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Medieval Wood-working, Embroidery, and Wood-burning

With History Alive only a month or so away, everyone at Blackwolf is knuckling down to complete remaining projects to be ready for the start of the medieval enactment season in Queensland.

This weekend The Duke led Ann, Neil, Greg, Steff, Gabe, and Alex in a frenzy of medieval trunk making.

Each trunk is initially held together with modern screws to get the shapes and levels correct. Then each screw is painstakingly replaced with a medieval period wooden dowel until the entire trunk is built sturdily and accurately in medieval style. They’re doing a fantastic job and should have them finished by next week.

Ann worked steadily on a medieval embroidery project: embellishing the medieval Scottish cowl she made for Neil. The color is gorgeous and the stitches intricate and detailed. It’s going to be stunning when finished.

Alex and Gabe headed out to the battlefield for medieval combat practice under the expert eye and tutelage of Greg. They used wooden sticks for practice, honing their technique before moving on to metal weapons.

Poppit gave a simple wooden cutting board a Finnish flair by burning in traditional Finnish symbols representing hunting, gathering, and other food-related situations. She added her own creative twist to the embellishments on the edges. She’s also working with the Duke creating patterns for her medieval Finnish garb.

Far-flung Blackwolf members have also been busy. Jessie and Katie are working steadily finishing up their new garb, and Stacey and Shaun are completing sewing and leather-work projects for theirs.  Marie is busy knitting medieval mittens and coin purses for display with our other caravan wares.

It’s going to be a fantastic medieval season and we can’t wait to get to our first camp.

What creative projects are inspiring you these days?

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Medieval Poles, Pegs, Cloaks, and Medieval Herbs

It was great to get back to our many medieval projects this weekend after the Easter break.

Fang made a gorgeous medieval tartan cowl for Patrick and today he worked on the leather clasps for the openings.

Trygg finished sanding a whole stack of medieval tent pegs just in time for us to put up our new medieval gathering tent.

Fang and the Duke measured and cut and drilled the new spreaders for the kitchen tent.

After last year’s deluge at History Alive which collapsed the tent with the weight of the water, we vowed to make spreaders to keep everything standing and enable the water to pour off without pooling.

Their invention works brilliantly and Fang and Yliana are delighted to have a tent to cook in that isn’t going to fall around their ears.

Yliana got busy preparing for her talk on medieval medicine by cutting and hanging herbs to dry. So far she has thyme, basil, oregano, mint, and lemon balm, and will be collecting more in the future.

Other members of the crew weren’t able to make it, but they’re busy working at home sewing medieval garb, creating medieval armor, and developing their medieval personas.

It’s going to be a great medieval season in Queensland!

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Medieval Medical Instruments and A Blogging Break

Each medieval persona in Blackwolf has a unique set of tools necessary to their trade.

A medieval blacksmith needs a forge.

A medieval archer needs bow and arrows.

And a medieval shaman/healer needs medical tools.

The healer in the Blackwolf caravan is Yliana, a Finnish shaman. She carries a collection of various tools needed for events such as fishing out arrows from a wounded torso…

…cutting up strips of material to bind an open sore…

…and even (shudder) removing a shattered limb.

medieval bone saw

Some are simple tools, easily used for numerous purposes such as pulling teeth or cutting off stems of healing herbs.

Others are tiny, such as these medieval Viking shears, very handy for snipping threads after a wound has been stitched closed.

This medieval rocking knife is very handy for chopping fresh and dried herbs to be used in poultices or healing brews.

Yliana has an assortment of spoons and ladles and innumerable pots of dried herbs, spices, oils, and vinegars to use in her concoctions as needed.

She also carries a leather bound journal where she sketches new plants she discovers in our travels, noting their properties and capabilities. She also interviews physics and healers in every place we pass through, gleaning their knowledge and copying it down for future reference.

Here at Blackwolf we’ll be taking a break from blogging for the Easter break. We wish you a fantastic holiday and will see you in mid-April! 🙂

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A Day of Medieval Archery

It was gorgeous day for medieval archery yesterday as Blackwolf gathered for our weekly meeting at Citadel Vulgus.

Greg and Steff brought their beautiful medieval Magyar bows for us to try, bows designed for use by warriors and hunters on horseback.

The Duke set up a hay bale as a target and we all gathered in the yard for some medieval archery practice.

For most of us it was our first time using this type of bow. All of us fell in love with it.

The lightness, easy of operation, and lack of kick-back, not to mention the beauty of the leather-wrapped bow itself, all combined to win us over.

Magyar archers

Greg and Steff have been shooting bows of various sorts for years, so they were capable and willing to instruct the novices among us and give tips to the old hands on how to handle this new type of bow.

Greg helped us get our stance just right and understand how to pull the bow without tiring our arms out unnecessarily.

Steff showed us how to insert the arrow properly and how to raise the bow to shooting position without the arrow slipping out of alignment.

learning to shoot horse archer bow

We took turns trying our new found archery skills, cheering loudly for each other when we hit the target, groaning at near misses.

Then Greg and Steff showed us how it was done, sending arrow after arrow thwacking into the hay bale target.

Greg even taught us how to shoot from bended knee, and it was even easier than shooting standing up.

And we all got lots and lots of practice looking…

…and looking…

…and looking for arrows.

It was a marvelous time and we can’t wait to try again soon.


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How to Make Medieval Favors

After floods and car trouble and illness and other such distractions, Blackwolf is finally back together getting ready for the 2013 Medieval Season in Queensland, Australia.

This week we focused on getting things sorted for our knights to go into battle.

Right now we have three knights, but two more are studying and practicing and soon we’ll have five Blackwolf knights eager for the clash of swords.

three knights

We made favors for our knights to wear into battle. These are rectangular bits of cloth that hang from a knights belt during combat. The favor stands for the person he is representing on the field. In the case of Blackwolf, all knights are fighting in honor of The Duke.

The favors are taken or given according to activities on the battlefield. If a knight is defeated, he must give one of his favors to his vanquisher.

Favors are not merely symbolic, they also carry a weight of responsibility for the knight and the Lord or Lady he is representing.

Lady Margarete of Stirlingshire explains it well:

“No matter what a favor is made of or what it represents,
there are responsibilities that go with the giving and receiving of a favor.
When you carry someone’s favor it is an outward symbol
that you are representing that individual’s (or group’s) honor –
fighter or not.
Your actions can and will reflect upon the person (or group) whose favor you carry.
If you display honor and chivalry,
this will carry over to the person you represent.
The opposite is also true,
in that poor behavior will reflect badly on the person you represent.
If someone is carrying your favor, there are responsibilities on your part as well.
If the person carrying your favor is a fighter, he or she is fighting for you.
Pay attention while he/she fights.
Does this person represent you well on the field?
(And this has NOTHING to do with the fighter being a hot stick – it has everything to do with courtesy, chivalry and honor.)
What about off of the field?
Does this individual represent you in a positive way?
What about your own behavior?
Are you worthy of this person –
do you conduct yourself with courtesy, chivalry and honor?
Do you represent him/her in a positive way?
What can you do to help the person representing you to do this to the best of his/her ability?”

Since The Duke’s medieval device bears the colors red and black, we chose red and black fabric to make our favors. We designed them to be easy to tuck into a belt, yet sturdy enough to lie flat and not get in the way during combat.

Ann and Steff did the measuring and cutting, Krista did the sewing, and Robbie got them all turned right side out and pressed.

medieval favors

Next time we will work on making medieval tabards.

What projects are you working on this week?

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