Friday, September 2, 2016

Mermaid Gets a Makeover!

This post is long overdue but to be completely honest, I was kind of waiting for the whole project to be completed before sharing it.  I don't yet know what happened with it all but here's my part!

Way way back sometime in 2014 or earlier, a Scadian named CellanchDonn MhicanMhadaigh hailing from the Crown Principality of Tir Mara decided to start a group endeavor which she entitled "Land of the Sea Embroidery Project".  Embroidery motifs of different medieval creatures of the sea were to adorn a set of royal encampment linens and decorations.  Each person participating in the project was given a copy of an image from medieval art, some fabric, and instructions on the colours of embroidery thread to use.

So, of course, since mermaids are my "thing", I simply had to do it!

Here is a photo of the mermaid image I was tasked with:


You can imagine my dismay upon receiving this.  This mermaid is wearing a jacket.  A JACKET ladies and lords!  Mermaids have breasts that should be proudly displayed for all to see.  They do NOT wear jackets!  Considering the miserable look on this mermaid's face I think she agrees.

So I redrew this pathetic creature and gave her a makeover...


 She looks MUCH happier and PROUDER now doesn't she?

And here is the final product...happy, loud and proud.  Yes, those are bead nipples on this glorious specimen!  I think her hand gesture is her saying, "How YOU doin'?"


I completed this embroidering project last summer, in 2015 and I haven't seen her since.  I'm hoping she'll turn up somewhere in the future and surprise me with her perky attitude.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's All Greek to Me!

It’s All Greek to Me
By Lady Isolda Fairamay
Submitted to the Tir Mara Arts and Sciences Championship 2013

Where the Project Began:  It began at the Great Northeastern War 2012 where the weather was so incredibly hot and sticky it inspired me to rip off my tight fitting long sleeved 14th century outfit and don one of my husband’s Roman tunics.  Marvelling at the ease of getting into and out of this outfit I decided that “Greco-Roman” was the way to go for hot summer camping events.  I spontaneously visited the merchant’s area and purchased 2 pieces of linen, one in green and one in blue, for the purpose of a new “Greco-Roman” outfit for the next summer.

Where the Project Went:  I came home and checked out books from the library and researched on the Internet.  All this information resulted in mass confusion.  There is an assortment of different terms used for different pieces of clothing and I quickly found that these terms tend to be used interchangeably en mass to the general audience.  I was so confused I put it all away.

Fast Forward to Market Day at Birka 2013:  I attended the “When in Rome:  The Fundamentals of Dress from Republic to Byzantium” workshop held by Kyria Anna Dekeianina Dyrakousina (Angela Costello).  This was the first time I felt like I might know what to do with my project.  I returned home from this workshop and started work on what you see today. As I plodded along with the design and construction of the finished product, I researched with new eyes.

Fabric:  Before I go any further I want to discuss the fabric used.  In all of my research I find that most Greek and Roman clothing was made primarily from wool with linen being a close second.  As for colours, although white seems to be what our eyes want to see in research, many of the statues that we gather our information from were originally painted, with colour being washed away by time.  The fabric I bought for this project is linen.  The colours are green and blue, both of which were available at the time.  In my construction I used linen thread.  Though seams and particularly hemming may not have been used in that period due to the way fabric was woven and how garments were constructed, I have finished my pieces with seams and hems to extend the life of my garments.  I used a running stitch for all construction.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know:  Although I realize there are other pieces in the Greek and Roman woman’s closet, I am concentrating on the 3 pieces that have eluded me the most.  Using the research I have done I will, to the best of my abilities, attempt to explain the “Chiton”, the “Peplos” and the “Stola”.

CHITON:
Let us first speak of the Greek “Chiton”.  In all my Greek research, the best definition of a “chiton” is as follows:  Chiton:  A thin tunic comprised of a rectangular piece of fabric sewn together at the short ends OR two pieces of rectangular fabric stitched together along a side seam from top to bottom…both methods resulting in a cylinder/tube.  The top edge of the hem is unstitched.  The top edges can be sewn, pinned or buttoned together at two or more points to form shoulder seams leaving openings for head and arms.  A “Doric” chiton is the sleeveless version pinned/sewn/buttoned at the shoulder.  An “Ionic” (later) chiton is made of a wide piece of fabric pinned/sewn/buttoned all the way from neck to wrists and belted at the waist.

