My apprentice Armin has done an excellent writeup on early Scandinavian cuisine as part of the Barony of Madrone’s virtual Athenaeum arts and sciences showcase. Take a look!
I just finished a fun, simple project — painting a glückhaus board on the lid of a wooden box that I can use to store all my historical games! I’ve been thinking about a better way to store my historical games for a while. I had used various pouches and bags in the past, but didn’t like the feeling of infinitely nesting bags. At some point I must have seen someone else’s games box with a board painted on the lid and fallen in love with the idea.
Glückhaus (also spelled glückshaus) happens to be my very favorite historical game. It’s dead simple and clearly designed to be played while drinking and talking, requiring no strategy or even your full attention. Here’s a nice one-page guide to gameplay; roll the dice, place or take a coin, and several numbers have special actions. Most of the examples I’ve seen of historical (and re-enactor made) glückhaus boards are rather complex, but I liked the more simple design of one shown in the Wikipedia article linked above and used that as the basis for mine.
I used a wine gift box and a set of primary color acrylic paints, and aside from procrastination it was easy to finish by stealing a few minutes here and there during the evenings after my baby went to bed. It took me a while to find a box that I liked, but otherwise all the supplies for this are readily available at any craft store, or easily ordered from Amazon.
I’ve put together a list of supplies and tips for making your own (on the assumption that you know how to do basic SCA scribal painting). In my next post, I’ll be giving you more information about putting together a historical gaming collection of your own, including links to information/research and some specific products.
(Reminder that I get a small kickback when you purchase products from the Amazon links in my posts.)
Supplies list for a medieval games box with a painted lid:
Wine gift box — there are lots of box options, but this was the only one I found that was large enough to make a good game board but still inexpensive
Acrylic paint set (option 1) — I used a set of just primary colors but even for this simple project wished I had had more options, so I’ve linked to a slightly better set that I’ll be getting to replace my basic one. If you want to go all out, here’s a set with lots of colors!
Basic inexpensive detail paint brushes, at minimum round size 1 and size 0.
Plus a pencil, eraser, ruler, ultra fine permanent black marker, and access to some inspiration images.
Tips for making your own:
Use pencil to sketch the game board and any designs you want to do; this is where inspiration images are helpful, so have your Googlin’ fingers ready. (You are more than welcome to use mine as the basis for your own! Please copy me!) For glückhaus, the design elements are numbers on each square, and images on the three “special” spaces — a pig on 2, something to symbolize a wedding on 7, and a crown for the royal 12. Historical game boards were often quite lavish, with every bit of space filled up with lush art. That’s not my style, though, and I think that’s okay.
From there this is just like doing scribal painting, but with acrylics and wood instead of paper and gouache. Start with solid colors, layer on any shading and whitework you want, finish by outlining everything in black. I opted to leave the backgrounds blank and keep the design simplified. I also chose to do a generic Gothic style to be more in keeping with my gear and persona even though glückhaus is a Renaissance German game.
I opted for Roman numerals to look more historical and “pips” for those who have a hard time reading them. My pig has a roasting spit (that he’s running away from, ha ha) and I did simple interlocked rings for the wedding; a more historical option for the wedding space would be clasped hands or a fede ring. I added some vinework to fill the space on the 12, and did a simple blue with whitework border around everything.
There are a few things I’d change if I do another one, but overall I am pleased with this addition to my event gear. History was fun! Medieval games are fun! Having my own personalized and fairly nice glückhaus board is a great feeling. Plus, the box has all my other games. Again, I’m working on a follow-up post with more general information about stocking your own historical games box. Stay tuned 🙂
I’ve gotten pretty hooked on distaff spinning. Here’s my latest batch after plying, still on the niddy-noddy:
I keep meaning to do a longer write up on spinning but never getting around to it. The short version is, spinning with a distaff is FUN! Plus, super historical.
You can find some good distaff tutorials on YouTube, which I highly suggest if you want to try it out. I also learned a ton from this excellent blog post.
It’s also given me an excuse to buy new craft supplies! Yay! 😂
When the Queen calls, you answer.
Her Majesty Sha’ya of An Tir laid a challenge on our Kingdom, and in particular upon the Laurels: produce a work to be auctioned off to benefit RAINN during the Knights Auction (all donations are sponsored by a Knight) at 12th Night.
