Shield v.3

A while ago I remade my first heater shield into a centergrip. It worked much better that way than it ever did strapped, but it has recently become battered enough that it’s time to replace it. I cut the same shape out of two layers of 1/4″ birch plywood and glued them together in the shield press with a slight curve. I cut out the hole for the center, leaving a strip through the center to use as the handle. I painted the front and back and padded the handle with foam weather stripping front and back, covered with duct tape and athletic grip tape. The edge is covered with metal-cored plastic edging from McMaster-Carr, with rawhide from Viking Leathercrafts sewn over it. As before, I filled the back with a handy list of chivalric virtues and the poem I wrote for my second shield. I also added copies of my relevant paperwork for convenience during armor inspection.


IMG_1843IMG_1842On the occasion of the investiture of Bjorn and Genevieve as Baron and Baroness of Iron Mountain, I decided to make a fur muff as a gift for Her Excellency. For good measure, I made a pair of matching muffs for the Queen and Princess as well. Most of the materials came from my stash, except for the beads for the buttons and the chains and the satin for the appliques. The red muff is a damask of unknown fiber content, interlined with two layers of polar fleece and lined and trimmed with fake fur. The cords are fingerlooped from cotton crochet yarn, which was also used to make the thread wrapped buttons. The applique is polyester satin glued to a paper backing and outlined in couched cord. The black and white muff is made from similar materials an in a similar fashion, except for the shell being made of velvet and the applique involving some extra chain stitch, back stitch, and beads in the center. This was not a very deeply researched project, but it was pretty satisfying for being done on relatively short notice. Stella, Serafina, Veronica, and Sefa helped with many aspects of the construction.

Lorayne Alman

Recently Her Highness Emelyne, Crown Princess of Meridies, asked me to suggest a dance to open her White Rose Ball, and I was happy to offer Lorayne Alman as an option that was simple, pretty, and (with the aid of musicians) able to go for as short or long a time as desired. As I suggested the dance, it behooves me to provide some instruction for those unfamiliar with the steps.

Lorayne Alman appears in one of the Inns of Court manuscripts from 1570, and matching music can be found in contemporary sources. Discussion of these sources can be found in Practise for Dauncinge. The steps are as follows:

Part A:

  • 4 alman doubles forward, hopping

Part B:

  • 1 alman double forward
  • 1 alman double backward
  • 1 alman double forward
  • turn to the outside
  • repeat Part B

All of the steps in this dance are doubles, which are with three steps and a pause: left, right, left, pause. A left double is done first, followed by a right double: right, left, right, pause. Left and right alternate for the duration of the dance. That said, it is generally not important (and, for ladies, not visible) if one is on the wrong foot in this dance.

While the source for this dance refers to the step simply as a “duble”, we look to Arbeau’s Orchesography (1589) for a description of how the double is done in an Alman. Arbeau describes it as “three steps and one grève or pied en l’air“, which is to say to take three steps and then raise the foot in the air on the fourth beat during the pause. It is not necessary to raise the foot quite as high as the illustration shows, though you are welcome to do so if you desire. In part A of this dance, there is also a hop on the fourth beat of the double, making the entire sequence step, step, step, hop with foot in the air.

Aside from doubles forward and back, there is a turn, which is done to the left by the men (who are standing on the left) and to the right by the ladies, so that they are turning away from each other and end facing forward once more. As far as the feet are concerned, this is simply another double that happens to go in a circle instead of a straight line.

There are two ways to determine that you are in the second part of the dance where the backward double occurs. First, you can listen to the music, which has a different melody for the A and B sections. Second, you may recall that the A section of the dance has doubles with hops at the end, while the B section has no hops. This means that if the couple in front of you just did a double with no hop, then you are about to go backwards. In any case, the music is not so fast that it is very difficult to change directions should you begin going forward instead of backward.


There is a commonly used arrangement of the music available here for musicians, and also recordings freely available for dancers to practice to:

Arming Points

arming_point4I had some trouble using leather laces to attach my leg armor to my new arming doublet, so I decided that was a part of my kit that needed an upgrade. On the advice of my jouster friend I decided to try making them from waxed braided hemp. I had a ball of ~1mm hemp cord lying around, so I gave it a try using a plain old 3-strand plait (with the help of a binder clip to tie off on). A random pillar candle supplied wax, which I melted into the braid with an iron and a press cloth. Two or three applications of wax seemed to be enough to give a smoother surface, though it certainly did not completely penetrate the fibers of the braid. The ends were trimmed to length and impregnated with wood glue.

I made aglets in the usual method from 0.010″ brass sheet, about 2.5″ long and blunt on the end. Since the braid was somewhat variable in width due to the cord I used, I finished each aglet by crimping it onto the end where it was going to be installed. They were then attached with a bit of E6000.

