: nothing was

I always knew it would come like this. a hallucination. an erect calm, alert. There, telling ‘wake up’—well. I’m erect. I’m awake. Nothing missing.

Tried to look back into the dream to see if anything was missing as if the dream could be taken more besides giving me enough phenomena in shuffling past the point of departure into a new reality held close and for it only to begin; all else could not have helped but fall into line at these sudden-embossed noises, stripped in gold. But was it, tho dear, enough?

Night prior dreamt of all those colors. All it came out as were this in the shedding light. Retrospect. Summary, of things. Lost in too-harsh baritone, returned half-limping in higher keys. I was erect as the figment itself, all running hand along hair, all slight mumble deafening. Image of beach passes mind. Go out naked to kitchen.

Grab milk from jug in FRIDGE.

Do up some loose strays. Little drippy thoughts, wadding up in some ingathered, very vague sensibility. As if to drown it all out eventually, I moved my foot a step further and placed it an angle. Did not think of beaches this time.

Then I went back up stairs to loft to write this—just to make sure if anything was missing but the stain on the midriff on my shirt would do enough mentioning here vaguely to leave shot, mainly, and then began, as in, to recognize I smelled like shit, was still naked, and nothing was.

Hallucination, dream, new context by continuance, exclusion of period of time, or period yet to be. Wrought linkages, here and there. Wrote sad thing. Wrote another sad thing. Brief existential pang. VAPE-PEN is a buddy of mine. VAPE-PEN will never leave. It’s in-between my fingers right now. Yeah. Right.

Muster something more will you?? Dialogue twists my thing into too much a polarity, which it needs, unless you wish to say something exactly different from what you write. In that case write on FRIENDO.


Pendragon Shoes

Established in 1987, Pendragon is the designer shoemaking duo Jackie Orme Ward and Adrian Lockwood. Their vision? To create something extraordinary and unique; a quest to bring to life shoes you’d dreamt you might one day find; shoes to desire and delight… shoes to treasure.

They accept commissions from around the world and create exclusive limited edition collections, costume shoes, one off exhibition art pieces – all designed and personally hand made. Rare buttons, antique buckles, vintage and hand tooled leathers combine to create the distinct Pendragon signature. You won’t find these shoes anywhere else!


creating our DIY save the date invitations was exhausting, but I’m extremely proud of how they turned out! Here’s a few pictures illustrating some of the steps. More information is on my Julia doodles Facebook page, including a short video of the cool embossing heat tool.

Our wedding website with more lettering can be found here: brianlovesjulia.com


Techniques for Decorating Arms and Armour

One important aspect in the study and appreciation of arms and armour is the techniques and methods for their decoration. The wide range of materials used in the creation of these objects is equaled by the varied possibilities for adding to the aesthetic qualities of functional items, either for daily or ceremonial use. The following is a short introduction to some of the more commonly used techniques.


A frequent form of decoration on arms and armor is the coloring of certain areas or the entire surface of an object, by means of paint, lacquer, or covering with textiles secured to the surface by glue, stitching, or rivets. Surfaces and components made from iron or steel could also be patinated, either by heat or chemically, as well as by gilding.

Heating metal produces a coloration of the surface, which changes from yellow to purple to deep blue as the heat increases. When taken out of the fire at a particular temperature, the metal retains this color. Considerable skill is required to achieve a consistent and even heat-patination of large areas or groups of objects. The favored color for armour, edged weapons, and firearm barrels was a deep blue, in a process is referred to as “bluing.” A range of colors could also be produced chemically, using a variety of different recipes, such as a rich brown color that was popular on firearm barrels in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Besides being attractive, patination and painting also inhibit rust on metal surfaces. 

In Europe, the technique of decorating arms and armour with paint was certainly known in antiquity, although today no surviving objects appear to date from before the thirteenth century. It is more difficult to establish when textile coverings and heat-patination first appeared. Scabbards from swords and daggers are likely to have been covered in fabrics, colored leathers, or fur as early as Egyptian times, if not earlier. The first examples of heat-patination seem to appear during the fifteenth century, but the practice may well be much older. 

