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fishwife
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Post by fishwife »

Ah, but John work hardens the brass wire properly and NEVER uses a solder - he fits the coils properly too, with the correct amount of turns, he has put a lot of work into making sure the job is done to the highest possible medieval standards.
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Post by gregory23b »

Solder on pins? what? not needed for the coiled variety, heck even I managed a few years abck. can't be arsed to be honest, cheaper to buy them.
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Post by Neibelungen »

Depends on the type of pin.

If you go through the MOL book there's a few with solid solder tops (though not as many) and a few with soldered collars holding beaded tops in place.

The remainder are the cast top style, glass tops or coiled wire.

I suspect looking at them though, that most of them are designed for pinning things in place rather than pinning in the dressmaking sense, since they seem remarkable long

The bound wire toped ones seem to be swaged onto the pin stem though, probably with a pair of dieplates.

From the MOL it does seem that the pin wire is brass of one form or another with the cast tops being predominantly of gunmetal. I suspect these are effectively put on in the same way as the glass tops. ie. dipping into a semi-molten material and then swaging them to a face pattern or rivetting over and swaging in a die.

As to the actual pin stem, there's still an open debate as to whether there wire-drawn in the modern sense or forge rounded strip and smoothed off in a drawing type die. Although known since roman times, the earliest sources of proper wiredrawing aren't till around 1500. I'd guess it wasn't untill the advent of proper furnace steel that they could make suficiently long lasting and hard enough dies for serious wiredrawing.

As to needles, there isn't much information, but given that they are work intensive I'd suspect most of them are probably going to be iron wire rather than brass or bronze. Given the strain a needles under and the greater toughness of iron, brass/bronze would just be too brittle to be really effective. The eye is likely to have been punched rather than drilled though and then ground. And the oft neglected bit would be polishing out the eye as well.
Interestingly ealy 17th and 18th C accounts suggest needles were made double pointed, eyed and then snipped in half as a pair rather than singularly made.

There's a few examples of tinning employed, but not much and only for dress pins generally. Tinning doesn't seem to be applied much till the later 17th C, but i'd suspect thats more to do with the move to steel/irons rather than earlier wrought irons.

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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

And
last year a professor discovered thousands of steel pins were being imported from Milan into England in the Middle Ages.
There may have been a lot more tinned pins round than you think if tinned pins are angel pins as several of us suspect.
As to wire drawing in the 1500's Engish wire was renowned for being rubbish. The good stuff came from the Nederlands. Pins from the Low countries were much sought after and imported in vast quanties. When ruffs became fashionable a race was on to make finer linen and finer pins to go through it. The pins became thinner and shorter and we got better at making them.

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Post by Neibelungen »

Angel pins could be a reference to flat headed pins (closer to modern types) from Aquinas's 'Angels on a pin head' (though he actually refers to the point in his text), as these start making an appearance and generally tend to be of a shorter variety from the 1550's onwards.

Another possibility could be a corruption of angle refering to pins with bent over ends which also make an appearance for a while.

All posibilities.

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Post by gregory23b »

I know one pinmaker who uses two recessed blocks in which to rest the stem and coil, a slight bang and it all closes together.


Neib, Theophilus describes drawing wire through a plate, is that the traditional sort?
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Post by guthrie »

How do you mean, gregory? The Dover edition of Theophilus has copious notes on wire drawing, which I have not seen contradicted anywhere else so far.

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Post by Neibelungen »

Theophilus describes drawing wire throu ... onal sort?

Yes, the theory of it goes right back to Roman times, there's even mention of it in the bible.

The problem is that it's mostly in reference to jewelery work with gold and silver and copper. Once you start trying to draw iron you rapidly get wear on the drawing dies as your hardest material is as hard as the wire. Even brass in some forms is harder than some types of iron, so your limited on how much you can draw something down.

There's been a few studies of the wire in mail showing that some form of drawing was done, but it's not entirely conclusive whether the wire was completely drawn or forged round and then smoothed off in a drawing type die. You can even twist or coil square and strip and then draw it into a round form fairly easily.

Given the degree of impurities and slag inclusions in iron up to the 1500's your liable to snap it in drawing, or else the inclusions in the wire erode the die fairly rapidly.
Brass is probably slightly purer and in that sense so is more probably drawn from the 12thC onwards.

They probably used a two part drawing plate, which can be made by fileing and grinding rather than the more modern single piece cone types. It can also be thicker, allowing a more gradual compression. It also allows you vary the pressure exerted in the drawing and to recut the reduction as required.

Drilling a 0.5mm hole while not impossible in the 1400's, still represents a challenge in making something capable of retaining a cutting edge long enough to get through 1/2" or more of single piece drawing die.

