Artisan & Crafter For the Month of November  

Greetings all and welcome to our 2022 series, Artisans and Crafters of Bryn Gwlad (and friends).  Monthly we interview populace about what they create, and why they create it or do it ! Now on to the The interview !

This month we are chatting with Lady Úlfeiðr a Þróndheimi.  She is a very  talented artisan in the craft forms, as well as being a fighter, and Archer.  Ohh and she is also trying her hand at writing !!  Multitalented is an understatement.  

I hope you all enjoy this little snippet into her Art, as much as I have enjoyed Hearing about this ! 

  1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE SCA ? I joined the SCA in 1997 in the Kingdom of Atenveldt, though I took a several year hiatus.  I returned to play during the pandemic, because why wouldn’t you return to a social, in person game when no one can leave their house?
  2. WHAT IS THE ART FORM OR SERVICE YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH US TODAY ?  I honestly love to do a number of things and that list is growing daily,  But the one I am most focused on right now and want to share with you is the art of pewter casting in soapstone molds.  Soapstone casting is a very old art form dating back to the iron age in many areas, though specifically I work more in the Norse tradition.  
  3. DID YOU START DOING THIS BEFORE YOU CAME TO THE SCA ?  No, this was something I learned from another Artisan in the SCA. I had some interest in metal working long before this and had studied some aspects of other forms while in college.  I have always been interested in many crafts though, so the idea of venturing into something new was exciting.
  4. IF YOU DID THIS PREVIOUS TO THE SCA – DID THIS HELP TO DRAW YOU TO THE SCA ?   I just recently learned about this art form , I was actually drawn to the SCA by Archery  and the people.  I went to an archery practice, There was an incredible group of people and I just had so much fun.  I started sewing garb that week and was playing constantly from then on.  Honestly don’t even remember how I knew it was happening, just so glad I found out.
  5. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT THIS ENTAILS, AND THE CREATION ASPECT OF IT.   Pewter casting in soapstone;    Is done by obtaining a Soapstone block, they come in 1inch thick blocks that are 3 inch square (generally).  Carving a design, and pouring melted metal into the soapstone mold.                                                                                                             The finer quality the soapstone is, the less likely you will have any inclusions which can interfere with your design. The art itself entails drawing the design in pencil on the soapstone and slowly carving it into the stone.  You can either do one sided objects with a flat back where you just carve into the one stone, or you can carve two stones to form a double sided mold to pour into.      There are sets of tools you can use specifically designed for this with various sized and shaped points to allow you to get in the small places.    The Pewter we use is a Lead free version known as Britannia, It can be obtained as scrap metal or ingots from many sources.  Once you have cut the design down to the appropriate depth and are satisfied with it, you need to cut in the sprue.  This is the spot you pour in the hot metal.     What you can design is really wide open.  A good starting point are medallions or coins.  The bulk of the carving is the disk and then you generally add the design by etching deeper.  Always remember if you carve down, the image on the cast will be up, and vice versa.  And words?  Words must be carved backwards!  That is a lot of fun and really screws with your brain a bit.  Though after a while it becomes really too easy and then letters don’t look correct the right way!
  6. HOW WOULD SOMEONE GO ABOUT BEGINNING DOING OR RESEARCHING ON THIS ?   I would definitely get with someone that knows how to do it so they can show you the process.  I am always happy to help anyone who wants to learn and I can set up a session where you can actually create something.  It takes a number of hours to carve out a mold, then the process of heating and pouring – its a great way to spend an afternoon !  
  7. HOW CAN THIS BE SHOWCASED IN THE SCA WHILE ATTENDING EVENTS AND THINGS?   There are many ways you can showcase this art form, by entering items in A&S competitions, making largess, site tokens for events, items for your garb, jewelry for gifts or to merchant , and of course by teaching !! Classes are an important facet of events and wars so share your skill !! 
  8. IF SOMEONE WANTED TO LEARN, AS A BEGINNER WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE ON A STARTING POINT?   Best way, as I said above, is to work with someone directly so you get a feel for it and learn to do it safely.  Start small, and don’t stress about having to do “do overs” part of any process is learning and it comes with being confident enough in yourself to accept errors ..  Please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to assist.  
  9. TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE JOY AND COMMUNITY YOU GET FROM THIS AND MAYBE SHARE SOME THINGS YOU’VE DONE.   It is funny sometimes to think about community when you do art.  It can be such a solitary activity.  But I do find joy in the shop days we hold where several of us get together in a workshop and just all work on our projects.  We can chat as we want or just work away knowing we are surrounded by like minded souls.  I also love that when I do something like the site tokens, it brings joy to others too.  That is always a good feeling.  It is easy to judge your own work and just see the little flaws, it is nice to have someone truly enjoy the work you’ve done.                                                                                                  One thing I really enjoyed doing was making the site tokens for Queen’s Champion 2022 .  I did four different site tokens for the event.  Instead of doing them on separate pieces of soapstone, they were all carved on one.  This way we could pour four medallions at once.  Much faster to make the site tokens but much more difficult to get the mold right.  It took a lot of trial and error,  even then, there were ones that would fail.  The great thing with pewter though is you can just toss the failure back in and melt it down quickly!  Everything is fixable.  

Wow what an amazing Artisan !!  This sounds like such a fun thing to create from! If you are interested in Pewter Soapstone molding Let her know!  Please reach out to her.  She is a great and Talented individual and would be happy to share her knowledge and support with you all ! 

Until next month 

YIS ~ Sigrun Sveinungsdottir I Biarka.   Halberd MoAS