Estonian Muhu Skirts Dyed with Mine Chemicals

Kadri Liik shared on Twitter some of her family history of using mines to dye fabric for colorful folk skirts in western Estonia in 1930s.

Strictly speaking, of course, it’s not mines themselves that were used in dyeing, but the picric acid in them. Russian World War I battleship Slava sank in 1917 between Muhu island and mainland Estonia, only 12 years after putting to sea.

Google Maps Muhu Estonia

Estonians scrapped the ship in the early 1930s. During that process, picric acid was extracted and put to use. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, picric acid was first used in dyeing in 1849, initially of silk. In Muhu, it was apparently used with wool.

The bright yellow derived from picric acid was locally known as mine yellow (miinikollane). Below is the Muhu skirt made from scratch by Liik’s grandmother or great aunt in 1930s:

Twitter Kadri Liik Muhu Skirt

Apparently, Muhu skirts enjoyed such popularity that older women might be doing their everyday chores in them as late as the 1960s.

It’s quite striking, isn’t it? It seems that some of these traditional patterns survive, either in traditionally woven textiles or as prints on modern fabrics, which is fabulous. I’m not sure I’d like to know exactly how the picric was extracted in the 30s, though…!

Images: map of Muhu island by Google Maps. Skirt by Kadri Liik via Twitter.

How It Happens is an occasional feature looking at the inner workings of various creative efforts.

Trailer for the Obi-Wan Kenobi Series

Obi-Wan Kenobi, a live action series with six episodes, is nearly here.

Apparently, the series is supposed to gap the pain of Ewan McGregor’s young Obi-Wan and the hope of Alec Guinness’ old Obi-Wan. That makes for an unusual angle to approach a Star Wars story from, and the first Disney+ series I have any interest in seeing.

Obi-Wan Kenobi | Teaser Trailer by Disney+ on YouTube

At this writing, Obi-Wan begins streaming on Disney+ on May 27, 2022. So soon! (It was supposed to be May 25, 2022, the 45th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars, but apparently something something—publishing is weird, and tv publishing doubly so.)

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Space Telescope Test Image of Star Captures Background Galaxies Too

The James Webb space telescope, launched into orbit at the end of December 2021, is going through some mirror alignment steps. A test image was taken, and it shows the astounding potential of the telescope in space imaging. Take a look:

2022 03 NASA STScI James Webb Alignment Eval Image

Not only does the focal point star stand out conspicuously, you can see other stars and galaxies(!) in the background.

The significance of James Webb summarized in NASA’s press release for the alignment test:

“While some of the largest ground-based telescopes on Earth use segmented primary mirrors, Webb is the first telescope in space to use such a design. The 21-foot, 4-inch (6.5-meter) primary mirror – much too big to fit inside a rocket fairing – is made up of 18 hexagonal, beryllium mirror segments. It had to be folded up for launch and then unfolded in space before each mirror was adjusted – to within nanometers – to form a single mirror surface. […]

“Webb is the world’s premier space science observatory and once fully operational, will help solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.”

I don’t need to be a STEM person to be delighted at the progress!

Image by NASA/STScI

Blood Elf Subtlety Rogue Transmog Tweak

It was time to re-do some of my World of Warcraft transmogs. Among others, I updated my Blood Elf rogue’s look. I still like her previous shadow concept mog a lot, so this update was more a teeny tweak than a grand change.

WoW Shadowlands BE Rogue in Bastion

Her chest remains mogged to Ghostclaw Tunic, but I updated her legs to Jadefire Pants and hid her belt. Then I dinked around with her weapons and ended up with Enchanted Azsharite Felbane Dagger as a partner to the ever-gorgeous Ethereum Phase Blade.

Here is the outfit in Wowhead’s Dressing Room.

Image: screenshot from World of Warcraft

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Hide a Gaming Room behind a Swinging Bookcase

Lisa Natcharian at The Storyteller’s Cottage transformed a long, narrow room into two smaller ones, namely a library and a gaming room with entry through a swinging bookcase.

The house is Victorian, built circa 1891, and located in Simsbury, Connecticut. Before the covid pandemic, Natcharian and her crew organized various book-themed events: author talks, writing classes, poetry slams, summer camps, book clubs, D&D game nights, tea or cocktail parties, live murder mysteries, even escape rooms.

Lisa Natcharian Secret Castle Room

The door into the gaming den opens when you pull a candle sconce attached to the bookcase:

Lisa Natcharian Secret Castle Room Door

The new secret room is papered with stone-block-look wallpaper and equipped with various furnishings that nod towards medieval castles: a round table with ornate wood chairs, a small suit of armor in the corner, and wall textiles, for example.

I’m flabbergasted that she was able to source so much of the furnishings second hand. I mean, who has a miniature suit of armor just lying around until you decide to sell it off on Craigslist?

Lisa Natcharian Secret Castle Room Decor

The results are well worth the effort, and surely will be enjoyed by all event visitors. For more images, visit her site, or, should you prefer to watch a video about the build process instead, you can see it on YouTube.

