Saturday, 26 December 2015

Tobacco pipe smoking in 17th century Scotland

As a tobacco pipe smoker and ex tobacco pipe maker I found the information on Tobacco pipe smoking in the 17th Century in Stiring , Scotland very interesting and it lists the manufacturers and shows examples of the bowl styles common in clay pipes of that period. If you want to learn more about clay pipes from that period this is worth reading.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Reference material - ongoing studies into early Scottish history

As part of my ongoing studies into early Scottish history I have just ordered the book below. A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland by Martin Martin. He was  Gaelic speaker who traveled to the Western Isles of Scotland in 1695 to record the life of its inhabitants. He recorded a lot of details and described what he saw, their clothing, homes, work, religious practices etc.  We are lucky that Martin Martin took the foresight to record this information for future generations. This book is a great accompaniment to the popular book Burts Letters which was written by Edmund Burt who was sent to Inverness to work as a government contractor in 1730 . If you are keen on early Scottish history both these books should be part of your reference library !      

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Views on wearing 18th century clothes in modern Japan

For over a year now I have been wearing 18th century Scottish clothing on a regular basis here in Niigata City , Japan. I would love to wear this type of clothing everyday but poverty forces me to work a 2nd job where I dress up as a modern bicycle shop mechanic ( sorry I am not providing photos of me looking like that ) . Anyhow some of you might be wondering why I dress like this regularly, for most people who like dress up in 18th century Scottish clothing they are taking part in historical reenactments, for me being a Jacobite of one here in Japan means I never have the chance to join other like minded historical reenactors . There are no 18th century Jacobite events in Japan at all ( can not figure that out ) but if you are into dressing up as Samurai or a WW2 soldier there are events to attend.  These days my wardrobe has more 18th century clothing than modern clothing because I took a heap of modern clothes to the recycle store over a year ago and have not renewed any of the limited modern clothing I have. I only need those clothes to fix bicycles 3 days a week.

Do I get stared at as I walk down the street dressed like this ? , well as a foreigner who has lived in Japan for nearly 16 years I am used to getting started at and that happened in modern clothing previously anyhow. In the local area where I live and work everybody is so used to seeing my wife Tamaki & I that it has become normal , but when we venture to other parts of the city or travel outside of the city we do get plenty of looks. I have heard people whispering that I  am a bagpiper ( I guess many Japanese think anyone in a kilt must play the bagpipes ) or very young kids saying what is that ?. But I have never had anything but positive comments from people which is nice. I wear the clothing everywhere and have never bothered to change into modern clothes to suit other people. These days I have grown a strong dislike to modern clothing and personally can not stand wearing it. My 18th century clothes comprise of wool, linen , tweed etc and are perfect all year round , I have purchased some items and made the rest to save money. One nice thing is almost anything goes in Japan , people will stare if you are dressed differently but will not offer any rude remarks at all. I only hope one day in the near future I can wear 18th century clothing everyday , but at present I am making the most of the days that I can dress like this, life is short so if you want to do something that makes you happy just go ahead and do it. Far too many people conform to what society expects them to do especially in Japan.  As for me I do not own a mobile phone which sometimes shocks people even more than the clothes I wear !

Monday, 7 December 2015

A day off !

Last Sunday my wife Tamaki & I closed our Celtic bar for the day and drove over to Yamagata City to watch the Irish Band Dervish play which was fantastic. As it was cold we both wrapped up in our warmest clothes for the outing.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

New 18th century grey wool waistcoat

1st time out wearing my new 18th century grey wool waistcoat, the buttons are pewter from Fugawee in the USA. My Japanese mother in law who is now 80 years old did the sewing on her treadle sewing machine. I drafted the pattern and cut out all the fabric , it fits very well and will be perfect for Niigata's cold winter which is quickly approaching. Please excuse the modern background.

