Sunday, September 4, 2022
The advantages Baird Brothers offer include a good stock, a wide selection of genera (including favorites like ash and hickory), and a wide selection of sizes - you can order dowels up to 12 feet long, and anything up to eight feet can ship by parcel carrier. They also offer many increments of thickness. On paper, they are perfect for our needs.
There are two drawbacks: First, shipping is rather steep - my order of four ash dowels for spear handles and a smaller one for a javelin totaled just over $60 and cost more than half that much to ship. (On the plus side, delivery to my address in Pennsylvania was pretty quick.) Second, the company will not select for straightness of grain, not even for an additional charge.
Would I recommend Baird Brothers or buy from them again? Probably - but only because I can't seem to find any other choices in the continental U.S. that aren't more inconvenient. You can buy tools and learn to make your own or modify the commonly-sold ash spear handles that are too thick, pay even higher prices for martial arts fighting staves, or take a chance with Baird.
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Well, Plataea 2022 ended on Saturday and although there's a lot to be said, I'm limiting myself to some observations to bear in mind about all the stuff I brought out there:
- A four-inch-wide (internal), eight-foot-long PVC pipe with caps held on by duct tape makes a very protective package for spears, but it's so heavy and awkward (particularly when you already have two suitcases and a rifle case with your bows and arrows in it), and expensive to ship, that I wound up leaving both it and all my spears spears with other reenactors who felt they'd have a use for them and less difficulty/expense transporting them. I will not travel with spears in the future. If I send any more to Greece, I'll send them well ahead of time by the cheapest service available and leave them with a trusted friend.
- Under the (to my Pennsylvanian standards) quite aggressive heat and sun, the film of linseed oil-beeswax sealer I applied on top of the oil paint on my crescent shield softened and rubbed off. Specifically, the area on top of the dark red ochre-painted part of the shield; the area on top of the white edge was somewhat more resistant (presumably because the film is transparent and the dark paint heated up in the sun faster). The same mixture used as a paint binder on my new gorytos was also more resistant, but did soften after prolonged exposure, allowing thicker bits to be scraped off. The rosin-beeswax glue attaching the leather facing of my new akinakes scabbard also softened. By contrast, anything treated, bound or sealed with only linseed oil or rosin (the ochre paint on the shield, the spear handles, and the sinew wrappings of my arrows) were all fine. So basically anything containing beeswax was in danger of melting.
- The buff leather weapon belt performed admirably. The chrome-tanned belt sagged and became uncomfortable. I'm not sure whether this is because the holes I punched in the buff belt allowed it to be laced tighter or because it's a thicker leather, but I suspect both. The belt being nice and snug was definitely helpful.
- As I suspected, the smaller bow and commensurately smaller gorytos and arrows were much easier to carry. The search for an accurately Classical-styled bow of less than 36 inches strung continues.
- The 1/2-inch-thick wooden crescent shield is at least as heavy as larger wicker ones in the same style. This, too, needs improvement. I also threw together a round wicker mat with pelta-style grips and a suede facing, which at 16 inches in diameter (about the size of the smallest Scottish targes, and barely large enough to cover my arm from elbow to knuckles with fingers closed around the handgrip) is so light I barely notice I'm wearing it, but I'd have felt much, much better about it if it were crescent-shaped.
- A 12-ounce ceramic bottle, while convenient to carry, is only around a quarter as much water as I need to drink over the course of a Greek midsummer day in the field. Also, water left out becomes as hot as the surrounding air in just a few hours. What I wound up doing was to take a two-liter plastic bottle of water and keep it overnight in the hotel minifridge where it half-froze, wrapped it in spare clothing and kept it in my tent in my suitcase. That way I could still at least refill my ceramic bottle with slightly cool water by the end of the day. A proper cooler with ice blocks would've been better.
- Food must be kept elevated or it will be invaded by ants. A table of some kind, a crate, a box, anything will help.
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Thursday, June 23, 2022
(Alert via Sean Manning, Book and Sword) Mark Shier of Gaukler Medieval Wares in Canada is now offering a bronze hand brooch of a correct type for the Achaemenid period, so there'll be no need to have one custom-made or try to fabricate one.
Sunday, May 29, 2022
I spaced the stitch holes half an inch apart and marked them with a pen on the leather, then ran the gorytos under the drill press. The size of the drill bit is dependent on the thickness of the twine. In this case, a 3/32" bit was just right. I could lace the first running stitch by hand with care. After drilling, I scrubbed the sawdust off with a stiff nail brush.
After completing the stitching, I tied the twine off a bunch of times and cut it with about two inches of excess.
Anyway, the next step will be to make the belt attachments and then the cover.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Sunday, April 10, 2022
If you're in LA anytime between now and August 8, check out Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World at the Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades. Thanks to Athanasios Porporis, who brought a Facebook post on the sword of Artaxerxes I to our attention via Ancient Hoplitikon of Melbourne; otherwise, I wouldn't have been aware of any of this.