A week ago someone from my LARP group turned 30 – my own big one is approaching fast, as well, and this year sees quite a couple of these in my circle of friends – so it was high time to finish this project.
He’s starting a courier business at the next game, and I assumed that a messenger can never have enough containers for important papers, complete with rings to hang it from a belt or sling it over the shoulder with a strap. I also wanted to test if I could make one of these the way I imagined it to work.
The scroll case is based around an old whiskey packaging – you know, those sturdy cardboard tubes with the metal lids. I wrapped it in old sofa leather, hunted down in the streets of Marburg long ago, first to glue it on and then to stitch it shut. The most complicated part was the lid, while I could just glue a cuff around the lower end I wanted to fully cover the upper, but with the lining that I added so the original inside of the whiskey tube wasn’t visible I had to change a few things.
I hammered the inside of the lid until it fit back in – not really elegantly done, I admit, but it works – and then added a piece of leather on top. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how long it took me to actually add the last thin strip of leather around the edge to finally conceal the leftover bits of tin cap… Anyway, another challenging thing was hammering in those rivets – I couldn’t exactly open up the tube for them but wanted it to be somewhat sturdy (I think I used a rolling pin on the inside), and I think the trouble was worth it in the end.
Overall I’m happy how this project turned out (and I think the receiver liked it, too) and I think I might even make another one to conceal my camcorder at games so I don’t disturb the ambience if I decide to film.
Let me know if you’d want a tutorial on that in the comments! ♥
P.S.: I’m very much looking forward to my new camera. The phone is nice and convenient and everything, but it doesn’t beat the more traditional digital device.
The wombat is a joy, a triumph, a delight, a madness.
– D.G. Rossetti in a letter to his brother William, and probably one of my top 10 favourite quotes ever
Okay, maybe we don’t, so let’s start at this: Dante Gabriel Rossetti had a wombat.
The guy who painted this…
… had a wombat. And I’m infinitely jealous, because I want one, too. Back in the day when a certain political party was still votable and not just the bad joke it is nowadays they promised wombats to everyone. Yes, of course, I voted for them. My boyfriend gave me Diary of a Wombat for our anniversary a few years ago. Wombats are fantastic. But back to the Pre-Raphaelites and their wombats, because that’s a thing of beauty.
Rossetti acquired his first (allegedly there was a second about which I couldn’t find any more info on the web) wombat in 1869 after visiting the zoo regularly, especially, of course, the stoutest of marsupials. He even went to Paris to check up on the wombats there. Gabriel was definitely a fan. He had a growing menagerie anyways, so what better to top it off than a wombat?
There were […] two or more armadillos, rabbits, dormice and a racoon that hibernated in a chest of drawers. There were peacocks, parakeets, and kangaroos and wallabies, about which we know frustratingly little. There was a Canadian marmot or woodchuck, a Pomeranian puppy called Punch, an Irish deerhound called Wolf, a Japanese salamander and two laughing jackasses. We know the neighbours were tolerant up to a point but Thomas Carlyle, for one, was driven mad by the noise.
And I think my favourite thing about that wombat is that Rossetti named him after William f*cking Morris, a stout fellow and one of my favourite artists, socialists and dreamers.
His nickname among his friends was Topsy (how adorable is that for a perpetually grumpy looking, very bearded bloke who wants nothing more than bring upon the world a neo-Arthurian age?), and the animal was named Top. Rossetti was very, very much into Morris’ wife Jane at the time (it was mutual, one might add), by the way, which led to this picture:
Oh! How the family affections combat
Within this heart; and each hour flings a bomb at
My burning soul; neither from owl nor from bat
Can peace be gained, until I clasp my wombat!
– D.G. Rossetti in a letter to Jane Morris
Not so adorable is the fact that Top died mere months later (rumour has it that he ate a box of cigars or too many straw hats), but Gabriel wasn’t willing to let go and had him stuffed. Wombats made it not only under the murals at Oxford Union and onto a ton of sketches of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but also onto the frontispiece of Gabriel’s sister’s Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market:
I first encountered the whole story, by the way, via the cartoons of Raine Szramski, whose Pre-Raphernalia blog seems to be mostly abandoned now, sadly. If you are in any way interested in the PRB you should religiously read through her archive, though, and you can find her cartoons on the wombat here and here. It was also there that I found out about #wombatfriday ages ago, and apparently there is also a Wombat Trail and at some point a Wombat Girl Gang at Red House, Morris’ family home from 1860 to 1865.
