Perhaps he’s playing the last post?
I forgot to take his picture before I took the finished piece off the frame, which is why he’s a little wrinkly, but it didn’t seem fair to deny him his moment in the spotlight.
And I’ve just realised I put a stones reference in but no beatles, my mum will be upset – she like both
Trying to live a green-ish life can be a challenge – sometimes because it takes more effort to do the green thing, or more time; sometimes because it’s more expensive, or means that you have to opt for an alternative that will work, but not be as satisfying as the original; and sometimes just because it is hard to know which choice is the greener one.
Take, for instance, electric cars. Yes, burning fossil fuels is not the solution – but with the current electric cars, batteries are a huge issue. Producing batteries takes a lot of energy and ressources, so it does take quite a while for an electric car to become greener overall, regarding its complete environmental impact, than a regular fossil-fuel car driven in an eco-friendly way. And that only if you fill up your batteries with electricity exclusively from renewable sources.
There’s a similar thing when packing stuff. Plastic or paper bags? At first glance, you’d think that a paper bag would be the greener choice by far. Unfortunately that is not the case, as manufacturing paper bags and even recycling paper is consuming quite a lot of energy and water as well. So paper and plastic bags… both not a good choice, though if you are using it only once, a lightweight plastic bag might even be the lesser evil.
While we’re at the topic of plastic and it maybe causing more good than harm, here’s an interesting thing from the BBC about plastic packaging, especially of food items.
The thing that irks me a little in these reports and assessments: It would be perfectly possible to use energy from renewable sources to produce paper bags, and while the reports mention that the trees could stay un-felled and absorb CO2 instead of becoming paper bags, they don’t mention that plastic is made from a finite ressource. So it does, overall, sound a little bit biased to me.
It would also not be so necessary to have plastic packaging for food if they are produced, sold and consumed locally. Which, obviously, is not possible for all kinds of fruit and vegetables – but buying locally from a farmer at the market will usually get you fresh produce at a fair price, and with little to no packaging. Especially if you re-use the bags you have, whether that is cotton, paper or plastic. As the plastic bags today are mostly very lightweight, it’s easy to just stuff one or two into your handbag or bike pannier or whatever else you carry with yourself on an ordinary day, for impromptu shopping stuff. (It never hurts to have an extra bag in the bag. Just like a spoon. Both totally belong in any handbag, if you ask me.)
So… I’m trying to buy things with as little packaging as possible. Which means I am trying to avoid plastic even more than paper, though, as I think that the environmental impact of microplastics and the problem of the non-renewable basis for this are still factors that speak for paper instead of plastic where packaging must be used. The bags that do land in our home are reused – paper bags from the bakery store dried bread leftovers that will be turned into delicious dishes a bit later, or – most of them – become bin liners for the compost bin. Plastic bags are re-used several times for packing things, like fresh produce bought at the market, until something really dirties them up or until they develop holes so they are not useful anymore. Some get a last call to duty as the kitty litter bag… which actually is one of the few things that would be a hassle without plastic bags.
So… what’s your stance on plastic or paper bags?
Notre Dame, that wonderful cathedral in Paris, has burned on Monday. It’s a very sad thing – and it does bring home again how devastating fire can be, and how hard to bring under control, even with modern firefighting equipment.
No lives were lost, though, which is a good thing. Another good thing is that the statues from the spire that fell had been taken off for conservation works just a short time before, so they are safe as well, as are a good part of the treasures that were housed in the cathedral (among them, luckily, the garment of King Louis IX – whew!).
It’s not clear yet what caused the fire, and no matter how it came to be, the damage done is huge. Though, again, it could have been worse. The roof is gone completely, as is the spire, and there may be structural damage done to the stones due to the heat, but most of the building is still standing, and a lot of the inside is still intact. Plus, for the restauration works, Notre Dame was the subject of many research works, so there is a good number of documentation about it. There’s also a lot of donating going on already to help with rebuilding and restoration.
If you are looking for more info, this BBC article provides links to footage of the fire and to several other articles about the topic.
Sometimes, making a ruckus by getting a lot of people to sign something does actually help. The “save the bees”-Bürgerbegehren that was running a while ago had a huge lot of people sign, and as a result, the contents of this petition will actually be turned into laws. Nice, isn’t it?
So, since there is hope of things changing to the better if enough people speak up, here are links to some petitions currently running that seem like a good idea to me.