I was moved — this is an incredible organization whose mission I believe in. I wanted to produce something worthy of auction. I found a sponsor, Sir Philip de Mantel, and proposed to put together a set of spice mixes for period cooking.
And I did make a set of spice mixes, a rather nice set if I do say so myself:
Most of these (4/6) were made using actual period recipes. The remaining two (powder douce and powder fort) are more “generic” spice blends that I have my own versions of. You can see I found cute bottles and a cute basket and even made little labels for them.
Here are the sources for each one, and their ingredients:
- Powder Fort: Black pepper, cubeb, cassia cinnamon, mace, clove
- Powder Douce: Sugar, ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg
- Duke’s Powder (Menagier, 14th c. French): Sugar, ginger, grains of paradise, Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, galangal
- Clarée Spices (Two Anglo-Norman Culinary… 13th/14th c English): Spikenard, cinnamon, ginger, mace, clove, nutmeg, fennel, anise, caraway, cardamom
- Fine Spices 1 (Libro di Cucina, 14th/15th c. Italian): Black pepper, Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, clove, saffron
- Fine Spices 2 (Livre Fort, 16th c. French): Ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, black pepper, long pepper, nutmeg, clove, grains of paradise, galangal
But here’s the thing: I didn’t feel like it was enough. I got it into my head that spices are okay, but you need recipes to know how to use them.
So, long story short, I kind of wrote a cookbook.
That’s a screenshot of the cover. I wrote a cookbook, and I got a copy of it printed, and I put it and the spices together as one lot for the auction. The winning bidder currently owns the only copy of this cookbook in existence.
Yeah, soooo… I’ve given myself a year. I’m going to edit what I have and add more recipes to it if I can (my goal is 1 new tested recipe every 1-2 weeks), then I plan to release it for sale. I’m not planning a big run, and I’m planning to self-publish for a few reasons (although, um, if you work for a publishing house and want to talk me out of that and offer me $$$$ to change my mind and publish through you, let’s talk!)
To get you excited, here is the table of contents so far:
- Preface 4
- Brief Notes on Some Ingredients 5
- On Salt 5
- On Spices 5
- On Verjus 5
- On Vinegar 5
- On Saba 5
- On Almond Milk 6
- On Rose Water 6
- Spice Mixes for All Manner of Dishes 7
- Powder Fort 7
- Powder Douce 7
- Clarée Spices 8
- Fine Spices 1 8
- Fine Spices 2 8
- Beverages 9
- Quick Mead 9
- Hippocras / Ypocras / Clarée / Piment (Spiced Wine) 9
- Oxymel / Posca (Vinegar/Honey Drink) 10
- Clarée D’eau / Clarea de Agua (Water with Honey and Spices) 10
- Rose Drink Concentrate 10
- Finger Foods, Nibbles, and Snacks 11
- Pescods (Peas in the pod) 11
- To Churn Your Own Butter 11
- Whole Pickled Onions 11
- Pickled Onion Rings 12
- Pickled Champignons (Mushrooms) 12
- Fried Livers with Saba 13
- Hais (Date and Nut Balls) 13
- Meats, Fishes, and Their Sauces 14
- Sour Grape Juice with Fried Summer Fish 14
- To Dresse a Crabbe (Crab with Butter and Verjus) 14
- Peiouns Ystewed (Stewed Pigeons) 14
- Grilled Quail with Lemon Sauce 15
- Good and Perfect Hens with Sumac 16
- Roasted Chicken with Orange Sauce 16
- Limonia (Chicken in Lemon Sauce) 16
- To Make Stekys of Venson or Bef (Steaks of Venison or Beef) 17
- Alows de Boef (Herbed Rolled Beef) 17
- Fresh Lamb Sausage with Cilantro Sauce 18
- Pork Loin with Peach Sauce 19
- Cormarye (Spiced Pork Loin) 19
- Salt Pork 20
- Mustard Sauce 20
- Egg and Pasta Dishes 21
- Erbolat (Medieval English Frittata) 21
- Sphoungata (Byzantine Omelettes) 21
- Cressée of Noodles (Heraldic Chequy Noodles) 22
- Cheese Gnocchi 22
- Makerouns (Baked Noodles with Cheese) 23
- Vegetables, Grains, and Legumes 24
- A Dish of Leeks 24
- Onion salad 24
- Asparagus 24
- Parsnips in Pottage 25
- Basic Green Salad 25
- Sprouts of Life 25
