Archive for the ‘From Hrefna’s Helpful Hints’ Category

SteamPunk Toy Gun Modification Supply List

Thursday, June 7th, 2012



First, this blog will now include SteamPunk Helpful Hints, as hubby and I are having a blast making out own pieces to go with our outfits.

You can follow me on FaceBook at Hrefna’s Helpful Hints for more often hints.

In the next few weeks, I will be putting together my props for a How to Modify Toy Plastic Guns class. Here is the supplies list for that class, and for those of you who wish to “do it yourself” at home.

Modified Plastic Toy Gun Supply List for SteamPunk

1. Plastic toy gun (this can be anything from a squirt gun to one that rhymes with “erf”) – Dollar Stores are good for these.

2. Cookie sheet with sides – this will help keep your project contained.

3. Disposable latex (or non-latex if you are allergic) gloves.

4. Spray Paint

5. Acrylic Paint & extender (The extender will make the working time of the acrylic paint longer. That means it won’t dry as quickly, allowing you time for extra details. I live in the desert SouthWest, and any extra drying time I can get is usually a good thing for this type of project.)

6. Rub-n-Buff  – This is an oil based metallic “paint” usually used to bring out the high points on mirror/picture frames, old furniture, etc. However, SteamPunks can use it on Modded toy guns to make them look worn. This product must be used sparingly, a little bit at a time. It does not look good if you squeeze out a whole bunch, then try in vain to get it to look smooth. This must be used with a clear coat to seal it or it will continue to rub off onto everything.

7. Clear Coat is a spray can (this is usually by the spray paint as it comes in the same type of aerosol can). I recommend this if you will be using acrylic paints or Rub-n-Buff. It is mandatory for using Rub-n-Buff as it is oil based and will continue to rub off on you, your clothes, and anything else it touches, unless it is sealed with a clear coat.

8. E-6000 – This is a great all around adhesive. It’s only a little smelly (it won’t drive you out of the room), it can be adjusted within a minute or two of application, and it cures completely overnight. i originally found this for my ceramic pieces. It is currently my “go-to” glue for almost everything I modify. Yes, it will hold metal to painted plastic.

9. Bits and bobbles to add on to your modded gun: decals, sequins, gears, washers, wire, filigree metal jewelry pieces, metal screen, leather, brass, copper, silver, glowing things, light up things, small viles filled with NON-TOXIC  solutions (Windex is good for blue, believe it or not), tubing, whatever your imagination can thing of.

10. Paper Towels

11. Old grubby clothes. You really do not want to do this kind of a project in your good office clothes. Really, anything you don’t want ruined, don’t get around this stuff if your good clothes.

Optional Supplies You May Need

1. Face mask. If you are susceptible to small particles, you will want to wear a face mask for the spray painting.

2. Small magnetic bowl. this comes in so handy to keep all of the tiny screws and springs in, and it will attach itself to your cookie sheet. This is a lifesaver if you’re going to have to take your toy apart to get everything painted. Harbor Freight has them for super cheap.

3. Paint Brushes. If you’re going to use acrylic paint to do anything to your modification, you’ll need paint brushes. The craft stores do have cheap packets of brushes. Get the ones labeled “For Acrylic Paints”. This will save you time, money, and frustration.

4. Tiny Philips (“x”) screwdrivers. These will be very handy if you need to take apart your toy. My hubby has them for his job, he works with computers. If you don’t have any small enough, Harbor Freight or a Dollar Store may have them. The Dollar Store near my house had them today, $1 for an entire little set of them (6-8 pcs).

5. Q-tips: These are great for getting into creases, dabbing up paint before it dries, generally little helpers.

6. Empty yogurt cups. Now, I know you’re thinking, “What on Earth?” Instead of using a good kitchen cup for a paint brush rinse cup, or a paint mixing cup, use these. They are not only “just the right size” to not splash the paint water around, but they can be cut down shorter if needed to mix paint colors you don’t intend to keep.

7. OK, if you really want one, you can go pick up one of those little white plastic round artists palettes with the little depressions in it. I actually have one I use all the time for my acrylic paints. I do make sure that I wash it out thoroughly after every sitting so my new, fresh paints don’t get weird colored lumps in them.

8. Wax Paper: If you don’t have a space outside where you can let your spray painted pieces cure, you can put wax paper down on your counter, and let the pieces cure/dry there. Just be careful to not have open flames in the house when your pieces are inside curing. Once they are cured/dry, they will be fine.

