Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Experiments in the world of Cocoa-Chai

So, a while back I acquired some cocoa beans via to make into Cocoa chai - you can buy it in teabags, but isn't terribly cheap. The interesting ingredients of the store-bought one (See here) are: Cocoa (39%), Spices (33%) (Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Ginger, Pepper, Chicory Root), Stevia.

For the cocoa, I haven't roasted the beans, yet. They smell amazing, and taste good in an infusion. I shall consider toasting some.

I also have had a bunch of the beans infusing in some vodka for a few weeks, and the result is very buttery/creamy, but with a nasty vodkay aftertaste. May be rectified with sugar syrup.

Experiment One:

Ingredient ratio

70% homemade chai tea (a mix of 50/50 earl grey and english breakfast leaf tea, with solid lumps of the above spices thrown in. Probably about 90% tea to 10% spices), and 30% cocoa beans, crushed roughly with my fingers.


Very much like tea with a slight hint of cocoa. Much more cocoa flavour on the second brew, and almost no spice flavour. Needed lots of sugar. Not bad, but not very cocoa-y

Experiment Two:

Ingredient ratio

70% cocoa, and 30% tea mix as above.


Like a bitter, watery hot chocolate. For me, needed lots of sugar. Pleasing and drinkable.
Future experiments

- A mocha infusion / tea: percolated ground coffee and roasted ground cocoa beans. Could be amazing.
- A blend of tea/cocoa/spices that follows the original better (40:30:30, cocoa:spices:tea).
- Getting the items to a similar size / surface area to ensure equal by-weight extraction of flavour may be a variable worth experimenting. I'll have to pinch a coffee grinder that grinds to a specified size for this
- More infused alcohols -- my past experiments with coffee and spiced vodkas have gone down well (or infamously, in the case of the chilli vodka...) in the past, and I happen to know someone with a still, and raw spirits.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Banners!

Over the weekend I made eight new banners, with significant help from Mistress katherine kerr. You can read about her silk banners here: http://webcentre.co.nz/kk/banners.htm

Here are mine (there's a pair of each design):

Southron Gaard, MoralezBeaumont (kk did the shading on the badger!)

Lochac populace badge, and Chirurgeon banner.

I'm pretty happy. I have ten banner poles, and ten banners!

Next up will be portable holes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Stuff~

Right, so, I've been damnably slack of late, in the blogworld.

Here's a blag with some new stuff I've been doing. At least the photos I could get before my batteries ran out.

Here's three (of twelve) peices of Benedicts coronet cut out and rough sanded. This is pre-punch and pre-assembly, obviously.

Annnnd, this is the coronet almost finished. Here all the peices have been shaped (a rough curve) and punched, and then riveted to the leather, but with the silk between the brass and the leather. The silk is then turned in, and stitched down. All I have to do is stitch some more silk into the inside with some wool for padding.

As you can see, this is vastly different to my design from an earlier post. The main thing I have done wrong is to use WAY WAY too thin brass. Next time it will be way heavier. This stuff bends and such, too easily. Thus, the peices are a bit wonky, and were too easy to cut out. The brass I used was significantly cheaper than the heavier stuff - next time I will spend more and get a much better outcome. (I plan to make Benedict a new one soon) The shape of each segment is the same because I couldn't get the curvatures right -- but more experimentation/practice should mean I can make pretty much any shape. They aren't etched either, because I couldn't buy etchant in Christchurch.

Overall, I'm not super super happy with this for the above reasons, but it does from a meter or two away look like an OK coronet. Next ones will be -much- better. Heavier brass, and a more documentable attachment method (I used brass bifurcated rivets).

Next up: a gown sleeve:

Is from this pattern. So far is going well. Should be finished this week...

Last but not least, a wallhanging. My lovely friend Leah superimposed my device, and then OHP and paint, later this is the result:

This is the original woodcut from sometime medieval (late 14thC or early 15thC? I guess, from the frocks) with photoshopping:

Finally, a photo of how my backyard floods, in this lovely weather (a few weeks ago):

That's all for now!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

State of th' Kotek

Had my specialist appointment at the Pain Management Clinic, today..

