Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Woad Map

Last year, I started a little mini-series on woad and its uses. Then, I got busy getting ready for Pennsic (imagine that!) and never posted the next part of the series. At some point before Pennsic, Etaine na Preachain and I got together, and collaborated on a little mini-workshop on woad for Clanne Preachain's A&S day at Pennsic. As part of that, I created the handout you can view below! It's 100% digitally interactive and will take you to lots of great information about woad- especially on how to prepare it to be used for body paint. Each section is clickable, or you can print and use the QR codes.

~Ceanag an Craobh Dearg

Friday, July 22, 2016

Why woad?

I've seen a lot of posts recently relating to woad, so I've decided to do a little miniseries. In addition, Etaine na Preachain and I will be doing a class on modern applications for woad at Preachain's Pennsic Early Period A&S Day on August 10, 2016.

So.... many of the posts I've seen recently related to folks trying to find "alternatives" such as modern make up or modern body paint. Why find an alternative when you can use the real thing? First and foremost, I'd like to say that processed woad that can be used for body paint is pretty readily available at Pennsic. If you don't go, it's easy to ask a friend to pick you up a few balls of woad from the Liminers Guild for $4 each. I'm still looking for an online source and will add it here when I find it.

What is woad?
Woad is made from the woad plant (Isatis tinctoria). Woad is one of the original sources of blue dyes. The plant is native to Europe and has been gathered and/or cultivated by humans since the stone age.

How is the pigment in woad derived from the plant?
The leaves are chopped up into a fine paste, formed into balls, and left to dry for about four weeks. Then, it was sprinkled with water and allowed to ferment. The resulting balls are then powdered, and for use as body paint, mixed with water or whisky.

Historical Evidence for Woad as body paint
According to historical accounts, the Britons "dye their bodies with woad, which produces a blue colour" (Caesar, Gallic War, V.14; also Pomponius Mela, III.6.51). In ancient times, it seems to have been used as a ceremonial accompaniment to battle, whether to intimidate foes or paint symbols of protection.

Some scholars also speculate that the plant was believed to have magical properties, based on its medicinal applications- the ability to staunch bleeding and anti-bacterial properties (Carr, 2005). Such properties would have been ideal for a body paint worn into battle!

Modern Uses
In modern reenactment, it is used before battle to beautify and to unify, and to allow the artists to put love in the form of art on to each warrior before a battle. It is used before we have ceremonies, to signify the importance of an occasion and connect us with our ancestors. The act of applying woad is an act of art in and of itself, in which the artist strives to use the natural features of the body to enhance the woad.

Many fiber artisans who spin, dye and weave their own fabrics still use woad as a dye to achieve shades of blue and/or indigo.

Next up in the series: Processing Woad to Create Body Paint


Monday, June 27, 2016

A new foundry, more casting, and Pennsic prep

This weekend, we worked hard to get ready for Pennsic and complete a few other projects.

I was working to pressure wash our tents to prepare them for being water-sealed again.

Murdaigean and Pandishar also rebuilt the forge. We also finally got our casting sand, and so they couldn't wait to try it out:

Here's the final products, so far:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Red Branch Update

So, we made it back from Gulf Wars. Since then, without at least one truck among us, it has been harder than ever to make it to events. We did make it to Highland River Melees however, where we held a Red Branch Fundraiser Lunch.

First, there were some hilarious and awkward moments buying supplies.

Then we set up for lunch. We had so many happy customers. We'll be back next year, for sure! Here's our setup.

Later, we heard that the feastcrat's volunteers had bailed, so Chase and Ceanag headed over to help out. After we got everrything put away, Murdiagean did some woad....

All in all, a productive weekend, and we couldn't be more thrilled with the new friends we met. Next up: road to Pennsic, replete with tent repairs, tabard making, and casting!

~Ceanag an Craobh Dearg, Warlord of Red Branch

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Red Branch Gulf Wars

This Gulf Wars marked our first event at which we had our own Red Branch Camp. Getting there was quite a challenge, given that my truck blew a head gasket only 2 hours from DC. We all 4 loaded our stuff into another truck, and were on our way the next day.

Thanks to the generosity of our sister clanne, Crawhere, who gave a generous portion of their land to us. Here are some pics:

We also fielded 2 fighters and 2 waterbearers. We fought town battle and ravine battle. Here's a pic:

The day of the field battle heraleded rain, and was also St. Paddy's Day- we had planned to go to New Orleans for a day trip. However, given that heavy storms were predicted, we chose not to do our daytrip, and instead spent the day trying to "batten down the hatches".

