Vedardottir’s Viking VeraStorium Design

Sometimes design ideas are simple: you have an idea, you draw it, and you’re good to go. Other times you have an idea, you draw it, and…you need to adjust it because it’s good but not quite right.

I am transitioning from making things for myself and my close friends into actually trying to make money selling things in the Society for Creative Anachronisms. I’ve worked for vendors in the past, so I have an idea of what to do: show up, bring a table, and display wares with price tags. Finally, it’s good to have a shop name and logo. Since I’m a Viking named Vedardottir, I thought a shop name with V’s would be fun. After playing with a lot of words, I decided to play with Veritasium, a bastardized Latin word for ‘Truth Serum’. I especially like the -ium ending, which is neutral case, instead of being male or female. (Yes, I studied Latin. I am over educated.)

VnutTry1
Vedardottir’s Viking VeraStorium would have three Vs, like an inverted Valknut. Some neo-nazi groups use the Valknut as a symbol of hate, which meant I needed to modify it with more than shades of grey: this design can only be black and white.

Starting with outlines, I focused on the overlapping V shapes. The outline wasn’t quite correct, so I removed it in the next version. I tried to simply fill the three Vs, but without something to tie the design together as a whole, the last orientation looked boring.

Looking at the images above, I felt I needed to tie the knotwork overlap together. This element would need to have less visual weight then the Vs, so I decided it would need to be nothing but a white outline. Vikings are known for swords and axes, and a sword weaving between the Vs seemed the simplest solution. After several drawings of a Viking sword that didn’t seem to fit with the straight lines of the logo, I resorted to graph paper.

Building the sword into the design let it fade into a background image, instead of introducing jarring curves into a design of straight lines. Even when the design was filled, the white space around the handle seemed out of place. I added fill behind the handle, and the design solidified.

I dislike to use guess-and-check as a design process, but sometimes the only way to find the right solution is to try others. Each step of the process brought me closer to this outcome. I’ll take that as a Vivant-worthy Viking Victory!

VnutSwordFinal

Sewing a Skjold (Viking) Hood

20180621_123037As a Viking reenactor, one of my challenges is recreating garments worn centuries ago, with no instructions on how they are put together. I read through several sets of instructions for how to make a reproduction of the hood found in Skjold Harbor. After several tries, I now understand how the squares and rectangles work together. I used this pattern to construct my  Pronoun Hood.

Explaining how to assemble this hood requires both color-coded diagrams and photographs of the assembly process. The photo on the right shows my completed hood.

The skjold hood pattern is deceptively simple: two rectangles (1-2 and 3-4) form the hood and sides, and the front and back panels are squares half the size of the rectangles (5 and 6).

RedoSquares

I have colored each section’s edges to explain which edges should be sewn together. Black edges indicate the outer seams of the garment, and the dashed black lines show where the fabric folds.

 

HoodHead

The squares for my hood are one foot by one foot. I have made many more hoods since I made these diagrams, and I have found that a Medium sized head needs 13×13″ squares and a Large sized head needs 15×15″. A child’s hood is 11×11″.

 

HoodLayoutIsoThe hood is tricky to assemble because the edges align in an odd fashion.

First, join the two purple edges of (2) and (3) together to form a very long rectangle. Another way to make this hood from a piece of fabric one foot wide and six feet long, removing the need for the purple seam. The purple edge can be a fold or a seam, and sits over the top of the head.

RedPurple

 

Next, join the two red edges of (2) and (3) together. This seam sits over the back of the head. The black edges of (2) and (3) are the open front of the hood.

 

BrownOrange

Starting at the end of the red seam, pin  and sew square (6) to the back to the hood. You will need to align the orange edges of (1) and (6) as well as the  brown edges of (4) and (6). Don’t start at one of the corners with a black edge, because the fabric can slip and misalign the entire hood.

Green

 

The next step is the hardest. Carefully align the front of the hood to sew the front seams. I like to pin the open front of the hood (the black lines of (2) and (3) closed so they align. This ensures the front square (5) will align with the back square (6).

Finally, sew the blue edge of (5) to the blue edge of (1). Now you only need to roll the seam around the open front of the hood and its outer edge.

HoodWorn

It looks strange, doesn’t it? When flat, the hood will look like this. I have drawn a person in the hood so you can see how it sits. The dashed lines indicate folds.

