Sunday, February 10, 2013

Making metal loops in a coal forge

As I mentioned, I've been making these fabric painted heraldic panels, to mark the entry way to our Estrella camp this year. ( Now, while I do great on the fiber side of things, I turned to my husband to figure out a way to display these panels. We decided that he'd make some rebar stakes with metal rings on them, one for either side of a panel, and I'd sew ties to the sides of the panels to attach to the rings.

Hmmm. We had some old rebar, but we didn't have any metal rings. We did however have a bunch of metal rod.
And, we have a small coal forge in the side yard. He cut the metal rod to the appropriate size, and fired up the forge. I thought it might be fun to take pictures of how he transformed the rod into rings, so you could see what he was doing too. It is a neat process!:

He took the piece of metal rod, and stuck it down into the hot coals.

Then he cranked the blower to force air into the forge, to heat things up.

When the metal was hot, he fished it back out again...

...and used a handy hole in the legs of the forge to help him bend the metal rod.

The metal cools relatively quickly, so it went back into the forge to heat back up.

He fished it back out again...

...and this time used another set of pliers to help him bend the metal the rest of the way around into an approximate loop.

One more time into the fire. (I just like these fire pictures, actually.)

He found where the loop was hiding under the coals, and brought it out one more time.

Then he used a hammer and anvil to do the last bit of shaping.

A few more taps, and it is done.

Time to let it cool with the others. He ended up making 42 rings total. That ought to do us!

Once the rings are cool, he can take them into the garage to the welding station, and weld them onto the pieces of rebar.

Yup. That ought to do the trick!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Playing with Heraldry

Every year about this time I go into a frenzy of preparation, getting ready for a chance to step out of time. I'm talking about a historical recreation event put on by the Society for Creative Anachronism, called Estrella War. This is week long trip into a Medieval past that never quite was, with 4000-5000 of my closest friends. Silly? Yes. Marvelous fun? Absolutely!!

This year as in most, I'm in charge of my own little camp, The Hearth. Only, this year I'm looking after over 40 people. Folks have been having such fun around my fire that they're bringing more of their friends along with them each year. The more the merrier, I say. Anyway, after last year I decided that it would be easier for folks to find us if we had a heraldic symbol to identify us. So I drew up a badge, and submitted it to the SCA powers that be. I just received word that my badge passed, which means that it follows all of the rules of heraldry, and doesn't look like anyone else's heraldry either. I registered it in my name so nobody else could snag it, and I've been working on ways to display it. The obvious first project was to make a sign for the entrance of camp, so folks knew where we are supposed to be

So, I pulled out some white fabric from my stash, and grabbed some Tulip fabric paints. This might not be the most historically accurate way of making a display, but it should get the job done.
I used some high tech tools to lay out the initial circle that I needed: a pin, some string, and a pencil. Hey, it works well!
Once I had my design sketched out, I drew my outlines with metallic black fabric paint straight out of the applicator.
When the outlines were dry, I used a brush to paint in the areas. This is basically a big paint by number. Easy! It just took patience.

And here is one finished fabric panel.

My husband Eric is making some rebar with rings welded to it. We'll stake the rebar into the ground on either side of the panel, and tie the fabric to the rebar. In theory, that should hold it up. We'll put this one at one side of the entrance to camp.

Our camp is part of a larger group, the Barony of SunDragon. That is the local group for the west side of Phoenix, AZ. One of the other baronies has challenged ours to a 'spiffy heraldic display' competition at Estrella. So, I'm also working on making another matching fabric panel for the other side of the entrance to camp. It will display the heraldry for the barony. The outline is drying, even as I type. Between the two, it should be obvious which camp this is, no?

Oh, and the King decided that he wants his warriors on the field to all be in Kingdom colors. In this case, he wants a Sea of Blue. For one thing, it is easier to see what is going on in battle if you can identify your troops at a glance. Also, it makes for good esprit de corps, adding to the magic of the event. So, I made my two warriors blue fighting outfits. They are in Kingdom colors, with the Baronial heraldic War Dragon badge on their chests to denote which unit they're fighting with, and the Kingdom populace badge on their shoulders. (You can't see their other shoulders, which has their own personal devices on them.)
Don't they look wonderful? And as you see them across the battle field, there is no question as to their affiliation. Kind of like modern sports team jerseys, only more Medieval.

Practical heraldry. There is a reason that we still use this stuff in our modern world. Product logos, school mascots, team still serves the purpose of letting you identify a place, person, or thing at a quick and distant glance.