Spiffing up your Campsite...
Over the years I've written a number of "how to" plans for building a variety of furniture items that could be used for SCA camping. Some of these are whole-cloth "SCA useful" items that I wouldn't be able to document as being historical if my life depended on it. Others, while staying true to a historic piece, fall into the category of "historically informed"1 pieces. Most of these pieces are "adaptations" of period pieces in which materials have been substituted, minor alterations in joinery have been made or other accommodations to the needs of our "current middle ages" have been employed. Let's face it... we don't have armies of servants and minions to haul our stuff around... nor do we have unlimited funds to add additional wagons to our caravans if our stuff exceeds our ability to move it.
By "historically informed" I refer to pieces that have historic models either in existing as surviving pieces that have somehow escaped all of the horrors that can befall things made out of wood over 500 plus years... or pieces that exist only in by the grace of some talented artists hands.
One of the most common questions I receive is "When you're looking at a medieval painting and building a piece from that... how do you know that what you're doing is historically correct?" Fact is... I don't. For example, there is no way of telling, from a picture; exactly what kind of wood was used. While some detailed artwork does do a good job of showing how a piece was joined and constructed... it may leave out certain details. Those details are left to the imagination... and educated guesswork.
This project is a period chandelier. The source is an picture from Rene d'Anjou's treatise (Bibliotheque Nationale MS Fr 2693 f.70v) and can be found in the book "Tournaments".2 Whether or not such a chandelier ever actually existed is, of course, open to a certain degree of speculation. On the other hand, the artist that painted the picture did set down something that seemed reasonable to his eye.
The arguments for the piece being historically informative are:
The picture does not provide the following information:
My version of the chandelier:
Not having a physical model to base my chandelier on, I chose to scale the design to one that would fit conveniently in my pavilion, suspend from the center pole and have what I consider to be a proportional esthetic to its surroundings. In other words, I made one that looked good where I put it.
My version of the chandelier, as seen in the picture to the right, is very similar to the one shown in the manuscript in all of the critical aspects. It is composed of two crossed boards, lap jointed and held together by a tenoned vertical board which is, in turn, suspended from a block. I used votive candles rather than the multi-wicked candles shown in the picture and put them into votive glasses that are glued to the cross pieces. The block is suspended by a rope from the peak of the center pole of my pavilion. The chandelier can be raised and lowered by means of the rope running through the block.
Constructing a "period" chandelier:
The chandelier itself is made of three boards.
|and||2 - 14" x 3.5" boards 5/8" thick|
1 - 10.75" x 1.5" x .75"
There is a small wedge to be cut as well... so look through your scrap pile for a small piece that will suit this purpose.
|As you can see from the picture to the left... the construction is
rather simple. On each of the 14" x 3.5" boards you should remove half the
thickness of the boards across the center of the board. This "dado" will
be the width of the boards themselves ... in this case 3.5". Then,
"saddle" the boards together and set them aside for the moment.
Next... take the 10.75"x1.5" piece and do the following operations:
|When cutting the mortise through the tenon you want to be sure that the distance between the shoulder and the top of the mortise is less than the thickness of your crossed boards. This will help to ensure that the wedge will snug up the crossed boards to the hanger board when you set it.|
|4.||Once the hanger board has been cut and all the machining operations finished, measure the size of your tenon and then lay out and cut... in the exact center of your crossed pieces... the mortise that will receive the hanger tenon.|
|5.||Test fit the pieces and, after you have a good fit... cut the wedge
that will fasten it all together.
|6.||Glue (I used a silicone adhesive) the four votive glasses to the cross pieces.|
Constructon of the block:
|The block isn't a particularly difficult piece to build.
|6.||Using a piece of 5/8" dowel rod, assemble the pulley. Push the dowel through one of the 5/8" holes of the long side pieces...seat the pulley over it. Put some glue on one side of the short block piece (the one you cut in step 4) and place it on the end of the long block piece away from the pulley. Put some glue on the other side of the short block and sandwich it between the two long blocks. Clamp all of this up (it should look like the block I made at this point... or something similar...) and let the whole mess dry. It shouldn't be necessary to glue the dowel that you're using as an "axle" for the pulley.|
|7.||After the whole mess dries (24 hours or there about)... take the block back to your drill and bore 4 - 3/8" holes in the thick end of your block along the lines shown on the pattern above. Bore all the way through the block. When you've finished, glue 4 pieces of 3/8" dowel into these holes.|
While not critically important to the block given the light load it will be bearing, it does give a certain appearance value and... if the block were being used for heavier weights, would actually contribute to the strength of the block.
Hanging it up:
At this point, all you have to do is to first (and it works better this way... believe me...) feed some rope through the long hole in the block.. Pull the end through and tie an overhand knot near the end of the rope. Trim any excess and then pull the rope back through the block so that only the knot is left inside.
Then, tie a length of rope to the hole in the end of the hanger board and run the other end through the block.
How you hang your chandelier will depend on your pavilion set up. In mine, I put a loop on the end of the rope coming out of the block (there is about 2 feet of rope extending out of the block) and then, when I set up the pavilion, I put the loop over the pole prior to raising the pavilion peak. The rope that raises and lowers the chandelier is tied off on one of the corner poles.
Because of the angles at which the ropes pull, you'll find that (see the picture of the completed chandelier at the beginning of this article) the block is actually pulled away from the center pole when the chandelier is raised.... This ensures that your candles are not up against the pole.
Just a few words about open flames and canvas.... NOT GOOD!
Have fun... make stuff...
1 By "historically informed" I refer to pieces that have historic models either in existing as surviving pieces that have somehow escaped all of the horrors that can befall things made out of wood over 500 plus years... or pieces that exist only in by the grace of some talented artists hands.
2 "Tournaments" Richard Barber and Juliet Barker, 1989, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York, ISBN 1-55584-400-6, page 1987 since I installed the counter-->