Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Monday, February 28, 2011

Product review...Alec Foreman Fingerweaving

Horn strap by ALec
The "Murse" This bag is huge! 10 inches deep by 16 inches wide woven in the round. Original is in Denver Art museum
Sash now owned by Crowder. He called to apologize for buying finger weaving from someone else. It's ok I would have bought it too
ALec doing a tanning demo

There was some talk about shot pouch strap lengths on the FF board (this is just for you Gus) so here is a quick quote from a mention in William Bigg’s narrative:

William Biggs Narrative mention of shot pouch strap length:
I thought perhaps the Indians would give me a
long chase, and probably that they would hold out better than I could;
although at that time I did not feel the least tired or out of breath. I
concluded to throw off my two coats and shoes, as I would then be better
prepared for a long race. I had my great coat tied around me with a silk
handkerchief pretty much worn--I recollect tying it with a slip knot,
but being in a hurry, it was drawn into a double hard knot; I tried some
little time to get it loose--the longer I tried the harder the knot
seemed to get, that stopped my running considerably; at length I broke
it by some means, I do not know how. In the morning I forgot to put on
my shot pouch before I put on my great coat, and then put it on over it.
I pulled off the sleeves of my great coat, not thinking of my shot-pouch
being over my coat, it having a very short strap,
the coat got so tight
in the strap that I could not get it loose for a considerable time.
Still trying, it hung down and trailed on the ground, and every two or
three steps it would wrap around my legs and throw me down, and I would
catch on my hands and knees, it served me so several times, so that I
could make no headway at running. After some considerable time, I broke
the strap and my great coat dropped from me--I had no knife with me.

Guy sporting multiple coats and no knife…..scandalous. I’ve been spending the past few mornings looking pretty closely at A LOT of sources for shooting equipment/Practices information from period sources (thanx Galban This project could easily turn into a book after you got me started) SO Friday I’m hoping to put up some solid references to pour a little gas on the to patch or not to patch message board wars. I would like to point one thing out however....I'm finding ALOT of crazy info and equipment refrences but I'm finding NOTHING that points to bullet boards being used. It doesnt look good folks...

So one of the reasons I started doing this blog was to do product reviews so I thought tonight would be a good time to post a new one. More of a craftsmen review then anything and it’ll probably startle a few folks. I’d like to spotlight the Finger weaving/brain tanning of Alec Foreman. (I was going to talk about the OG Tom Conde’s stuff first but he still needs to email me back the questionare hint hint Tom ;))Yes I know I’m a weaver and no I’m not getting out of the game. As someone who looks at weaving A LOT I have to say that Alec’s stuff is top notch.

Alec does a great job at beading and his tension is really even and not too tight. This means when you lay a sash out for example its straight as opposed to the “snake” look you get from a piece that has mixed tension woven in thru the piece. He also uses the correct Yarn which makes a big difference in the look of each piece as well as the feel.

In talking to Alec over the past few months His drive to make the right stuff has knocked me out of a few year slump (complacency will kill ya) and pushed me to step up my game. He’s also been a fresh eye in relooking at a lot of pieces I personally had been looking at for a long time and he brought some new details to light. My advice is to keep this guy in mind if you’re looking at getting a fingerwoven article before his prices go up or he stops weaving. If ya see something he’s made for sale on CLA it’s going to be worth the $ (I’m still on the fence about ordering a sash from the guy and I make them)

As well as weaving Alec does a great job at brain tanning. I picked up 2 hides from him at Martin’s station last summer and have made a number of projects with the hides (summer moccasins and winter mocs) And his hides are really well done. The first thing I noticed was the uniformity in the hides. You don’t see a lot of scaring and holes you get when someone doesn’t know how to flesh a hide. The hides are smoked to the point they keep their pliability after they get wet. I wore a pair of mocs from one of his hides everyday this summer at the site I worked at and even after the usual soaking you get from the morning dew (day after day) the hides held up. SO he’s a great source for quality hides (he’d be my first choice for hides and second choice for weaving after this other guy I know…;))

Here is a Q&A I did with ALec
When I met you were doing a longhunter impression why the switch?
When we met I had just started weaving and producing leather, so I wasn't completely ready to make a full blown switch into the Native side of reenacting. It was because of the request of friends and realizing that if I am making the material goods for natives that i should attempt to do a native impression and do it justice, not just a half attempt.

