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Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival 2017 Wrap-Up

First off, if you met me at the Ren Fest, thank you for visiting my page! I know that it’s kind of in shambles right now, but I’m working on it as we clean up from the event and get ready for the next ones on the list.

As for the festival itself, it was an amazing time for all of us with surprisingly good weather, first weekend aside. What happened? Well, we had a brief but exciting onslaught of near-hurricane force winds and pelting rain! When we saw the jewelry boards covered in metal start to rattle and peel off the cart, we abandoned ship and hightailed it down to the main shop, Versailles Jewelers. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long until the weather calmed enough for us to go back up top and reset the chainmaille cart. That seemed to be the worst of it, as for the rest of the festival the weather was all right, if a bit hot some days. It felt like Mother Nature got it all out of her system in one afternoon!

Not much else exciting happened, but i did make good progress on my scalemaille armor. I’ll keep the blog (and my instagram) updated on its progress!

Although there was a funny moment on a chilly day. I let my hair down, which I usually have up, and a lady started petting it because she thought I was wearing a Jon Snow cloak! Admittedly, my hair is dark, wavy and there’s, like, three feet of it, so I don’t blame her, especially when I had my friend take a picture and I saw what I looked like from the back. Easy closet cosplay? I think so!

I don’t usually get the chance to take many pictures, but here’s a few:

PghRenFest2017

If you haven’t been to the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, you should come! The food is good, the people are friendly, and you can always stop by the “Spoils of War” cart for a quick chainmaille lesson or to just geek out about things in general.

So, until next time, I leave you with the traditional Rennie goodbye. Sing along!

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Pennsic is Coming

Pennsic is Coming GoT meme

IN TWO WEEKS!

AAAHHH!!!!

So that’s the good news, along with the fact that I’m back in the workshop and working furiously to make all the things.

The bad news?

That Pennsic is in two weeks and I’m working furiously to make all the things.

I have to make dozens more Dragon Pins, lots of rings, gemstone pendants, and holy cow, do I need to get to work on some Tudor pieces. Lots of work in the upcoming days, but I am UP for it!

“But Bran,” you ask, “What is Pennsic?”

Pennsic, my friend, is two weeks of glorious escape from the mundane world! We camp in a medieval pavillion tent, wear our wonderful garb every day, fight on the field of battle, compete in tournaments, sample delicious food and drink from long ago, sing songs of glory and honor, attend Court in all its spendor, shop (or in our case, sell) in the marketplace, go to classes to learn about the ways of the past or to teach others our skills. When the sun goes down, there are parties, grand balls, drinking, bellydancers, fires, and over everything the sound of drums.

Pennsic, for us, is home.

If you’ve never been but it sounds like your idea of a great time, head on over to SCA.org and see what’s up! For a good time, go to YouTube and search for Pennsic videos. GoPro videos of battle are particularly fun. Also, feel free to contact me on social media or in the comments, and I’ll answer all the questions I can about the SCA. It’s a great hobby!

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Blackstone Raid XXVI – Coming Up!

Blackstone Raid is happening this week! We’ll be in West Virginia, and looking forward to seeing a bunch of our friends! ^_^

Lemony will probably spend some time fishing, and otherwise running about and enjoying herself. Brian will be fencing and compete in the Torchlight Tournament. I’ll see if I can go sit in on some classes. I dont have anythign specifically made for the A&S tournament, so I’ll probably sit this one out. Brian might submit a gemstone, though.

Although this is technically “work” for me, I always look at Blackstone fondly. Blackstone is full of firsts for us. It was our first SCA event. It was the first time I ran into someone who had not only read a book I had, but who said she loved it. Brian got to fight. I won an award for my art. Lemony got to try fishing. People understoond what I was doing with my art and they GOT IT.

So this weekend, even though it’s technically work, it feels like we’re going home.

Do you want to join us?

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We’re Going to PENNSIC!

Unfinished Sinclair Jewelry Banner for Pennsic
Look for the finished version of this banner! We’re at the northern end of Plunder Lane.

Yep! We’re SO EXCITED!

Come down and see us! I’ll be in the Merchant Area on Plunder Lane and Brian will most likely be running around with Lemony. Brian’s got his authorization in for rapier and buckler, too, so look for him on the field as well.

In other big news, we’ve got our casting equipment set up and running beautifully! I’m working on birthstone charms right now based on medieval heraldry. If you’d like to pre-order some, drop us a line and you can pick up your order at the show.