9. Silverware or dental tools: Make sure you have some forks, knives, and spoons around that you are not planning on using for eating from. Craft silverware, if you will. The Dollar Store should have these by the piece. If you go to Harbor Freight or even Swap Meets, you can pick up some cheap dental tools. I do not recommend ever putting these in your own mouth. These are for making designs into the still wet acrylic paint, to show the color below (great for making “wood grain” designs).

10. Masking Tape: If for some reason you want your modded gun to be two-tone, and you don’t want to take it apart and reassemble it, you can always mask off the parts you don’t want that color of spray paint on. Note: Do let the first color of spray paint cure completely before you put masking tape over it to paint the other color. This may take a few hours or days depending on where you live and the humidity level.

11. Sand paper: Some people have better luck with their spray paint sticking to the plastic if it’s been roughed up a bit. Do not use super fine sandpaper, as this will help polish the surface of the plastic, and the paint will never stick. use the grit that works for you. Be careful to not get something too strong that may leave scratches in the plastic… unless that’s what you want. I think a 220 grit should rough up the surface nicely.

With all this stuff, you too can modify a plastic toy gun into a SteamPunk masterpiece!

Hopefully Helpful,


The 1/28/12 BoD actions and HHH

Friday, February 10th, 2012


At the January 28th, 2012 Board of the SCA directed the Society Seneschal “to begin an investigation into a possible Revocation and Denial of Membership and/or degradation from the peerage” concerning ten members of the Kingdom of Atenveldt. In  addition to that investigation, those ten individuals were sanctioned from holding any office or fighting in/being fought for in Crown Tourney until 7/31/12 while the investigations were being conducted (quoting “from the President’s Report of the January 28, 2012 Board meeting”).

I am one of those individuals.

I state publicly that I have done nothing wrong, and am a victim in this issue. I cannot (and will not) discuss in either general or
specifics terms anything about the “charges.”

However, to avoid even the pretense of using this forum for anything other than its stated purposes, I am, effective immediately, putting Hrefna’s Helpful Hints posting on hold. The web page will remain up and all posts will still be viewable, but there will be no new posts until this issue has been resolved.


Reputation in the SCA

Thursday, February 9th, 2012


Today I want to talk about reputation in the SCA, and how important it is to have a good one. I have spent 21 years in the SCA (since I was 19) doing everything from being a belly dancer to a fighter to artist to Peer. I’ve come a long way, baby! In all of those 21 years, I have learned what it means to have a good reputation (both in and out of the SCA).

It’s quite simple, really. Just remember back to when you were little, and think about what you were supposed to learn.

Be truthful. Honesty is a big deal to me, it always has been. A friend of mine says that I will tell her when she has broccoli in her teeth when no one else will, as a euphemism for how honest I really am.

Be kind.


Play nice with others.

Be chivalrous, honorable, and use your manners.

Support (physically and emotionally) others.

Teach others.

Learn as much as you can.

Be thankful to those who taught you.

Be thankful and kind to volunteers.

Forgiveness is another good trait to have. Especially if there has been some sort of misunderstanding.  It is always a good idea to go directly to the source of a rumor (if that person will actually talk to you about it, and they usually will), and see if it just a misunderstanding. Most often it is.

Also, never say anything to someone else about a third party that you would not say to that third parties face. I know gossip is a fun pastime for many, but it can also be hurtful.

Learn the art of the apology. Even if you don’t mean it (like when you were little and your kid sister was being a brat), make it sound like you mean it. It’s amazing what a genuine apology will do! Do NOT, however, say “I’m sorry but you made me do it.” If the other person did not “hold a gun” to your head, then they did not make you do it. (Even then you have a choice.)

I have a friend who has elementary school age kids (well, several, in fact). This particular one tell them she loves them, and also cheerfully tells them “Make good choices!” everyday when she drops them off at school.

All these things are common sense, but it never hurts to have a reminder every now and again. We are all human after all, and mistakes do get made.

Remember to make good choices.

Hopefully Helpful,


SCA Resume/Curriculum Vite

Monday, January 30th, 2012


SCA Resume/Curriculum Vite (CVs) are words you may have heard floating around. What exactly are they, what are they good for, and why do I need one? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, they are the same thing. Some people call them one thing, some the other.

CVs are exactly what they sound like. They are a resume of your body of work in the SCA. Think of it as your SCA career listing.

CVs are good for many things.

  • If you want volunteer for an Office, sometimes a CV is asked for with a Letter of Intent for that post. (The Letter of Intent “how to” will be forthcoming, stay tuned.)
  • Peers may want to see it so they can boast about you to other Peers and potentially Crowns.
  • Local Leaders (Principality and Baronial) may want to look at it to see if your awards are updated, then possibly bring you up to speed on what they can bestow upon you.
  • Friends might want a copy so they can go put you in for an award they think you deserve.
  • Most importantly, so you can keep track of what you have done. This one may not seem to crucial, but if you do a lot, or don’t have the best memory, it can ber very helpful.

