Wednesday 30 December 2015

An American Renaissance Fayre

As I mentioned in my post about my recent trip to the Globe theatre, I had made my Elizabethan suit for a holiday in America.

Neither I, nor my fiancé, Teddy, are sports fans. We do not engage in conventional sports; we do not watch them. I used to think that I had never done any sort of sport until I thought about it again and noted that I  have done riding, archery, 22 shooting, judo and fencing.

Anyway, I live in Wimbledon and have lived with having to avoid the sudden influx of people for the tennis every year all my life. I was, therefore, not looking forward to the London Olympics in 2012.

Teddy has to cross the city every day to get to work in north London and he wasn’t looking forward to the event either.

We formed a plan. Our friends, Karen and William, live in Homewood, just outside Chicago. We had stayed with them for holidays several times before and they said we were welcome to stay for a longer period.
Teddy saved up as much leave as he could carry over between years and I, having been made redundant from my post working for the Church of England as an admin, was free to take a long holiday for the first time.

We planned so that we left before the Games began and came back after the Paralympics closed.

Karen told us that whilst we were there, she and William would be going to the Bristol Renaissance Fayre, where they re-enacted as member of Queen Elizabeth’s court. She played the Countess of Shrewsbury and he portrayed Sir Francis Drake. They said we would be welcome to join them and could be assigned roles to play.

I had already started an Elizabethan suit for a costume set that never happened, so I resolved to finish it. Teddy started a suit of his own.

I’m a bit more organised and focused than Teddy and had finished my suit , with a spare pair of venetians before we left, Teddy still had quite a bit of work to do.

When we arrived in Homewood, I learnt that William had also been asked to paint up a couple of large shields. One was to help decorate the place where we would be re-enacting and the other was a gift for someone. I offered to help.

The first shield was the arms of Sir John Hawkins and the second was to have a blue giraffe (which I understand was the recipient’s nickname). I set to work and here are the results.

In the UK we are often able to re-enact at historic castles and houses, but these do not exist in the states (prior to the Georgian and Victorian periods).

The Bristol Renaissance Fayre had solved this problem by building a small village of Tudor-style shops and adding three open-air theatre stages, a full-sized galleon in its own dock and tilt yard and a small fort.

They re-enacted a visit made by Queen Elizabeth to Bristol, two shows a day, for the public every day for two weeks every year.

As both Karen and William worked, we were to go for the two weekends. I was assigned the role of Lord Mounteagle, a relative of the Earl of Derby. Thus, as a true Yorkist at heart, I had to grit my teeth and play a Stanley. I borrowed a sword belt and rapier from William for the role (though I bought a beautifully tooled sword belt and hanger at the fayre. Teddy had finally got his suit to a  stage where it was wearable( I forget who he was to play).

Unfortunately, Teddy was feeling ill and throwing up on the morning of the first weekend, so we went without him.( We did not find out till we got back that he was still feeling ill and couldn’t move from a prone position without hurling. As we didn’t know what was wrong with him, we ended up calling an ambulance. He was diagnosed with severe vertigo and spent a couple of days in hospital).

With me feeling slightly guilty for leaving him behind, we arrived at the fayre and dragged our wheeled cases over the rough track to the rear of the small fort that backed the royal court.

Other members of the group (the Guild of St George) had already arrived and we helped get the large carpets and all the furniture out of the store room and set it up. The formal part of the day was Court, where various worthies were presented to the queen and there were some set pieces , and the Procession thought the town to one of the main stages. There was then a set piece between the Queen and Leicester. The Queen and some nobles then attended a joust in the afternoon.

The rest of the time we were free to wander and be involved in our own plots etcetera.

I attended the joust several times, mostly to cheer on a rather handsome young knight (even if he was playing a Frenchman). Here he is

I had great fun and Teddy was well enough to join us the second weekend.

They had a professional actress playing the queen and she was excellent. I could not fault her accent. The chap playing Leicester was also very good, but he was of southern extraction and twinges of accent or idiom crept in on occasion.

The was a marvellous performance by Drake and the other sea captains , where they were brought before the court drunk, to explain how the inn came to be burnt down. Somehow they got away with it – probably by blaming the Spanish.

The other re-enactor of note was the man playing Sir Francis Wallsingham, who was excellent. I became involved in a plot where he had been captured by some Scots and they were trying to get a ransom. I somehow managed to get the negotiation turned into an auction and the Scots ended up getting so confused they bought him.

We enjoyed ourselves and, it seems, made an impression on the guild. They were disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to join them for the 2013 shows.

