Time for All Things to End

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I am stepping down from my post as Baronial A&S champion this weekend (it was supposed to be earlier this year, but we ended up moving the event due to inclement weather) – so I had some time to finish off some things that I wanted to do.

I perhaps was not as active of a champion as I would have liked.  Making art when you’re in the throes of depressive cycles or even crazy-busy work schedules is sometimes problematic.  And to be completely honest, I am not the most disciplined when it comes to making things.  (See also why there are all of these monthly project management posts as of late.)  However, some of the job of being A&S Champion also means encouraging others to share their stuff, and that I have done, and find exceedingly rewarding.

Anyway, I believe in leaving office/championship, etc. better than how I got it.  When I stepped up, I received a beautifully embroidered belt favour, which I’ve worn for a little over a year.  (I have some philosophical thoughts on the periodicity of belt favours, but sometimes, you have to suck it up and wear it as representation of who you are.)  However, that was it.  I get an OP designation in our Baronial Order of Precedence, but nothing else.  And I’m okay with that for me, but I want those who come after me to having something else.  So, there’s a new traveling trophy (that’s the carved bone medallion, which is also not super-period, but necklaces are easier to justify as a period object) and a scroll, which they get to keep.  It’s another Tiny Scroll by Konstantia™, being 4″x6″, so it’s a bit ridiculous.  However, the winner gets to take this home and keep it.  I hope that a a tradition like this continues.

I also wrote the scroll text.  Their Excellencies (really, His Excellency) are Norse personae, so I wrote something with a lot of kennings.

Great are our artisans, of whom we speak wordfame.
Full our halls are with their works
Of the bones of the sea and of the honey-wave, of song and of Sif’s hair
We adorn them – the landing place of the falcon on their arms
And bid _________ to guard their place
At the forges, workshops, kitchens, and halls
From now until the shield of the house of storms returns

I really want to tuck the words “of song and of Sif’s hair” into a song somewhere, but that’s neither here nor there.

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Posted in calligraphy, illumination, SCA, scroll text, Society for Creative Anachronism, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Project updates!

Things still to accomplish.

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (will definitely have to redo the centre panel.  Alas.  Am working on remeasuring, cutting out, and sewing the entire thing up.  Almost there.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons.
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms
  5. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  6. Heraldic banner for my significant other. (purchased canvas and just need to do sewing and layout for this.)
  7. Secret project scroll #2
  8. Creating handouts for Valor’s classes
  9. Creating four Byzantine peerage ceremonies

Things I’ve gotten accomplished!

  1. Painting Aed’s shield.
  2. Secret project scroll #1 (can’t post about it yet – but there will be a post, promise)
  3. Nobelese Largesse Secret Project (blogged about here)
  4. Mar’s Quilt block (which has been presented and photos can be found on facebook)
  5. Written Pelican scroll text for Jaida de Leon
  6. New Baronial A&S Champions traveling trophy. (who is currently me, but I’m looking forward to handing that one off)  I do want to do some clean-up work on this particular piece so that it’s comfortable to wear.
  7. A whole slew of Facebook frames for at least five kingdoms and one principality.(while not a period art, it is a service and probably something I should post.)
  8. 32419262_10155723533452569_2222739158722412544_n

    Accidental heraldry?

    Baronial preprints.  (I’ve honestly lost track of how many I’ve done for the barony.  It’s also a blast to work with others on this, too.)

  9. Baronial roll of arms project. (this is honestly an ongoing project, but it’s fun to see how far it’s come in the years we’ve worked on it.)
  10. Camp banners for Valor – also known as the secret project for Valor (some out of kingdom herald friends and I are camping together at Valor.  We decided we needed to mark our camp, so . . . I accidentally heraldry’d?)
Posted in project management, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

De Ceremoniis

So, I sucked it up and decided that I could be poor a couple of weeks.  And so I purchased Byzantina Australiensia’s new translation of De Ceremoniis so I could start building Byzantine ceremonies and researching things from the primary (or close to it) source document.  For those not in the know, De Ceremoniis is the book of protocol for the Byzantine court, going into excruciating detail.

I have to tell you that it is a doorstop of a book, but it is so jam-packed with interesting tidbits of Romano-Hellenistic traditions (one of the little things is lining a progress path from the palace to Hagia Sophia with ivy, myrtle, and rosemary – the scent had to be amazing).  There are maps of the City.  A glossary of terms and titles.  It may be a doorstop of a book, but it’s a tremendous resource to those doing any form of work regarding the Empire.

