Welcome (to our) Home! Part One

When Phelippe and I return from Pennsic, we always feel like we are running a bit. Immediately following Pennsic, Settmour Swamp hosts its largest Demo of the year. Being the Chatelaine, I am heavily involved in that process. We had an amazing demo this year! However, it feel like the moment we get things from the demo stored away, we were headed into prep for Ducal Challenge. Ducal Challenge is another one of our absolute favorite events, but creating Phelippe’s art entry as well as Chatelain responsibilities kept me busy. Ducal was wonderful, but all of this to say, I feel like we are finally starting to breath a little… whew!

I did want to write a post that focuses on our encampment and our “Better SCA Camping Walking Tour”. As many of you know this past Pennsic we organized this inaugural walking tour. It’s inspiration came from the Facebook group “Better SCA Camping”. We were able to set up five different campsite visits and saw really innovative solutions to SCA camping woes as well as some spectacular encampments.

This post will be a three-parter. Part One will focus on my and Phelippe’s encampment– improvements we made this year, tutorials, and shopping resources. Part Two and Three will follow a few of the highlights from other encampments we visited on our walking tour.

Ok- so firstly- welcome to our home!

Our Home- Château de Laiton

Mundanely Phelippe and I live on “Brass Castle Road” so “Château de Laiton” felt like an appropriate name for our home at Home.

For reference the tent itself is a Panther Primitives Trader style tent with a dining fly. The tent itself is 12′ x 16′ and the dining fly is 10′ x 10′. We were very lucky in acquiring this tent used. For those that have attended Pennsic for many years, you may remember Mystic Mail. This tent was previously owned by one of the owners of Mystic Mail. As he transitioned out of attending Pennsic and into participating more heavily in Burning Man, we were able to buy quite a few things from him including this tent.

Let’s begin outside in one of my favorite places to be– under the dining fly.

New additions this year included the rug, Savonarola chairs, and hand-built table.
You’ll also note the swagger mosquito netting.
This is a curtain we built that we can let down at night to keep the bugs out but still allow airflow.

One of the first things Phelippe and I do every morning is make coffee and sit at this table and read the Pennsic Independent. It’s like sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch; it’s the perfect way to start the day.

Pennsic 46 was the first year we brought the dining fly to Pennsic. We only had a small round table that had to sit off to the side due to the center pole support of the dining fly. I built the table shown with a center hole shaped like a trefoil and made the legs hinge so that the table can be easily stored as one piece. It was a super easy construction project that I was able to so easily in a single day start to finish.

Underside of the table. In process. Staining.

The Savonarola chairs were the result of much searching. For several months I monitored Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and other such sites for a pair for the right price. I found a set in northern Virginia, pounced on them, and drove round trip in a single day to get them. No regrets!

Worth the 8 hour drive!

Under the dining fly is also our kitchen area. It consists of a hand-built cabinet unit which stores a camp stove on top and many kitchen items behind curtains. It is all constructed to assemble easily and is held together with pegs.

Kitchen unit on left. This pic is from 2018 before the center table was built.
Side of kitchen unit showing pegs

Outside we do also have a Leopold style bench for those that would join us under our shade.

Leopold bench getting cleaned up before making the journey to Pennsic this year

Moving to the interior of the tent, probably my most favorite thing about this tent is the painted ceiling. In full disclosure, we just lucked out; the previous owners had painted the tent. We do have plans to add to the exterior wall painting next year.

A look at the ceiling and a good view of the bed we made
At night the painted ceiling glows- magical!

Since I’ve already mentioned it, let’s talk bed. This was one of my non-negotiables. When thinking about camping for two weeks, I knew I wanted a bed. A real bed. Call me high maintenance if you like, but Phelippe is also not really a “camper,” and without a certain level of “glamping” this was never going to work. The first year we attended Pennsic we used an Ikea bed. It was great. However we knew going into year two we wanted to build something a little more special.

Comfy bed: an essential for “medieval glamping”
Here was my original drafting for the bed project
Sketching of designs to be carved. Based on 14th century illuminations.
Bed Building in Process

Once again the bed breaks down and stores completely flat. It assembled by pegs and a few thru bolts. The mattress is actually a very thick futon mattress we bought on Amazon. We top it with a sheets, a down alternative comforter, a fur throw, and a runner and roll pillow I sewed.

