Because I was once the apprentice of a Laurel named Alan, once I saw the extant coat and pattern from the TRIBE OF THE ALANS, I had to make it for my vigil ceremony. It has lasted quite well, although I’ve gotten a bit heavier, and there are some rips I need to mend.

I decided I needed to make a new version, that fit the current me, and would be a good cross-gaming fit. (For I participate in both SCA and Amtgard.)

The Alanic coat is a 8-10th Century style from the Caucausian mountains, and they were an equestrian, nomadic tribe. They interacted with others on the Silk road, like the people we call Mongols, Chinese, and other central Asian tribes. Many of those equestrian peoples also wear coats very similar to this, for very practical reasons. The wide skirts, with close cut body, and long sleeves with narrow wrists help them move as they need, but stay warm while riding a horse.

imageRather than a plain linen coat, with only decorative trim, I wanted a flashier coat. Block printing was the way to go. Blue and white are my heraldic colors, and I added elements (and in jokes) from Amtgard heraldry. However, the style is still acceptable for the style, although not quite as authentic. However, considering that there are Sogdian and Persian patterns that include11040632_10152858372766547_1992319817574750860_n ponies with hearts and ones with ducks, along with various plants, using a stylized Lotus flower isn’t that jarring.

imageI created 4 out of the 5 different blocks used in the trim and main body fabric. Interestingly, I discovered major differences in how each paint worked with each block type. I tried a wood block for the roundels, but it just wouldn’t work properly. But eventually, the foam stamp made on a huge decorative button worked really well. imageMany of the foam stamps were just multiple layers of 2mm self-stick craft foam, and I used a hole punch to make the holes in this. The very detailed gold diamond was a purchased block, and the ladder was carved out of a rubber eraser.

Considering that all the paints used were Speedball fabric screen print ink, you wouldn’t think they would behave differently. But the texture and thickness varied from jar to jar, and the rollers and stamp pads I tried behaved differently for each one.

imageThe hard rubber brayer, sold for use with BLOCK print inks, wouldn’t roll with the thinner screen print ink. The soft foam roller just soaked u the paint, but still wouldn’t roll. Eventually, my local hardware store rescued me. They had a tiny trim roller with a tray. The tray has a compartment to hold the ink, so it wouldn’t dry out, and then space to roll around and spread the ink evenly on the roller. Even better, after use, the trim roller could be scraped against the rim of the ink jar, and quite a bit of ink was salvaged. I think this is my new best technique.

imageAs you can see here, I used a plumbing fitting for a stamp base, then a layer of mouse pad, then multiple layers of craft foam. Some of the edges of the foam were melted just a bit, by careful use of a woodburning tool. (Yes, I was working on this outside while camping. The wind might have contributed to faster drying of the ink on the felt pad than I wanted.) Other stamps (acting as weights against the wind) were created of rubber and stuck onto some 1 cent clearance priced plumbing doohickey. I’m not sure exactly what the doohickey was for, but at that price, it was a good pre-made handle. The carpet sample is quite thick and plush, which makes it a great surface for under my fabric I’m printing.

imageI used the largest block, the roundel of pearls, to layout my cut pattern pieces, and blue painters tape to mark the edges. It probably would have been easier to just print the fabric, but I didn’t want to have scraps of printed fabric. Scraps of plain blue linen are much more versatile. The order of printing on the blue was the gold diamonds first, then the roundels in silver, then the lotus in white. When I came to the edges of fabric, I added a napkin or paper towel to catch the excess paint, although occasionally I was able to get two separate pieces to match up.

imageI eventually took over half my local laundromat, to have the flat space to work and dry the fabric, without concern for cats or wind. Sometimes small towns are great.

I still want to let the fabric dry a few more days, and then everything will dry for 30-45 minutes in the commercial dryer on high to heat set. Then assembly is next up.

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