Part 93 - How-To: Demo Boards, Pt.4

by Lord Thomas the Black


How-To: Demo Boards, pt 4

            Welcome back to another edition of Blackmaille! Last month, we finished our demo boards. This month, we’ll look at how the finished boards fit into our demo, and the impact they’ve had on the public’s understanding of our craft.

            The first year I thought of doing the demo boards was the second year I did chainmaille as a demo (I think it was 2000). Before that, I did leatherwork. Back when I started demoing at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, the area I was in was the SCA Dell. Most of the participants were SCA, and there was a wide variety of crafts on display. One of the weavers had a great display of different card-weaving styles, with the weaves all laid out next to a card with the weaves name on it, and a brief explanation of it’s making. I could see how easy it was even for someone with no experience in card-weaving (like me!) to see how the various weaves differed, and how those different weaves were made. I decided something like this needed to be a part of my demo as well.

            The first board I made had few weaves (mostly because I didn’t know that many at first), and they were glued to the board. The labels were written in Gothic Blackletter script, and simply glued to the board. The labels were difficult for most patrons to make out, and the first time it rained, that was the end of the labels.



            The next year, I made new boards, with a few more weaves I’d learned. Again, the pieces were glued down to the boards. Again, the labels were written in Blackletter style (but this time on a computer, so as to be more legible than my handwriting). This time, however, in an effort to weatherproof the labels, I glued them to the board BEFORE coating the boards with urethane. It worked ok. The labels were weatherproof, but, as it turns out, not that much more legible, and patrons again had difficulty reading them.



            The following season, I made new labels, using the Sylfaen font this time, and laminating them before attaching them to the boards. These were much more legible, and this incarnation of the demo boards lasted me 7 seasons before I felt a change was again due.


            This change was mostly thanks to it sinking into my thick skull that mine was a textile display. People wanted to touch and feel the weaves, test their weight against each other and compare how they move. It’s hard to do that when they’re glued down, but people nonetheless managed to pick them apart trying. After repeatedly gluing the pieces back onto the boards in the off-season (and during the season, in some cases!), I finally hit on the idea of wiring them down.

            This method looks much more professional, for one thing. The end result looks like what you see in museum displays. For another, it allows patrons to get all touchy-feely with the display without fear of doing any damage to it. The 2010 season was our first with the new boards, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.


            With the clear, easily-read labels, patrons can see exactly what weaves are modern, which ones are actually found in the Middle Ages, and what various jewelry weaves look like. They can handle examples of Orcmaille and our Weta-Tenzan sample, and we don’t worry about them disappearing. Best of all, if the boards need to be replaced, we can move the weaves and labels to the new boards without the ugly glue residue all over the rings.   

            So there you have it! Attractive, legible demo boards that will fit easily into just about any demo box, can be taken anywhere, and will better demonstrate the versatility of your craft than mere words can convey. Best of all, if the boards, demo pieces, or labels get worn out, they can easily be replaced without necessarily having to start all over! Thanks for joining us for another month of Blackmaille! As usual, any questions, comments, hate mail or fan mail can be sent to me at:

Thomas Beckett
13628 Belmead Ave
Grandview, MO 64030

Or you can email me at:

             See you next month!


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