Historical Crafts & Natural Raw Materials

Published 6 months ago • 2 min read

How the Past Can Inform the Presence

Hi history enthusiasts.

By making gear for my living history kit I have learned a lot about traditional crafts. For example, for my scabbards and shields I use hide glue and casein glue. I came to appreciate their respective qualities, and I also like that they do not contain any toxic components. The same goes for naturally tanned hide. In contrast, industrial chromium tanned leather is actually toxic waste when you dispose it, did you know?

In our daily life, my wife and I make an effort to avoid plastic packaging. For example, we have cut down on plastic waste by abandoning shower lotions, using bars of soap instead. In the Viking camp at Sletten, I showed numerous people how to make a natural washing up liquid for greasy pans from wood ashes and water on the spot, using gras as a natural, disposable brush (I had learned about it in this recommendable podcast episode of the Sword Guy).

In today’s newsletter, read about how to make waxed cloth for food packaging, dyeing leather with walnut peels, and about a great project to further traditional house building techniques.

I hope you find it useful and interesting.

Wrap It up in Waxed Cloth!

Whenever I attend living history events, I make an effort to avoid modern packaging. I wrap up food such as cheese or meat in waxed cloth. In fact, it works in your modern fridge and kitchen too. It can be re-used almost infinitely, and the antiseptic qualities of bees wax are an additional benefit.

Nowadays you can buy ready-made waxed cloth for packaging in stores, but I prefer to make my own in sizes of my choice. Read how I do it, and how to clean it in my respective post.

Making Walnut Dye

If ever you have harvested walnuts, you will know about the dyeing qulities of their peels: they stain your fingers persistently if you missed to put on gloves. Walnut bark, leaves, shells and peels are rich in tannic acids, and have been used for dyeing for millennia.

I am currently running my first experiment with walnut dye from peels collected in the garden. Read about it in my post.

Historical House Building for the Presence

In the past, I have repeatedly had the pleasure of teaching medieval swordplay in historical costume in the History Park Bärnau, a most appropriate and inspiring setting.

When the board of the History Park considered building tourist accommodation for their visitors, they came up with the brilliant idea to create modern houses constructed with traditional methods. Thus the Nature Village Bärnau came into being, striving to communicate and pass on their experience and expertise in traditional crafts and natural building components gained in years of archaeological experimentation and research.

This initiative is aimed at promoting sustainable and ecologically responsible house building – and providing great housing during your stay at the History Park!

This playlist of one-minute-clips provides glimpses worth seeing, illustrating what this place is about. Enjoyable, even when you do not understand the German narration.

So, that's it for today. Take care, and use lime mortar instead of concrete!

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I am Roland Warzecha, a professional illustrator – and a swordsman. Hence the name ‘Dimicator’ which is a Latin term meaning sword fighter. I present to you cutting-edge research into historical martial arts, and Viking & high medieval sword & shield fighting in particular. I am co-operating with museums, fellow martial artists and scholars worldwide. Renowned expert for historical arms, Dr Alfred Geibig, says: “The careful reconstruction of historical swordsmanship, impressively demonstrated by Mr. Warzecha, is a valuable supplement to archaeological insights, and clearly proves the efficiency of European swords and the sophistication of the associated historical fighting arts.” To get regular up-dates on the archaeology and history of sword & shield and how they were used, sign up for my newsletter! I would be delighted if you would join my quest.

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