West Kingdom Golden Beltane Part 3

Noise and Quiet Moments

Isn’t that really the best part of an event, the contrasts? I tend to be a relatively early riser at events. It is a rare morning that I am not out of bed and dressed by 7:30 AM. Being up at a relatively decent hour (that is late for me at home) gives me plenty of time to take Jack for a nice long walk, and make and eat a leisurely breakfast, before it is time to sweep and dust the shop and open the doors. It also gives me time to take advantage of early morning light for photographs, but more about that later.

The first day that we were completely set up at Golden Beltane we all jumped…a lot. The folks next to us had a very special piece of equipment set up – a drop hammer. Our next door neighbor was Master Emmerich of Vakkerfjell, and if you haven’t seen his work yet, you have really missed out. He has a lovely website where he explains the process that he uses to create period reproductions of real coins, and well as household tokens and special event tokens. His work is really amazing, and I am now the proud owner of a limited edition silver Golden Beltane Commemorative Coin. Truly awesome.

I was fortunate enough to catch Master Emmerich while he was setting up his display case one morning, and he generously gave me a tour of his masterworks. The gallery  on his website contains a considerable percentage of the coins that I saw, plus a bunch of custom work by Master Emmerich and others, and some very nice “how too” pictures. In a time frame where a lot of SCA items are made using computer generated art work, printed resists, and etching, when the item would have been stamped, or engraved in period, I found it genuinely exciting to discover someone who was actually making things in a period fashion. I had the great fortune to take a basic class on striking coins taught by another member of the West Kingdom Moneyers’ Guild many years ago (Master Emmerrich is currently the head of the guild), but I had really forgotten how much fun the entire process could be. Seeing the glory of handcrafted struck coins was a breath of fresh air, and I have a feeling that I will be working on some struck coins in the future.

Unfortunately I did not take a picture of Master Emmerich’s  drop hammer in use, but it really was very cool. The basic principal is that a weight is raised up about ten feet, and then released to smash down on the die set, which has a blank in between the two halves, to create a coin or medallion. A very cool period process.

There were literally a zillion other artisans working in various nooks and crannies around Golden Beltane. Just about every one of the West Kingdom Guilds taught classes, and one enthusiastic group of folks even recreated an Antwerpen Market, complete with period clothing, vegetables and goats!

Our last day at West Kingdom Golden Beltane we had fog in the morning.

WK pavilion in fogThere were whispers of Avalon and Brigadoon.

fog at beltane





West Kingdom Golden Beltane – Part 1

At the beginning of 2014, March in fact, I wrote a blog about why I thought people should attend a “great war”. I talked about the wars that we have attended and why I personally think that everyone should try to attend one. Well, I have to add another event to my list of “the greats” – West Kingdom Golden Beltane.

So what made West Kingdom Golden Beltane amazing? Well the site was lovely – a broad grassy valley surrounded by high hills and rocky cliffs with patches of Live Oak Trees and Cottonwoods around the edges. And this certainly added to the ambience. But what really made it special was the people and what the people were doing. There were attendees from the original birthday party, people who had driven in from Canada to celebrate the anniversary of their beloved organization, local folks who only had an hour drive (mine was 14 hours), new folks who were still learning the ropes of camping and dressing in a period fashion on the weekends, old friends that I hadn’t seen in 10 years, others that I hadn’t seen in almost 17 years and lots more in between.

And what were we doing? All of the usual things that we do at big events, with a twist and maybe just a bit more enthusiasm than usual. There were the usual excellent collections of classes, demos, hardsuit, rapier, equestrian, and archery tourneys, all with a slight twist of course. How often does a newcomer get to fight a bout with someone who was at the first birthday party?

I was running my shop at the event, and unfortunately my hubby was only able to be there on the weekends, so that meant that teaching classes away from the shop was not a possibility. But I was determined to contribute in some small way to the enjoyment for people, so I taught “on demand” Knit Chain classes and I had my Indigo dye pot available for populace use.

Our neighbor’s generously allowed us to use the edge of their lot to set up the dye pot, and string up a clothesline. And just to get things rolling I pulled out some yarn that I had been wanting to dye, and did a first dip. Having done this sort of thing before at other events, and also advertised on the event site that I would be having the dye pot available for people to use, I expected that there would be some interest from the populace. Before I knew it I had several folks coming by to discuss their “problem clothing” – a tunic that had faded in the sun, white pants that wouldn’t stay clean, and several chemises that were either stained. And the result?

Indigo Clothes Line

My very own Indigo laundry line and a lot of happy people.

But least you think that only old fabric and some yarn received “a dip”, one of the merchants who was selling silk asked if she could try dyeing a yard. Of course I said yes, and the results were amazing.

Next time: West Kingdom Golden Beltane – Part 2 Lots More