It was pretty good. I wasn't overly surprised by their initial findings, until seeing the doctor. We're scrapping (or at least removing the emphasis on) of my until-now diagnosis of Scheuermann's disease, for Hypermobility Syndrome, which fits, too, I think. I loled a little when the doctor took five minutes to diagnose me, after at least five GP types going "i dunno, it shouldn't be this bad and I can't work out why" - which was amusing and neat. X3

The plan is for twelve sessions once a week of fairly intense therapy stuff - mostly in a gym which will hurt to start with but will hopefully get some muscles doing the right thing... And also maybe giving venlafaxine* (or nortryptylene) a go, and possibly adding in gabapeatin. Those are a little worrisome, though.

All in all, it was interesting. I've also tentatively picked up six hours a week back at work, in a fairly relaxed setting, so all looking up, there.

I've also applied to study at AUT the Bachelor of Health Science: Paramedic course, starting part time, probably. :D (Correspondence - I'm not about to move to Auckland - though if I get in I'll be travelling for 2-3 weeks of block courses a semester)

(*In the right dose it can affect serotonin and noradrenalin receptors which have something to do with pain - tl;dr, not for depression but pain numbing. Yay Science!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Some new stuff:

First up, my heraldic belt. This was woven for me by Agnes, and the fittings are from Raymonds Quiet Press. All I did was assemble it and cut brass bits for the back to act as washers. Very happy!

Next is a doublet. It is red velveteen lined with OMGYELLOW linen. It's the first side-lacing one I've made, and is technically quite different to the only doublet I've made before (my brown center-opening one) and was pretty easy to make, if a bit time consuming. Technically it is reversible, but I don't think I'll ever do that. I'm going to investigate (IE get a quote) for a clothing alteration place to put in the lacing points by machine.

And a sleeve.

And an unfinished sleeve of the next doublet, which is identical in cut, just different fabric.

I also have submitted a draft copy of the Lochac Chirurgeonate Policy for comment. With any luck, it will be passed through happily and be in action by MidWinter!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Two new little things

Just some five-minute jobs for little peices of hat-bling that I'd been getting around to doing:

First up is my cypher from the reign of Gabriel and Constanzia. I backed it in brass and filled in the background with (faux) enamel, and then rough sanded/polished to give a better finish.

Seccond is a Rowany Festival site token, which is just backed in brass, and cleaned up a bit.

They'll both get modern pins glued to the back of them once I go to the shop that sells 'em.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I've been up to: A photo-post.

So, since moving into the new place, I have been doing a little more work, especially without the interents to distract me.

First up is a shirt. Here is is before the neckline was gathered:

And here it is, with the gathered neckline. It sits quite low on the shoulders. It was going to be smocked, but for some reason the selvage at the top started to fray, so I had to enclose it in a little piece of linen:

There are just the sleeve cuffs (hand), and the hem (machine) to sew. So almost finished.

I also dug out the head-wear for pixi, and re-assembled it. I figured out why I gave up on it for so long - the couched on pearls aren't staying put, and wobble about, and I got annoyed with them. So, I'll pick them off and re-do them and then it will be done (at last!):

Next up is some older brass stuff, which is an attempt at making a badge/pin for my hats. Most people wearing my kind of hat (the general black velvet/wool tudor thing that everyone wears) have a brooch or jewel on it. So I'm doing my heraldry. These ones aren't quite right, so I may need to etch the bits before enameling, or score in the lines with a knife. More on this when I get to making 'em. The one on the left is freehand painted and the right has the gold chevronelles cut out and superglued on, and then enameled in the middle bits;

And, been doing a little more design-y work on Baron Benedict's coronet (as started in my previous post). I'm really not sure I want to have sharp pointy bits at the peaks, as per my previous image, so I have a few ideas worked out on paper and cardboard. (Business cards are perfect for this!)

