Monday, January 30, 2012

Medieval limp bookbinding

My wedding was very DIY. We designed all the stationary and made the RSVPs ourselves. The RSVP paper was the type made to look like parchment, so I decided I wanted to use it for an illumination project (no point buying the good stuff as a beginner). I enjoy bestiaries and decided that would be a good project which would use all or most of the paper. (For those who don't know, a bestiary is a medieval catalogue of animals. They include ones we now know to be mythical and each entry typically has some sort of moral lesson.)
I'll go into the contents in a later post once I have some pages completed; for now I want to focus on the actual book itself. I decided to make one of my own and stumbled upon this [sadly dead] blog with lots of A&S tips on a variety subjects. The link will take you to her posts on bookbinding.
The style is called "limp binding" because the spine of the book isn't stiff. I've never done bookbinding before and this seemed like an easy place to start (plus we have some scrap leather lying around). I'm not going to go into how it's made or what materials you need because she does such a fantastic job of it.

The one thing she doesn't give is an idea of how far apart the holes need to be. I had found a written how-to which said half an inch from the edges was a good place for the end holes, so that's what I did. The next set in I did an inch away because that roughly seemed to be what she did for her book.

Horizontally, I ended up placing them way too far apart. I only have two signatures of four sheets each in my book and put them about half a centimeter apart. I could probably slip an entire third packet between them, so a quarter of a centimeter apart seems like a good place to start if you make your own.

The flap on mine looks completely different because I only trimmed off the part of my scrap that went beyond overlapping the front cover. It already had an appealing shape, so I decided to keep it.

It's no masterpiece, but it was a fun, worthwhile project. It was really quite easy and only took a single evening to make, so anyone doing an A&S 50 Challenge which could count this, I recommend it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A&S 50 Challenge: Persona

UPDATE: The official A&S 50 Challenge ended on May 1st, 2015, on the SCA's 50th birthday. At that time, I had 33 posts. Mundane life has unfortunately kept me from participating in the SCA more than occasionally the last couple years. I'm going to continue to update this post, however, and eventually complete the 50 posts as a personal challenge.

After surfing the web looking for more SCA blogs to read and include in the links to the side, I stumbled upon mention of the A&S 50 Challenge, which I may or may not have heard Master Christian mention in passing before (it has a feeling of deja vu to it). It's a project to do 50 things in an SCA theme before the Society's 50th birthday on May 1, 2015.  There are three tracks to choose from: depth, breadth, and persona. In the depth challenge, you make 50 of one type of thing in an effort to push your boundaries and become better at doing it. In the breadth challenge, you learn or do 50 new things. In the persona challenge, your 50 things are related to what your persona would know or do.

I've decided to participate in the persona challenge. My goal is to write 50 blog posts on topics Sarmatian. The posts have to revolve around the Sarmatians (so a post which only mentions them doesn't count). I need to make, on average, one qualifying post per month (plus two).

This sounds like a fantastic idea and I'm looking forward to participating in the community. If you're up to it, check out the website and the Yahoo! Group (or if you came here from the group, hello!) . I'm using this post to keep track of all qualifying posts and permalinking it in the top bar.

Aritê gunê Akasa's Persona 50
  1. What's a Sarmatian and why did I Choose to be one?
  2. List: Books and Articles
  3. List: Personal Names
  4. Phrygian Caps
  5. Literature Review: Sulimirski's "The Sarmatians"
  6. Kurtas
  7. Can I Register a Tamga in the SCA?
  8. Scytho-Sarmatian Zoomorphic Art Style as Illumination
  9. Two Truths and a Lie #1: Sarmatians across Eurasia
  10. Two Truths and a Lie #2: Golden Deer in a Kurgan
  11. Two Truths and a Lie #3: Weird Hat
  12. Phrygian Caps Take Two
  13. Zoomorphic Art as Illumination Take Two
  14. Possible Kurta Pattern
  15. Steppe Nomads at the Met
  16. Make Your Own Scythian Gyphon
  17. Steppe Nomad Symbolism for SCA Armory
  18. A Bit About the Jassic People
  19. Kurta made by my Husband
  20. Lit Review: A New Penguin Atlas of--
  21. A Sarmatian Timeline
  22. Turnshoes Part 1: From Foot to Paper
  23. Thoughts on Kurta Patterns
  24. 2013 Two Truths and a Lie #1: Sarmatian Tent-Wagons
  25. 2013 Two Truths and a Lie #2: On the Origin of Draco Standards
  26. 2013 Two Truths and a Lie #3: A Bit About Sarmatian Scale Mail
  27. Animals Kept By the Sarmatians
  28. Jász Linkdump
  29. Ossetian Language
  30. The Nart Saga
  31. Maybe Scythian Stuff in the Louvre?
  32. Sarmatian-related Objects in the British Museum
  33. Of Ancient Norse, Egaliarian Societies, and Burial Practices
  34. Horse Archers
  35. New Grave Find
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Heraldic, Scribal, and Dance Symposium 2012

This is a fun event which I attended last year. It's nothing but classes- lectures, discussions, participatory how-tos... It's fantastic for anyone interested in these three broad subjects from the novice to the expert. Even if you're not particularly interested in them, you can take useful classes like Awards and Sumptuary Laws of Calontir, wherein you learn which pointy hats are what rank and how to address them, who wears what color belt, and what each award is for. Last year I taught a participatory class on how to debke. This year I decided to do something related to my persona, so if you're in the neighborhood, why not attend:

 Tamga: The Pre-Heraldic Tradition of Eurasian Nomads
Eurasian nomads used abstract rune-like symbols called tamga in ways much like later standard European heraldry. Some of those funky abstract symbols in Polish heraldry may be later adaptations of them. Basic information about tamga and the particulars of the Sarmatian style will be presented with a Q&A following. 


I'm planning on about 30 minutes of lecture. I'll go over some basic information about tamgas, then switch tracks and discuss the Sarmatian style (like the blurb says). I'll have a Power Point with lots of pictures and provide a handout as well. I'm hoping I can intrigue the audience enough to provoke discussion about how tamga are like Western heraldry and how they differ, and if I'm lucky some discussion on the possible modified tamga in Polish heraldry.
The event takes place in Bellewode (Kirksville, MO) on March 31.

P.S. I haven't gotten my tamga submission together yet, though the incoming new rules seem like they might make it easier to register one. Gathering the materials and writing a convincing academic-sounding argument will take time that I, at the moment, do not have in excess.

*Debke can't without a doubt be traced back to the SCA's period, though there are snippets [that I can't re-find the citations for, grrrr] of information describing a dance that could be debke or proto-debke. It's a least closer to period than belly dance, which is extremely popular in the SCA...but that's a topic for another day.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ask the Readers: New Year's Day

Post idea stolen from Juturna, who posts questions for writers to think about.
A fun thing to do to develop your persona is to think about what they may have been doing at a given time of year. Would your persona have done anything to celebrate the arrival of a new year? Winter is about to hit full force- what sort of preparations would they be making? What would they do to pass the time indoors?

I have no idea if Sarmatians had any sort of  celebration this time of year. Holidays falling around cross-quarter days, solstices, and equinoxes were definitely tied to agriculture (when to harvest, when to plant...). It's possible they could also be tied to calving and breeding, which would be the more prominent interest of the Sarmatians given their nomadic lifestyle, but I don't recall that being mentioned in my Archaeoastronomy class.
The steppes of Eurasia would have gotten pretty cold in winter. I imagine fur-lined kurtas, pants, and caps would be made and mended right about now if they weren't already, as well as any repairs to the covering of the wagons they lived in. I'm not sure what they would have done to pass the time.