We're interested in a lot of different things, even more so than one might expect from bringing together as many people as we are.
Our tastes run to fantasy, science fiction, murder mysteries (preferably nice clean puzzles rather than any gore), how-to, Witchcraft, history, humor, electronics and computer books, etc. as suit our interests. Draigsffau (and its satellites) holds so many books we have lost count.
Until recently our interest in Calligraphy and Illumination has been casual, more in the direction of pleasing shape than historical accuracy. With our participation in the SCA West Kingdom College of Scribes, we've begun working more toward accurate Period forms. Chris mostly Calligraphs and Elsa mostly Illuminates, though we both do at least a little of the other as well. Don does some as well, but not much recently.
Elsa has been interested in Celtic culture since she was a little girl, but knew very little about it until her college days when she began reading the Mabinogion and Celtic Myth and Legend, Poetry and Romance by Charles Squires. In his last quarter at UCSC, Chris got to take a Celtic Studies class from the late Donald Nichols. We have been learning ever since. We went to the British Isles in the summer of 1998 where we covered 3715 miles in 4 weeks.
Rowan Fairgrove has an awesome links page for Celtic interests, as well as some beautiful knotwork in her ICONS collection.
In 2009, Chris took up chainmail making at Elsa's urging, constructing necklaces, earrings, and a magnificent mantle executed in anodized aluminum.
Chris has been programming ever since the 6th grade, which for him is 30-odd years. He views his own programming as a multi-level æsthetic endeavor; a drawn out act of creating something which is beautiful in its function, whether that function be complex or simple, beautiful in its aptness to those with whom it is intended to interact, and beautiful to those few who can read and understand the actual code (even to those who must later maintain it). He quotes Daisetz T. Suzuki from the introduction of Zen in the Art of Archery: "If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge of it is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that the art becomes an 'artless art' growing out of the Unconscious." Although proficient in numerous computer languages, he admits to a preference for the powerfully expressive qualities of C++. Past programming experiences include 10 years of developing image processing applications, several years of database development, the design and implementation of a workstation for developing, testing, and benchmarking neural network programs, and several military applications involving the determination of object identity from a limited number of observations. He and Bill are currently working on the Destiny Project, which seems destined to last for the next twenty years, at least, concerned as it is with the programmatic emulation of the human faculties of language, conversation, thought, memory, planning, learning, cooperation, and similar problems known to be trivial extensions of present-day knowledge.
Elsa likes writing raw HTML code, and loathes what Microsoft Word does to it. She uses Macromedia's Dreamweaver to work on this site. Don has finally upgraded from his '57 Studebaker, er, Amiga computer to a desktop PC running Windows and Linux.
Elsa has been making custom costumes and wedding clothes for over twenty years. She has been distracted lately with other activities (such as her web site development work) but recently completed four projects, ranging from a pink lamé fantasy princess gown to a contemporary jacket. She hates mending and alterations, but will do them on garments she has made. Don, Elsa, and Chris have each made their own custom-fitted leather boots.
Chris' desktop publishing has mostly been manuals for work. Elsa edited and produced Razing the Stakes for 3 1/2 years. She has been working more recently on re-writing the manual for CoG's National Membership Officers. Don is working on A Wizard's Electronics Companion, as well as various tales for The Wizard Cycle.
Elsa has been drawing since she can remember and painting since college days. Chris started doing woodcuts for block printing when he was still in high school. Chris and Elsa worked together to make the linoleum cut illustrations for the Draigsffau Press edition of I Must Have Left My Wand in My Other Robe. Most of Don's drawings have been incidental to his projects, such as sketches for Gadjetec toys. He has made rubber stamps as well.
Don has been puttering with circuits since high school and has made a happy career of it. In addition to his work efforts, which allow him dramatic (and destructive) entertainment while still paying the rent, he has been applying it to magic and fantasy through Gadjetec, Halloween projects, the Wizard's Staff, and efforts which add a bit more magic to the living spaces at Draigsffau and Gryffynlloches. His current projects include building a computer-controlled router, and A Wizard's Electronics Companion, a manuscript inspired by his desire to teach Chris some of the subject.
Both Bill and Chris have an interest in gaming, though Chris' interest is more theoretical and design-oriented while Bill's interest is in both playing and design. Their main interests are in role-playing and strategic games. Bill is also an excellent chess player. Their gaming and programming talents are combined in the Destiny Project. Chris' sons Robert and Adrian are also avid gamers. Elsa sticks to Free Cell, Spider Solitaire or the occasional bout of Sim City. Don is too busy doing real work to bother with silly old games.
Chris is the primary gardener at Draigsffau, ever wary of Elsa's neglect. Planning, ground preparation and planting are usually joint efforts. At Gryffynlloches, Sharon grows the roses and interesting veggies. Don feels nature should remain unspoiled; "benign neglect" is too much work.
We have a particular interest in roses. From the tiny Cinderella miniatures to the sprawling Lady Banks, Draigsffau's rose garden holds 32 full-size bushes and a few miniatures. There are more roses yet in pots in the back yard.
Chris' early interest in traditional herbal remedies led to his acquisition of a number of herbals, including a facsimile of Gerard's 1633 edition. Upon owning a bit of earth, we put in an herb garden of both culinary and medicinal herbs. We currently grow several types of mint, feverfew, rosemary, several thymes, sages, oregano, marjoram, catnip, artemisia, scented geraniums and more.
Chris has made several pieces of jewelry, including his and Elsa's wedding rings. Elsa dabbled in jewelry making a few times from the age of ten, when she snuck into her mother's workshop and made a piece as a gift. She mostly assembles beaded earrings nowadays. Don's jewelry designs usually feature pulsing lights, as they are often products of Gadjetec.
Chris has played stringed instruments, beginning with the violin when he was about 12. He learned to play the viola and dulcimer as well. His piano playing was sufficient to get him through music theory, and his training in theory to get him through a few college-level courses in music history. He laments being terribly out of practice, but Elsa says this only means he's not quite as good as Itzak Perlman. Don plays the organ, piano, recorders and pennywhistles. Elsa is trying yet again to learn to play music, but it is going very slowly.
Chris learned the craft of assembling pieces of stained glass when he was in college and made several windows and smaller items in the following years. He and Elsa worked together on a magnificent 2 x 3 foot window for a friend's bookshop (Elsa doing the drawing, Chris doing the glass cutting and lead- and zinc-work). The glass cutting stopped about the time their first child started crawling. Now that our younger one is a teen, there are plans afoot for windows. (Quick! Before our granddaughter crawls!) The next stained glass project will likely be a round window of the sun and moon faces you see on the top of the navigation bar on the left. [For those readers who don't see frames, it's the on the Site Map page.] We'll post a picture of the finished window once it's made.
Modern witchcraft is a nature-oriented religion. Both Elsa and Chris are accomplished Witches active in the local community, while Don is more the agnostic Pagan and Bill is simply agnostic. Our Spirituality page has links to many resources.
From loft and decking through bookcases, desks, and other furniture. A sampler of our projects and a bit about our shop.
Elsa is a published author and an experienced writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Don takes his writing craft seriously. One of his projects is The Bulletin, a newspaper printed once each weekend during the Dickens' Fair (be sure to read the articles from Past Issues). Chris has contributed bits of the Wizard Cycle, but otherwise wastes his writing talents on technical documentation and web site text. Bill has written stories, too.
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© 1999-2002 by Elsa Die Löwin, Christopher M. Albrecht and Donald Jon Cox