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Meet the Artist Mondays

From EastKingdomWiki

Ciaran Ua Meic Thire

(he/him)

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I learned papercutting as an art in a high school art class that I used and thought I’d never pick up again. In college, I made stencils using a box cutter and some cardboard from the dumpster outside the science building. From there, I mostly did a modern style that were multi-layered glued together. I got into the SCA not long after and, when I moved to the East Kingdom, I learned that papercut arts may be period and went down a rabbit hole. To date, I’ve identified about a dozen cultures that have done their own form of papercut art (not even including the ones that did a similar art with a medium other than paper) all around the world and all before the 16th century.

  • What inspires you to create?

I love the challenge in it of working with something that’s so fragile and requires such precision in the cuts. The main reason I prefer jian zhi (the Chinese style going back to the 4th century CE) is because the paper is so thin and delicate and the things they were able to do is just incredible. I have spent years trying to get to the point of doing hair like they do and I’m still nowhere close. Many of their cuts are so fine that being less than a fraction of a millimeter could ruin the piece and the paper is so delicate that your knife has to be sharp at all times because a dull knife will tug the paper and can rip it even if you didn’t miscut. My other inspiration for my art is just the sheer diversity in it. You’d think it would be relatively simple since all it takes is paper and a cutting implement but there’s such a variety in the paper itself, the cutting tools (knives, scissors, chisel, etc), the subject matter, everything. And that’s not even getting into the symbolism and historical significance of the pieces or even what they could do with them! Everything from hanging art to stencils for dying fabric to prayer cards, offerings to deities, even hair ornamentation!

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

I have two that are my favorite facts. One is that paper snowflakes that we all do as children with the folding, cutting, and unfolding is actually a period art! It’s actually Japanese and called kirigami (similar to origami) where it was folded, cut, and then opened back up. Most of their pieces were as flower blossoms but the concept is the same. It’s so much fun to see the look on kids’ faces when they find out and then go telling people that they practice an ancient Japanese art that has existed for well over a thousand years. My other favorite fun fact is that the Aztecs had their own style of papercut arts that is still practiced today. Originally, they used a very thick paper called amate which they “cut” with an obsidian chisel. When the Spanish came, they brought with them something they called “papel de Chino” meaning “paper of China” which was rice paper. Rice paper is a lot thinner than amate paper but why reinvent the wheel? So instead of a single piece of amate paper, they would stack several sheets of rice paper together. Many of the indigenous tribes of the area before and after the Aztec empire fell took up this art and it’s still practiced in Mexico and other areas today! It’s now called papel picado and you usually see it as brightly colored banners!

Wiki

Lily Aubrey

(she/her/captain)

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I started practicing calligraphy many years ago when I lived in Endewearde. I didn’t have good pens, which meant nothing worked particularly well, so I gave up the pursuit. I came across much better pens in 2018 and realized I could do calligraphy and I quickly jumped into practicing every hand I could. Lady Lisabetta Medaglia encouraged me to start working with her on her scrolls as a calligrapher, which made me realize I wanted to try my hand at illumination as well. My first EK assignment was a Silver Wheel for Patrick Michael in AS 53, and since then I have taken on just about every assignment that has come my way (and requested more than a few as well).

  • What inspires you to create?

There is a unique joy in creating art for other people. I love learning about the recipients of the scrolls I make, and catering the hand, the style, and the materials (when possible) to be particularly meaningful to that person. I love finding out little anecdotes that I can sprinkle into the words. Every award in our society is a deeply personal thing and I feel like everything from an AoA to a peerage should be given the same level of reverence and love. I strive to make every piece of mine as personalized and special as possible.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

One of my favorite exemplars is the Book of Kells. I love the complexity in its elegant simplicity. I found it very interesting that there are very few pages in the book that have actual gold on them. Every other page that looks gold is actually made from a pigment known as orpiment - better known as arsenic sulfide. I am sure I am on an FBI watch list because of my interest in period pigments. One day I’ll do a Book of Kells page with period pigments - in a hazmat suit - a prospect which both delights and terrifies me in equal measure