Showering: Scadian Style

bucket

Showers are one of the lovely modern inventions the Society for Creative Anachronisms incorporates into medieval camping events. Roman bathhouses supplied soap and towels, but SCA showers do not.

So the members of the Society have come up with ways to make our bathing kits look period. I found a nice wooden bucket at a yard sale, and I keep my bath supplies in it for events. Baskets from thrift stores also work well. If you are concerned about displaying modern containers, a washcloth tucked over the mundane items can maintain the medieval image.

Some Society members prefer to grab their bathing supplies and throw a towel over their shoulder, but many would prefer not to put on and take off several layers of clothing.  A compromise has given rise to the bathing chiton, an interpretation of early Greek garments made from bath sheets. This is my bathing chiton, and I have pulled the front open to show that there are actual arm holes concealed behind the towel drape.

 

In my post about Forms of Greek Dress, I discuss how the dorian chiton is made from two pieces of fabric buttoned or sewn together. A Bathing Chiton is sewn at the shoulders and sides, with an extra bit of fabric over the chest. In the diagram below, the left image shows where you sew the seams, and the right image shows the location of the seams when you wear the garment.ShowerC

I have not yet seen a man wearing a Bathing Peplos, but the concept is the same.

ShowerP

The Artistic Process

I have a degree in Architecture, and about a year before I graduated, I realized I was not suited to the field. I’m a draftsman and a technical artist, not an Artist. A large part of why I love drawing Heraldry is that it lets me use my skills as a designer, and I can trace any art that I cannot draw on my own.

Drawing Heraldry has helped me become more of a graphic designer and an artist. After five years as an Art Herald, I’m starting to understand how an Artist thinks and Designs.

In college, one of the concepts that confused me was the “Artistic Process.” Teachers kept asking to see my Process, and I’d be confused and explain that I was trying to design spaces that would best fit the needs of whoever was living or working there. As I was designing this prop, a wooden pallet to reflect my status as the new Pallet Herald, I finally wrapped my head around what the Artistic Process is.

Process is how the design changes and adapts as Art is created.

Palletoverlap

My first step was finding clip art of an artist’s pallet, and printing it on a full sheet of paper. I cut out the shape and played with it before deciding it was too small to display my badge and the paint blobs. So I adjusted the size and shape of the pallet, making sure the grip indent and hole for my thumb remained the same.

This image below shows how I was played with the pallet size. The thin blue line is the size of a list tree shield. I used my flexible curve to increase the size of the pallet by tracing the original print out, and then putting the curve on the outer edge. I did this three times.

I used D-rings to see how much space I would need for each paint blob. D-rings are leatherworking hardware, and I had a bag of them on hand. They were about the right size for my paint blobs, so I used them as a layout tool.
PaintLocations (2)

WherePaint1

Once I had the spacing set, I used a leatherworking O-ring to draw circles for the paint blobs. I also folded the paper design in half, so I could be sure the hammer that’s my Personal Badge would be properly centered on the pallet.

This is an example of how the greatest difference between looking professional and slipshod is planning. Small things like folding a paper in half to find the center, or laying out designs on graph paper literally make the difference between a thing looking professional instead of slipshod. This is the reason I have a tag called graph paper solves everything.

WherePaint2

After I traced the paint blob placement in pencil, I had the challenge of not making them look like perfect circles. Making things look irregular is trickier that it appears. After some fiddling, I decided to just make little circles with my brush until I had blobs of color. After the paint was dry, I took a white eraser and carefully removed my pencil lines.

Each of the colors on my pallet are used in Heraldry: Gules [red], Argent [white], Or [gold], Vert [green], Azure [blue], Purpure [purple], and Sable [black]. Pink, orange, and brown are almost never used in Heraldry. Grey and silver are both considered Argent [white].

WhatAboutWords

After I painted my blobs and my hammer badge, I took a step back and really looked at the pallet. When I had only put the blobs of paint on my pallet, the rest of the wood was bare, and the unused space was not problematic. But after I added my hammer, the edge of the pallet looked bare and out of place.

This is where the Artistic Process comes in. I saw the empty space standing out, so I used my flexible curve to draw some guidelines for adding text. I lettered the pallet in the font I’ve created, which references the Norse Futhark Runes while still being readable Roman characters.

PaintMyself

Frack! Paint is supposed to go on the pallet, not on my hands! This is why painters wear smocks.

