The Griffin's Den
Many years ago, three close friends (all members of Dagorhir at the time) came up with the idea for a unique pavilion in the style of an Old European Inn, one you might find at a crossroads or small town. The building was to be constructed of wood and canvas, and to be made of modular sections. Thus it could be toted by trailer and be set up for a weekend event like any tent. The aesthetic inspiration was the original cover of the Thieves World (vol. 1) novel which depicted an inkeeper and three patrons at a table. It also depicted the internal structure of a tavern which became the model for our centerpole.
We wanted to create a sociable tavern-like atmosphere, complete with lanterns and candles, mugs and kegs, bar tables and barmaids. And for its real purpose, it was to be the centerpoint of feasts, events, and assorted revelry. Plans were made to establish a food service to cater to Dagorhir, Markland, and eventually Pennsic War.
The original Griffin's Den as it appeared at Pennsic many years ago. Here, the structure was used by Dancing Pig Pottery and was situated in front of the Barn when at Pennsic.
The next two years involved numerous appearances and many successful feasts. We were slowly building up capital to buy real kitchenware, and a reputation for Good Food. At one point a loft was added, complete with working trapdoor and ladder. The inkeepers finally had a place to sleep!
Our appearance at Pennsic War as a full-fledged food service came at a time when the membership was at a peak and spirits were high. Our success at the War was due mostly to the help we received from James and Judith Hoch, former proprietors of the Camp Followers. They got us connected with suppliers, propane, a hot water heater, advertising, and advice both on a business and personal level. They were wonderful! As a result of all our efforts, we managed a killer breakfast service. We became so popular that people started lining outside our door at 7:30 AM waiting for coffee, even though we didn't open until 8!
Oh, when I say that it was a "killer" service, I also mean that it killed us. Tempers flared, food shortages and town runs were frequent, one act of theft costing us around $300 occured, and having to wake up at 6:30 every morning was just No Fun. Griffin's Den activities slowed down to a crawl after that Pennsic, and for three years afterwards I used the structure for my own merchanting at Pennsic as Griffin Music.
Today, it is used as a different merchant booth but it still looks as good as it always has. Many people have asked about its construction, its cost and whether it would be for sale. I plan to sell the building when I get out of merchanting which may be this year or several years down the road.
The Griffin's Den - A Wondrous Construction Project
Several years ago, I made a second Griffin's Den, built with the same overall philosophy as the original. This time with some significantly different construction techniques. This building is my own personal tent now, and appears in the Merchant Area of Pennsic War year after year.
Step 1: Laying out the frame
Step 2: Erecting frame sections
Step 3: Applying joists and flooring
Step 4: Ridge pole and canvas
Step 5: Party Time
The completed tent, after Tristan Alexander finished painting the doors and foundation.
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