Phaedra de Vere

(she/her)

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I started in the SCA. lol Especially when I first started, I didn't have money to buy the kinds of pretty garb that I wanted (I have a serious love of FANCY and I'd have needed it custom-made), so I bought some fabric and figured out how to manipulate it to be at least mostly what I wanted. Then I started playing with jewelry components and embroidery and it kind of exploded from there. For the Chinese garb, I saw a photo of a very pretty ball-jointed doll and did a bit of research. Once I learned that the lovely dress and such were in SCA period, I did a deep dive into research of the period and I've not yet surfaced.

  • What inspires you to create?

I have a great fondness for being SHINY and EXTRA, but what really keeps me inspired is people's reactions to my creations. People ask me questions and get interested in the period and get interested in maybe trying it themselves or studying and that's the best thing ever. It is hard sometimes, "playing" a culture that is not my own, and it is really stressful trying to make sure I get it right and don't do anything offensive, but it's great to see other people inspired to learn because you Did A Thing.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

How many am I allowed to list? I LOVE to research and there are so many interesting facts about Chinese history and especially the history of courtesans in China in the Tang Dynasty, how they lived, the way they interacted with society, the way they were seen by society, the games they played (drinking games being part of the job), the poetry they wrote and inspired, the way(s) the Tang inspired other cultures and the things that carried over... I could go on forever and never run out of material! If you want just one: women in ancient China faked it, too. Many used fake hair and hairpieces to make the exquisite hairstyles you see in extant art and there are still extant wigs and hair bases to prove it.

Syrine Al-Sakina Bint Houriya

(she/her)

  • How did you come to practice your art?

Arts have always been part of my life, from dancing to fiber arts (which I studied in College). I like learning new skills and I also like doing Service and there was a lot of people who deserved to be recognized locally and not so many artists to make the scrolls. So starting learning and making illuminations was a natural continuation of my interest for arts and a good way to include Service. I'm lucky enough to have an amazing teacher near by, Mistress Shadiyah. I'm also fortunate that we share the same interest for middle eastern arts. All the conditions where there for me to embark on this incredible journey.

  • What inspires you to create?

People. I like making illuminations because scrolls are given to people as a thank you, in recognition for their implication in the Society. That thought inspires me to create beautiful things. I like doing research and spend the tremendous time it takes for constructing a piece, for I know what joy it can bring.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

Mamluk and Qur'an art, which are my favorites, are super geometrical. All the designs are the result of very precisely calculated lines and forms. Basically nothing is done "free-hand", so constructing a design takes rigorous precision and A LOT of time.

Holev Disgratiov

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I have always been fascinated by the Middle Ages since my early childhood. At the age of 12 (now 32) I wanted to do LARP so I made myself some sheet metal armour with the tools of my grandfather who was a sheet metal worker and my mother showed me how the sewing machine worked. I have never stopped since. Now I have been doing armour, garb, leatherwork, and painting full time for three years offering my art to enthusiasts from Canada and the United States.

  • What inspires you to create?

My inspiration for creating comes largely from books that I have always collected. Since I make equipment for LARP, SCA, and ACL I do a wide variety of stuff and I always have a thought for my designs and future projects. I like to vary and create unique things. I also have a strong passion for everything related to the peoples of Eastern Europe, Rus, Ottoman, Arabic, and Mongols. I belong to two groups which are Cossacks and Mamluks.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

I believe that the obscure and less known part of my art is that in the Middle Ages the armoursmith’s job was divided into about 30 lines of work! Today I am helped by power tools but I have to do all of those lines of work so I am constantly thinking about new techniques and working methods to make my life easier. The positive side is that it brings me to push my limits every day!

Nicol mac Donnachaidh

  • How did you come to practice your art?