I like to present mine like I do my real world resume. It’s a clean concise way to get across exactly when, where, and what I have done for the SCA.

(Note: do NOT hand write your CV and do NOT use a fancy-schmancy font. Use a font that is easily readable. I have been behind the scenes when a Crown has been trying to decide between candidates for an office, and it went to the one whose CV was legible. If you use calligraphy, please include a typed, easy-to-read version.)

I am not going to post my entire CV here today, but I will give you the formula I use and some examples.

Centered at the top in bold is “SCA Resume/Curriculum Vite”
Second line in bold is my SCA name (not titles).
The next line (not bold) is my real world name.
After that comes my mailing address.
Finally my home phone number.

(skip a line)

Here’s where you get to start putting the good stuff! I have my list of Service first. Here are the first few examples from my CV. I have the most recent at the top of the page, to the least recent at the bottom of the page(s). I give the date first, then either the office or a brief description of what I did.

(Note: I do Bold all of the section headers, so they are more easily found.)


Feb 2008 – March 2009 Kingdom Signet (Scribe)

Aug 9th 2007 –  Hosted all day Scriptorium at Highlands War

Nov 2007 – Feb 2008 Acting Deputy Kingdom Signet (Scribe) under Jennifer Trethewy

Sept 2007 – Feb 2008 Co-Coordinator of Scribal Tea at Estrella War with Dame Jennifer Trethewy.

(skip a line)

This section I have the dates going to opposite way, but you can put them how you want them, just as long as they are in some sort of order and easy to read.

Classes I Teach: (as of January 2007)

 Beginning Calligraphy, hands on (since 2000)

Beginning Illumination, hands on (since 2000)

What you need to get started in Illumination (since 2003)

How to be a Lady in Waiting “Lady in Waiting 101” (since 2000)

How to Stamp/Wax Seal Scrolls, hands on (since 2000)

Color Theory for Scribes (since 2004)

SCA Artisan Portfolios (since 2007)

Kingdom Signet’s Office/What does the Kingdom Scribe Do? (2008/2009)

Playing with Paper for Illuminators (since 2008)

Color Mixing (since 2008)

White Work in 3 Easy Steps (since 2008)

Painting Jewels (since 2009)

Shading for Illuminators (since 2009)

Shading Drapery for Illuminators (since 2009)

Gold Leafing (since 2009)

Authentic Materials for Scribes (since 2010)

(skip a line)

My next two sections are kind of a specific section for artisans. If you have taught any kind of Workshops or given donations, then please list them on your CV somewhere. It just looks mighty impressive.

Scribal Workshops


Making a Scroll from Start to Finish (since 2007)

Color Theory, Color Mixing and Shading (since 2008)

I have taught all of these classes in almost every situation I can think of, including in my home, one on one on site at events, at Baronial, Tri-Baronial/Aten-Dragon, Kingdom and Known World events, including Known World Arts & Sciences Collegium in 2005 in Longmont, CO.

(skip a line)

Art Donations:

  1999 – Current                  300+ Art donations including scrolls made for Kingdom,  all of the Baronies in Atenveldt, and the gifts for Pennsic and Estrella War Crowns.

(skip a line)

If you have had anything published in any SCA newsletter, specialty publication, or have any SCA specific materials that you have had published, put it on your CV. Again, it looks mighty impressive.


 Illuminations Comic Strip in the Kingdom of the Outlands monthly newsletter, April 2010

 What Are Courtly Graces and How to Use Them (Chronous Draconum, December 2008)

Chronicler’s Office asked for an article based off of an email for the Rainbow’s Gold…  Hrefna’s Top Ten Reasons to be a Chatelaine (Chronous Draconum, August 2008)

Chronicler’s Office asked for past Chatelaines to type up short articles.

 Kingdom of Atenveldt Scribes Handbook (released November 2007)

 Helpful Hints I Have Learned as an SCA Scribe (T.I. Issue 160, Fall 2006, AS XLI)

(skip a line)

Everyone wants to know your current awards with all of your other information. These are not all of mine, but it does give you an idea of how I list them. Award, date received, Awarded By:

Current Awards:

 AoA                                                    9/21/96                        Eric & Nichelle

Honor of SunDragon                          10/28/00                      Dmitri & Tatiana

Dragon’s Scale of SunDragon            2/17/01                        Dmitri & Tatiana

(skip a line)

At the very bottom, I have listed my registered name, preferred name, and pronunciation of my preferred name. I also have listed my registered device, the date I received it, the Heraldic language used to describe it, and what it looks like in today’s English. Most Kingdom or Baronial web sites will not have this information.