So with this background of my favourite art history fun fact ever I think it’s only understandable that when I met this little fellow at the thrift shop this week I immediately knew I had to adopt him (he seems to be the same model species as the ones being sold out for adoption at Red House, too). Oh, and have I tried to be clever and sort of re-create this portrait of Jane Morris with the photograph above? Maybe.
Keeping in tradition with other pre-raph wombats to be named after someone from their circles I call him Morris – Morris was the original name-giver of Gabriel’s wombat, he is one of my favourites, and it’s my favourite car’s manufacturer, so there’s that.
And now I finally have a wombat of my own, just in case I might want to participate in #wombatfriday in the future, and of course to make me happy whenever I look at him. The wombat is, after all, a delight.
Further Reading: John Simons: Rossetti’s Wombat: Pre-Raphaelites and Australian Animals in Victorian London. London, 2008
Further Watching: Desperate Romantics (albeit without wombats, but with tons of “f*ckboy energy”, as my series soulmate calls it, courtesy of Dante Gabriel Rossetti), BBC 2009
Disclaimer: If you’re a vegan and/or dislike the sight of bones and animal parts this might not be the post for you.
I haven’t done a simple look-what-I’ve-bought post on the blog in a long time. But while I absolutely love making thrift hauls, especially now that I loosely theme them rather than just throw things at the camera, I also love taking pictures and making things pretty little still lives. As the title of this post says these are what I brought back from this year’s ConQuest (the biggest LARP in Germany). I always adore shopping there, in and out of character, as the in-game market is huge and has such wonderful and unique treasures to be found.
My friend and immediate-boss-on-Thursdays Tarquin and I often joke that our friendship is based on parts of dead animals because we both enjoy the untamed quality of bones and taxidermy and irregularly gift each other things that fall into this category – teeth, skins, chicken feet, stuff like that. Luckily at ConQuest there are several stalls selling these things, and one of them didn’t only sell bones – the tiny vertebra above is about the size of my thumb’s nail – but also old glass beads. I put two of my olddreadlocks back in and now wear the clear glass rings around them, like quartz or solid bits of water.
This cup wasn’t bought so much as found at one of the dumpsters on the grounds. Aren’t the acorn details darling? The tiny flasks were a gift from the Scoundrel who only visited for a day and didn’t stay for the game itself, but found time to pick up a parcel of jewellery for his merchant character, and these were part of it.
Spinning wool is something I haven’t bought in ages, but the boyfriend got into felting recently and I might either spin this or use it on some unsuspecting bit of woollen clothing. Either way I purchased it with copper pieces rather than out-of-game money and was very happy to part with those coins for these strands.
The little cup isn’t actually a cup but rather an old coffee filter, perforated at the bottom and with a likewise perforated piece inside. I’ve been wanting something to make coffee with without breaking the ambience in camp, so this is ideal. I got it from a lovely French seller who explained to me how to use it, too, and I’m happy to report that it works wonderfully.
There’s one stall where I linger a lot each year, and I decided that I might take home a piece annually. Last year I bought a hare’s foot there that actually gets worn by my character, and this year I decided on a badger’s hind paw. Those are quite a bit smaller than the front paws which looked ridiculous on me, but I’m of course in love nevertheless.
The femur (I’m guessing rabbit) is from the other stall with the beads mentioned above and I wore it in my hair. While it was a character thing at first I think I might do that in my everyday life, too, it makes me feel like a feral fae who just by chance wandered into the modern world and decided to stay without abandoning her wild ways.
The wing is a pheasant’s – I’ve wanted a preserved wing for some time now and I might add a handle of sorts or a sling to hang it at my altar. I’m already curious for the treasures this stall might bring next year.
And last but not least I bought these metal ornaments at a stall that sells so many of these I had a hard time deciding which ones to get. The round one is Trif’s, whom I play at ConQuest, the other ship is for a character I’m still planning and I might fake-enamel the sails at some point, and the thistle is just for myself (and if you watch my videos you might know why).
I couldn’t for the life of me remember the names of the other two stalls mentioned, and of course, I bought traditional sweets (I always do, and the stall is at our local historic yule market as well – they know me by now) and wild rose wine, but the former are already gone and the wine is rather tasted than seen.
Do you enjoy shopping at renaissance faires, medieval markets and artisan shows? Have you had any luck there this year? And which of my treasures is your favourite? Let me know in the comments! ♥
Investing four Euros in a small soundbar at the thrift store has been such a good idea and makes living with the capabilities of my laptop so much easier.
