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New Skills: SCA Style.

So, in the past year since moving home and becoming an active member of the Society of Creative Anachronism, it’s fair to say it has happily taken over most of my life. I’ve learned to embroider (getting better and bolder with each project), been welcomed into a household of amazing ladies (and a gentleman), served on court, received a baronial service award, am co-stewarding an event in a few months which I’m already leading planning meetings for, and now, I’ve started to learn how to throw weapons.

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Bulls Eye! January 2017.

In my area – Altavia – we have weekly meetings for combat skills like armored and rapier fighting, but two to three times a month on Sunday mornings, we have an archery and thrown weapons practice and I was finally able to attend last weeks.

I threw knives once before (about a year ago) but quit pretty quickly – it felt weird and I didn’t really know anyone I was comfortable talking to about it. Now, I consider these fighters and teachers to be great friends who I trust and who I can joke with when a throw goes really awry.

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Throwing Knives – All Three. January 2017.

The practice was about three hours long and I pretty much threw knives non-stop. Luckily, because I have played softball  and water polo and have done some marshal arts, I am familiar with some of the movement principles that help here – it’s not all arm movement but body rotation. The weirdest part was the reversed footwork (throwing with my right with my right foot forward).

My friend pretty quickly helped me find a rhythm and I was able to consistently hit the target – sometimes all three knives and sometimes pretty close to the center of the target. I ended up getting the hang of it enough to throw from the second distance and actually managed to make one of them stick.

Since then, I can’t wait to get back out to the range. Up next (after proving last practice was not a fluke!) is throwing a little farther, more consistently, and my friend wants to get some axes into my hands (so scary)!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Fashion, Uncategorized

All about the Slanket.

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H&M Scarf

I have only recently have fallen in love with this accessory.

If you don’t know what a slanket is, it’s basically a really large piece of material the size of a half blanket that is worn as a over-sized scarf – Personally, I call this a giant scarf or shawl, but one of my students corrected me this week.

Right now, H&M has an amazing sale: each scarf is only $7 and if you buy 2, you get the third free (at least this is the deal in store).

I bought a green plaid one that was so warm for my last SCA event – a scarf during set up and a shawl over my roman during coronation – and was so excited that it worked. On sale, these are cheaper than getting material to create a shawl and a whole lot less work.

I wear mine all the time especially now that it is colder.

I stayed at my sister’s place this week – which is across the street from where we work – but didn’t have a hooded jacket, and, of course, it was raining. This scarf worked perfectly as a head covering that was large enough to cover my head and my overflowing purse on the walk and light enough that, after being laid out, it was dry enough to wear as a shawl on yard duty.

In fact, I love this slanket so much and have found so many uses that I bought my sister – a fellow SCAer – a matching scarf, and two others for us to share.

Even if you are just using a slanket as an everyday scarf, at these prices it is worth it to buy a few since they will keep you warm and can add some texture and color variety to any out fit you end up wearing.

So, yes, I am all about the slanket and you should get on this quick before they are gone!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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New Skill: Embroidery

After my most recent SCA event, one of my friends explained that there is a specific pattern of picking up skills that generally happen when you are a member of this group: your first year you develop three skills; every year after the first, you add another new skill to your arsenal.

Well, next month marks the end of my first year as part of the SCA (not as an official, card-holding member, but a member non-the-less) and thus far, my skills are minimal.

While I do photography in and out of the SCA, as I begin to post more pictures, we agreed that that can be my first skill. Basically, there are members who have been awarded honors for photographing and videotaping events in the past, so even though these are not period accurate skills, they count as part of our anachronisms.

But now that we are heading into Yule – and therefore, the ‘nicer’ events – I’ve begun something brand new: embroidery.

15401452_10154775029042630_114734399_nFor my first attempts, I kept  things pretty simple despite the Gallagher need to jump in with both feet. I wanted to go straight into knots and color changes, and, while I think I cold have done this passably well, I decided to keep things festive but simple. For my under tunic, I built a color design using two knot styles (two chain stitches surrounding running stitches a looped contrasting color) that gave enough contrast, depth, and visual interest that they could pull the outfit together while letting it stand out from every other outfit I’ve worn this year.

I was a bit more creative and daring with my sister’s collar. I had gotten very good (and fast) at a basic chain stitch so I felt confident that I could do more than simply follow the collar-line in a contrasting color.

15416897_10154775029012630_1655197169_nAdding the basic points and loops was a lot of fun and by measuring out where changes in shape would occur, I was able to have my stitches shape follow the pattern so that each side stayed symmetrical. The collar stitches move in the opposite direction of the ‘leaves’ and the intersecting circles at the bottom of the pattern are threaded so that each side is sown lower than the middle despite moving from left to right. Each of these tricks are easy enough. It’s all about moving and redirecting your strings to create a better flow, while layering circles is all about where you choose to land a stitch – over your previous stitches or under them.