Moving on to the Roman definition, in all my research the best definition of a “chiton” is exactly the same as a Greek chiton, but seems to be only described in the “Ionic” style with the fabric pinned/sewn/buttoned from the neck down the arms to the wrist.  It may also simply be referred to as a “tunica interior”.

Terracotta stamnos (jar)
Greek, Attic, red-figure, ca. 450 BC
Attributed to the Menelaos Painter
Obverse and reverse, maenads making music
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photograph taken by Chris Hulme Colin

Notice the figure on the left appears to be wearing a “Doric” chiton with one fastening on each shoulder while the figures in the middle and on the right are wearing what appear to be “Ionic” chitons with multiple fastenings up the sleeves.

PEPLOS:
Again, let us first speak of the Greek “Peplos”.  In all my Greek research, the best definition of a “peplos” is as follows:  Peplos:  A thick tunic or outergarment that is made of one large rectangular piece of fabric that is then formed into a cylinder and folded over the top.  It is affixed to the body at the shoulders with fibulae.  It was then belted around the waist.  The folded down top created the appearance of a second piece of clothing.

Moving on to the Roman definition, in my research the best definition of a “peplos” is either non-existent, or a variation of the Greek peplos. One website description: From http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/clothing2.html Roman Clothing: Women:  “The peplos was made from two rectangular pieces of cloth partially sewn together on both sides; the open sections at the top were then folded down in the front and back.  The woman pulled this garment over her head and fastened it at her shoulders with two large pins, forming a sleeveless dress; she then tied a belt over or under the folds.”  A more logical description of the Roman “peplos” comes from the workshop I attended at Birka.  In the piece “The Peplos:  An insight into the most common women’s garment at Pennsic” by Signor Anna Danuzzano da Siracus  (Angela Costello) a “peplos” is described as “the draped garment worn by the Ancient Greeks that was later adopted into Roman and Dark Age cultures. This is often confused with the chiton, which is always a sewn garment. Peplos’ were not traditionally sewn! The term peplos is also used very generically at times for any outer garment worn by a woman that was made from either a folded piece or a tube-shaped piece of cloth.  Most commonly, especially in the SCA where we don’t want to, um, expose ourselves, we will make the tube-shaped garment with a side seam.


Grave stele of a little girl, ca. 450–440 b.c.
Greek, Parian marble:  Metropolitan Museum of Art
Notice how the side is opened up.

STOLA:
The “stola” is a piece that appears non-existent in the Ancient Greek woman’s closet.  The “stola” seems to be only mentioned as an Ancient Roman woman’s piece of clothing.  In all my research, the best definition of a “stola” is as follows:  Stola:  A sleeveless dress gathered at the shoulders into a strap or brooch.  The length may be twice the height of the wearer.  It is always worn over a tunic.  It was fastened around the body by one or more girdles/belts resulting in broad overhanging folds.   It could be decorated with a coloured band at the neck and an “instita” which was a broad flounce with many folds surrounding the hem.  Alternatively there may be a simple band of colour or patterned border called the “limbus” which was woven into the fabric itself.  It is a piece of clothing worn only by married women, but being rather unflattering and unfashionable it was not worn often.


Statue of Livia Drusilla
Between 1 and 25 AD
Marble
National Archaeological Museum of Spain
Here we see what appears to be a stola worn over a chiton (with pinned sleeves).  The clues that tell us it is probably a stola rather than a peplos is the blousy type draping of the copius amounts of fabric.

Let’s Get Some Perspective:  During my research I came across two important facts that put everything into perspective for me.  Fact Number One:  The modern woman is a modest woman.  Ancient cultures didn’t mind showing a bit of skin but we do.  With that said, it seems that modern interpretation of how to construct ancient clothing is mired by our modesty, making us sew together seams that would normally be left open.  I quote from Angela Costello in her Roman clothing workshop materials:  “Most commonly, especially in the SCA where we don’t want to, um, expose ourselves, we will make the tube-shaped garment with a side seam.”  Fact Number Two:  The Romans stole from the Greeks.  Quoted from the article “Roman Copies of Greek Statues” from the Department of Greek and Roman Art of the Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rogr/hd_rogr.htm“Impressed by the wealth, culture, and beauty of the Greek cities, victorious generals returned to Rome with booty that included works of art in all media. Soon, educated and wealthy Romans desired works of art that evoked Greek culture. To meet this demand, Greek and Roman artists created marble and bronze copies of the famous Greek statues.  Although many Roman sculptures are purely Roman in their conception, others are carefully measured, exact copies of Greek statues, or variants of Greek prototypes adapted to the taste of the Roman patron.”