- Carrot Puree 26
- Chyches (Seasoned Chickpeas) 26
- Green Chickpeas 26
- Fresh Fava Beans 27
- A Dish of Rice 27
- Almond Porridge 28
- Oatcakes 28
- Pies of All Sorts 29
- Basic Self-Supporting Hot Water Pastry 29
- To Raise Coffins 29
- Coffins Another Way 30
- To Build a Large Coffin 30
- General Baking Instructions for Coffins 31
- Richer Hot Water Pastry for Molded Pies 31
- Paest Royall 32
- Short Paste for Tarts 32
- A Formula for Meat Pies 33
- Crustardes of Flessh (Birds in a Pie) 33
- Cheshire Pork Pie 34
- Simple Pork Pies 35
- Une Tourte (Greens Tart) 35
- Leche Frys of Fische Daye (Cheese Tart) 36
- Tarte of Apples 37
- To Bake Pippins (Elizabethan Apple Pie) 37
- Daryols (Mini Cream Custard Tarts) 38
- A Formula for Fruit Tarts 38
- Sweets and Desserts 39
- Dulcia Domestica (Candied Stuffed Dates) 39
- Payn Ragoun (Pine Nut Candy) 39
- Marzipan 39
- Nucato (Honey-Nut Candy) 40
- Suckets 1 (Candied Citron Peel) 40
- Suckets 2 (Candied Orange Peels) 41
- Pears in Confit (Poached Pears) 41
- Quince Paste 42
- Sweet Dessert Yogurt 42
- Gingerbrede 43
- Stamped Shortbread Cookies 43
- A Jellied Ypocras, or, Elizabethan Jelly Shots 43
- Assorted Useful Non-Edible Things to Make 45
- Herb Water 45
- Basic Lard Soap 45
- Tooth Powder 46
Next addition will be a chapter on recreating medieval bread in a home kitchen (with a normal oven).
I look forward to posting updates as this project develops 🙂
Last year at Twelfth Night, I had just declared that I’d be entering KASC and was thinking about how I had to learn to be more serious. Then I spent the weekend charging around the hotel hanging toast in people’s showers and pouring cider through a glass funnel into the mouths of excited bystanders.
And I figured myself out: I am a golden retriever, all full of love and enthusiasm and maybe a little slobber. I can’t help but be excited and bouncy. I love to meet people and learn about them and introduce them to other people and help them when I can. I am goofy, and I like warm hugs.
And these things are okay. In fact, they are better than okay, they’re great! Instead of trying to repress this aspect of my personality and make myself more serious, I began then to accept and embrace it. As I see again and again, I’ve had so many incredible experiences as a result of being this open and enthusiastic.
I actually think my life might have changed with that understanding. Since then I’ve felt so much more loving and kind toward myself; I think I finally crossed the threshold of radical self-acceptance. In the past year, I have come to finally see that while I am allowed to improve and change, I am also allowed to be enough exactly as I am in this moment. That’s a really nice feeling.
The lesson in the heart of this that I hope I can hold on to always is that love makes us glow. When you’re passionate about something, you light up a room (yes YOU!) and are unstoppable (yes YOU!) Honestly, this is why I love the SCA: I get to see people doing things they love, and I get to do things I love, and there’s just so much squee-ing.
I charge everyone to make more of those moments. Let’s let our lights shine when we talk about our research and projects. If you are working on a thing, come sit next to me and talk to me about it.
Also, let’s hug. Like, all the time. (Or as much as you can stand.)
I’ve continued my glass painting experiments:
I have to say, I’m quite pleased with this. The glass itself came from Crate & Barrel, who have a pretty good selection of glassware that looks passably historical:
Since the last time I posted about glass painting, I’ve switched paint brands. I got a set of Martha Stewart multi-surface craft paints. They are much cheaper than Pebeo and I personally like the colors better (especially this gold!). I am sure they are not as high quality as Pebeo paints, and time will tell how well they hold up. But they work very similarly in that you paint them on the glass, let them dry fully, and cure them in the oven.
