What’s in the box?
A warrior’s sword, a dragon’s treasure, a great castle, a fearsome sea serpent, a beautiful crown…and a million other wonderful things…all you need is cardboard plus a little bit of imagination.
In case you also were wondering what to do with all those boxes left behind after the festive season’s gift giving, this month’s craft spot is inspired by cardboard boxes and our summer Viking Adventure!
Surely you have attempted the cardboard box car before…well here we have a how to on box-board viking armour and a wearable longship! Your little raiders and pillagers can wield their fearsome (but non-injury-causing and recyclable) armour while sailing the high seas in this swashbuckling creation. Cardboard box craft is always terrific fun and as a bonus these props will inspire hours of imaginative play- perfect for keeping them amused this school holidays.
Viking activity extended from Asia in the east to Greenland and North America in the west, and from the islands far up in the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean and northern Africa in the south. During the Viking Age, exotic and exclusive goods flowed into the Viking homelands in Scandinavia and were made available, for those who could afford them, at trading places such Birka, Hedeby, Kaupang and others. Along with the material goods came ideological, political and religious currents.
Among the many exotic artefacts that have been discovered at Viking-Age sites are a Persian glass beaker, an Irish cross, an Indian statuette of the Buddha, a Coptic ladle from Egypt, and shells from the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean intended to be made into pendants. Such artefacts are evidence of what great melting pots many of the Viking Age communities were. Much of what we call ‘Viking-Age culture’ was in fact created from encounters between norrænir menn and other peoples.
We may have gone a little bit nuts on all things Vikings and all things Christmas here but we are hoping you are as a much a fan of craft that’s equal parts beautiful and edible as we are.
If you’ve ever tried to make a gingerbread 3 dimensional anything ( house, boat, tree) as an activity with small children you will remember how difficult it can be to accomplish said 3 dimensional object with little hands whose strength are not quite up to the challenge of icing cement and building with easily breakable biscuit walls.
So here we’ve crafted our very own spin on this festive and fun activity in a more kid friendly and conveniently thematic design. These stand-up gingerbread forms are great for a holiday activity or can even be wrapped up to give as a gift.
Viking-Age society had a powerful upper class, an aristocracy of magnates and chieftains, some of whom called themselves kings, though they ruled mainly over people, not territories, via alliances based more on personal loyalty than on ethnicity. But while the society was hierarchical, social positions were not always as fixed as we might imagine. It was possible for individuals to both improve, and lose, their social status.
A large proportion of the population – perhaps between 20 and 40 percent – was unfree, or thralls. Locally born slaves had more freedom that those who had been captured and forced into captivity. While some unfree people were simply labour slaves, others were given significant rights. A ‘housecarl’ on a farm or estate could, if he was lucky, advance to the level of ‘bryte’, a type of farm manager or overseer.
The trade in thralls or slaves for labour was highly profitable. Indirect evidence of the trafficking of thralls in Viking-Age Scandinavia comes from archaeological finds such as shackles, neck-irons and similar restraints.
Raiders, traders and crafty-art-makers, this month our craft spot is inspired by the exhibition Vikings- Beyond the legend. Get ready for some sudsy, sloppy, slimy fun as we give a nod to Viking age textiles with this whimsical wet-felted rug!
Felt-like material has been found in Viking age archaeological sites and was likely worn by the people we now know as the Vikings. Wet felting is fantastically messy but a really fun craft activity for with children. Best of all you can customise your felt rug with fabric scraps, cut-outs, threads or ribbon trapped between the layers to make a unique artwork or a themed play mat. Have a play and don’t be afraid to experiment with different colours and textures in your felt.
- 1 or two heads of wool roving in different shades/ colours if you can ( available from places like Virginia Farm Woolworks)
- Dishwashing detergent or soap flakes
- A large bamboo sushi mat/ bamboo blind or bubble wrap or PVC grip mat
- A few towels
- A spray dispenser with hot water
- Some scrap fabric/ threads or cut-outs.
- A pair of scissors
Prepare and plan your decorative scene for the rug, if you are adding cut-outs as we are, prepare these first. We chose to make 3 Viking longships with shield details from scraps of pre-made felt and fabric. Ours were cut free-hand but if you would like a guide for your shape just find a nice clear outline /silhouette image online and trace around it onto your cloth before cutting.
Lay down your mat (the bamboo mat or bubble wrap- bubble side up or PVC grip liner) first. Make sure it is big enough for the size of rug you are making.
On top of this lay your wool roving to the size you require.