Images by Lisa Natcharian at The Storyteller’s Cottage

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Second Trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The release date for the next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is approaching. Here is the second official trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:

Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

To me, the creepiest thing in the trailer is the mention of a repeating dream Strange says he’s having. Brr, merely the thought is hair-raising. (Not to mention that I can’t even think of the kinds of nightmares you might have if your reality had shifted to a multiverse of possibilities. Anyway.) Apparently MoM is the first MCU film to be released under the horror genre, so that sounds appropriate.

The trailer looks as astounding as all of the MCU movies do; indeed, technical accomplishments have never been Marvel’s weakness. Where it might fall is the story. I don’t recognize the writing team for MoM at all: Michael Waldron (who’s apparently written the Loki series) and Jade Halley Bartlett (with a total of four credits to her name in IMDB).

Another aspect I’m completely ignorant of is superhero America Chavez, played in MoM by Xochitl Gomez, who will be introduced in this film. I’ve sometimes wondered whether I’d be enjoying the MCU more had I read Marvel’s superhero comics as a kid instead of the mutant ones, but it hasn’t been a big deal so far. In phase four, however, as the stories are moving further away from the biggest names and most popular heroes, it might make a difference.

I’m also ambivalent towards the director Sam Raimi. His Spider-Man trilogy certainly faded from my memory soon enough. MoM is also Raimi’s first film in nine years. I have to wonder whether directing is like riding a bicycle—will he be able to handle the reins of a massive production again?

Apparently the events will also tie in with the series Loki and WandaVision. As I haven’t seen either, I hope any links will be clear enough anyway. I guess we will see. It’ll surely be nice to see more of Wong (Benedict Wong) and Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

The release day for MoM is still listed as May 06, 2022.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Ukraine Is at War, and I’m Not Okay

Russia has attacked Ukraine, and I’m not okay.

Russia’s unprovoked attack is not okay. The Russian president’s mumbo jumbo about annexation of historical areas is exactly that. Neither the Russian Empire nor Soviet Union exist anymore. If we go down that path, we might as well cry out for the restoration of the Roman Empire, other empires, or basically any polities for “historical” “reasons”.

Arienne King World History Encyclopedia Map of the Mongol Empire

As a Finn, I am not intellectually okay with this.

Twitter Jon Copper Map of Not Russia

Nor do I feel okay.

My age group has grown up in peace, but we have grandparents who lived through our two modern wars with Russia, and you can bet your pants some of our parents carry some inherited wounds. I have a friend, in fact, who grew up in the east near the Russian border. People there had a habit of saying “When the Russians come, [blah blah blah]”. Not ifwhen.

We remember.

The responsibility for this heinous act lies with Russia, and Russia alone.

Ukraine may be a lot bigger than Finland, but I wish them every ounce of dedication, not to mention willfulness and obstinancy I can muster.

I’m not okay. But I will be better. In the meanwhile, I’ve made donations, and I’m following the situation.

Images: Map of the Mongol empire by Arienne King via World History Encyclopedia (CC BY-NC -SA 4.0). Map of not Russia via Jon Cooper on Twitter.

Announcements from your hosts.

Living Vicariously Through Social Media: Tree-lined Road Abloom

I’ve been reading more fantasy lately than is typical for me. One of the novels paid more attention to everyday colors than Anglo-American fantasy writing tends to do, which turned my brain onto thinking about colors in our environments.

This photo of a tree-lined road with masses of flowers in Parkview, Johannesburg, South Africa, certainly grabbed my attention:

Tumblr Isle of Skye Tree-lined Road in Parkview Johannesburg S Africa

It’s not that I haven’t seen purple or fuchsia flowers on trees or bushes, or tree-lined roads, or tall trees. I just haven’t seen tall trees with purple flowers lining roads before. Fantastic!

Image by traveltrotters_za, found via Isle of Skye on Tumblr

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

Fine Art as a Three-in-One Quilt

Check out this mind-blowing quilt simultaneously copying three fine arts pieces, namely Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, and Edvard Munch’s The Scream:

Tumblr Good Stuff Flora Joy Quilt1
Tumblr Good Stuff Flora Joy Quilt2
Tumblr Good Stuff Flora Joy Quilt3

Even the intricate gold frame is sewn!

This astounding piece is called “Sleep, Play, Scream” and it was made by Flora Joy. She was deservedly awarded for her innovative trispective technique.

Any time I come across someone, typically an older white man (seriously, dudes, you’ve got to do better), sneering at sewing or other textile work, I can’t but shake my head. Poor twits, showing what they emphatically don’t know jack shit about.

Images via Good Stuff Happened Today on Tumblr

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Nerdy Achievement: One Million Gold Pieces Total

For quite some time, I’ve been planning to buy a stack of game time tokens, which of course means gold farming and saving. So, I was very pleased when I hit the mythical sum of one million earlier this month.

WoW One Million Gold Pieces

I bought a stack of tokens a few years ago, too, but as the going rate was much lower, I never came near a million then.

Of course it’s all imaginary, and of course it’s all gone again, but it was neat for a while to be a millionaire—even in a computer game. 🙂

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.