Yesterday, Phelippe and I attended one of our favorite events– Brennan and Caoilfhionn’s Ducal Challenge in the Barony of Settmour Swamp. It was a perfect day filled with friendship, food, and fighting. It began as Phelippe aided in set-up and I organized Chatelaine materials prepping for the event. It finished with a wonderful court that saw many deserving friends receive proper praise. This event is near and dear to my heart for many reasons, but one of the things that excites me the most about it is the pairing of fighter and artist sponsor for the event. In order to participate in the tournament you must enter a piece of artwork as a prize (either of your own making or by the hand of an artist sponsor). These entries become more fabulous every year! With these entries, paired alongside the Baronial A&S competition , I feel like I see some of the very best SCA art all year at this event.
My art entry for Phelippe to compete in the fencing tournament was a “14th Century Accessory Kit” that included a hand-embroidered dagged wool felt hood with a liripipe, a set of inkle woven garters, and dagged tippets with fibulae closures. It was a labor of love and certainly a product of teamwork (Phelippe helped immeasurably along the way), and it was met with amazingly positive response. I was honored to be the second item chosen (I was the item chosen by the winning artist). To confess, I had some high hopes walking up to the prize table; last year I also made a dagged hood– it was chosen as the very first prize making me last year’s winning artist. I was certainly trying to capitalize off of last year’s success a bit. Nevertheless, with all of the gorgeous work on the table, I was certainly honored to be surrounded by such beautiful work.
Since the hoods I’ve made have met with such a positive response, I thought I’d share a little bit more about my journey with them and my process…
The first hood I created was similar to the above image, just a simple rounded edge with a liripipe. It was made of some scrap raw silk and I had to adjust the pattern slightly to make it larger. You’ll notice some strange stitching if you look closely.
After working out some kinks in the pattern, I next went full force and began on a wool felt dagged hood with lots of embroidery and appliqué for Phelippe to wear to Bhakhail Yule two years ago.
For this process I actually drafted out the pattern and drew all of my design elements electronically. Mundanely I work as a designer and working in Cad and Photoshop comes quickly to me. However, you could very easily do this same process by drawing out your pattern on paper. Having a full scale version of the plan printed really helped me in placing all the appliqué pieces.
The hood that I entered in Ducal Challenge last year was won by Master Thomas of Effingham. Here is a photo of it (shamelessly stolen from the Book of Faces).
This hood was actually two layers. The edges were blanket stitched as before and there are a series of embroidered bands that utilize both split stitch and chain stitch.
And again, as mentioned, I decided to create another hood as this year’s entry. I wanted to make it parti-colored (of which I have seen so many wonderful period examples in illuminations).
One of the hardest parts about designing these hoods is actually trying to create a design that is versatile and could be worn by many- not overly gendered, the embroidery shouldn’t feel specific to a heraldic device, and so forth. For example, I wouldn’t embroider laurel leaves as I want the hood to be able to be worn by anyone who wins it not just a Laurel. I knew I wanted a relatively simple “floral” ish pattern that I could repeat. After looking at numerous period sources, I actually found a modern stencil of a geometric flower/snow flake that felt right.
I like to cut and assemble the hood first; it is hand sewn together. Then I do the embroidery (unless I am adding bands to the liripipe which have to be sewn before closing it up). On this hood I again used a mix of chain stitch, split stitch, and french knots, with blanket stitch around the edges
I’d also like to give a shoutout to Phelippe who cut out the tippets and made the beautiful inkle woven garters. He “drunk bought” a loom at Pennsic during Midnight Madness and has been learning to weave. These garters are one of his first finished projects and they look great!
I do have a few other hood projects forth coming– one I will share the details of and the other I’ll keep a secret as it is still in the daydreaming phase (but hint: it will have to do with music). The other hood currently in process is on a tan wool felt and features a grape vine motif (as you may have guessed this is Phelippe’s heraldry). There are appliqué medallions and some interior embroidery. Below is a working design…
These hoods are truly a labor of love– I so enjoy making them but the kind words of support I’ve received about them mean the world. I love making our “Dream” more beautiful in this small way!