So, now I have homework.  I’ve always wanted to write peerage ceremonies for Byzantine personae, and now I have the source to glean information from.  I’m in the process of going through details, digesting, and am working on ways to take a very religious society and making the ceremonies, well, not.  (Don’t get me wrong – my persona and I are Christians, but I like that the SCA is a secular organization and I’d like to keep it that way.)

This, in addition to my pile of unfinished projects, which I need to do an update on.

Still on the list:

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (will definitely have to redo the centre panel.  Alas.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons.
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms
  5. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  6. Heraldic banner for my significant other.
  7. Painting Aed’s shield. (almost done!)
  8. Secret project scroll #1
  9. Secret project scroll #2
  10. Secret project for Valor
  11. Creating handouts for Valor’s classes
  12. Creating four Byzantine peerage ceremonies

This is what I have to get done.  Really, the big burning things are the secret projects and the shield, which is so very close to being done (painting counter-ermine, though, is time-consuming).

However, I am very excited to do some deep dives into the cultural aspects of my persona.  Even though De Ceremoniis is 10th century and my persona is 6th, there’s a lot to build off of, especially since a few of the ceremonies in De Ceremoniis do date from the 5th c.

Posted in Byzantine, ceremonies, ceremony, herald, heraldry, persona, persona development, project management, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Classes

I’m tinkering with classes for an upcoming event.  If you’re going to be in Calontir over Memorial Day weekend, I’d love to see you at Valor!

I’ll be hosting a scriptorium (just a time for scribes to hang out and paint) on Sunday, with a class on regalia, court protocol, and writing award recommendations, and another on Roman/Byzantine jewellery – which I last taught in 2011 and needs to be dusted off and tweaked quite a bit because I’ve learned a lot of neat things – and I’ve got more books.

It also gives me a bit of time to build a class that’s engaging and fun.

Posted in #MedievalMonday, history, musings, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Project roundup!

So, my list of unfinished projects is getting shorter!  Yay!

Still on the list:

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (now taken apart and mostly lined.  I may have to redo the centre panel so it’s wide enough because I forgot to take in account how much I’d lose to seam allowances.  Deep sighs.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons.  (I’ve gotten started on these, but I’m in the middle of tax season.  My life is a bit crazy.)
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms
  5. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  6. Heraldic banner for my significant other.
  7. Painting Aed’s shield.

What’s been accomplished so far:

  1. Nobelese Largesse Secret Project (blogged about here)
  2. Mar’s Quilt block (which has been presented and photos can be found on facebook)
  3. Write Pelican scroll text for Jaida de Leon
  4. New traveling trophy for the Barony A&S Champion. (who is currently me, but I’m looking forward to handing that one off)  I do want to do some clean-up work on this particular piece so that it’s comfortable to wear.
  5. A whole slew of Facebook frames for at least five kingdoms and one principality.(while not a period art, it is a service and probably something I should post.)
  6. Baronial preprints.  (I’ve honestly lost track of how many I’ve done for the barony.  It’s also a blast to work with others on this, too.)
  7. Baronial roll of arms project. (this is honestly an ongoing project, but it’s fun to see how far it’s come in the years we’ve worked on it.)

Getting there!  It’s going to be nice to have fewer projects hanging over my head.

I’m also looking forward to being at Kingdom Arts and Sciences next weekend.  I’m not entering anything (my stress levels would be astronomical), but I am judging a few entries and am planning on having a relaxing day.

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Jaida’s Pelican Text

When my friend Branwen approached me for ideas on what to do for her protege’s upcoming elevation for the Pelican, I panicked a little.  I was familiar with doing Andalusian art from doing Catalina’s Laurel scroll, but text was going to stretch my knowledge base a bit.  I also had plans to actually do the scroll, but I work in a tax preparation office in my modern life.  This was a Bad Idea, and I am glad that another set of artists were able to pick it up and run with it.  Their work is amazing.  Violet and Ameline, thank you so very much!

Jaida’s persona is from 11th century Andalusia, during a time called La Convivencia,  which was a time where the Abrahamic faiths lived together.  It was also a time of poetry, music, and song, especially with those in Islamic Spain.  So, my first stop was to go find some poetry from the area and time period.  I also wanted to make sure I could allude to Pelicans, service, and food, since Jaida would become a Pelican because of the way she serves through her delicious food.  (it all has a connection!)  I also wanted to draw in the parts of her heraldry, which involve camels and a comet.

