HANDCRAFTED HISTORY


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What’s my life like?

Are you curious about what life is like for historical market sellers and historical interpreters? Let me show you how my workdays and life looks like during a normal market season! (you know, before the pandemic when we actually travelled and met friends)

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What everyone sees (hopefully); standing in the market stall in pretty clothing

What life is like, nr 1: Driving

I live in the middle of Sweden so all markets during the season are typically a 4-8 hours drive away from home, and about 12 hours if I want to reach the southern parts. 2 years ago I bought a small van that I can drive on my regular driver’s license and it gives me the opportunity to bring all my market things, sleeping arrangement, restocking items and food. I can sleep in the van if I have to, and a small field kitchen keeps me sustained so I don’t have to stay at expensive restaurants along the way.

Nr 2: Freedom

Driving may be boring and takes a lot of time, but it also gives me a great feeling of freedom, driving across the country, over mountains, and stopping at interesting places to see the view or buy a local drink. Being your own also means freedom to plan, to decide when to work and how, and how much…

But sometimes I plan poorly and end up having to pack away the whole market stall and all my belongings in the heat of summer before I can take the van to go and find food. That happened a little too often in 2019, I will definitely plan better in the future.

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Nr 3: Actual working clothing

Regular working clothing when packing the camp; shift (linen underwear) sturdy shoes, working gloves, sunglasses and not much more. Fashionable deluxe!

Or, half-clean pants (they never stay clean for long when packing…) and a sweaty t-shirt after driving for hours without a working AC in summer. We really do save the best looking clothing for visitors and customers!

Nr 4: Lots of really hard work

From unloading the van to the ready-to-open market stall several hours of hard work lies in between. Packing up, lifting, packing down, carrying… If someone would make an employment ad for my work, there would totally be lines like “You really enjoy carrying things around and loading vans”.

I do so much heavy lifting during summer that I need to keep my weight lifting up during the winter so I won’t hurt my back when the summer season comes. Who could have guessed?

Because I am a one-person business, I sometimes travel alone (though I like to bring Love or friends along- it’s so much more fun!) which means I need to do the work myself, and also find some helping hands to raise the tent. We often help each other out which means running around helping with several tents, but also laughter and company while working!

Nr 5: Simple living conditions

Living in a medieval camp. This is the most awesome, and the hardest thing all season. I absolutely love sleeping in the cosy medieval tent, listening to the wind and sounds of camp all around. In the morning there is a fire with fresh coffee, friends to talk with and birds singing all around.

It is also the hardest. 2019 was a really cold and damp year sleeping outside, I regularly wore double woollen dresses and in bed, I had two layers of woollen clothes, covets, blankets, woollen socks and a cap- and was still freezing. When I arrived late at a market I barely got the tent up before darkness, and then there was only a cold meal in a messy space before sleeping. It can be uncomfortable, dark, cold… or a storm threatening to tear your home down.

Still worth it!

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Nr 6: Tourists

Not the same thing as customers, or visitors. The tourist will ask you things like “Do you really live in there” (yes) “Is this ware really from the Viking age?” (no) “Where do you take a shower?” (…) and sometimes you can be really, I mean really, tired of those questions. But at the same time, meeting people and making new friends is the best part of travelling.

But it is ok to be tired sometimes. And tell them you never shower… (On some events there are no showers. A lake or a bucket of water might be good for a couple of days, but every once in a while a girl needs a warm shower!)

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When the tourists leave… Ok, I admit that some of the best times during the market weekends are the evenings. The work is done, the market stall closed and you have time to cook, hang out with others at the market and enjoy entertainment, feasts, fire shows or just relax.

Nr 7: Moving from the modern world to the historical dream

The mix between the historical dream and the modern world.  Vans, heavy work and lots of things you need to build, carry, organise… But after that; a beautiful dress, a cosy area with medieval tents, cooking and that amazing feeling of visiting another time.

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Nailed it! Getting that perfect photo that shows you standing effortless in a beautiful surrounding, with your medieval outfit perfectly in order. The wind is right, the light is right. Not showing;

  • I was sick as a dog
  • There were one zillion visitors in the garden at the same time, appearing in the background and beside me
  • Battery remaining in camera; around 4%

Do you think this seems to be the most amazing job ever? (even after reading this whole post?) Well, here are my tips for starting:

  • Visit lots of markets to see what people want to buy, and what others are selling. Is there a gap in the market you might fill with products of your own? Thinking you can do the exact same thing as others, only cheaper/faster/better is not a good way to start- most markets and events want diversity in their sellers and won’t invite too many shoe/pottery/cake vendors.
  • What can you make/produce and what do you need to buy? If you have lots of costs (like importing fabrics) you will need bigger markets to sell more, whereas if you sell homemade cookies and honey you have lower costs but need more time preparing products.
  • Calculate costs; purchases, travel expenses and a salary for yourself, and then make a budget for the market season. How much do you need to sell to get a salary? To pay for all the costs going to a market? Many beginners make the mistake of not charging enough for their products and are struggling to make the ends meet until they get exhausted and quit. You need to charge enough to both cover your costs, get money for yourself and build a small amount for emergencies like a flat tyre or a broken tent.
  • Patience. No matter if you have a good budget and great products in place, the first season might not be great. It takes time to discover which markets suit your products, what customers want, how to sell things… Be patient. Have a backup plan to cover your living costs (like a side job, savings, etc) while exploring the market life.
  • Get to know people; everything is easier with friends. Maybe you can collaborate with someone, or help out somewhere in the beginning to make new friends. Being kind and helpful to others is a great first step!