Ode to a Shield

IMG_1454A shield lives not for glory,
Like the sword of shining steel;
Upon its face the story
Of its owner is revealed.

While swords have names and pedigrees
A shield is thrown away,
Content to have the chance to be
The one that saved the day.

For though a sword may win a war
And pay its bloody cost,
The shield should be remembered for
Each war that isn’t lost.

This was written to go on the back of my shield.

Shield v.2 – Finished

Testing straps for the shield handle

Testing straps for the shield handle

Water-softened rawhide edging held in place with binder clips

Water-softened rawhide edging held in place with binder clips

Carpet tacks used to hold ends of edging

Carpet tacks used to hold ends of edging


Saddle stitching with waxed linen thread

Completed hardware including leather-wrapped foam pad

Completed hardware including leather-wrapped foam pad

Finished shield front

Finished shield front

Shield v.2 – Shield Press

I never expected my first heater shield to be my Forever Shield, so it’s no surprise that I’m making a new one. At the regional fighter practice, I was informed by a knight of great wisdom and experience that I was using the wrong shield for me. After borrowing his shield for a few fights, I was convinced that he was right and decided to take his advice.

The plan for the new shield is a 22″ x 32″ heater (vs ~24″ x 28″ for the old one) with a ~1/5″ curve. This website has some neat ideas that I plan to pilfer, and I found some nice instructions on rawhide edging here. The first step is to construct the body of the shield.


I didn’t want to spend too much money or effort on building the shield press, so I made this frame out of 2×4’s screwed together.


I cut two pieces of 1/4″ birch plywood roughly 24″ x 36″ so I had enough space to trim things up when I was done. Both pieces were liberally coated with wood glue.


I drew the shape of the shield is drawn on the inside layer, then put the two together on the frame. Another 2×4 and a pair of wood clamps provided the pressure for the glue and the curvature.



I cranked the clamps down on either end until I had about the curve I wanted. Now I’ll let it sit for a few days to dry and hope that it turns out.


Folding Trestle Table: Trestle v2.0

The original folding trestle table was a quick proof of concept, which did the job of showing how the thing worked. Unburdened by reckless eagerness, I put in some proper shop time to make a nicer version. This one was made to the same dimensions out of some oak reclaimed from an unknown past project. The construction is all mortise and tenon (with liberal use of power tools), but otherwise has the same form as the first one. I applied two coats of spar varnish while the two frames were still separate. To allow for this, the hinge this time involved a hole through the full width of the inside frame and another halfway through the outside frame. The inner hole is exactly 3/8″ to allow for the hinge pin to have a snug fit, while the outer hole is 1/64″ larger so the hinge can move freely.

The only part that is visibly different in form is the ring/hook hardware for the adjustment chains. The description of the example in the V&A is fairly informative, though there is no picture of this feature:

Two iron chains (of 13 long links) are fixed to one upper stretcher on rings, any link of the chain fitting over an iron hook in the opposite upper stretcher, so as to secure the trestle open and adjust the table height. The two hooks and rings are driven through the stretchers and the split ends bent over.

To approximate this arrangement, I again made use of the ever-present coat hangers, in a slightly more complex manner.

Rhyme Royal: Distant Stars

When I was young I looked up to the sky
And saw the far-off stars as points of light
That sparkled as they slowly drifted by
To fill my eyes and spirit with delight.
	I sat, earthbound, and watched them through the night,
	Not knowing what those distant lights might be
	Or what they thought when they looked down at me.
As years went by I climbed the mountain peak;
I leaped and climbed and, in due time, I flew
So high above the clouds that I might seek
An audience with stars so bright and true.
	The wonder of my boyhood only grew
	When I learned that the beauty of a star
	Is greater still up close than from afar.

This was inspired by the Queens I have met, and the privilege of knowing them.

Blue Satin Cioppa: Beginning

IMG_1210I wanted to have something new for our upcoming investiture, so I decided to make a new cioppa. I got a decent deal on some blue silk satin, and I have black velvet for trim and white satin for lining in my stash already. The body of the cioppa is pretty much the same as the Pesellino cioppa, except with the normal 6 pleats per section rather than 3. After wearing the other cioppa for a while I will also omit stay tapes below the waist (at least in front), as they make things lay funny when sitting. This cioppa is primarily intended for wearing in court, so looking right when sitting is important. I am also making it with short sleeves, which are uncommon but do pop up from time to time in period images. As much as I like my giant sleeves, I don’t want to have to deal with them in a court setting. If I really don’t like the short sleeves, I should have enough fabric left over to make some larger ones.

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