Sunday, March 25, 2018

A 16th Century Buratto Embroidered Lace: Scholar's Project #4

My Buratto Cupid
The final Scholar's project I presented at Gentle Arts this year is a 16th century embroidered lace in the buratto style.

Buratto is thought to have developed in Italy in the early 16th century. The base for
buratto is a woven net, made upon a particular kind of loom by an experienced weaver, and is then embroidered. Lacis differs only from Buratto in the base, as it uses a netted mesh made with a netting needle one mesh at a time. The embroidery techniques are identical for both styles, and they are usually lumped together in lace history and technique books.

The first published buratto pattern book was written by an Italian named Alessandro Paganino, in 1527. Called simply Burato, it features four quatros (sections) ranging from blank mesh grids in various sizes (which were probably intended for the lacemaker to create her or his own designs) to geometrical patterns to much more complicated patterns for embroidering net. Buratto and filet were generally used for altar cloths, bed-cloths, table linens and wall hangings, and exceedingly rarely do we find it in clothing. Many extant pieces are square in nature and many squares could be joined to produce larger works, or were combined with whitework embroidery, needle lace, bobbin lace and other forms of embroidery.

Paganino's 1527 Burato Cover
When we came back to the SCA (after a hiatus) in 2015, the first event we attended was Seagirt's Summer Tourney which was combined with the Sergeants/Yeoman/Gallant trials that year. There was a contest for Anything Archery: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words that piqued my interest, so I went looking for a representation of archery made for buratto or filet. I knew that classical figures were often seen in period pieces and found a perfect one via Pinterest in the Hermitage Museum in Russia. Unfortunately at that time, the small thumbnail was all that was available, and it wasn't big enough to chart. Eventually I found the pattern that I ended up using, that was in a period style. As time was limited I used interlock canvas, which mimics the buratto mesh. I used a 50/2 linen thread and each square took 8 passes to fill using reprise stitch (one of two main stitches). It's finished with a border of double buttonhole stitches. It took about 40+ hours to complete. I won the contest and it was accepted as a Scholars project. Two more to go!

My Scholar's Projects at Gentle Arts 2018. Photo by Kimberly Grigg.
Download the detailed documentation here:

A Late 16th Century Buratto Embroidered Lace

I am currently practicing more filet embroidery and plan to have some finished pieces by the end of the year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dyschefulls of Snowe and Fine Cakes: Scholar's Project #3

Snow with Fine Cakes in a Rosemary Forest.
I presented these Dyshefulls of Snowe and Fine Cakes at the Barony of Seagirt's Yule Revel in December. Although there wasn't enough time to have the project fully assessed at that time, I was able to get the Scholars and the Baron to taste both kinds I made at the event (one with eggs and one without) and then I presented the documentation at Gentle Arts. Interestingly, I found a further three recipes for Snow in the month between Yule and Gentle Arts, and added them to my documentation.

I have a long history with this holiday dish. Years ago, in the late 1980's I entered a dish for the Immaculate Confection contest and for my winning entry I received a book called Christmas Feasts from History by Lorna Sass. In it there was a basic recipe for a late period dessert called Snow. Ever since, I've made the dish frequently (including it in a Trio of Desserts I made for an entry into the Tir Righ Arts & Sciences Championship in 2006) and this time, I spent a lot of time researching the recipe.

It turns out that Snow was a popular late period dessert which I found in at least seven different period recipe collections! One contained two versions, one with the traditional dairy ingredients and one dry snowe without cream. I have found 8 different recipes. Three additional recipes since I had originally submitted this project in December at Yule Revel. Variations of this dessert can be found in several English recipe books, one in French from Liege, one in Middle Dutch and one in German. The recipes are exceedingly similar, most consisting of sweetened, whipped cream with or without egg whites and flavored with rose water and sugar. Several of the recipes include using a sprig of rosemary as a tree in either an apple or a round bread loaf, and then casting the snow upon it to suggest a snowy forest.

This one had eggs in the recipe.
The Fine Cakes are cookie-like desserts made with butter, flour, sugar, eggs and spices and both recipes call for them to be baked upon papers (parchment paper). I found two different recipes for these and choose to redact the one from Gervase Markham's  The English Huswife (1615):

To make fine cakes; take a pottle of fine flour, and a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a little mace and a good store of water to mingle the flour into a stiff paste, and a good season of salt and so knead it, and roll out the cake thin and bake them on papers.