Well, for one, I blame Mistress Camille Desjardins, but it didn't really take much of a push. Back several years ago, a dear friend from Malagentia was awarded a Consort's Order of Courtesy, after I had written her in. And, being me, I wrote a sonnet for her recommendation. That was something that I had taken up for my letters of intent for the Crown Tournaments I entered, which may say as much about my love of verse as it does about my prowess on the list. The Scribe working the scroll emailed me to say thanks for supplying the words for the scroll, it made their job easier, and an idea was hatched. So no kidding, there was I was riding in the passenger seat through the backwoods, texting with Camille about how that was sort of fun, and asking if there was any need of someone who did that sort of thing for the Scribal College, etc and she enthusiastically snatched me up and put me to work. And it has been an amazing journey, I have worked with some AMAZING artisans, and there is really something to be said for hearing work that you put time and thought into being brought to life for the recipients when read aloud. All the heralds are permanently on my "Will Bring Donuts" list after working so hard to get my "delightfully Gaelic" name correct.

  • What inspires you to create?

For me, it is all about the people that I am asked to write for. Our kingdom is so blessed with the riches of creations from every time, place, and background, and diving into that depth is just a treat! I have a research background, so combining those elements with the specific persona to craft something that they could believably have heard or been aware of is just a lot of fun! One of my favorite examples is an award I did not long after starting. The recipient was receiving their Silver Rapier, and the persona was Late Period Dutch. I was able to find a Dutch poet with a distinctive style, who was ALSO a well known fencer! Being able to map the persona directly to a potential contemporary was too awesome to pass up.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

Hmm, you know this is a tough one because one piece to the next can be so different! I would say that one of my hallmarks is that I try really hard to style The Crown in a similar fashion throughout a given reign. Sort of a little signature within the words. For example, during the reign of Brennan and Caoilfhionn III, one of the things that stood out for me was that after the Crown Tournament (and at Coronation, if memory serves) She was crowned first. So, every scroll written during that reign mentioned her name first, too, as a nod to that gesture. I wrote a whole class module about how to do this in the era of Ethereal Courts too, including examples from texts I had written and how I disguised the fact that court was not in person. Actually, that's another big hallmark for me, hiding inevitable modernities that crop up in fun, creative ways. I wrote a text for a Webminister receiving their Silver Wheel, and it included this quatrain: "Who weaves in thread of aether with aplomb, And on whose skill a grateful province thrives? Who guides words sent fast as light whose sum When checked on copper wings shall sure arrive?" It's full of just enough references to make my geek heart smile (I work in technology), but they are vague enough to still fit the aesthetic. That sort of stuff makes me really enjoy doing this work!

Solveig Bjarnardottir

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I have always had a passion for singing and music in general. I was a clarinetist but my passion lay in singing. I moved up to our select choir and continued developing there. I started taking private voice lessons when I was 13 and found out how much early music I enjoyed. My passion for singing went backwards from musical theater, to operetta, to opera and then pre-1600 music. This was part of my undergraduate education. I studied Vocal Performance and Music education at the Hartt School of Music. My studies there gave me the tools to truly appreciate music. I had compositional exercises I had performed in college, but never did too much with that until the last few years in the SCA. These mostly include making arrangements of pieces for new voicing, as well as putting my own ideas on paper.

When I joined the SCA in 2010, I lay in the shadows and I never discussed with anyone my passion for music. It wasn't until 2014 when I opened up my mouth in person. Years of lurking had told me that perhaps I, too, could share my art. With the encouragement of peers, the Society, and a neighboring Barony, I started to open up more and dig into more period works. In addition, I wanted to share this art with others. I started having classes where folks of all skill levels could come sing period rounds. I created a book which has all period or traditional pieces which were assumed to be period or taken from early texts, though the music may be modern. I also started an ad hoc choir for those who do not necessarily want to serve as a solo vocalist, but may want some more difficult repertoire than rounds. I have even composed for friends' elevations, a processional for TRM Tindal and Albrecht, and started writing scroll texts. It's all been an awesome journey from there. I encourage everyone to try a period art of some kind. You never know where it will lead you.

