Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Estonian Craft Camp - Wood Box

On our third day of workshops Mr. Crafty and I made bent wood boxes! This is a bit far from my usual fiber arts experience, there was splinters, saws, and maybe a tinsy bit of blood...
Our instructor usual teaches week-long classes. And thus he often starts with planing the wood from raw planks and using goose feathers for stitching. He explained the process, which involves stripping the fluff and soaking the stems until soft, but we did not have enough time for such an involved method.

 Instead we had planks precut, soaked overnight, and thin enough to bend with just soaking (as opposed to steaming.) In the background are pine roots, dug in the spring. We stripped the bark and split them, some were several feet long! Having been soaked as well they were soft and supple.
 The strips are wrapped and clipped, holes drilled, and stitched. The stitching process involves splitting the root a second time and drawing it through from behind. The result is a look like split stitch in embroidery. Pictured here are two boxes and two lids, Me and Mr.'s.

Here's where the photos become sparse as I was working frantically to finish the box that day. But, after making the sides we marked on planks the outline of bottom and top. The bottom sits entirely inside the ring of bent wood. The top, however, overhangs the side and so had to be cut down with a chisel. (This is where the blood happened...)

The entire box is free of metal fasteners, the lids were held on with small pegs whittled down from wood slivers. The end product is still sturdy and well fitted. After the sides dried they drew in and hugged the lid and bottom even tighter!
I had enough time after completing mine (and waiting for Mr. Crafty) to add some decoration. The teacher had a wonderful pyrography tool, made in Soviet times and therefore with no temperature limit. I was able to turn it up rather hot and burn quickly and efficiently. I am considering hacking my burning tool...
 Here's all the workshop participants! Even using the same materials we all managed to add our own flair in shapes and details to the box. The box came home with me filled with stones from our trip, and now holds ritual items and special artifacts.  I would love to make more! It was a reasonably challenging project for a woodworking newb, but not brutally difficult.

Check out my other projects from Craft Camp - Bone Carving & Mulgi Embroidery.

Do you want in on this awesomeness? Registration for Estonian Craft Camp 2016 is open!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Estonian Travels - Craft Camp at Oluvestre Part II

 Just when I thought I had shown you all how lovely the Manor Grounds at Craft Camp were... I found some more breathtaking pictures!
 Those are our dorms, at the end of a tree-lined avenue.

 It's an Agriculture study spot, so of course there are bees!

 And this friendly dude, who has a hidden hole behind him, perfect for small woodland critters and adventurous druids.

 We had classes in this building, and therefore spent every day walking around this amazing little pond.
 I cannot stress to you, gentle reader, how amazing this site is! I would be tempted to do Craft Camp again for the grounds alone!

My posts about our projects are here and here.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Be Mine, Crafty Valentine

Happy half-priced candy day! I hope all my lovely readers enjoyed their day of flirtatious frivolity (Or grump, as you prefer.) With all my Valentine cards delivered I can now them share with you, so here's the highlights from this year's collection of very punny crafting cards.

Because we all know, a crafter's first love is the fiber! (Or string, or paper, or wood, or whatever we made things from...) Happy V-Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Estonian Travels - Tallinn Hansa Festival

After traipsing about the countryside, we returned to Tallinn for the Hansa Festival. 
Like any other sort of Ren Fest, except in a real medieval town square with castle spires and stone cathedrals everywhere. So nothing like a typical American Ren Fest.
 This section of castle towers and fortified wall is from one of the oldest periods of walling off Tallinn. (Each version expanded outwards.) Situated on the tallest part of the hill it a a bit of a walk to get up to from the outside.
 Ready for pouring boiling oil...

 It was quite a steep walk on the inside too! These old winding streets curve in narrow doorways and look down on the roofs of buildings below.
 Where does this lead to? (My gaming experience both urges me to explore every alleyway, and sees that this is the perfect place for an ambush!)
Still above most of the roofs, but not all! There are 15 churches in Olde Town, all at least 100 years old.
 However the realistic and authentic the Festival, there's always a few performers that are just for fun!

 There was also a handicraft market with a mix of very ancient techniques and modern art pieces. Look at all the different mitten patterns!
 Forged goodies, just perfect for your castle. To be fair, many folk here do live in castles...
 A variety of wooden goods were available. The crafters had come from many places - most were Estonian, but one of the woodcarvers was Sami, a spinner was Lithuanian, a jewelry maker from Latvia, there was even folk from Hungary! To be fair, in Europe those distances aren't so far - Estonia is about a quarter the size of Colorado.
 Dancers preparing for an old courtly dance, with live musicians! A variety of performers shared the stage all day.
 The hunter's wares. It took a mighty bit of willpower (and a reminder of the trouble with customs) to avoid buying everything here!
Because of the Festival there was a stage in the Town Square, but there is a Medieval restaurant (which only features authentic cuisine!) that has a permanent fixture in the streets. Musicians in period dress and instruments performed here as well.
 After enjoying all the outside options we then went inside, and still found plenty of rather historic sights. Like these painted 13th c. beams in the Art gallery.
 Or the lovely arched pillars of a former dungeon cellar at "No Reception" - a hip place to have a beer!

One need not attend the Medieval Days to see the rich history of Tallinn, but it sure is fun!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Estonian Travels - Padise Manor

While driving back to Tallinn for our final night in Estonia we stopped for a supper in a small town on the back road. From an 18th c. Manor house we had a lovely meal and watched the (slowly!) setting sun across the grounds. 

Turns out it's the Padise Monastery, historic and large!
 Then, of course, we went exploring. That's what ruins are for!
 Around front, near the road, was the remains of a defensive wall. It is much later than the rest of the structures, as the main building had been a monastery.
 The monastery had been crumbling and partially dismantled until the turn of the century when it was decided to rebuild it. It's hard to tell what is original stonework and what was done by amature history enthusiest. The whole thing had lots of scaffolding to make us doubters feel safer.
 The courtyard, one can see lines where there had been floors stretching across the gap.
 It was dark inside, lit about how it would have been in the Medieval ages. Some windows up high to let in the setting sun. That and a lighter, our modern candle.

 Stairs winding up to the highest tower. Very steep, well worn, not ADA compliant. I watched a drunk Russian stick his malt liquor in his pockets to help haul up his mother in law. Nice folks though, they took this picture of us!
 Inside the old chapel had been fully restored, there was even a small bleacher of seating for events. It looks like people get married here, which would be frankly quite magical!
The original buttress finials were intact, carved with some iconography I could not immediately identify. Bearded men, lions?, knotwork... the usual Medieval church business.
After exploring the above ground sections we ventured downstairs. Dark, crumbling, cramped, basements were abundant. The last thing to be dismantled I suppose! They had some garbage, some graffitti, some remnants of satanic rituals - pretty standard castle cellars.

As far as randomly stumbling across a cool stop, this was probably our favorite in Estonia! It was a wonderful meal, and a very neat little jaunt into the Monastery. There's also a little gift shop, but one would have to be there earlier in the day. If you're on Rd. 17 to Tallinn, be sure to stop here!