Eynon’s Boga Hirth Scroll

When I got the assignment for this particular scroll, I already had an idea for the art.  Eynon’s persona is a 13th c Welsh archer (which is great for an archery award), but writing the text was going to present some challenges.  Part of the reason for the challenge was that I really wanted to pull into a law text, not a poetry text.  In period,  grants and patents of arms were legal documents, allowing rights and privileges to an individual.  Now, that’s only one of the many ways to write an award text (poetry can be another), but I definitely wanted law on this one.  (Also, Welsh poetry is looooooong and I was also doing the calligraphy, so, there were some purely selfish reasons here.)

So, I started my research on Welsh law, starting with the Laws of Hywel Dda, which were written in 950 CE, but were in use until the supersession by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 and then Henry VII’s Laws in Wales Acts in the early-sixteenth century.  The problem with using the Laws of Hywel Dda, though, was that it was largely civil codes, not rewarding people for good behaviour (though there’s some incredibly interesting things that I discovered elsewhere, like how a serf would swear fealty).  Since I couldn’t find what I wanted, I went back to English law of the time period.  (And since there are some fantastic sources on English texts from this point and later, I’m not going to rehash them, so onto the scroll text!)

This is what I wrote for the text.

Xerxis the Glorious, by the inspiration of Belanna his queen, the king of Calontir, send greetings.

At the request of the Royal Archers, it is ordained and by our Lord the King and our Lady the Queen commanded, that from henceforth that one Eynon Llangenydd shall be given, endowed and made member of the Order of the Boga-Hirth. He is to be granted use of the badge of the order, to wit: Per chevron embattled sable and argent, in pale two strung bows in saltire argent and a cross of Calatrava purpure. He is also to be granted two hides of forested land and one hide for which to raise geese, and is so ordered, should time come, to ensure protection of our Royal lands.

And so that this our gift may continue firm and unimpaired in future times, we have reinforced it with the protection of our seal and the subscription of witnesses.

Given at King’s Companie of Archers in the Barony of Forgotten Sea on the eighth day of September in the fifty-third year of the Society.

The calligraphy was a medium gothic textura, inspired by this piece, and appropriate for the time period.  Being a lefty, calligraphy can be difficult, but I also wanted to expand out a bit.  I’m rather fond of the ascenders in the exemplar piece, and I particularly love the capital letters that resemble Lombardic capitals, which is what I used in this piece.  The black ink is a pretty standard black fountain pen ink, which I like for flow, and the red ink is Liquitex’s Ink! in transparent red.  (which I think has been renamed as Pyrrole Red, but don’t quote me.)  I used one of my favourite nibs, which I got in a pack of nibs from Blick.  I unfortunately don’t remember the kind it is, though, but it’s a trooper and is wonderful for this style of calligraphy.

41368508_10155997839897569_5578149261704429568_nThe illumination had a few inspiration pieces, too.  Their Majesties’ seated together and the subject of the scroll were more or less ideas from Matthew Paris or his contemporaries (Cotton MS Claudius D VI, f. 9v and the Westminster Psalter), firmly 1250s English styling.  I did go a bit heavier on the paint, instead of tinting, but I also wanted to do more gilding, as well, and tinted drawings didn’t stand well next to it.  I will note my amusement at Eynon wearing close to the same outfit in the scroll the day it was given to him, but that, I promise, was not planned.  The column was a last minute addition, and the rabbit being chased by the cat was a take on marginalia.  I also wanted to make sure his arms were put on the scroll – Eynon is Calontir’s Clerk of the Precedence, so he’s one of our heralds.

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The cat, of course, is based on one of Eynon and his wife’s cats.  (See also why social media is great for getting portraits of people on the sly.)

As a challenge, doing the entire scroll myself was definitely that.  There’s no waiting on another person for text (except on approval), and motivation is purely in the hands of the person doing the scroll.  On the other hand, being able to give to someone who has given so much of his time, talents, and who he is as a person to others is truly rewarding.

Congratulations, Eynon!

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Posted in calligraphy, court, herald, heraldry, illumination, influences, later period, SCA, scroll text, Society for Creative Anachronism, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Update on Projects

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this.  And August has been full of stuff, but not a whole lot of work on projects.  I’ve honestly needed a break from projects (and instead, added some SCA-related things to my modern Zazzle store), and I’m glad I took it, but I really do need to get back on the ball and finish things up.