First of all, and for Germans only: The Elbe river is scheduled for works to deepen the river bed, starting very soon in 2019. Unfortunately, this deepening means a lot of excavators removing matter from the river bed, killing everything that lives in there – the microbiome in the river bed soil doesn’t withstand sudden changes in its environment. The excavated soil will then be dumped in the North Sea, where it doesn’t belong and in turn causes more death of local fish and crustaceans, as their habitat is disturbed.
A petition against this is currently running on the petition site of the German Bundestag. If you are a German citizen, you can register and sign. Unfortunately, it will only run for a few more days, until and it is very far from reaching the quorum number yet – so please do sign, quickly, and spread the word!
Another petition, also regarding stupid things planned in Germany, is against a mountainbike park in the Saar-Hunsrück-Region. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against mountainbiking and MTB trails – but the plans are for a huge beast of a park with lifts, ramps, and other fixed installations. The forest that this is planned for, however, is home to wild cats and technically under protection as a natural reserve. Not a good idea to get about 27000 people per year in there, mountainbiking…
Third thing’s the charm, finally – Greenpeace is asking for signatures for better protection of the high seas. That protection is necessary, as the high seas are in danger of overfishing, there’s plastic floating around, and that together with the climate changes is damaging animal and plant life in the sea. Which, in turn, will bite us humans in the butt – so it’s high time to have some more protected areas in the sea.
Spring has really sprung now, and there are flowers, flowers galore in the garden. Here’s picture proof, first of the first tulips:
The peach tree is also flowering nicely:
… and the hyacinths are doing a good job of adding some blue to the flower beds. Which I much appreciate, with blue still being my favourite colour!
"Many thanks for getting in touch and sharing the images of your bags. These appear to be what have become known as Zardozi bags, based on the Indian Zardozi embroidery technique, and were very popular in the mid-century. They also underwent a bit of a revival in 1980s, with many black velvet bags with vivid gold embroidery upon them in various designs, but usually in a standard size and rectangular shape. The quality and design of your bags suggest these are earlier examples, perhaps even the 1920-30's when exoticism in fashion was rife. I'd suggest these have been made for the tourist/export market, probably hand-worked but by a professional working on quite a mass scale."
How cool is that? And Jess's answers explain a few things about the previous answers I got too. For starters, there is the confusion about the dating: 1920-30s, 1950s or 1980s. And as they were mass-produced in India it is small wonder that they are relatively unknown in the Netherlands. But since they were mass-produced, it is quite clear that your average flea market dealer is not going to tell you so even if they know :).
Now that I had a name for this type of embroidery, I could search my books and the internet for more. By just typing 'Zardozi bags' into Google, I came across an image of something else my mum had acquired at a flea market:
What does the book say on zardozi? It describes zerdüz (Turkish form of the Persian word) as an Ottoman embroidery using gold or silver wire or a braid and couching it down with a similar coloured thread. It is apparently similar to Ottoman dival embroidery. So what is dival embroidery? From the description, in the book, it becomes clear that this is gimped couching over cardboard padding. The design could be further enhanced with purls, sequins and pearls. I get the feeling that dival is seen as native to Turkey and zerdüz as foreign. The Ottoman Empire encompassed large stretches of Europe and Asia, so that is understandable.
In this book, zardozi embroidery is called zari (metal thread embroidery). Badla is another form of metal thread embroidery associated with India, the Gulf region, Syria and Egypt. The later includes plate being used as a 'sewing thread' rather than being couched onto the fabric as is done in Western goldwork embroidery.
As can be seen from the terminology above, there are many terms which refer to particular types of goldwork embroidery. This is due to the fact that 'the Arab World' stretches from Mauritania to Syria to Oman and Somalia. Regional differences are likely reflected in these terms. At the same time, as these distinct regions function within the cultural meta-system of the 'Arab World', techniques, materials and designs blend and influence each other.
Continue Reading »
Some pictures from Saturday’s class at Nottingham Lakeside arts
Everyone tried a bit of everything, basic laid and couched, trellis couching, and a bit of trailed couching as well, with some lovely results.
There are still some places availabale on the gargoyles course at the AShmolean, where you can work in wool or silk, laid and couched or opus, depending upon your ambition and ability
And in other news I made myself a new roman hairpin, identical to the one I just lost – for alas such is the fate of hairpins. I’m particularly fond of this design, despite the danglies that knot into my hair, becuase it makes an interesting talking point as the crescent moons are oft interpreted as evidence for the cult if Isis having reached Britannia.
sterling silver, with garnets adn eye beads from tillermans
If you’re interested in inks or ink corrosion, there’s a conference planned about just that topic – ink corrosion – in October 2019, on the 24th and 25th. Right after this conference, there’s a three-day workshop (October 25-27) on making and using historical inks.
