Bridget and her Dark Side Minions
(plural minions)
Meaning: A loyal servant of another, usually more powerful being.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Gunnhild's latest adventures....

onion skin


Due to seasonal requirements, I did some egg dyeing with onion skin (Picture egg). I do not know whether this is period. It is traditional anyway. BUT as I had gathered much more onion skin than I needed for some ten or twelve eggs, I decided to dye some silk yarn with the remaining onion skin which is definitely period. I have done some dyeing years ago, and I had kept the equipment and some colouring herbs since then. And these are the results (pic. onion skin): 1. Pre-treatment with alum and tartar, cooked in the dyeing water for about half an hour 2. Same as 1, but cooked for about one hour 3. Same as 1, but afterwards put into an iron mordant and potash afterwards. It looks like black on the picture, but it is a very dark brown. 4. Same as 1, but put into the dye bath in a second turn, so that the bath was not that strong any more 5. Same as 3, but also the second turn.


Madder (pic. madder):
The madder was soaked in water overnight and then heated and strained. For
the dyeing, only the coloured water was taken. 1. Pre-treatment with alum
and tartar, dyed in the colouring water with some talcum at a temperature
of about 60°C for about half an hour 2. Same as 1, but cooked for about
one hour. The yarn is thicker than the other, but it is also silk. 3. Same
as 1, but afterwards put into an iron mordant and potash afterwards. I did
never succeed to make a real red but only this apricot which by the way is
very nice. I had talked to Mistress Anya years ago, and she assumed that
the consistence of the water might be a problem, as she also did never get
a real red. Therefore the try with the chalk, which did not work. I also
talked to Baroness Mechthild about that question, and she thinks that the
quality of the madder is crucial, as she had the same problems.


Alkanna (pic. Alkanna):
Alkanna has to be put into an alkoholic solution, and the dyeing has to be
done at about 80°C. I found out why, as it tends to start burning at
about 90°C if cooked on a gas oven with an open flame. So, in the first
solution I made the dyeing content was burnt and the silk was flambéed a
Little bit which did not affect it, but the colour was very weak. After
that, I made a second solution to get a more intense violet. So this is
seen on the Picture: 1. Pre-treatment with alum and tartar, in the first
dyeing solution, flambéed. 2. Same as 1, but the second turn with even
less colour left 3. Same as 1, but with a new dyeing solution, heated only
to 80°C. It looks black on the picture, but it is indeed a very intense
violet. 4. Same as 3, but the second turn with less colour left 5. Same as
4, but afterwards put into an iron mordant with potash afterwards. The
iron mordant has turned it into a grey with a violet shimmer.

Birchbark (pic. Birchbark):
The birchbark was soaking in water overnight and then cooked, afterwards
strained. For the dyeing, I took only the coloured water. 2. Pre-treatment
with alum and tartar, cooked for about one hour 1. Same as 2, but
afterwards put into an iron mordant with potash afterwards.

I dyed the silk yarn as I will do some Elizabethan multicolour embroidery
on a coif. Now I am still lacking a nice yellow and green, which I will
make from carrot leaves and tansy (which I have to wait for, as it is not
the season yet), red and blue have to be made from Cochenille and Indigo
(or woad) which I will have to purchase. So, some more experiments will

(Information taken from H. Schweppe: Handbuch der Naturfarbstoffe, Nikol
Verlag 1993)

Second Project: Coif (three Pictures attached)