I don’t often suggest Wikipedia as a source, but in this case, Wikipedia helped me get a good idea of names of poets to look for.  Names like Ibn Gabirol (a Jewish writer), Abu al-Waleed Ahmad Ibn Zaydún al-Makhzumi, and Wallada bint al-Mustakfi were great little rabbit holes to get lost in.  The next part was finding appropriate English translations.  Since I don’t read or write Arabic, finding scholarly translations to best copy a style was going to be key.

Many of the poems I listened through had a certain rhythm (that gets unfortunately gets lost in English), so I concentrated more on the descriptions and the way that something was described.  And, since SCA scroll texts do this a lot, I did lift a portion (or two) from previously existing text.  Of note is Ibn Gabirol’s “The Palace and the Garden,” translated from the Hebrew by Raymond P. Scheindlin, where I took “Birds were singing in the boughs” lines.

Below is her text.  When the text is read, the last stanza of “But none, no, none can compare/To the righteousness/Of Jaida de Leon.” should be read twice.  The title, though, does not get read.

Concerning the Works of the Righteous Jaida de Leon

On the backs of camels
Through the desert sands and
the vaulted mountains
Like ships cutting through a jewelled sea
Comes the riches of the righteous
Great are her works
Full of wonder and sustenance
Many are they who would
Shout the praises of the one
who comforts and would
So nourish her kingdom

The Caliph Ashir and the Calipha Ashland
spoke with counsel of their elders
those marked with snow-white birds
Who bled for their love
With accord Jaida, daughter of the sun
Would be elevated to their dignity
Like falcons soaring in the heavens

The rising star danced in elation
in sable-black skies
Her home made on the flat place
Chambers constructed, adorned with carvings,
open-work and closed-work,
paving of alabaster, paving of marble,
With gates uncountable!

In this lofty palace, Jaida sits
treetops fresh and sprinkling,
and everything was fragrant as spices,
everything as if it were perfumed with myrrh.
Birds were singing in the boughs,
peering through the palm-fronds,
and there were fresh and lovely blossoms –
rose, narcissus, saffron –
each one boasting that he was the best,
(though we thought every one was beautiful).
The narcissuses said, “We are so pure
we rule the sun and moon and stars!”
The doves complained at such talk and said,
“No, we are the princesses here!
Just see our neck-rings,
with which we charm the hearts of men,
dearer far than pearls.”

But none, no, none can compare
To the righteousness
Of Jaida de Leon.

Done on Rajab 29, 1439, As-Sabt, or as our ancestors calculated, April 14th, Anno Societatis 52 by Ashir and Ashland in the shire of Oakheart.

Congratulations, Jaida!

Posted in Arabic, herald, heraldry, SCA, scroll text, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Award Recommendations: what are they, and why are they important?

One of the things that the SCA does is grant awards to our participants, much like any other group.  In a sense, each SCA event is like the OSCARs, BAFTAs or the Tonys – we recognize in court as a Society excellence (in a few tiers, that is) in four main groups: martial skill (in both armoured and rapier/cut and thrust), arts and sciences, and service.  Unlike modern awards (which usually go through a jury process), SCA awards are granted by royal whim.

Side note: I have overheard some people congratulate others on “earning” an award.  If (and it’s a big if) this were Scouting or something of its ilk (which uses an awards system with set rubrics indicating if an award guideline has been met), I would be inclined to agree.  The SCA, though, uses a different system – awards are granted by the Crown/Coronets/Baronial Coronets, so even if an Order doesn’t agree (and yes, that does come with ramifications – so bear this in mind, those who aspire to wear the crowns of their kingdom or coronets of their principality or barony), a Crown can grant the award to whoever They wish.  So, yes, whim is part of the reason an award is granted (and yes, it does put a burden on those in the Big Chairs to see that Their populace is thus recognized).  Depending on kingdom, Orders may be polling or consulting orders, which is another difference, so please check with your local kingdom.  The core of a polling/consulting order does involve discussion about a candidate, but again, those who wear the Crowns/Coronets make the ultimate decision.  (In short, this is really me arguing about semantics.)

