Barrel-shaped leather costrel build (pic heavy!)



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Taurinor
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Re: Barrel-shaped leather costrel build (pic heavy!)

Postby Taurinor » Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:27 pm

Leahcim wrote:
MasterStrong wrote:
Taurinor wrote:For historic accuracy purposes, I should have used thicker leather and welt pieces, but live and learn!


I'm all about using what you have on hand. I feel there's a truth to that even when it makes it less than perfectly historically accurate.


I guarantee they also did the exact same thing of using what they had on hand.... Just because the surviving examples was thicker... It may be the reason they DID survive... And a large portion would have been made of literally what was available


I get what y'all saying, but for this piece of gear for my persona, I disagree with that logic. I don't think it would have been made from what was on hand for a couple of reasons.

I, Taurinor/Elliot, the person on the other side of the computer screen, made this costrel, but the person I portray in Middle-earth, Ned the Breelander, did not make it "in universe". As a Breelander, Ned has access to trade that might come and go along the East Road and to local craftsmen. Since Ned is not a leatherworker by trade, he is much more likely to purchase a leather bottle from someone who is than try to make it himself, and the professional in Bree that Ned purchases the bottle from is probably going to have the right leather for the job (or will know how to get it). Practically speaking, the thinner leather doesn't work as well because the lugs holding the strap aren't thick enough, so they flex, and the wiggling back and forth means the lining isn't as durable. I didn't know that would be an issue when I made this costrel, but someone living in a society where leather bottles are common certainly would!

That's not to say that making do is wrong for all personas, all the time - in some situations it adds a lot of realism to an impression! Greg's spoon-handle lid-lifter is one example that comes to mind of something that would have been worked out in the field with the materials available, and it's one of the little details that makes his kit so incredible! A costrel isn't something that would have been made in the field, though (in my mind, at least), so I don't feel comfortable using the same logic.

As an aside, thicker leather might not make a costrel more likely to survive - in fact, the opposite might be more true. Once a costrel got too old and leaky, the thick leather made it a useful source of patches for shoes! Oliver Baker mentions it in "Black Jacks and Leather Bottells".

In the time since I made this costrel, I've gotten a job at a museum with a few pieces of 17th/18th century jackware in the collections, including a costrel. Needless to say, I've spent a fair amount of time staring at it and studying the construction! At some point, I'm going to bother the curator to let me take some measurements so I can make a new one with that information on hand :mrgreen:
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Re: Barrel-shaped leather costrel build (pic heavy!)

Postby MasterStrong » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:44 am

Taurinor wrote:
Leahcim wrote:
MasterStrong wrote:
I'm all about using what you have on hand. I feel there's a truth to that even when it makes it less than perfectly historically accurate.


I guarantee they also did the exact same thing of using what they had on hand.... Just because the surviving examples was thicker... It may be the reason they DID survive... And a large portion would have been made of literally what was available


I get what y'all saying, but for this piece of gear for my persona, I disagree with that logic. I don't think it would have been made from what was on hand for a couple of reasons.

I, Taurinor/Elliot, the person on the other side of the computer screen, made this costrel, but the person I portray in Middle-earth, Ned the Breelander, did not make it "in universe". As a Breelander, Ned has access to trade that might come and go along the East Road and to local craftsmen. Since Ned is not a leatherworker by trade, he is much more likely to purchase a leather bottle from someone who is than try to make it himself, and the professional in Bree that Ned purchases the bottle from is probably going to have the right leather for the job (or will know how to get it). Practically speaking, the thinner leather doesn't work as well because the lugs holding the strap aren't thick enough, so they flex, and the wiggling back and forth means the lining isn't as durable. I didn't know that would be an issue when I made this costrel, but someone living in a society where leather bottles are common certainly would!

That's not to say that making do is wrong for all personas, all the time - in some situations it adds a lot of realism to an impression! Greg's spoon-handle lid-lifter is one example that comes to mind of something that would have been worked out in the field with the materials available, and it's one of the little details that makes his kit so incredible! A costrel isn't something that would have been made in the field, though (in my mind, at least), so I don't feel comfortable using the same logic.

As an aside, thicker leather might not make a costrel more likely to survive - in fact, the opposite might be more true. Once a costrel got too old and leaky, the thick leather made it a useful source of patches for shoes! Oliver Baker mentions it in "Black Jacks and Leather Bottells".

In the time since I made this costrel, I've gotten a job at a museum with a few pieces of 17th/18th century jackware in the collections, including a costrel. Needless to say, I've spent a fair amount of time staring at it and studying the construction! At some point, I'm going to bother the curator to let me take some measurements so I can make a new one with that information on hand :mrgreen:


Taurinor (et al.) This is so much of what I love about this particular forum, what I struggle with on a personal level, and why I tend to avoid hardcore reenacting all at once! Your in character thoughts are awesome. That's a perspective I...struggle with. Most of my characters are defined by who I am "In Real Life", hence my earlier statement about using what is on hand. That is 100% my attitude about including those that are struggling to participate at the level they WANT to be at versus where the are at the moment. On the other hand, I struggle with some reenactor attitudes of "if we don't have a proven source". Human ingenuity is more epic than anything the good professor ever came up with. Using a well documented process and style with a different thickness of leather is easily conceivable in a world of people adjusting the world to their life (your own references speak to that). I have developed a serious aversion to (near) machine perfect stitching on leather items for that reason. Who carries even a multi-finger leather punch in their kit? What if you lost your costrel in an unexpected fight with orcs? Would you be able to return to a trading outpost without carrying water to get you there? If you have the skill to build one from scratch, the materials are readily available to be sourced in almost any area with a water source even if they aren't the 'ideal' materials. I should definitely spend more time thinking about how my character would pack/source, from a personal standpoint character always comes last. Something I'm working on and your perspective has definitely given me a lot to mull over.
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Re: Barrel-shaped leather costrel build (pic heavy!)