Fragments of the Great Eleusinian Relief, 27 b.c.–14 a.d.; Augustan
Fragments of a Roman copy set in a plaster cast of the original Greek marble relief, ca. 450–425 b.c.
Marble: Metropolitan Museum of Art

My Conclusion:  The clothing we see as “Greco-Roman” is, in essence, all Greek in origin.  I believe the actual “Chiton” and “Peplos” in particular are Greek.  The “Stola” is a Roman piece but it is not so different from any of the Greek clothing we see.  As with most fashion, there are variations of it all.  In addition, much of the information we find, particularly on the Internet, tends to use terms interchangeably and therefore creates confusion as to the true origin of different styles.  Finally, the sewing of certain seams may be a Roman initiation but I do believe a lot of what we see worn in the SCA is primarily modesty based as well as function based.

My Project:  The desired look of my outfit is seen here:


Statue of a young woman and a girl from a grave monument, ca. 320 b.c.
Greek, Attic:  Marble  Metropolitan Museum of Art
The young woman at right wears a full-length peplos over a chiton with buttoned sleeves. Additionally, she has pinned to her shoulders a short mantle that falls down her back. This distinctive manner of dress was apparently reserved for young virgins who had the honor of leading processions to sacrifice, carrying in a basket such implements as barley, fillets, and the sacrificial knife. Being a kanephoros (basket bearer) was the highest honor possible for a maiden in the years just preceding marriage. The original funerary monument would have been a poignant reminder of the young woman's early death, before she was able to marry and bear children.”

My outfit consists only of the peplos and the chiton.  I have used purchased buttons sewn to the shoulders of the chiton for its closure.  I have used Roman style brooches (in place of fibulae) purchased from Raymond’s Quiet Press for the closure of the shoulders on the peplos.  The chiton is sewn at the side seams while the peplos is left open at the side.  For belting I am using belts made by a friend using cotton woven on an inkle loom.

Ultimate Result:  I am humbled by the amount of research that went into this seemingly simple project but I will certainly appreciate wearing this ensemble just as much as some of my later period outfits!



Though my overfold isn’t as large as the statue here is a front and side view of me wearing the finished pieces with the belt worn over the folded edge as the woman is wearing it on the statue.



And here is a front and side view of the outfit belted underneath the overfold.

References:
1.      The Peplos:  An insight into the most common women’s garment at Pennsic by Signor Anna Danuzzano da Siracus  (Angela Costello)
2.      Social Aspects of Dress in the Roman Empire…essay by Angela Costello
3.      Costume of Ancient Rome by David J. Symons, 1987
4.      The Chiton, Peplos, and Himation in Modern Dress by Harold Koda, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art:  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/44.11.2,.3  and http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/god3/hd_god3.htm 
5.      CLAS 220: Greek and Roman Costume
compiled by John Porter, University of Saskatchewan  http://homepage.usask.ca/~jrp638/CourseNotes/costume.html

6.      Roman Clothing: Women http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/clothing2.html
9.      Roman Costume History  Roman Women-Hairstytles and Dress by Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com http://www.fashion-era.com/ancient_costume/roman-costume-history-women-hair.htm

Photo References:
1)    Terracotta stamnos (jar)
Greek, Attic, red-figure, ca. 450 BC
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photograph by Chris Hulme Colin

2)  Grave stele of a little girl, ca. 450–440 b.c.
Greek, Parian marble:  Metropolitan Museum of Art:  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/27.45

3)  Statue of Livia Drusilla
Between 1 and 25 AD
Marble
National Archaelogical Museum of Spain

4 ) Fragments of the Great Eleusinian Relief, 27 b.c.–14 a.d.; Augustan
Fragments of a Roman copy set in a plaster cast of the original Greek marble relief, ca. 450–425 b.c.
Marble: Metropolitan Museum of Art:   http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/14.130.9

5)  Statue of a young woman and a girl from a grave monument, ca. 320 b.c.
Greek, Attic
Marble


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I'm Still Here!