Registered Name: Hrefna Karlsefni               Registered 6/2001

Preferred Name: Hrefna karsefni (pronounced: Reff-nah, Kar-seff-nee)

Registered Device:  Registered 11/2001

Per pale Or ermined purpure and purpure, a feather argent.

(Left side: yellow with purple ermine spots) (Right side: purple) (Center: One white feather or quill)

(skip a line)

At the very end, I have the date I have updated my CV. This let’s me know if/when I last was in this file updating it. I have left a few things off before, and looked at my CV and wondered why they weren’t there. This date is the confirmation that I need to update it again.

Updated: 6/29/2010

I hope your new SCA CV will help you to get the volunteer position and/or the recognition you deserve for your volunteering efforts on behalf of the SCA.

Hopefully Helpful,


FaceBook and the SCA – It’s OK to Say No

Monday, January 23rd, 2012


I had a conversation a few months back with someone I don’t know very well. We’re both in the SCA in the same Kingdom, and we have mutual friends. That’s really about it. She wanted to know if I had gotten her FaceBook (FB) friends request or not. I replied that I had. She then asked why I had not “friended” her on FB. I then replied that honestly I just didn’t know her well enough in real life to include her among my actual friends. She was an acquaintance. She was furious for about 10 seconds, and then she decided that I was absolutely correct, and that she would make an effort to get to know me better in real life, and happily has. She is now one of my friends on FB and off.

It is OK to decline FB or MySpace or Twitter, or any other friend request on-line if you don’t actually know the person to your satisfaction, in real life, game life, on-line game life, second or third life, whatever. If it makes you uncomfortable, just don’t do it.

I have made people much more angry about not accepting their friend request, but that is on them. I try to be as kind as possibly when I decline their friend request if they talk to me in person. Granted, I don’t dilly-dally around about it either.

If I get a friend request, and I don’t know who that person is, I ask nicely in a private message “How is it I know you?” If they answer back and I know them, but completely spaced (or didn’t know) their real world name, I go ahead and friend them. If I don’t know them, I do not reply, I just don’t accept their request.

Some people use FB to make new friends. I do NOT! If I don’t know you, I don’t friend you. It’s just not safe. Having already had one stalker in my life, believe me, I do not want or need another.

It all comes down to what you personally want out of your on-line experience. Do not feel bad about controlling your own friends list. It is YOUR list. Period.

It is also OK to post anything you want on your own FB page. However, do keep in mind your entire audience. If there’s someone on there that you don’t want to know something, don’t post it. Mutual friends can and do share screen shots of what you think are status updates and comments only to your friends. Just be smart about what you post and who you post to.

Keep yourself safe, and feeling good about your use of the internet.

Hopefully Helpful,

Gold Leafing: Warning Furry Disco Balls Ahead!

Monday, January 16th, 2012


Today, we will be talking about how to Gold Leaf your scroll. In the TV announcer voice, ” Gold leaf your scroll using these easy to follow steps! Pictures included!”

Please note, these steps are all done on separate pieces of vellum so I can show them live and in person when I teach this technique. Some are very light in color, and you can see the skin pores on at least one. I didn’t want you to think the pictures were playing tricks with your eyes.

Step 1: Draft design in pencil or silverpoint on paper or vellum. (Yes, this scan is very light. I draw my silverpoint or pencil lines very lightly so they do not show through the finished image.)

Step 1

Step 2: Ink design outline (and erase pencil if on paper, not on vellum).

Step 2

Step 3: Apply binder (Gesso or AquaSize). Let dry. (This looks almost like the picture in step 2, however, the gesso does have a very light pink tint to it. This so so I can see where I have put it on the page.)
If using gesso, apply at least 2 coats. The first will seal the surface. The second will act as the binding agent. The other subsequent layers will build up and make a raised surface. Let dry completely between layers.

Step 3

Step 4: Breathe hot, wet breath on binder surface to reconstitute just the surface. This makes the top of the binder sticky enough for the metallic leaf to adhere. Apply metallic leaf quickly. Press a little, very gently to make sure it sticks.

Step 4

Step 5: Remove excess metal leaf with big soft brush. To make the brush have enough static cling to grab the metal leaf, rub the brush back & forth on your pants/t-shirt quickly (like a balloon on your hair). Transfer the larger loose pieces of metal leaf to a holding jar for use later. (This is used for patching small areas that the leaf did not stick to originally.)
Note: This is usually where the tiny bits of gold leaf get onto the floor in the pet zone. Be sure you clean it up now so you don’t find sparkly bits in the litter box.