Things still to accomplish.

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (Have cut out the wool and am working on getting it lined and assembled.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons.  (It’s been. . . warm.  It means that I don’t want to be outside cutting bone with a Dremel because it’s uncomfortably warm outside.  And stagnant summer air is awful.)
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!  I have wool, but I really want something a wee bit lighter for the summer, so . . . waiting to get more linen)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms (purchased more perg and some Tresser’s Pink Stuff from John Neal Books.  Have started work on layout.  I just need to be disciplined and get this done.)
  5. Heraldic banner for my significant other. (purchased canvas and just need to do sewing and layout for this.)
  6. Creating four Byzantine peerage ceremonies (I’m picking through rather slowly.  There’s a lot of information.  De Ceremoniis is a doorstop of a book!)
  7. Secret Project scroll #3
  8. Found a second Skjoldehamn hood in my projects that just needs to be hemmed.  Not sure what will happen to it, but argh, craft stash.

Things I’ve gotten accomplished!

  1. Painting Aed’s shield.
  2. Secret project scroll #1 (known now as Sir Gawayne’s Augmentation scroll)
  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. Wrote Pelican scroll text for Jaida de Leon
  6. New Baronial A&S Champions traveling trophy. (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. 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. A bunch of preprints for TRM Ashir and Ashland to use.  And the preprint workshop at Valor helped Their Majesties out, too.  I may have to hold more of these in the future.
  10. 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.)
  11. Camp banners for Valor.
  12. Creating handouts for Valor’s classes.
  13. Banner for KWHSS.
  14. Nikolai’s Herald Extraordinary Scroll (formerly known as Secret Project Scroll #2)
  15. Imperial Roman clothes and jewellery (I just need actual full-length photos of it)
  16. A bunch of preprints for TRM Xerxis and BelAnna (OMG, SO SHINY.)
  17. YouTube video (which was from a FB live session) on shading.
  18. Painted Dirik von Rosswald’s shield for his upcoming knighting.
  19. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (Finished with the Imperial Roman garb part of it.  It’s starting life as Imperial Roman, and then will be cannibalized for something 4th c. as a part of Operation Cooler Summers.)  It’s going here because it actually got finished as part of the process
Posted in musings, project management, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Omphaloskepsis: Making Magic Moments for Others

In my last post about making magic moments in the SCA, it was all about what an individual can do to help make their own magic moments.  This, though, is what we can do as a collective group, though this also relies on individuals.

The thing is, the SCA does not exist in a bubble.  Art supplies are expensive.  Scrolls and medallions, coronets and thrones – the very trappings of our public medieval experience – cost money.  We expect much from our artisans to produce, produce, produce, and often on their own dime.  And while many of them do this for the love of the game and with a bit of a disposable income, quite a few others do this just for the love of the game only.

Unfortunately, (and this is especially true for much of the US portions of the SCA), incomes are not stretching as far as we’d like.  Supplies to create cost money.  SCA artisans are often asked to donate their work (or get compensated with some raw materials).  Combining this with time being a nonrenewable resource, it is easy to see how this model can get unsustainable quickly for players who are not so financially secure.  Many artists are not also merchants, so the model really doesn’t become self-sustainable.

So, I think this is a super time to also remind people that largesse is a good thing, and it doesn’t always have to go to the Crown, either. Generosity is a good thing.  Help other SCAdians out.  If y’all see someone who needs something, and you know they don’t have the skills or interest in building those skills, and you have something just laying around. . . . just do it. Make their day.  If you have disposable income, or spare supplies that you’re not going to use – give them to someone.  Now, I am certainly not saying to give all of your possessions to someone, but do share when you can.  Our game is richer for the people in it.

Thank scribes, potters, metalworkers and all others who make the things that the Crown literally gives away.  Write award recommendations.  Make it easier for them to get supplies.  Advocate for people.  Wordfame does a lot to boosting retention, but it’s also important to note when not to push people.  Yes, this is a volunteer organization, but we have got to be better about expressing boundaries, and then respecting those boundaries.  (for more details on this, check out Volunteer Management in the SCA)  Instead of pushing people, let us learn to truly support people.  We will set ourselves up for burn-out if we as a group are not aware of how others in our shires, baronies, principalities, and kingdoms are functioning as people and not just personae (radical thought, I know).