But what I like the look of most is the bottom image here;

for aesthetics, anyway. I'll talk to bene and see what he thinks. The wavy one seems to Riverhaven-y for my liking, and the sharp bits are an issue. In the bottom image, the top points would be pearls, obviously.


Last of all, some quick photos of my new place.



Note that the outside is -way- better than it was - this time two weeks ago there were four or more dead cars here, and a -lot- of rubbish, animal byproducts/remains, and peices of construction materials. Junk, basically.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Project backlog:

This is my backlog of half-done stuff that I should be working on before starting new stuff:

~The half-done circlet for pixi, which just needs an hour or two of finishing work.
~The U-shaped opening jerkin/bases, in red wool.
~Fixing up the velvet version of the above, which I purchased at Crown.
~Getting around to writing the new Chirurgeonate Policy.
~The "oh gods" sunshade.
~Fixing the hole in the gusset of one of my rus' shirts

The new stuff:

~more points and laces for my hose/doublets and a set for Essylt.
~a coronet for Benedict (In the style of 11thC Rus' ones like the ones from Novgorod - leather base with etched brass panels attached)
~leather lanterns like the ones Iarnulf made
~More hose/stockings
~A pouch for early 16thC use, probably in leather 'cause I have some laying about. (And I've wanted to give leather stitching a go for a while)
~pants that're passable for early 16thC
~researching medieval recreational drug use (I'm apparently doing a class next year at CF called "How to get high before 1600")
~Making brass belt bits for my woven heraldric belt.
~More silk banners.
~A gown from the pattern I purchased here
~Two doublets, which I have the fabric for (one in red velvet slashed with yellow silk as per my heraldry, one in brown velveteen)
~One or two more shirts for Festival, including the pleatwork one I'm working on now.
~Another hat or two, and another coif. Just because.

Project: A coronet

At St Caths 2009, Benedict was made a Baron of the Court of Lochac. I'd been wanting to do brass etching and jewellery stuff for a while, so this was a chance to work on something for him.

The general scope of the project is a basic level for me to learn new skills, and work on the ones I've already got. The coronet itself will be made of twelve brass plates, riveted to a leather base, which will be padded with wool and enclosed in silk. This is in the style of early Rus' head wear, which is definitely in use for women, but not definitively for men. The look will be of a fairly authentic piece, with the gender-anachronism. The etching, which will be of Benedict's device will be entirely anachronistic (AFAIK).

Mistress Sofya la Rus' of Calontir writes on her website;

"Banded [lentochnye] head-gear from plaques make up subtype 7. They are decorated with a number of plaques, plates. In burials they are found on the frontal bones of the skull (Kolchin)

In the Old-Russian treasure hoards are known the most luxurious models of this kind of attire. They consist of nine gold plates, seven of which are rectangular in form with a fin-shaped [kilevidnym] completion (in the form of "kiottsev") [literally, icon case], and two end plates of trapezoid form, which narrow to the outer ends. Between them the platelets were connected by threads, which penetrated holes on the sides of the plates. Head-gear was presented as a diadem with an ochel'e made from plates, which was tied on the back of the head by ribbon. They were decorated with enamel, pearls, and pendants, and they were included in the composition of ritual attire of the ancient-Russian princesses. (Kolchin)

A "koruna" [a different kind of hat] was a more complicated, richly adorned venchik (a general term?). The koruna was formed on a rigid base, covered with fabric (sometimes under the fabric was laid a bolster), and distinctively decorated. "

Therfor, with some ultra-quick image creation, I have this as a draft:

This is a headband/circlet I made in a similar style for Alison;

The next phase will be a cardboard mockup which I'll send up to Ildhafn for him to try on, and then the following stages:

~Purchase and cut the brass
~File off the sharp bits
~Assembling onto the leather
~Stitching in the lining (which will have been riveted already)

Goal is to have this done by Midwinter Coronation.

More as I make it.