 


This is our first Pennsic, and we’d appreciate any tips or “must-do” / “must-have’ items you’re willing to throw our way in the comments.

See you in two weeks!

 

My first charms and the mold made for them. They will make their debut at Pennsic!

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Engraving, War Practice and More

So, yeah – WOW.

Things have been a whirlwind for us here, on many different levels. I finished my Basic Engraving class, and it was AMAZING! Oh my goodness, engraving is fantastic. If you follow my Instagram feed, you know I love to draw, and this just combines drawing, jewelry and metal into one form. I can’t wait to combine it with things like gemstones and enamels. If you want to drool over some epic engraving, check out Sam Alfano’s Instagram feed – @master_engraver. Beautiful stuff!

After engaving class, we drove back from Kansas and clelbrated Lemony’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY! Whoo hoo! Then it was time to prep for our first solo SCA event, War Practice at Cooper’s Lake, which was this past weekend.

First off, Cooper’s Lake is beautiful. I’ve heard about it, but as you know, hearing about something and getting to experience it are two entirely different things. My one regret is that I didn’t get to go down and see the lake, but I’ll make sure to go see it and wander about for a bit next time.

Everyone there made us feel so welcome! It meant a lot to us SCA newbies, and Lemony had a wonderful time playing and making new friends. She even tried Youth Combat and loved it! I appreciate all of the suggestions I got for ways to get medieval on my displays. I think I’ll use them for mundane art shows as well, because why not? And I’ll be sure to get my documentation together. I don’t really make direct replicas, but my work is often inspired by specific pieces.

What now? Well, I’m waiting for my engraving tools to come in the mail and I’m planning for next month’s shows. I’m also thinking about circlet designs…

Did you go to War Practice? Is there anything we should look up or do at our next SCA event? Leave a comment and tell us.

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Blackstone was AMAZING!

Okay, I’ve been doing the selling thing for a long time. Ten years, to be exact. And while I’ve been to many events where the people were welcoming and the atmosphere was great, I have never had an experience like the one I had this past weekend in the SCA at the Blackstone Raid.

We stayed in the Marshall Cabin with the Black Priory, a house that one of our friends is part of. Even though he wasn’t able to attend, the house members we met were gracious, welcoming, and tons of fun! As it turns out, many of the faces were familiar ones from local anime conventions, comicons, and the Ren Fest. Some of our old D&D friends are well known to them and others as well, so it felt rather like a reunion than a first meeting.

Dan Andre of Knights of the Classroom (an AMAZING chainmailler and all-around great guy) let me sell in a corner of his tent, and then spent the rest of the time introducing me to people. Among many others, I met Baroness Cerridwen, who encouraged Dan and I to enter the Arts and Sciences competition. Being brand new, I had no idea what this was, and despite being in the SCA since the early 80s, Dan had never entered his work into a competition.

I entered a fine silver and lapis necklace I completed last week into the contest, and Dan entered his handmade scalemaille dog armor. He took home top prize, and I took home some honors as well, which included a gorgeous illuminated scroll and a ribbon that are now hanging in sight of my design desk. I’ve never won an award for my jewelry before, so that was unexpected.

Brian and Lemony spent a lot of time wandering the grounds, meeting people, and watching the fights. He’s up-loaded some videos of them to YouTube; here’s the first of them:

The first night there, as I spoke with Lady Arianna, something amazing happened. I was getting out a book I had brought with me – “Jewelry, From Antiquity to the Present” by Clare Phillips – so that I could look up the proper documentation I needed to enter my necklace into the competition the next morning. She then exclaimed, “Oh, I LOVE that book!”

That has literally never happened to me before in my entire life. I read a lot of nonfiction, even back when I was in elementary school, so to have someone recognize, much less enjoy the books I read was astounding. I actually had to take a second to look around the room to make sure I was still awake.

On Saturday night I went to bed early after I completed my drawing and Brian spent some time that night wandering around, accepting drinks and meeting people. He later described to me a moment where he felt like he stepped back in time while hanging around some period tents. There was light flickering from candles in handforged fittings, the sound of people laughing around distant fires that shone in the lake and the smell of food cooked over an open flame in the air. There was not an electronic device in sight.

In short, we found home.

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Triforce Chainmaille Dice Bag Tutorial

Legend of Zelda Triforce Chainmaille Pouch tutorial You can learn to make chainmaille!

