Thursday 23 April 2015

Some 'new' strycsitten illuminations

 I have gathered some additional strycsitten images from medieval illuminations and paintings. They can be divided in French type strycsittens and the German type.

French strycsittens

 January, folio 1r. The table is curious and seems to consist of a square dressoir with a round table top.
 February, folio 1v. The wife seems to be sitting on a footstool.
Both illuminations are from the same book illuminated by Jean Poyer in Tours, France around 1500. Both strycsittens are situated in front of the fireplace. The Hours of Henry VIII, manuscript MS H 8, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, NY, USA.

Servants serving the master in a book of hours. BNF NAL 3116 folio 1v. Dated at the end 15th century. 
Assuming a similar set-up as the previous image, this could be February.

I have shown this image before, but only in grey. It is still unknown to me from which manuscript it originates. 
Also this strycsitten is in front of the fireplace.

Feast of Esther. Folio 129v in Fleur des histoires, BNF Fr 55. Second half of the 15th century.

Jehan Froissart kneeling before the count of Foix. Chroniques of Froissart, British Library manuscript Royal 14 D V folio 8. Last quarter of the 15th century. The strycsitten beneath the canopy is decorated with animals (lions?)

Tristan and Dinadan at the house of Pelinier. Manuscrit du Tristan en prose, BNF Fr 102 folio 179v. dated around 1465-1480. It is a bit difficult to see, but  they are sitting on a strycsitten in front of a fireplace.

The king is sitting at a strycsitten. 
Facta et dicta memorabilia BNF Fr 43 folio 1. Dated  mid 15th century.

The translator reads the Latin text in the library of a noble. A grisaille illumination with a strycsitten in front of the fireplace. The strycsitten swinging backrest is more of a Flemish type. The bench is covered with a cloth and a cushion. Roman de Jean dÁvesnes. Paris, Arsenal MS. 5208 f. 1r. 15th century.

German strycsittens

Cardinal Albrect of Brandenburg as St. Jerome. Painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526). The painting is in a private collection. A special long green cushion is made for the strycsitten. The table is set on a wooden platform; perhaps to protect it from the animal dung?

Detail of the high altar painted by Friedrich Herlin (1466) showing a strycsitten.  
St. Jacob Church, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.

St. John with eagle on a strycsitten. Painting by Gabriel Maleskircher (1478). 
Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain.

Monday 20 April 2015

Progress on the Thomasteppich: August 2014 - April 2015

Anne embroidering in the great hall of castle Hernen. The beautiful sun rays were created by the smoke of coming from the fireplace in the next room which had a badly working chimney. Photo made by Geldersch Landschap en Kastelen.

Like the previous progress report on the Thomasteppich embroidery project, I have made a photo for most of the days from August 2014 to April 2015 when Anne did something with her part of the Thomasteppich, and turned these into another small video. During winter time not much was done on the teppich as we were working on our new house. However, the first panels of the tapestry are nearly finished, both that of Anne and Katinka.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Making a sedia tenaglia - part 1

We use our medieval replica furniture not only during re-enactment (such as at castle Hernen), but also in everyday live. Most folding chairs as well as my strycsitten are arranged along the dining table. As we were already planning to move to a new and larger house, there was a need for a larger table and extra chairs as well.  I did want to make a different medieval chair and try to steam bend some wood as well, so my choice was to make a sedia tenaglia.

As photos and information on internet only tell you the height and width of a chair, and not the thickness of the wood used, I looked at an example that was easily available: the replica sedia tenaglia at castle Loevestein. Another great source which I used was the construction plan of Charles Oakley of a 16th century German folding chair, which is actually an Italian style sedia tenaglia. The thickness and width of the legs of the chair in Castle Loevestein were 2.5 and 4.5 cm, respectively. That of the chair of Charles Oakley was 2.54 and 5.08 cm (1 and 2 inch), respectively. My thoughts were going in the same direction 2.5 and 4 cm, respectively. The thickness changed during construction of the chair to 2.0 cm for reasons explained later. This is still robust enough to sit on, and saves weight.

The replica sedia tenaglia at Castle Loevestein, Poederooyen, the Netherlands. This chair does not have a bend backrest. As such it can be nearly flat folded. On the other hand if you lean to much backwards, the chair (with you on it) will tumble backwards. This does not happen if the back of the chair is slightly bend.

Measurements of the folding chair at Castle Loevestein; the width of the chair is approximately 50 cm. The black dots indicate the placement of the pins for the mortise and tenon joints.

As I wanted to have the same seating height for the sedia tenaglia as my x-folding chairs, 44 cm, this measurement was also fixed. I also liked to have a deeper seating plateau than most sedia tenaglia, and chose a depth of 35 cm. Using these sizes, the folding X part of the chair could be drawn. Only the height of the backrest and the curvature of the back were left to be determined. The optimum height for the back of the chair depends on the people for whom it will be made (mainly me and Anne). The optimum curvature depends on the stability of the chair when leaning backwards (i.e. the chair does not tumble backwards when you lean on it), the ergonomics of your back while seating, and the wish to have the chair as flat as possible when folded. I think I succeeded very well in finding the optimum measurements for my sedia tenaglia.

Most of the remaining medieval sedia tenaglia are made from either beech or walnut. I chose oak to make my chair, as the table and all my other chairs were made of oak. Oak is a more difficult material to work with, and tougher to bend. I started to cut and plane the oak to the appropriate thickness and width. The next step was to bend the back, which I will cover in the next post. 

Meanwhile, also the caps for the dowels had to be made. I used tenon cutters in the drill press to make the caps. The trick is to have the piece of oak thicker than the tenon cutter can cut deep. This way, the caps are still attached to the piece of oak which makes is easy to centre the drill bit to make the hole in the centre of the cap to attach it to the dowel. This hole is cut just deep enough to hold the dowel. Then the caps are cut loose with a (Japanese) saw, and if you planned it well, the second round of caps is already waiting for you beneath the previous ones. You just have to drill the centre holes and saw these loose as well. Rounding of the caps is done similarly as with the Savoranola chair: using a belt sander or a rasp.

Seven times two caps are waiting in this piece of oak. 
The tenon cutter has done its job and the first seven caps have their centre hole drilled.

The seven caps are cut from the oak piece along this line (arrow) with a Japanese saw (kataba).

The first seven caps are cut loose; the second row of caps is already present due to the deep drilling of the tenon cutter.

Sunday 5 April 2015

Eastern at Castle Hernen

Today and tomorrow (Eastern) we are guests at Castle Hernen (Hernen, the Netherlands), one of the castles of the 'Geldersch Landschap and Kastelen'. We were very surprised and pleased that some new furnishing was placed in the castle. When we had an appointment at the castle last year, all the rooms were quite empty, but now the castle was very alive and attractive. We even could make use of the great hall, where we could dine as if we indeed were the lords of Hernen. 

We had a very privileged lunch at the U-sided table. 
There was one slight disappointment: there were no servants to help us ...

During the afternoon, Bram and I were working on a medieval chest, while Anne and Katinka were embroidering inside - under the scrutinizing eyes of the many visitors. Some more photos of castle Hernen with the Thomasguild can be found on the Facebook site of the castle.

 Also Katinka has nearly finished embroidering her first panel of the Thomasteppich.

Bram and I are discussing which medieval plane is the better one: 
Bram's 14th century north German plane, or my medieval Italian plane. 

 We needed help from Anne to decide which plane was the best.

 To my surprise Anne did choose the plane of Bram: the toat  felt very smooth according to her.

 Ah! Now I know why. The toat! It resembles something ...