What does the public see?

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Re: What does the public see?

Postby lillicat23 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:47 am

I couldn't afford authentic shoes so as most newbies did, went barefoot. That's just as inauthentic as wearing doc martens

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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Biro » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:26 pm

Didn't read the whole thread (I have to go and lie down to rest this broken leg of mine), but glasses is the one thing that has stopped the wife from taking up re-enactment. She can't do without them (not to mention the danger of not being able to see, there's also the inevitable migrane that will come), can't wear contacts and our period is too early for glasses.

Our group policy doesn't ban modern glasses in the LH area (to me anything which is a prescription shouldn't be challenged) - but so many event organisers insist on a no glasses policy...

She just doesn't want to be judged simply by taking part and wearing her glasses....

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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:04 pm

Like Colin I have found that carrying period spec's (my frames are not for wearing) I have been apprached by lots of MOPs wanting to know more about them. I don't wear modern frames when I am involved in any LH display, but if I am walking around market stalls I will.
I try to make my kit and gear as authentic as possible while always telling people that the actual armour, weapons, wool etc was vastly different and normally of a quality I can't match.
I don't even bother trying with things like the lingo. What I can do well I will, what I can't, such as speaking in dead languages I don't.


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby SirRustbucket » Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:34 am

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I try to make my kit and gear as authentic as possible while always telling people that the actual armour, weapons, wool etc was vastly different and normally of a quality I can't match.

I find this very admirable. I wish more people would.

I had an interesting experience just a few days ago concerning a member of the public and a maille shirt I borrowed, which was made of butted rings and rather heavy. Now, maille attracts attention because it's shiny and it jingles. So this bloke comes up to me, feels the rather heavy weave while I was putting the shirt on and proclaims to his family that this was the proper heavy stuff, not like that flimsy lightweight chainmail the other guy was wearing. Said other guy having a fine, riveted shirt.
So I tell him that, really, it was the other way round, with my heavy butted shirt being a cheap modern knock-off and the lightweight riveted shirt being more like the genuine thing.
"Can't be!", says the bloke, obviously not wanting to look silly in front of his family. "It'd be too light to take a proper blow".

Well, he wasn't interested in being educated, so we parted hurriedly with a smile.

It rather brings up an interesting dilemma though: it's quite easy to misrepresent items of costume. Does it really matter if my boots are correct for the period? Will anyone notice that re-enactor X is wearing viking shoes for a late medieval portrayal? That the tooling on his belt is all wrong, that the knight over there is not wearing any form of chest armour under his tabard and mixes an early pot helm with late gothic legs and boiled leather gauntlets?
Again, groups will set their own standards.

I wouldn't want re-enactment to become too exclusive, so people will necessarily acquire kit as and when it becomes affordable, to the best of their abilities.
I do wish though that individual re-enactors would find the guts to be open and honest enough with the public to admit where they are cheating.

There are, of course, event organisers that demand a certain degree of authenticity from participating groups yet there are also plenty of small-time events attended by casual re-enactors, village fetes and county fairs, etc. Very often these groups will display rather...erm...bold interpretations of period equipment and attire. A viking spectacled helmet worn with gutter greaves and cavalry pauldrons to represent a late medieval man-at-arms? I've seen it!

It's a shame because small groups especially can adjust their display much easier to their means. For example, if a new member wanted to portray a fighting role but only owns a very basic set of clothes, all he really needs is a staff and a willing partner to portray the role of 'Young Squire practicing the noble art of fencing with the short staff'.
It won't get him on the battlefield but he'd instantly have something worthwhile to do that makes a much more plausible portrayal than the hodgepodge knight.

I suppose people want to tool up and play the game though. I know a few poor souls who really can't afford to buy even their own food for an event but I begin to heavily suspect that for many new guys out there 'can't afford it' is just another phrase for 'want to play with the big boys NOW and don't want to compromise'...

The Thrifty Knight blog:


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby acecat999 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:57 am

this has gone the rounds elsewhere


probably people's wrong period but alledgedly a lot of people attending the event enjoy it, whilst equally a minority who have watched the videos didn't.

everyday i can be an insignificant but unavoidable nuisance is a day well spent.

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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Tod » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:52 am

SirRustbucket wrote:
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I try to make my kit and gear as authentic as possible while always telling people that the actual armour, weapons, wool etc was vastly different and normally of a quality I can't match.

I wouldn't want re-enactment to become too exclusive, so people will necessarily acquire kit as and when it becomes affordable, to the best of their abilities.