  • What inspires you to create?

The pressure of a deadline sometimes helps push my creativity when I'm feeling stuck. This is mirrored in my mundane work as well. I seem to do well under pressure. I’ll think about music and art and projects while on long car rides. And when I'm feeling anxious, I try to use that energy to focus on creating something instead of being overwhelmed. Making art helps to ease those feelings. In addition to singing and composing, I create cast pewter tokens for site tokens, for friends, and as gifts and personal tokens. I really enjoy helping others and creating gifts of my music and crafting. Honestly, my husband is also a huge inspiration. He helps support my need for crafting, making music and art, and wants to get his hands dirty with mine. I really started getting into wordsmithing and composing when my friends were due to be elevated. That was its own wormhole. We are all our own worst critics, but your work is valued. Keep pushing and trying. To create, even if it’s just a scribble or a note, may provide inspiration for you or others.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

That vibrato is a period practice. I am actually working on a paper about that right now and will be publishing it soon.

Svana Verfari

  • How did you come to practice your art?

My mother taught me how to crochet when I was very young, and that is when I became interested in Fiber Arts in general. I was attending my second Pennsic War many years ago when a class I showed up for at Pennsic University was canceled (I can't even remember what class it was now). A marker board listed newly added classes, and I saw a tablet weaving class at Pine Box Traders. I thought I would give it a go because my other class was canceled anyway and I had nothing else to do. By the time I left the tablet weaving class, I still had no idea what I was doing. Tablet weaving was like a puzzle with strings, and I really wanted to wrap my head around how patterns could be made simply by turning cards. It was very frustrating and fascinating, but that's kind of what drew me in and kept me engaged.

  • What inspires you to create?

The wonderful thing about Tablet Weaving is that there are many different sub-techniques to explore. Double-Face, Broken 3/1 Twill, and Brocade, to name a few. The exploration of a new technique is in itself inspirational. It's always challenging, and every woven band has its own unique quirks to troubleshoot. I also feel very inspired by different materials, textures, and colors. Like many other fiber artists, I have thread and material stashes, far larger than I am willing to admit!. It helps to look through them when I'm trying to decide what to create next.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

My favorite fact about Tablet weaving is that it's such an old technique that it's tough to pinpoint just how old it actually is. There is a tablet-woven band that dates back to 1500 BCE, and the technique is most likely even older than that. Bands excavated over the last century are just now being researched, published, and recreated by weavers. All of these bands have secrets to tell, but I don't think we will ever know just how ancient this craft truly is.

Bartholomew Sharpe

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I have been involved with art in some form or another my entire life. As a teenager I started my reenacting life, and later did 19th century living history for work. After about a 10 year break I came back to reenacting and the SCA. At the time I had a lack of funds, and was dismayed to fine most easily purchased clothing and equipment lacked in historical accuracy. As such I simply decided to teach myself how to make the clothing and equipment I wanted.

  • What inspires you to create?

Most of my art is inspired by the clothing and material culture of the common individual of 16th century England. As much as I love the fancy dress and bling of the aristocracy of the period, the things that ordinary people used holds much more interest to me. I want to tell the story or the everyday through all the art I make, be it clothing, fibers arts, leather work, wood working, or metalworking.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

In the past year I've gotten heavily into using natural dyes. Probably the most interesting obscure facts I've come across regard the illegal trade in Logwood dye in England at the end of the 16th century. Reading an impassioned rant from the rolls of Parliament about that "perfidious and false dye" just entertained me no end.

Aalina Godwin

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I’ve been doing fiber arts of some variety since I was about eight years old and started sewing and embroidering clothes for my dolls. I got into Victorian historical reenactment when I was in my early teens, and LARP a few years later. I have always felt a connection to all fiber arts, and had a driving passion for learning and expanding my skill sets.

