Renovation of a glass

The finished product!
The finished product!

Last weekend I came across this fantastic glass with little prunts on the stem of the base and the cool, green glass base.

It was covered with baked on enamel decoration but priced enticingly at AU$4.00, so I thought I really couldn't go wrong at that price.

Could I?

It's not an actual copy of anything, but it was originally a tourist piece made in a medieval-ish style. 

Of course, it really didn't look like this when I found it and it needed a whole lot of help.

Since it was an interesting project, I'll share the steps I took and the thought process as well as what really didn't work and what worked in the end.

The original item.
The original item.


Here's the original straight out of the second-hand thrift shop.

I think you'll agree that for the price, I wasn't leaving it there. My plan was to remove the baked on enamel and gold painted trim and leave the glass in tact.

Why, of why? I hear you ask?

It's simple.

At medieval events, we all like to have a drink at the end of the day. it's also the best time for taking photography by candlelight. The ambience is amazing and the tables laden with foodstuffs and happy people around the table make for fantastic scenery.

Of course, at events, one might be dining with friends out of one's own time period. Nothing spoils photos faster than cross-time period accessories on the table, so I wanted a glass for after dinner drinks which wouldn't look too out of place in their environment.

And I really didn't want to pay the hefty price tag for a proper hand-blown artifact replica (plus international shipping) for a glass which isn't even my own beloved 14th century. 

This seemed like a really good compromise. The shape and style are reasonable and the green glass is good-ish even if it's not Forest Green. All I needed to do was remove the decoration.

First up, I tried scraping the paint with a surgical scalpel, which is my go-to tool. If it can slice brains, it's usually sharp enough to make a dent in the paint.

It really didn't make a visible difference at all.

Post acetone and bleach bath. Not together.
Post acetone and bleach bath. Not together.

A good wipe down with mineral turpentine was my first thought. I gave it a good scrub and liberal soak and another scrub. Nada.

Acetone then. I mean, finger nail polish remover has given me some success in the past, and gets a lot of residue off a lot of other things. Nothing.

Bleach, perhaps? 

I feel in my heart that bleach- straight, undiluted beach can really strip any manner of things from other things without damaging the glass. 

After soaking in bleach for two days, I gave it a good scrub with steel wool and was pleased to see that a substantial amount of colour had been removed. 

An entire layer of gold paint was removed but the base pattern was still refusing to budge.

Plan B having failed to yield the desired results, I moved onto Plan C.


I use vinegar for a lot of things. 

It's brilliant for cutlery, windows, mirrors, aluminium window frames, removing build-up in electric kettles and when heated up in an electric kettle, the best drain cleaner ever.

I really had nothing to lose, but if acetone and bleach had both failed me, surely vinegar wouldn't be stronger than either of those?

I was slightly concerned that a good soak in vinegar might somehow loosen the cup part from the base (I have no idea how the base is attached or whether it's one piece) so I really wanted to soak just the cup part.

Soaking in a vinegar bath.
Soaking in a vinegar bath.

I found a ceramic bowl int he kitchen and filled it half full of neat vinegar and placed the cup in at an angle to let some of the air out from underneath, the rested the glass in the bowl upright.

At this point, I still wasn't very confident that I'd be able to remove the paint and enamel, but I'm not one to be put off by these things.

I left it to soak overnight.

In the morning, nothing had changed. I was a bit disappointed and poked at the paint which steadfastly refused to scrape off.

Feeling a bit disgusted, I placed it back in the bowl upside down and raced off to work, thinking I would have a proper look when I got home.

Vinegar and steel wool are a magical combo.
Vinegar and steel wool are a magical combo.

While I was at work, the magic happened!

I got the steel wool again and dipped it in the vinegar bath and scrubbed in a circular motion over the design and it started to come off with a reasonable degree of ease! 


I have no idea whether the c0mbination of the vinegar and the steel wool somehow joined to work, or whether the vinegar had done its job better with a longer soak, but the response was great.

Almost everything came clean. A few spots remained and the glass has gone in for another overnight bath, but for all intents and purposes, I'm calling this a win.

And all for the very nifty price of AU$4.00. 


Medieval Women in Court- Eleanor de Merton

While this isn't an exclusively female issue and it certainly can be found rearing its ugly head across all genders, it's an issue that many modern women today are aware of, either through media or in a very confronting and personal way.

He's a celebrity. He's a devoted husband. He's famous. He's a good guy.  

Only he's not, really. 