The SCA is a place where we can escape from some of the world’s issues for a bit and we can be around people of similar minds.  If we are so focused on our arts and creating it for our group that we neglect what gets us coming to events, our work is for naught.

Posted in musings, philosophy, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, volunteer management | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Preprints/Charters

I live in a kingdom that does preprinted award blanks (that are then painted and the details about the recipients filled in later) for our Award of Arms level (and children’s awards).  This allows our king and queen to give out awards with their persona involved in the process, and it also allows those who are new to scribal arts to try things out without having to buy a whole lot of supplies at one go.  I know that this is anathema in other kingdoms, but it works well for Calontir.

I’ve had the great privilege to create preprints for a couple of reigns.  (I got to do a simple AoA for Matsu and Elena, and a Swan and Mallet for Ashir II and Ashland II.)

The preprint art.  Note that there’s no calligraphy – that was added later.

So, in creating a preprint master, get a few details, the process is similar to any other scroll in the Society: asking questions. Will there be text?  Who is doing the text?  Is someone else doing the calligraphy?  What time period are your royals going to be portraying?  Will you need to do just the art, or will you have to do the entire thing?  This will 1) help you figure out your next steps and 2) will help figure out where to research next.

The main process starts with line art.  I’ve done both by traditional methods (pencil, tracing parchment, copious amounts of swearing, and art markers), but also digital methods.  The Leather Mallet (see left) was done using Adobe Illustrator.  Do note that if you’re creating digital artwork that it needs to be print-ready resolution (300 dpi or higher) so that it can be printed without too many digital artifacts.  Nothing is worse than illustrations with blocky outlines.

Things you can do with preprint masters: tracing.  Tracing is period.  In Illustrator, you can place the artwork with the piece you want to use directly into the file (on a locked layer).  In a more traditional method, you can directly trace out of a book.  Now, if you want to create art, nothing is stopping you from that, but tracing is okay, and it is period.

It is important to note that preprints are usually printed on 8.5″x11″ cardstock (the colour of the paper could change slightly, depending on reigns, but it’s usually a parchment- or stone-look 65-80lb cardstock), so making sure to leave margins helps immensely for framing later.

I usually go with simple line work that allows for more details to be added by the scribe actually doing the painting – things like shading, background details, or diapering, but would look good even as swaths of colour blocks for newer painters.  Your mileage, of course, may vary, but that worked well for this particular preprint.

Once all of the bits (calligraphy, etc.) have come together, it is ready to be printed and distributed.  The Royal Scribe (in Calontir, at least) will handle getting things printed on a kingdom level, but if you’re in a barony or a similarly smaller group, ask your baronage about where to get things printed.

And lest anyone think that preprints are terrible, I give you some of the ones I’ve painted over the past few years.

Posted in how-to, paint, SCA, scroll text, Society for Creative Anachronism, tutorial | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Project updates.

Things still to accomplish.

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (Have cut out the wool and am working on getting it lined and assembled.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons.  (It’s been. . . warm.  It means that I don’t want to be outside cutting bone with a Dremel because it’s uncomfortably warm outside.  And stagnant summer air is awful.)
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!  I have wool, but I really want something a wee bit lighter for the summer, so . . . waiting to get more linen)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms (purchased more perg and some Tresser’s Pink Stuff from John Neal Books.  Have started work on layout.  I just need to be disciplined and get this done.)
  5. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (Started this.  It’s starting life as Imperial Roman, and then will be cannibalized for something 4th c. as a part of Operation Cooler Summers.)
  6. Heraldic banner for my significant other. (purchased canvas and just need to do sewing and layout for this.)
  7. Creating four Byzantine peerage ceremonies (I’m picking through rather slowly.  There’s a lot of information.  De Ceremoniis is a doorstop of a book!)
  8. Secret Project scroll #3
  9. Found a second Skjoldehamn hood in my projects that just needs to be hemmed.  Not sure what will happen to it, but argh, craft stash.

Things I’ve gotten accomplished!