SO what got you into finger weaving?
I first got into weaving when I was in high school. I had the desire to twine and weave a tumpline for myself and called a good friend Maria Fried- Jackson, For instructions on how to twine and weave. Never to finish the Tumpline i started i left it at that. I joined the army and was stationed in Germany and when i met my wife and was explaining the arts and the hobby in general, I started to reteach myself to weave. I only had a basic idea of how oblique weaving was done so there was a great deal of trial and error. During one of these trial periods my wife figured out how to do selvedge edges and she actually taught me that method.
Did you learn from specific book/person?
Maria fried- jackson, over the phone for basic left over right; left over right instructions and Gerald Finley's fingerweaving book as a quick reference. The rest has been self taught.

How do you pick a project?
Currently I pick a lot of my projects based off of original examples and also my own interpretation of original paintings/ sketches. Also what I feel like trying. There is still a huge trial and error factor that plays into every piece.

What is the favorite piece you’ve made so far?
My favorite piece I have made would have to be the resist dyed sash I recently finished. In that project there was numerous things to complete and attempt and I was very pleased with the outcome.

Your quite an accomplished brain tanner is it something you picked up on your own?
Brain tanning was something I had heard of when I first started reenacting, and I had to try it. I had only heard of how the method was done but had never seen anyone actually do it. When i was sixteen I went to all the local butchers and rounded up a dozen hides to attempt this experiment. The experiment failed miserably and I had to re-try numerous times. I achieved my first quality tanned hide about five years ago.

Which do you like better tanning or weaving?
I would have to say it depends on the weather.. I really like them both the same, as long as things are going the way they are supposed to. When they don't thats when I despise tanning or weaving. They really jump back and forth depending on the mood i'm in.

You already wove the “murse” what’s the next big weaving project? (the “murse” was a large bag in the denver art museum collection)
The next big weaving projects I have lined up to do are some of the woven bags from the British Museum Collections.

What piece of gear do you think more folks should be carrying doing a native impression?
In my opinion I think the piece of gear that native impressions are lacking is woven objects. Ie. sashes, garters, and even bags. I feel that this material object is underrepresented among native reenactors and we know that they had them.

SO if your looking for Alec’s contact info OR have any questions/hatemail/ ideas for a blog post I opened an email address for the Blog (Nospam)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Some More information on Native headgear...or Shave your head then cover it up

Image showing man wearing an uncocked hat decorated with ribbon.
....Also check out the use of 2 rows of ribbon on his leggings and hangin out Paint scheme

My take on the Above hat. Simply tacked down some left over 2 inch yellow ribbob onto another piece of ribbon. Now to get it rained on and beaten up

Our Spokesmodel CIndy Wearing My take on the hat from the above image

Hendrick wearing Hat, coat and waistcoat

Jackets and Hats on natives. I love this image

So I think I’ll jump back into my Native centric gear for a second here and post some more on native trekking gear. Or really a piece of native gear that comes in pretty handy when hanging out in the treeless landscape that often makes up our event landscape…hats. A lot of the guys I run around with have been taking to wearing hats over the past few years. They are easy to document but also they keep your lilly white head from getting burnt (lets face it 9 out of 10 of you that are reading this that do portray a “native” have skin pigment somewhere between a ginger kid and an albino cave fish)

I thought I’d throw some references together that show a variety of headgear. The Silk scarf is a super documented item but I feel that it tends to be overdone at events. SO I’ll break the hats down into standard men’s hats (laced or unlaced) and caps. I’d also like to point out that while putting these lists together I noticed that on many of the same lists both laced hats and worsted caps could be found.