Turns out, no amount of "battening" prepares you for an F1 when you're in a tent. Here's what it looked like:

Friday found all battles canceled and the four of us working to pick up the pieces. We got most things dried outand pre-packed before more rain came, then we headed up to the long hall. There, we spent the evening in song, and serving tasty meats and more to all who came to the long hall that evening. 

We packed up and headed out Saturday morning, stopping for a quick good-bye meal with some of the Crawhere folk at Cracker Barrel before truly hitting the road. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pennsic 43- Peace Week to Bar Bar

I can't believe Pennsic has already come and gone yet again. It was another fabulous war!

This is the second year we've camped with Dahlradia, another Celtic Clanne strongly centered in the DC metro area. Again they made us feel super welcome and like part of the family. I really hope they'll keep us- we are litter trained! I also really love the look and set-up of our camp. We have a huge open area by the road, where we put our kitchen, fire pit, and social tent. Then, all of our tents are back in the trees for all-day shade.

Dalrhadia Camp at Pennsic

My Pretty Viking Princess Palace

One of the most fun nights each war in D-rad camp is the Tequila tasting. It's an invite only event, all the guests gather in the social tent to try different tequilas. Guests are encouraged and invited to bring their favorite tequilas or their favorite tequila infusions. We always get some great ones- my all time favorite is the orange chocolate, though all the pineapple infusions I've had were magnificent as well. This year I think there were 50+ tequilas to try! During breaks or after the tasting, there is often music or dancing.
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson
Another favorite night at Pennsic is the Bar-Bar. Our fighting group, Concusar joins with the fighters of Anglesey and Galatia to make the Bog Alliance. We are a large group of mercenaries. That means we do not fight for a kingdom or barony, nor do we swear fealty to anyone. This means our services as fighters are up for sale to the highest (or most creative) bidder.

That's where Bar-bar night comes in. First, we Celts wear all of our best finery and get woaded up.
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson 
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson
Women of the Bog on Bar-Bar Night
Photo courtesy of Tim Tyson

Then, we entertain visiting royalty as they come to our camp and make bids for our fighters. All the folks in the clanne, whether they fight or not, gather to hear the offers. The prosperity of the fighters is the prosperity of the clannes.

The hosting camp, Anglesey, builds a stage. This is where our warlords sit. Since we are Barbarians, and the royalty does not speak our language, nor we theirs, Morganna is the voice of the warlords and translates between the visiting royalty and the warlords. Once all the bids are made, the warlords confer and determine which bid to accept. 

Photo Courtesy of Tim Tyson

So her'e where I"m going to leave you hanging. That's a lot of food (and pictures) for thought for the moment. Plus, I'm waiting on good ol' Ursus to post some more of his amazing pictures. Then, you'll get to hear all about War Week!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Making Felted Boots

Since I learned how to crochet this winter, one of my big goals has been to make us plenty of warm wool things so we don't freeze to death at Gulf Wars. As I've been finding patterns, I've been saving them to my pinterest so I could find them later. Then I came across these:

Linwood Crafts
Hubby immediately latched on to these and wanted a pair. And I thought, "Ya know, I think I can do that!!" And so the Felted Boots project was born.

I first chose the wool: Paton's Wool Roving in Natural.

Then I determined how I needed to change my go-to sock pattern. Because felting causes shrinkage of the item, I knew that the pre-felted sock needed to be about 1/3 bigger than normal. I did some playing around with felting swatches of this wool- trying the process with different sized hooks to see how it affected the outcome.

The pattern I used is this awesome Knee-High Boot Sock Pattern. I pretty much followed the pattern as far as stitch count, etc. I simply used bulkier wool than called for and a 10.0mm N-hook instead of the 6.0mm J-hook called for. Here's what the "sock" looked like before felting:

Then it was time to start the felting process! I did a two-fold process, part in the washing machine and part by hand on hubby's feet. First I put plenty of hot water and a little soap in the machine, along with my sock and a towel, for extra agitation. I checked on the sock's progress every few minutes- it wouldn't do have it shrink too small!! When I decided it had shrunk enough in the machine, we pulled it out, rolled the water out with a hand towel, then put them on hubby's feet. We completed the felting process on his feet to be sure that they would be shaped to his feet.

After they were felted to satisfaction, he took them off and we stuffed them with plastic bags to help them retain that shape while they dried. Here's a glimpse of the final product:

This did take about 2 skeins for the first boot (more than I expected or had) so I'm waiting on the additional wool I ordered to come before I can do the other boot.

All in all, this was completely experimental, but I'm pretty pleased with the final result!