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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Re: over-engineering something on prupose

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  • conradh@efn.org
    On Sun, May 3, 2009 7:39 am, Jeff Johnson wrote: Clear and excellent presentation--and better than the response I was about to write! The Italian table you
    Message 1 of 52 , May 3, 2009
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      On Sun, May 3, 2009 7:39 am, Jeff Johnson wrote:

      Clear and excellent presentation--and better than the response I was about
      to write!

      The Italian table you mention reminds me of the time I went to a
      blacksmith's gathering and put a ratchynkroke (one of those adjustable
      kettle hangers that uses a levered catch on a sawtooth rack) in the
      show-and-tell.

      This young guy, who turned out to be Greek, came up and asked me where I'd
      found the design. I told him it was from an old illuminated Bible page,
      French IIRC, from about 1100 AD. He was amazed, because he said it was an
      exact copy of the one his grandmother still cooked with in her open-fire
      kitchen in a Greek mountain village! Taught me something about just how
      conservative the design environment could be in traditional Europe.

      Ulfhedinn
      >
      > This discussion pops up now and then in all materials recreation
      > communities (costuming, armor, woodworking, etc.) There are fallacies
      > inherent in this argument. Firstly, people then did not have the same
      > minds that we have. Their minds were alien. They think as differently
      > from us - products of the modern west, as the Islamic fundamentalists do.
      > A push for innovation and creativity? It really wasn't there. God drove
      > everything, everything had a place, and there was a sense that things
      > were done a certain way and if you wanted to do something, then how it
      > was done is how it was done. If you wanted to do a bench for yourself,
      > you took what you knew or saw and made it. There is no reason or need to
      > innovate furniture design, because the usual ways worked, and worked
      > well.
      >
      > Which brings us to the second part of the fallacy that we think the same:
      > experience-base. We were raised exposed to a wide variety of things
      > (keeping on-topic, I’ll use tables as an example). You have seen
      > hundreds of different types of tables. Your mind can conceive of lots of
      > table designs. Some good, some bad, but the essential fact is that your
      > concept of tables, with respect to medieval tables, is contaminated. John
      > the Joyner of the year 1391 has seen 4 general types, all using local
      > woods and no hardware. There is no conceivable way that he would come up
      > with a table with any sort of metal fittings, or even screws, but I bet
      > all of us can, and it's difficult to NOT think of using such. John, and
      > everyone he knows have only seen these 4 types.
      >
      > Regarding non-professionals in medieval times making furniture, and thus
      > doing it differently from John the Joyner; I doubt it happened much.
      > Tools were very very expensive. John Farmer would not likely have tools
      > suitable for making quality furniture just lying around. (yes, I know
      > some of us can make a warship with a pocket knife, but we're talking the
      > normal, not rare exceptions)
      >
      > How things were made (in our general woodworkers sense) was usually the
      > same for hundreds of years - practically to the 1900s, when
      > industrialization finally changed the way things happened. Form follows
      > function. My wife and I were watching "House hunters International", and
      > a farmhouse table in a house in a Northern Italy looked just like one
      > identified as 15th century northern Italian one in a museum.
      >
      > As a corollary to "form follows function"; form also follows available
      > and practical proportions of material costs versus labor. If materials
      > are expensive, and a bit of extra labor compensates and allows for use of
      > less expensive materials, then it was likely done that way. For this
      > reason, you don’t see a lot of nails in less expensive items. And since
      > labor was cheaper than materials, they don’t have the luxury of being
      > wasteful with poor design and compensating by over-engineering and using
      > massive slabs of material where lesser material will do. It would have
      > been foolish.
      >
      > In my mind the distinction between a “good” medieval item and a poor
      > one is mostly a matter of efficiency of design and good use of materials.
      > And the best way to arrive at this is to look at extant items.
      >
      >
      > Were there variations on configuration? Certainly. Were there poorly
      > designed items? Sure. But when we have a hundred pictures of something,
      > and a dozen very similar artifacts, all readily reproducible, Even easily
      > reproducible with modern tools, there seems little sense in knowingly
      > creating something differently, especially when doing so is actually
      > harder than doing a reproduction (at least in spirit).
      >
      > We, as craftspersons in the realm of historic reproduction (new and
      > seasoned woodworkers), have an obligation to put forth products to
      > support our society and customer/user base that provide the proper
      > medieval aesthetic. To do less, seems to me to be misleading, or even
      > deceitful. So, there's my challenge: Contribute to improving the
      > historical aesthetic; learn how they did it first, then do it how then
      > did it, THEN after you are proficient - interpret.
      >
      > Geoffrey Bourette/Jeff Johnson
      >
      >
      >
    • Alex Haugland
      Maybe some. I went last November and plan on trying to do a set of diagrams and things based on my pictures, which I haven t uploaded anywhere yet... Some of
      Message 52 of 52 , May 4, 2009
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        Maybe some.  I went last November and plan on trying to do a set of diagrams and things based on my pictures, which I haven't uploaded anywhere yet...  Some of the people I was travelling with have some online, however.  The bed is in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum.  Here's my travelling companion's photos, along with her "measuring device". 