I might have a bit of a calendar problem, but I bought a new pocket planner, one of those that start around Midsummer and then go for the next one-and-a-half years, and it makes me happy. I like fresh starts so much, and I really love how sturdy and simple in layout, yet aesthetically pleasing and fancy in cover Paperblanks are. It’s this one, by the way, and I love how they explain their designs, as well.
My new-to-me boots that I got from a friend – she’d gotten a pair of mine that I barely wore a few weeks prior, and I think we both ended up with something much more fitting, which is so lovely (not to mention sustainable). I love the colours and the little studs along the lacing!
Summer Rain. After last year left us dry and the groundwater reserves diminished I’m happy for every cloudy and rainy day we get. We’ve had some really intense rainstorms lately, and even though it’s still comparatively little, every bit helps to replenish nature.
Teen Wolf. I’m currently re-binging, mainly for Stiles, of course, who with this snarkiness and relatable being-an-oddball will always be my favourite character, but also Lydia, Peter Hale, and general supernatural teen drama, because I still can’t get enough of this over-the-top supernatural teen drama. Where were these series in my teenage years (not that we had a TV, and I know Buffy existed, but still)?!
I’m very much into French accordion music lately, together with the aforementioned summer rain it makes me feel like I’m in a 70s movie about artistic types in an unnamed French town.
And for a more lively mood I’m resorting to Yé-Yé tunes to channel my inner enfant terrible who annoys yet charms everyone around her.
Thiscircus-themed house. I love cirque and carnival aesthetics, and the colours are so bright an lovely! The layout really looks nice, too, and I’d love to know whoever made it look this way.
Once again the month is almost over – August is a particularly bad one, I’m so occupied with coming back from ConQuest and getting back to a state of mind where I don’t feel over-humaned (the state where you get anxiety at the mention of any social activities) that I forget everything else that isn’t a basic function or work.
However, there are still some notes for August left, so let’s use these golden days well! ♥
August was nearly over – the month of apples and falling stars, the last care-free month for the school children. The days were not hot, but sunny and limpidly clear – the first sign of advancing autumn.
― Victor Nekrasov
In the spirit of my favourite Summer activity, camp out, even only for a day! Just like a picnic, but with more comfy equipment, get some blankets and pillows, your favourite pyjamas or nightgown, maybe a tarp if you’re wary of rain and spend the night or at least most of the evening outside. Whether on a balcony or in a garden doesn’t matter, what matters are the stars overhead and a good book or a beloved comfort movie. Also maybe snacks.
Speaking of snacks, make dried apple rings in the sun if it’s still hot enough for that! Put them on a lined baking tray and put them on the window sill to dry. You might want to add sugar or cinnamon depending on the apple variety – some of the early ones are fairly sour – or leave them natural. Store them in cookie tins or pretty jars and snack them during the Winter months.
Although we are necessarily concerned, in a chronicle of events, with physical action by the light of day, history suggests that the human spirit wanders farthest in the silent hours between midnight and dawn. Those dark fruitful hours, seldom recorded, whose secret flowerings breed peace and war, loves and hates, the crowning or uncrowning of heads.
― Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock
Watch Picnic at Hanging Rock during a hazy day when it’s too hot to do anything else. Make an event out of it, make everyone wear exclusively white, have sandwiches and later fall asleep outside under a tree.
Generally, wear white (or very light colours) for an entire day to feel like a turn-of-the-century upper-class person. There are indefinite shades of white to choose from and be it historically-inspired, Lolita, Mori Kei or simply linen pants and a white button-down, it will make you feel fresh and incredibly fancy. Bonus points for a straw hat or fresh flowers for accessories!
Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.
– Henry Fielding
Hello Thistledown Gang, and welcome to the very first instalment of Thrift Fixes, the part of my channel where I take thrifted, found, scavenged or already-there items and try to make them a bit more custom, comfy or pretty (your mileage may vary on that). Today: A strange wicker fish for our LARP camp!
I decided that for videos like this I might as well give you my voiceover notes, just in case you don’t feel like watching and want to read about the weird things I do for my hobby rather than watch. In the future (read: when I’ve acquired a decent camera again) I’ll try to document the projects by photograph, as well, but for now, this will have to suffice. But without further ado, here’s the weird fish!
First things first, I wanted the fish to have eyes, actual, cold, shimmery fish eyes. Thanks to a trip to the riverside a few days before I started this project I had the perfect material: river shells. I scrubbed them clean – dish soap and a toothbrush are your friend and look at how SHINY they got. Like, wow. So shiny. I estimated the size needed by putting a piece of paper over the eyes that were already there and hatching over them, just like you would do with inscriptions or engravings that you want to read better or take home. We did that in kindergarten, a lot. Was that just us? Let me know, I’m curious.