Here’s a tutorial I made for a chainmaille bag that you can use to hold your gaming dice, spare change, or what-have-you. While not a complete beginner’s guide to chainmaille, if you can make this bag, you can make a coif, a shirt, a bikini, or even a wall hanging. I’ve heard from a lot of people who’ve never made chainmaille before that they were able to make their own Triforce dice bags!

Click Here to get the PDF

Click Here for the tutorial on Instructables

If you make a chainmaille dice bag (or something else) from this tutorial, let me know in the comments. I want to see it!

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FREE Reference Books!

Screencap of MOMA page

The Met Publications Page has everything!

Guess what? The Metropolitan Museum of Art has put hundreds of their journals, books, and teaching guides online FOR FREE. You can read them, download them, buy them, and even get some of them printed on demand if you want to throw money at them.

Do you like to make garb? Guess what? You can search by “Collection/Department” and hit up The Costume Institute. Send the fighters over to the books on the Arms and Armor collection. I’ve been giggling like a maniac by just typing “Jewelry” into the Keyword box so I can Download All The Things.

So please, tell your friends, tell that cousin who loves to paint, that friend who’s really into cosplay, and send them to MOMA’s Met Publications Page. There’s literally something for everyone. If you only want to look for free downloads, make sure you select Download PDF under “Format” when you begin your search. Once you find a book you’d like, hit “More” and it’ll take you to that book’s page, where you can select what options they have available for that particular title. The screencap up top gives you an idea.

So, what are YOU looking for? Have you found a great resource? Share it in the comments so we can all see it!

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Medieval Ring Brooch Tutorial

Medieval Ring Brooch Tutorial

I’ve got something for you!

I’m doing a series of historical jewelry tutorials! Specifically, things you can make without having to buy a bunch of fancy tools or use a torch for. I’m starting off with the ring brooch, which is something that you don’t see too often, despite its popularity in medieval dress. You can use it on its own as a decoration, or to pin a shawl or scarf.

My instructions assume you have some basic experience with jewelry making, but even if you don’t, this is still pretty simple. Practice on some thin, cheap craft wire if this is your first project, and if you have any questions, just ask. I’m happy to help!

Click Here to get the PDF
Click Here for the Tutorial on Instructables.

If you make a pin with this tutorial, put a link in the comments!

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Dinner from the 14th Century

PicturePreparing Lombard Chicken Pasties from The Medieval Cookbook by Maggic Black

This is something I never thought I’d do: a blog post on cooking. Why? Because I’m a terrible cook. I have set ramen on fire in the microwave. Several times. I have no idea how I set noodles in water on fire, but I am strangely proud that I did. I’ve killed toasters, destroyed pans, and extinguished more kitchen fires than I can remember. Ask my first college roomie. I started a fire the first dinner we had together. (Hi, Rachael! Sorry I still owe you an oven mitt. And a pan.)

So, yeah – I suck at cooking.

Brian makes all the food, but he’s got a lot of stones to cut and the final edit of his book to finish, so he’s asked me to try my hand at cooking again. I agreed, but I hate cooking. To make it fun and interesting for me, I bought two cookbooks on Amazon.

HISTORICAL COOKBOOKS.

I got The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black and The Classical Cookbook by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. They arrived Saturday, and I decided to try the “Lombard Chicken Pasties” from The Medieval Cookbook for dinner. Now, these aren’t your typical cookbooks. They’re full of historical information, including cultural notes about how and when food was served. If you’re like me and like to learn as much as you can, however and whenever you can, these are perfect. When I realized that I had spent more than an hour reading a cookbook without even thinking about cooking, I knew I’d made a good buy.

Out of respect to the author I’m not posting the recipe, but they were easy to make, even for someone like me. Most importantly, they were delicious! The Little One loved them! I did make the mistake of not pricking the tops of the pasties before I put them in the oven, though. Considering how my cooking escapades usually turn out, I’m happy I only had to clean up the filling that leaked out and got baked on the pan.

I had planned to throw a steam bag of veggies in the microwave to go with them but I forgot, and I’m glad I did. These things are filling! Granted, I did use slightly more chicken than was called for, but only by a tiny bit. They’re just filling. There were three left over, and while I have them in the fridge for leftover night, I imagine that they would freeze really well.


PictureSo delicious! I have a feeling this will become a regular dinner item.

So far, cooking like it’s 1399 is working out.

Have you ever tried your hand at historical cooking? If you have, tell me about it in the comments; I’m eager to learn!

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