June 8th, 2021


Let there be light!

#reenactorproblems candles and the public.

So, having lit candles on tables and in lanterns when members of the public is about is a problem. Most people are sensible, and that's no problem at all. Most people respect your property and are mindful of things which might injure them- like fire. Others however, are convinced that none of it is real and just want to put their hands into it to prove a point. Cooking fires, candles- nothing is safe.

Lighting the tent at night and going put leaving a light on is also a problem. Windy weather extinguishes candles outside and knocks over candle holders if left on a table unattended on the inside.

Either way, the potential for a tent to just burn down before it can be extinguished is a very real workplace health and safety issue which re-enactors face when camping over at events. Using torches and modern camping lanterns are less than ideal, and the light is bright and artificial looking. There's no soft, natural glow.

Even though it's safe, it really does take away the candle lit feel of the medieval dining table and lanterns around the camp.

Options have been limited. In recent years, LED pillar candles have become available, some with wax outers, others which flicker to look like flames, but I've not really found any which would sit comfortably in my medieval lanterns or 14th century reproduction candle holders.

I've just bought a packet of these battery taper candles which fit my reproduction candle holders and most of my lanterns which will be perfect after a quick dip in beeswax. In the dark, the glow is not quite the same as a real candle, but it's certainly a reasonable alternative to torches or bright, white lantern light.

When the gates are closed, I can use real beeswax candles which smell amazing, but for safety through the day, these will let me have lit candles in lanterns and not cause a fire risk.

As an added bonus, I can have one outside my tent when I'm not home so I don't stumble in the dark when returning to my tent after visiting other camps. A little porch light, if you will.

Safety Squirrel!

Safety squirrel says space yourselves out!
Safety squirrel says space yourselves out!

I have decided to make my tent Covid sign a little more appealing. 

I have a shrine which the sign proper can sit on and it has a little ledge where the hand sanitiser can go and I have bought myself a cute new, gilded, fake squirrel to also sit on the ledge.

Since I've already made the sign and this squirrel is much smaller, I'll need to adjust how many squirrels apart visitors need to stay, and quite frankly, I don't really need a picture of a squirrel on the sign if I have one right there, so I'll need to get that adjusted so it's ready to paint. 

I'll be having the sanitiser in a little linen bag to hide the plastic bottle, but unfortunately, the pump will need to stay exposed so people can see what it actually is. My biggest fear is that someone may take the squirrel. I don't want to glue him to the shrine, so fingers crossed.

In a bonus, the pose of the squirrel is almost exactly the one I have been using for my heraldry. The Gilbert Family at Compton Castle in England have a bit of a squirrel theme going on with carved squirrels in bedposts, railings, in the chapel and on the iron gates.

As a modern Gilbert, I like to keep this theme running. 

Luttrell Psalter, Lady with pet squirrel
Luttrell Psalter, Lady with pet squirrel

Of course, medieval women might have a squirrel for a pet, so that works for 14th century me as well.

Pictured at right is my favourite Luttrell Psalter squirrel. If you look closely, you can see the little gold bell attached to it's collar the same way we attach bells to our cat's collars. 

It's just the cutest thing!