So this is another project that wasn’t going to be finished in time for the Craftsperson’s Faire last weekend. I’m currently undecided whether I should try to bring it to another show-and-tell style faire or enter it in a regional faire.
The project: A few years ago I painted a small collapsible stool from a Pennsic merchant, using a medieval Russian design. Then, last year, I decided to buy a larger table and a second stool, so I could paint them in the same way — only with something more elaborate on the table. Together they would make a three-piece set.
Fast forward to this fall: painting the three pieces (the first stool had enough nicks in the paint that I thought it would be easier to repaint it than hope I could get the exact same shade of red for the rest of the project) took several weeks. This wasn’t slouching. They’re collapsible, so each angle had to be painted, then after that angle dried, each piece was readjusted to a new angle, and so on. I still have red toenails from a month ago, when I was spray painting in my garage while wearing the “painter’s birkenstocks”.
And yes, spray paint. It’s not period, but it goes a lot faster on a sloooooow project. So maybe I was a bit ambitious with the whole thing. I’ll just have to shellac the hell out of everything, and hopefully prevent it from getting quite so many nicks as the first piece did. And it might take five coats of yellow paint. I’ve already painted three and I’m not sure a fourth would finish it.
So…what design to paint on the table? The original stool design is yellow and blue knotwork with some gold Russian-style fleur-de-lis on the corners. After some deliberation I decided on a gaming table theme. I measured out a backgammon board set in the middle. I still need to figure out what to do on the sides, where people would presumably put extra pieces, or throw dice, or whatever.
And do I paint the pieces and dice? Where do I go with this project? It’s starting to spiral, and I’ve only done a superfluous bit of research to prove that Russains would have plausibly heard of backgammon, though no direct proof that they played it. And the paint is all modern spray paint and acrylic — not terribly impressive for a competition.
Although I’ve thought that it might be a nice touch to translate a slogan into Old Church Slavonic and wrap it around the board: “When life fails to give you directions, make up your own rules.”
Something I remember from studying Russian years ago is that the Russian language does not have its own word for “fun”. Still, they had to have something to break up the monotony of drinking. Maybe they could have enjoyed a game of backgammon. Or someone brought back a board from Constantinople, tried to teach some friends, but couldn’t remember how it was supposed to go. So they starting making it up. Sounds fun enough to me.