The original is an unfinished coif made in the last quarter of the 16th
century (Carew Pole collection). It is made of dark blue silk on linen in
coral stitch, with gold yarn in double loop stitch only through the coral
stitch. To try this, I first made a sample with blue and black cotton yarn
and Coats Ophir artificial gold yarn. This sample is now a cutlery bag (no
picture taken). To get the right coif size, I made a pattern and made a
coif of white linen first. Now I am doing the embroidered coif with the
same pattern. I chose a black buttonhole silk which I had at home. For the
golden double Loop stitch, I took an artificial gold yarn. This yarn is
very thin, so that it is more discreet than the gold yarn of the original,
but it is shining in the light and thus highlights the embroidery very
nicely. And it is by far less expensive than real gold yarn, which is very
important as the double Loop stitch is very yarn-consuming, and I wanted
to have a coif I can wear on any event, without having to fear dirt of
fire or kitchen or else... Maybe I will put golden spangles on the coif in
the end. It cannot be proved for this coif, as the original was never
finished, but there are several coifs with golden or silver spangles so
that it might have been well possible that the original would have got
them too, if ever finished.

Third Project: Elizabethan jacket and skirt
As the parts are only cut and not sewn together, I did not make pictures
yet. The clothes will be made of dark blue Merino wool with edgings in
bright pink silk, with a bright pink linen lining. Pictures will follow
when the gown is finished.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Minion does not mean slave

I have three apprentices. They are all remarkable, wonderful women. We have a fun relationship because I am not a demanding laurel. I think that firstly, it's a hobby so it should be fun and secondly they will go at their own pace and learn as they go. We check in with each other to make sure things are okay and they have all been told that I am the person they should come to if they have problems within the SCA ( or even outside of it) especially if they have problems with other people no matter what because talking about it before reacting about it is the better choice. The general sentence goes " IF you feel something has gotten out of hand, or you feel uncomfortable about it and you want back up or whatever come to me and I will deal with it." And mostly they deal with stuff on their own because they are all smart, grown women who know their own minds but it's nice to have backup and I think it helps them to know that if shit goes sideways I've got their backs. We have a fun relationship because this is a hobby. And while my job is to teach, to foster, to protect and be an all-around den mum we all know that ultimately for us it's about friendship first.

They are known as the Dark Side minions. This started long before the Despicable me movies because I'm a huge star wars fan and I also play in the 501st which is the Imperial side of things, the tag line for that club is "Bad guys doing good" so the nickname of minion was theirs from the get go. Now with the cute little yellow minions running around the big screen stealing people's hearts it's taken on a larger than life sort of meaning but ultimately it is still a personal thing, an in joke, a term of deep affection between us and we've talked about it so that they know if they don't like it, if they don't want to be called that they can just say and it will end. They are minions in the most fun sense of the word. What they are not is my band of personal servants or slaves.

The latest incident of someone saying to one of my girls "You're a minion so you can do this!" really pissed me off. Firstly ... just no. This whole attitude is wrong. An apprentice no matter what cute name they get labled with, is NOT now not ever anyone's servant and if anyone would like my apprentices to do something for them then they should ask politely. Ailitha, Gunhild and Saraswati are people and should be respected as such. They do things for me because THEY want to not because I have told them to or demand them to or because it is expected because that is not now nor ever the case. So if other people see Ailitha doing my feast gear for me it is because she has asked if she could, we have discussed that she does not have to, and she has reiterated many times she likes to do this and I have told her how grateful I am for it but I DO NOT EXPECT HER TO DO THIS. I expect her and her sisters to be brilliant, to shine at their respective arts and crafts and above all to have fun.
So this is my message to the SCA universe. Apprentices and all of their counterparts are not servants they are people who have a special placement within the hierarchy of the SCA.  As for my apprentices, well they have all been told they have the right to say no if they do not want to do something, respect that answer no matter how much it annoys you, if they tell you you have crossed a line then back off, they have all been told they should stand up for themselves because that is part of the learning process. In short they are not to be mistreated, abused or made to feel as though they are under anyone's thumb especially not because we use the term minion. If I ever catch or hear of anyone doing that to any of my girls again I assure you I will come after you like an angry mother wolf.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Gunhild's embroidery and blackwork

blackwork needle case for the gulf wars giftbasket

Elizabethan embroidery on a cutlery case

Monday, 27 May 2013


I could talk a great deal about what my 3rd lovely fabprentice does but you know I think it is better that you read it from her hand instead of mine she has her own voice and she kows how to use it.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Minion #3: Scroll

I asked Saraswati to pick a piece of work she would like shown off here. This is the one she chose.

