April 13th, 2021

boobies

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.

tools

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.

Right.

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.

Vinegar.

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! 

Success!!

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.