  1. Painting Aed’s shield.
  2. Secret project scroll #1 (known now as Sir Gawayne’s Augmentation scroll)
  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. (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. 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. A bunch of preprints for TRM Ashir and Ashland to use.  And the preprint workshop at Valor helped Their Majesties out, too.  I may have to hold more of these in the future.
  10. 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.)
  11. Camp banners for Valor.
  12. Creating handouts for Valor’s classes.
  13. Banner for KWHSS.
  14. Nikolai’s Herald Extraordinary Scroll (formerly known as Secret Project Scroll #2)
  15. Imperial Roman clothes and jewellery (I just need actual full-length photos of it)
  16. A bunch of preprints for TRM Xerxis and BelAnna (OMG, SO SHINY.)
  17. A YouTube video (which was from a FB live session) on shading.
Posted in project management, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Omphaloskepsis: Making Magic Moments in the SCA

One of the things that I’ve seen over and over again in the SCA Social Mediaverse is that people want to see more magic moments.  A magic moment in the SCA is where time seems to stand still and where it seems that one has gone back into time.

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Many of us want to have that totally immersive historical thing happen.

I think it’s awesome.

But people need to realize that it takes work.

Whether it’s by upping your soft or hard kit piece by piece, replacing or covering things like shoes or using period-style glasses, or even upping their camp game, creating that magic immersive moment takes time and money.

So, what do you do when you’re low on time and money?  (which, yes, I have a shortage of both, so I feel this pretty hard-core.)

One: don’t complain or whine about it.  It is possible to do the SCA on a budget, but it means that one has to be more creative about how one spends their resources.  For example – I take the city bus, so I have a good hour or so to do sewing on small projects or even work on sharpening pins with a file.  Sure, gets me weird looks, but it also gets me conversation starters.  (or, sometimes conversation enders because I apparently look half-crazed sharpening things on a city bus.  Oh well.)

Two: bartering.  If you’re good at something that people need or want, and you have things on hand, it’s a great way to get things going.  I’ve bartered jewellery and scribal items for new clothes.  It’s period, too!  And, there’s a bonus of creating community.  (So, remember those names.  Create and spread wordfame.  It’s critical!)

Three: Do things by little bits.  Yes, I know, it’s sometimes unsatisfying when you know what you want, and you might not have the skills or even the time or room to move forward.  My friend Aline introduced me to the concept of the 10% Challenge, where one upgrades 10% of their SCA life.  Things as simple as making veil pins or using leather or wool thread instead of silicone hair ties are both achievable and easy to start.  Add a heraldic banner.  Use fabric that is dyed colours that would have been used in period.  The barrier to entry isn’t high, and shouldn’t be.  But the little pushes do show up in the long run.  Instead of flashlights, use LED tea-lights.  A friend of mine has really cool solar powered lights that look like little torches.

By no means am I the best example of the 10% Challenge, since I kind of do what I want when the spirit leads me.  On the other hand, in places where I have applied it, it has helped bring me greater understanding of my persona, so that’s a thing.  It has helped.

Four: serve.  Sometimes, creating the magic is less looking good, and more doing good.  When the event runs smoothly, the magic moments seem to abound.  Time seems to stand still.  Serve feasts – I’ve eaten well and have had a lot of fun in serving food to my friends.

Five: give someone a hand up.  Some of the best moments of warm fuzzies I’ve gotten were times where I got a major hand up from others noticing that I needed something and they’ve surprised me.  I’ve watched a scribe being given a scribal deck to save their back.  And I know of others, through things like Noblesse Largesse, who have gotten a major upgrade to their wardrobe.  I love watching the legitimate joy in these situations happen, and it’s another easy thing to do.  If the SCA is family, we do much to improve it by treating others in the group as family members.  (It’s like getting my grandmother the Snuggie she coveted for a random present.  Best squee of joy, and even better was watching her use it.)

As a culture, we might focus on the good old days or the things that we thought were cool back then – and that’s fine to reminisce.  On the other hand, though, by putting in the effort to create those moments now, we make our own magic.  We have to be proactive as a Society if we want it to flourish and grow.

Posted in musings, philosophy, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nikolai’s Herald Extraordinary Scroll

 

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When Brigida Gold Falcon reached out to me for a scroll commission, and I got the details, I squee’d.  A lot.  You see, when I got started in the Society, I needed to work on clothing, and a friend of mine had a quiet place behind a table.

The herald’s table.

So, I sat between him and another herald (Master Mikhail, known also as the Voice of Calontir because of his gorgeous basso profundo that I’m pretty sure can be heard the next county over) and learned a lot about consulting heraldry and became interested in the other things that heralds do in the SCA.