        http://stanci.smugmug.com/gallery/7731958_hdjUq/1/499802023_4Po7Z#499802023_4Po7Z


        I took a ton of photos of this bed, crawling around on the floor and scaring the museum curators.  As soon as I can find some time, I plan on adapting it and replicating the design for my own use and will do a writeup of it.  As I get things together I'd be happy to post them here.

        --Alysaundre Weldon d'Ath
        Barony of Adiantum, An Tir

        Bill McNutt wrote:

        Any pictures of this online?

        “That said, there are some period designs that do lend themselves well to our needs, as well as some period furniture that was specifically designed with similar needs to ours such as a "campaign" bed in Munich, dated 1600, where the entire thing, including the canopy, comes apart and has hinged panels, hooks, etc, to allow it to fold and collapse for ease of transport. “

         

        From: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:medievalsaw dust@yahoogroups .com] On Behalf Of Alex Haugland
        Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 12:17 PM
        To: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
        Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Re: over-engineering something on prupose

         




        I, for one, would like to acknoledge and agree with Conal on this point.  We do suffer a great difficulty in balancing what we do in the SCA with Medieval practice.  The vast majority of surviving medieval furniture was not intended to be significantly portable, let alone stored for extended periods of time and hauled out and set up on odd weekends, outdoors, throughout the year in a range of conditions.  The needs of period furniture wasn't necessarily the same as ours.  That said, there are some period designs that do lend themselves well to our needs, as well as some period furniture that was specifically designed with similar needs to ours such as a "campaign" bed in Munich, dated 1600, where the entire thing, including the canopy, comes apart and has hinged panels, hooks, etc, to allow it to fold and collapse for ease of transport.  The other factor that we have to account for, at least for those who are building furniture, not for their own use, but for sale or at the expense of others, is a realistic assessment of what the customer wants and what can be given to them within the range of what they'd be willing to pay.  Conal's initial design excelled on this front in that it could be made with basic, readily available dimensional lumber, a couple of cuts with a powered miter saw, and a few passes of a dado blade on a table saw.  The hinge was a good, quick way to solve the problem of holding it together but still allowing it to be easily disassembled.  Mortises are definitely more period, and in this case would have been stronger, but without a power mortising machine (and as someone who has one, even with) making the mortises would have been much more time consuming than the minute it would have taken to cut the slots with a dado.  As someone who is building a bunch of faldstools, right now, though of a period overall design, I'm not cutting tenons and mortising the feet and armrests onto the legs, but am rather using a Festool Domino to cut floating tenon slots and gluing in the tenons.  This is the fastest and easiest way for me to put these together, especially when I'm trying to make 10 in one go, with a time limit of having them done by the end of this month. 

        I also don't view the path to a more period encampment as an all-or-nothing process.  It is far easier for most to take steps along that path a bit at a time.  I'd rather see a non-period chair made of period materials (wood) than a non-period chair of non-period materials.  that is also often a step that people take in their path towards a more authentic experience and is a step usually driven more by economic concerns than desire.  Anything we can do to encourage progression further along that path is a good thing.  This is why the "stargazer" chairs and plywood "thrones" are a good thing.  They aren't period, but certainly help move in that direction.

        --Alysaundre Weldon d'Ath
        Barony of Adiantum, An Tir


        Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart wrote:

        I've come up with a differing design that does not have the notches.

        But I would like to point out that I think the part where I
        said "simple and quick" was overlooked, along with "not a
        bag chair" and "cheap"

        I think that period benches would be the most attractive way to
        provide seating but not in this case the most practical given the realities
        of the way it will be used, transported and stored.

         

        Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

        Aude Aliquid Dignum
        ' Dare Something Worthy '

         

         


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