Monday, February 9, 2015

What's cup!

So, due to Winter(tm), and the associated weather, my outside brewing has been limited, lately.  Instead, I've got three batches of mead burbling away.  One is a traditional, made with Radish and Christmasberry honeys; the second is a Blackberry/Raspberry melomel, with these berries in some blackberry honey; the third is my wife's popular Cranberry, with varietal honey and two pints of homemade cranberry sauce.  The ciders from the fall (2.5 gallons of perry, 5 gallons of apple) are seemingly quite happy, as well--settling out and clearing nicely.

So, given the abundance of "free time," I've been playing with wood.  But not just any playing--no, being me, this is SCA playing.

I wish I could say that I'm using period tools, but I'm just not there yet.  (Yes, I did say 'yet.')  I'm working up to using period materials--I want to get some basic skillsets down before I go whole-hog and pay the pretty pennie$ necessary for the right wood varieties.  So, I'm practicing on and off with chest-making; I've got a pair of Mastermyr-style chests done.  I really like them--the sloped sides are aesthetically pleasing to me--but finding hardware is a pain.  I'm working up to being able to make my own--but blacksmithing is a whole 'nother skillset...

Most of the fun, though, has been woodturning: bowls, cups, and plates.
Drinking vessels, in assorted birch, maple, ash, and cherry. Banana for scale.
 It's relatively early days, yet.  I'm almost to where I really want to be with the basics--I don't have to do much post-processing (sanding), if I take my time and work methodically.  Still, I'm running 45 minutes to an hour per vessel; I might be able to bring it to more like 30 minutes, given enough practice.

I'm doing quite a bit of study, too, to find period-appropriate shapes and styles.  Oddly enough, wood types matter here, too, although it's not quite as crucial.  Most of what I've been turning have been drinking bowls and cups--and they tended to be maple, ash, or birch, depending on what part of the world you were looking at.  (Maple seemed to be a universal; ash and birch--mostly ash--were popular in Russia, while alder and birch seemed to be favored in England.)

So, I'm doing up a class, for Gemutlichplatz (a semi-local event, focused on brewing and brewers), on turned wooden drinking vessels.  I hope to have enough examples to do a bit of drinking with them, too.

But a thought which struck me, recently: how much demand is there, in the SCA community, for period wooden drinking vessels?  Is there enough to support my getting a business license, and peddling them at the odd event or two?  Perhaps an Etsy shop?  I've been thinking about this more than a little bit, lately...  Perhaps three "tiers" of wares, to start:
  • Period material and design (researched design);
  • Period design, modern selection of material;
  • Plausibly- or non-period design (inlays, etc.), modern material.
At the least, it might support my hobbies somewhat--even if only to make the turning sustainable.  (Woodturning is an amazingly fun way to make a whole lot of wood shavings...)  I have designs, eventually, on making some pottery and pit-firing it, too--probably using the shavings from turning--which might find its way, eventually, into the second or third tier of the storefront.  Add in carved things (spoons, bowls--particularly the big dough/bread trays), and it starts looking really interesting.

I plan on gauging the reaction at Gemutlichplatz, and asking a few trusted individuals between now and then, and making my decision towards spring.  If I do go for it, it wouldn't be before fall; I'd have to build up an inventory.  What say you, good Reader?  Is there interest? 

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