Pimp my Bedchamber: Glamping at DW XXX

I have always admired, and been covetous, of the SCAdians creating thoughtful and thorough encampments– everything from their choice of tent to sleeping arrangements to cooking pits and crockery.  It adds so much to the ambiance of the event by day, and while walking torch-lit paths by night, it creates magic.

However, there is also a nuts-and-bolts reality to attending longer events, and everyone has constraints to work with.  Mode of transportation is one of the more absolute of these.  For my Double Wars trip, I was flying as per usual, so maximum 2x 23kg suitcases plus one carry-on for everything I’d need.

The current Double Wars site in Sjöröd has very limited indoor housing space.  There is a needs-based policy for allotment of these spots, but for other travelers there is a ‘crash space’ tent available.  Let me state up-front that I fully support this policy, as it allows people with special needs to attend the event, while also offering ample space to those of us simply needing a roof over our heads.

The crash-space tent is a large pavilion with space for 10 rope bunk beds.  This year we were primarily 3-4 people staying there, allowing each of us the full use of one bunk bed for sleeping and storage.  Luxury of space!

Pimp my Bedchamber– The Project

My goal has been to create a personal space that allowed privacy for sleeping that also improved the general ambiance of the crash-space tent within the constraints of my baggage allowance.  My persona is medieval Norwegian/Norse, and I wanted to reflect this in my choices.

 View of "Pimped Bedchamber" looking in from back side of tent

View of "Pimped Bedchamber" looking in from back side of tent

 View of "Pimped Bedchamber" looking Towards back corner of tent

View of "Pimped Bedchamber" looking Towards back corner of tent

So, where did I start?

Marta Hoffmann (1983) suggests that alcove beds may have been a common type between 14th-16th centuries.  This, along with the Norwegian tradition of textiles has given me my jumping-off point for this project.

Below, I will discuss some of the specific elements of this project, their inspiration, as well as how well they functioned in use.

 Bed in the Domkirkeodden collections

Bed in the Domkirkeodden collections

 Bed in the collection of the Vest-Telemark Museum.  Possible dating 1600-1700.

Bed in the collection of the Vest-Telemark Museum.  Possible dating 1600-1700.

Curtains

 Whip cord used for tying curtains

Whip cord used for tying curtains

To create my enclosed space I used curtains made of cotton cloth purchased 20-some-odd years ago.  Four lengths are the pattern “8044 Rytter”, one length “7011 Odin”, all from Sandvika Veveri AS.  These patterns take clear inspiration from late 17th C/early 18th C tapestries, particularly two examples featuring the Adoration of the Magi motif from the collections of Kunstindustrimuseet in Oslo:

The pattern is a bit late for SCA period, but still gives a nice feel to the space, especially when viewed from the interior.  The five panels were simply tied with whip cord (25 cm lengths) to the turns of rope along the frame of the upper bunk.  These were laced through holes along the upper edge of the curtains, with a little overlap of the panels to prevent gapping.  I pinned up the lengths to ca. 120 cm allowing coverage of baggage below the bunk but not dragging on the floor.  The combined width (5x 125 cm) was not quite enough to go completely around the bed, though one more panel would have done the trick.

Floor Cover

I made a printed floor cloth with interior house paint on wool/dacron cloth (ca 150x240 cm).  This was folded double and covered the space between the beds, extending under my bed providing a base for luggage storage.  The motifs gave the feel of a tiled floor space with elements from my household badge, a white fish hook (albeit reversed).

As there was no other floor in the tent, this was very comfortable to stand on when changing and kept me from dragging dirt/leaves/etc. into bed.  It also helped when I dropped my veil pins– the only one I lost was the one that fell into the grass.

Bedding

 The inerior space felt secluced and cozy

The inerior space felt secluced and cozy

This was the area where I needed most trial-and-error.  The end result was the following layers bottom to top: air matress, fitted sheet to hide air mattress, sheepskins, wool blanket, wool shawl, Skjoldehamn blanket, wool dresses.  Initially I had planned to use a down sleeping bag, but it proved to be too slick, allowing the wool blankets to slide off, leaving me cold.  After I packed away the sleeping bag, adding layers of dresses (acres of wool yardage) instead, I slept like a baby.  Another lesson of not mixing modern with medieval technology.  I also had a small down pillow (35x50 cm), highly compressible but still giving adequate support.

On the air mattress:  The one I was using was a standard inflatable, approximately 20-25 cm high.  It was very comfortable and eliminated all of the bumps from the ropes.  However, the thickness also ate up a good chunk of headspace as the bunk elevations were not spacious.  It also elevated my bedding above the edge of the bedframe, probably contributing to the blankets sliding off the bed the first nights.  I am going to keep my eye out for other options, something with only half the rise and perhaps a little wider than 70 cm to fill the bedframe better.  Two of the other crash-space residents did not use any mattresses, though I’m not sure how comfortable that actually was.  Also, their beds creaked significantly more as they moved at night.

Other observations and hints to share:

  • Take plenty of whip cord or other attractive string to use for random tying needs, including tying up the back wall of tent to open for air circulation during sunny days.
  • Bring a sheet or other cloth to spread across top bunk to create a better surface for storage if not in use by bunk mate.
  • Make a pouch to hang from ropes of upper bunk.  This will give a place to put glasses, phone and other small objects that normally reside on a nightstand.
  • A 0,5L soda bottle can make an excellent hot water bottle for cool nights– just be sure to insulate between yourself and the bottle to prevent burns if the water is very hot.  Don’t use boiling water as it will likely deform the bottle.  Or take a proper hot water bottle if space allows.
  • Sleeping in a wool dress is cozy.  The night air of the campsite can be raw/humid and wool is ideal for tackling clammy climates.
  • I did not have issues with mosquitoes bothering me at night.
  • It was helpful to have a small flashlight available, but not something I used much.
 Loving my "Pimped Bedchamber"

Loving my "Pimped Bedchamber"

Weight: total (9,8 kg)

  • air matress + pump (1760 g)
  • fitted sheet (433 g)
  • 2 sheepskins (909+1157 g)
  • wool blanket (1278 g)
  • Skjoldehamn blanket (909 g)
  • Pillow + pillow case (633 g)
  • 5 curtains (1810 g)
  • Floor cover (900 g)

Conclusion:

I am very pleased with the end result of this project.  Is it historically accurate to one time and place? No.  Did it provide me with a comfortable sleeping space that enriched my crash-space tent experience?  To that, I must answer with a resounding “YES!”

Sources:

Hoffmann, Marta. ”Beds and Bedclothes in Medieval Norway” pp. 351-367 in N. B.  Harte and K. G. Ponting, eds. Cloth and Clothing in Medieval Europe: Essays in Memory of Professor E. M. Carus-Wilson.  London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1983.  ISBN: 0-435-32382-2.

 
 Gratuitous photo of FiberDog helping test-drive the set-up

Gratuitous photo of FiberDog helping test-drive the set-up