So yep, that is two skills with a month left to go. However, seeing as I’m working on social skills, maybe I can chalk it up to a third! If you are interested in embroidery, or really SCA in general, I have a few pins up for you to look at and can answer any questions below!

  • Taylor Gallagher

 

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Fashion, Uncategorized

All about the Braids:

Because we can all use a break from politics can’t we?

So as part of my household and barony in the SCA who is new but always willing to jump in, I have become the hairdresser of our group. I love fashion and details and, since braiding my own hair is possible but causes issues when I want to really innovate, I have fallen in love with working on other peoples hair for events.

As I have said, I typically work with a viking persona which involves some fun simple braids that I’m building up, but soon we will be moving to more Grecian and Roman styles which get much more complex rather quickly. Hence, Pinterst!

so both in terms of SCA and my daily life, here are some fun braided looks I am looking forward to tackling:

8e24d951436512a2bef6b2ad66e6b2d91.  I’m starting out with this easy to do Viking braid look. I love this because – minus the hair beads (which, again, I love) – this is a relatively easy style to do. It’s all about varying braid sizes  and keeping things balanced without being overly structured.

I love the smallest braids that have been woven and twisted around the non-braided strands. I have thought about creating something similar – a more Elizabethan woven hair net (think Ever After with Drew Barrymore but with a braid net!) but keeping things stringy never crossed my mind. This is definitely the next thing I will be trying the next time I am a viking at war!

266162b0a75ff760a2a13fee1f037e0f2. My second Viking braid is great for those who need to keep their hair out of their face. Unlike braid 1, this is a pulled back look which gives volume and texture with two styles but three braids to create vivid contrast. The issue with doing this myself is centered on the fishtail braid; I have never been able to really master this style on my own head so I can’s wait to work it all out on someone else’s hair. I think this can be just as successful with a regular braid down the back.

To keep up the volume in the front of the style (especially if you have strait hair that doesn’t like to stay in any style), try curing, teasing, and/or use volume/curling mouse the hair that will form your front twists. The stunning park for my is adding the french braids along the twists. To add some volume and lift from these french braids into the twists, consider doing single anchor braids – adding hair to your french braid on one side (the one farthest from the twists) which lifts the un-anchored side which can be pinned to your twist.

*But now onto the next stage of Roman/Grecian styles. These get much more complicated but I am so excited to get my hands into my friends’ hair – many have much longer hair than I have so they will give me more to work with.

45125202f7f2bcdc3dec232a3f7ab1d73. This look involves braids, curls, twists, and a broken up ponytail; with all the intricacies of this style, this is a banquet/special occasion look, not your average war hairstyle. I have fashioned a whole set of fancy pins which work perfectly for glamming up any style but are definitely suited here. In a quick tangent, these are easy to make – take some easy crafting wire and pearl beads; string the pearl on the wire twice, creating a loop for the bobby pin; twist wire around to secure and snip wire.

As I said, This look takes a lot of work but most of that is curling most of your hair – it shouldn’t matter if these are overnight or quick hot curlers. Based on the curls, expect to have to use multiple types of curlers and curl sizes. Using both curled and straight hair, the styling of these features is what really pulls the look together. I love the over and under twisting between the tight braid spiral and the loose broken up ponytail. And look really carefully! you have tiny woven braids throughout the front of the style. Finally, choose your flyaways carefully and keep it balanced!

43ef377c3fa08f11285b053cb94ae1a04. This is technically four pictures but I am focusing on the on to the top right. Each of these shots show an example of hair from this period and I think they are all worth playing with. The three I didn’t select have harder to pull off fronts – getting those roll curls to stay in place would be hell!

For the one I did pick, again this is a mix of features which is amazing – twists, braids and a low bun. I fell in love with this style from the first for two reason: 1. I love a good faux hawk and 2. there is a great simplicity here that looks complex.

Again, this look is all about volume so the same rules I gave for the second Viking braid apply here – if you do not get volume into your faux hawk, the whole look will disappear. Tease the center section as you braid, use your mouse and braid up and toward the front of your face rather than the usual back braid. I know, this will feel very odd while fashioning this hairstyle but I love a faux hawk pony tail so I am talking from experience. Since your Faux hawk is center stage here, keep yous twists balanced but down play them – don’t make your hair fight with itself!