In the medieval world, where it was a bold move for a woman to face a jury against an offender in the first place, verdicts like this one must have made it harder and harder for women with grievances of a sexual nature to come forward.  

This isn't true of all court cases against medieval women, but it certainly was the outcome for Eleanor de Merton from London in the 14th century.  

The most unfair and heartbreaking of all, is that no one denied that the events had happened. He was guilty. He just got let off because he'd been incredibly brave in battle and was highly thought of. 

In this case, justice wasn't so much blind, as looking the other way for a bit.  

We know almost nothing about this women, Eleanor, or the circumstances of her situation, but what we do know is that she was brave and she tried  to stand up for herself when she would have known her chances of success were slim.  

Eleanor de Merton. She stood up and tried anyway.


Renovating the mini bellows

I'm really excited that I've found a pair of mini bellows in an antique store. They're just the cutest, tiniest pair, but they work, so I have a plan for their renovation and future use.

First of all, it's obvious that they're a tourist item from Montjuich, and they have a rather fetching image in a plastic bubble attached to the front. The brass nozzle is fine, but the vinyl for the bellows themselves and the sides need to be replaced with thin leather.

First to deconstruct the bellows.

After carefully prying off the top bubble with a screwdriver, I was able to pull the tacks around the side out and remove the strips at the side securing the bellows. 

The vinyl hanging loop was removed.

The name of the town was also removed.

None of these items were glued down, so the wood underneath was almost completely undamaged in the process.

The securing piece around the nozzle and the bellows themselves were removed.

At this point, all the remains is to sand and oil the wood of the bellows for a smoother finish, which will be a small job, and then use the vinyl as templates to cute the new leather.

Then reassemble. 

The greatest thing about this, is at the end of the project, I will have a working set of teeny tiny bellows which I can use for starting a kitchen fire instead of blowing on it myself and wearing a face full of ash and smoke.

It's the little things which make life nice!

I have some scraps of very thin leather which will work well, some sandpaper and the studs can be reused, so the total cost of this project comes in at the cost price of the bellows- a whole AU$10.00.

And I've recycled and repurposed an item into a useful thing!



Happily another small project is completed! 

The white, linen apron I've had in the To Do pile for an extended number of months/years has finally been finished. 

A short break to adjust the waistband pinning.
A short break to adjust the waistband pinning.

I didn't use any gathering on the main body of the apron and joined two pieces of linen to make the ties and waist band. I feel that from the amount of piecing we see in extent pieces, I'm sure that piecing the apron together is a reasonable acceptable sewing practice.

Rolled hems and pinned ties.
Rolled hems and pinned ties.

There are a number of apron styles depicted in manuscripts from the 14th century which show a variety of types and decorations. Some appear fairly gathered, others with no gathering at all. One must remember that art really can't be relied on as a construction method, and the amount of gathering or decoration may be indicative of the whims of the artist rather than actual clothing.

Stab stitch ties.
Stab stitch ties.

The edges and hem are a simple rolled edge and hemming stitch and the waistband and ties were a small stab stitch. 

All together, it's made a handy little apron. It took all of a day to make, and I honestly don't know why it hadn't been finished off sooner.

All done now! Success!


Easter things

Underarm seam
Underarm seam

I finally finished the pink linen gown tonight and have 3/4 finished a white, linen apron which was made from left over bits. I'm hoping to take a photo of the pink gown in the herb patch with a basket so it looks a bit Easter-y tomorrow, if it's dry and I can find someone to point the camera.

I also tidied the workroom and put fabric into piles so I can kid myself about using them soon. The room's much neater now, but still too full to actually use as a workroom more than a storeroom.  

I'm still recovering from an accident I had last night where I tripped over a power cord and my own feet and landed heavily on my knees and one wrist. Nothing's broken, but I'm very sore and whiny and my midfoot has swollen a bit. Both knees are bruised and sore, but mostly it's my pride. Happily, my cough has disappeared quickly and I'll be able to return back to work on Tuesday without alarming co-workers or patients.

It's been cool and rainy, so it's been a good day for sewing, although I didn't get a  chance to give the grandbabes their Easter eggs and now I'm eyeing them off... sewing and snackables go hand in hand, right?

I also attempted Easter themed photos of my cat for her Insta (don't judge me, but she's @gummibearthegrey if you're interested.)

My constant sewing companion, @gummibearthegrey
My constant sewing companion, @gummibearthegrey

She resisted the bunny ears so much that I'm going to try something else tomorrow. She's not fond of baskets either, so I'll see what I can do.

