Medieval Lighting

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Sophia
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Medieval Lighting

Post by Sophia »

Now we have our own tent, firebox, and a couple of stools I am starting to think about lighting. Both internal and external - for safety and practicality I would like to avoid unprotected naked flames, particularly inside the tent. Too much risk even if I put Cat 5 fire retardent on everything.

I have looked at various traders and articles (Sweetness & Light, An old Dragon as a pdf, etc.). My problem is cost and practicality.

The best medieval lights had very expensive polished horn panes and the cost of the modern replicas reflects the work involved in their production. Pierced metal lanterns have the disadvantage of allowing less light out and being immensely more wind sensitive.

I know that prior to the development of more efficient glass production methods windows were often glazed with oiled parchment or linen as a cheaper alternative to glass or horn. Does anyone know of sources for WOTR that would support the use of such materials in a lantern?

Many thanks,

Sophia :D

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Post by m300572 »

From the safety point of view I'd save up for a bit and get a horn/glass lantern - parchment/linen will go up if the candle gutters too much or if the lantern gets knocked over.

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Post by Sophia »

Was thinking of oiling/varnishing and then treating with a flame retardent. Long term plan is to make/buy a proper Lanthorn but would like to do something in the interim.

Sophia :D

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Post by Karen Larsdatter »

Was just going through my candleholders linkspage; there's this 15th century lantern, which doesn't have horn, glass, or oiled parchment or linen. So it should be very easy to make -- right? :lol:

There's also a lanternmaker from the Mendel Hausbuch, but he's from 1536.

Some more lantern-related links: http://moas.atlantia.sca.org/wsnlinks/i ... &catid=865

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Post by Sophia »

Karen,

Thanks for that - have already found most of the links you mention. The big issue for me is the unshielded flame. We have the skills to do the basic woodwork and the metalwork as long as it is riveted rather than welded. What we don't have is the stuff/time to polish the horn panes or the money to buy them ready finished.

I am probably going to have to settle for pierced metal or open work lanterns and just hope that when used outside they do not go out to often.

Sophia :roll:

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Post by Karen Larsdatter »

Ah. Found some notes on making & polishing the horn panes, too.

Maybe you could ask around on the Historic-HornAntlerBone mailing list to see if anyone might be interested in making them for you (or could help with advice for making them)?

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Post by Sophia »

Thanks for that Karen.

Will keep it in reserve - my main problem is that we live in a one-bedroom flat so apart from sewing there is little scope for projects that would take more than one weekend. :(

I do have a friend who is experimenting with polishing horn but he has a lot of personal stuff on his plate at the moment so I can't really ask him to help.

I think I will work on a copper lantern with cut outs and/or piercings with an open front. I will also try oiled parchment but not use it inside the tent or when the wind is up.

Sophia :D

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Post by JC Milwr »

I have pierced metal lanterns, and they are amazingly wind-proof. Non-authentic, really, but they look okay ;)
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Post by Mark GRaves »

I've seen a variant for sale that uses rawhide (dog chew - soak, flatten, cut to size) instead of horn.

Not as authentic, but cheaper and easier to work.

Just don't get it damp.
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Post by Mark GRaves »

I've seen a variant for sale that uses rawhide (dog chew - soak, flatten, cut to size) instead of horn.

Not as authentic, but cheaper and easier to work.

Just don't get it damp.
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Post by gregory23b »

Oiled lined is certainly used as fenestrals in 15thc buildings, a short term answer to glass, cheap short term, dearer long term.

I know of one definite English source, Pepysian Cook Book, known as Styr it well, edited by Delia Schmiff <hic - go canaries!>

But strictly for lanterns can't say, my gut feeling is more a health hazard as oiled cloth is very flammable.

Pierced latten ones were used as well, can't remember who makes them, but it is sheet work, brazed and pierced (in whatever order ;-))


Oh and oiled paper was used as an even cheaper alternative to windows, I would be less inclined to use that than the oiled linen. Does allow for a nice diffused light though. Anyone want a painted oiled fenestral for their home? sorry Havana.
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Post by John Waller »

Have a look at the Co of St George on-line Dragons. There is one edition with stacks of illustrations of C15th lanterns including one of a mounted knight with a lantern fixed to his helmet!

