Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

Penny thoughts


Nickel opinions

demystifying the Laurel - one leaf at a time!

From here on shall I never find anything so lovely, so joyous, so beautiful as the halcyon days of the rose colored outlook of my early days in the SCA. In those days the concept of peerage qualities, banishments, and politics were nothing more than abstract concepts bandied about by those far older, far more experienced, and far wiser than I. All I hoped for was a green belt, a sable thistle, and another compliment on my latest piece of clothing.

Eventually the green belt came, the sable thistle came and then came another, and the compliments became expected results of my latest endeavor. However, time passes and these too were not enough. I set my sights on something more. More included becoming a Gulf Wars champion, receiving my Iris of Merit and maintaining the requisite amount of compliments needed to fuel the waxing ego I was developing.

Eventually the Iris of Merit came, as did the title of Gulf Wars Champion and the ego continued to grow. Soon, as before this was not enough, and I needed something else to shoot for - All that was left was a laurel. To me the Laurel equaled the defining moment, the end of the journey, the final accolade to substantiate and validate me as an artist.

Eventually, I did not receive my laurel - and I left the SCA for 5 years. Why? because like many people in the SCA I misunderstood what it meant to be a peer, not a laurel - but a peer in general. I also needed to figure out who I was as an adult and as something separate from the SCA.

Corpora states of a peer:

They shall have been obedient to the governing documents of the Society and the laws of the


• They shall have consistently shown respect for the Crown of the kingdom.

• They shall have set an example of courteous and noble behavior suitable to a peer of the realm.

• They shall have demonstrated support for the aims and ideals of the Society by being as authentic in dress, equipment and behavior as is within their power.

• They shall have shared their knowledge and skills with others.

• They shall have practiced hospitality according to their means and as appropriate to the circumstances.

• They shall have made every effort to learn and practice those skills desirable at and worthy of a civilized court. To this end they should have some knowledge of a wide range of period forms, including but not limited to literature, dancing, music, heraldry, and chess, and they should have some familiarity with combat as practiced in the Society.

• They should participate in Society recreations of several aspects of the culture of the Middle Ages and The Renaissance

These things I was not! Some of these things I still am not -but I try to strive for them.

It took me quite sometime to realize these were things I was not. It was not just about talent, or skill, or winning competitions - there is so much more than just having the skill sets necessary to compete. Many people cannot understand why a certain person is not made a knight, a pelican or laurel when obviously they are a great fighter, provide lots of service, or create amazing art.

It's a hard concept to grasp for those who do not sit in the peerage orders that becoming a peer is not just about excelling in one area, it is about those indefinable peerage qualities that seemed so abstract to me in my early days in the SCA.

It is even harder to try to live up to those standards as a peer. To remember that at some point you were deemed something much more than just what you were good at, something greater than your skill sets, something larger than your talents. A peerage is not an end of journey, it is merely the point where you change horses in the lifelong journey for the pursuit of excellence. You are neither defined nor validated by a peerage, rather you define and validate the crowns decision to make you peer.

Thus has it ever been.

At the same time it is important to bear in mind that each of the three bestowed peerages were created with a specific thing in mind - Knights are made for their prowess in fighting, Laurels for their artistic ability, and Pelicans for exceptional service. Corpora also states that in the respective categories a person must be equal in skill to the others that sit in the circle. So, while peerage qualities are something that can make or break a person as a candidate for peerage, the initial skill sets must be in place to even gain entrance into candidacy for an order - this is something else that many people do not seem to grasp. Just because someone is a nice person does not make them worthy of elevation into one of the peerage orders. Is this right? Perhaps not, but this is the game we play.

It is the responsibility of each of the orders to evaluate prospective candidates on not only their skills and abilities, but also those things outlined in corpora as pertaining to the attributes that are assigned to a peer and advise the crown thus. It is the responsibility of the peerage orders to attempt to live up to those qualities and provide examples to all of what a peer of the realm should be, how they should maintain themselves, and how they should interact with the game.

The road to peerage requires not only growth in your chosen field, but also growth and evolution in how you play the game, how you interact with people, and how you hold yourself in the eyes of others. Much of it is perception and being aware of perception - perception of your character, abilities and even your base nature.

Not every peer is an ideal of what corpora states a peer should be, but every peer should aspire to those attributes.

There are universal truths that many in the SCA must accept in regards to the artisans of the society. Without acceptance of these fundamental observations the arts will not continue to flourish.

