Last QPT I decided to figure out how to do brass etching. It involved a highly toxic acid solution and provided some challenges given that it was too cold to work on my balcony.
Since I need to figure out five different ‘things’ to do in five different ‘categories’ for the Kingdom A+S Pentathalon, I’ve decided to start experimenting with one of the ‘harder’ categories. I’ll make a note that just because Ealdormere has decided to do away with the categories, does not mean I’ll edit my entries to suit. I would prefer that our Kingdom hold itself to the same standards as the rest of the Known World so that if at any point, I am lucky enough to be judged as the ‘winner’ of an Ealdormere competition.
Since horn-carving was something I’ve always been interested in that I haven’t tried yet, I’m going to give it a go for QPT. The Queen’s Prize Tournament is always a great place to take risks and get great feedback…if my carved horn works out? Wonderful, I’ll have completed one of my Pent entries, and if not…I hopefully will receive enough constructive criticism to know how to fix it for my Pent entry.
After working without a respirator for QPT last time, and after reading about how deadly and abrasive horn-carving dust can be, I have acquired some of the proper safety materials that may be required for this project!
I have also acquired 2 cow horns from the Fan Expo Tandy Leather Booth. I went out and bought a range of wet/dry sandpaper grits from 320-2000 to polish them up, and I have a wonderful rotary tool bit set that was a prize for Queen’s Choice which I won at Kingdom A+S last year! While I’m aware that those in medieval times may not have used a rotary tool and autobody sandpaper….like many of my current projects, I seek a final result, as opposed to an entirely period method of ‘getting there’. In this case, the ‘ends justifies the means’.
While most people associate carved horns with the Vikings, since my persona is not viking I did not necessarily want to do a celtic-themed horn. If I ever was to do a ‘viking’ horn, I would likely end up succumbing to my Marvel Fandom and do something entirely anachronistic with Loki/Thor related designs.
Instead I began my research at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Museum, and the MET Webpages which are amazing resources for quality photos of extant examples. I quickly discovered that there are not a lot of surviving horns that a) Fits my time-period and b) are actually made of cow-horn.
Herein lies dilemma #1. Most of my favourite examples of carved ‘horns’ are actually carved tusks. Elephant Ivory. Which from what I’ve read so-far, handles quite differently than horn, is super-illegal (and not something I’d want to touch even if it weren’t) and is also on a size-scale, significantly larger than my cow-horns.
I have decided that one of my ‘deviations’ from the period examples will be the material used. My second deviation will be a sacrifice of detail due to inability to reproduce it on a smaller scale, and the third and most obvious, tools used, will be modern.
All of that being said, I’m pretty excited to start working on them…I have begun to draw out the templates on a scale-able vector art program which I will print off and transfer via carbon-paper onto the horn so I can see how it looks before starting to carve.
Since I will not have an elephant (oliphant) sized horn to work with, instead of covering the entire surface, I will work off an early 14th century example from the Louvre which has decoration mostly at the top and tip, but in the style of carvings of the Borradaile Oliphant horn which is either 10th or 11th century Byzantine. The reason I’m attracted to the byzantine designs is because they include plenty of animals carved in relief with a variety of birds and monsters in interlacing circles. As my previous A+S projects attest: I’m kind of ‘into’ bestiary variants.
I’m not sure yet which beasts I’ll end up putting onto the horn, but because my own personal heraldry has a Stag on it, I will likely include one on the horn. I also really like peacocks, and I love the one that can be seen on this example on the right.