It’s Nikolai’s fault that I got interested in heraldry as a thing, which means that it’s his fault that I became Principal Herald and a whole mess of other things.

The text was written by Sofya la Rus.  Nikolai wrote her scroll text for her Herald Extraordinary, and it tickles me to no end that she got to write his.

The scroll is based on this one at the Walters, which is the right time period for Nikolai, but not quite the right location (he’s Kievan Rus, the scroll is Armenian).  However, the birds, the angel, and the vinework I thought would work well enough.  The text is in a Russian-appearing hand, but it is in English.  If I had time, I would have probably had it translated, however, not enough time.  It is inked using Noodler’s Antietam, which is my favourite red, and a Brause nib (I think I used my .075mm nib).

This scroll marks the first time I’ve done extended flat gilding.  In the future, I’m probably not going to use pale gold (it looks silver in most of the photos, but I assure you, it’s gold.  My wallet wept a bit after I purchased the book of leaf).  I also had decent luck with using Jerry Tresser’s Pink Stuff, which can be purchased from John Neal Books.  The rest of the scroll was painted with gouache, some Daniel Smith watercolour (the dark purple wings of the angel actually sparkle because of the amethyst in the paint), and my FineTec gold palette, which also has a pale gold the exact colour of the leaf that I had.

Because I was on a time crunch with this scroll, I didn’t put in quite the amount of detail as the extant.  I did, however, replace a bird with a stoat (he has a stoat in his heraldry) and a gilded cross of Calatrava in the top section to better fill in the space.  (the extant has text, and if I had thought about it, I would have started the scroll text there.  Oh well.)

I am pleased to say that Brigida and I made him cry, and I am so thrilled to welcome him as a fellow Herald Extraordinary.  I hear he is already working on his title.  Congrats, Nikolai!

 

Posted in calligraphy, calontir, herald, heraldry, illumination, paint, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Super-duper-humerals

theodora

Because seriously, look at that fabulousness!

One of the more puzzling things I’ve been researching have been superhumerals.  In the SCA, we have a tendency to make them out of fabric (because affordability), but I’ve now run into a second data point of what could be a superhumeral.

For those who don’t know what a superhumeral is, it is a collar worn over the shoulders, which has morphed into an ecclesiastic garment (now called the amice, which bears no resemblance to the Byzantine superhumeral, as it is a rectangular piece of cloth with religious symbols and two cords, one affixed to each front corner), with the only major commonality is in the name and location.  (Superhumeral meaning “over the shoulders” in Latin.)

Many SCAdians have looked at photos (or if you’re lucky, the actual mosaics at the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy) of Theodora and her ladies (see left) and have wondered how to make the jewelled collar that she and her ladies (there are two others besides our favourite dancing empress who are wearing them).  At a contemporary set of mosaics (The Procession of the Virgin Martyrs), each of the girls wear a superhumeral.  In that post, I discussed that no surviving superhumerals had been found.

I would like to retract that statement.

In Gold & Sapphire Necklace – Altes Museum, Berlin, I had discussed that it was certainly a possibility that this piece was possibly a superhumeral.  It is certainly listed as a necklace, and I suppose by all technicalities, it is one.  On the other hand, though, I’ve had a difficult time tracking down the provenance other than it’s 6th c, and possibly Egyptian, but the Altes Museum database doesn’t seem to have it listed.  (Hey, museum professionals.  I know, I’m just this chick, but it would be lovely if we could get information on weird objects like this!)  Anyway, after another dive down the Pinterest rabbit hole, I found what appears to be a second metal superhumeral.  There’s even cloisonné on a panel that bears a pretty good resemblance to the plaques on Theodora’s.  And while 3″ wide doesn’t seem huge, it’s still a sizeable piece of metal just under one’s neck.  (even the Mold Gold Cape is substantial, but it’s a cape, not a necklace.  It’s also Welsh, Bronze Age, and not otherwise related, but a lot of the upper-body mobility aspects still should be addressed.)  At the same time, I find I have difficulty in wearing my fabric superhumeral (made by the wonderful Anna of Anna’s Rome) as fabric moves quite a bit more than metal does.  On the other hand, these were court garments, and more than likely not worn in the same way we in the SCA wear our garments.  (Seriously, you try doing kitchen work in full court gear.  I.  Don’t.  Think.  So.)