The webpage OpenEdition offers a number of open source books and articles from the humanities and social sciences. The website, for me, shows up as an odd mix of German, French, and English, but it seems to be natively French, and a high percentage of the texts are french. (Try searching for “quenouille” instead of “spindle”, for instance.)
There’s an old Egyptian rug that is made from cat hair.
And while we’re at the topic of animals – the Rare Breeds Survival Trust has published the current watchlist with endangered rare breeds in Britain. There’s quite a number of sheep on the list – so if you’re in Britain and thinking about keeping some sheep… (or horses, or poultry…)
Here are a few images from the workspace, so to say – I’ve been outfitting part of the new embroidery frames with bands to attach the fabric.
The way these frames work is rather simple: You baste or herring-bone-stitch your embroidery ground fabric to the bands at top and bottom of the frame. Then you tension the fabric between the frame bars with help of the wooden pegs; if your fabric is a long strip, you can roll it around one of the frame bars to store the excess. (The bars are fairly rounded to avoid sharp crimps in the fabric or, as you progress, in the embroidered fabric.)
Once your vertical tension is thus established, you get a nice horizontal tension by stitching the left and right edges to the vertical slates. Using a needle, you pierce the fabric, then wind your tensioning thread around the slate, then go through the fabric again.
This setup of the fabric is, obviously, more time-consuming than just plopping a modern round embroidery frame onto a piece of fabric, but it will give you a higher, more controlled tension that will not slack off quickly or easily.
To make all this possible, though, you need the bands on top and bottom of the frame – and fitting these is a story of its own.
First of all, the bands are cut and their edges are hemmed. Then the real thing is up – the attachment. I use small copper tacks to attach the linen bands to the frame; they have to be placed close enough to each other so the band doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to sag between attachment points.
They are tiny, and soft, and they look really nice. As they are tiny, it’s rather fiddly to handle them, though. And because the wood of the frames – birch, beech, or maple – is rather hard, it’s also very easy to just deform the tacks instead of hammering them in – which is why every one needs some pre-holing. I do that with help of a slim steel nail.
Once every attachment spot has its hole prepared through the band and into the wood, the tiny tacks are inserted into the holes, two or three at a time. Theoretically, I could insert all of them at once, but experience has shown that this does not save time, as the vibrations from hammering in their mates makes those further down the row jump out of their prepared holes again… which is not very helpful.
So there’s bit by bit fitting and hammering, until all of the holes are filled. And then the process is repeated for the second of the bars for each frame.
Once that is done, the two fitted bars get bundled with their side slates and four pegs, turned out of the same wood – and they are ready to be used for some lovely embroidery!
Easter is coming up. That festival of eating eggs (lots of eggs!), both chocolate and chicken-produced. When everybody is happy about spring finally being in full spring, and winter being over.
So, in preparation, here’s two things:
Openculture writes about killer rabbits in medieval manuscripts. Yes, the Monty Python Killer Bunny is not completely made up – there are Evil Rabbits of Megadoom abounding in manuscripts…
The second thing? It’s in case you would like to make some weird, relatively quick-to-make confection that can be eaten at Easter. Or at any other point in the year, actually – it’s just my excuse to post this now. I call it “Inflated Figs” and it works like this:
Buy cream, dark chocolate (a good, yummy kind, not the cheapest, please), and soft dried figs. You’ll also need a pot and a piping bag with either a filling nozzle or a slim nozzle with a small opening.
Put some cream into a pot and gently heat; add an equal-weight amount of dark chocolate and stir until completely mixed. You should have a thickish brown sauce-like ganache as a result. Spoon your ganache into the piping bag. Insert the nozzle into a fig and press the warm ganache into the fig until it inflates. Repeat until running out of figs, ganache, or both. Place in the fridge to cool, and it’s probably best to also store these in the fridge for as long as they will last – if, in case you are like me and love both figs and chocolate, might not be very long.
If you have ganache left over, you can whip it up, put small mounds on it on top of cookies, and serve that as a dessert in its own right, by the way. Or use it to glaze a cake… in case you need an excuse for some cake-baking!
Here’s your gratuitous service announcement, since it is spring – no, really, for no other reason than that I’ve recently stumbled across these issues again, and found it smart to check – and change – some of my passwords… which, admittedly, I am doing way too rarely.
So… amidst all the spring cleaning, and the gardening, and spending time outside where it’s finally nice and sunny again, maybe you can make time for some spring security stuff regarding your computer?