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Post by guthrie »

ACcording to an article in one of the historical metallurgy societies journals I have, the Viklings had draw plates, most made of iron, but they have found one made from high zinc brass. It also says that the holes were conical, and although the photo is quite small, they seem to have holes a mm or less across.

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Post by gregory23b »

Sorry Guthrie, I don't understadn your question.
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Post by Neibelungen »

Guthrie was pointing out that the vikings had proper drawplates/dies, which meant they could do wiredrawing.

How much they were used for tougher metals is open to debate, but they could certainly draw gold wire. Given the quality of their goldwork and the granulation they employed I'm not surprised.

There's not much evidence for brass pins before the 11th C though, and still finds of bone and larger style pinning at this date. I'd suspect it was primarily used in royal gold and silversmiths workshops than on any general scale, but not impossible.

On a seperate note, medieval thimbles seem to be very similar to modern thimbles. Though they tend to be slightly shorter and have a domed top rather than todays flattened ones. Some are opened topped as well. Copper alloys are most common with a few iron, all with the same dimpling, if a little larger than todays.

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Post by gregory23b »

The one to me, not the viking one Neib, the Theophilus one, I should have said, my bad.
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Post by fishwife »

I thought I had posted another reply last night - but it doesn't seem to be here so I'll try again!
John always work hardens the copper alloy when making the pins and needles they are not soft at all or brittle, they last and last! The 2 turn pin heads are coiled properly and fitted properly, not a drop of solder is used - EVER! He has put lots of work into researching them and producing them - we have had no complaints about them and he offers a resharpening service if there is a problem. He always has sore fingers when he's been demo ing for the day - because they're so sharp (you'd think he'd learn wouldn't you!!!)
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Post by gregory23b »

Can he make triangular surgeons' needles, with a recessed eye? out of interest.
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Post by Dave B »

I would be interested to see some pictures?
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Post by guthrie »

Gregory, you original question, I think you are asking if draw plates are traditional?

To which I can only reply yes. Also from the Hist. Met. society journal there is a picture of a medieval german apprentice standing on a drawplate on a low stool with a hole in it through which the wire comes up. In AFrica they still use similar draw plates. Or else theres the housebook illustration of wire drawing, where the plate has a pointy end which is embedded in a block of wood, so the plate is vertical and the puller sits opposite it and pulls the wire through.

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Post by gregory23b »

Ah I see.

I was asking Neib if it was that kind (the plate drawing) that he was talking about, as in Theophilus, just so I knew what method he was getting at because that was the only one I knew of, via Theo.

Also have seen the hausbuch pics, isn't there another one with a kid on a swing chair drawing wire too?
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Post by Neibelungen »

There's two types of drawplate/die that I know of.

The traditional enclosed style (modern) where a conical hole is drilled through a metal plate and the wire is drwan through it, compressing on all sides. Seems the early forms used a waiststrap attached to a set of grips, much like a manual drawbench today. All done with leg power then.

The second style is a split block in a frame with a screw type clamp to hold the two sides together. These can be round, square, in fact almost any shape and act sort of between a drawplate and a swage block. The greeks used them for making diferent profile strips such as half round. Though not as efficient, they allow you to vary the pressure in drawing and to recut the shapes as you draw wire or strip through to compensate for wear or toughness etc.

http://home.iae.nl/users/summer/16mmngm ... e/CBWJ.htm

see about half way down for a bolted together version.

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Post by guthrie »

Whose this John who makes pins? I need to see his demo, its something I've been thinking about trying.

ONe of the aforementioned Viking drawplates had traces of silver in it, and the photo in the journal looks like they have mode the outer parts of the holes somewhat conical.

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Post by Sophia »

Deb (as in Fishwife) - will be seeing you at TORM for extra threads no doubt. Very interested in the pins, any chance of a quote on a couple of dozen? :D

Jorge - how long does oak gall ink keep and where can I source galls if I cannot find any locally? Alternatively would a modern india ink do as a cheat if I am not going to use it regularly? Also, have lost not of the people you recommended as parchment suppliers. :roll:

General question - have been through all my books and can find no reference to the type of wood that a mete yard or mete ell was made out of. Anyone have any ideas. I assume it would be a hardwood as anything else would be too easily damaged in use (hence me having replaced my old wooden yard stick with a nice modern aluminium number - they are all made in softwood today and Mum won't part with Gran's).

Many Thanks,

Sophia :D

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Post by gregory23b »

Oak gall ink can last for ages it depends on how much orhanic matter there is in it, either the powery residue from the galls or the gum used to thicken it also the amount of ferrous sulphate.

If you want some I can give you a sample at TORM, to play with.

