Jump to content

10th-11th century Byzantine dromon by Louie da fly - 1:50 - FINISHED!

Recommended Posts

And it's done as a "round"  - so one group starts singing "Row, row, row your boat" and when they begin the second line the next group start with "Row, row, row your boat", and then the third group come in, followed by the fourth. Sounds more complicated than it is in practice. Known in "proper" music as a fugue.:P

Link to post
Share on other sites

Another 4 oarsmen complete and another 4 started, which brings us to just past halfway.






I've found that getting to halfway has a positive effect on morale. From there on there are more items complete than there are left to do, and with every new item complete the balance shifts further and further that way. So rather than being overwhelmed by how many are left to do, it becomes "only so many left". I found this with making the oarsmen, the oars,and various other things where there were a lot of identical items to do.


Also, when I mix the paint for the tunics (and the flesh colours as well), inevitably I mix far more than I need for just one figure. But as I'm doing four at a time, each one at the extreme end of the row it's in, I can paint the tunics all the same colour without it looking obvious.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it wasn't obvious - until you pointed it out, Steven!  Your observations about 'halfway through' and now going downhill are right on. The ensemble effect of thr mass of rowers now looks great.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oops! Made a mistake. The oars are notionally kept in place by a rope wrapped around the oar and the thole, but in fact are glued in place and held with a little brass pin next to the thole, glued into the gunwale and a hole in the oar:


20200728_170901.thumb.jpg.60389ba1d5fd1785f077174ae4dd2990.jpg  20200728_170933.thumb.jpg.cf520bb49f394ea68a15804e101ce7e2.jpg    


The tall one on the right is the thole.


Which is all very well, except when I put the hole in the oar over the thole. :default_wallbash:


Doesn't sound like much of a mistake, but it moves the oar about a millimetre and a half (about two to three inches at full scale) towards the oarsman, which affects the length of his arms (they're already as short as I can in conscience make them).


So I had to remove two of the most recent batch of oars (which meant the wooden tholes broke off, of course), make new tholes and re-drill the holes for them and put the new ones in place. And then put the oars back, but this time in the correct position. The glue is a bit messy, but that is mostly invisible when it's dry and covered with the rope around the thole, and it adds to the firmness of the joint.





Oh well, relatively easy to fix, and I'm glad I spotted it now rather than later :blush:  . 

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, druxey said:

Did you have to do much thole-thearching before correcting things?

Aha! As Terry Pratchett would say "A pune, or play on words". (And a particularly dreadful one - I love it!)


16 hours ago, Matrim said:

it would have driven you mad if you had left it without correcting though

I'm afraid so. I'm just glad I noticed it when I did.


Thanks everyone for all the likes - I haven't acknowledged them for awhile.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Four more oarsmen finished and four more started: Getting very close to the end.




A note regarding the clothing colours. Dyes at the time were (of course) all natural. I haven't done any natural dyeing myself, but from what I've seen the colours are much richer and more beautiful than those produced by modern dyes - an example:




The madder plant (rubia tinctorum) has roots that are quite dramatically red, and can be made into a dye which (depending on the treatment) can be anything from orange to maroon. The most common is a "brick" red - it's not capable of providing a "fire-engine" red.


A much brighter red was available from a small beetle, which was found on the kermes oak, native to the Eastern Mediterranean. It was difficult to make in great quantity (lots of beetles!) so was reserved for the rich. It's also known as Cardinal Red, for obvious reasons. Much too expensive for an oarsman to wear. 


Blue is from woad (like braveheart). It contains indigotin, the same chemical as the indigo plant, but not in the same concentrations. A very beautiful blue. Repeated dyeing would produce deeper and deeper shades of blue (the same applies to the other colours). The extraction process produced a truly disgusting smell, (a combination of bad cabbage and raw sewage) making woad dyeing a "noxious trade".


About half the easily available plants in nature produce a yellow dye. The most commonly used (at least in western Europe) was dyer's greenweed.


Dyeing alternately blue and yellow produced green.


Browns could be produced with walnut shells, and tannin from oak galls and iron (which was used to make black ink) could produce a good approximation of black though I don't know if that was used as a fabric dye. As far as I'm aware there's no mention of naturally "black" wool from black sheep being used, but that doesn't mean it wasn't. Shoes in contemporary illustrations are almost always black, and a friend of mine once sent me a sample of leather that had been tanned in an iron pot -combination of iron and tannin producing a very dark brown - almost black. I left it outf or over a year in the tropical sun at Port Hedland where I lived at the time and it didn't fade at all. Whether this is how they produced those black shoes I have no idea, but it certainly did produce the result this time.


Naturally enough, undyed fabric could also be used, but I have no idea whether this was actually done at the time or if fabric was always dyed. Presumably your wealth and status would have had something to do with that. "Pure" white was apparently a prestige colour, probably because it was so hard to keep clean.


Purple came from the shellfish murex, but was reserved to the Imperial family -  "Imperial Purple". Another dye which produced a disgustingly foul smell. Purple could also be produced (and was) by dyeing with woad and madder - but the colour was still restricted to Imperial use.


So I've given my oarsmen clothing in colours that could be produced with the dyes of the time and within their budgets.