Until next time


Wednesday 23 December 2015

Christmas Greetings

Greetings, salutations and a festive sprig of holly!

Each year, as well as decorating my ecologically reusable fake tree, I dig out my wire wreath frame and weave  in sprigs of bay, yew and holly from my garden.

Here is this year's wreath, enhanced with pine cones , red beads and a merry ribbon.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Until next time


Wednesday 16 December 2015

Adoramus Te

Here’s  an attempt to talk about the meaning behind this picture, which is called 'Adoramus Te'.

The composition is quite simple. An angel and a butterfly in a landscape.

As usual this falls within my usual Landscape of Dreams and I generally paint the things that feel right at the time without thinking too much about why they feel right.

This painting was done in 2012 and I’ve had time to think about it since.

This picture is about the relationship between the Divine and creation:
‘Adoramus Te ‘means’ We worship you’  in Latin.

Angels are creations of God made specifically to worship God.

In this picture the angel is worshipping the butterfly, which is either a creation of God, or a product of nature ( depending on your point of view).

The Divine can be found in the smallest and most delicate of creatures.

Until next time


Wednesday 9 December 2015

German heraldic field divisions

There are two specifically German variations of classic linear field divisions.

Both are combinations and  are always shown counter charged.

The  first is  barry bendy

The second is paly bendy

Interestingly, an achievement that looks like it might be another such combination turns out to be something else entirely.

The arms of Bavaria( shown below) are actually blazoned as” fusilly in bend argent and azure”.

Until next time


Wednesday 2 December 2015

End of Days

As my paintings use realist imagery, I am often asked what they mean.

I am painting the Landscape of Dreams, so I often put in imagery that feels right without being able to fully articulate why.

Thus, when someone looking at a painting suggests meaning to an element, I, after some thought may well agree with them, even if that wasn’t consciously in my mind when I painted it.

I will, however, attempt to put some interpretation to this work “End of Days”.  (painted in 2012.)

This is my first attempt at analysing one of my own paintings, so we’ll just have to see how it goes...

This is a fairly apocalyptic image.

Set against a sunset, The headland has been battered and eroded by the sea; the cathedral, a work of great art, skill and faith, is on fire;  the space shuttle rises from the north transept and a Divine arm reaches down from the heavens.

For me this has a lot to do with the contradictory nature of Man.

We create, but we destroy; we despair , but we also have faith.

For me, the arm shows Divine intervention and the hope of faith and  the shuttle is both a destructive force and  a symbol of hope, rising from destruction towards a future home.

The one force that is unstoppable, however, is nature.  The sea has eaten away at the land the cathedral is built on until it is perched on the end of a narrow headland. Even if it was not being destroyed by fire, this building would soon fall .

Thus I conclude that this is more of a nightmare of what might happen ,or Man might cause to happen .

Yet  there is always hope. By the wit of God or Man we may escape the destruction.

Until next time


Wednesday 25 November 2015

Differencing Arms 2

When Bishop Theophilus was elected monarch of the Far Isles (then a principality), he was also elevated to the rank of archbishop.

Consequently, arms had to be approved for the Archdiocese of the Far Isles.

The arms of the Far Isles are as follows:

Gules an oak branch slipped and fruited argent enbowed palewise and an apple branch slipped and fruited or counter enbowed palewise.

Appearing thus

I always looked on differencing as a challenge, as the arms must both look like the original and be significantly different.

I differenced these arms for the archdiocese by charging a gold mitre between the two branches and adding white border argent with ten red crosses.

The blazon becomes:

Gules a mitre or between an oak branch slipped and fruited argent enbowed palewise and an apple branch slipped and fruited of the second counter enbowed palewise within a border of the second with ten crosses pate of the first.

Which looked like this

Until next time


Wednesday 18 November 2015

Steampunked Nerf Derringer

I Steampunked this little Air Derringer for my Fiancée, Teddy.

I  sanded off the logos with a mini drill.

I airbrushed dark grey and dark brown under the metal areas and airbrushed and painted the metal effects over

I then applied a matt varnish

The pistol still fires

Until next time


Wednesday 11 November 2015

New crest for great helm

For the second version of the de Velmont crest, I managed to find a small block of wood suitable for carving and carved it as a single piece.

For this I used a fairly cheap set of woodcarving chisels and a mini drill.

The mitre has come out flatter, due to the restrictions of the largest bit of wood I could buy, but I was able to carve more of the demon’s head and face.

