Not too long ago I found myself in a slightly embarrassing situation – I attended a SCA feast, and as the event invite didn’t include a list of things to bring (apart from things needed for optional classes) I didn’t bring any feast gear! I had figured that since it was being held in a hall, that the hall would have all that kind of thing for us to use – oops!
(Yes, I’ve rented halls before, and when the halls didn’t have tablewear for us to use, we rented what we would need through our caterer, but often enough they DID have what I needed…)
So that meant in time for another upcoming feast night.. I needed to find some feast gear!
(Not to worry, there were two nice women who loaned me some of their spares for the evening, and one even let me take part of a set home with me – now that I have some of my own I returned it for the next time she’s in such a situation!)
I did a little reading about what I might want and need, and it seems like it’s a bit of a struggle to find a good spot between trying to be reasonably authentic, having things that pack and transport well (without breaking), having things that are affordable (I loved that Birka reproduction glass I saw at a museum shop, but $130 for a single glass – not going to happen!), having things that can be cleaned.. etc. I figured I would keep my eyes open for some interesting things at charity shops, but after looking (ok.. only in one. ew. it smelled!) I hadn’t had any luck yet until Ten Thousand Villages had a remote holiday shop in one of the large open areas at the area near where I work.
For those of you who don’t know about Ten Thousand Villages, their mission statement is: “Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships” and they’re the “oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America”.
I picked up a hammered aluminum bowl, with a matching plate and goblet. (The goblet wasn’t on the website when I went to look, or I’d share the link.) The objects are made of recycled aluminum by artisan metalworkers in India, and are food-safe (though the sales clerk recommended not leaving acidic foods like tomatoes on them for very long) though they should be hand-washed instead of washed in the machine, as high-heat can discolour them as well. I thought although they aren’t really Norse in theme, they were at least DIFFERENT enough to indicate that I was making an attempt at something other than polystyrene or paper plates….
I also picked up a “Highlands Goblet” made by hand-blowing recycled glass in Bolivia. The handblown technique leaves the glass with distinctive bubbles which again, isn’t really Norse (the finds have all been fairly fine glass) but the shape is vaguely similar to a glass found in Gotland (albeit without a foot for standing the glass on the table). Again, I think it’s passable for the time being.
To the kit I’ve added a ceramic bowl I painted at with a Hammer of Thor, and a hand-made ceramic mug I bought last year from a pottery show. I also made a napkin and place mat kind of thing from the basket weave linen leftover from my Viking age coat project. I also added a circle of fabric lined with beads which acts as a glass or bowl cover – I thought it might be nice to hide a modern can or something if my glass didn’t hold it all.
I also went to Ikea and bought some linen napkins (which I’ll probably do a bit of simple embroidery stitches on, just to make them stand out a bit more) (I couldn’t find them on the website or I’d link them for you) mostly for additionally support for packing, a wooden bowl (the larger version of this Blanda Matt one), and two small stainless steel bowls (the Blanda Blank).
I’ll still need some utensils and something to carry it all in, (and I think I’d like a tall mug that can handle a full bottle or can of beverage) but I think it’s a pretty good start for the time being. A contact on Facebook even found me examples of metal bowls from Viking Age Sweden – one in silver from Gotland, and another from the Ribe Viking Museum. Mine aren’t nearly as ornate, but it’s a good start I figure!
What do you think? Can you help me improve upon the kit in future if I choose to go to other feasts? What would you recommend?