Medieval DIY: Five Easy Projects

Medieval DIY: Five Easy Projects

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By Danièle Cybulskie

This summer, I spontaneously started building medieval objects and sharing them with you here. I’ve been humbled by the enthusiastic response, and it made me realize that there are a lot of people out there just as interested in this kind of project as I am. Because of this, I thought I’d bring you five simple medieval do-it-yourself projects you can try out to impress your friends. Here they are:

1. Beeswax Candle

This is a very simple project, which involves only a sheet of beeswax (you can get one from your local craft store), a hairdryer (or time in the sun), and a cotton string. Cut the string a little longer than your sheet of beeswax, and lay it down lengthwise along one end. Gently warm the beeswax with a hairdryer (or leave it to warm in the sun), and roll the beeswax up into a cylinder, starting with the string end of the sheet so the string ends up in the middle. Now you have a sweet-smelling candle of the kind beekeeping monks would have made, used, and sold. (Here’s a video of how Martha Stewart does it.)

2. Herb Garden

Again, pretty simple. An herb garden can be grown outside, or in a bright kitchen. Medieval people used a lot of culinary herbs, such as parsley, sage, mint, rosemary, basil, thyme, and coriander (cilantro). Mix and match them to find the perfect combination for your goode cookery. Just don’t eat the monkshood.

3. Mulled Wine

There are lots of recipes for mulled wine which can be found in old cookbooks, and (of course) in a quick Internet search. Fortunately, you can make mulled wine on the stovetop, or in a slow-cooker. As the weather cools, there’s nothing quite like the taste of cinnamon and cloves, and the warmth of the wine is a pleasure in itself. If you haven’t tried mulled wine, you’re in for a treat. Try this recipe for long-term bliss, or this quick Jamie Oliver version to entice your friends into getting medieval with you.

4. Quill Pen

This is a project I thought would be more difficult, but it’s easy and makes you feel that awesome-nerd feeling. To be authentic, look for a large wing feather from a goose or swan; I ended up using a gull feather, and it worked really well. (Make sure you wash or disinfect it before you play.) All you need is a very sharp knife, and some ink. Cut the end of the feather on a diagonal, and trim it to the width of nib you want. Then, cut a small, vertical slit right in the middle of the nib. That little slit is what makes it possible to write with your quill. The hollowness of the feather holds ink very well, and you can resharpen it when the pen gets dull. You can pick up calligraphy ink at a craft or stationery store, or just break open a pen. Have a go, and connect with the scribes of the past.

5. Chain Mail

This is a project that will make you feel unstoppable. Pick up premade single links in the jewellery section of a craft store (or even a big department store), and grab yourself two sets of needle-nosed pliers, to save your hands some strain. Then, start linking. A quick Internet search will show you some patterns from the easy to the complicated, but the actual linking is very straightforward. All you need is a little patience to make some pretty cool stuff, but plan on a whole lot of time if you’re planning that suit of mail you’ve been dreaming of.

I hope you enjoy these little projects, and try out one or two. Feel free to share pictures with us on Facebook or Twitter, and have a look at the past month’s blogs for more inspiration.

You can follow Danièle Cybulskie on Twitter @5MinMedievalist