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Lewis Chessmen

While learning how to make molds I became accidentally obsessed with the Lewis Chessmen.  We saw them first two years ago on our trip to Scotland and I tried to 3-D print one to make a test mold out of when I went to NM.  The 3-D print wasn’t detailed enough and soon after I discovered that I could purchase pre-made molds.  They are latex, not especially durable, and  I’m a bit afraid to cast resin in them.  I ruined one already by trying to cast wax into it and then couldn’t get the wax back out again. 

The originals are from the 12C and were discovered on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  There are 78 chess pieces in total.

Some of the original chessmen in Edinburgh.  
A bishop.  One of my molds includes this particular figure.
A berzerker.  This would take the place of a Rook.  I LOVE him.  Alas, he is not included in my set of molds.
The sets were originally white (walrus ivory) and red (paint).  I’m tryint to re-create that original look.
Playing around some more with warmer/cooler casts and one silver-on-black just to see how it looks.

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Skara Brae & Hobbits

I’m hoping someone else will find this as exciting as I do. This summer we visited Scotland and I made sure to stop at all the archaeological sites until my family rebelled.  This was the best moment for me.

Skara Brae is a neolithic settlement of semi-subterranean earth-houses on Orkney.  There are up to 8 dwellings and a workshop here, all connected with underground passages.

Skara Brae

Back in 1992 I was informed that my observation that the crannoga of Switzerland sounded a lot like the Lake Town from the Hobbit was not just a coincidence.   Thus, I was pleased to discover this hobbit-village-looking illustration in Skara Brae.

Artists impression of Skara Brae by Jim Proudfoot

The illustration isn’t the best part.  Look at the artists name!  (If you can’t make it out – the artist is Jim Proudfoot).  That’s the hobbitiest hobbit name ever.

A few miles from Skara Brae there are multiple other Neolithic sites including the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness, and a chambered cairn.  The Ring is surrounded by barrows, so that we left Skara Brae, and seemed to travel a few miles to the barrow downs described by Tom Bombadil.  The bus driver warned us to walk counterclockwise around the stones or else you’d get pregnant (not eaten by wights, but I have my suspicions).

Ring of Brodgar

Barrow at Ring of Brodgar

Standing Stones of Stenness

This is exactly what it looks like before the wights get you.

Conspicuously missing: menacing forest and hobbit-eating willow tree.  There are almost no trees on Orkney.