Tartan for a new Feileadh beag

After losing some weight over the past 2 years a kilt which I had made up no longer fitted me, so I have spent the last week un stitching the entire kilt and will now remake it into an 18th century draw string feileadh beag instead. The tartan was a present from a good friend in New Zealand who purchased some costumes and tartan from the BBC when they finished filming the 18th century classic Kidnapped. Back then I had never heard of the feileadh beag so I made the tartan pictured below into a modern Victorian style kilt complete with sewn pleats , it's a great looking tartan and should go well with my new grey wool 18th century waistcoat that is almost finished.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

18th century Jacobite impression update

Well I've come a long way since I first put together my 18th century Jacobite kit. I had worked out what I needed near the start and the list kept growing as I learnt more from experienced Jacobite reenactors abroad. Now I have all my kit , some of the items that I could not make were purchased online mainly from my tailor Hunter Cogle in the USA who was also kind enough to help me find the other period items I required such as a pair of replica 18th century spectacles and the correct pattern canteen. If you want to do it correctly it will take sometime to research and put together your impression depending of what type of person you are portraying . My impression is of a rank and file tenant ( middle class ) who would have been a smallholder , renting some land from his clan chief. When time allows I hope to take some better photos in the mountains  in full kit. Also 18th century cooking is something I'd like to try as well, so I need to do more research on that as well.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Replica 18th century Edward Scarlett glasses

Today I just finished remodeling my Jas Townsend 1740 - 1800 glasses, while these are a good quality replica they come coated in horrible black glossy paint with made in China written on the side frames. What you need to do if you want an authentic pair of 18th century glasses is to pull the glasses apart using a tiny jewelers screwdriver then sand the entire frames. start with 800 grit, then followed by a finer grade such as 1200 to fully remove the black glossy paint and the silver plated surface beneath it. Once that is done you will have a pair of fantastic looking brass replica glasses. The temple frames pictured below were first invented by Edward Scarlett from London


Thursday, 8 October 2015

Harris Tweed tartan Feileadh Beag

Today was my first chance to wear my new Harris tweed Feileadh beag kilt as the weather here has recently cooled down. It fits perfectly and goes well with my tartan waist coat from Cogle Historical Tailoring . It uses a drawstring and produces rough pleats which was the look I was going for so I'm very happy with it.  I had been thinking about buying some nice tartan Harris tweed for quite some time and very happy I decided to go ahead and order the tweed as it will become my go to kilt over the winter . If you are thinking about buying some Harris tweed but reluctant due to the cost think about where it is made , how it is made and the quality of the fabric , if you considering those factors it is a great deal and well worth every penny . Please excuse the background but it's the best I could come up with near to wear I live .

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Scottish Targe

Recently a friend of mine in Canada just completed making his first Scottish Targe, the base of his project is a 3/4 inch piece of  plywood 20 inches in diameter . A pattern is then marked out on a template and the antique domed nailed are pushed through the holes in the pattern. Then the top of the targe is covered in leather and the back is covered in either deer, cow or goat hide with the hair left on . The front circle of leather is stretched over the sides and tacked into place and then the center shield boss is attached and finally the domed nails are hammered into position forming the pattern that you marked out on the template. The back of the targe has a leather forearm loop than can be adjustable and a hand loop as well. The targe was held in the left hand so you could still grasp the dirk ( long knife ) while your sword was in your right hand. The two D ring are for attaching a carrying strap so the targe can be slung over the shoulder when walking.

Pictured below are some photos of his replica targe

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Common mistakes in Jacobite period reenacting !

After a lot of research and information gained from experienced Jacobite reenactors I have managed to avoid the most common mistakes by beginners in putting together my own Jacobite kit.  For many they take a look at popular artwork or recent movies such as Braveheart or Rob Roy and even though these movies claim to have consulted experts in the Scottish history there are so many obvious mistakes .  First up lets take a look at the movie Rob Roy and what he is wearing in the picture below

While many Scots wore short coats , there were most often made out of  tartan or plain colored wool not leather with detachable sleeves like the coat pictured above. Also he is wearing a plaid brooch , while these were popular in the Victorian period there is no evidence of men wearing jewelry in the 18th century , the plaid was held onto the coat with a bodkin, or sharpened stick, certainly not a fancy round brooch studded with gemstones .

