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Historical Re-enactment Crafts

Updated on September 18, 2014
BlossomSB profile image

As a teacher at all levels and mother of five children, Bronwen has been interested in a variety of crafts for both children and adults.

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
Food and Food Containers | Source

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.

Bread
Bread | Source

Weaving Fabric

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.

Weaving
Weaving | Source

Using Wood

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.

Using Wood for a Cart
Using Wood for a Cart | Source
Wooden Flute
Wooden Flute | Source

Leather

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.

Leather Pouch
Leather Pouch | Source
Leather Shoes
Leather Shoes | Source

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    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      They're both fun and informative at the same time, aren't they? The distance the re-enactments are away from home can be a problem, but it's usually worth it. A tomahawk could be especially useful for chopping up the kindling for a fire. Have fun at your next one!

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      I had been to a couple of reenactments of revolutionary battles , civil war stuff and find also that mountain man rendezvous stuff interests me , I have also built a couple of muzzle loading rifle kits and am watching for knife and tomahawk making kits . What a connection we can have with our historical pasts , my problem is nothing happens near me ! Got to travel to them I guess !.........ed

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      So glad you enjoyed it. Did't know that you were 'Paeony', you should join HubPages too - it's fun! Eve has been doing things with plums that were given to me - I gave most to Elspeth and she gave most to Eve! What did you do with them? I do stay still sometimes, but life's too short to waste it. Love and hugs!

    • profile image

      Paeony 2 years ago

      Hi mum I really love this page, even though I have seen it in various ways before. Love seeing sister & niece as well - it is sad that they live so far away.

      I think there is something very satisfying about making your own products - a kind of self sufficiency that must be in the blood. The plums given to me by a work colleague have been put to a number of uses and are waiting for me in my pantry :)

      I don't know what you mean by "retired" - you never stay still for a moment!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      askformore lm: Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I've visited parts of Scandinavia, but it must be very interesting to be living there.

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 2 years ago

      Thank you for all the inspirational facts and photos in your hub. Thumbs up!

      I live (now) in Scandinavia where there are many museums and local organizations that teach adults and children about old crafts. Children in particular love to learn about the Vikings.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Jodah: Thank you. Sorry I missed this - still having computer problems so not receiving the daily issue and the only way I can access comments is to find them under 'notifications.' I agree, it's important to learn basic skills -and to teach them to our children. I used to spin and weave, but I've given my loom to my eldest daughter and both she and her daughter use it constantly.I hope that you both have lots of fun if you do join a re-enactment group.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very interesting hub Blossom. We all need to learn about the basic skills required to make things for ourselves without relying on mass produced rubbish that isn't made to last. My wife has spinning wheels and spindles and spins her own yarn and also a loom for weaving. We have considered joining a re-enactment group but haven't done so yet.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      DrBill-WmL-Smith: It's such a pleasure to share and I'm glad you enjoyed reading about it, even if you've never had the opportunity to try the crafts yourself.

      Faith Reaper: The old ways were often good ways, we're always in such a rush these days and don't have the joy of creating things ourselves as we were created to do. Thank you for enjoying the photos - ha! you recognised me - I didn't know if anyone would. Yes, she is a sweet angel, but being so far away I don't see them very often. Blessings.

      Jackie Lynnley: Time is a problem, even for me, and I've been 'retired' for years now! I know exactly what you mean.

      RTalloni: Yes, it is important to be resourceful as we never know what is ahead and we may need those skills.

      Alise-Evon: Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It is interesting and there's always so much more that we could learn - and gain pleasure from creating, too.

      CatherineGiordano: Thank you! When all my family was at home I preserved food, too. One funny thing - the children were useful for getting the fruit into the jars so that they looked nice, as their hands were smaller and they thought it was fun, too!

      starstream: The US is not the only place where there is so much wastage with the packaging! It's no wonder we have problems with landfill. As you suggest, do-it-yourself is much cheaper as well as being so satisfying.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 3 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks for sharing these historical facts. I have to laugh at the waste in the US of all the expensive packaging. We pay for a lot of processing. It is a good thing to understand the old ways of doing things.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      What I lovely idea. At one time I did preserve food. It is very satisfying.

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 3 years ago

      Nice hub, Blossom- the photos were great, too. It's always interesting to learn about the basic skills people routinely had to employ to be able to make things to help them get through their daily life. It's also a pleasure- amidst the difficulty:)- to start to learn to do some of these things yourself.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Seeing how things used to be done is always interesting and reminds us of how important it is to be resourceful even though we currently live in times of convenience.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great to see you Blossom. Very interesting. Makes me wish I had tome for so much more. ^+

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wonderful hub, dear Blossom! I am truly fascinated by all of this and so glad that some still do things the old way, which is truly much better indeed! I really love your photos and that precious angel there hugging you. Priceless!

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning and sharing

      God bless you.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun! I was always attracted to this, but never in a position to be able to choose to do it. Wonderful reminders of the importance of understanding and remembering what those who came before us did. I've researched a good deal of it for my historic fiction. One of my more enjoyable obligations. Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      I love this hub, I've always been fascinated by old-fashioned crafts. Thanks for sharing!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I really enjoyed reading this and learning about the way people lived. I can't imagine doing all of that, but i know we've come a long way in just a short time. Thank you so much for sharing. The pictures were great...

    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 3 years ago from PA

      Great hub! I enjoy learning about how things were done "back then." I even do some of those crafts myself.