Gently separate out the strands of roving with your fingers. You need to layer your roving in different directions- horizontal then vertical then horizontal etc. We started with 3 layers.
Spray the surface with hot or warm water all over and a small about of detergent or soap flakes drizzled on top. You can combine the soap flakes or detergent into the water spray for convenience if you like. Gently press down the wet surface with a spare piece of your mat fabric.
Now the wool is hot and soapy it is ready for friction to be applied so that the open fibres will bind together. Roll up your mat on top of the felt layers and give it a good rub back and forth for a few minutes. You may even like to turn the felt over and spray and roll from the other side as well.
Now it is starting to look a bit flatter and evenly wet, add your decorations to the top layer. Lay over these another layer or two of the lighter coloured roving. Remember our next layer of roving is horizontal, then vertical and so on. We have laid ours very thin so as to avoid obscuring the scene but if you are doing more of an abstract thread decoration this will not matter as much and more than one layer on top will ensure your decoration is more securely embedded.
Repeat as before with some hot soapy water sprayed on, press down with your mat and then proceed to roll. TIP: The bamboo mat is not the most ideal for this stage as it can distort the surface of your design and pull at any small threads so if you can use bubble wrap or grip mat that will be helpful. Keep rolling and rubbing (this can take a while) until your wool is looking much thinner and flatter. Give the surface a pinch test to see if it is all well bound together.
Once you are happy with the texture of your felt rug, rinse it out with water and use the towels to squeeze out excess moisture.
Hang your rug out to dry.
And there you have it. A felted Viking longship rug perfect for play, stories or just for decoration!
The Viking age reconstruction vessel Jorgen Jorgenson is nearing completion in time for the opening of the Swedish History Museum–MuseumsPartner exhibition Vikings – Beyond the legend at the museum on 19 September. The opening event will see the longship rowed into the museum’s wharves, at night, with a complement of Vikings on board!
Today, passers by at Darling Harbour in Sydney witnessed an event that has only happened perhaps a handful of times in the last thousand years or so – the stepping of a Viking age vessel mast.
The restoration of the Jorgen Jorgenson in time for the upcoming Vikings – beyond the legend exhibition passed a momentous milestone today as the mast was successfully stepped into the mast fish. This is how it happened..
As outlined previously, the transformation of the reconstruction of a Viking age karvi the Jorgen Jorgenson continues apace by the museum’s Fleet staff and Pyrmont Heritage Boating Club volunteers. Now that the insides have been prepared, the paintwork continues.
Theresa McKinley from Allpoints Shipwrights is leading the painting of ‘teeth’ along the top strake of the vessel. This pattern of yellow triangles can be seen in the reconstruction longship Gaia. Continue reading
Early this morning while most people were commuting to work, a rare combination of 9th, 18th and 21st century technologies occured on Darling Harbour. The museum’s Fleet staff moved the Viking reconstruction Jorgen Jorgenson alongside the HMB Endeavour replica and used its block and tackle to winch the heavy mast fish (a partner timber to support the mast which has a fish shape to it) from the wharf onto the Viking boat.
Here’s how it happened… Continue reading
The decision to restore and fit out the Jorgen Jorgenson viking age reconstruction for the museum’s upcoming Vikings – Beyond the legend exhibition was a brave one. To get the vessel ship-shape in time for the opening night has meant a major focus for one of the important behind the scenes arms of the Australian National Maritime Museum – the shipwrights, tradies and volunteers who look after the floating vessels, known as Fleet Services, or just Fleet.
As mentioned in my last blog post, the restoration of the Viking Age reconstruction Jorgen Jorgensen, is being spearheaded, so to speak, by the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Fleet staff. During the last week of July, Fleet and volunteers worked hard to finish the necessary work below the waterline and to paint the vessel while it was on the hard at Noakes Shipyards. Continue reading
Readers may have seen a rather strange looking bright green double-ended wooden vessel moored under the Anzac bridge at Pyrmont for several years now. On close inspection, there is no mast, an open deck and oar holes along each side. Although clinker built, it is not your traditional Australian wooden sailing vessel. But what is it?
The bow and stern are identical and rise sharply, and this is a clue. If you imagine a single mast and spar with a square sail, and perhaps a dragon head carving on the prow, you will get the picture – it is a Viking longship.
Well, not a longship technically. It is a reconstruction of the famous Gokstad vessel, which was actually a karvi – a ship used by Viking Age chieftains to cruise the Scandanavian coastal waters and rivers. A true longship, used for raiding overseas, would have been much larger, with possibly over 60 oars rather than the 32 on this vessel. Continue reading