Tackling the why question first: awards can help in the sense of belonging to a group within the SCA.  They show that a gentle has a certain skill or promise of a skill.  Awards, though, because they are granted at the whim of the Crown/Coronet, may not match up to when you think a person should be granted an award.  (Also, another side note: do things in the SCA because you think they’re fun and not to rack up the awards – you will set yourself up for burnout very quickly.  It can be hard to fight the jealousy monster, but remember that awards are also not a pie – there will always be more awards granted, and someone else receiving an award does not diminish the value of yours.)  On a note of psychology, yes, it absolutely feels great to have one’s work validated by the folks in the Big Chairs, and it helps create theatre for those who are assisting in presenting courts at events.  It allows scribes to create beautiful works of art and wordsmiths to stretch their poetic muscles.  It adds to the events of the day.  In a volunteer management sense, awards help to reward commitment to the SCA as a construct.  (That being said, do not rely on the Crown/Coronets to thank someone for a job well done.  Please express your appreciation often to thank people for what they bring to our world.  I cannot emphasize this enough.)

Onto the how-tos.  Every kingdom/principality/barony handles award recommendations a bit differently, though most (if not all) kingdoms have a way to recommend someone for an award on their website.  Again, please check with your local kingdom/principality/barony to see how award recommendations are handled.

When it comes to writing an award recommendation, your first stop should be the kingdom’s Order of Precedence.  The Order of Precedence (or OP, as it gets truncated to) is a sequential hierarchy of nominal ranking of persons within the SCA.  It comes in handy when making toasts at feasts, but it also comes in handy when making sure that the person you’re writing an award recommendation for doesn’t already have the award that you’re writing them in for.  If you need assistance in looking up a person in your group’s OP, reach out to a herald!

A few things to be aware of when you’re recommending an award:

  • Anyone can recommend anybody for anything. You do not need to be a member of an order to recommend someone.  Additionally, you can also recommend people for awards even if you don’t have any.  Some kingdoms require membership in the SCA to suggest awards, so, again, please check your local kingdom
  • Be clear but succinct.  Tell the Crown what good works you’ve seen a gentle do, but don’t go on for pages and pages.  The Crown is busy – please respect their time!
  • Be specific and give details, e.g. skill levels, positions held, events attended, classes taught, articles published, presentation, personal qualities.  Are they really great at the underwater basketweaving of Upper Flibonia?  Do they teach it?  Are they kind?  Indicate this to the Crown!
  • Keep a record of who you’ve suggested.  Depending on how you recommend (and the system that the kingdom/principality/barony has), you may have an option to get the award recommendation you’ve written copied to your email.
  • Be respectful.  I feel this should go without saying, however, I can understand how frustrating it can be.
  • Be honest.  Exaggerating can be easy to do, but state just the facts.  Explain why you think that someone should receive a specific award.
  • If the Crown hasn’t acted on an award recommendation, wait until the next reign, and write a new one.  Sometimes things happen behind the scenes.  Still, don’t stop writing award recommendations.

So, let’s put all of this together and write a sample letter.  I have a tendency to not go with terribly flowery language (see directly below), with a noted exception of if I am writing to out of kingdom royals.  Names and important details have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Truly Gentlesdottir makes a crapton of lucet. And I mean a crapton. She teaches people (including me!) how to manipulate string, and she does an amazing job with it. I tangle string, and even with that, she managed to teach me. It is for these reasons that I commend her for inclusion into the Leather Mallet.

A more flowery one could be written as such (it’s an out of kingdom one, so mind the IKA, too!):

I write to you today of Pelagia McAwesome and the works of her hand that she has continued to excel in through three different kingdoms – Flibonia, Lacava, and now Scipio Fortress. When I met Pelagia some 20 years ago, she was with her glass, finishing up some works and then teaching others how to play with enamels. I learned from her own hand almost a full decade ago how better to blend colours with brushes that didn’t quite behave (no easy task)! If you were one of the lucky ones in Lacava, you received a scroll made by Pelagia – though, lucky for us, she made many, many, many beautiful pieces that now live across the land.

Her current work is with creating her tools and other items and then creating incredible, beautiful works for some lucky person to display in their home. She has also done some incredible stained glass, and best off, she will willingly teach, even while balancing being a mom.

I do only hope that this out-of-kingdom’s visitor’s voice only shows to see the impact of Your subject Pelagia, and that You see it fit to add her to your garden of Flowers.  I feel so very strongly that she is so very, very, very overdue.

In service to the Society,

Baroness Konstantia Kaloethina
CB, CCC, CGCS, AOA
Calontir

As you can see, there’s a couple ways to do it, but it’s something that needs to be done.  I make it a habit to write a few award recommendations a week when possible.

So, there you have it – you should be able to look at writing award recommendations.  I challenge you to think of who you think should be recognized and write those recommendations.  The Crown appreciates it – I promise!