Of course, two points do not conclusive data make.  On the other hand, I’m having far more difficulty in saying that fabric was ever used for this sort of use.  (Now, I’m not going to tell you to stop making them, because metal is expensive and can be difficult to work with.)  Also, as far as enameling a cheaper metal substitute (like brass), you’re going to have a bad time, since brass (really, the zinc in the brass) and glass don’t play nicely together.

So, I suppose this goes into the pile of “wishful thinking projects”.  This could be a lot of fun to enter into a display, or even just to attempt to make, and yet, it looks relatively simple.  It’s finding the analogues (because have you seen the gold prices lately?  $1,244.30 USD an ounce!  Eeep) and ways to work around getting the look for far less.

Posted in Byzantine, collar, jewellery, jewelry, necklace, necklaces, ornamentation, persona, persona development, SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, superhumeral | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Omphaloskepsis: on asking questions and providing suggestions

It’s been kind of a crazy few weeks in SCA blog-land when it comes to arts and sciences and how we ask questions and do things and information transfer and how to act on social media.  Y’know, a light week of reading.  (So you have an idea, check out these posts: Social Media, the SCA and You: an editorial.Tolerating Intolerance: The Trap of SCA Courtesy, and Remember the human: don’t be that guy at A&S classes and displays.)

It’s some heavy reading, but decent food for thought.  Go read.  Come back here when you’re done.

Done?  Okay.  Awesome.

So, let’s look at this in a couple of ways.

Social media in a lot of ways has become the village well.  We talk through projects and concepts pertaining to the SCA.  In a lot of ways, it continues the learning process that happens at events, practices, A&S nights, and collegia.  People use it to bounce ideas off of others.  It can be a tremendous source for providing or asking for help.

But.

Let us remember that unless someone is asking for help (or you have asked them if they need help!), it is not a good idea to make unsolicited advice or suggestions, even if they are well-intentioned.  It will create more friction to those who are seeking information.  When in doubt, ask if you can offer advice.  If someone says, “yes,” then yes, go for it.  Awesome!  If not, then don’t offer it.  There may be reasons, but it’s not for you to go into.  And unless you are prepared to fix the thing yourself, seriously don’t offer.  And, yes, it is okay to ask “are you needing my advice, or do you need to rant?”  I assure you, there is plenty of space to rant about how terrible a project is.  I have an entire closet of banished A&S projects.  I have ranted about all of them to someone willing to listen.  (mostly my peers, but hey, sometimes other folks, too.)

Same with commissions.  If one asks about if commissions are open, and they aren’t, then they aren’t.  Don’t press for reasons, because there could be anything preventing commissions being open.  Don’t even go into “oh, I would still love to have this if they open,” because that’s passive-aggressive.  It’s not even flattering.  On the artisan end, it can be frustrating.  Pro tip: Ask simply and directly.  “Are you taking commissions?”  “Are you open to taking a commission?”  It’s a yes or no answer.  And if you get a no answer, please be graceful about it.

It really boils down to consent.  And consent matters.  (Seriously, this is a matter of respect.  And respecting boundaries is important.)

Same with at display and competition tables.  The boundary is a bit fuzzier, certainly, as there’s clearly a place for information transfer.  However, there really is a way to couch suggestions.  Saying “you should do this” versus “have you thought about. . .” really does frame advice in a friendlier way.  That being said, be prepared to actually listen why the person on the other side of the table didn’t do it that way.  If the person can’t afford it, give them the tools to help.  Our hobby is expensive, and for people starting out on the path who may not have found their passion, it is unfair to ask them to invest in items that they may not be able to afford.

If your kingdom doesn’t do face-to-face judging, this is a great way to leave helpful links or book titles, but please remember that you’re losing tone when you’re leaving written comments.  Much like business emails, written comments don’t have the benefit of body language, and even helpful comments can read as being harmful.  (Same with social media.  If you’re going to leave a comment on a display, read the information and then comment with something truly helpful.  If you have nothing helpful to add to the conversation, don’t add it.)

