use as decoration and a tie and two pieces that I put under some more of my tablet weaving at the top of the front panel. You can pretty much see my learning curve on the posament since I put everything I made on the outfit not wasting anything no matter how uneven it was.
Once the embroidery was sewn on to he panel I made some more whip cord to put as outline of the embroidered piece and I also used whip cord for the two small loops that are needed at the top to hang the front panel from the brooches.

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The last piece of posament that I made and that went on the tablet woven band of my veil/head wear.
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The front panel with embroidery, posament and tablet weaving but I hadn’t made the whip cord yet when I took this picture so that was still added to cover the seams where I attached the embroidered red wool. The front panel is made out of a dark purple wool. The green band is the tablet weaving I made for my veil and after this picture was taken it was put at the front edge of my head wear and the ends of the bands are used to tie the veil to my head.

So the final thing I did was to weave myself a belt. I had already started a rams horn patterned belt at one point but then I messed it all up and gave up. However my weaving godess friend was just about to publish a book on tablet weaving from the Finnish iron age that she co authored with a friend and she needed to practice her teaching in English and was kind enough to give me a pattern from the book before it was even printed so that she got to practice her teaching and I got an awesome pattern for my new belt!
The book is in Finnish and English and can be bought here.
And now I suddenly know how to even read the tablets while I weave!
The reason I chose a pattern from a different culture was that the new tortoise brooches my husband had given me to complete this new outfit are based on a find from Öland. The bead spreaders that the brooches come with are extremely influenced by Baltic tradition since the shape of the spreaders can be found in Baltic finds. So I figured that my outfit could be from Öland which is between Birka and the Baltic region and hence had influences from both places. 🙂

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My belt for the viking outfit. It was woven with 20 tablets and each repetition of the pattern took about 30 minutes to weave and was about 10 cm long. The final length is about 3 meters.

The challange

I have gotten myself an apprentice. 🙂
Well, actually it was about two months ago and I should have mentioned it earlier – but better late than never!
This is an SCA thing – Masters and Mistresses of the Order of the Laurel take apprentices and my first one is known by the name Baroness Eva Grelsdotter and she is absolutley brilliant!
She has two blogs – Evas Thoughts – and One Year and Thousand Eggs.
So one day we were chatting on Facebook and she says: You have to make me read more of my books!
And that was when I had to admit that I myself have a pretty extensive library and I have perhaps only read 10% of it…
GAHHHH!!! The SHAME!!!!

So we decided to make it a challange. During the next year we will read 6 of our books from start to END!
Now you might say 6 books, wow that’s little.
We first thought about making it 12 – one book per month.
Then we considered this little thing called life.
Reading 12 of our books would mean very little time to read anything else and also limit the amount of time we have for projects.
We are both pretty busy people, both with our day jobs and with our hobby, so we wanted to leave a bit of space for other things.
Like sewing, readin fiction, runing or being part of event crews and such things.

So here goes – the 6 books I will read from start to end during 2012! (Most of them I have read about 10 pages in – but I really need to get to that END!)
Working Women in Renaissance Germany by Merry E. Wiesner.
Women, Armies and Warfare in Early Modern Europe by John A. Lynn II
The Good Wife’s Guide translation by Gina L. Greco & Christine M. Rose
Kläderna och människan i medeltidens Sverige och Norge by Eva I Andersson
Medieval Textiles and Clothing 1
Medieval Textiles and Clothing 6

There! Now you all know and now I HAVE to do it!
I will ofcourse write something about the books here on the blog once I finnish them.

Who knew that getting an apprentice actually would put ME to work!?

A chain find

Sometimes when I have a bit of spare time and nothing special to do I make searches in the Bildindex and just go through pictures of all sorts. And the sometimes on strange searches you hit the jack pot and find a really interesting picture!
A while back I found this picture of a chain:

Kette der Armbrustschützen.

And it looks remarkably much like the chains in for instance a lot of Cranach paintings, like theese two by Lucas Cranach the Elder:

The chain is from the Rathaus (City hall) in Schmalkalden, a small city in the region called Thüringen. The closest bigger cities would be Erfurt and Kassel.
I have had many discussions with people on what theese chains were made of. Were they metal? Gilded leather?
A close up of the chain also found in the bildindex led me to believe it could be a metal chain.

Close up of the chain.

However, the information provided in the bildindex did not say anything about the materials and I have tried to contact the Rathaus in Schmalkalden with no result this far. But I will not give up since I find this chain very interesting!
And I hope this will help some fellow artisans interested in German 16:th century clothing and jewelry.

How to make a Stuchlein – a looooong post!

NOTE: This is a 4 page post due to editing problems in WordPress…

First of all: this is my version of how to make the German 16:th century hat called stuchlein.
There are no extant examples – the only thing we can do is guess how it was made and this is my take on how to recreate this headwear to make it look as in the woodcuts and paintings.

There are many varieties of this hat – different regions had different fashions and the decorations varried depending on how wealthy the womans family was and if the stuchlein was ment for every day use or for special occasions.
The stuchlein was the headwear of married women. And it also stated that the woman was no longer a virgin. If a woman lost her virginity – the norm was that sje has to cover her hair. This way the stuchlein and the schleier (veil) could become a stigma if the woman had lost her virginity ouside of marrige. ( The article ”Haubendämmerung” by Jutta Zander-Seidel, 2010).