Postby Taurinor » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:12 pm

MasterStrong wrote:Most of my characters are defined by who I am "In Real Life", hence my earlier statement about using what is on hand. That is 100% my attitude about including those that are struggling to participate at the level they WANT to be at versus where the are at the moment.

That's a completely valid approach to this hobby! We're all here to have fun, after all :mrgreen: My idea of fun just happens to be spending hours hunting for documentation, assembling lists of citations, making something that is as accurate as I can manage, realizing down the road that what I've made is less accurate or less practical than I thought it would be, and then starting the whole process over again! I also believe that it's important to get out in your gear, though, so there have been plenty of placeholder items in my kit that have been phased in and out as needed. I still haven't made a new costrel, after all - it's on the list, but lower down than some other items. I just like to be honest about where I feel that it falls short of my own personal kit goals.

MasterStrong wrote:On the other hand, I struggle with some reenactor attitudes of "if we don't have a proven source". Human ingenuity is more epic than anything the good professor ever came up with. Using a well documented process and style with a different thickness of leather is easily conceivable in a world of people adjusting the world to their life (your own references speak to that).

Absolutely! It is very possible, and perhaps even plausible! Most folks will probably dismiss this as semantics (probably rightly so!), but I tend to reserve "they did this" or "this was done" for things that are as well-documented as I can manage, and use "Based on [X], [Y], and [Z], it's possible that this was done" for situations like the one that you are describing. That way folks can look at what you've done and why, and then draw their own conclusions!

MasterStrong wrote:I have developed a serious aversion to (near) machine perfect stitching on leather items for that reason. Who carries even a multi-finger leather punch in their kit? What if you lost your costrel in an unexpected fight with orcs? Would you be able to return to a trading outpost without carrying water to get you there? If you have the skill to build one from scratch, the materials are readily available to be sourced in almost any area with a water source even if they aren't the 'ideal' materials.

If Ned ever meets some orcs, he's going to die, and a lost costrel will be the least of his problems! He has spent his life in Bree-land unknowingly protected by Rangers, blissfully ignorant until they ride south to aid Aragorn and he has to help watch the fences and gates of Bree. That's why I specified "this piece of gear for my persona" - overall, Ned's kit has a very "urban" (for lack of a better word) feel to it, especially compared to Greg's gear. He carries a packframe, a tarp and tent stakes, a ceramic cup for coffee and sometimes a bowl, and occasionally a sheepskin if it's very cold and the pack-in isn't too far! His gear is not the streamlined kit of a master woodsman, because he's not a master woodsman (and neither am I)!

On the other hand, a Ranger might lose his/her costrel the way you described and make a new one. My guess is that he or she might opt for a 2-piece flacket construction in those circumstances - less complicated to build and more forgiving of thin leather (the swell of the body is less pronounced and will put less strain on the lugs). A Ranger will also know the land well enough to know how much water he or she needs to carry, based on how long the journey is and where water can be found along the way, and so might opt to carry a smaller flacket than Ned (who needs to carry more water to make up for his lack of knowledge).

Thought about like that, one piece of gear can tell a whole story about the person carrying it - this individual is skilled enough to make his or her own gear under less than optimal circumstances, and he or she knows the land very well! That's just not the story Ned's gear should tell.

MasterStrong wrote:I should definitely spend more time thinking about how my character would pack/source, from a personal standpoint character always comes last. Something I'm working on and your perspective has definitely given me a lot to mull over.

Udwin did a great job bringing over to MERF some advice from Townsend's living history persona website about building an impression, and thinking about the character you're interested in comes relatively early in the workflow. It definitely changed how I thought about some things!
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Re: Barrel-shaped leather costrel build (pic heavy!)

Postby Iodo » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:43 pm

I don't want to undermine the conversation but I lost my water bottle first thing in the morning on a long hiking trip (in modern kit) once, not wanting to turn back and needing to carry water I cut a piece off my polythene shelter tarp/ground sheet, made holes round the edge, threaded string through and pulled it tight (like a coin purse) filled it and bound it tightly round a piece of wood with guy rope, it didn't leak nearly as much as I expected

In universe, this would probably work with waxed canvas or even leather, at least for long enough to get you buy until a village or something?

I certainly don't have the skill to even attempt to make something like that outside my work shop and I admire anyone who does :P
Gimli: It's true you don't see many Dwarf-women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for Dwarf-men.
Aragorn: It's the beards.

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