Friday, January 28, 2011

16th Century Backpacks

I’ve been thinking a lot about period storage techniques. Last fall when we went to pack up camp, we had piles and piles of stuff that somehow Stephen managed to cram into our trailer and the back of the pickup truck. It was tight to say the least. We not only haul around our stuff, but we’ve got most of the guild owned items, a few tents belonging to other people, and a human sized, Medieval Dunk Tank belonging to the Sheriff Bracken Show. As I sat there on top of the piles of stuff in the back of the truck trying to attach the tie downs to keep it all in place I thought about how it was a good thing that all of our bedding  was in garbage bags because it was easy to squish, but that it was definitely ugly.

In the weeks after our final 2010 pack-up we talked about the spring Connecticut Renaissance Faire show and the fact that we would probably be participating for only one weekend, the one that includes school day. One of the issues with doing only one weekend is: school-day weekend is in the middle of their run. We would not have a dress-rehearsal weekend during which we could set up. Worse, the school day is the Friday that starts the weekend, so if we wanted to set up ahead of time we’d have to take two days off the work week that week. Unless we set up while the faire was open. Well, we’re a traveling military unit, of course we’d show up in town and need to set up camp. We don’t have a wooden cart, and quite a few of our items are transported in big plastic tubs, but if we could get the tubs out of sight before the gate opened in the morning, then came in just after opening carrying as much as we possibly could, we can certainly set up all the tents, furniture, and cookfire in period-correct methods. In fact, it kind of sounds like fun!

This past weekend we had our guild winter meeting to discuss how things went last year, and what we want to do for next year. We did not get an entirely enthusiastic response to the plan of marching in and setting up camp in-period, but enough people thought it sounded good that it seems we’ll try it in May.

With that in mind, one of the tasks that I’ve set for myself for over the winter is building some more period-correct bags for all of our bedding. I really want to get rid of the garbage bags. Most of the Kampfrau woodcuts show women on the march with big cloth bundles on their backs, which would mean that we could still squish our bedding into the small spaces when they are in the back of the truck but they could sit around camp looking period, or even better, enter camp on the backs of one of our guild members. I’m going to try to make them out of a coated (waterproof) canvas; it might not be period, but I am willing to compromise in order to have dry bedding. I have been studying woodcuts since the fall specifically looking for the ways those backpack/bundles are put together. So far I have found a few examples that look like fairly contained bundles, that are all strapped together:

These images come from The Curious Frau website. There is an interesting woodcut on the Brown University website. You'll have to go there to see it though.

Anyone want to help me figure out how to make a bundle that would look like the woodcuts?

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, well done. Thank you.