I was unable to get an entire pottle (about 8 cups) into my redaction, but they turned out fairly well anyway. I cut most into a trencher shape, which the other recipe suggested and the rest into eight pointed Tir Righ stars. The recipe made over eight dozen little cakes.

You can download my documentation here:

Dyschefulls of Snowe & Fine Cakes

In addition to passing as a Scholar's project, my entry won Best Subtlety at the Yule revel and I received some lovely spices and a tiny salt cellar as a prize. The Immaculate Confection contest remains one of my favorite contests to enter. Next year, I am going to try something completely different and have already started the research for that. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lace Cuff - Scholar's Project #2

Bobbin Lace Linen Cuff
This past January, I presented three projects for the Barony of Seagirt's Scholar's trials. All were well received and accepted. The first of which was my bobbin lace cuff that was originally made for entry into Tir Righ's Arts & Sciences Championship way back in 2006. Unlike most contests, Scholar's applicants are encouraged to submit projects they have done in the past. So, I dusted off the lace and completely rewrote the documentation. It's amazing just how much things change - there is so much more information available now!

Detail of the bobbin lace cuff of Frances,
Lady Reynell by Robert Peake, 1595
The cuff I chose to make would have been in fashion from the late sixteenth-century to almost the mid seventeenth-century. It is a plain band with pointed bobbin lace, similar to the cuff of Lady Reynell (detail to the right).

The lace for the cuffs that I have made is adapted from a design in Le Pompe, 1559 Patterns for Venentian bobbin lace. This is one of the earliest pattern books for bobbin lace and was printed in Venice by Giovanni-Battista and Marchio Sessa, brothers who printed books for a publisher named Matio Pagano. In the introduction to the modern version of the book, author Santina M. Levey remarks that he was “... one of the most prolific publishers of pattern books”.

This pattern had the shape I was looking for complete with a pointed or scalloped edge, which many paintings of late sixteenth century clothing show. This pattern contained four repeats, and it was interesting to see that two contained picots, while two did not. Throughout the book, there are a few picots missing from patterns, and though these are mistakes forgotten by the designer, the absence of the picots in two entire repeats of the pattern may simply show the lace-maker two ways of completing the lace.

Original lace pattern from Le Pompe.

I altered the pattern slightly from the original. I wanted more points for the cuff to make it more like the lace I’d seen in paintings, and I did not like the way the thick bands looked between the points. In re-drawing the pattern, I also decided to make the lace stronger by altering one of the plaits and incorporating it into the point.

My altered lace pricking.

Detail of my lace with its tiny picots.
You can download my more detailed documentation here:

A Late Sixteenth-Century Bobbin Lace Edged Cuff

I am generally happy with the way the cuff turned out. The lace is tight, well tensioned and the picots nicely visible for the small size of thread used. One side was cut too close and unravelled a small section, so I fixed as best I could and it is fairly sturdy now - this part will not generally be seen as it is the underside of the cuff. For the next cuff, I will make the lace longer before ending. Though it will hold its shape fairly well, I am looking into how to properly starch the lace so that it will be more stiff before basting to a sleeve. The cuff took approximately 35+ hours to complete.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dragon Age Week Day Seven: Skyhold at Christmas

Well, I've been off playing Dragon Age: Inquisition for the past month and it's no secret that I'm thoroughly impressed! It's my Game of the Year for 2014 and probably the next two years, too! I'm currently on my second playthrough, and every time I play, I find something new to explore and love. So, when it came time to decide what our annual holiday LEGO display was going to include, I knew it had to be Skyhold! We started with lots of mountains in the background, blue sky and clouds, and Cullen's Tower (which you can see in detail here). Many thanks to my long-suffering LEGO husband! Here's a look at the results...

Skyhold at Christmas with Cullen's Tower on the left...

With the Herald's Rest and training ring on the right - note Sera on the roof!

Blackwall & Cassandra with the training dummies.

Dorian and Josephine with random loot near the ice.

Cole on the snowbank against the stone wall.

Christmas tree & presents next to Cullen's Tower. More loot & guards.

