Replica Artefacts & Historical Re-enactment.
Many years ago I qualified as an archaeological conservator/restorer where I worked for institutions including English Heritage and York Archaeological Trust. Through my love of researching the evolution of early crafts and technolgy I developed an interest in experimental archaeology and so was often asked to make replica artefacts. This in turn lead me into the hobby of historical re-enactment where I’ve had the opportunity to try out many traditional crafts from textiles and embroidery, to forge and foundry work, taking in woodworking, horn, bone and antler carving, leather work, jewellery making and much more besides. Although I've been involved with groups covering various periods of history my principle interests are early medieval, where I've also been paid to write various educational materials about aspects of Viking and Anglo-Saxon crafts. I reproduce an eclectic range of one of a kind bespoke commissioned pieces for the more discerning of recreational re-enactors along with professional clients ranging from museums such as the National Maritime Museum, Tower of London and academics at places like the British Museum, to Oscar/BAFTA winners making major movies. Perhaps the largest and most unusual request undertaken was for a project that among other things required me to arrange the manufacture of a functional Viking boat.
Every client has a different understanding and different needs in terms of "authenticity" and I'm happy to work within whatever constraints a client deems appropriate. At one extreme that's the film production company that simply wants many copies of something mass produced in lightweight plastic and resin to match the art directors designs. At the other extreme it's the university experimental archaeological research project that needs you to start by painstakingly replicating specific period hand tools from the correct grades of iron and steel to use to make their items so as to be able to compare microscopic construction marks that distinguish different methods of manufacturing notionally identical artefacts. In between you'll find historical re-enactors with widely ranging attitudes where my own preference is for making high quality appropriately aged/distressed copies of everyday items actually representative of daily life in the past, though this is interspersed with odd bits of "shiny new bling" that many favour. As such I've somewhat of a reputation for challenging just how far you can take authenticity and what is meant by the term when the word is now so overused to seemingly describe everything sold to recreational reenactors. You'll find some of my articles on this matter in the resources section elsewhere on this web site.