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Historical Re-enactment Crafts
A Variety of Crafts
Back in historical times, most people made many of the things that they needed for everyday life. With the historical re-enactments, if the garments, materials and other items that are to be used are to be as authentic as possible, then those who take part often find they need to learn a variety of crafts. These include the making of food and drink, receptacles for them, weaving fabric and other materials, woodwork skills and the use of natural materials such as wood, clay and leather.
Food and Food Containers
Foods were fairly simple as they needed to be grown, gathered or caught and cooking facilities were often just a pot over an open fire out of doors. Pleasant in fine weather but not good in cold and rain, or making houses with a hole in the roof so the smoke could escape.
- Some foods were preserved for use over winter. Fish, meat, game, vegetable and fruit were dried or salted down.
- Grains were gathered or grown and then ground into a flour for making bread and other filling foods.
- Some drinks were brewed and stored in wooden barrels or kegs.
There were various food containers and these were made from quite a variety of materials including wood, clay and twigs that could be woven.
Natural materials were spun into threads and then woven and made into garments, but until the invention of the spinning jenny and other automated machinery, most fabrics were hand spun, handmade or hand knitted at home. They may have been made for wearing, for floor covering, for bedding, for boat sails, for sacks and for many other uses.
In the photograph below, a young girl is using a type of inkle loom that is tied around the waist and on some other fixture to help create the shed for weaving. Such looms were used for making belts, reins and decorations on clothing.
Wood was used in many ways and some of these have been copied for re-enactments. As can be seen in the photo below, the cart - and even its wheels - are made from wood and it worked very well. Here, a man is showing how withies are used for weaving the sides of the cart. A withy is usually a slender willow branch that is used for making baskets and for tying things, too.
In places where wood was readily available in times past it was utilised for building houses, animal shelters, fences for protection, furniture in the house, musical instruments and even a variety of tools, utensils, decorations, buttons and toggles.
When an animal was killed, nothing was wasted.
- Meat: Much of the meat was used for food or salted down for the winter.
- Fat: Some of the fat was rendered down, purified and made into soap.
- Bones: The bones provided handles for tools and cutlery while thin ones were made into needles.
- Sinews: The sinews was often used for some kinds of thread.
- Skin: Skins were tanned and sometimes the hair and inside were scraped off to make a soft, pliable leather. Uses included clothing, bed covering, floor covering and smaller items such as bags, pouches, belts and shoes, as can be seen on the child in the second photo below.