Monthly Archives: September 2014

White Wolf Fian

There is an Arts and Sciences group in Ealdormere called the White Wolf Fian. It is a challenge-based order where membership and successful completion of a project conveys no rank or award beyond being able to say, “I did it!!!”. The goal of the Fian is to push artisans to a higher level of skill and knowledge in a particular field or topic. Challenges are to be of an intermediate level (with the Kingdom A&S rules as a guideline) and require between 6 months and 1year to complete. During Royal Court at Pennsic XLIII, I challenged for admission to the Fian.

My challenge is  straightforward…build a pole lathe, the tools needed to work on it and produce some functional bowls. Sounds simple enough but I think this poses a few significant challenges for me.

1. The tools used for making bowls and cups are called hook tools. The only way to acquire them in the 21st century is from a few select blacksmiths, most of whom live in the UK and Europe. These smiths charge a fair rate for their work but it is out of my price range. So, I need to make my own. Lots of greenwood turners do this but my only attempt thus far was a dismal failure, which makes me a little nervous.

2.  The lathe itself, while not requiring a high level of precision, is nonetheless a very large project for me. I mean, I’m a woodturner. I make wooden bowls, cups and urns. A lathe is a large piece of furniture! Heck, it’s  industrial equipment! Oh, did I mention that I am inept at measuring anything accurately? Yeah, furniture sort of depends on measurements for its creation so this will be a challenge for me…a very big challenge.

3.  As I said, I am a professional woodturner and I am pretty good at what I do. I know my way around my lathe and arsenal of gouges and chisels. Woodturning on a pole lathe requires very different tools and techniques to what I used to. Imagine putting a 9ft spear in the hands of the best fencer in the Kingdom. They still understand distance and timing but can’t make it work with a log in their hands. When it comes to hook tools for making bowls, I am that fencer. I understand wood and how steel can be used to cut it but this will demand a whole new set of biomechanics (never mind that I’ll be standing on one leg while the other pumps up and down on the treadle!).

The first will be building something I can use as a forge. I will not be using a coal forge because while that would be a more period method, I am not up for the mess and expense. The challenge is to create bowls using period techniques, not become a blacksmith (I’ll save that for another time). I’ll be using some firebricks and a propane torch for my heat, a hammer and anvil to shape the tools.and a combination of my modern grinder and slips tones to create the cutting edge.

Of course, I will document the entire process here. You have been warned.

Thanks for stopping by.



Scadians are funny that way

Yesterday I attended the wedding of Russ Sheldon (Master Dafydd, my shrub) and Valerie West (THL Mathild). This was my first purely mundane event involving a healthy mix of Scadians and non-Scadians alike. Though the weather looked questionable at times, the rain held off and an ok day turned into a wonderful night.

The wedding was held at Russ and Val’s home. They had arranged for a pair of large tents to occupy their front yard (which is about the size of a soccer field). The first, where the ceremony was held, was about 30ft x 60ft. It was connected to the much larger reception tent via a covered walkway, which housed the bar. The ceremony was lovely, touching and fairly short in duration (no hymms were sung. Woohoo!). After they exchanged vows, signed the necessary paperwork, posed for a few pictures and stepped outside to form something of a receiving line, something weird happened…

All of the Scadians stood up, folded up the chairs and started carrying them into the reception tent to be placed where we would be eating. Seeing what was going on, the mundanes started doing the same. The event catering staff were lost. They didn’t know what to make of this. Wedding guests, in their experience, don’t move furniture. Scadians, on the other hand, can clear a hall of tables and chairs faster than your average Class 5 tornado. We are used to it. We lend a hand and help (especially if there is lifting to be done). It’s what we do.

We’re funny like that.