Seriously, living my best life. 

Sew close to finishing

1348 Romance of the Rose, Paris, folio 10r
1348 Romance of the Rose, Paris, folio 10r

Over the last few days I've been sewing on the pink linen undergown and it's so close to being finished! I'm hoping that today (after I finish off a few odd jobs) I'll be able to get back to it and then it will be done! 

Mother Nature at her forge making babies.
Mother Nature at her forge making babies.

It's based on the 1348 Romance of the Rose, Paris, Folio 10r. There are a number of versions of the Romance of the Rose, but I love the way her gown has room to move at her shoulders and tightens at the lover sleeves. It's a style we see a lot in early 14th century art.

As mine is an undergown, I won't be adding buttons to the sleeves, as the garments on top will have the buttoned sleeves. In both of the pictures here, the lower part of the dress/kirtle/gown is reasonably full, and I'm still undecided whether I'll add further gores for fullness on mine. These images are top or middle layers, so I'd expect they would have more fullness than layers underneath.

I really need to get back to finishing a whole heap of other projects too. 

Things that won't be needed for the tent for this year but are 7/8th finished (roses bed hangings, I'm looking at you), linen chemise repair (really a ten minute job at best), hood embroidery (been working on it sporadically for years and I need to just finish it already!) and I need to sew a sleeve for a ridge pole which may or may not fix a few issues with my tent (the one that I made myself with the slightly droopy roof which doesn't do as well as I'd like in the rain because of... you guessed it... the slight droop.)

Sometimes I get so excited with new projects, I completely don't finish old ones because they aren't needed right away. 

I seriously need to stop doing that. 


All wrapped up.

It's so exciting for me that the dust jackets for "the Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women" have been such a success, especially since cancel culture is making some waves at the moment. It's a small thing, but it's important to me to have the uncensored version of the artwork available to anyone who wishes it.

I've spent a very busy morning cutting dust jackets and wrapping them around copies of my book which are destined for my favourite places. When I had them printed, it was more cost effective to have them made larger and cut them down than it was to have a special size made. Every single dust jacket I've wrapped or posted is hand cut by me while I smile to myself about putting my cover on my book the way I wanted it to be.

I'm also really excited to hear that the Abbey Museum gift shop has almost completely sold out of signed copies and are keen to get more in from me. I'm so glad that people are not only supporting their local Australian author, but their local small museum as well.

Thanks so much, everyone.


I've developed a cough seal lions would be proud to call their own, and you know what that means... my co-workers just weren't particularly keen to have my company today.

I've done the right thing and been Covid swabbed and am now at home sewing while I await the results.

What am I working on today? I've delved into the cut-and-ready-to-sew pile and found this gorgeous pink linen which is destined to become a basic early 14th century undergown.

In other (possibly related) news, my kitty is extremely delighted to have me at home.

An early night is beckoning.

But first, hot tea for my chest, panadol for my temperature and a shower for the aches. Hopefully, rests tomorrow and it will be good news!

Lady Marmalade Event

The new blue, silk early 14th century gown, with bling accessories.
The new blue, silk early 14th century gown, with bling accessories.

Thursday March 25th saw the Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women take to the Lady Marmalade Cafe & Bar at Stones Corner for a book event. Our wonderful host, Sonja, made sure everything ran smoothly and tempted us with fresh out of the oven tarts which were outstanding!

In spite of the covid anxiety, and that people were less likely to come out, we had a fun crowd, sold lots of books for our local book shop and hosts, Books@Stones but more importantly, had a good giggle in a perfect venue! Lots of information was shared and some myths of the middle ages and women were dispelled.

One room had our talk and bar which served amazing food and delicious drinks, and the other had our displays and the photo booth.

The lucky door prize came a bit of a cropper when one of my friends won it, and we had a re-draw. The next recipient was delighted to make off with her haul of goodies.

I'm so grateful to my friends who came along to make the evening special, and it was great to see that people were asking questions about armour, musical instruments and medicine.

The Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women author Rosalie Gilbert with medieval friends, Lauren Ball, Ben Marshall, Michelle Barton and Ellie Sommers.
The Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women author Rosalie Gilbert with medieval friends, Lauren Ball, Ben Marshall, Michelle Barton and Ellie Sommers.

It was particularly great that the staff and owner of the venue were able to listen in on the conversation and gave great feedback at the end of the night.