I think the Two J's sell horn panels if you want to DIY. I bought a finished lanthorn from them which works reasonably well.
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Post by Type16 »

We have 3 lanterns glazed with plain parchment.
Never had a problem with it catching fire.
If a candle gets knocked over, the parchment just chars & shrinks.

This winter we are making a mega 5 candler :twisted:
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Post by gregory23b »

T16, is the parchment oiled by any chance? only ask as oiled parchment is used too for tracing paper etc as it lets out a fair bit of light.
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Post by Sophia »

Thanks for that.

Have read the Company of St George article in question.

Will investigate sources of parchment (and buy enough for spare panes).

Sophia :D

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Post by Type16 »

G23
No, it is plain as bought.
Lets quite a lot of light through & takes transportation abuse quite well!

Though.......I would appreciate advice re oiling to make it more transparent.
I was thinking of a fire retardant .....have loads of it .........but it hygroscopic & makes things fee damp.

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Post by John Waller »

What oil(s) would anyone recommend for oiling parchment or linen. I fancy making a lantern.
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Post by gregory23b »

Ah, then Type 16 you are in for a treat, oiled parchment lets in even more light.

Use boiled linseed oil from the diy shop (langlows or other brand), wipe with an oily cloth until the parchment is as see through as it gets, do not use too much oil as it wont make it any better.

Wipe off all the excess with a dry cloth, leave it to dry in the sunlight or in a green house etc, UV helps 'set' the oil. It is ready when no oil can be rubbed off, it should then be safe for use.

'Hygroscopic' funny I only used that word yesterday in relation to this in a pm to Sophia :D

John, same for linen. make sure it stretched out on a frame then oiled thinly, yuo need more caution in terms of letting it dry, ie don't let it dry in an enclosed space or folded up, let air move the volatiles away.
Again it should be ok when the oil ceases to rub off, this will vary according to temperature, cloth and how much oil you put on etc.
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Post by Type16 »

G23
Big thanks for the info. Will get the boiled linseed asap. :D

For anybody's info........ I have been buying horn panels from 2J's. Bit thick to start with, but electric sanding & scraping brings it down nicely ( I sometimes use an angle grinder with a flap disk........ works well but dusty......& you get very short finger nails :? )

I find that horn dust stinks & gives me an asthma like wheeze.......mask essential.........+understanding family.

Cheers to all for the discussion.

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Post by Sophia »

Many thanks to everyone for their contributions on this subject.

I now feel that I have enough information to put a couple of lanterns on my winter to do list. My balcony is sheltered enough to dry out oiled parchment or linen (have used it in the past when oiling/waxing furniture which I much prefer to varnish).

Sophia :D

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Post by John Waller »

Thanks Jorge. I have some boiled linseed somewhere that I use on gun stocks. Another thing on the winter project list.
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Post by gregory23b »

I stress I do not have shares or commercial interests in the linseed oil market ;-)

I must do a count of how often linseed oil comes up, some universal unguent for almost every purpose.



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Post by Type16 »

Ahhhhhhh,
but I bet you could write a book on
"1001 things to do with a bottle of linseed oil" :lol:
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Post by KSBIII »

A shop near me has some almost attractive lamp-shady things made from animal skin (goat maybe?) painted and stretched over a metal frame - these are for modern eletric bulbs. They seem to let a decent amount of light through. Would skin have been used in this way before the 20th century?

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Post by Karen Larsdatter »

I just reorganized my candleholders linkspage and moved the lanterns to http://www.larsdatter.com/lanterns.htm

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Post by gregory23b »

Karen, you rock.

I am so glad your pages are bookmarked. I hope you get the recognition for sheer dedication in putting your lists up, really useful.
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Post by craig1459 »

gregory23b wrote:Karen, you rock.

I am so glad your pages are bookmarked. I hope you get the recognition for sheer dedication in putting your lists up, really useful.
Karen's website rules!
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Post by Sophia »

seconded :D

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