I have some odd hobbies.  They include re-creating medieval and Tudor casting and alchemy in as authentic a way as possible.  I find taking technology back down to it’s basics fascinating, and like to share my knowledge and experience with others.  Hence the purpose of this blog is to showcase what I have learnt and done over the last few years. 

During the summer I can be found at a historic event trying to turn copper into silver, or attempting to make buckles.  At other times I look through historica sources for information related to my interests, and I am building up quite a library. 

If you have any questions about anything I mention on here please ask me, either in comments or via whatever method wordpress allows to contact me.

23 thoughts on “About”

  1. We have a pottery alembic, I was just wondering if you might have any suggestions for 14th century glass vessels that can be attached to the spout of an alembic, and where they can be purchased?

    The alembic is going to be used with a cast iron pot over a fire and it’s going to be our first time trying distillation, so any advice you have would be much appreciated!

    • There’s a drought of medieval glass, at least if you want other than fancy Bohemian drinking glass. I’m afraid I can’t even remember the names of the people who made a lot of what I have, I picked it up at re-enactment markets over the years.
      If you’re pottery alembic is from Jim the pot it shoudl be fine.
      Also try not to get caught by the fuzz distilling alcohol, it is illegal without a licence, but Mad Jack did it on the Tudor Monastery farm, shown on television, and I’ve not heard of anyone arresting him yet.

  2. It’s ok, we’re going to be doing water or rosewater 😉

    Our alembic isn’t from Jim the Pot (never heard of him) but I was told by the guy that made it that it should be fine as long as we make a linen pad to go between the edge of the pottery alembic and the cast iron pot.

    I’ll keep hunting for glass vessels then ^^”

    • Hmmm, I wonder what it looks like then…
      Jim based his on ones found at a couple of excavations, search for excavations of Sandal castle.
      A linen pad won’t seal that well, if you soaked it in wax it would seal better but the wax would slowly get into the water and down the outside of the pan. What you want is egg white and flour pasted onto the linen, just a few layers of it, not a padful of it.

  3. I’m a completed beginner but I nevertheless have a very important question about how to avoid my molten pewter from bubbling in the mould. Very simple open flat bangle clay mould. (Mont Marte Air hardening clay) It seems like a build up of metal in one spot tries to flow but hits colder metal and explodes. I tried a releasing agent just once, mixture of wax-machine-oil-graphite powder, seemed to work but maybe that was a fluke. I would rather not use a releasing agent as I get a great rainbow patina from the raw clay mould. How do i stop that pewter drama which ultimately puts bubbles and roughness to a section of the piece?

    • I have no experience of air hardening clay, the only thing I can think of is that you haven’t got it dry enough, try putting it in the oven at a low heat for a while.

  4. Hi there,

    I saw one of your posts carving soapstone and was just curious as to where you get it. I can’t find a UK supplier for the life of me.


  5. I very much enjoyed your eponymous blog, Distillatio. I am working on a history book-blog of my own, which can be seen at [one word] theoryofirony.com, then clicking on either the “sample chapter” or “blog” buttons at the top. My Rube Goldberg brain asks with an odd, well-caffeinated kind of logic: Why is there an inverse proportion between the size of the print and the importance of the message? Science. Commerce. Art. Literature. Military. Religion. I call this eccentric thinking the Theory of Irony and if your busy schedule permits, give a read, leave a comment or create a blogroll link. In any event, best of luck with your own endeavors.

    P.S. It concerns Classical, Medieval and Modern eras.

  6. Theophrastus von Oberstockstall said:

    Hey Guthrie. Any chance of adding more use friendly index navigation to the site? It’s a great site, and having just found it am really enjoying your blog. However, getting around the site is a tad frustrating. Or am I just getting old and don’t know how to use WordPress. Perhaps the mobile version on iPad is crippled? Otherwise, great blog. Will leave comments where I can contribute to topics.

  7. Hi! I was hoping in some way we could get in contact. I’m doing a high school research project on the historical context of alchemy in medieval times. I’d love to list your blog as a source – but I would need to know your qualifications/degrees to be able to officially list this as credible. Anyway, thank you! your log is really really wonderful and interesting, I’ve been lost in it for the past week!

  8. Hi,
    are you able to come to schools to do demonstrations?

  9. Hi, I would like to ask you some questions regarding your distillation apparatus can you shoot me an email please?

  10. Hi, I am interested in the practical side of alchemy and was wondering if you could send me a book recommendation that includes this knowledge. I was recommended “the book of distillation” by someone, is that any good?


    • Hi
      sorry for taking so long to reply. The book of distillation, which one do you mean? There is a medical work by Heironymous Braunschweig which has that sort of title but it isn’t alchemical. On the practical side of alchemy an introduction is of course my website, and the book to get is “The Secrets of ALchemy” by Lawrence Principe. The Libellus de Alchimia, a translation of a pseudo- Albertus Magnus book can be found sometimes, the translation is by Virginia Heines.

      • Hi, thanks for replying. The book by Braunschweig is what I was referring to. By “not alchemical” do you mean that alchemical distillation is different from ordinary? From looking at alchemical texts they don’t seem to specify a difference, e.g. Paracelsus (cf. Hermetic and alchemical writings) lists one of the prerequisites of becoming an alchemist as knowing “distillation” and then goes on to describe the different apparatus one needs (pelican etc).


      • That’s a useful question. If you just want to distill stuff, anything from a modern chemistry textbook to a modern alchemical practise book would tell you enough to distill plants and suchlike. There’s an entire world of the manufacture of medicines inspired by Paracelsus, although the modern practises are different from the medieval ones.
        Or you look at a translation of the Book of distillation into English, there’s one online somewhere.
        This will grow into a blog post though, so I think I’ll write one of them instead, keep your eyes on here over hte next few days.

      • But, to add to this, the Braunshweig book is not alchemical, even if it has distillation in it. For centuries beforehand, distillation had not belonged only to alchemists. So just because something has distillation in it doesn’t mean it is alchemical.

      • Thank you for the info, that makes sense.

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