The past two weeks have been all Gulf Wars, all the time. Between prep and travel and going there, I’ve been doing not much else. So now that I’m back I can take a breather and slow down a bit.
ANYWAY. Gulf Wars was an utter blast, and I am so happy I went for the whole week. I think that initially I had planned on doing many different kinds of things, but in the end, I ended up learning to dye fiber. I also learned a Polish knitting technique, some new Hindi techniques, and did a lot of hanging out with people I hardly ever get to hang out with (and some I hang out with all the time).
I borrowed a little square tent from my apprentice brother, and it was swell. Thanks to the suggestion of Sebastianos (thanks to him a million times) about making a boat out of the tarp under my tent, my things stayed dry throughout the rainstorm on Sunday evening (or was it Monday?). There was a brief moment of panic at about 1am, when the lightning started up and I realized that I had a tall aluminum pole holding up the center of my tent, but honestly there wasn’t much I could do about it at the time, so I went back to sleep. I learned later that Mistress Rosemounde had been struck by lightning in a very similar situation, and was glad that I found that out after the fact. I like sleeping.
My cute little tent, with its bells and lanterns:
I was lent the plastic rug (yay for less grass inside the tent) and the Baronial banner. I liked the small tent, but in the future, when I buy one for myself, I think I’ll be more inclined to a rectangular tent. I like not having everything right inside the door. We’re still researching it. We found this amazing red picture-perfect Mughal tent that we’re salivating over, but it will probably take us a good while before we decide for sure.
The camp was part of the Southern Consortium’s land, made up of much of the southern Georgia groups, and this time including the Barony. It also usually contains House Silver Oak, which is my apprentice brother’s group of folks. At any rate, it was a snazzy, snazzy camp:
(Obviously not the entire thing, but you get a good idea of how awesome it all was. I love period pavilions.)
Even though I had the best intentions to learn gilding and calligraphy and weaving and many other things, I ended up at the wet textiles area, learning to dye fabric. Day one was mordants (things you treat the fiber with either before or after dyeing that improve the colorfastness and can change the color of the dyes). Day 2 was reds, and to my utter amazement I worked with another person to redact a 6th-century recipe for alkanet purple from an alchemist’s manuscript (Leyden Papyrus X). Here’s what alkanet looks like before you do stuff to it:
It’s the woody coating on a large, bulbous root. It smells terrible when you get it wet, and stains your hands pretty well. Others were working with madder root and cochineal, which both yield some pretty brilliant colors. Ours was a sort of purpley burgundy.
To start, we used rubbing alcohol to pull the dye from the plant matter. We put it in a regular canning jar. You can see how potent the stuff got:
I put a little fiber in it and the unmordanted piece was this deep blood red. The iron mordanted sample was almost black! My cuticles were also deep red for most of the day, prompting people to ask me if I was bleeding. Thankfully that wore off a few days later.
Then we took the alkanet and put it into a saltwater and tartaric acid bath, which gave us a lighter purple, but if left for a few days deepened to a lovely shade. One of the dyers dyed her stuff with a range from yellow to deep blue:
The big pickle jar on the end of the row contains the alkanet mixture. Sadly, my alkanet sample vanished, but I did take photos of the other dyers’ results. The far left is alkanet, the peach is the last of the madder, the yellow is what we were calling “disappointing safflower” (the safflowers must be washed clean of the yellow they produce before they can make red, and while the water was very yellow, the fibers didn’t take much of it), and the blues are 1, 2 and 3 dips into the indigo vat. I also dyed a choli with marigold and indigo, and got it to go through a range of colors from acid green to a sort of greeny-blue, which is where it is now. I need to wash it; the indigo requires a quantity of urea, and the choli really stinks.
I think I’ll be doing more experimentation with the alkanet. I certainly have the dye bug. Now I guess it’s time to email Mistress Dominica and set up our dye weekend!
I also entered my Egyptian book into the A&S Champion’s Battle. The setup was mostly the same as before, except that I had more table space and could show all the examples this time. The comment was made in judging that I should probably organize my display a little better (put examples on a standup thing). This is a good bit of feedback, and one I hadn’t considered; there was a different emphasis put on the display portion of the entry than what I’m used to in Meridies.
I did get incredibly useful feedback from the judges, primarily to the tune of “you have a lot of stuff you can work on, but you seem to know what that is,” and then had an hour-long conversation with Dame Dredda, one of the judges, on how I can improve my process in the future. She gave me some good tips on tooling and gilding techniques, and I can’t wait to get started. Luckily, Pergamena had a booth in Merchant’s Row, and I bought two hides on the spot, so I can get started soon! With the alkanet and the new Mughal coat I’m working on, that makes three entries into Kingdom A&S, and therefore a qualifying set for A&S Champion. Wish me luck!
The next day I had the pleasure of talking not only to Dame Dredda, but to the lovely binder of this book:
She’s from Ethelmarc, the Barony of Septentria. The book is the history of the Barony as told by a baronial bard. She laid out the text after a period document, then bound it into a volume. It is incredibly cool. She’s also doing research on wheat paste preservation methods. I am incredibly happy to have met her.
She even bound her documentation!
I need to step up my game.
And there was also this, which was the most exquisite reversible blackwork I think I’ve ever seen:
I did watch a little fighting:
Went to the Meridian Social with Their Excellencies South Downs and Master Ximon (depicted here as Captain Meridies):
And spent the entirety of the Known World Party gabbing with new friends from Trimeris while skewering all the chicken ever. And it was worth it. That chicken lasted until roughly 15 minutes before the party was over.
The rest of the time was spent hanging out with old friends, new friends, and my campmates. I now know two additional Indian-personae’d folk (Lord Maraha and Kalika), got to know Mistress Aileghean and Baron Dougal, and ate some damned fine barbecue on Saturday night.
On the way home, we were greeted with this headline (which accompanied an article on the fencers of the War):
Got stuck in this:
And appealed to Ganesh to move the cars:
Which he did. We started moving, and I instructed Adela to eat the treats so they wouldn’t fall on the floor. As soon as she did, the traffic stopped again. I quickly piled a few pieces of papaya on the dashboard, and we had smooth sailing all the way until I bottomed out the van on a concrete divider not 10 miles from Adela’s house.
I had intended to leave Ganesh on the dash, but have taken him with me, since he appears not to like protecting that car so much. I promised them another little murti.
Whew. April is the month of many events, with Fool’s War, Coronation and Dreamstone all back-to-back. I had wanted to go to Iris Faire, but it’s Dreamstone weekend, so that’s not likely. Oh, well.
But I can still dye all the things.
I assume you know of Kim Salazar (http://www.string-or-nothing.com/). But in case you don’t, she’s been doing some amazing blackwork lately. 🙂
No, I did not! However, I have to admit that I’m more an appreciative observer of blackwork than a dedicated practitioner. I’ve taken a few classes, but that’s about it.
Dye all the things! Skewer all the chicken ever!
I hope your Mughal coat recovers from the chicken uck.
All the chicken!
I soaped up the coat pretty well, and I think a run through the wash should get the rest of it. It was mostly just uncomfortably clammy.