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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Glastonbury Chair plans

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  • AlbionWood
    James Winkler wrote: Although I can’t prove it… I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that our medieval forebears labored under the same motivations that
    Message 1 of 69 , Apr 4, 2008
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      James Winkler wrote:

      Although I can’t prove it… I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that our medieval forebears labored under the same motivations that we do today… not the least among them is the “ain’t this cool” motivation.    Pragmatic ‘need’ wasn’t, in my opinon, the most driving element of design.

      For a certain class of object, no doubt about it.  Chairs like we are discussing appear to have been an Italian development, so would have seemed quite exotic in early 16th c. England.  Perhaps Brother Thorne had this one made for him to take as he went round inspecting the Abbey's holdings, impressing the yokels with his savoir-faire while dispensing justice and collecting rents... Certainly he didn't need all the fancy carving just to keep his bum off the grass!

        The roots of folding chairs though go back far beyond the medieval context.  The romans had a version of the fauldstood (with what appears to be a cloth seat rather than a interleaved wooden slats) that shows up on a stella in the 1st century.   Folding stools go back somewhere before 1400 BC. 

      Fauldstools were revived in the Medieval period as well, probably as part of a deliberate hearkening-back to the "good old days" of the Roman Empire (nostalgia being the one unifying theme of all cultural history).  There's a spectacular example in Austria from the 13th c.  But a fauldstool has little in common with a transverse-X-frame chair with back, except that both keep yer bum off the floor!

      If you really wanna’ see something that ranks high in the “what the heck were they thinking” department, check out the “Throne of Dagobert”…  a really cool folding bronze throne!!!  (3th-9th century).

      Now THAT is a piece of work.  And it did originally fold up, in a rather ingenious way, though it's hard to see any practical benefit from that.  (Abbot Suger "fixed" it in the 12th c. and it has not been foldable since.)  The design is clearly based on Late Antique furniture - the Romans had these cool tripod tables that folded in a very similar way.  With those, the folding had some benefit - you could suspend bowls or table-tops of different sizes and the support structure could expand or contract as needed.

      Dating of the "Dagobert" throne is still somewhat controversial but the latest thing I read suggests it was most probably Carolingian originally (9th c.).  The back was apparently added by Suger; the original chair thus would have been overtly Roman(esque).

        Personally I think both the Savonaroloa chair and the Glastonbury chairs are just natural extrapolations from a couple thousand years of chair evolution… 

      I suppose that could be said of pretty much any seat furniture!  But it begs the question.  Folding _stools_ are well documented from Antiquity forward; folding _chairs_ (with backs), not so much.  I argue that a _chair_ had a different function in the Middle Ages and was regarded in quite a different way than a stool.  We tend to think of both as just something to sit on, preferring chairs for their comfort - but I see little evidence that comfort was a big priority for medieval chairs.  Projecting an image was more important.

        It’s a bit pricy… but if you’re really interested in the evolution of folding chairs… see if you can find a copy of “Sella Curulis: The Folding Chair” by Ole Wanscher.  It was published in 1980 in Denmark…  ISBN 8742303370

      Wish I'd bought it back when it was being remaindered by Hamilton.  Even then it was rather expensive though, and I wasn't all that interested in Roman foldstools....



    • logan
      unfortunately those days seem to be gone. my first two reigns were 11 years ago, then i did two 5 years ago, and i just stepped down from my fifth last month
      Message 69 of 69 , Apr 21, 2008
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        unfortunately those days seem to be gone.  my first two reigns were 11 years ago, then i did two 5 years ago, and i just stepped down from my fifth last month and i can tell you first hand that the progression to a day of people filling in “checklists” and doing things just to get noticed has been steady.  it a shameful thing and more people are just after cookies than those just trying to make, or do, stuff because it creates a better atmosphere.  hopefully it will come full circle and go back to the way it used to be.


        on a related note, someone i had made a hanging shield for about 7 years ago just returned to atlantia.  the shield i made for her is about 20” tall and was made to hang from a wrought iron hanger outside her pavilion.   the parts of her arms were all cut out from 1/8” luan and glued to the front (sort of a 3d look) and everything painted.  her arms have a lot of white in them and i was afraid to use any kind of poly to protect the piece because of the yellowing problem.  no fun having a white field turn into an amber one.  so i used a product by behr called “crystal clear” water based polyurethane.  i must say i was greatly pleased with its condition 7 years and hundreds of hours in the sun later.  the white is still white and there are no signs of the finish failing.  has anyone else used this product?  has anyone else found something low gloss that wont yellow and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (like the behr product does)?






        "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared"

        Niccolo Machiavelli


        From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com [mailto:medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Andrew
        Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 4:26 AM
        To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Kissing ass? (was Marketing (was need advice))


        Likewise. What ever happened to people just making things to give to others
        or swap for something? That's the part of the SCA I miss the most. Everyone
        in now out to make money and/or win competition.

        The nicest peers in my experience are the ones who you wouldn't know as a
        peer except by actions with the new and inexperienced.


        -----Original Message-----
        From: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
        [mailto:medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Chas
        Sent: Sunday, 30 March 2008 12:38 AM
        To: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
        Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Kissing ass? (was Marketing (was need

        AH But isn't it true that Kingdom laurels and royalty should get
        around to smaller events too? MANY, MANY folks, it seems, go
        unnoticed on a local level for lack of local laurels, peers, royalty,

        Just a thought.

        I've heard (read) many a laurel and peer state that taking on "the
        title" is a responsibility, but see very few on a "local event" level
        do that.

        Again just a thought.


        --- In medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com, "Bill McNutt" <mcnutt@...>

        > There are also "political" things you can do that are very
        > don't involve any kissing ass, sucking up, or compromising your
        > When your name comes up in the polling circle and 2/3 of the room
        > "who?" It's not a good sign. So make an effort to meet Laurels.
        Show them
        > your work. Ask them their opinions. Interact. Then, they will
        have seen
        > your work and know your name when the time comes to discuss your
        > You also need to become perceived as a reliable authority in your
        > It doesn't do any good to BE an expert, if nobody knows you are. So
        > publish. Write short articles for your local newsletter. Post
        them on the
        > web and announce them on your local or kingdom newsletters.
        > Will
        > _____
        > From: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
        > [mailto:medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com]
        On Behalf Of Geffrei
        > There are ways to speed up getting your
        w:st="on">Laurel without politicking
        for it.
        > Good craftsmanship is a good place to start. Ask yourself "Do you
        want it
        > right or right now?" before you start making stuff to put in your
        > Take your time and do things right. Second, do research first and
        > what you make; not make something and then scramble for
        > Third, teach classes. Again do your research and provide a well

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