The Herald's Rest! We tucked a battery operated candle inside so the glass glows. And this is supposed to be Varric and Bianca, but we couldn't find the right hair. Iron Bull is inside of course!

Dragon Age snowmen need helmets! (And who put Legolas in the scene?)

Great way to add a bonfire! Tiny elastics, 1x4 tiles & fake flickering candles.

Cullen & my Inquisitor, with a tower shape in the background to suggest a bigger castle.

Season's Greetings! And a happy Dragon Age New Year to us all...

(These Dragon Age posts originally appeared the week before Dragon Age Inquisition released in November of 2014 on my old blog. I've moved them here so I can keep all my geekdoms in one place.)

Dragon Age Week Day Six: Jar of Bees Tutorial

Make your own Jar of Bees!
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... Dragon Age: Inquisition launches tomorrow in North America! And yes, it contains the infamous Jar of Bees. As soon as I heard that this really was going to be a thing, I knew I had to make one for myself. The Jar of Bees is a weapon that you throw at your enemies - it summons a swarm of bees that attacks the nearest enemy, and apparently can be upgraded by adding wasps! How could you not want our own Jar of Bees to share with your Dragon Age friends? So here's an quick and easy tutorial so you can make your own.

Instant Lead Lines, Bees & Jars

I got everything I needed at my local craft shop:
  • Small corked jars - preferably with large corks so you can get the bees inside.
  • Gallery Glass Instant Lead Lines - the wider size.
  • Bees - I found these in the floral section, you could also make them with Fimo.
  • Craft paint - to touch up the bees.
  • Craft knife - make sure it's sharp.

Painted bees ready to be bottled.

First thing to do is to make your bees! I was lucky enough to find some pre-made bees in the floral department of Michaels. These were made to wire into floral arrangements so all I had to do was to take out the wire, and give them a little better paint job. You could also make your own bees with Fimo, small pom-poms, and I did find bee buttons and small wooden bees at the same shop, so the possibilities are endless. You could also leave the wire on, and use a bit of clay in the bottom of your jar to make the bees appear to buzzing around.

Using the lead lines on the jar.

Take the strip over the other one, then cut to lie flat.

Next, wash and dry your jars. Make sure they are completely dry before you add the instant leading lines, or they won't stick properly. This is a great product for this project. The jars in the game appear to be caged in a metal frame to protect the jars from breaking prematurely - we wouldn't want those bees getting out accidentally! The lines are just peel and stick, and you can use a sharp craft knife to cut them. The leading is pretty forgiving and I was able to move my lines around before committing to exactly where I wanted it to be. To get the right look, tuck the lines underneath the jar, almost a lantern kind of look. When two lines intersect, you can use the knife to cut them to make them lie flat. Don't forget to place some of the leading around the top of the jar, or even a double line.

Triangle Jar of Bees

Jar of Bees ©2014 EA International

When you've finished with your lead lines and have the perfect temporary cage, then add your bees to the jar, put the cork on and you have your very own Jar of Bees! Pretty easy, huh? Be careful not to let anyone throw them, but they make a great addition to a shelf with your Templar & Mage Pincushions and your Dragon Age Keep Banner. I'd love to see your Jar of Bees, so if you make one come back and leave a comment with a picture. Happy Dragon Age Release Day and Bzzzzzzzzzz...

(These Dragon Age posts originally appeared the week before Dragon Age Inquisition released in November of 2014 on my old blog. I've moved them here so I can keep all my geekdoms in one place.)


Dragon Age Week Day Five: Cullen's Tower in LEGO

Cullen in his bedroom at Skyhold, our version of the promo shot!
My family loves LEGO! Especially my husband, who is an AFOL (adult fan of LEGO), and this is his hobby. We have way more LEGO in the house than normal people, but who wants to be normal anyway? So, I asked him if he would build me Cullen's Tower at Skyhold. Happily, he agreed.

It's even more impressive because he's not a gamer, and the only thing he knows about Dragon Age is that I'm a little bit obsessed. Especially with Cullen. So, I showed him the Skyhold Twitch stream, and under a wee bit of guidance, this is what he built for me. Pretty awesome, don't you think?

And best of all, this is just the beginning. I've convinced him that our holiday display should be Skyhold at Christmas, so stay tuned. The doors will eventually connect to the rest of the keep, and I know we took a bit of liberty with adding a balcony - but they needed someplace to play chess! In the meantime, there is only two days left until Dragon Age: Inquisition releases in North America! Check back tomorrow for my Jar of Bees tutorial...