For an artisan there are three stages in their progression and the stages are these - beginner, journeyman, and master. These are aside from SCA titles and rather a label of skill sets. It is while in these three stages that an artist learns to hone their skill, interpret the inspirations of their muse, and evolve a style and essence of their own.

In the beginning stage, the artisan is learning their craft. They are attending basic classes, attempting various projects to learn a basic set of skills, asking questions, learning the basics of research and ultimately setting the foundation for future work. In this stage very few people are interested in obtaining a product produced by them other than in an abstract kind of way. When artists are in this stage people are not seeking them out to produce work by and large and in mass production.

The second stage, that of the journeyman, is perhaps the longest and also perhaps the hardest of the three stages. Often it is in this stage that skills are receiving their final polishing, there is a proliferation of work flowing out from the artist, and their work is becoming something sought after. In an effort to better them self, artists in the journeyman stage of their life will create an abundance of free work for people who desire the fruit of their labors. They also recognize that it is expected that they produce stuff to be given as gifts by the crown, to donate things to be used as prizes, and make of themselves a producer of free goods to the populace.

We as a society largely without excess disposable income are constantly on the lookout for the next best free thing that we can acquire, and while there is nothing wrong with that - often people are taken advantage of. Many people ask for things from an artisan and expect to receive it for free, or at least for the cost of materials. Often these artists will not say no, because they are afraid of offending someone or jeopardizing their future in the SCA as a viable candidate for Arts and Science Awards.

The issue with this lies in a myriad of areas:

The first being in the area of creativity. An artist creates art for their own edification and at the whim of their muse - whatever that muse may be. By asking an artisan for specific items and demanding specific things of them, especially at a time when they need to be diversifying and experimenting with their own style, their creativity is being stymied. It is frustrating, because the artist doesn't really want to do, but also doesn't want to offend by saying no. So they produce said object. Others see this product and the requests go reproduce it mount and it snowballs into an overwhelming amount of things that the artist is not inclined to produce on their own and they are expected to produce them for free. This can cause the artist to resent their craft and want to walk away from it.

The second being the area of bettering themselves and their skills. An artist who loves what they do will consistently try to challenge them self in order to acquire better and greater skills in their chosen area. When in the course of their study, people do not allow them the space to challenge them self - the skill sets do not increase with the potential that is inherent to the artisan. Their projects are postponed to generate products for the masses, while the pieces that actually need to be done wait in the dusty recesses of their mind to be brought to light when they have the time. The danger herein lies in the fact that the artist will stagnate, and they will eventually forget about those projects they wanted to do once upon a time and forget to challenge their abilities with new and ambitious projects. They will stagnate and never progress beyond the point they are at.

Finally the third area that is impacted by being overworked and under challenged is in the area of passion. It is hard for an artist to remain passionate for an art that is ultimately making them a prisoner. What was once viewed as a release or therapeutic is soon to become oppressive and over bearing. Deadlines looming on the horizon for pieces they didn't want to create to begin with soon become the enemy of the artist and resentment begins to bud. The release found in the escape provided by the art like sunlight as the thunderheads roll in - too soon obscured and gone. All too often that bud of passion for their art withers and dies from that lack of sun and all that remains is a barren waste of resentment, oppression and angst.

When an artist finally reaches the master level of their art. And by master level, it is not strictly speaking of peerage - rather a mastery of the skills needed for a specific art. They have no desire to return to the time of their journeyman period of development and produce art on demand for little to no remuneration. Thus it is likely that one of two things happen at this stage:

The first being that the artist secludes them self and their art and creates only what they wish as they wish on their own terms. Often it is interpreted as becoming "inactive" whereas it is actually a last ditch attempt to preserve their love for an art form. This is especially damaging for the SCA in that a once viable artist is now withdrawing and taking with them their valuable experiences and knowledge.

The second being that the artist remain active but begins to demand recompense for their work. They become temperamental and insist on ultimate creative control of all projects commissioned from them. They expect to be paid for their work either in money or in an exchange of services equal in their view to the art being provided. It is at this point the populace may begin to resent the artist who once provided their art for free. However, it is not intended to be greedy or not doing art for the sake of art. It is a different approach to self-preservation by ensuring that they are not being taken advantage of.

Regardless of the outcome, it is important for the people in the SCA to remember that the artisans should be treasured and not abused. They are not a venue for free goods and services, and they should always be recompensed with some thing: money, goods, services etc. Without the artisans in the SCA - the feasts we eat, the clothes we wear, the armor we fight in, the scrolls we receive would not exist. Treasure the arts in the SCA and provide to them the same reverence that other venues are given. Respect the artist, and do not take advantage for them - for you may be the very one who snuffs out the flame of their artistry.