  • What inspires you to create?

I like experiencing immersive moments, and a lot of my crafting is geared towards creating them! Whether that is making clothing and accessories for myself or others, or collecting the right dish-ware and decorations and furniture, I love creating little moments of time travel.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

Naalbinding is entirely trial and error, as commercial patterns are not *available* due to everyone having a slightly different-sized *thumb*, rather than needles of a certain gauge! For sewing, I would say the fact that even today clothing is custom-made, draped, fitted, or otherwise made to perfectly fit those who can afford it, as has been done throughout history! Even if it looks like ‘off the rack’ options.

Isabel del Okes

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I have been writing and making things most of my life but my bookbinding started about eight years ago. I was playing a LARP and I needed some tokens for an in-game library themed event I was running. At first, I was going to buy a bunch of little doll house books to give away but then I thought, "I bet I can make some small little books!" I found some tutorials on line and I made about 12 little simple leather bound books. They went over really well and I enjoyed the process of making something that was pretty and useful. So I went looking for other tutorials to make bigger books and that started me down the bookbinding path.

  • What inspires you to create?

I just really like making things! I don't feel alive unless I have some kind of project kicking about, either in process or in planning. I also feel inspired by the period books that exist. One of my favorites is St. Cuthbert's Gospel, with its raised motif on the cover. Lastly, I am so inspired by the people around me. I love seeing all the amazing things that are made by the artisans of the East and I often write poems inspired by people I admire.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

I love me a good book curse! Books sometimes had curses in them to protect them from thieves. A common curse was to bring "anathema" (excommunication) down on the heads of those who would mistreat a book but some curses are more fun like "May he who steals you then be sent a blow upon his fundament.(buttocks)."

Richard Heyworth

  • How did you come to practice your art?

Every once in a while, I have felt this urge to "create." It didn't matter so much what it was, I just needed to make something. I've found several outlets for this over the years, but none have filled the void quite as effectively as embroidery has. A couple of years ago, I was making a linen shirt, and I thought about how much nicer it would look if I added a bit of blackwork ornamentation to the top of it. Thinking that would be easy (ha), I reached out to Mistress Elena Hylton, who I knew did embroidery of this type. She gave me some suggestions and a couple of webpages to look at for guidance, which were enough to get me through the project. At this point, I was hooked. I read everything I could on the Athena's Thimble embroidery guild, its categories, and embroidery in general, and I ended up spending much of the early pandemic period furiously exploring new styles and stitches. The urge to create still drives me forward, but now, instead of looking for a solution to a problem - "I need decoration for my shirt" - I'm usually starting with the embroidery or research idea first and looking for a reason to justify it.

  • What inspires you to create?

I find that my greatest motivation for creation comes from one of two sources: the desire to fill a practical need, or the desire to create something beautiful for someone else. Generally, if I find myself wanting to try a new type of embroidery, my first goal is to find one of these two reasons. For example, I was interested in trying out the Or Nue style of goldwork, so I thought about ways I could make something for Mistress Amalie von Hohenzee for her elevation present, using this technique (I ended up making her coat of arms). Once I'm within a project, the motivation to continue is much easier: embroidery is a wonderfully meditative practice for me, and I can let my mind sink entirely into the work. It's incredibly therapeutic for me. More broadly, I find period embroidery to be incredibly beautiful, and it always amazes me to think about the quality and quantity of work produced by these artisans. The meticulous work that could take teams of embroiderers years to create yielded stunningly beautiful art of out thread and fabric, and the extant works that remain are incredible windows into another world of art.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

As someone who frequently works on embroidery deep into the evening, using a light attached to my forehead, rushing to meet a self-imposed deadline, this fact always amuses me: in the 1303 charter for the Paris Embroiderers Guild, it was illegal to make any embroiderer work in candlelight. They could only work during daylight hours (by 1316, the regulation included the medieval equivalent of "unless it's an emergency or you're trying to meet a deadline").

