While I’m blogging about things that aren’t shoes, this is a sheath I made about 18 months ago for a knife by Richard Van Dijk of Hoiho Knives. Richard’s stock in trade are beautiful pattern-welded art knives but a couple of years ago he brought some simple medieval knives to an event, I bought this one and it is now one of my favourite knives.
The sheath isn’t based on any particular extant example but is a collection of elements pulled together from different examples in Knives and Scabbards. The sheath is two layers of ~1 mm veg tanned yearling. The inner is grain-in the outer grain-out, as per medieval examples. There is no glue holding the two layers together. The inner layer was wet-formed over the knife and the outer layer was sewn damp over that.
The seam on the inner layer is a butted seam so it lays flat. The seam on the outer is a lipped seam saddle-stitched with the same thread I use for shoes then trimmed back and burnished down flat.
This seems to be a fairly common way of doing things on medieval examples. I haven’t seen one yet that had a butted seam up the back. There are two reasons for this I can think of the first is simply because this style of seam is far easier to pattern than a precisely butted seam. The second is that a lipped seam is far less likely to tear out under tension so the seam can be used to pull the outer layer tight and both form it to the inner layer and create enough tension to hold it in place without any glue or stitching between the two layers.
The decoration was done almost entirely with a scratch awl and I’m really happy with the way it came out. I scratched out the outline freehand and then used the point of the awl to rough up the background surfaces. The arms are my SCA arms. They were painted on using lampblack for the black and lead oxide carbonate for the white with a dilute hide-glue binder. It’s not terribly neat but painting really isn’t my strong suit.
The one aspect of the decoration that really didn’t work on this was the ‘vine’, which was the bit I didn’t do with a scratch awl. Instead I used a freehand groover I made, with the idea that a wider line than the scratch awl was making would be good. The problem is it’s much too deep compared to the rest of the decoration. In future I’ll make a more blunt pointed scratch awl for this type of decoration.