I then drilled a hold in the base so it could be attached to the helm with a screw.

I sealed the wood with a coat of diluted acrylic and then painted the crest, shading into the contours to enhance them.

Once it was dry, I glued some jewels to the mitre with Araldite.

It now looks like this

Until next time


Wednesday 4 November 2015

The Purple Pimpernel

I have posted previously about the design and construction of a costume called Dastardly in Motley, showing how I brought a drawn concept to life.

This is another good example.

I have always liked the cut-away coats of the 1790 and had acquired some purple crush velvet.
This would be inappropriate for an authentic coat, but lead on to the costume concept.

What, I asked myself, would a Goth have worn in 1790?

I decided on black breeches and waistcoat, a black shirt with black and gold lace and a choice of either purple stockings with black shoes, or black stockings under black knee-boots.
I drew this picture

I used black calico for the shirt and stock and black denim for the breeches.

I had some grograin silk for the waistcoat. This had a chequered patterning at one side, which I used on the turn-back lapels. I used black and gold buttons on the coat and waistcoat.

For the presentation, I made myself up white face and used black and purple lipstick. I spray-dyed my hair( long at the time) black with a central purple stripe and accessorised with one black leather glove , a black and gold quizzer mask and a cane.

The pictures are by Paul Holroyd and are used with consent.

It is still quite gratifying how closely the completed costume resembles the concept drawing.

Until next time


Wednesday 28 October 2015

A Heraldic tongue twister

There was an occasion when I was heralding an event for the Far Isles Medieval Society that I noted a guest had brought a shield with him and, without seeking consent of the herald (as was customary), had set it up displayed in the feast hall.

I was, thus, required to inquire the identity of those arms in Court.

This is a representation of the shield:

This required careful and distinct pronunciation, because the blazon for this is...

Or  Semé  Of  Thistles Sable

Now, try saying that four times fast....

Until next time


Wednesday 21 October 2015

Butterfly painting final update

The painting is now finished.

I have called it Metamorphosis.

The main part of the composition is based on a earlier painting and it is about mutability and change in general.  Look closer at one of the blue flowers...

Until next time


Wednesday 14 October 2015

Unusual heraldic charges- 2

The Warspoon

When I was serving the Far Isles Medieval Society as Falcon King of Arms, I was asked to design a new charge to form part of the achievement of Sir Nai Cantrell, Earl of Foresthall, knight of the Golden Oak.

Sir Nai had once defended himself at a revel using only his spoon and wanted a Warspoon on his arms.

I started with the concept of the warhammer and chose a fifteenth century all-steel example.

I then designed the bowl of the spoon to be tear-shaped to give it a sharpened edge.

Finally, I referenced the earl’s Celtic leanings by adding a heart pommel, based on welsh lovespoons. I also felt that this would lend a level of irony to the charge.

The final design would bow be used as a template for any other person wishing to have  a warspoon charged on their arms.

The charge was added to the proposed achievement of arms; the achievement was then passed by a herald, ratified by me (as King of Arms) and added to the Far Isles Roll.

This is what it looks like.

The blazon is : per chevron vert and argent in chief a maltese cross of the second and a warspoon or bowl in chief in base a armoured arm  embowed couped holding a sword proper

Until next time


Wednesday 7 October 2015

Butterfly painting update six

I have started to add glazes over the initial green to enhance the foreground detail and the illusion of distance.

For this I have used Sap Green, Lemon Yellow and Titanium White in the foreground and Viridian and Titanium White in the background.

The painting now looks like this:

Once it is dry I will do more work to the detail of the plants and butterflies.

Until next time


Wednesday 30 September 2015

Differencing Arms: 1

As King of Arms for the Far Isles Medieval Society, I was asked to produce arms for the newly created Marquisate of Endor’s Keep.

This honour was to be bestowed on the Prince and Princess of Dracenwald , a SCA principality.

Endor had been a sub-group in the Far Isles. Some years before,however, all its members had departed, but its arms remained on the Far Isles Roll.

These were :
Azure above a chalice or two sword in saltire argent hilted of the second hilts in chief debrused by a ram’s head couped proper.

This looked like this:

Obviously, Endor’s Keep could not have the same arms as Endor.

Their arms must, however, be related. Thus, Endor’s arms must be differenced.

As the Marquisate was a gift from the Crown of the Far Isles to another Monarch, I decided it was appropriate to allow the use of  the enbowed oak and apple branches from the Far Isles Arms ( shown below).

These charges were usually restricted to the Crown and to arms of Guilds and Kingdom Officers.