In the worst case that means that because some one doesn't have a lot of money they can wear almost anything. It also means you get some one portraying a noble dressed like a peasant, but then then put some crap tin over the top and its OK. Or some one is dressed like a car rug and thinks they are head of Clan whatever. IMO if you can't afford it don't try to portray it, if you can't sew get some one to do it for you and if you can't afford to pay them try and trade for it. I knew some one years ago who decorated some ones house in exchange for them making his kit. Surely the whole idea of re-enactment is to try and be as close as you can to the people you are re-enacting. I know some one will say they didn't live in tents, we are too fat etc etc but that is just the usual smoke screen for covering the weaknesses in re-enactment. As Marcus says if you tell them the truth i.e. they didn't live in tents then at least you are being honest. But if you wander around in modern glasses, desert boots, wear the wrong kit for the wrong period then you are just lieing and making it up and you deserve to be banned from the event or thrown out of your group.
The muddieval wangmasters and Clan Mactat will always get bookings because the public want entertainment, but if you think they don't notice you are rubbish then think again. I saw the pictures of a recent event and it's like 400 years rolled into one, the worst part is that the vaste majority had made the effort and cared about what they were doing, however the soldiers of middle earth didn't belong there and should have been shown the gate.

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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:15 pm

SirRustbucket wrote:
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I try to make my kit and gear as authentic as possible while always telling people that the actual armour, weapons, wool etc was vastly different and normally of a quality I can't match.

I wouldn't want re-enactment to become too exclusive, so people will necessarily acquire kit as and when it becomes affordable, to the best of their abilities.

Yes and no. You can't do fencing if you can't afford suitable kit, same for gliding or kayaking, or even karate. It's not like you can turn up at your local golf club with a bag of random sticks and use them instead of proper clubs. There does come a point where you have to admit that most hobies cost money and you just have to deal with that.

I personally don't think that re-enactment is that expensive a hobby. We generally charge less to join/participate than most equivalent hobbies and there is a lot of scope for using your own skills (and learning new ones), which many hobbies also lack (you just can't make your own fencing mask).

When I started re-enacting, cash was short, so I learned to sew, to make my own shoes and to build mail peices from just the rings. I now have skills in leather working, mail making and sewing to the point where I can make things for other people and get paid for doing it. I've also learned to basic armour maintenance to keep down the armourer's bills. What truely amazes me is how few re-enactors now are willing to do that. I can't beleive the number of new members who by an £80 helmet because they 'can't afford' £150 for a passable one, but can aford to spend £30 or more no a machine stitched cotton shirt. By contrast, I am only wealthy enough to spend £14 on linnen and make my own hand stitched shirt and breaches and coif from that. It just beggers belief (kind of like my spelling, I think).

Too many people want to play a knight and be cool with swords and not have to worry about the detail and THAT urks me. Isn't that what LARP is for?

Finishing the rant and going back to the glasses question, as I said, you make a rule, you keep to it. You draw the line where you need to. BUT do admit where you're making compromises!


"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Sophia » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:25 pm

I second Colin's comments on sewing your own clothes, it is an excellent way to save money and there are often people in groups who will mentor new members (cloth buying, fitting toiles, making up, etc.). People should remember that clothing until the advent of ready to wear was all made to measure, even if you were too poor to afford new you would have it altered. I see too many kirtles, doublets and hose for WOTR (and sometimes C16th though at Kentwell we try and deal with that by organising making days both for current and new participants regardless of the level of experience) that hang on people like sacks when they should fit like a second skin.

Those who complain that the kirtle doesn't lift their boobs like modern bras need to look at period images, particularly of larger ladies, ask to look at kirtles that fit well on fellow group members and get an idea of how the weave functions (direction of weave over bust in relation to the vertical/horizental), how high under the arms the armhole is, etc. As for doublets if they dig in round the armhole, don't fit round the middle (too loose or too tight) and crease a lot in the horizontal then they do not fit. When it comes to hose the same thing goes, if your host tend to split then ask yourself are you making them out of the right cloth, did you cut them on the bias (surprisingly common mistake) are they fitted high enough in the crotch (remember your cods do not sit inside your clothes, the nestle gently in your two piece cod flap/cod piece with a curved central seam)?

I save money by making all our own clothes for WOTR and C16th and also occasionally earn money by making for other people which means we can spend money on handmade shoes, pouches and other high quality reproduction gear.

In regard to the comparison with hobbies it is a good one. I used to row competitively at club level, membership cost about £400 (London) then their was Gym and Running kit (2 pairs of shoes a year) to say nothing of multiple sets rowing kit, some of which to be in specific club colours, serious club rowers train 4 nights a week and two sessions each on Saturday and Sunday. The rowing kit had to be suitable for year round which meant thermals, fleeces and waterproofs (multiple sets(you don't stop rowing on the Tideway if it is rowing or there has been a frost though we never went out in very thick fog or a snowstorm). Many serious people also buy and rack their own single scull. On top of this there was ARA membership, entry fees for regattas, travel and food. I probably spent as much on rowing as I do now on re-enactment if you allow for inflation.

As to the fudges such as tents, fireboxes, etc. when doing WOTR I am bluntly honest with the public and explain that they help provide cover, accommodation, allow me to cook more complicated dishes without doing my back in (I have cooked in crock over charcoal for some years and my new fire bench is waist high). It is much harder when you are doing first person like at Kentwell but we do have a a lot more buildings and it is amazing what some linen/wool hangings (plain or painted), plain/painted fenestrals over window openings, the right proportions of furniture and appropriate cushions can do for a plain building. Add a Cupboard with some good period ceramics and a modicum of pewter and you can get somewhere towards a period image.

aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

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