"Judge not lest ye be judged..." Sept. 26th, 2009

Another wonderful kingdom A&S has passed, but unlike those many who have preceded this one - I did not enter. This was my first kingdom Arts and Sciences as a laurel, and I spent all of my time judging or giving feedback.

I do not enjoy judging people's work - it is a hard, thought provoking, and sometimes unavoidably hurtful process. I do not enjoy it, nor do really any of the folks I know.

We do not take great pleasure in deducting points, and it is not fun for us to give someone a score that they are going to be upset with. Contrary to popular belief, we are not sadists who enjoy inflicting emotional pain on the artisans of the kingdom - in fact many of us try to go out of our way to avoid judging a piece that is not going to score well or avoid scoring the artist who gets upset with any critique that is less than favorable.

Bear in mind that we are human and fallible and we do not, in fact, know everything. We may make a mistake, but it is not typically an intentional one - we do the best we can with the tools we are handed. One of those very crucial tools is documentation. People wonder why we want documentation - it's so that we have yet another tool in which we can help give constructive feedback.

A key item to keep in mind is that Kingdom A&S competitions can be aggressive and the judging can be the strictest you may experience as it is prepping the artists who are moving forward to inter-kingdom competitions. If you are the type to get your feelings hurt when you receive constructive candid criticism, perhaps you might want to reevaluate why you are entering A&S competitions. Ideally it is to receive feedback in order ot improve whatever art it is that you do.

I truly wish there was a way to have a competition where no one's feelings got hurt, but the nature of a competition is to have a winner. That is why until the paradigm shifts, i am going to continue to advocate for more formal displays.

The Magic is in court - Sept.12th, 2009

When I started in the SCA, I was not a “got to court” kind of guy, in fact I was not one to be found near court at all.

That changed when I received my Award of Arms. I had just finished autocratting an event when I was called into court. I was overwhelmed and when I was presented to the populace as a Lord, that’s when I found the magic. The sea of smiling faces, the approval, the happiness – most remembering how special their Award of Arms was and celebrating with me in my award…it was magical, to this day it was the most magical moment in my SCA life.

I still feel that magic when an AoA is awarded.

Skip forward fifteen years and a bunch of alphabet soup later, I had the privilege of being the Chancellor for Havordh III and Mary-Grace III of Gleann Abhann. I was standing behind the throne when I experienced a moment so magical, that if there was a book of the most magical moments ever, this moment would be inscribed as the most touching and amazing moment in the history of the SCA.

There was a gentleman who had been playing for 25 years, and through one reason or another he had been overlooked for his AoA. He worked – he helped his local group, but for whatever the reason – for 25 years his AoA had not occurred. They called him into court, and he approached a bit reluctantly, a bit wary, and just a bit suspicious of the crown. He addressed the crown not as courteously as he might have and kept a wary almost defiant look on his face while he was standing there.

Their Majesties spoke of his work, his history and his kindness, and then made him a Lord. He was stunned – struck speechless and moved...he started to cry. At that point I realized I was crying, so were the first three rows of people, and there were quite a few other damp eyes throughout the room. I had no vested interest in this award, as I didn’t really know the good gentle at the time, but it was magical – so very very magical

Also, I have the awesome opportunity of being the Baron of Axemoor. With my Baronessm we hold courts of our own. In our courts, we can give out awards at our pleasure. One of these awards, with the crown’s blessing, conveys upon the recipient an Award of Arms. I have given this award and I have seen the sheer amazement on people’s faces when it happens, and the Magic is still as strong as it ever was – the Magic is in Court

I know of no other way to illustrate why going to court is so important – not because you will receive an award, but your friends are being recognized. The pomp and the ceremony that exists in the SCA exists mainly in court. It is in the presence of Their Majesties that The Dream lives in our hearts.

So, what happens in court really? It varies from kingdom to kingdom, but here are the basics:

Everyone goes to the specific location in front of the thrones where court has been predetermined to occur. You find your seat (or bring your seat – really depends on the event) and wait for The King and Queen to Arrive. When the Crown is ready, they will be announced by their Herald. At this point you should stand, as these are your sovereign rulers.

When They pass by, you should bow until they are fully past you but remain standing. When Their Majesties are fully seated in the Kingdom thrones, They will give the populace leave to sit down and court business will begin.


