26 June 2013

Reenacting ... prompts a to-do list

I've spent the weekend away reenacting (yay!) - my first show since last July, and a three-day one at that. Wonderful. However, there's nothing quite like a show to remind you of all the things you need to fix/change. This time, I'm going to put them here, in a hope that I will actually remember about them and maybe even (shock! horror!) actually get around to making the mends and additions.

First and foremost, stop looking at all the lovely blogs by people in the USA and basing your reenacting aspirations on them. You reenact mostly in Wales. Even in summer, it's more often than not cold, raining, overcast, windy and generally horrible weather. Even when it is somewhat sunny, your energy reserves get quickly sapped by the unfamiliarity of spending all day standing outside, often in wind, sustained mostly by pottage. This results in you getting perpetually cold. So....
  1. Finish that hood! It's a bit rich to nick the loaner kit when you've been in the group 7 years... Also, hoods are massively more flattering if you button, pin or otherwise fasten them closed at the front. (I have made 2 hoods in the past. I gave away the first one and contemplated doing the same with the second as they always seem to look enormous and ugly. However, this is probably because I usually wear a full wimple and veil in coarse linen underneath them and I have never got around to putting the buttons/buttonholes on either of them.)
  2. Make that wool dress! If you are shivering in June, then the old linen dress obviously isn't cutting it. Also, wool will be much better for dealing with the infamous Welsh drizzle.
  3. Mend/alter those 3 finger mittens! They are too long in the fingers and the suede-y side of the sheepskin needs treating to make them waterproof and camping-proof. Then, you might actually wear them...
Secondly, remember what your group does. It's a living history group, not a display group and not a museum. Also, see above - it usually goes to outdoor events in muddy, windy, wet fields / castle baileys and there are never enough tents to go around. So, until you get your own tent (and even then)...
  1. Tailor your display aspirations to the surroundings! If you're unlikely to have cover and may not even get a table, then stop dreaming of big displays or ones containing things that are liable to get damaged easily.
  2. Make more example pieces! It's always easier to explain things when you can illustrate your point with physical examples. Also, it makes things look more impressive, gives talking points and encourages people to ask questions.
  3. Most of all, practice techniques more! And then, plan one technique which you're going to primarily do at any given event. Physically doing a craft is the best conversation piece of all and the best way of getting people to interact with you and to understand what you're talking about. It also stops you getting bored. However, it needs a bit of planning and a bit of practice, particularly if you want the finished item to be usable, as currently talking to the public often results in mistakes.
So, what do you think? Do you find events always leave you with a big to-do list? What are your plans? What do you find works best (either clothing-wise or display-wise)?


  1. I think the day I'm satisfied with my living history display/costume, is the day I'll pack it all in. Your ambitions seem quite modest compared to mine.

    but yes, I also need to make a hood - I even have a nice piece of wool I veg dyed that's just about big enough

    1. Oh, I agree. Additions and improvements are all part of the fun of reenacting!

      As for the modest ambitions, well. This is simply the short list. There's a long list, but none of it is feasible at the moment mainly because first floor flats are not amenable to drying tents and thus we cannot have a medieval tent. :(

  2. I'm currently in the US (California) and trust me, the "gorgeous weather" wears a bit thin when it's 41 ºC and you are wearing a wimple, even in linen. Medieval clothes were not designed for our summer weather (and barely for our winter weather) and a lot of days I would happily welcome some drizzle. But I guess one always wants what you do not have.

    1. Quite possibly. Drizzle and linen dresses are horrible. However, I can report that I did actually manage to do most of this list. Drizzle and wool dresses is perfectly fine and even outright rain and wool dresses is ok provided you have a bit of cover when the rain gets heavy.

      I can't imagine surviving 41C weather, even with modern clothes and air con. You have my commiserations.