In order to maintain the symmetry of the original achievement, I removed the chalice and replaced it with an annulet made up oak and apple branches.

The new blazon would, therefore, be:

Azure above an oak branch slipped and fruited argent and an apple branch slipped and fruited or conjoined palewise in annulet two swords in saltire of the second hilted of the third hilts in chief debrused by a ram’s head couped proper.

And it looked like this

This picture was taken from the Grant of Title, which I produced both as King of Arms and Guildmaster of the Calligraphers and Illuminators. The original size of this shield was about three cm square.

Until next time


Wednesday 23 September 2015

To The Globe Theatre in Costume

Recently, my fiance ,Teddy, and  I went to a performance of ‘As You Like It’ at the rebuilt Globe Theatre with our friend Clare.

The tickets were a gift from another friend, Louise.

The last time we visited Louise in Bristol, Teddy had made some clothes for doll she owned and I had painted some small murals of butterflies for her in her bedroom. 

Teddy had come up with the idea of going to the Globe in Elizabethan costume and Louise insisted on paying for the tickets. 

Unfortunately, a sudden work commitment meant that she was unable to come with us, as planned.

Teddy had done a few Elizabethan events at Kentwell Hall and I had made a suit for going to a Renaissance Fayre in America ( of which I my write at a later date). I also had made a shirt with added blackwork panels( made by Black Swan)

Clare borrowed a dress that Teddy had made previously.

I also decided to take  a stout cloak (my knight’s mantle), as I thought it might rain. My best beloved and our guest poo-pooed this notion.

We went up to Waterloo Station  on the mainline and, as we were slightly pressed for time, took a taxi to the theatre.

So, in style, we arrived at the Globe:

Our form of dress caused some comment from the other theatre-goers, but, as Teddy said, didn’t everyone dress up to go to the theatre?

(It still felt a little odd to be not wearing a sword...)

Here is a picture a kindly fellow took of us in our seats:

I am also sure that some of the people nearest to us thought we were some sort of plant in the audience and would do something connected to the play. They must have been disappointed when this didn’t happen.

I also took a few pictures(I usually do medieval re-enactment, so , for me, Elizabethan male clothing is wonderful- both trunkhose and venetians have pockets and are baggy enough to hide a camera!).

After the play we decided to walk back along the South Bank to Waterloo and stop somewhere to have a bite to eat.

We soon discovered that we had indeed been wise to get to the theatre by taxi, for we were stopped for photos every three or four minutes and were even interviewed by a lady doing Facebook project called Humans of Greater London.

Thus we did not progress fast.

(I've had a look at the Facebook project page and there's apicture of us by Blackfriars Bridge. The text is a good distillation of what we talked about.)

After stopping at a cafe for food , it started to rain and I was glad of my nice wool cloak (Ha! To their prior poo-pooing!). Luckily for my companions, we were not far from Waterloo at that point .

It was still raining when we arrived back a Wimbledon, so, by general consent, we took a taxi back to the house.

The play was excellent, very funny and only briefly marred by an overly persistent helicopter, which one performer managed to reference(with a glance to heaven) during a speech.

All in all, it was a lovely day out.

Until next time


Wednesday 16 September 2015

Steampunk Machine

I have been collecting various bits and pieces for some time with view to creating machines to break the laws of God and Man.

Here is my first CREATION (bwahahahahah!)


Front View of Emitter Assembley( above)

Occulus Sancti Array (below)

Trigger and base view ( with Occulus Sancti array disengaged)

The basic weapon concept was , obviously,based on a heavy crossbow, or arbalest

It is constructed from brass and painted wood, with blessed steel for the Occulus Sancti Array.

The device emits sanctified aetheric energy derived from the eyeball of a saint housed in the Occulus Sancti Array.This is designed to disrupt the motive power of revenants, zombies and other forms of the reanimate departed.

Until next time


Wednesday 9 September 2015

Butterfly painting-update five

I spent some time looking at the painting to see if I needed to do any more work to the under painting.

In the end the painting decided that it didn’t want to be tweaked. Sometimes it is better to just carry on.
The next stage is to add a green glaze over the Indian Red under painting. For this I used Sap Green, Viridian Green, Lemon Yellow and Coeruleum Blue and Titanium White.

The foreground needs to have ‘warmer’ colour, so I mixed Lemon Yellow with Sap Green to achieve this. I had, of course to work around any flower heads and butterflies.

Viridian Green is a bluer colour and works well in the mid-distance.