I then used chalk to get the size onto the actual shells and then… well, that first attempt wasn’t ideal, and neither was the second, and while sanding shells was interesting we will skip to the idea that actually works.
To save the shells from breaking and being completely wasted I glued them onto fabric scraps – this way they can break however they want but still stay in the desired shape. I justified this by telling myself that this – albeit with bone glue or birch tar or somesuch – would be an accessible method for the imaginary craftsperson who would have made this fish thing in-game. I’ve got priorities, okay? Anyway, after that, I could simply trim the shells with crafting scissors, which was incredibly satisfying.
Again estimating the probable materials I decided to paint the eyes with ink rather than a sharpie or acrylics – I’ve painted shell disks with ink before and it works beautifully. I use Windsor & Newton, who don’t sponsor me at all, by the way. I wish. I eyeballed the pupil and added a black ring around the iris to get more of a “cold, dead fish eye” stare and to visually even out the shape.
I ten decided that the whole wicker situation didn’t look sufficiently like it had been exposed to the elements for a while – far too shiny. I put the whole thing in the tub, doused it with bleach, left it overnight, rinsed it off and then set it out to dry in the heat for another day. Much better.
Now here’s the explanatory bit, namely the answer to “What the heck made you spend five Euros on that?!”: At LARP we play a group of coast guards. Medieval-renaissance-ish low fantasy coast guards. And we like maritime decor, of course. And this thing – the fish, that is – was so weird that, when I came across it at the thrift shop, I sent my group a text saying, “Hey, do we want this?” – and they said yes. I had already been out of the shop when I got their answers so I wasn’t sure if it would be there the next time I stopped by, but apparently, nobody wants a weird basket fish… except for me.
So the poor thing had dorsal fins and the tail, but no pectorals whatsoever, so I found myself a stick with enough forks to make some. Had I more patience I could have tried to find something closer to the original wicker, alas: I have none. It would be covered anyway. I sawed off the two most promising forks and whittled the ends flat so I could wedge them into the weave of the fish later. I decided to make them a bit more fluttery and flowy as opposed to the stiff wicker fins that the fish already had, considering that it would be outside most of the time and silk makes the best streamers EVER, so I ripped up a thrifted silk scarf I had around anyway. I didn’t only want two fins to flutter, however, so I started be weaving strips of silk through the dorsal fins. It took a bit of twisting to get ends that would push through well enough and I needed to stab the whole affair with a knife at some points, but eh. *shrugs*
I secured the ends with a few drops of glue, but in the end, only knotting them would probably have sufficed.
The tail fin was a bit different as I needed to reattach it as well, but I decided to work with some more silk strips here, too. I was going for some sort of fancy goldfish tail that would look good in the breeze, and the colours of the silk remind me of seaweed, which is just so lovely.
A lot of maritime decor in LARP, or anything that centres around water or the sea, really, is only shades of blue (or grey if people are feeling experimental and maybe moody), but when you look toat places like Britanny or Northern Germany or the Netherlands, for example, there’s a lot of yellows and greens going on, and I love this palette very, very much.
I attached the eyes next because I wanted that done before the pectoals made things a bit more unwieldy. I used glue again and held the shells in place with wires as they dried, which worked surprisingly well – it was the same wire I’d used as a needle substitute to be-silk the tail fin.
I wedged in the pectoral fins and first tried to glue them down, but in the end that neither worked nor was it really necessary, because the silk strips were enough. This time I used an actual darning needle because I needed to be a bit more precise, working inside the fish and everything. I did a super simple – that’s not even a weave, is it – and then installed some more streaming potential along the sides. The silk weaving really took the most time in this project, the best part of the around four hours of footage that I gathered.
The eyes weren’t what I wanted them to be just yet, though, and were lacking structure. After some experiments, I re-used the wicker chain links of the original fastening of the fish for the ridges by cutting them open and wiring them into rings, and attatched them with more silk and again the biggest darning needle that I own. I might have to re-do these at some point, the knots loosened a bit, but other than that the thing held up fabulously.
Anyway, in the end, I just added a rope handle and now we have a weird fish in our camp. We used it for some LED candles this year, which was strange, but in a cute way, and I think everyone just adopted this thing as a mascot.
I’m really looking forward to make more of these videos. Altering things, bending them to my aesthetic wishes, is one of my favourite pasttimes and I really like to share my trial-and-error experiences as well as the things I actually know.