Tag Archives: A&S

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.



War of the Trillium

From June 26th until July 1st of this year, The War of The Trillium was fought, once again, in the Barony of Septentria (that’s in the Kingdom of Ealdormere, just so you know). Trillies is the largest camping event annually held in Ealdormere with attendance ranging from 300-450 gentles.

It was a stressful time leading up to the event. I had 2 new tents to deal with of a style that I had ever set up before. This was the 1st camping event for my girls and I this year so there was the endless hunt to find all of the kit. The trips to the site during the week leading up to it were too many to count (the trials of a small car, 2 kids and not enough camping experience) but the landowners were awesome and accommodating (love you guys!). Add to this my regular, ramped up anxiety levels and things were getting pretty shaky before the event.Camp Thule, day break

I camped with the Thuligans of Petrea Thule for the 1st time and those people good for my soul. It’s a smaller camp than I am used to but so many inspiring and encouraging conversations spontaneously erupting all the time. My girls were with me and dove right in. Oz quickly found herself learning to cook over an open fire with Mistress Keja and Lady Urraca and has earned herself the name “Bacon Maker” while Nemka did what she does best…wrangle kidlettes so parents could enjoy some time being kids themselves.Oz, learning about cooking fires under the watchful & enthusiastic eye of Mistress Keja

I got my brain picked and prodded by a smattering of folks and i did the same. Huge thanks to Masters Martin, Wil and Mistress Aelfwyn for letting me get me woodworking geek on and to Mistress Keja for introducing me to the term “experimental archaeology”. Gods only know where THAT will take me. Everyone in camp was very supportive of me making stuff and showing to others. In fact, these nutters convinced me to challenge into a Arts & Science group with a proposed 12 month project. I do not know if the Fian will accept my proposal or not but, in theory, I’ll have to talk about it during Court at Pennsic. Oi!

Royal Court was a busy place. The Honourable Lady Tarian was elevated to the Order of the Laurel and three other gentles we’re placed on vigil (one each for the Order of the Laurel, Pelican and Chivalry). I am unsure when/where the P and L will occur but the knighting will take place at Pennsic. That will be kinda cool for me as I have never witnessed a knighting before. I became Baronial Archery Champion (in Baronial Court on Monday). It’s a good gig for me because 1, it ensures I attend court more often and get dressed up for it and 2, I get to talk about archery and encourage more wannabe archers within Septentria.

Like many people, I viewed Trillies as a practice round for Pennsic. It’s a good time to figure out canvas, what you really need in camp, how to pack it and the general logistics of a longer camping event. I am so very glad I did this. Honestly, my preparations and packing for Trillies were horrible, but I learned a lot. Luckily I am borrowing a trailer for Pennsic so I don’t need to spend as much time tetrising my kit. The other cool thing is that I will have that trailer 2 weeks before departure so I have lots of time to pack and be organized.

And THAT is where we officially enter the realm of fantasy.

Kingdom Arts and Sciences, Spring 2014 Faire

On March 29th, the Barony of Ben Dunfirth hosted Ealdormere’s Arts and Sciences, Spring 2014 Faire. It’s an opportunity for the Kingdom’s makers-of-all-the-things to come out and share what they have been working on. This is the first year that I have attended A&S and I was blown away by the talent shown by the populace, on such a diverse range of topics! We had painters, weavers, leather workers, embroiders, textile junkies, musicians and so much more.

I recently had trouble with the tablet weaving loom I was using. When I decided to built a new one in a more period style, Master Daffyd suggested that I document the process and enter it in A&S. Below is a copy of my documentation.


So then, I built a loom

by Einar Inn Austrifara Josepsson

March, 2014


I have recently discovered that tablet weaving can be a rather mentally therapeutic activity for me. To date, I have only attempted simple patterns with the entire stack of tablets turning as one unit so there is comfort in the simple rhythm and my brain can go into sleep mode (mostly). Through liberal application of brute force, I have managed to damage my original loom. I could have easily made another using tougher materials but that’s not really how my mind works. Knowing that there had to be a more difficult process, I set out to find it.

And I did.

What have we got here?

This is a tablet weaving loom, based on the loom components found as part of the Oseberg burial find. It is not intended to be a replica or recreation.

How did he do that?!?!

For the construction of this loom, I relied on modern tools and woodworking techniques. For me, the process was less important than the need for a functional loom.

lumber pile

I began with a 4 foot length of 8/4 kiln dried ash. I found some anecdotal evidence that the original was made from alder but as they say, “the jury is still out on that”. Ash seemed like a good choice for a few reasons: it is readily available to me, I’ve worked with it before (different woods behave in different ways when put to the tools) and because while ash is very strong timber, it also has some flex to it (which should serve well under the tension of the threads). The uprights were milled out and turned on my lathe. Like the original, I made them approximately 3 feet long. Where I varied the design the most was with the length of the loom. On the advice of Master Rufus of Stamford, I made sure the longest pieces would fit inside the trunk of my car so I could break it down and transport it to events. So, I made the two horizontal pieces 4 feet long.