Adding Coeruleum Blue and Titanium white to Viridian increases the sense of distance and is used closer to the skyline.

The picture now looks like this

Once it is dry, I will add further detail glazes to the landscape and further detail to some of the flower heads and butterflies.

For now


Wednesday 2 September 2015

Unusual Heraldic Charges- 1

The Heraldic Aardvark

When I was serving a Falcon King of Arms for the Far Isles Medieval Society, I was sometimes asked for unusual charges to be passed for achievements of arms.

One such was requested for a character called Christopher of Kent.

 He asked for an aardvark.

As this creature was unknown to English Heraldry, I used the principle of the heraldic Giraffe.

This is known as a Cameleopard, as it had clearly once been described to a herald as ‘a bit like q camel, but with a longer neck and spots like a leopard’.

Consequently, I spoke to Christopher ‘in persona’ and had him describe the creature.
This is what he got:

“An Hardivark:

This is like a brock , but grey all over, save for the sable mask. It is armed with long claws and teeth, has the ears of a cony and the tail of a squirrel.”

(A brock is a badger and a cony is a rabbit.)

Here is a depiction of the creature in question:

From that point on, anyone wanting an aardvark would get an hardivark.

Until next time


Wednesday 26 August 2015

Butterfly Painting: update four

I have done further work to the new painting.

I have tightened up the painting of the Peacock butterfly, using Cadmium Orange and Lemon Yellow.
I have also done more work to the landscape, working into the detail with Burnt Sienna, Indian Red, Titanium White, Coeruleum Blue , Ultramarine and Lemon Yellow.

It now looks like this

I think that the under painting is nearly complete.

At this stage (and often at subsequent stages) I will leave the painting to dry and will ‘live with it’ for a while, spending a bit of time looking at it, until it tells me what needs doing.

There are usually a few bits that need tweaking, but I have to put a bit of distance between me and the picture before they become apparent. It is very easy to get too close to a picture and miss things.

Until next time


Wednesday 19 August 2015

Steampunked Nerf Revolver

I do occasional sculpture and other three dimensional works.

Here is a Nerf revolver I Steampunked up.

This was all painted in acrylic by brush, as I didn’t have the airbrush when I did this. 

I used card craft stickers to get the embossed floral designs and covered the one part I that I couldn’t mini-drill smooth with a brass dedication plate made from the thin plastic from an  old Airfix Napoleonic cavalryman kit.

I am particularly pleased with the wood effect. I made sure that the grain was consistent through the piece.

Once I was happy with the effects, I applied several layers of spray mat varnish to seal it.

I think it’s come out quite well and is still functional.

Until next time.


Wednesday 12 August 2015

Great Helm

Great helm mantling and crest

I bought a great helm as part of my kit for the Paladins of Chivalry, as it looks quite good to come onto the field wearing one.

I decided that it would look even better with mantling, a wreath and a crest.

My character, Bishop de Velmont, has livery colours of black and white and two badges. The first is of a red demon climbing a black hill holding a pearl and the second is a red mitre.

Usually the mantling and wreath would be cloth, with one livery colour on the outside and lined with the second, but I decided to make my mantling from leather. This would not be lined.

The first problem was making a pattern for the mantling. I solved this by making newspaper patterns on a trial and error basis until I hit one that worked. I then particoloured the mantling, to show both livery colours and made a padded wreath with strips of the same leather.

The top of the helm had a slight ridge to it, so I hammered a point on the ridge to flatten it a bit before drilling a hole.

I then made a corresponding hole in the centre of the mantling and buttonhole stitched it to strengthen it.
I decided that I would combine the two badges to form the crest.  I came up with a white mitre with a demi-demon holding a pearl issuing from the middle of its black gusset.

The mitre stood for one badge, with its black gusset (as the slope of the hill) l and the demi- demon with pearl standing for the other badge. The white exterior of the mitre would reflect the second livery colour.

My wood carving skills were fairly basic and I only had access to an off-cut of decking that had quite a wide grain, so, for version one, I decided to use my leatherworking skills and made the black gusseted white mitre from leather, gluing some gold braid on to form ormphries.

A plastic plant pot  with the base cut out was used to  maintain the mitre’s shape.

I then used a craft knife to carve the demon as best I could, leaving its face a flat curve and painting in the detail, and drilled a hole in the base.

I then cut an opening in the mitre gusset and poked the demon through it.

A single screw, passed through the inside of the helm, through the mantling and into the base of the demon, holds them in place and the wreath is held in place by tension.

This is the result.


Until next time