Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Malta Prague connection

A beautiful May afternoon. The sun was shining brightly (for a pleasant change) on the gelatto coloured buildings of Prague. Deirdre, Brenda and I were walking beside yet another pile of medieval building, and I noted to Brenda that the stone on this building was actually not like the stone you usually find in Prague, but sandstone, like we saw in Malta. In fact, I joked, it looks exactly like Maltese stone! Deirdra nodded non-comitaly, she is used to my off the wall comments. Brenda caught us walking around the corner of the edifice. In the distance, you can see one of the thousand Georgian period gelatto coloured buildings...I think that was cappuccino-strawberry. (click on the image to enlarge) As we went around the front, I realized two things almost simultaneously...that this church was crennellated like a castle, (so maybe it wasn't a church???) and then, sillouetted against the sky, was that old standby Maltese Cross.
Well, that explained why it looked like a castle, and hey, it probably explains why there really IS sandstone from Malta used for the outside repairs of this church!

Inside, open to the public, is a pleasant little garden. I think it may be a graveyard, actually, but still, it is very peaceful. You can't really go anywhere else though, the inner sanctum is restricted.

Back outside, we had walked right past the side entrance. Doubling back, we realized that there is plenty of evidence of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem right there, where I had walked right past!

And I think that I may have uploaded the same picture twice. Oh well, its still a pretty handsome door! How does it compare to the door to the Palace in Valetta, a picture of which I posted some time ago!

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chain Mail Groom

Some of my armour, being worn by an enthusiastic groomsman. Being a spear carrier has its drawbacks...itchy chain mail, heavy weapon. But all in all, it was worth it!

The above armour was made by me for a wedding, and Lorne, the fellow in the picture, was a groomsman. What is not shown is the sword, the sword belt, and the arch of swords they made as they left the church. The bracers, he made here in my shop. I think he looks great.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Class Graduation

Couple of the boys having some armoured combat at this stage, but still, quite exciting! Lets see, that would be John P. in the red helmet going up against Jean V. in the red helmet. In the back, beside me is Simon, and I dont have permission to name the other two guys.

We managed to graduate yet another fine bunch of sword fighters.
(not terrifically happy with this new digital seems to be really fuzzy even in good light)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fort St. Elmo, the south east Vedette which overlooks Grand Harbour, Malta.
A little crumbly, a little battered, but like an old boxer, still something to be reconed with. The sandstone does not take kindly to years of weathering, and these blocks will need to be replaced sometime this century. Still, the walls are very strong and solid, even if their faces look like mine after a night's carousing! If you click on the above picture, in the background you can see Fort Ricasoli. This is an entire renaissance castle/gatehouse/palace which is being allowed to crumble into sand. Ask 10 Maltese, you get 10 answers as to why.
I wish it were possible to preserve all the ancient sites, but I understand the problems of a businessman myself, I recognize that it would take a lot of money to preserve something which really is nothing which has not been represented somewhere else. Maybe its present use as a movie set for the powerful film industry in Malta may be its best use. When you look at it from a distance like I am doing in the above pic, don't use binoculars....or you will weep.

On a lighter note....this is an example of a very well preserved morion in the Palace Museum. The varnish has yellowed, but all in all, it is in excellent shape....a few hours with the acetone to dissolve the varnish and some standard preservation, and it will be good as new!
This helmet was not only used by the Spanish (though we in the western hemisphere associate it with the Conquisadors) but by most armies in the early renaissance. As far as I can see, it has been raised entirely from a single piece of low slag iron. There are many hammer marks on the inside, and a few patches which are hammer welded in so well that you simply cannot see them from the outside! I wish I could see the oddly shaped hammer the smith must have used to move the metal up near the top. The finished metal is roughly 17 awg judging by its surpisingly light weight. That puts it in the realm of "parade armour", but even battle morions tend to be lightweight, depending on glancing surfaces to deflect the stone and lead bullets being fired at the wearer by primitive black powder "gonnes" of the time.
If you look near the top, you can see a stress fracture. That must have occured long after it was put into service. The little point at the top is a nice touch...I know of no reason why it is there, but they are on every morion of the time! The rolled edges are very pretty, and stiffen the brim quite nicely, and the inevitable brass rivets around the edge once upon a time held the leather suspension net inside. This net is long gone, and the metal around the rivets shows signs of haveing more than one net installed over its lifetime.
The decoration? Well, its some acanthus leaf pseudo-classical instantly forgettable repeating motif which seems to texture the surface quite nicely.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Belgian War Museum

You may remember seeing this archway before...on the other side of it is the headquarters of the European Union. To the right is the war of the largest in the world. To the left is the automobile museum. Never got to that, but again, I understand it is one of the largest in the world.
One of the British tanks salvaged from the battlefields of the Somme, or maybe Passcendaele. Not very big...I am not posing in the picture to show off my pretty face, but rather to show how small the machine actually was.

Everywhere you look you see swords, guns, spears and whatnot in decorative arrangements.

This is one of the finest collections of Kozak sabres. Gives me a chill to imagine my ancestors useing these things for real.

The first world war saw Canadians in kilts. Of course, so did the second world war, though trousers replaced the kilts except on parade.

The "Irish" kilt is a little unusual. Nice collection of helmets though. And the Fraser tartan was kind of nice to see.

More swords. And an armour.

More swords.
A random series of swords and armour dating from Waterloo.

I expected this museum to be glorifying war, but was a bit surprised to find it to be rather static, and if the subject matter were not so amazingly interesting, perhaps a little boring in its presentation. You are sort of expected to know the history BEFORE you go there, because you won't learn it from this. However, if you are prepared, you will get a LOT from this collection.

Arm harness, Palace Museum

click on this image to enlarge....

This is an arm harness at the Palace Museum in Malta. Look beyond the decoration, and observe the deep dishing of the elbow cop at the lower left, and the clever articulation of the rerebrace at the upper right. See the roped edges throughout, the attachment point of the vambrace, the roped ridges at the weld lines of the elbow cops. Lots to see in a little picture!

And I see by the IP map below that at least one person is vistiting here from Malta. You should say hi, and leave a comment! Thanks for dropping in.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Anima armour.

"anima" armour from the Palace Museum in Valetta, Malta. This armour is called "Anima" armour, and it is not really very common. I don't think it is really all that easy to move in it, and to MY eye, it shows the armour smith showing off! What is nice about this armour is that the breast and back plate actually overlap, joining over the shoulders with pins and eyeslots.
Originally, I wondered if the armour was joined together with sliding rivets. But no, it is actually riveted together just as you see it, so the whole armour is really quite solid.
I believe if I were to make this armour, it would have a lot of sliding rivets in it. I could not imagine going to all the trouble of making this armour, and NOT make it articulate!
This one armour is worth visiting the Palace Museum in Malta to study. Every time I see it, I am filled with questions.