I’m still here…!

I am appalled with myself that it has been close to FOUR YEARS since I updated this poor neglected blog.  But I’m back and I have lots to share.  Over the next few weeks and months I will share some of my better projects over the last couple of years and make you believe that I have not disappeared off the side of the earth and eaten by dragons.

Before I do any of this, however, I have earned some SCA bragging rights that I would like to share with you.  Two wonderful things have happened to me over this past year or two that I am very excited to tell you about.

The first wonderful thing that happened was joining the Order of the Iceberg.  This is a baronial level award (Barony of Ruantallan) that recognizes people for their services, arts and martial activities.  In my case, I was given the award for service.  I’ve been pretty busy with running events, supporting demos and just basically mucking around making things over the past few years, so it’s nice to be recognized for this.

Here’s a photo of the scroll and medallion that were given to me in court at the “Tir Mara A&S and Rattan Championship” event from November 29th, 2014.  My favourite part is the mermaid in it.  Very special.

         

Scroll by Lady Sileas ni Dhomnaill


      

The second wonderful thing that happened was joining the Order of the Maunche at Pennsic War 44, 2016.  This is a kingdom level award (East Kingdom) in the group of the Orders of High Merit.  The Maunche is given for arts and sciences, either for excellence in one specific area or for surpassing competence in several.

I’m still pretty dumbfounded as to how I managed to deserve an invitation into this order, but I am extremely honoured!  I ended up bawling through the majority of the presentation…it was such a special moment for so many reasons.  I was at my very first Pennsic, the award was given to me by friends (who also just happened to be Royals!), I was surrounded by even more wonderful and supportive friends, and when the scroll was presented it made me cry even more because it was an image of ME drawn in my very favourite outfit as part of the Codex Manesse, which was my very first inspiration for a major Arts and Sciences project.

Lookie at me!!


Me bawling as soon as I found out I was receiving a Maunche.



My beautiful scroll by Mistress Rhonwen glyn Conwy

In the image you can see I am holding a needle, a spoon, and a paint brush, which represent my main areas of study in the arts and sciences.  The spoon is actually quite significant because, although I have never cooked a feast or anything close to it, I have shared a lot of my knowledge on gluten free cooking in order to teach those who would like to include gluten free items in their feasts and more importantly, to raise awareness about those of us with celiac disease and allergy concerns so as to make us feel more welcome at a feast table.  Special mention was made of this effort during the presentation.

And here’s my lovely medallion that I now wear proudly:




The one thing I would like to share about receiving these awards is joy.  It’s not about the accolades that it affords me, because although receiving awards in the SCA raises your position in the order of precedence, I am not an elitist.  I feel that it is more of a recognition that I try and that I share, not only to teach others that they can do these things too, but for simply the joy of pursuing my passions and having someone notice.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How I Became Daenerys Targaryen



So, I wanted a really cool bad-ass female costume for Hal-Con (our local Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention) this year.  And I love Game of Thrones.  And I love Daenerys Targaryen.  So I decided to become Daenerys Targaryen for Hal-Con this year!

Daenerys wears various and sundry outfits in the show. I wanted to pick something that was A) NOT skimpy and B) Pretty but bad-ass.  The outfit I decided upon was the outfit she wears at the end of season two:


The two outfits above are very similar but I decided to go with the one on the right because I think the leather piece is really cool and I figure if anyone else is going to wear this outfit they would choose the one on the left because it's...well, prettier.

Here are a couple more views of the outfit to show the details:

 

So, how did I make myself into Daenerys?

I worked from the inside out.  The first layer was the easiest.  I simply went to my local second hand store and bought a tank top and skirt.  I felt the skirt was rather a coup since it has the perfect shape!  I also bought myself some boots which I would need to buy for winter anyway:

 


From this point onward nothing was easy!

The next layer I created was the overdress.  For this I found a clearance pattern at my local fabric store and found suitable fabric on sale.  Can you believe I took this:


...and created this:



I am very happy with how it finally turned out but don't look too closely!  There are a few areas that I had to "fudge" to make it look right!  But if you're looking that closely, as my friend Kelly always says, you should be buying me dinner!