028c0cce2fd39b477354cea02233e7065. My last pick was hard for me; I could work with a crown braid, a basic faux hawk, or a four piece braid – I love them all. In the end, I had to pick a look that technically isn’t braided but is firmly part of this new stage of persona – which I need in Southern California where it is too hot to be a Viking all the time!

Again, I love all of these ribboned looks and they are so much easier than all the braids which is a refreshing change, but I am going to focus on one in particular: B. the ribbon accented top knot. I love the positioning of the ribbon in this look and how it elevates a very simple but. There are so many times when you need to get the hair off of your neck at an event and this look is effortless and practical yet purposeful – no one can accuse you of simply not wanting to deal with your hair!

The key is to play with texture. Texture will help the ribbon stay in place naturally, though I always recommend extra security with bobby pins. if you don’t have curls or waves and can’t be bothered to do the work to make them (or you just love fancy braiding), you can create texture by making small braids – or a mix of sizes – which lead to your top knot. You can then either lay your crossed ribbon over the braids or wind it through a few for added depth.

Remember, it’s the Society for Creative Anachronism, emphasis on creative. Go play, have fun, and get braiding! Also, If you have any questions, ask me anything.

  • Taylor Gallagher
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The Society of Creative Anachronism: Collegium

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Left to right: Cuttlefish bone casting and medallion, leather press medallion, Alpha cape pin, Viking medal pendant, cow bone needle. March 2016.

Recently, pretty much since being home, I’ve been attending events put on by my local SCA, aka The Society of Creative Anachronism. While you can read more about the society on their website, I’ll give you a few pointers.

The SCA is approximately 50 years old and can be described as a haven for all those loving early history – circa 800-1600 CE – from fashion to craft to fighting to history and beyond who want to do more than just reading about the time.

While there are basic meet ups weekly such as fighter practice where fight forms from heavy armored to rapier are (obviously) practiced, there are also much more extravagant outings.

While these range from week(s) long camping trips (some over a thousand strong) to day campaigns, what I am really focusing on is an event which took place a few weeks ago: collegium.

Collegium is a two day garbed event (meaning you must be dressed in period) which you attend in order to take classes hosted by others in the SCA which span metal work, leather work and crafting to fiber arts like weaving to history classes, working as a scribe or more fundamental fighting technique classes – just to name a few sections.

For me, this led to a lot of time sitting outside at lunch tables creating a lot of crafty trinkets. We were technically only at collegium for 6 classes over the weekend but with some luck I managed 8.

While I’m not going to explain everything I learned over the weekend (we do not have the time or the space) I can give you some brief overviews of some of my favorites!

In terms of classroom lessons, I adored my lecture on metallurgy and Viking casting theory – yes, this was as amazing and nerdy as you can imagine! I loved learning about boiling points and differences between theorists (and the fights between practical theorist and research theorist). Plus learning from fellow nerds? Totally awesome.

When it comes to things I got to make myself, I’d have to say crafting a bone needle and creating my pewter casting were my favorite crafts.

The needle in this picture started a two and a half inch long, triangular shaped cow bone shard, about 2/3 the thickness of a #2 pencil. So, over the course of an hour and a half to two hours, using (basically) a super coarse nail file to reshape and thin out my bone, followed by super fine sandpaper to smooth out any bone fibers. Once it’s shaped, you thin the non-pointy end to easily be able to drill the tiny eye to thread through.

Easy enough, right?

Pewter was, obviously, a much trickier craft.

I never had to melt down any of the metal or even handle the casting – very luckily for my beginner skills – but I did learn to make a cast out of cuttlebone fish!

And not only did I learn this, but it’s super easy!

Basically, you buy cuttlefish bone from your local pet shop, then sand it down until it’s flat with little visible spine indent. The last bit of real prep is to cut it across the middle so you have two relatively even pieces.

Cuttlefish bone is extremely soft so you can press anything or carve anything into it with a little pressure and get a good amount of detail. I used a flat circle to make a pendant shape, a ring for the center design, and then carved in the edging details and hook. The shape should be about half an inch or so down.

The last step of carving is to put a few divots into the top to help the pewter get into the mold. You then fill the mold and let it set but that’s all the description I’ll be giving (don’t try this part without someone who knows EXACTLY what they are doing! You don’t want to burn yourself!)

Once set, you clip the extras bits of metal (which will go back in your main pot), file the edges down, and then sand/polish to a shine!

I had so much fun making this medallion which I plan on wearing to future events and details come out so well.

Again, this is only a small look at this weekend and the SCA as a whole but if you are a fan of crafts, history, or just learning new things, I really recommend looking up your local barony and getting involve. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and learned a whole lot.

– Taylor Gallagher

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