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Fun fact about my business: Some time ago I got a call from a television show producer, wanting to know more about my life as a historical market seller and maker. She was very disappointed when I explained that I live my life like most people do, in a house, driving a car and eating everyday food for the better part of the year…

I am, after all, a pretty normal person with a business, that takes me out on adventures and travelling for the summer season, while I am living quite the normal life for the other half of the year.

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New year- new energy.

Hi there!

I have not been very good at writing here for the last couple of months. I guess life happened, with lots of work and winter coming with darkness and the flu. But now I finally feel I have new energy, after a long holiday over Christmas and New Year. I also got lots of new plans, both for Handcrafted History and for my own handcrafting projects. So what is up?

(photo from Elna at https://www.thehistoricalfabricstore.com/)

This year’s first handcrafting workshop will be held in Norway; there will be a super fun, nerdy weekend with medieval (and some viking) clothing and we still have some spots available; check it out at https://www.facebook.com/events/2871689502883854/.

I am also looking over this year’s coming market and event season and making plans for new roadtrips, and returning to favourite places. There will be both lectures, workshops and a market round. So exciting!

Also, with my Patreon up and running, readers, friends and supporters are contributing to this blog which enables me to make more new tutorials and materials for all of you. Do you want more free tutorials, patterns, how to make things, and so on? I would love it if you took a look at my Patreon and maybe even supported me there! Also, you will get access to all my paid tutorials and patterns there if you become a supporter.

 

 

Finally, I am working on selling lots of old clothing, fabrics, accessories and so on, that I have sorted out from my stash during the holidays. I will put everything up on my FB page during January, so check it out if you want to grab some pieces for a reduced price!

So, a short update done, I will continue sewing on some projects for customers, and a dress for myself. I also have some new posts coming up here, so stay tuned for more handcrafting inspiration. Do you have any projects planned for 2020?


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Summer plans for 2019

It feels like the Summer Season has started now, and I am sewing, planning market tours and writing on new workshops and lectures. Weekends are mostly planned with market visits. Have my hands full, more or less.

As many of you know, Handcrafted History is much more than this blog: it is my business and main living! For me, the summer season is both fun adventures and lots of work. I travel through Sweden and into Finland and Norway too, and I will try to keep you updated with all the fun stuff happening! I might not have lots of time to write blog posts though; so visit my Facebook page HandcraftedHistory and my Instagram with the same name for more updates.

Here is my current schedule with all markets and events I’ve got planned. If you visit one of them- please come by and say Hi! I love meeting blog readers =)

May 11; SCA event V.Ä.V

May 24-26 Oslo Middelalderfestival

May 27-June 2 SCA event Doublewars

June 14-16 Hamar Middelalderfestival

June 28-30 Alnö Medeltidsdagar

July 11-13 Skellefteå Medeltidsdagar

July 15-21 SCA event Cudgelwars

August 2-11 Medeltidsveckan

September 6-8 Gunnes Gård

On SCA events, Skellefteå Medeltidsdagar and Medeltidsveckan I also have workshops planned, if you want to learn viking/medieval pattern construction or tablet weaving. At Gunnes Gård there will be a viking themed workshop, but what is not yet decided. You can also come by during events to have your own personal pattern made by me; but you need to book a time in advance!

 


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Going to Hamar in Norway

Me and my friend J traveled to Hamar in Norway this May to attend the medieval festival/market over a weekend, and here is a blog post about the event!

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It really was a beautiful site, with the large lake stretching around the market and camping area, inviting for a swim in the warm weather. This is the reenactment camp, very nicely done and with an area for shows, riding and the like in front of it.

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A short walk from the camp was the market, with lush green trees and an open space for market tents and performances.

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Here is my tent! In a cozy corner in the road, under a big tree. We arrived the day before the market started so the first evening we just put up the tent, made some preparations and went about greeting friends and taking in the area.

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Morning in the tent, hearing tree branches whispering in the wind and feeling the sun rise on the tent side.

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Crafthive was on the market, selling belts and nice bags, among other things.

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I also sold things from my shop, mainly historical accessories and jewelry, sewing materials and handcrafting items. It is fun to meet new people during markets, but more often than not I start talking with them and forget that I should sell my stuff… I really like holding workshops and lecturing more, but the shop is a nice way to be able to visit new places and travel more!

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When no customers needed help, I sat down with new and old friends, having a chat and sewing on my new dress. Here it is, worn for the first time! The neck opening is just basted, but it was fun to get a chance to try it on. 15th century (yes, it’s much of that century right now) with proper hair and veil for the period.

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I got a chance to visit this very interesting ruin, saved inside a glass room on the site.

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And a visit with the Madonna and Child, a wooden sculpture made between 1200 and 1300 in Norway according to the sign. (Yes, visiting only in my shift! It was sooo hot that day)
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I found Volundr on the market, and they sold the most lovely handcrafted jewelry based on different historical finds. When I laid my eyes on this 15th c necklace I promptly emptied my money-box over their table, and went back to my own tent much happier but also more broke…

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After the market on Sunday, the wind had turned and there was rain in the air. We hurried to take down the tents, pack the cars with all stuff and then went to see if others needed help. Elna from Historical fabrics is my new favourite seller of thin linen for veils (among other things) and she was packing away her tent and all the fabrics when we came by. Phew! Fabric sellers have the worst time packing, we helped with some rolls of fabric and tent gear but there was some advanced tetris before she was finished.

I really love going on historical adventures! On the road towards Hamar we traveled across the mountains, some of them with snow still left, and then over the border to Norway and some very nice views along the way. It was sunny and we had a picnic packed in the car. On the road home, I was traveling alone since J had to go by train back to Stockholm, I hadn’t any food left and the weather was cold and rainy. Then the adventure seemed a bit less fun. But as they say; it’s good to leave on a journey but it’s great to be back home!