The next layer I have to thank my husband for making!  Since he has some experience working with leather and I have none, and since I was the one purchasing the leather and he got to keep all the leftovers for future projects I figure we both got a good deal.

To make a pattern we used the "Duct Tape" method...that being me putting on an old shirt and my husband wrapping me in layers of tape, then drawing on the tape where the lines should be for the pattern pieces.  Here is a picture of the pattern with all the pieces numbered before cutting it up:


And Voila!  Here are a couple of photos of the finished leather piece:


Last but not least, was the hair.  I would like to thank my daughter for this part!  To create the look we had to purchase two separate platinum blonde wigs from the Halloween selection at our local costuming shop.  One wig would simply be placed on my head for the long hair look and the other wig was used to create the braids.  We machine sewed the braids on separately and my daughter styled them to finish the look.  It's a little heavy but I think it does the trick!

And finally, here are some photos of me in the finished outfit at Hal-Con!  What a fabulous weekend!

 

Yes!  I'm wearing dragons on my wrist!
 
And I can't resist posting this one...had it done at the digital photography booth...so corny but it was so much fun!
 

What SHALL I make for next year????

Sunday, July 8, 2012

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

My dear readers, I have just realized that it has been quite some time since I have written anything here!  I do apologize for my absence...and there is really no excuse other than laziness and a busy life.  But during these months I have not been idle in the sewing room...in fact I've made quite a few things!  So instead of going in depth into just one project I will give you a synopsis of everything I've worked on lately...

From the sublime to the ridiculous...

First up, as a result of placing second in the Tir Mara A&S Championships and becoming the new Prince's A&S Champion I took it upon myself to make some regalia for both the Tir Mara Prince's A&S Champion as well as the Princess's A&S Champion:

The Prince's Champion (second place) cloak was designed using the Tir Mara device with a an Arts and Sciences candle in the middle of the star surrounded by a laurel.


The Prince's Champion (first place) cloak was designed using the Tir Mara device with a an Arts and Sciences candle in the middle of the star surrounded by blue roses.


Both cloaks were (gasp!) machine sewn and appliqued, though the candles were hand embroidered.  I used satin for the material as there was nothing natural that I could find that was as striking or affordable!  What you don't see in the photos as well are the beautiful brooches made by Lady Sileas ni Dhomhnaill and the cording made by Lady Nerina of Sparta.

Here is a photo of the cloaks being worn after being presented to the Royals at the spring East Kingdom Crown Tournament: (Photo taken by Cindi Hachi)



Next up:

My next finished project is a completely hand sewn gown that I patterned completely by myself, using a duct tape pattern to make the bodice as fitting as possible.  I am extremely happy with the results, as this gown is the best fitting gown I have made for myself yet.  My inspiration for the gown came from two different sources, one being an effigy of Katherine de Beauchamp (who died 1369) and an image of a a gown that seems to be made from a plaid like patterned material (unfortunately I am not sure of the source here):

Here you can see the image of Katherine de Beauchamp...I wanted to show that gowns laced up the front were indeed just as proper as those buttoned up the front:


Here you can see the image of a woman wearing plaid on the far right...she is obviously wearing an overdress in a solid colour as well:


My gown is made in 100% lightweight wool, with lacing up the front and buttons on the sleeves (my first foray into buttons and buttonholes!).  I am very happy with the final look: (Photo taken by Wanda Sutherland-Jewers)


And onto the next project...

I have struggled with what to put on my head for that medieval look without getting a headache and without having to fuss.  And I have finally found a good piece!  I found the design for this veil in The Medeival Tailor's Assistant:  Making Common Garments 1200-1500 by Sarah Thursfield.  The veil is basically a large rectangle shape.  To  wear it you take one of the shorter sides and tie it on like a kerchief, tying it at the bottom of your head in the back.  Then you take the other short side and fold it up over your head and pin it so you then have a kerchief and veil in one.  I wore this style at a camping event and it stood up well to wind and was very comfortable...having it tied over my ears also kept the bugs away!  As well, the veil can be worn wrapped around the neck for a different look.  My veil was made with very lightweight gauzy 100% linen and hand finished with a rolled hem.  Here are veiws of the veil worn in both ways:  (Photo 1 taken by Julie Gray, Photo 2 taken by Wendy Regular)

 

Next...

