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Despite not seemingly that long ago that I was outlining plans for all the great things I would do over the winter, my first real show of the year is just about upon me! This weekend I will be demonstrating boneworking at Bamburgh Castle.

Thankfully I have managed to sort out most of the personal kit issues I wanted to deal with, and I am fairly happy with where my “soft kit” is at currently. Unfortunately, the larger pieces of kit I wanted to have made for my boneworking display have not come on nearly as well – my portable bench/bow lathe is still in pieces and while I may be lucky enough to get it finished as a bench, the lathe part will almost certainly have to wait. However, I do have a finished stool and thanks to my “pin a day” project, the actual display of bone and antler artefacts will be rather impressive. I am also hoping to get some good pictures of the setup, and unlike last year I really mean it this time!

In addition to the “pin a day” project (which as mentioned last week will a have a dedicated post after it ends on this coming Saturday) I have made a few other bits and pieces.

As always, various other items and images can be seen on my Facebook page – Halldor’s Boneworking

Antler salt container

The one I am most pleased with is this antler container, based on a find from Deventer in the Netherlands. It is not an exact replica as it was slightly larger than the original meaning that the decoration is a little different due to the increased length. The decoration is a mixture of ring-&-dot, saw cut lines and compass drawn curves.

Front of antler container

The front of the container.

Rear of antler container

The rear of the container.

Weaving tablets

As well as the container, which was for my own enjoyment, there seems to have been rather a demand for bone weaving tablets. The photos below show my latest batch, 12 plain and 12 decorated. The 12 decorated tablets comprise two of each of six designs shown in the photo.


24 bone weaving tablets

Decorated weaving tablets

Viking needlecase

Another ongoing project has been to finish a little bone needlecase that has been lying around for sometime. It is made from a bird humerus with wooden plugs and a bronze chain. The style of the needlecase is a very common Viking one, with decoration based on a find from Birka and the chain based on a fairly standard style found across the Viking world.

There is some debate about how these needle cases were used – either with small organic plugs such as mine has, or simple as a tube that had fabric/wool stuffed into it to hold the needles. While I agree that both are a possibility, I liked the look of this one with a lid.

Bone needlecase

Bone needlecase

Dye experiment

One area I haven’t really experimented with yet is colouring bone using period techniques. I have got a pair of bone beads that I dyed with madder by the simple expedient of popping them into a dye bath my wife was making, but beyond that I haven’t tried authentically dyeing bone. However, as you may recall from about this time last year, I started a little verdigris farm.

Now I look back at the comment about “in a few weeks I will hopefully start dyeing” and laugh. I really should know myself better than that by now!

However, silly timescales aside, I have finally got around to making a buckle and attempting to dye it. The buckle is the one shown below, a nice little example based on the dyed green find from York.

Bone buckle

The plan is simple – mix sour milk and verdigris together, add the buckle and keep the whole concoction sealed and warm until it turns green. Simple! Initial results are positive as the small piece of bone I stirred the milk/verdigris together with started to turn green just from the residual drops left on it, so hopefully a week or two of staying warm and soaking should have some nice results.

Well, that’s it for the moment, though hopefully I will be able to squeeze in a quick post on Saturday that shows a completed bench before I go to Bamburgh!