I used a stencil for the quatrefoils, and I think I’m getting better with my stencil technique too:
Notice that my paint is bubbly. I don’t know if that’s the paint or user error.
Otherwise, the big breakthrough since the last time I posted about glass painting is switching to using more dots than lines. With my skill level and the gloppy consistency of the paint, this has been a much better way to yield something that looks decent.
This particular design is inspired by some of the patterns on this Italian hanging lamp.
I have started a board on Pinterest for examples of period painted glass — check it out. Unfortunately, most of the really beautiful figural paintings are utterly beyond me (at least for now!), but there are a few examples on there with simpler geometric designs that I’m inspired to try out.
This glass is going to be a volunteer thank you at An Tir’s Twelfth Night. Volunteer and you could be the one to take it home 🙂
Pigments available to the medieval/renaissance illuminator included mineral and organic ones. The typical palette consisted of:
- Black: from lamp soot, charred bone, other carbon sources (e.g. vine black, made from charred grape vines)
- White: lead white; Cennini specifically mentions that other sources of white, such as chalk, have limited value to the artist
- Browns: typically from various earth sources such as umber
- Yellows: orpiment (arsenic sulphide), various ochres/earths, tin, saffron
- Greens: verdigris (copper acetate produced via various chemical reactions), some earths, malachite (a mineral that also derives its color from copper)
- Blues: lazurite (lapis lazuli, which yielded the expensive and desirable ultramarine blue), azurite, some copper compounds (including some forms of verdigris), indigo
- Purple: turnsole
- Reds: madder, minium (lead oxide), vermilion (cinnabar / mercuric sulphide), possibly kermes and cochineal
These are some of the books and other sources that I consulted for my scribal project for Kingdom Arts and Sciences, and that I recommended as part of the classes I taught recently. Take a look, hopefully you’ll find something helpful. I have put my top picks in bold:
This is adapted from a handout from a class I taught at a Dragon’s Mist Arts and Sciences day in late April. The full handout is available in the Files section of this blog.
This is a broad overview of major styles in manuscript production in Western Europe. It is NOT a comprehensive list of every type of book art practiced in our time period, although I would love to put that together someday 🙂 This is intended as a guide for scribes, especially charter painters, to begin to recognize distinct styles and make their artwork fit more closely within a target style.
This is adapted from a handout from a class I taught at a Dragon’s Mist Arts and Sciences day in late April. The full handout is available in the Files section of this blog.
- Pick a style and stick to it. Look at multiple examples from the same time period and place as the finished piece that you are basing your work off of or what you are aiming for. Choose similar colors and use the same types of decorative elements. For more information, see my post of an art historical survey of illumination styles.
- Use historical or at least historically plausible colors. Avoid layering white over green, and spend enough time studying manuscripts and pigments that you have a sense of what colors were actually available. Scribes in specific time periods and places used distinct color palettes. Spend time looking at accurate facsimiles of medieval illuminations to determine what colors and combinations they found appealing.
- Use gold paint or gold leaf, not both. I have found almost no examples were gold paint and gold leaf were both used in the same page, although I’m sure they exist. Leaf was more commonly used prior to the 15th century, after which gold paint seems to be more common. (I’m still researching this and welcome corrections.)
- Go through the process of creating an illumination from start to finish, including planning and ruling out the page, at least once. This will help you see how medieval artists conceptualized the page: manuscript art is unique in that it blends both textual and visual elements. Your painting on a charter needs to reflect the artistic style of the design and be somehow united with the text itself.
- Keep in mind the purpose of this art form. Illuminated manuscripts were used devotionally both within public spaces of worship and by private individuals. The aesthetic of illumination grew out of this context. Arguably, this is why manuscript illumination was more stylized than realistic. The artwork that we produce within the SCA is wholly secular; however, it does follow the same stylistic conventions. Additionally, the charters and scrolls we produce are intended to produce strong emotions in their viewers, and are physical relics that our Crowns and Coronets provide to those they value highly. SCA scribes surely take their work just as seriously as medieval scribes did!