Gilding and Silvering

The application of gold and silver to an object’s surface, generally known as gilding, is another form of coloring. The process traditionally implies the application of a very thin sheet of gold or silver to a surface with the help of an adhesive, usually known as water or oil gilding, or the application of powdered metal suspended in a medium (gold paint or lacquer). A more durable method known as amalgam or “fire” gilding was commonly used on arms and armour. Powdered gold was combined with mercury and applied to the surface and heated to drive off the mercury, leaving the gold bonded to the armour metal surface. 

Gilding has been employed since antiquity to decorate practically all types of European, Islamic, and Asian arms and armour. It was sometimes used as the sole means of decoration, but in Renaissance Europe it is was commonly combined with etching and bluing on all types of armour, and shields, edged weapons, staff weapons, and firearms. 

Inlay, Damascening, and Encrusting

A common technique for decoration is inlay, often found on wooden stocks of firearms or the metal surfaces of edged weapons and armour. Channels or recessed areas shaped to the desired design are carved or engraved into the surface, then filled with the inlay material. While metal surfaces are usually inlaid with other metals such as gold, silver, or copper alloys, wooden gun stocks can be inlaid with ivory, bone, horn, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, or silver or gold wire. 

While organic material can be held in place with glue or nails, the inlay of metal requires a different technique. First, the sides of the cavity are undercut in a so-called dovetail profile. Then, when a softer inlay material like gold or silver is hammered into the cavity, it will flare into the undercut sides securing the inlay. This inlay technique is sometimes referred to as “true damascening,” a term alluding to Damascus in Syria and the apparent eastern Eastern origins of this technique.

An easier and cheaper technique is to cover a roughened or cross-hatched surface with gold and silver foil or wire. This is also called damascening, or sometimes "false damascening." In both techniques, the inlaied or onlaied metal is generally burnished flush with the surface. When larger quantities of the gold or silver inlay are deliberately left to protrude in relief above the object’s surface, the decoration is called encrusting. All of these techniques can be combined for a spectacular effect. 

The technique of decorating arms and armour with inlay reaches back far into antiquity. It was certainly known during the Mycenaean period, when daggers were inlaid with patinated metal, and it remained one of the most common methods of decorating arms and armour until modern times. 


Enameling refers to several techniques that use vitreous paste fused to a metallic background. Recesses on a metal object, either cells formed by soldering wire to the base (cloisonné) or simple cuts or grooves (champlevé), are filled with colored glass paste. The object is then fired so that the powdered paste will melt and bond with the metal base. Finally, the surface of the object is polished smooth. Due to the expensive and fragile nature of enamel, it is almost exclusively found on weapons for ceremony and presentation. 

Rudimentary methods of enameling seem to have been known as early as the second century B.C., and were used until the early medieval period. One of these methods involved setting cut glass pieces into the metal recesses (garnet cloisonné) and was used to adorn the fittings and buckles of Anglo-Saxon armour and sword belts. Although true enameling was a popular means of decoration during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it is infrequently found on arms and armour and is mostly encountered on the hilts of English Neoclassical presentation swords. 


Embossing is the practice of raising a design on a metal plate from the inside so that the design appears in relief on the outside (repoussé). These designs can range from simple ridges, flutes, and geometrical patterns to elaborate figurative designs of sculptural quality. Leather objects such as shields or scabbards could be embossed using the same technique, but the designs could also be stamped or pressed into the surface using dies and molds. The latter technique was also applied to sheets of gold or silver, which would then be applied to the actual object. The raised design was finished by detailing the motif from the outside with a chisel (chasing). 

Known in Europe since the Bronze Age, embossing was widely used on armour in the ancient world, especially in Greece, but was comparatively rare during the Middle Ages. It was gradually revived—first in leather—during the fourteenth century, and seems to have made its reappearance on plate armour first with ridges and fluting at the beginning of the fifteenth century, developing into more elaborate forms of figurative embossing during the first half of the sixteenth century. 