Oak galls can be bought from a few people, even Debbie I think, if not then maybe fibrecrafts etc, I know I will be emoticoned over that one. :D

India ink is not a good substitute as it often contains shellac which clogs up the pen and although carbon inks were used, the predominant inks in europe were tannin/iron based.

Check out the authentic but cheap for an oak gall free medieval ink recipe. - see link at bottom of my sig.
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Post by Sophia »

Many thanks for that Jorge.

Not sure if I will get time to play with ink recipe though as seem to have a rather full schedule in the dressmaking department. Just looked at unfinished projects heap (to do before putative Kentwell stuff has to be started) plus fact that have promised hubby a pair of decent hose this season to replace his off the peg ones. :shock:

So would be grateful for a small sample to play with, will also need advice on pens/paintbrush. This is for marking up embroidery patterns in public, marking measurements on parchment strips to show how you might keep a record of someone's details (God bless such useful reference sources as Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion and Jane and Ninya's Tudor Tailor).

Maybe we could find something else to swap?

Sophia :D

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Post by fishwife »

Jorge,
What does "emoticoned" mean? If it means you're recommending Fibrecrafts and you shouldn't then I guess I need to learn about them - do all these little yellow things mean something when they're in a message? I thought they were just smileys to cheer people up!

I collect oak galls by the way from the nice oak trees round our block who are happy to supply them!! Now is a good time to go for a walk! But I have to go and dye 10 metres of cloth in indigo and madder ah well!!!

Deb
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Post by gregory23b »

"If it means you're recommending Fibrecrafts and you shouldn't then I guess I need to learn about them"

you said it not me. :D

I found them fine for sending me what I wanted and really promptly to be honest. But it wasn't dyestuffs as such.

Can I have the indigo sludge please, will swap for some broom tops, about a pound of them.

I collect galls locally, loads and is great for taking the eldest vile child out, I think Sophia might be gallicly challenged in London though, mind if she gets to Richmond or Bushey park it mighyt help, some nice oak woodlands down Surrey way too.
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Post by Annie the Pedlar »

Yeah. Forget Fibrecrafts! Buy from the Mulberry dyer!

Like ye Fishwyf decries oak galls grow on trees. Not only that but they fall out of the trees in the autumn and lie their on the ground waiting for you to pick them up. Did you know they are not the same one's as in the past? The 'Tudor' wasps have gone north and we have a different kind which makes different shaped oak galls. They work just the same, though as it's the oak tree that makes them.

And, talking of emroidering, thankyou, Jorge. My red oche has arrived and its just the job. Nice and dusty as you said. No more frustrated kiddies trying to pounce their patterns through blocked holes. (Must add some small print about supplying each child with an inhaler.....nah.....they asked for a Tudor day...let them have a good Tudor choughing fit.) (Only joking, only joking, health and safety is always upermost in my mind!!!!!!!!!! The amount the kids are given is tiny.)

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Post by gregory23b »

Yes we have different galls, larger apparently, is it the north american gall wasp?

no worries Annie, happy to help.

Another way to pounce and reduce dust is to rub the dust in with fingers, through the 'oles. Tell the bleeders to breath with their mouths shut and they will just have rusty bogies to pick and eat.


Looking forward to seeing you at TORM
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Post by Sophia »

Regrettably due to the urban nature of my abode and the predominance of the horse chesnut and london plane over anything else round y way I haven't yet seen an oak gall either on the tree or the ground despite looking. :roll:

So - would anybody care to donate some of theirs to a good home, favours/fee negotiable :wink:

Sophia :D

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Post by gregory23b »

Book a nice winter weekend away in the country and make sure there are loads of oak trees.

Also Sophia, you don't need oak galls to make ink, there is a very easy medieval recipe using wine*, as long as you have a source of tannin and soluble iron you can make ink.

Wine is a good one because, it is always safer to buy more than you need and stirring the pot is so boring. So you buy three bottles of cheap red, realise you wouldn't drink them, so you buy a decent bottle to drink while you ink.

*check the link below and look for ink.
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Post by Sophia »

Yippee!

Excuses either to drink or go away for the weekend - I like that. Will probably opt for the former for the moment - I can drink, boil ink and stitch at the same time if I try really hard.

Another query, black paint would that be made from charcooal, linseed oil and turps or should I be sourcing something more exotic? Need to mark my yard and ell sticks once I have source the wood for them.

Sophia :D

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Post by gregory23b »

The best black is lamp black, easy to make in small quantities, but:.

you might not need to add any colour, check out the Mary Rose book, Before the Mast, the rules are all well incised and very clear, to be honest that is probably enough and one less job to do.
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