February 9th, 2021

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Medieval Love Tokens

Medieval love tokens
Medieval love tokens

Giving the perfect gift is always a tricky business. Now and in medieval  times, giving a gift which says too little or too much might be fraught  with peril. 

Helpfully, medieval author Andreas Capellanus  included a list of things might give to the medieval women without  creating issues, although, he warns, these must be done in the correct  spirit.  

Looking down his list, it seems a little more  complicated than first meets the eye. A circlet of silver or gold is an  extremely expensive present. A mirror seems an extremely personal one. A  ring? Really? A comb might seem a bit of a lack-lustre idea compared to  other items on his list, but a hand-carved ivory comb with carved  figures or a boxwood comb with sliding compartments for cosmetics is not  a tiny gift at all.   

Today as frantic men and ladies hit the  shops in order to find that perfect gift, uncertainly still affects our  choices. Flowers? Daisies or roses? What colour roses? The  nuances of the flower colour code still lives today and can cause untold  awkwardness if the incorrect colour is selected.

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My Shiny Thing!

medieval circlet
medieval circlet

I've finally finished it!! Woo hoo! What a lot of nerve-wracking work it was too. Each step of the way had the potential to ruin or scratch or break a different part of it. I'm super pleased with the end result, and I'll be putting up some photos of how it all went together since some people are asking.

ohshiny

Attaching the Baden Baden buckle and chape

I've had the Baden Baden belt set from Gothic Cast Accessories for quite some time now, and I've been really anxious about how to attach the buckle and chape. They've come with a recess and some posts, so if I was using a leather belt, I'd simply make holes to match and fold the posts over. 

The belt was hand-woven and hand-dyed by Mervi Pasanen from Swan River Crafts and I was extremely worried that just bending the posts over with a tablet woven belt would result in the belt not being secure enough or tearing or the mounts falling off, so I really needed to have a think about this.

After much thought, I felt I needed to get medieval and have a plate at the back.

Step 1 was finding a helpful friend, in this case, Nigel from living history group Husaria Australia, who was able to carefully cut a thin sheet of brass into two little pieces which would fit into the backs of the buckle and chape. I used a drill to make holes to line up with the posts.

Baden Baden buckle and chape set reproduction
Baden Baden buckle and chape set reproduction

Testing the holes lined up.. and they did!

Baden Baden reproduction belt set back with plate
Baden Baden reproduction belt set back with plate

So this left a substantial amount of room for the belt end to fit in and be sandwiched securely before hammering the posts down.  

Fitting the belt into the recess
Fitting the belt into the recess

I used a super fluffy towel to lay the buckle on, so the enameling wouldn't be damaged and placed the end of the belt into the recess. I also used some glue to really secure the belt for when I snipped the ends off. On existing 14th century buckle plates, I have found what looks like glue on textile belt fragments which have come from buckles, so I feel that this might be historically accurate. I've not seen any glue on leather belt fragments, but that is just from my own collection, so I have a limited number of pieces to study.

Checking the fit before hammering
Checking the fit before hammering

The buckle plate for the back still needed to be held really firmly while the posts were folded over. Next step, hammering the posts over.

Posts hammered down
Posts hammered down

If I had have been able to make a back plate which had really small holes, I might have simply peened the posts which would have been historically accurate or added a rove and peened, but I am so worried that the belt buckle needs to be secure, I hammered the posts out. The posts are made with one side flat and the other side rounded, so if they are hammered with the rounded side out, there won't be an issue with the posts catching on clothing. I intend to wear this with a silk gown, and I'm pretty confident it won't damage the gown. I could sand or file the posts if I was worried, but I think they will be fine.

Front of the attached Baden Baden belt reproduction
Front of the attached Baden Baden belt reproduction

As you will notice, the silk belt is a touch wider than the buckle itself, but this is a deliberate decision. I believe that with wear, the belt with stretch out a tiny bit, especially with the weight of the mounts and this will pull the belt ever so slightly. It will then be exactly the width of the buckle.

I repeated the process for the belt chape and now all that remains it to add the belt mounts! And that's a post for another time!