As I was putting the letters on my pallet, I realized “Pallet Herald – of the East Kingdom” was passive voice. I changed my pencil lettering to “Pallet Herald – Kingdom of the East.”

After the painting was done, I put a coat of polyurethane over the entire pallet to seal it. Because I am the klutz who has dropped and entire horn of coffee over everything.

Final

Forms of Greek Dress

Fotothek_df_tg_0003893_Architektur_^_Säule_^_Ordnung.jpgI have a degree in Architecture, and when I was a student I hoped to work as a historical or restoration architect. I ended up in the publishing industry, and the graphic design and drafting skills I learned are mostly applied to heraldic art and the design and creation of clothing and armor. I found a series of images showing how to pin and drape various forms of Greek dress, and I was surprised at how the Doric and Ionic chitons corresponded to their column capitols.

I made mnemonic devices to help me remember the three types of column capitols:

The Doric Order is simple and square, and I like to think of it as the Dumpy Order.

The Ionic Order looks like a scroll, and is often used in libraries and universities. My favorite history teacher liked to say, “It’s ironic that they didn’t know Ionic,” and knowledge is full of irony.

Tops

The Corinthian Order is the fanciest, and it looks like carved leaves springing from the top of the column. Since the Corinthian’s detail is often used in state and country Capitol buildings. In America, the founding fathers like to carve Corinthian leaves in the shape of corn and tobacco, because these plants are native to North and South America.

This image is from a Vignola illustration published in 1640.  I cropped this version to highlight the differences in the column capitols.

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Now to address the point of this post: Greek Dress for men and women. Much like the simplicity of the Doric Order, the Dorian Chiton (pronounced KIE-tin) is constructed from two folded cloth rectangles, and is held together with two pins and a cord around the waist. This is comfortable to wear in the heat of Pennsic.

 

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The Ionian Chiton is fancier than its Doric counterpart. Because it does not require a folded over front flap, the Ionian requires less fabric than the Doric.

This chiton is also comfortable to wear at Pennsic.  I prefer buttons and small loops of fabric instead of buttonholes, both for the look of the garment and because buttonholes are annoying to make.

In contrast, men wore the Peplos (left) and the Himation (right). The peplos can be worn instead of the chiton, and is belted at the waist. The himation can be worn over the the peplos or chiton. It can be made of a heavier material, and pulled over the head to form a hood in bad weather.

 

 

If you are interested in sewing a chiton or peplos, I have instructions in my post discussing how to turn bath sheets into Greek-inspired garments. Showering: Scadian Style

Promoting my Preferred Pronouns

Ten years ago, I had never heard the word “transgender.”  Since then, transgendered people have become a focus of the media, often not in a good light. Once I became aware of this, I stepped forward as an ally, making sure to always address people by the pronouns they prefer and help in any other ways I can.

In the midst of this, I learned there was another category of people who were not transgender, but rejected cultural assumptions based on gender assignments. These people are Genderqueer, and if you’re interested in learning more about this, here is the Wikipedia article.

I am a genderqueer person. I prefer it if people address me with the singular ‘they’, as well as the pronouns ‘their’ and ‘them’. I have begun wearing a button explaining my pronouns. The singular ‘they’ can replace ‘she’ or ‘he’ in speech, such as “Is that their hood? Why would they make look like that?”

HoodWithin the confines of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, there is a heated debate about gender expression. The SCA is dedicated to creating living history before 1600 C.E. and most historical cultures only acknowledged two genders. But just as the SCA uses modern medical and cooking practices, we are also addressing how to incorporate non-binary genders into our Society.

My persona is a Viking Shield Maiden, a woman who wears mens’ clothes and fights alongside them. I chose to have a Viking persona for a number of reasons, and being  a female doing “male” activities was a large part of my persona choice. In order to display my pronouns, I created a square Skjoldehamn hood. My Badge and my Silver Wheel awards are embroidered on the front panel, and my pronouns are embroidered around the outer edge.

CatUp

In addition to having THEY – THEM – THEIRS embroidered around the edge, I also sewed a piece of velcro with a rare earth magnet to the underside of the shoulder. This allows my Heraldic Cat Plushie to stay on my shoulder when I walk around events.

 

CatDown

I was worried that sewing a strong magnet to my hood would cause trouble in the washing machine, so I only sewed a square of velcro to the hood. The matching piece of velcro has the magnet sewn in. I also opened a seam on the plushie and added a magnet to it.