Engraving and Pointillé Decoration

Engraving is a technique by which decorative patterns or inscriptions are cut into the metal surface with a sharp pointed tool of hardened metal (burin). When the decoration is not cut into the metal but formed by a pattern of dots punched into the surface, the process is known as pointillé. 

Engraving, in addition to painting, is probably one of the oldest forms of decoration on arms and armour, and can be found on Stone Age and Bronze Age weapons. Although comparatively rare on armour, it is more often found on the blades and hilts of edged weapons, and from the fifteenth century to the present day, it is frequently encountered as a favored means of decorating firearms. 


Similar to engraving, a mechanical process, the chemical process of etching entails the cutting of decorative patterns into metal using a mild acid. The artist would cover the surface with an acid-resistant coating of paint or wax, and then scratch the desired decoration into the coating. A weak acid was applied and the decorative pattern (or its background) was etched into the metal’s surface wherever the coating had been removed. Visual contrast could be enhanced by application of a dark substance, such as lampblack, into the recessed areas, or by gilding the background. 

Examples of etched decoration appear on sword blades as early as the late thirteenth-century, although the technique may in fact be much older. Etching as a means of decorating arms and armour appears to have led to the discovery of etching as a printmaking technique. In return, sixteenth-century etched decoration of arms and armour was sometimes copied directly from popular prints. Quite elaborate and complex designs could be produced, including pictorial scenes (33.164) and inscriptions. 

Fretting and Openwork

Decorative patterns can be cut into the surface or edges of plate. Fretting refers to cut designs along the edge of metal plates. The technique of cutting out decorative motifs, sometimes employed to reveal an underlying layer of metal or textile, is referred to as openwork. 

These methods of decoration are today most commonly associated with late fifteenth-century German and Western European armour, the edges of which were decoratively cut with sometimes elaborate motifs reminiscent of Gothic tracery. The techniques of fretting and openwork are also used for decorating Japanese armour and weapons mounts, as well as Islamic armour. 

Carving and Chiseling

The decorative carving of weapons dates back as far as the Stone Age. The wooden or ivory parts of weapons, such as dagger and sword hilts, can be carved in low or high relief, sometimes in the round– like sculpture, as can saddles and the stocks of crossbows and firearms. On armour it is rare and found only in the shape of carved crests, such as on Japanese helmets. When the technique of carving is applied to metal, as on sword hilts or the locks of firearms, the decoration is usually referred to as “cut steel” or “chiseled steel.” 

Pattern Welding and “Damascus Steel” or “Watered Steel”

Pattern welding and Damascus steel are commonly confused. Pattern welding is a technique in which bundles of iron and steel bars are arranged alternately, twisted together, and then forge-welded into a single block. This block is then hammered out, resulting in the formation of a distinct and complex contrasting pattern on the object’s surface. Polishing and etching with a mild acid heighten the visual contrast between the metals, creating a wavy pattern. 

Damascus steel refers to a process where in which a similar wavy or “watered” pattern is produced in the steel prior to forging using specific smelting and crucible techniques. The process is so named for the erroneous belief that this metal originated in Damascus, Syria, although this technique was practiced in the Islamic Middle East from the Middle Ages. True Damascus steel is the result of variations in crystalline structures within the metal itself. These crystals align to form visible patterns during forging. Although the term “watered steel” is often applied to pattern-welded objects, it might be more accurately used for Damascus steel. 

Objects most commonly made of pattern-welded steel or Damascus steel are sword blades, which were held in high esteem throughout the ancient world, early medieval Europe, the Islamic Near East, and Asia. Other common examples of pattern welding include the barrels of firearms and the blades of the typical Malayan and Indonesian dagger (kris).

Source & Copyright: © Dirk H. Breiding, Department of Arms and Armour, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Images: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  1. Turkish Saber, 19th century
  2. English Presentation Smallsword, 18th century
  3. German Hunting Sword, 18th century