The base was made by attaching the feet to the lower crosspiece via glue and wood screws; the uprights insert into holes drilled in the feet. (The original does not share how this had been done. It is reasonable to assume some form of sliding dovetail or lap joint was used, possibly reinforced with pegs). The cross bar is secured via through mortise and tenon joints on each end. I made the crossbar a little longer than it ought to be for 2 reasons. Number 1, I did not want to use any wedges or pegs to secure it to the uprights (too much work and they could go missing) and number 2, the uprights fit a tad loose into the holes in the feet. By making the crossbar a little longer, it forces the uprights outward, creating pressure where the uprights join the base. This results in the uprights locking into the base. The tension/compression between the uprights and the cross bar help ensure rigidity in the loom.

 At this time, I am undecided as to how I want to decorate or embellish the loom. Except for the portion of the uprights which will be in contact with the threads, I have not attempted to sand or finish the surface of the wood in any way (the uprights have been sanded to 400 grit sandpaper, with no finish applied). The rest of the loom will host some knot work patterns, carving or paint as time and ambition present themselves.

 The tools used in the construction were: various power saws, wood lathe, drill press, mortise and paring chisels, a variety of measuring/marking/layout tools, my mp3 player (music is essential) and band aids (2 of them).

Yeah, but is it period?

In 834AD, human remains and a variety of grave goods were interred at what is now known as the Oseberg farm near Tønsberg, Norway1. Among the grave goods were a variety of textiles, including 52 threaded tablets used for weaving. They were attached to uprights of a weaving frame. Below is an artists rendering of how the loom might have looked.


As stated previously, the loom I build is shorter in length than the original. The feet are of a different design as are the embellishments to the base.

That’s all very nice but WHY did you build it?

Very simply, because I damaged my original loom. Here it is…

original loom 1

original loom 2

As you can see in the 2nd picture, the base of my loom has bent. The result of this is that the threads no longer stay in tension very well. This happened for 2 reasons: # 1, plywood was not the best choice of material and # 2, I applied too much pressure to the clamping mechanism. Besides its flexibility, another problem with the plywood is that the bolts going through the clamp block had stripped and were turning freely on their own. This resulted in me needing both hands to simply tighten the clamping mechanism and THAT meant that I no longer had a free hand to tension the wrap in a consistent fashion. I don’t believe any of this would have happened if I had been a touch more delicate while clamping things down in the first place.

All of this brought me to question if there was a style of loom that did not rely on any sort of clamping device to secure the threads. My intense attraction to being comfortable plus my tendency to be easily distracted made me feel that a back-strap loom was not the best choice for me. Also, I discounted an inkle loom because I knew it was not a piece of period equipment and thus, not terribly suitable as a possible A&S project (besides, every kid has one of those).

When I saw pictures of and read a bit about the loom found at Oseberg, I was intrigued. I wasn’t sure how the threads were attached to the loom however, I knew it was done without any kind of mechanism. This appealed to me greatly. Further research and discussion with other weavers led me to know I could shorten the overall length of the loom so it would be portable yet still highly functional.


Now I had a type of loom with no moving parts, that was portable and of a period design. So, I went with it.

But, where does the woe and strife come into the story?

I ran into 2 difficulties with this project: measurements and documentation.

Most of the woodworking I do takes place at my lathe where I have been known to say, “Measurements? What are those?” Very little of my work requires taking or transferring accurate measurements. Wood joinery (the fitting together of two or more pieces of wood to create a new shape) requires that measurements be taken and accurately transferred to multiple pieces of wood. I am horrible at this and that is why I had a tough time cutting the mortise and tenon joins for the cross bar. I actually messed up the first cross bar so badly that a second attempt was required with a fresh piece of wood. On top of that, it had been quite some time since I had worked with wood outside of my lathe. My skills with those tools had greatly diminished.

The second true difficulty I had was in the write up. As the song says, “I’ve not tried to research, since my high school days” and I found to process very stressful. I do not have a great deal of books on my shelf related SCA pursuits. My local library is either void of what I need or I lack the research chops to find it. This leaves the internet and asking other people for help. The internet, of course, holds loads of information but I rarely know if what I’m reading is good source or not.

The great thing about Scadians is that they love to share what they know or help you find something. The trouble is that I’m not great at asking. Call it anxiety or a lack of social communication skills. Either way, it is a very real problem.

The other part of research and documentation that troubles me is the writing of it. When I try to write in a professional, scholarly fashion I fail miserably. I switch between 1st and 3rd person , mix up my verb tenses and generally make a hash of it. The best writing I do is when I write like I speak (though with fewer expletives). It’s usually easy to read and understand which is great for most readers but, not very research-y. This too worries me.

Moving forward…

The biggest thing I got out of this project was the knowledge that there are good people around me who are willing and eager to share what they know. It also reaffirmed that I feel better when I am making things and for a variety of reasons, I haven’t felt like doing that lately. I am also reminded that we each have very different experiences and skill sets and that what I find second-nature or intuitive, others will have never considered (and vice verse). Remembering this will serve me well whenever I writing about my work.

The next step in terms of my weaving will be learning how to warp up my thread, secure it to this loom and quite frankly, see if this loom will make my weaving easier or not. If it does not, well, there’s always another A&S competition and this one will make for some nice, decorative tent pegs. I am quite certain that I will rebuild my original loom so that I can have multiple projects on the go at once.

Thank you.

1Durham, Keith. Noon, Steve. (2002). Viking Longship Osprey Publishing ISBN 1-84176-349-7