CardPocket

Finally, I added a pocket to the front of the hood. I have a habit of chatting with people at events and forgetting my shoulder bag. With my SCA business cards in this pocket, this is much easier. I “hid” the pocket’s attaching seam behind the black embroidery of my Badge.

Making this hood was easy. Being recognized as a genderqueer person will be much harder, but it is a good first step.

In conclusion, I would like to discuss my choice of colors for this hood. I used bright silver thread for the Silver Wheel and my name and pronouns, black thread for my badge and name pronunciation, and dark gray thread for the seam treatment. The silver thread has high contrast against the blue fabric, and draws attention. The black thread has a lower contrast, and draws some attention. The dark gray thread has very little contrast to the blue, and almost disappears into the fabric.

High contrast colors draw the viewer’s attention. In order of importance, my hood is designed to showcase my Wheel and Pronouns, show my Badge, and have some detailing.

FinalHood

Drawing a Dozen Different Dragons

Much of this blog is dedicated to the Heraldry I draw for specific clients. Aside from the Pennsic Reference Boards, I haven’t talked about the hours I spend at Pennsic and at home, consulting on heraldic art via Oscar and the Baby Heralds FaceBook group.

In addition to that, I am the Herald who envisioned the newest version of the Traceable Heraldic Art Project. Not long after I began working on it, Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin stepped in to help. He has software that can convert line art into vector art, and the server space to host HeraldicArt.org.

Vector art is different from scans of line drawings because it is scaleable. If you take a photograph to a copy shop and make it twice as large, some of the details will blur due to the limitations of the DPI (Dots Per Inch) of the photo. Vector art is different because it can be enlarged and shrunk on a computer and not become blurry.

Making the new Traceable Art in vector format allows the artwork to be reproduced at any size or scale, from combat shields to banners and tabbards or list tree shields. Vector art allows people to have artwork that is more complicated than they can draw.

This project is enormous. It incorporates most of the Pennsic Traceable Art, as well as all the backgrounds for heraldic shields (called Field Divisions). Additionally, we are including heraldic artwork created by artists around the world.

One set of artistic compilations was created in 1994 by Herald Torric inn Bjarni. His work is incredibly detailed, but his use of shading and hatching are difficult to translate into vector art. One of my tasks as an artist is to take his artwork and turn it into drawings that are easily converted to vectors. This is a huge task, because he compiled his drawings in a way to save space and paper, often using dashed lines and small notes to indicate how alternate versions of a creature would be drawn. These are scans from a few of his drawings.

Dragons

I have scanned these versions of dragons, and the other pieces that allow different variants to be drawn. The dragon has four legs, while the wyvern has only two. Additionally, Torric made notes on basilisks and cockatrices, which I also drew. These combinations resulted in drawing a baker’s dozen different variations of the same dratted dragon.

DragonsSittingHere are the first two dragons. The dragon on the left is Sejant, or in a seated pose.

The dragon on the right is Sejant Erect, or sitting with a raised limb.

WyvernsSitting

In contrast, these two wyverns have only two legs. They are also displayed as Sejant and Sejant Erect.

CockatricesSitting

With Torric’s note of the cockatrice head and the beginning of wings in the thumbnail drawing, I was able to piece together drawings. A cockatrice is a wyvern with the head of a cock.

BaskilisksSitting

A basilisk  is only different from a cockatrice because it has a dragon’s head at the end of its tail.

After drawing eight pictures of similar creatures, I was delighted to draw these dragons Couchant, or crouching. The right dragon is Coucant Erect, or crouching with one limb raised.

DragonsWingup

And here are another two versions of the Couchant dragons, with their wings folded. Having many variations of heraldic animals can be helpful when artists are placing images within limited space.

DragonsWingdown

Finally, here is the dragon Dormant, or sleeping. The Hogwarts motto “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus” seems appropriate here, since you should never tickle a sleeping dragon.DragonDormant

I enjoy ending posts with a bit of humor, but a recent change to heraldic registration laws has removed sleeping animals from the list of registerable charges. Sleeping animals are hard to distinguish from one another, breaking the First Rule of Heraldry: Can I Identify That Shield in Combat/ The Barony of l’Ile du Dragon Dormant of Montreal, Canada features a sleeping dragon. Since its’ heraldry is already registered, the Sleeping Dragon stays.