Tablet Weaving Gallery 10

Michael Cook - An Anachronistic Weaver

The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a nonprofit historical recreation organization which interests itself in study and recreation of the time period from 600 to 1600 A.D. This group was founded in California in the sixties (big surprise!) and has survived and become a world-wide organization with thousands upon thousands of members (actual big surprise!). Members of the group work to recreate every aspect of life from this time period, from combat styles to the arts.

My own personal experience with the SCA began in 1988, when I attended a Newcomer's Revel. My personal interests within the Society have primarily focused on its arts aspects, including costume, dance, weaving, music, and graphic arts. Each participant in the SCA chooses a name to use at recreation events; my name within the Society is Colin Severne.

This green and white belt is woven with Celtic-style knotwork. I designed the patterns using George Bain's book on knotwork. The shield at one end is heraldry for the person in the SCA to whom I was apprenticed; the image at the other end is a drop-spindle for spinning wool. I made it so that the entire sequence of knotwork was one string, which comes off of the spindle and goes back onto it... I thought that was sufficiently mythic for an apprentice belt. White and green J&P Coats heavy crochet cotton, thirty-one tablets.

The peacock is a symbol I use a lot; this one is made of sewing thread ribbon. You can't see it in the scan, but each feather has a blue "eye" within the green circle... I've decided that's too much work at this size. It shows up nicely on perle cotton or other heavier threads. Black sewing thread and gold metallic sewing thread with cotton embroidery floss for brocade, thirty-three tablets.

This is a cursed bookmark. I was reading about medieval book curses, and couldn't resist this example - it's just too good. The original was written in a book in 1172, at the Abbey of Saints Mary and Nicholas of Arnstein. The text of the original has been changed only to reflect the group I made it for, which is called Stargate. The ribbon reads: "Liber Stargate. quem si quis abstuelrit, morte moriatur, in sartagine coquatur, cadacus morbus instet eum et febres, et rotatur, et suspendatur, amen." Which translates to: "Book of Stargate. Whoever steals it, let him die the death, let him be fried in a pan, let the fever and the falling sickness [epilepsy] sieze him, let him be broken upon the wheel, and hanged. amen." They were serious about their books. This is all in double-face, fifty-six tablets, with black and white J&P Coats sewing thread. The fifty-tablet text is so time-consuming that I just worked out the words that I needed for the project; the twenty-five tablet text (the two lines of the curse) works up fairly quickly.

This is a "tag"... I use these as tie-on identification for all sorts of things, like goblets, keyrings, etc. This is a Gothic alphabet which I designed for brocade; the laurel ribbon is another example. This is a heavy ribbon; it is woven in a 2F/2B turning sequence, so that sections could be worked in doubleface and others in brocade. The band is made from buttonhole twist thread and a special extra-heavy gold thread, with silk floss for the brocading, thirty-three tablets. The metallic thread gives the band so much stiffness that it will hold a hard crease; I have thought about applications for jewelry. My experience as a calligrapher came in useful in designing all these letters; once you are used to the way things weave up, you can "build" a letter out of various strokes. For example, a down-to-the-right stroke in the brocade lettering is represented by a five-card float which is connected to its neighbor with a one-tablet offset; an up-to-the-right stroke is three connected by two.

More of Michael's work.

Michael can be reached by e-mail.
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December 17, 1999
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