Long time no see! And “Easy vs. Accurate” Crafting.

Guys, life is crazy. Did you know? Who knew this and didn’t tell me? So these days, with school and family and sleep and let’s face it, World of Warcraft, I’ve managed not to make a post in months. How embarrassing. But this is the last day of Spring Break and I’m determined to do something productive that doesn’t involve cleaning. Before classes started in January, I was pretty sure I could not just juggle classes, homework, housework and meals, but have plenty of time for hobbies and relaxation time. I was entirely mistaken. I’ve had time for classes and homework. My grades are excellent. My house looks like a tornado happened, and I am not what anyone would call relaxed.

But on occasion, when I’m also doing two or three other things, I poke around at the idea of projects and plan for some long-term things that should hopefully give me lots to do when I do eventually have time to do things. Not the things I’m doing right now, but those other things that I’m not doing.

And in my online wanderings and project poking, I’ve run into a pair of ideas that seem to be completely opposite one another. I love the idea of creating a thing from scratch. From literally nothing, tada – SOMETHING. My husband is a bowyer and a fletcher and does a great deal of his own research into SCA period practices of crafting things. One video that we ran into during that research made our jaws drop and every gear in the machinery of our minds to spin at top speed, racing around in glee.

This video is a start to finish “How to make your own bow” that involves things like creating the glue from animal hide, the bow from sapling on, the verdigris to protect your arrowhead, making the string, and on and on and on. Each thing started from the very beginning of it’s many components and built back up again into this amazing, literally hand-made item. How cool is that? The literal coolest, that’s how cool.

So, that is fabulous. The idea of making the things to make your things with from scratch is amazing, and of course, down to the core of it, historically a fantastic approach.
But that shit takes time. Growing a sapling of yew, because you think you’ll want to make a bow in 10 years is not something I’m likely to do. Hunting a rabbit for its hide to make glue from seems a little more likely. Using woodglue because it’s 3.50 at Lowes seems a little more likely still.

And that’s the second idea – easy and cheap. Get out there and get playing. Buy a cheap fiberglass bow and some pre-made aluminum and plastic arrows that fly fast and straight with no tweaking. Get a plastic bracer for 6 bucks and a pair of old motorcycle gloves you’ve had lying around for years. Tada, throw a tunic on and you are ready to shoot! So easy, so cheap, so little planning and stressing and space requirements and you can begin playing the game immediately. Not just archery, but Rapier and Armored combat, arts, even service, can be cheap and easy, so long as you’re not so overly concerned with historical accuracy or making something with your own two hands that you could reasonably have found if you went back in time.

I guess that the real problem I have here is that it seems that many people get stuck in the easy and cheap category and never decide to venture further. What do I mean by further? I mean looking up just how proper that side-laced Irish gown is, and making or buying a more accurate one. Maybe hearing that the painting technique you used on your shield is more 18th century when you dream of being a 12th century Viking. Or something as easy as lining your slap-dash arming cap with linen or silk instead of cotton quilting squares.

And then there’s the other side. I shudder to think of being thrown into that group.(Of course, no one would throw me in that group if they saw my collection of “vikingesque footwear” and my habitual clippied up hair-do) In that group are the people who will look down at a newbie for wearing cotton instead of linen, or linen instead of wool, who glare at the artistic people who dared create a pattern from the history books, but tweaked it a little to give a little nudge toward modern fashion. I imagine that sort of person finds no joy outside of her own kind.

For my own part, I dream of long-term projects that start with a couple sheep and some weeds and end with a glorious green wool cloak. What I do, however, while money and time are tight, is find fleece on the cheap and throw it over my shoulder like it’s a fashion statement, stay warm, and have fun.