Link to post
Share on other sites

The little beetles are still used to make cochineal /carmine, used as a food dye nowadays.  I have noticed that there have been several “eeeeugh! Did you know that red smarties are made from squashed beetles?” Articles in the press recently.  Truly people are getting remote from their food these days.  I have seen the beetles on cacti in the 

Canary Islands, where they still make cochineal

As a linguistic aside, ladybirds (ladybugs to Americans) are of the species Coccinella, so the 7-spot ladybird is coccinella septipunctata, and gave their name to cochineal.  I have not traced the linkage yet, but it might be as simple as someone calling the squashed-bug dye “red like a ladybird”


On holiday in Crete ( highly recommended when permitted) I learned that the fabulous wealth of the Cretan kings based at Knossos came from a monopoly on successful farming the murex shellfish, and the ability to extract the exudate without killing the creature.  Sounds good, but I seem to remember that it took the dye from 20,000 murex to dye the one inch stripe round a Roman senators toga.  Imperial purple also called Tyrian purple, because it was thought to come from Tyre.  It probably sorta did, because why would the Phoenician traders say where it really came from


You mention the associated smells.  They may have been only a footnote to the whole dyeing business which was ( and often still is) radically odiferous.  For example the mordant used to attach the dyestuffs to wool was urine.

 The  natural dyes are fascinating, and the introduction of the early industrial dyes is a saga of triumph, disaster and some linguistic interest.
Magenta, for example! Named for a Redshirt battle and I think the first of the azo-dyes

But the leader, Garibaldi, became a biscuit rather than a colour!


Sorry to ramble.  You lit my touch paper

Rowers almost there and naturally dyed in the wool

I was always taught that “the Pune was the lowest form of wit.”

But I like them!



Link to post
Share on other sites

Historical movie depiction is sad, but I stoped being upset about this long time ago and just take it what it is - entertainment. When characters are not flat and blacandwhite I am happy now. If I want historicaly accurate setting I get a book, historical novel. There the setting is as historicaly accurate as I can imagine it 😀

Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew, the kermes beetle is a different breed from the cochineal beetle, but it's likely the dye is the same substance. I was under the impression that cochineal was from the New World and didn't come into use until after the conquest of the Americas.


Apparently during the American Civil War Garibaldi was offered the status of Major General by the Union but he wanted to be in overall command of the army. Nothing came of it.


The murex also lives on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean so it's possible that Tyre had a flourishing industry as well as Crete. The amount of work (and shellfish!) to make the dye is why it was restricted to the Imperial family.


Yes, the urine had to be stale, and the best was apparently fom young male beer-drinkers. I have no idea how they worked that out. But apparently traditional tweed is still dyed that way, and does smell (slightly) of stale urine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A slight change in technique for the arms has made my job a fair bit easier. I had been mass-producing the arms, sawn to a rough outline




(NOTE: The letters on the arms stand for "Starboard Left/Port Right" and "Starboard right/Port Left". As the figures are effectively mirror images of each other, the same arm can be put either on the left side of a figure on the port side of the ship, or the right side of a figure on the starboard.)


Once I had cut enough for 4 oarsmen I glued them onto all the figures at once. After that I'd dissolve the glue that held the oarsmen to the benches and take them off. Then I'd (as outlined in an earlier post) drill a hole linking each arm with the oarsman's body and insert a bamboo pin. Next I'd get the arms to swivel around the pins and glue the figures back on their benches. Finally, I'd take the arms off the figures and one by one I'd trim the arms to shape and glue them into their final positions on the figures.


A few things wrong with this. First, doing four figures at once starts getting frustrating - like working on an assembly line it gets boring pretty quickly. It takes forever for anything to actually be complete. Second, I found the pins were often in the wrong places, because the arms were so roughly shaped when I attached them, Third, it was inefficient use of labour - too many steps involved.


So, what I'm now doing is - still gluing the figures to the benches four at a time; that hasn't changed. But then I cut out only one pair of arms - for a single figure at a time. And I just hold an arm up against the body and see what trimming is needed for it. I gradually carve it to shape until it's exactly right, down to the fingers, the cuff of the sleeve and the folds in the sleeve at the elbow.




Once that's done, I glue the arm into its final position at the shoulder.




And repeat the process with the second arm for that figure. 




Once all that's done, only then do I unglue the figure, drill and insert the bamboo pins. The arms don't need to be pivoted or shaped - they're already in their final configuration and position. And then I move on to the next figure.


This saves several steps which I have discovered are completely unnecessary, and maintains my interest better, because each figure is complete ready for filling, final trimming, and painting before I move onto the next.


And in fact I can add the filler and wait for it to dry while I work on the next figure, so I have four figures at different stages of development (keeping me interested), rather than having to wait till all are done before I can move on to the next step. I've discovered I really have a "thing" about repetitive work. Who knew?


A small thing, perhaps, but this hobby is supposed to be fun, not a drag.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

he letters on the arms stand for "Starboard Left/Port Right" and "Starboard right/Port Left".

And here I thought all these dudes needed tattoos to keep things straight. NO, Thermocles, your OTHER starboard!


Nice revision on the arm method.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • ccoyle changed the title to 10th-11th century Byzantine dromon by Louie da fly - 1:50 - FINISHED!

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...