The stuchlein was made of at least 3 parts – sometimes even 4.
First you wore a linnen cap. This way you protected the wulsthaube – the second part of this headwear – from getting dirty from your hairs oils and dirt. The wulsthaube was a cap with a stuffed roll attatched to it to get the volume at the vack of the head that is typical for the stuchlein. The stuffed roll was either sewn to a cap or laced to it – there are different takes on this and it is quite possible that both ways of construction existed.
After that you wore a cover that could either be just a schleier (veil) or a decorated or richely decorated cap. The veil often had a long tail that was either wrapped under the chin and then fastened at the side of the headwear with a pin, or the long tail could be wrapped around the wearers arm.
The decorated caps could be decorated with different trims making up a pattern of stripes and they could also be embellished with jewels. If the ouer cap was decorated with jewels and expensive embroideries – the women often wore a very thin veil on top of it so that the decorations could be seen through the light fabric but at the same time the valuable decoratoons were protected.

Here are some pictures that shows some stuchleins that have inspired me to this project.

Award – and why it has been quiet

A few weeks ago, I got this award from my friend that writes the blog One Year and Thousand Eggs.
I will now answer the questions and forward the award.

1. When did you start your blog?
The first entry was made 12:th of August 2010.

2. What is it about?
It is about costume history and the textile projects I make to use in the SCA and about the research I do to find out more about the different items I try to reconstruct. I mainly do German 16:th century, but I dabble in viking things and soon also 14:th century. It is possible that I will also post some things abou calligraphy and illumination since that is another thing I really enjoy.
3. What are the differences between this blog than others?
I am not sure that there is a big difference between my blog and other textile history blogs – and I am fine with that. I do try to think a bit outside just the textile angle and think about who would have worn this item, what would their life have been, who would have made it and such things. In my eyes it is easy to reconstruct the item, but a lot harder to put oneself in the shoes of the historic person wearing the items. The context of the modern world makes it hard to picture how life would have been 500 years ago. But to be able to reconstruct an item so that it is practical for the persom who would have worn it, is impossible without understanding at least some bits of that persons life. Would she cook over an open fire? Would she walk long distances? Would she have someone to help her get dressed?
4. Why did you started it?
I wanted to share my knowledge and make myself document all the things I do. Before this blog I kept my knowledge in my head – not really writing it down. This way I gather my sources for my teaching and at the same time I get feedback from others that enjoy researching the same kind of things. I am a big fan of constructive critisism and whenever anyone gives me a new angle on things or hint about a new source I fet very excited!
5. What would you like to chance in your blog?
I wish I had time to do more posts. And I am still trying to work out how WordPress works. I am not really a computer wizzard. 😉
And the award goes for these 5 gorgeus blogs:

Cristina’s ramblings

Lia’s projects

In deme Jare Cristi

Eva’s journal

Racaire’s Embroidery & Needlework

Now to why it has been so quiet here.
The 7:th of March I went through shoulder surgery and my left arm is in a slin 24/7 for 6 weeks.
I am using this time to read up on a class I am planing to teach at Double Wars at the end of May.
But I am hoping to be able to post on some sort of project very soon!

About being good at everything

Since I am planing to do some extensive embroidery on the cranach dress I am currently gathering information and materials for, I started reading up on medieval/renaissance embroidery a bit more. And even though this has been said about fivehundred times and even if I have been aware about this before – it is not in the modern human beings nature to picture different parts of a costume as seperate pieces of work.
We want to be able to do them ALL and ofcourse – with perfect result.
It is hard to remember that for instance the fur lining of something was not made by the tailor. And that the embroidered decorations were the work of someone else aswell.
Or 5 someone elses in some cases…
When we do our reconstructions, we want to do what perhaps 4 different masters made together – but we want to make it even better than they did back in the days.
Now, isn’t that slightly insulting to the skills of the old time masters?
Or actually – isn’t that WAY to much preasure to put on oneself?!
To make a master embroiderer or embroideress you had to be aprenticed for at least 8 years according to the regulations for Paris embroiderers drawn up and aproved 1303. (Medieval craftsmen, Embroiderers, Kay Stanland, Tne Brittish Museum Press, Page 13.)
You were not allowed to work after sunset and you were not allowed to work on any fast days or holidays.
Now, we can omit all that, but the fact remains: This was their day job and they worked really hard to gain the skills of a Master or Mistress.
We do not pressume to emidiately have the same skills as a Saville Row Tailor theese days.
We do not think that by just liking and having an interest for architecture we would be able to draw and build our own house with a perfect result – on our first try.
But when it comes to recreating medieval or renaissance cotumes – we sometimes tend to think that we can achive what it took masters YEARS to achieve – in just a few weekends.
So, what I am trying to say is that we should sometimes give ourselves a break.
And be good enough.
Do really good for a first try.
And dare to admit that we might not be able to be a Master tailor, Master embroiderer, a Master goldsmith and a Master weaver at the same time