Working at his desk with the owl decoration above, shot though the door.

Cullen playing chess with my Inquisitor. She's not about to let him win.

Skyhold is a fixer-upper so there are building materials everywhere.

What is Cullen working on? Note the sacks to the side.

Climbing the ladder to bedroom. Hope he's not been drinking!

Outside of the tower with vines growing up the side.

Maybe they should patch the roof soon!

(These Dragon Age posts originally appeared the week before Dragon Age Inquisition released in November of 2014 on my old blog. I've moved them here so I can keep all my geekdoms in one place.)

Dragon Age Week Day Four: Hanged Man Stew

Hanged Man Loading Screen ©2010 EA International
I probably enjoyed Dragon Age II more than most people, and completed five full play-throughs plus a handful of uncompleted ones. One of my favorite places to visit was The Hanged Man. I loved the music playing in the background, that so many quests started and ended here, and of course visiting Varric and drinking with Isabela!

According to one of the loading screens, the featured dish at the Lowtown tavern is its daily stew, made with a different mystery meat each morning. Since we all need to eat, I plan to make a stew the day Dragon Age: Inquisition releases. To save more time for gaming, I'm going to prep the veggies the night before and put everything in the slow cooker in the morning. Then I'll take my youngest to school, and rush off to pick up my copy of DA:I at my local EB Games - who are unfortunately not doing a midnight release, but at least will be open an hour earlier than normal. 

You could make this stew with your favorite mystery meat, but I plan to use pork as that's what is plentiful in my freezer. Beef works just as well. I'm sure Cameron Lee would be happy to use Nug meat in his. 

Hanged Man Mystery Meat Stew

2.5 lbs of pork cubes
2 TBSP olive oil
¼ cup flour
1 - 26oz can tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 TBSP Italian Mixed Spices (or oregano & basil)
1 Stock Bouillon (I use Knorr)
2 large sweet potatoes
4 large potatoes
4 large carrots
1 large onion
2 cups frozen peas
salt & pepper to your taste

  1. The night before, peel and chop all veggies (sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots & onion) your favorite stew size. Place in a large bowl and just cover with water.
  2. In the morning, use a large skillet heat to medium-high, dredge meat in flour with some salt and pepper, and brown in hot olive oil. You may need to do this in 2-3 batches depending on the size of your skillet. When finished browning place in a large size crockpot - mine is about 7 quarts.
  3. Mince garlic. Drain veggies and add garlic & vegetables to crock pot over meat.
  4. Open tomatoes, crush a bit and add to crockpot.
  5. Add bay leaf, Italian spices, salt, pepper, stock bouillon & stir in.
  6. Set timer to cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 6 hours.
  7. About an hour before, add frozen peas and stir.
  8. You shouldn't need to any other liquid to the stew, but occasionally a bit of water may be needed. You could instead a bit of stock or tomato juice.

It won't take long before the lovely smell of mystery meat stewing permeates your house to add an extra layer of authenticity to your gameplay! Serve with buns. Makes a lot of stew, so you can probably eat it for two nights for a family of 4-5, or you can freeze some for later. You'll notice I don't have a picture of it yet - I'll add one when it's done on Inquisition Day.

In the meantime, here is a short list of snacks that might accompany you on your journey to Skyhold:
  • Cut up summer sausage & cubes of cheese
  • Almonds or mixed nuts
  • Hummus & cut veggies 
  • Popcorn & pretzels
  • Add 2 TBSP peanut butter, 1 tsp honey and a dash of cinnamon to a small tub of Greek yogurt for a high protein dip with apple slices.
  • Slice a bit of cucumber and add a sprig of mint to your water jug for flavored water - need to stay hydrated!
  • Or freeze juice in ice-cube trays and add a couple to a glass of club soda
  • Frozen grapes 

What will you be eating during Dragon Age: Inquistion? Leave a comment with your favorite foods for gaming and quick ideas for dinner for those with families!

(These Dragon Age posts originally appeared the week before Dragon Age Inquisition released in November of 2014 on my old blog. I've moved them here so I can keep all my geekdoms in one place.)