Hedeby bag for the Silver Brooch Exchange 2020

I’m back again, and this time with art. I actually completed this project about a year ago but I thought it was time to finally update the record here.
I was invited to participate in a Silver Brooch Gift Exchange (solely for members of the first level art award in the SCA), and these kinds of things are my favorite. I really enjoy creating art for people and these opportunities are perfect for that. I was assigned to make a gift for another fighter artist *and* his persona was norse. It was perfect.
The idea I had was a norse ispired hedeby/haithabu bag. There’s speculation about this particular style of bag for numerous reasons. I think one of the challenges is that organic components often don’t hold up to time so we don’t have a lot of archeological evidence to pull from. There have been handles found, but the handles are never in pairs. This is actually pretty frustrating to me because the design with two handles is very practical. Two handles keep the bag closed and limit the chances of losing things. I don’t believe that I’m the only person that feels this way because many (or most) people reconstruct this bag with two handles.
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Handles displayed at the Haithabu Museum

 

I’m a novice woodworker, so this was the first time I made something like this. I had to redo one handle due to my inexperience, I drilled a hole too close to the edge and it split the wood. I used modern tools to create the handles but in the future, I would explore some of the tools a norse man or woman may have used.
I chose to make the strap in wool using tablet weaving methods. I chose red and black because these are the colors of my giftee. I was worried that the strap would not be long enough because my giftee is very tall, but I think it is *just* long enough.
Finally, I made the bag using wool on the outside because it’s sturdy, protective and period, and I used linen inside. I sewed a pocket into the lining for extra organizational potential, and there’s not historical evidence for this, but I like to add a small pocket in bags for myself, so I did it here too.
Overall, I am happy with how the bag came out, but I think I could definitely make improvements using what I learned. I hope to make handles again but make them a little thinner and finish the handles in linseed oil.
The crazy thing was that my recipient received me as his giftee. His (sca) name is Sigvardr and he made me the most amazing and beautiful goat pendant out of bronze. Consider checking out his FB page Silverhand Jewelry. Here is a picture of the gift I received:
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Bronze pendant made by Sigvardr (Silverhand Jewelry)
Thank you for reading!
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Staying afloat in a Pandemic

Disclaimer: This post is about mental health and the pandemic. The next post should be about art again. 

This year has been hard for everyone , myself included. I really wanted to embrace the community – moved onto the internet to hold us over until the pandemic was finished but it just made things feel harder. It made me feel lonelier. It made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough, I just wasn’t capable. It made me feel like an outcast.

I’ve struggled with feeling lonely a lot of my life and it became much worse when I left the marines. Honestly, I have never struggled as hard feeling like I was a part of a community as I did in the first few years after I got home. I’ve now been out for over 8 years and I still long for that safeness. The military sets you up with this camaraderie that has been hard for me to find elsewhere, but the SCA came the closest. The art community and the fighting community gave me the sort of family I was longing for. When the pandemic happened, it felt like the hole I felt in 2013 was ripped open again.

Then I went through a difficult break-up. Then I started a new job, caring for (high risk for covid) people with traumatic brain injuries. Shortly after I suffered actual loss, when my cousin passed away in the most tragic and heartbreaking way. Then military #metoo happened and that opened new wounds, deeper wounds that I had been ignoring for so long. Then there was George Floyd and taking deep looks at myself to find my role as an ally. And the pandemic just kept going on and on and on..

I tried to stay engaged in the SCA but I felt the distance. I did the couple of scrolls assigned to me but struggled to even make it to the post office to send them out. I did a gift exchange, which was rewarding but felt like such a small thing in such a dark time. 

And now, the SCA is starting to become live again and it’s hard to imagine where I fit in. It feels hard to believe that I didn’t lose everything I had worked for from when I joined the society until the pandemic. How many friendships were dissolved? How many poisoned? 

The good news though, is I am going to try and I’m also going to work on myself. I’m going to finally start therapy and try to get a hold on my anxiety. I’m trying to get better and find my place in the world, as impossibly hard as that feels. 

So, if you have noticed a lack of embla in the last year+ you aren’t imagining it. I hope that I can come back and find my place in things again. I hope to be posting more art and posting about my fighting. I hope to feel the love and warmth of the community again. 

Until then, watch my blog for some art posts. I have a few coming down the line. 

Lots of love —

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