Cornelia VanDeBrugg

  • How did you come to practice your art? I have always been fascinated by how things were made. I am not sure when exactly I started being interested in metal work, but it was sometime in my teens, maybe during shop class in junior high when we made a sheet metal car and fabricated a small hammer that the metal bug bit me.

I went on to taking evening classes in Jewelry and hollow ware fabrication after high school and did cold forging and pewter casting once I joined the SCA. A friend invited me along to a knife forging class and I started diving deep into hot forging ever since.

  • What inspires you to create?

I love to look at an artifact and try to see how it could be made, or taking period methods and making something specific for someones persona, such as some of the regalia I have designed and made for people in the past.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

There are only 5 or 6 basic methods of manipulating metal when forging, yet these limited ways of manipulation give you untold opportunities of creating unique items. Hence the saying that blacksmithing is easy to learn, yet extremely difficult to master.

Ellynor Redpath

  • How did you come to practice your art?

My mom taught me how to sew when I was 7 years old. I started out with small doll clothes, and then mundane clothes until I joined the SCA. Once I joined the SCA I wanted to do Elizabethan garb, but I quickly realized that the foundation undergarments really mattered to the overall shape. I've spent the past few years researching and creating those, and now I'm working on dresses to go with them.

  • What inspires you to create?

I am an engineer mundanely, and it fascinates me that we can create these elaborate 3D shapes, or even reshape the human body to an extent, using seam placement and some bits of reed and wood. The further I go down this rabbit hole, the more I see just how overwhelmingly practical a lot of this clothing was. It appears ostentatious (and definitely was) but there are so many small details that let the wearer live their everyday life. Everything from waistline to hip tabs has a purpose in the overall function of the finished gown..

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

The extant stays that are frequently used as an example (Elizabeth's effigy) are not actually from her wardrobe! They were commissioned and created in only 3 days after her death! Considering it takes me a month of work to create a pair- that blows my mind.

Berakha bat Mira v'Shlomo

  • How did you come to practice your art?

I come from a family of singers, albeit none of them professionally. My father used to sing in his synagogue choir as a child in Switzerland, a practice unique to Yekke jewry among the larger community of Ashkenazi Jews. My mother has a lovely voice as well, and she would often sing to us anything from musicals to Israeli folk songs. Musical participation is pretty standard in my cultural background - we sing at Shabbat, holidays, in synagogue, the whole community together, and often our cantors are not professionally trained but come from the populace. So that was the sort of cultural background in that performance was not professional, but it was public and deeply felt. It was not a large jump from that background to exploring other forms of non-liturgical historical music! With the SCA, I first started singing with Ishtar, a band based in Pittsburgh that also jam at SCA events like Pennsic, which got me started on Balkan and Turkish music, and soon after, I started taking classes to get professional training under my belt to both expand my historical repertoire and also become a better singer. While I am nowhere near Broadway quality, the improvement has really helped me expand my musical horizons.

  • What inspires you to create?

That's a tough one. Music is something so fundamental to the human experience, and I am not sure there is a single person who has yet lived who dislikes all forms of music. It is a nourishment to the soul and a fundamental part of the human expression, and therefore a very meaningful cultural repository. The ability to tap into a wide range of human emotions so purely is a big part of the musical experience, and one that really speaks to my soul - and, I hope, to others who hear me as well.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

Your voice vibrates up through your skull and how you form your mouth shape can wildly impact the sound in a thousand tiny ways! Learning to make my own teeth buzz was super fun.

Vivian de Dunbar

  • How did you come to practice your art?

My mother taught me to crochet at 11 years old and I was an avid crocheter. I was sad to learn that crochet was not a period craft so I went about searching for a substitute. I took a period sock knitting class one year at Pennsic and the next year took a spinning class as the idea of being able to create my own yarn to knit fascinated me and I quickly became obsessed with spinning for both medieval and mundane crafts.