I am very happy to say that I finally finally was able to make a heraldic banner using my mermaid device that was passed a few months ago.  It is completely hand sewn with the scales of the mermaid being cut with pinking shears for that "scaley" look and the features of the body as well as the trident being hand embroidered.  I was so very happy to have her displayed at our recent Baronial War Camp:


And now for the ridiculous:

Last but certainly not least, I decided to have a bit of fun.  Next weekend we are attending the Great Northeastern War 2012 and during that weekend we will be attending a campfire party called "Baconpalooza" which is, if you haven't guess, a celebration of all things bacon!  I decided I'd like to dress for the occasion so I made a special circlet.  This circlet is completely hand made, out of felt and wire in the shape of strips of bacon!  I can't wait to wear it next weekend!  Here is a rather silly photo of myself modelling said circlet:


So you see, Lords and Ladies, I have not been idle in my activities these past few months, just idle in my blog posting.

Hopefully next time won't be quite so long from now!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Note on Arts and Sciences Competitions in the SCA

And The Winner Is...

For anyone who was wondering whatever happened to "Underneath Her Clothes", my 14th century shift project,  I entered the project into the Tir Mara Arts and Sciences Championships in November 2011.  The results?  I did not win the competition but I came in 2nd place, which meant that I was awarded with being named the Tir Mara A&S Prince's Champion.  It was an honour for me and I was very proud to stand in court that day.  Here's a photo of me doing just that...of course you can't see my face but I was smiling from ear to ear!


So, because I did not win this competition I was allowed to enter my project into our Ruantallan Baronial Arts and Sciences Championships held at our 12th Night event in early January.  This competition I DID win!  Unfortunately there is no photo of me in court here because the poor Baron and Baroness were both too ill to attend the event...so my day in the sun will come soon enough.

I am very VERY proud of my results after all the work I put into this project.  It's always nice to be recognized for the work you put into something you enjoy.

With all that said I would like to offer my advice on preparing for an Arts and Science competition.

Do It For Yourself First

First of all, I want everyone to know that the most important person to impress in these competitions is YOURSELF.

Arts and Science competitions are likely the most subjective competitions you will ever encounter in the SCA.  It's not like heavy fighting...where the last person standing wins.  No, there are SO many different things that people can offer into an A&S comp and SO many different people who can be called upon to judgt these comps that there is really no definitive way to say who is "The Best".

So, if you are entering a competition just to win, don't bother.  Enter the competition to show off the results of something you have enjoyed doing and to show others how you have done it.   Whether or not you win, be proud of your entry.

My Work Isn't Good Enough

Bollocks!  If we could all just push aside the word "competition" and replace it with the word "display" I think more people would feel better about showing off their work.  I will repeat:  If you are entering an A&S competition to win, don't bother.  There are so many other reasons to enter these competitions.  First and foremost, it is to share your interest with others.  Believe me, there will be someone out there who has an interest in what you're doing and wants to know how you do it.  This is one of the only ways we have to share our information, tips and research resources.  Second, it is a perfect opportunity to get some feedback on your project.  Although not every judge will know everything there is to know about what you are doing, there is likely someone there who knows even just a little about it who can offer you their own tips and research resources.  And finally, A&S competitions are much more interesting when there are lots of projects to peruse for the rest of us!

What Do I Need to Do to Enter?

Here is an example of the parameters of pretty much all the competitions I've entered since I joined the SCA:

Entries:
Each artisan should submit a single entry, being a single item, or collection of related items that can be judged as a single entry. It must have been completed within the last 2 years (i.e. since the last regional arts and sciences championship). Entries that have previously won a regional or kingdom championship cannot be entered.
Pure research papers are not allowed. Performance entries should have a large component of original work (e.g. a new composition in a period style).

Documentation:
Written documentation is required for all entries. The main written text must not exceed three pages in 12 point font. References, figures etc. may be on additional pages.
Judges will be marking the entries according to the following criteria:
  • Complexity and technical difficulty (out of 5)
  • Skill in execution (out of 5)
  • Authenticity of the work, and quality of the documentation (out of 5)
  • Novel artistic value and/or originality (out of 1).
"Quality of documentation" refers to the substance and scholarship of the documentation, NOT to the elegance of the writing.