Standard hats were an item that was destined for Indian trade. In his memoir Pierre Pouchot mentions them as a standard item of trade from the French sector: The goods for Indian trade are….hats trimmed in fine and imitation, with variegated plumes in red, yellow, blue and green
The use of this type of Hat can also be seen in a number of images from Canada.. My personal favorite image of a distinctly native “slouch” hat is an anonymous water color of a native couple done in the 1770’s. The man has what appears to be a loop of ribbon draped off the crown of his hat next to his wife who appears to be carrying some sashes for sale and wearing a peaked hood.
Similar style hats can be seen in the images of Peachey and Davies from the same area. These hats to make even more sense when you see them worn in images of folks traveling by canoe.. Anyone who has spent any time on the water with a shaved head can vouch for the fun one can have with the heat beating on your bare head. The hats shown in these images are often a standard “tricorn” that has been uncocked and wore in a “slouch hat” fashion.
The Laced traditional tricorn hat can be seen in a number of images such as the oft reproduced image of King Hendrick. The outfit he is sporting in this image actually matches up to the standard headman’s gift of a coat, tricorn and waistcoat seen being handed out A LOT in the period. For example here is an example of such a set purchased at Fort Pitt:

Fort Pitt March 4th 1765
George Croghan
Merch sold him for the use of the crown at Carlisle Feb 15th
10 fine broad laced coats @ 165
10 laced hats@ 37/6
10 gay embroidered vests 67 ..10..

A list of goods going to the “Shawnee town” From Fort Pitt

The Shawnee towne
Aug 14 1766 3 doz 10 large silk handk
13 groce bed lace
6 groce red twilled gartering*
6 bolts broad tape
1 dozen gold laced hats
132 (?) lead
2 black leather saddles
4 horse bells

A neat side note there is a moccasin in the Bata shoe museum that has some red striped gartering sewn to it to secure it to the wearer’s foot. This stuff was traded a lot to native folks and is something that is way underrepresented by well….everyone.

The Next couple lists cross into the idea on Natives wearing both Knit/cotton caps and regular “tricorns” I’ve also left some other items in the lists that I thought needed reexamined. SO to start on the Knit caps you can see from these lists that they….well show up going to native heads. The Knit caps in the Cumberland and rockcreek inventories are kewl to me for another reason as well.

If you look at western Maryland/Pennsylvania/Virginia in the early part of the French and Indian war you see action by men like the famed Thomas Cresap. One action cresap’s men took part was written about and sent to the Pennsylvania Gazette:

Old Town, at Colonel CresapFort, May 7, 1756.
"On the 23d of last Month Thomas Cresap, junior, marched out of Fort Cumberland with about Forty Voluntiers, all dressed in Indian Apparel, and red Caps; intending to go towards Ford DuQuesne, and having advanced about ten Miles, they discovered fresh Tracks of Indians, who appeared to have gone along about an Hour before; upon which it was agreed by the whole Party to pursue them with all Speed, and accordingly they pushed on, and having got as far as Savage River, about 15 Miles from Fort Cumberland, they heard the Death Hollow at a small Distance behind them, and in a short Time after saw a Party of Indians advancing boldly up towards them, when our People disappeared by the Bent of the Road, and put themselves in a Posture to attack them, with Orders not to fire, until they came to a certain Place in the Road, where they might have a fair Prospect of them, as the Trees and Bushes, which stood very thick, would have obstructed their Firing. When the Indians came within about a Rod of the Place appointed to fire at, one of the Party discharged his Piece, and missed them; and immediately after several others fired, and wounded one of the Indians, who was seen to fall and recover three times, but made his Escape in a thick Lawrel Swamp, which was within two Rods of the Road. The said Indian had a Looking glass on his Back, which was shot all to Pieces. They then saw another Party coming up on Horseback, whom they got ready to attack; but a Dog, which our Men had with them, ran off to meet the Indians, which made them stop, and get off their Horses, before they were near enough to be fired at by those of the Party appointed to fire. Upon this one of the Advance Parties, who were posted a Look outs, fired, which caused the Enemy immediately to break off and run. Out People pursued them directly different Ways; and Mr. Cresap, who was at a considerable Distance when the Indians went off, ran to the Place where the Firing was, and being informed of the Course they had taken, followed them. Our Men kept hollowing the Indian Hollow incessantly as they ran along; and Cresap, after running above a Mile, came in Sight of some of his Party, who were pursuing one of the Indians, and coming up gave his Pistol to one of them, and passed on till he saw the Indian, and getting with 20 Yards of him, the Indian got behind a Tree, and fired at him; Cresap also stopped and fired, but had not Time to take to a Tree. They fired at one another so close together, that it seemlike one Gun. *The Indian, with a fine French Gun, mortally wounded Cresap with a Bullet and seven Swan shot in the Breast. Cresap, with a Rifle, mortally wounded the Indian through the Right breast, being the only Part to be seen of him. The Indian had gone but a few Steps further, when tow of CresapMen came up to him, knocked him on the Head with one of their Guns, and scalped him. Cresap had not fallen when the two Men passed him, but told them he was a dead Man, and desired them to pursue, which were his last Words. They returned to him in about four Minutes after, found him dead, and buried him. On their Return to their Baggage they discovered a great Number of Indian Tracks, who had gone off the Road, and passed by between them and the Road; they also saw an Indian running after the Party that had passed. It appears, by all Circumstances, the Enemy took our Men to be Catawba; and it is thought they killed two or three more of the Indians, but that they got into the Swamp, which was just by, where they could not be seen. One they shot in the Belly, as appeared by his matchcoat taking Fire, and his clapping his Hand to it; but he likewise got into the Swamp. Our Party got all their Baggage, with six Horses, and a white ManScalp. It was the Party that attacked Captain Mercer, and killed him the Sunday before. It appears by their Tracks, and by the Account of those that saw them, that there could not be less than 100 of them. Captain Ashby, on PattersonCreek, says, that when they demanded a Surrender of his Fort, he thought there were as many, if not more, than ever he saw at a General Muster in Virginia; and the Indian Embassador told him, he had 400 Men with him, paraded on a Hill just by, three Men deep."

The next two lists are from the Washington Papers:
List of Indian goods at Fort Cumberland sept 17, 1755
6 laced hats
14 mens worsted caps

December 1756, Lists of Indian Goods at Rock Creek
strip'd & scarlet worsted Caps from 5\--to 12--per dozn.
Silk Han kers: from 28\--to 33\
Silk Caps--@ 40\ --
Mens worsted Hose from 24\ to 45\--per dozn.
grey, green & red yarn Do.--from 10\6--to 15\--not many left
Mens beavr: Carolina Hats from 4\6--to 6\--not many left

abt. 2 dozn. fusee Guns proved Barrells @ 14\--very good at the price but rather larger Bows than those commonly used in the Indian Trade ; they wou'd answer very well for a Bullet & Shot & believe wou'd suit the Southern Indians ; as I have been told they do not use a single Bullett so much as the Northern Indians*
(someone should have told the native that shot cresap this fact… but inspite of this here we have two period refs to the use of buck and ball by natives more on this in a blog to follow on loading your gun like a native)

So here in the same region and time period we have a few items that point to the commonality of Natives having access to and wearing knit caps and Hats. In fact the use of them seems to be a normal look for the English natives as the one comment was that Cresap’s men may have been mistaken for Catawba’s. The Silk Caps on the list may be the same style that we refer to as workman’s caps. In the Bayton Wharton and Morgan papers I have found cotton and silk caps also being purchased by by natives. SO again we have yet another type of euro headgear on a native.
The final list I’ll post for today is part of the massive list of goods that goes to the lenapes during the rev war:

Estimates of Goods to be sent for the Delawares-May 10,1779
From the Continentals, intended for the Lenape at Coshockton

4 doz black silk handkerchiefs
3 doz black silk cravats
80 pieces of taffata ribbons, yellow,blue,green red & purple
30 regimental coats. good
30 do hats half silver laced good
50 worsted caps
2 lb cruels or other worsteds*
"Frontier Advance on the
Upper Ohio 1778-1779" Pages 413-415

Once again we can see laced hats as well as worsted caps. I’m also a big fan when lists mention specifics like the color of ribbon. These seem to be the standard for the color of ribbons pout of fort pitt from the 1760’s period as well. Also the “cruels “and worsteds are yarns that would probably be used for finger weaving so I’m always pumped by those being mentioned as many people still have an idea that only unraveled blankets were used for finger weaving.

So Now what? Well this isn’t the only type of headware worn by natives there are hoods/peaked caps, ear caps, turbans, etc but I think this shows some info on the use of euro style hats and their commonality. SO shave your head and then cover it with a hat you’ll be glad ya did. Also if your looking for some Good knit caps Ike walters posted some great images on his blog of period knit caps and His wife also makes some nice repros. As far as Good sources for standard hats There are a number of resources out there for them depending on how much you want to spend but that’s a whole blog onto itself….wow 2 blogs in a week Looks like my winter blahs are over .

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Corn quivers and blue guns

I bet that gun weighs around 5 lbs.....Hey is that Sluder?

original Twined basket/quiver

My painted Gun (and matchcoat in progress...No Ike it's not tear stained after the steelers loss)

What was I saying a couple months ago about missing winter? Man was that dumb. I don’t mind the snow but this ICE is horrible. Since the 1st of the year I’ve been going 24/7 it seems with weaving/sewing to fill orders as well as hunting and getting my Stroud cloth production going full bore for the market fair season. SO far the only New Year’s resolution I haven’t kept up on has been this thing.

A few weekends ago I headed over to Lewisburg, Pa for the 18th century Artisans Show and man am I glad I did. John Getz and his crew put on a great show and are awesome hosts. There was a great collection of Guns, Red ware, Painting, woodwork, horn work and originals. There were around 1600 folks that came thru (would have been more but a Saturday ice storm turned away some folks) . I met a lot of folks who have been reading the blog and they had a lot of nice things to say .

A piece of gear I was able to finally get my hands on was my new Type G or “Carolina gun”. My gun was made By Mike Seidleman of Virginia. I met Mike a few years ago at the school of the long hunter and have been bugging him about trade guns ever since. Mike likes to make trade guns/parts guns and does a very good job at it in my opinion. My gun is .62 with a 44 inch inch barrel and weighs around 5lbs. The only thing I’d change about the gun is that I should have had the rear site put on but I intend to pass the gun back to Mike asap to get this fixed before spring gobbler.

I’m the third or fourth guy in my crew to pick up a gun from Mike (Carolina gun crew is still growing) and everyone has been very pleased with his work. He normally stocks the trade guns in beech but I was in a hurry so he stocked mine in walnut which hurt his brain. I also hurt Mike’s brain by what I did to the stock…Paint it Blue. I painted it Blue based of the description of the Gun’s in the Williamsburg Arsenal. If and when I order another G I’d have it made with a beech stock and leave it unfinished but for some reason I just had to have a blue gun. Maybe to offset my Brown hunting shirt….

I took the gun out to shoot in the other day and put 25 shots thru it at 50 yards. I moved the powder charge between 65 and 85 grains but settled on 65. From the bench the gun seemed to shoot consistently an inch low and to the right but I’m going to wait until I get the rear sight put on to mess with it. I only wadded the ball with leaves (no patching) as I haven’t been able to find anything about folks patching smoothbores especially natives. I’ve found references to folks shooting half loads, chewed balls even lock bolts but nothing on patching.