Step 5

Step 6: Refine edges by very gently and lightly rubbing with silk. Be careful to not rub the metal leaf off. Replace metal leaf where it may have not stuck with the first application.
It is at this point the metal leaf can be burnished with a very smooth stone and/or embossed. Place the piece of leather on a hard surface, with the paper or vellum on top of it (design up). Then place the piece of acetate on top of the paper or vellum.

Step 6

Step 7: Ink edges for a finished look. (Note: check the original manuscript or style you are working with, not all of them have this final step.)

Step 7 (Last One)

That’s it! You’ve just gold leafed yourself something hopefully wonderful.

Hopefully Helpful!

Gold Leafing, or How to Make Your Cat Shiny!

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


I am reporting this as it is part one of two, which will be posted on Monday.

I am gearing this towards the scribes, but these materials and techniques will work on other media (such as wood and plaster) quite well.

The first thing you need to know about gold, silver, or any other metallic leaf (which from here on out I will be referring to as gold leaf) is that it can make a scroll like absolutely beautiful! There really is nothing else like it when it catches the light and sparkles just so.

The second thing you need to know about gold leaf is that if you work in a common area in your home, and you have a cat, the cat will become shiny. I have 2 cats. One is fluffy and the other is just “big boned”. Guess which ones likes to roll in the shiny dust? You guessed it, the fluffy one!

The third thing you need to know about gold leaf is that you really should work cleanly with it around your pets, if you do work in a common area in your home. I know my Vet doesn’t recommend metal in my pets diet. If you do make a mess, try to clean it up before your beloved pet looks like a furry disco-ball.

Things You Will Need/Tools and Materials:

Paper (Acid Free, or pH balanced) or Vellum/Parchment (animal skin prepared for manuscript arts)

Pencil or Silver Point (I prefer a pencil because you can usually erase those lines)

Kneaded eraser (if using paper only)
(Erasing on vellum makes the pencil marks smudge, discoloring the surface.)

Ph balanced (non-acidic) art pen (Micron, Rapidosketch, etc…)

Gesso, Aquasize or other binder (do NOT get the stuff at Michael’s that says it’s for gilding. It may work on old furniture, but it will not work on paper arts.)

  • The Cennini Gesso Recipe is the Bomb, the Fashizzle, the grooviest one out there. But, you do have to make it yourself (unless you know someone who likes to make gesso).
  • The easiest binder to get is garlic juice. Just extract it from the garlic cloves.
  • Aquasize is great! It is a modern binder, it works similar to an animal hide glue, without the muss and fuss.
  • Easy Gesso is also great, but sometimes it is not sticky enough. I usually go over mine with the Aquazise to get it tacky enough for the gold to stick.
  • Both the Aquasize and Easy Gesso can be purchased through Natural Pigments web site.

    Metal Leaf (Gold Leaf, Silver Leaf, etc…)
    I prefer to get patent leaf, which is already on the paper backing. It is very easy to work with as opposed to loose leaf. If you use loose leaf, a gilder’s brush (or pinbrush) will be very useful. It is very wide and flat for picking up the leaf.

    Paint brushes
    One for applying the binder (this needs to be a gesso dedicated brush) I have two, a flat brush and a small round brush.
    One for picking up the excess metal leaf (this should be a big, fluffy round brush that can hold a static charge when rubbed on fabric, like your pants leg)

    Silk (a silk handkerchief from Dharma Trading works well, or a piece of smooth scrap silk, no damask, please)

    Leather Gilder’s Cushion (or a piece of un-corrugated cardboard, and a piece of mid-weight suede leather)

    Acetate (the kind that looks like wax paper, but isn’t wax paper)
    If you can’t find this, the Post Office uses it for envelopes they send with you if you purchase some loose stamps.
    Or you can find it at art supply stores (I know Jerry’s Art-a-Ramma has it in store, but Michael’s does not.)

    Polished Stone (very smooth with no inclusions, cracks, or rough spots) or Agate Burnisher

    Next week, we will get gilding! So, stay tuned!

    Hopefully Helpful,

Auto Posts

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Hi there,

My kind, wonderful, loving computer geek of a hubby has set up my blog posts to go directly to my Facebook page. If you notice a change, then it’s working.


On Board Etsy, too!

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

This is the link to my Etsy shop. I only have a few items up right now, but I am slowly working on getting more available over the next few days.


Updated On-Line Store

Monday, December 5th, 2011
I have updated my eCrater on-line store. I am currently featuring my handcrafted (by me), one of a kind porcelain pendant jewelry for SCA Peerages and other designs. The price of each piece includes shipping & handling and tax.