  • What inspires you to create?

Many of my A&S projects come from questions that were raised during a previous project. My inspiration is almost always to experience the process of making something out of fiber. Having a finished item at the end of the project is just an added bonus. I also love to spin a fiber from an animal I have never spun from before. I keep a "wishlist" of fiber animals I want to spin from. Top of my list, fox of course 🙂

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

The North Ronaldsay sheep from the Orkney Islands in Scotland have evolved to eat seaweed and drink salt water in order to survive on the island. They are not able to be crossbred with other sheep breeds due to their diet and therefore the modern sheep that live there are a very close DNA match to the remains of a stone age sheep that dates from around 3000 BCE. It was a thrill to spin wool from this unique and remote sheep breed

Brendan Firebow

  • How did you come to practice your art?

For me, while I always enjoyed crafting and building things as a child, learning leatherwork started out of need. I had ordered an item from a local leather worker, who became swamped with orders and requests. After waiting some time for my item, I asked if it would help if I came by to give him a hand, and he said yes. So I started learning how to do leatherwork - patterning, cutting, dyeing, painting, and eventually how to tool leather. I had learned mostly on fantasy styles and pieces, but once I started becoming more interested in historical leathers, I wanted to produce more of those types of pieces. I love to do pouches, rapier hanger, scabbards, and have been learning more about making cases too. I always want my pieces to be functional first, and then beautiful. For the martial side, I had always had an interest in swordplay, and enjoyed just playing at it. Heavy fighting never truly grabbed me, but fencing did. I was encouraged to look into the historical styles by a friend who wanted to see my skill improve. After starting to learn some Italian rapier, I went to a class on the rapier and dagger of Salvator Fabris… and a style that had been almost arcane looking to me, suddenly made sense; I just wanted to learn more, as I began to have very much fun with it - in learning it, fighting with it, and in teaching it.

  • What inspires you to create?

That’s a complex question… I think largely it is seeing the beautiful works of other artisans, contemporary and historical, is a big one. It drives me to try new things, and to have ideas for variations on items - whether that be in just decoration, function, or creating something to fill a need. Necessity also inspires, as does need… the need of an item for a friend (which would be why I started, and continue, to do Vigil books), or to fill a function. Creation in rapier is less easy to define… sometimes it’s creating plays, combinations of movements, to practice, or to teach; sometimes it’s creating a means for oneself, or another, to understand why something they are doing is, or isn’t, working. I suppose it’s a bit of problem solving, and like with leatherwork, it’s inspired by necessity and need.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

There are two things with leather. The first is obscure because it is easy to miss the forest for the trees… Leather was so widely used throughout our time period (and indeed, modernity); it was used to make everything from shoes, to clothing (pants, tunics, doublets, hats, gloves), to accessories (belts, pouches, glasses frames), to everyday use items (books, cases/covers, water jugs, mugs, storage cases). It is ridiculously versatile. The second is definitely more obscure: the blacking of leather that we see in period (and some of the pieces I do) is not a stain or dye, but rather a chemical reaction between the tannins in the vegetable tanned leather and the ferrous sulfate (that was later found in what is known as “vinegaroon”, which is made with vinegar and iron shavings); it is the same chemical reaction that happens when you leave an iron tool on damp oak or leather. It won’t rub off, so it won’t stain clothing. My favorite obscure fact about rapier…that the teachings of Salvator Fabris, post period, got translated by/into, and very much love from, the Germans.

Sigvardr Halfdanarson

  • How did you come to practice your art?

It really started when I wanted to have a necklace but didn't have the money to buy one so I slowly taught myself to make jewelry.

  • What inspires you to create?

My inspiration comes from the people around me pushing me to be better, and the masters of the past. The details they were able to obtain was incredible.

  • What is your favorite obscure fact about your art?

Something obscure is that a lot of Viking era jewelry was made to weight standards for easy trade and storage of wealth.