 I substituted the star in that image for one of the golden circles found on
That page just to make it more persona appropriate. 


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Minion #2 The Shirt

Gunhild has been working on a shirt for her husband. It's gorgeous. When she gets some time I will get her to write up about it for the clothing clueless among us ( me) and for the rest of you garb loving history buffs - enjoy.

Blogger seems to have copied the facebook picture viewer so to see details right click on the image and hit"view image" then you can go in and get closer details.

Gusset 1

The collar embroidery

Seam - left side

the whole shirt

sleeve and cuff embroidery

So as promised: From Gunhild.

The shirt pattern is similar to the pattern of the shirt worn by Nils Sture (1567, Upsala Cathedral). The details of the pattern are taken from Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion 4 and adapted to my husband’s size.
I have made some changes:
The neckband is not that high as in the original. I have adapted it to the collar height of the doublets the shirt will be worn with.
Collar and wristbands are decorated with blackwork embroidery as it can be seen on many paintings of the time.
The neck and sleeve ruffles are shorter. The neck ruffle is 2,80 m long and the sleeve ruffles are 2,10 m each.
The edges of every part are hemmed with a hem stitch, and the parts are sewn together with an open insertion made of buttonhole stitches.
Linen fabric. The fabric taken for the ruffles is much finer, so that it can be laid in small pleats to make the ruffle look very full but at the same time achieve nice pleats.
The collar and wristbands are interlined with a fine white cotton fabric to give them a better stand.
For the seams, I have taken a linen yarn. The blackwork embroidery is made with a cotton yarn (MEZ), which I happened to have at home when I started the embroidery.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Minion #1

Ailitha, my first apprentice, is a  calligraphy and Illumination minion. She's also like my SCA kid. She calls me MamaB which is cool.

She has bucket loads of talent. These are her older works. She did what i did and ran off to see the world but slowly she's finding her way back home.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


In the Society for Creative Anachronism I'm generally known as Bridget. I am a laurel in calligraphy and Illumination and was apprenticed to Meister Harold von Auerbach. I have 2  3 apprentices. Lady Ailitha de Ainwyk (Dark Side Minion #1) and Lady Gunhild von Brunswiek (Dark Side Minion #2) and now Lady Saraswati has been added to the cast of minions.

Apprentice #1 has vanished. That is to say real life swept her off her feet in the form of a man and a job and so on and I don't see her a whole lot but that's okay, she knows where I am and when she needs me I'll be there. Since I did the exact same thing to my Master I can't complain.

Apprentice #2, namely Lady Gunhild,  has a whole lot more to teach me than I her since she's a garb
 and embroidery goddess and isn't really into calligraphy. So why you ask is she a DSM? Good question.

The main reason is because I asked if she wanted to be my apprentice and she said yes. The second main reason is that she's shy and while I can be mostly I'm not. Mostly I like the fact that I get to show off her amazing work and because I have a leafy hat that I occasionally wear more people take notice, which they should because she is AMAZING! So...I figure I can help her on the way to being seen and noticed a whole lot more and this is one way of doing it.

This blog is about my apprentices and their work because what they do is amazing and it should be shared with the world.

Minion#2 was given a task. Make me a hat because I, being the really bad example of a peer, tend to go about hatless and she had a really cool hat at Double wars. Yesterday presents arrived by mail and they included the hat ( she gets cookies for completing task #1)  and a surprise for me which was thrilling. The surprise being a bag. Not just any bag either, a gorgeous embroidered linen bag with a lovely silk lining.

Now eventually I will get Gunhild to explain the ins and outs of these items but for now feast your eyes on her lovely work