Leather working

Making Turnshoes from the 10th – 14th century

My leather working has gotten better. I’m now attempting turnshoes, specifically the Jorvic shoe that was excavated in York. Upper is ~4oz leather, soles are ~11oz. For those who believe in proper metric it is 1.6mm upper, 4mm sole. I used VegTan for the sole, which is fine and veg tan for the upper, which is not a good choice. Upper should have a soft temper, chrome tan would be better. Soles, the softer the temper the easier the turning of the turnshoes.

Since I had no one to teach me, I found a excellent online course by Laughing Crow. I recommend it to anyone. Which gives you the option to either buy the DVD (meh), stream it online for 4 weeks (I bought this) or stream it online and download the video ( I finally bought this too, because I need to reference it occasionally).

I made a second pair using Elk hide, which technically was nicer than my first pair. However, Elk stretches and that was a big problem, as they no longer fit and are someone dangerous to wear on sloped ground. I may convert them to sandals.

Next pair will be from Buffalo hide. Further, I may teach my a class to my local SCA folks.


Basket weaving with Privet aka Broad Leaf Ligustrum Lucidum

A use for Privet

Privet is phenomenally invasive here in Austin, Texas. It is in front yards, back yards, and in most of the beltways and walking trails. It is so bad, the city parks have volunteer crews who go out and girdle the larger Privet trees and pull up the new trees. But it is a losing proposition.

I’ve always liked privet wood, as it is the only tree in Central Texas that grows strait rods. I’ve used it to make bows, arrows, hiking sticks. atlatls, and darts for atlatls. I even used it to make a chair. It is a great wood, high energy density for firewood, dense, renewable. It also coppices well, which is a real problem if you want to eradicate it.

Basket weaving

But I wanted to figure out if it was any good for basket making. So I tried to use it like willow for wickerwork, but not go, it doesn’t pass the 90 bend test, it breaks. I think because of the large brittle pith center.

But if you treat it like hazel it will make weavers! Just cut a thumb diameter sized strait rod and then cut a v-notch about a hand width from the edge of the butt end. Then bend it over your knee and the weaver will begin to pop off the rod. It will look wrinkly at first, and you may need to use your knife point to help lift it (not cut) up and then you keep bending the rod about 2 inches in front of the weaver crack and it will keep propagating.

I tested this out and used it to finish the rim of a medieval pack basket I made from trumpet vine for Gulf Wars SCA event.

Pack basket made from Trumpet vine, and a rim of privet and woven to the basket with privet weavers.
The rim was woven to the basket with privet weavers, they were damn strong and you can yank on them to tighten them down. The Rim was closed using wooden pegs thru a drill hole to cinch them together.

I will definitely be using privet more for basket making!

Note to self- Need to test if a 3 way or 4 way Cleave will work with Privet.