Posted in philosophy, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, tutorial, volunteer management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Update on Projects

I seem to be doing updates to my unfinished list, but on the other hand, it feels good to get things knocked off of a list.

What is done:

  1. Nobelese Largesse Secret Project (blogged about here)
  2. Mar’s Quilt block (no photos, but it’s also done and I’m mostly happy with it)
  3. Write Pelican scroll text for Jaida de Leon (which will be blogged about and revealed when she is elevated!)
  4. Create Pelican scroll for Jaida de Leon (which has been handed off to another artist to complete, along with my research)
  5. New traveling trophy for the Barony A&S Champion (who is currently me, but I’m looking forward to handing that one off)
  6. A whole slew of Facebook frames for at least five kingdoms and one principality.(while not a period art, it is a service and probably something I should post.)

29365801_10155576089482569_6638050897190453248_oThe traveling trophy needs a tiny bit more work to it, but, I’m pretty happy with it.  It’s a carved bone tablet medallion, which isn’t really period, but neither is a belt favour.  I used my Dremel and flexshaft because of the arthritis in my hands.  In period, bone carving would have been done with sharp knives, chisels, and other woodworking equipment.  Since the event has been postponed, I’ll have a chance to get some clean-up work done on it.

28061547_10155502682517569_4678076538706871616_oI also created a piece of jewellery back in February out of random beads I had around my house, and did so as part of a jewellery-making demo at PlanetComicon.  It’s been a while since I’ve made a piece of jewellery for no other particular reason other than I could.

For someone who has lost the joy of jewellery making, it felt pretty okay to make a piece because I wanted to – and not because a commission was waiting on it.  I used freshwater pearls and emeralds, and I made the clasp.

What still needs to be done.

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (I have to take this apart, line with fabric, and then put it back together.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons.  (I’ve gotten started on these, but I’m in the middle of tax season.  My life is a bit crazy.)
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms
  5. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  6. Heraldic banner for my significant other.
  7. Painting Aed’s shield.

I also started a Patreon to help me stay motivated to create art.  If you’re so inclined, please consider supporting me.  I’d appreciate it – the arts can be expensive to produce.

Posted in calontir, carving, intaglio, necklace, necklaces, project management, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Update on Unfinished Projects

Good news: I’ve got two completely off the list!  YAY!

Bad news: I’ve added to my list.

My list items that are now done are these.

  1. Nobelese Largesse Secret Project (blogged about here)
  2. Mar’s Quilt block (no photos, but it’s also done and I’m mostly happy with it)

I took a break to knock out some cosplay stuff because even outside of the SCA, I’m a giant nerd.

But, back to work.

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (I have to take this apart, line with fabric, and then put it back together.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms
  5. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!)
  6. Heraldic banner for my significant other.
  7. Write Pelican scroll text for Jaida de Leon
  8. Create Pelican scroll for Jaida de Leon

So, back to work, and some of those items are coming down the pike faster than I know what to do with, so, yay, writing.

Updates will happen when things are done, as always.

Posted in about me, project management, SCA | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Crossed One Off the List!

So, remember my post on unfinished projects?  Well, I get to cross one off of the list!

My Noblesse Largesse project went to a lady out in Atlantia, who stated in her dossier that she liked paternosters and the colours green and red.  So, going through my beads, I decided to stretch my carving muscles and also make it a stealth medallion.  (This is not the first time I’ve created a stealth medallion as a paternoster, either.)  So, I got out my ever-faithful Dremel and did some carving into some leftover bone from my Queen’s Prize entry.  I knew I’d have problems painting the bone due to the additional calcium added to stabilize the bone, but I knew that I wouldn’t with ink.

100_7565So, I carved out a Pelican from a piece of beef shank bone, as my recipient is a member of that Order, with my Dremel.  I used a coloured pencil to make my marks, and then went a little bananas.  Once I was done with that, I added a bit of India ink, and then wiped it away, thus adding some definition and contrast between the carved and the smooth portions.  I also took a bit of acrylic ink and dropped a bit in the part where the blood-drop for the pelican had pierced her breast.

100_7564

Once I had finished carving it out and had made a little hole for the silk threads to go, I made an 18 bead paternoster.  It’s not as period as I’d like, but for the amber beads that I had on hand, it would just have to work.

I am pretty happy with this particular piece, and I hope my recipient likes it.  Every time I work with bone, it surprises me, and I’m excited to see what else I can make from it.

Posted in beads, carving, later period, noblesse largesse, paternosters, prayer beads, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments