Brewing Mead – The Beginning

File 2016-03-27, 5 09 00 PMAfter my minor success at making mulsum, I was left with more honey than knew what to do with, and a taste for honeyed wine. Well, the next logical step was to use that honey to brew myself some proper, honest-to-goodness mead. I found another of Will’s tutorials on stormthecastle.com for making mead cheaply, without specialized equipment. Instead of a glass carboy and a bubbler, it uses a milk jug and a balloon. I had just enough honey left to make the recipe work so a went for it. I made sure to carefully sanitize everything before mixing my ingredients together. The balloon over the mouth of the jug has a small pin hole in the top. This allows the gasses created by fermentation to escape without allowing air back in. The next morning, the balloon was inflated and small bubbles were making their way up the sides of the jug. This was a very simple process, the hardest part will, I suspect, be waiting patiently for my mead to mature.

Because I used oranges for flavour, this mead will technically be a melomel. Melomel is just the name for a mead which contains fruit. Hopefully, the orange flavour will stand out in the final product, only time will tell.

Ingriedients:

4L of Spring Water 2 cups of Natural Alfalfa & Clover Honey
Lalvin EC-1118 Yeast 25 Raisins
2 Mandarin Oranges 2 Cloves

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Creating a Westerosi Duet: The Rains of Castemere

When I made “The Dragonborn Comes” music video, I recorded the video after the audio since the scene took place outside next to a busy road. One problem which I encountered was that the cold Canadian weather made accurately playing the ocarina impossible. I had to carefully cut the video to hide the mistakes. Even so, some of the finger movements that did make it into the final video don’t quite align with their audio counterparts. This time around I was determined to learn from my mistake, so I filmed myself recording the two tracks I wanted to use for the video in real time. I filmed against a wooden wall which helped hide the seam between the two videos, and actually allowed me to reposition the two since they overlapped.

Since “The Rains of Castemere” is best known for its ominous role during Red Wedding, I drew my inspiration for the look of the video from the scene itself. I added the balcony railing and Lannister tourney banners on the wall in post using images from the internet. I chose an aggressive colour grade to give a flickering firelight effect and a harsh vignette to darken the footage.

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The Rains of Castemere – Game of Thrones | Ocarina Cover

In anticipation of Season 6, here is my rendition of “The Rains of Castemere.” This foreboding ballad, immortalizing the fall of House Reyne of Castemere at the hands of Tywin Lannister, is most infamously remembered as being played during the Red Wedding. Sung and performed on the ocarina by Callum Pengelly.

I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, so of course I had to do this one. BTW, I’m available for any and all wedding events 😉 After I heard Bronn sing this song in season two of Game of Thrones, I replayed the episode and learned the lyrics. I’ve been singing the Lannister Song ever since, just “with no one there to hear.” But now their is someone there and I hope you enjoyed it. If not, remember: “The Lannisters send their regards.”

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Foam Board Dragonbone Dagger

Recently I came across Will from stormthecastle.com‘s youtube channel epicfantasy. He has many, many video tutorials on making props, usually swords and other weapons, with foam board. I was fascinated by the level of quality he was able to achieve with such a cheap material. I wanted to try using foam board as a material for myself and I knew that I wanted make another Skyrim prop to go along with my Windhelm guard’s shield. Because I had never worked with foam board before, I chose a small project, the dragonbone dagger. I didn’t take the same number of progress photos as I usually do for my props because Will’s tutorial is excellent and shows in detail all the various steps.

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Smoothed and sealed foam board.

I knew going in that foam board is a flimsy material which cuts easily, but cannot be refined (smoothed out or sanded) to any great degree. One thing which I disliked about Will’s prop was that the seams between the layers of foam were raw. In order to blend the layers of foam board and to fill in the gaps, I used extra hot glue which I smoothed out with my finger, ouchie ouchie! This didn’t quite give me the effect which I wanted so I used silicon to get a more accurate effect. Silicon isn’t really a good choice, but it was what I had available. I would have preferred to use some sort of putty or clay for this. To stop the silicon from peeling and to even out the seams even more, I coated the entire dagger in 5 coats of modge podge. I followed Will’s tutorial for the paint job, then sealed the project with 2 more layers of modge podge.

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DIY Skyrim Windhelm Shield: Finished

Read part one here.

Day Three: I started painting the rim to look like aged metal by mixing black and silver acrylic and painting two base coats on top of the Plasti-Dip coated craft foam. I then dry-brushed on a thin layer of silver, highlighting the raised parts of the rim. After the paint was entirely dry, I mixed orange, brown, and a small amount of red paint to create a rust colour. I watered down the paint and with a wet brush, I created pools of paint wherever I wanted there to be rust. I tuck to the burnt in depressions in the foam, and places where the Plast-Dip had bubbled. After a minute of soaking, I used a paper towel to remove most of the paint.Once this had dried I noticed a few spots which needed a touch up, so I used the appropriate colour paint to apply small fixes. Then, I sealed the rim with two thin layers of modge podge. By this point, I had decided that I wanted to finish the back side of the shield as well, so I removed the bag and tape from the back side of the shield and stained the exposed wood.

Day Four: I started by removing the bag and masking tape from the front of the shield. I noticed that the blue paint needed another coat so I added one before moving on. With the chisel tip on my wood burner, I added the planked look to the back of the shield. I made the decision not to use the single, dead centre handle that is seen in game. Instead, I created a double strap hand out of double layered foam. This turned out to be a horrible idea since the first time I used it, the foam broke. Instead, I lay two pieces of foam down where I wanted the handles to be to serve as padding against the hard wood, then I cut two pieces from an old belt to fit on top. I secured the belts in place with screws and washers which passed through the belt and foam into the wood of the shield.

As usual, I learned I great deal on how not to do things. Doing, this project again (cough* Solitude) I would stain the project last, since I found that paint which overlapped with the stain required several extra coats. I wouldn’t carve out the rim in wood, since the foam rim looks much better than that would have. That was a good chunk of time which ended up being wasted. I’d also burn planks into both sides to begin with and go straight for propper strapping.

The shield was finally complete! I’m really happy with the way the shield turned out. It’s a sturdy build, and the bright logo (while note game accurate) really stands out against the battle worn look of the shield. You gotta to keep up that Stormcloak pride, am I right?


DIY Skyrim Windhelm Shield: Day 1&2

downloadSo I’ve started working on yet another new project. I wanted to create a shield to hang on my wall, and after some consideration, decided on the Windhelm Guards’ shield from Skyrim. Yes I know, I might be a wee bit obsessed with Skyrim at the moment. From looking at the in game graphics and some quick online research, I was able to come up with a design.

Day One: I started with a sheet of plywood which I had been using to stop arrows which missed my target during archery practice. It was full of arrow holes which I thought appropriate. I cut out a 24″ wide circle and proceeded to sand it until my hand hurt to much to keep going. I carved a rim around the edge and using a wood burner, created the illusion of 5 planks of wood. I then stained the perimeter of the shield a dark wood colour.

File 2016-02-28, 8 49 02 PMDeciding that I didn’t like the look of the carved rim, I cut out 2.5″ wide strips of black craft foam and used a heat gun to mould them over the edge of the shield. To give the new rim, a hammered, battered look, I again used the heat gun and the handle of a dinner knife. I accentuated this with the wood burner and a round tip.

Day Two: I printed out an image of the Windhelm bear emblem on several sheets of paper so that they could be taped together to form a stencil. I transferred the bear onto the shield in light pencil marks. Very carefully, I traced the image in blue acrylic paint and fleshed out the full circle. I went back in afterwards and painted the bear outline in cream paint. I used the stencil itself to add the blue eye afterwards. When the paint was dry, I went back over, adding finishing touches. Then, I used blue masking tape to carefully seal the edges of the shield next to the foam rim. I taped one half of a plastic bag over the face of the shield. I did this on both sides. Then, I applied several layers of black Plasti-Dip to the foam and waited overnight.

See finished project.

The Dragonborn Comes – Skyrim | Ocarina Cover

The epic ballad sung in taverns all across Skyrim heralding the coming of the mighty warrior known as the Dragonborn, sung and performed on the ocarina by Callum Pengelly.

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The design is inspired by the dwarf axe head from Lord of the Rings.

Skyrim is hands down my favourite video game. I was hooked the moment I heard the music playing in the main menu screen. It’s been a while since I’ve visited Tamriel, but when I bought my beautiful new 12 hole ocarina, I knew which song I wanted to try first. Sven is a bard who frequents the Sleeping Giant Inn who performs several ballads, one of which caught my ear: “The Dragonborn Comes”.

I found the sheet music online. However, after I had transposed the song to a more workable key, I went a little bit overboard, adding an accompaniment and vocals (both harmony and melody). GarageBand came installed on my mac so I used it to combine all seven unique tracks. I had to learn the basics of mixing (an area where I have so much yet to learn). Even though I had finished the song, I wasn’t ready to leave the project behind. Out came the trusty sewing machine and soon I had myself a set of makeshift black hooded robes complete with warpaint! Luckily, I had the materials already on hand, so I didn’t have to spend any money on the costume. Kching!

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An Unexpected Portal

The sands of elemental time,

Flowing into fate.

Starburst of light.

Morning dew glistens on lake-smooth-pebbles.

Mists crawl across shimmering pavement.

An ethereal portal; gateway to Heaven.

Uncertain, but propelled, she slips in.

Timeless light sweeps by.

No stopping now.

The Other calls.

A ringing chant of welcome.

The smell of perfume on morning dew.

Worlds meet at dawn.