Thing One: Make a backup. I’ve written about that before, but it never hurts to repeat this from time to time. Hard disk drives are, yes, prone to die at some point, and preferrably at the worst possible point for you. So get yourself an external disk, or – if you are data paranoid – a simple RAID 1, and backup your data. There is plenty of free software around; I use SyncBack (not because it’s the best ever, but because I got it at some point, it’s all set up, and I have not seen a need to change it yet).
While you’re at it, make sure that you will be reminded to actually use your backup software and equipment. Put a reminder into your calendar, set a recurring to-do on your to-do-list, or do whatever else works for you to do periodical backups of your important data.
Thing Two: Make sure your software is up to date. (Most software updates itself readily on its own if you allow it to do so; there’s usually a “check for updates” menu item somewhere in the Help or Options menu.) Outdated software can pose a security issue – and sometimes the new version comes with nifty new features that make life a lot easier. (Sometimes they come with annoying new features, admittedly… but well. Life.)
Thing Three: Change some passwords. There is a rather good chance that at some point in time, you too were affected by a data security breach – that is someone stealing personal information from some portal or website that you have an account at. These stolen data then turn up in form of lists somewhere on the Internet, for other shady individuals to use for dark deeds. Such as sending you spam emails, or using your address to send spam from.
Fortunately there are sites that let you check if your email was leaked, and if other personal data got out as well. The Hasso-Plattner-Institute offers a free Identity Leak Checker, where you can check if your personal data was leaked.
A second site worth checking out is “have i been pwned“. This not only lets you check for your email address – it also has a search function where you can input a password and see if that has been leaked and is on a list available in the Internet.
If you get hits, you should change the password on the sites that you use that specific email address for. Which is annoying and might be a lot of work, but might save you a good amount of heartache and hassle in the long run. And spam. It might save you from getting as much (or, worse, having it posted from your account).
If you set any new passwords, there’s a few good guideline things to remember. Most important of them all: Don’t use the same password for several sites, especially not important ones with sensitive data, such as your bank data. Managing that ever-increasing number of passwords is a hassle, which is why password managers such as KeePass are a very good thing – you only need to remember one master password to access the database, where you store all your other passwords. These managers can also remind you to change your passwords regularly, which is a feature that I have now (finally) enabled… because I’m just as lazy, or as prone to forget about the age of a password, as the next person is.
For the master password, or any other important password that you need to type in on your own, you should choose a strong one that you can remember easily. There’s a brilliant XKCD comic about strong passwords that fit the bill – which is the type of password I use for the ones that I actually want to remember. For those used only rarely, and only from my home machine, I tend to let the password generator in my manager do the work; it spits out a long random string of numbers and characters which is pretty secure.
So. Ready for some cyber housekeeping?
I know it’s already a little late, but then, it is never too late to have some funny things, right? So here’s a roundup of some nice April Fool posts…
First of all, did you know that the Bayeux Tapestry is a fake that was made waaay after the Middle Ages? No? Well, you can read all about it here on HistoryHit.
CurrentArchaeology has made a compilation of archaeology-related April Fool posts. My favourite is National Trust workers turning the clock forward for Daylight Savings time at Avebury!
|A cape made from Madagascar Golden |
Orb spider silk exhibited at London's
Victoria and Albert Museum (June 2012).
(photo: Cmglee, on Wikimedia Commons)..
On the other hand, Instagram and Facebook bear witness to the fact that there are more historical costumers, and more people interested in historical costuming, than ever. I ended up as one of the moderators of the Reenactment clothing and textiles group on Facebook because they get so many applicants. In addition, I have become concerned that Google will get rid of Blogger, as they have decommissioned G+ and so many other interesting and useful products, and that I will have to migrate my blog to another platform to keep it alive. But I still enjoy blogging, and am determined to continue to maintain an Internet presence.
The last time I did an anniversary post, it was 2011. In that post, I included a token link to an actual costume-related article (since an anniversary post is technically a "meta" post). This link I found courtesy of Susan Baker Farmer on the Historic Tablet Weaving Group on Facebook. The article is about gene-modified bacteria that produce a spider silk so strong that space suits could be made from fabric woven out of it. The technique used doesn't produce very much silk, and doesn't produce it efficiently, but if it can be modified to produce at industrial levels it will have created something valuable and new indeed. Enjoy!
P.S. The cape in the picture is made from spider silk, but not the kind reproduced with genetically-modified bacteria. I added it for visual interest, and because it's an interesting garment in its own right.