Couch your comments like a compliment sandwich.  A compliment sandwich is compliment-constructive critique-compliment-encouragement.  An example is “you did this particular thing really well.  I would like to see this change, and this is how you can take steps to do this.  Even then, you made a great attempt, and I can’t wait to see more!”  Honesty, though, is important.  If there’s room for improvement, then let them know.  But let your advice be easily actionable.  Think of constructive criticism as a way to work alongside them in improving their work – you become partners.

And that brings me to the second point.

Ask honest questions.  Veiling passive-aggressive points as a question is not a question.  Weaponizing “have you thought about. . .” is a great way to get someone to not listen to future advice.  Example: “Have you thought about the fact that your stitches are wrong and you need to do this” or “Is there a reason you didn’t use this particular resource?” is a great way to upset someone.  Sticking your nose into a social media post on telling someone how to do something without them asking for help is a really big faux-pas.  Don’t do it, please.

For those who are already looking at this as a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read), I bring you Konstantia’s Guide to Being a Better A&S Judge.

  1. Encouragement.  You may be talking to someone who is incredibly gunshy to judging.  They could be dealing with nerves or a life explosion.  Any number of things.  Be kind.  Encourage them.  Unless you are willing to fix a reason why someone is unable to do something (and it’s listed in the documentation), do not tell them how to fix it unless you’re willing to help show them.
  2. Be positive.  Even if you’re having an absolute rotter of a day, don’t take it out on the person you’re judging.  They can be nervous, upset from a prior judging session, or even may be dealing with something else unrelated to the Society.
  3. If you see someone tanking someone project, tell someone.  Seriously.  Please tell someone, whether it be the Minister of Arts and Sciences, the person running the display event, or the event steward.  Part of what makes the information transfer work is positive experiences (not everyone runs off of spite and caffeine like me), and that means if you see someone being a jerk, privately mention it to someone who can make a conversation happen.
  4. Couch your conversations with love and joy.  Socratic methodology is great, but please don’t be passive-aggressive with it.  I know I’ve said this over and over, but please, be kind.  Listen.  Support.  (see also the line about encouragement.)  Now, be honest, but don’t be brutal.  Brutality is not a peer-like quality.  Neither is unsolicited advice.
  5. Give contact information.  If you’re judging something, you may be a subject matter expert.  (and even if you’re not, judging is a great way to network and connect and to check in with the people you’re working with.)  You may even learn something new, subject matter experts!
  6. Write award recommendations.  Seriously.  The Crown/Coronet is not psychic, nor are they able to co-locate.  Call people to Their attention.  If you want to learn how to write an award recommendation, please read my article, found here.

This list is far from being complete, but it’s a good start.  Please feel free to use it in your toolbox and to modify things as necessary.  And let me know how it works!

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Project Updates.

Things still to accomplish.

  1. Lined Skjoldehamn hood (Have cut out the wool and am working on getting it lined and assembled.  And finally.)
  2. Cutting out several Byzantine bone box blanks in preparation for turning into Byzantine box icons.  (It’s been. . . warm.  It means that I don’t want to be outside cutting bone with a Dremel because it’s uncomfortably warm outside.)
  3. Sewing up Byzantine boy garb (PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS!  I have wool, but I really want something a wee bit lighter for the summer, so . . . waiting to get more linen)
  4. Thaddeus’ Achievement of Arms (purchased more perg and some Tresser’s Pink Stuff from John Neal Books.  Have started work on layout.  I just need to be disciplined and get this done.)
  5. Making more casual Byzantine clothing (Started this.  It’s starting life as Imperial Roman, and then will be cannibalized for something 4th c. as a part of Operation Cooler Summers.)
  6. Heraldic banner for my significant other. (purchased canvas and just need to do sewing and layout for this.)
  7. Creating four Byzantine peerage ceremonies (I’m picking through rather slowly.  There’s a lot of information.  De Ceremoniis is a doorstop of a book!)

Things I’ve gotten accomplished!

  1. Painting Aed’s shield.
  2. Secret project scroll #1 (known now as Sir Gawayne’s Augmentation scroll)
  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. (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. 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. A bunch of preprints for TRM to use.  And the preprint workshop at Valor helped Their Majesties out, too.  I may have to hold more of these in the future.
  10. 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.)
  11. Camp banners for Valor.
  12. Creating handouts for Valor’s classes.
  13. Banner for KWHSS.
  14. Secret project scroll #2 (still can’t say anything about this!  Blog post, though, will be coming)
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