Next up is the ever popular Outlander TV show which has gained fans world wide due to the fantastic scenery and the lead man Jamie Fraser getting naked now and again . While the sets and locations are filmed in Scotland there are just too many obvious mistakes and shortcuts made by the costume dept for a show which such a huge budget. Jacobite's never rode horses in kilts with pirate leather boots and why does the show never feature anyone wearing tartan bag hose which was very popular during the 18th century , Also it appears our hero forgot to put his bonnet on as well !

It you had bad eyesight in the 18th century glasses were available, but no doubt they were very expensive so many people with bad eyesight did without them , but if you had the money you could have purchased some. Luckily for those of us with bad eyesight period replica glasses are available as pictured below , if you need glasses in your daily life and want to put together a Jacobite period kit , change your glasses as well to something period correct, as modern glasses look totally out of place . Jas Townsend & Son sell a nice pair of 18th century glasses if you are looking for some.

Next up is footwear , while a few of the gentry in Scotland went all out have fancy clothes made and topped it off with a pair of fancy buckled shoes most men in the 18th century owned a pair of basic leather shoes without buckles , or even more basic footwear made out of cowhide with the hair on the outside. Many of the poorer classes went barefoot even so don't rush out and buy a fancy pair of buckled shoes  . Pictured below is a painting of John Murry , 4th Earl of Dunmore 1765 who no doubt was very wealthy by the cut of his clothes and his buckled shoes !

And pictured below for comparison is a painting done in the 18th century showing Alasdar Mor Grant - The Champion  wearing tie shoes instead of buckles 

And finally we have a picture of my friend Andy Webb from the UK in his full Jacobite kit which looks fantastic , many people have thought this was a painting instead of a photo. His attention to detail is spot on although most men of the period were clean shaven !

So there you have it a short list of some of the common mistakes in Jacobite period reenacting that beginners often make. To save yourself some money do a lot of research first before purchasing anything and if possible get in touch with reenactors who have experience in the Jacobite period who can give you advice  on the correct type of clothing , kit required for a quality period correct impression. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Harris Tweed - Feileadh beag

This afternoon I just finished sewing the 16 belt loops to the inside of my new winter Feileadh Beag. I've always wanted to make a kilt out of Harris Tweed tartan and when I found a Japanese retailer that imported it , I purchased 3 mtrs of double width, cut it in half and sewed it together and then added 16 belt loops to the inside for the drawstring. I did another kilt like this and it works very well and is easy to put on. At present it's just a wee bit hot for wearing this but later on I'll post some photos of me wearing it once the weather here is cooler. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Camerons of Lochiel - living history group

To see some fantastic Jacobite impression check out the above link to the UK based group

For Sale - 18 th Century Blackjack

For sale 1 x 18th century blackjack only 10000 yen

Construction details : Traditional hand sewn blackjack that holds 400ml of cold liquids , the pattern including the handle shape is based off an 18th century pattern, 2 peice construction made from vege tan 7mm thick cow hide lined with beeswax making it beer proof , tested for leaks so your beer dos not spill out. The blackjack pictured below is slightly reduced due to some wax spillage on the outside when coating , overall a nice working replica that can be re lined with wax if needed in the future.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

18th century blackjack

Even though I'm still quite new to leather craft I love a challenge and as I recently made a costrel ( leather water bottle ) I thought I'd try my hand at making an 18th century blackjack which is basically a leather beer mug. After doing a lot of research online I finally found a nice traditional pattern which I then copied and altered to suit the piece of 40cm x 40cm - 7mm thick vege tan cow hide that I purchased from a local leather shop. It it quite a long process to cut, sew and shape a blackjack and really I should have a wooden form on which dry it upon , but for this 1st trial one I'm using a pint glass turn upside down. When the leather shrinks and drys it may break the glass , but as I'm only up to the stage I'll have to wait and see what happens. Pictured below is my progress so far.