I think this is due to the fact that these guys weren’t going to a rendyvous blanket shoot to break clay pigeons or split a shot on an axe blade they were aiming at a dinner plate sized area on a deer/bear/buffalo/person for a kill shot. If you know where your gun shoots a lot of times that’s more important then a little piece of cloth.

I had a few question from people on pieces of gear I carry and why. One question that came up a few times was why I carry a small wallet as opposed to a corn quiver for rations. SO I thought I’d go over some info on corn quivers and what they really looked like in the period. Many folks are familiar with the 16th century quote on the use of Corn Quivers:

“Brought with them in a thing like a bow case (which the principle of them had about his wait) a little of their corn pounded into powder, which, put to a little water, they eat.”

SO somewhere along the line this quote has been used to justify the use of the “corn quiver” we have all seen (or owned I admit I’m guilty I had one). As a person who looks at a lot of native narratives and extant artifacts this idea that this quote translated into a linen pouch really made no sense to me. A common item like a corn quiver should still exist somewhere. The idea of the VC rice bag as a native corn bag just didn’t add up. Well one night while looking at some images of gear in French collections with Crowder a few items stood out that…well..Made sense.

In the “Patterns of power” Catalog an object popped up.( a small twined “Basket” is shown from a European collection (Patterns of Power, Page 83) The pouch matches up to other period examples of twined bags/baskets in that its woven in the round and matches the “corn quiver” description. Also after relooking at some info I hadn’t looked at in years I found a similar twined bag shown on the Nativetech website these bags look nothing like the modern “corn quiver” we see used at events. What also helps is that these bags when collected were noted as carrying corn meal.

SO for someone doing a native/French impression one of these pouches would be totally correct to carry. Also for any aspiring craftspeople out there these things aren’t that hard to make (just time consuming) so if anyone is looking for a niche market start twining (this guy already has too many projects to finish lol)

This was great for my native kit but I needed to find a documented alternative to the VC bag. while looking I came across this excerpt of Benjamin Allen’s interview in “frontier Memories” by Dale Payne (come one folks if you haven’t read Dale’s books then you should be shot if you post anything negative on any message board. In fact Buy his books and take a week off the msg board world and read them! It’s Ok I’ll wait…go do it now…): Watson had a beautiful wallet of corn. The Indians just poured it out. They didn’t even let the horses eat it and just took the wallet along.

To me this showed both the use us natives and backcountry folks using wallets to carry stuff (didn’t say haversack of corn folks….admit it you use it cuz you want to not because you can document it….if ya cant document it don’t fight it just say you want to use it. I’ll use my seinfield voice here “And whats the deal with haversacks with pockets in them anyway?”) More importantly this quote showed the use of a wallet to haul corn in by a backcountry person.

Why do I mention this? Well As I’ve shown in a past blog Wallets came in all size. So to haul rations in I used this description and the various size wallets to base my use of a smaller wallet to carry parched corn/jerk and sometimes hard bread in (i.e. all the rations you would carry in a haversack in the military). I simply drape it over my belt in the back or over my canteen strap. This allows me to carry enough food for a day or two and cuts down on the amount of straps that so many lament in this hobbie. (ya got your shot pouch strap, your powder horn strap, the game axe strap, your possible bag strap, your haversack strap, etc…. )

SO before the hate mail starts like I stated I used to own a “corn quiver/VC rice bag” and it was awesome. The point of this weirdness is to share some info I found after that you make the call for what you want to do for your gear. As far as other self promoting weirdness I’ll be giving a talk on 18th century Tattoos at the School of the Long hunter at Pricket’s Fort on April 1st. The School is looking to be a pretty good time again this year. Mark Baker is giving the 3rd part of his series “the Natural Man” there will also be talks on Brain Tanning, scouts and spies, Indian Dept. and Plott Hounds. I should get back to sewing my tear stained matchcoat....