I will mention the chess set you saw on the table at the foot of the bed. That is an Isle of Lewis reproduction set I found on eBay. We love it; so pretty!

It sits on our coffee table when not at Pennsic and has enjoyed many a game

Another new addition (and Facebook Marketplace find) this year was the dressing screen. It is is a piece that, though pretty, actually serves a very functional purpose. Phelippe and I like to leave the tent open as much as we can during the day– the breeze is nice and it keeps things cooler. However, having the tent open does make changing clothes a little tricky. The dressing screen allows for a little more privacy.

View of the newly acquired dressing screen.
The side table next to the bed is actually a cooler. We keep one on each side of the bed.

We store all of our garb visibly on wooden racks and pegs- this way it is both accessible and part of the decoration. I use basket hampers for some undergarments and dirty clothes. A storage bin of modern clothing lives under the bed covered by fabric.

I use the water bucket (found at a thrift store) to carry dirty dishes for washing.
Turkish towels are folded in the basket.
The broom was also a thrift store find and lives by my front door whether
I am at War or back in my mundane home.

On the other side of the bed from our clothing and dressing area is a table, dantesca chair, a shelf with herbs, “wooden barrel” water bucket, tapestry and so forth. I use this area both as a vanity and a desk.

The table is actually just a simple folding table covered with a tapestry I found on Amazon. Eventually I will replace this with a nicer hand-built trestle table, however, being able to easily store bins under this table is helpful. The unicorn tapestries that you’ve seen in the photos were actually purchased off the website “Wish” very affordably (I want to say around $7). You’ll also note that I used the wood texture duct tape to camouflage my water cooler. The dantesca chair was another piece I found on Facebook Marketplace.

One thing I do find difficult about Pennsic is the timing as it relates to gardening every year. Back in my mundane home, I love to keep a big garden and our Pennsic travel dates always coincide with the beginning of harvesting things. By at least harvesting some herbs before leaving town, I am accomplishing a little in the garden, but also bringing some usable items with which I can cook. I also just enjoy the aesthetic.

“Wooden” water cooler.
Phelippe’s Citole.
Basket Man pack basket (I use this everyday to get ice)
Chest- I am always on the lookout for cheap, “period-ish” containers that can store modern things;
this one has some solar chargers, extra batteries, and so forth in it.

We have acquired the numerous candles and lanterns you see slowly; some we’ve purchased and some were props from theatrical shows I’ve worked on outside of the SCA. Everything is battery operated, however, and many are remote controlled. I just get too nervous about using live flame. Sometimes getting every thing “lit” in the evening can take a few minutes, but it’s an investment that brings so much magic.

Her Highness Margarita De’ Siena enjoying a “candle lit” moment with us last year.
I should definitely give a shout out to our wonderful camp. They help keep an eye on our encampment and when we have unexpected visitors pop by, our amazing camp mates are willing to extend hospitality on our behalf.
We couldn’t ask for a better home!

Most everything else you see in photos are pieces I’ve found, purchased, altered, etc. I try to do as much of it as I can on a budget. Furniture is bought used or unfinished. Faux fur pieces are thrift store coats taken apart, rugs come from eBay, and so forth. I am truly happy to answer any questions about how we do things or where we find things.

I am often asked about packing- how do we get all this stuff to Pennsic? Where does it store? We do now share a storage unit on site which has made life much easier. However, up until two years ago we packed everything into our pickup truck. It was very tricky packing but we made it work. The biggest tip I can offer is that I waste nothing- I don’t really pack into extra containers. I try to pack everything into as much of the “period items” as I can.

We love creating this home at “Home”. We love being just a little part of the Pennsic magic. It is certainly a lot of work, but it is truly one of the highlights of our year.

But… speaking of highlights… I can’t wait to show you highlights from our amazing Better Pennsic Encampments Walking Tour!!! Look for Part Two to be posted very soon!

Pennsic Magic- a view of the Causeway at night.
Photo by Chana Freidl the Maker

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