The last criterion, "Originality or novel artistic value", is a bonus to reward entries that represent meritorious artistic input by the artisan, or display a novel, or rarely-used, art or science (or a novel application of an art and science): For example, an artistically excellent portrait of Her Royal Highness, the Princess, in the style of Leonardo da Vinci would certainly score the bonus point, whereas a reproduction of the Mona Lisa would not. A replica of a pilgrim badge in cast pewter would not score (pewter casting is a very well-established art and science in the SCA, and here used in a typical context), whereas an acid-etched piece of armour probably would score (especially if the design were novel and artistically meritorious).

EEK!  This Looks Like a Lot of Work!  I Can't Do That!

Yes, you can.  All you REALLY need to enter is a project. Though not all competitions have the same parameters many of them are simply open to anyone with a project, whatever that project is. You don't even have to write a novel about it...though just a little explanation for those of us who may have no idea what it is that you are making is always helpful.

Now, if you are one of those people (like me!) who like to go head over heels into an A&S project here is how I interpret the "rules" and what I have done:

Documentation Length:  Yes, it says "3 pages in 12 point form"...that does not mean you have to have 3 pages.  This is simply the limit, because judges don't want to take all day to read through the projects.  For someone like me, 3 pages is a challenge!  If you have the same problems as I do, the only thing you can really do is play with the margins of your pages.  And if you are not sure if your project is too long, see what it looks like without the pictures or big titles...if it fits on 3 pages after that, you're fine.  Remember, references are not included in the length either.

Complexity and Technical Difficulty:  This is one of those subjective things to judge.  Only those who know how do do what you are doing know how difficult or technical the project was.  There is usually at least one judge who will be able to know this.  If this is your first project, don't worry about how difficult it was for you.  We all have to start somewhere!  When you are writing about it, though, if there is some technique that you used that you know is generally difficult for people to grasp, make note of it so the judges realize this.

Skill and Execution:  Again, another subjective judgement.  These points, however, should have nothing to do with how difficult a project might be.  These points should be about how well you mastered the techniques presented.  If your project was simply to show how to hem a skirt, make sure you do your best job on that hemming, using the best materials you have available to you!  If your project was to construct an entire medieval village to scale out of authentic materials, make sure you do your best job on that construction, using the best materials you  have available to you!  It doesn't matter what it is you are making, just do your best!

Authenticity of the Work and Quality of Documentation:  In my opinion, this is the area of judgement that is the most difficult to get right.  What the judges want to know is if your project really could have been something made in the time period from which it is being drawn.  Pictures and references are very important here.  And I don't mean pictures of what someone else has made before.  I mean historical copies of paintings, illuminations or drawings...photographs of actual pieces found in excavation...even your own photographs of these items you've seen in museums.  The judges want to know if the materials and techniques you used are authentic, so find a reference for that material/technique being used in the time period of the project.  If you weren't able to use an authentic material/technique due to non-availability or financial reasons, explain what you would have done if you could and site a reference.  As for documentation, it has nothing to do with how well you write.  It has everything to do with your research and references.  Site your references.  Make sure you give your sources for your images.  With this said, the quality of your sources is going to be judged as well.  Make sure your Internet references are relevant, up to date and that they have their own references for authenticity!  Make sure you use the most up to date books with the most recent information regarding excavations on your project's time period.

Though the look of your document is not being judged, when you go to put it all together, I find using as many pictures as possible is very helpful, whether it includes historical images or photos of the progress of your project.  It makes it more interesting for the judges and other people to read!

Novel Artistic Value and/or Originality:  Again, another subjective thing.  But you will get more originality points if you've made something rarely seen in competitions.  As for artistic value, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as far as I'm concerned.

And so, Lords and Ladies, that is how I approach my projects!  I personally enjoy the research just as much if not more than the production of the project itself.  I like to document as much as I can about what I do...I keep a "journal" of sorts on what I've done throughout the process...failures and successes included!  I keep a binder on references and even little sketches that I may have done.  This is all usually because it's been so long since the beginning of a project that sometimes I forget what I was doing in the first place when I go to write my paper on it!

In any case, for those who still feel intimidated to enter an A&S competition, get over it!  The SCA is just for fun!  If it's not fun anymore, don't do it!  Enjoy everything you do in the SCA, that's the most important advice I can give!