Here is information about some
skills, crafts and trades that members of CROFT have opportunity to
explore and become proficient in.
possibilities for exercising skills and crafts are enormous, let your
imagination flow. So many things were invented or developed between
400BC to 1746AD, the time period which CROFT represents – glass,
porcelain, firearms, pencils, ink, manufactured pens, concrete, paint,
stains, dyes, toys, games, just to name a few.
As the Arizona
Renaissance Festival (ARF), the major event that CROFT supports, is
Renaissance themed, (though does not specify an exact year in history),
CROFT members' skills, crafts and demonstrations mainly represent the
mid 15th - 16th Centuries.
Talking about topics such as Clothing of the period, or the
construction methods and designs of Buildings and
Houses is just as much a demonstration as a hands on activity. Many
people want to hear how our Celtic ancestors lived, what they did, how
they did it – they are fascinated by us and what we portray. We have
many young people in our group who could tell their story. What did a
young lass or lad do on a daily basis, what was their life like?
Perhaps a talk on the types of skins and furs and how they were used -
no need to make anything – just talk about it with samples. So many
people do not know the difference between them - what is the
difference, where do they come from, what do different animal hides
feel like, what are their uses? Or the various natural fibers that were
available - wool, linen, silk - how they were gathered, prepared, dyed,
spun and woven.
There are so many areas in which to develop and enjoy craft skills and
trades. The List of Skills and Crafts names over 75 different activities.
Spinning, weaving and felting, knitting and sewing were essential for
producing every sort of fabric item from clothing to ships' sails.
Embroidery and blackwork were used to decorate fabrics; tapestry to create wall hangings for both beauty and warmth. Fibers were twisted or braided to produce cord and rope, then knotted
and spliced to make netting and ships' rigging.
Do you like to knit, sew clothes, embroider, sew tapestry, make lace,
Are you interested in how wool, linen and other fibers were spun, dyed
and woven in different ways to make cloth, belts, braid?
Would you like to learn - or teach - about making cord and rope from
fiber, even from straw like súgán, the traditional Irish straw rope?
A Blacksmith makes many kinds of weapons, armour, tools and other
objects out of metal. He heats the metal in the forge to make it soft,
and then hammers it on an Anvil to shape it. Smiths over the years
specialized as armorers, bladesmiths, swordsmiths, nailmakers and
chainmakers, branching out from the trade of general Smith. Blacksmiths
also often were the farrier, making and fitting horseshoes to the many
horses that transport relied on in that period.
The bronzesmith, silversmith and tinsmith made everything from everyday
utensils to cheap ornaments and exquisite jewelry; both by hammering
and by casting in pewter or silver and gold. The coin minter struck the
coinage that was essential for trade, from everyday purchases in the
market to international trade.
Blacksmithing is at the heart of CROFT craft skills. Would you like to
try your hand?
Perhaps you have an interest in copper, bronze or silver smithing,
making clasps and brooches patterned on Celtic originals, or minting
coins or casting badges?
Leather was indispensable throughout the CROFT period. It was really
the only tough, flexible, waterproof sheet material available.
Leatherworkers' skills were in high demand. The crafting of clothing,
boots and shoes, purses and bags, saddles, straps and sword belts, and
bottels and jacks were necessary items for Medieval life.
Period shoes are always hard to find; perhaps you could make them?
There would be a ready market. Belts and purses are essential for the
CROFT period and easy to make. Carved, stamped and painted/dyed
decoration adds appeal to plain leather items.
The gun was invented and developed during the period we cover; but
knives and swords, chain mail and shields and targes were still
important weaponry throughout the period which saw war and conflict.
Are you perhaps a black powder shooter? Or have an interest in edged
weapons, armor and shields? You could demonstrate the range of armory
of the period. Would you like to learn how to make a Scottish targe or
Domestic life depended almost totally on the skills - and hard work -
of the householders. Gathering and growing foods in season, preserving
and cooking the food; making, washing and mending clothing; making
everyday utensils and toys out of wood and horn, from spoons to toys to
barrels and boxes to furniture; baskets and brooms; making soap and
candles or rush-lights. When our Celtic ancestors fell ill, they had a
wealth of natural remedies; but in severe cases might visit the
barber-surgeon or the apothecary.
Try cooking over an open fire; make candles or soap as our forebears
did. Carpentry and woodworking can include wood-turning, carving,
spoon-carving, toy-making, coopering and furniture. Or else weaving
baskets and making brooms? If you are not so good with your hands,
present the folk remedies of those times, the work of the apothecary or
even the bloody-handed barber-surgeon.
Celtic life was not all hard graft or war. Irish, Scots and Welsh are
all renowned for their music and dance. Visual arts, painting and
drawing, and the decoration of everyday objects, have a long history in
the Celtic world. Exquisite gold, silver and bronze jewelry and
artifacts, the bright colors and fine calligraphy of manuscripts such
as the Book of Kells, show the artistry of Celtic craftspeople down the
Do you enjoy traditional music and dance? Or drawing, sketching,
painting? Making paper, preparing parchment and then fine writing and
calligraphy. binding the results into a book? More simply, Celtic
peoples made symbols and ornaments by braiding and weaving straw into
An important member of every Celtic community was the “seannachie”
(shan-a-kee) or story-teller; who kept the old legends and stories
alive. Could that be you?
For many of us, much of the interest comes from researching the Skill
or Craft which we plan to demonstrate. You should be able to speak to
how it would have been done during the period in which we are
portraying. If you have to use modern equipment or accessories as part
of your demonstration; many items of modern equipment or tools can be
converted to look like period items or covered in such a way that they
appear period and are still functional. In addition, many items can be
crafted out of wood, steel or leather to appear period without much