More often than not, there are some announcements and/or acknowledgments to be made, and then Their Majesties will begin Their business at hand – the business of giving out awards….pretty easy, right?

So, what happens if it's YOU who gets called into court? First, don’t pass out – rarely is someone called into court because they did something wrong – so you have a 99.9% chance that you are being recognized or commended in some fashion.

Take a breath and stand up….make your way to the center aisle and approach Their Majesties. Someone may offer to escort you, and if they do – take their arm and proceed forward.

The royal presence begins 10 feet from the physical bodies of Their Majesties, so once you reach 10 feet or there about (you can estimate it) you stop and you bow.

Your escort will then step to the side and allow you to approach Their Majesties alone.

Their Majesties will indicate which kneeling pillow you should kneel on – some times The King will give the award, and sometimes The Queen will give the award. It depends on the situation and the award.

Once you are kneeling in front of Their Majesties, please try not to pass out or hyperventilate…breathe and listen! They are going to say some really cool stuff about you.

When They are finished, there will be much applause and you will stand back up. They will let you know that it is OK to leave Their presence, at which time you back away from the presence until you are roughly 10 feet away, you bow, and then turn around. Your escort should be there waiting for you to take you back to your seat

There you go, easy-peasy! Have fun going to court…see you there!

Who Am I again? Aug, 25th, 2009

Often the first thing you do when you join the SCA is try to figure out exactly who you are in the game: your time period, your name, or background, etc.

This can be the most rewarding and exciting part of beginning your SCA journey. Or it can have you in a shouting match with at herald’s point at Pennsic which was followed by me – I mean you- storming out of the tent because they won’t let you register your awesomely chosen name that was based on a character from your favorite Fantasy book – not that I would know, of course…just sayin’!  

Keep in mind that you have plenty of time to figure out who you want to be – so don’t rush into anything or allow yourself to be rushed into anything by an overly exuberant member of the SCA. Many people starting out in the SCA will use their Modern first name and the local group where they are from as a placeholder surname until they are able to pick one for themselves. For example, a lady named Susan who lives in New Orleans might choose to use “Susan of Axemoor” until she is able to choose her SCA name.

How people arrive at their persona is as varied as the people who make up the SCA. For some, they chose their persona because they liked a certain style of dress, others were drawn to a specific event in history that they wanted to associate with, while others may choose to base their persona around ancestral heritage. The key is to do your research…look into all the possibilities, ask questions, and keep your options open. I realize that might be easier said than done, so let’s look at a few basics of persona development.

You need to be able to at least answer “Who,” “When,” and “Where” when it comes to developing your SCA self. Most go much further than that. It is easier to pick your “When” and your “Where” before your pick your “Who,” as names often are determined by time and geography. Again, take your time…if you are not already partial to a certain place or time, look around – rent some period movies, browse the internet researching different centuries, look at period portraits, talk to people in the local group about their persona. You never know where your inspiration will come from.

There are one or two hard and fast rules in choosing your persona: You cannot be a significant person from history. So while being William, the Conqueror might be fun, I’m afraid someone already has already adopted that persona – the big man himself, the real William, the Conqueror. Also, you might not wish to choose the same name as someone who is significant in history, even if you are not choosing to recreate that person. Elizabeth Tudor is right out! Often it is easier to choose a name once you have chosen where you would like to be from and what time period you would like your persona to be based in.

While the SCA is very broad in scope, we are at heart a historic reenactment group that strives to achieve some semblance of historic accuracy. Choosing a persona based off of your World of Warcraft Character or your favorite fantasy book is discouraged. Galadriel Demonspawn Bedwetter of Clan Muddywaters Broken Bridge Keep, the fairy gypsy peddler queen of the woods, trees, lakes and partially paved roards might be appropriate for a Renaissance Festival, but not so much for the SCA . The same can be said for Rogue, the half ogre blood drinking vampire warrior bard – I’m just sayin’!

So, you think you have your persona down – what’s the next step?

Many people create their device next. Your device is a pictorial representation of who you are. It is a unique visual reference to identify your persona. Many people often make the mistake of calling their device, their Cote of Arms. A person is not allowed to bear Arms until the crown awards Arms to them by giving them an AoA, or an Award of Arms. However, you can begin creating and using your device. While it may seem very straightforward, creating a device is an art form full of rules and guidelines. The art of proper device creation is called Heraldry, and more than likely your local group has an officer knowledgeable in these rules called a Herald.

Once you are ready to begin designing your device, make an appointment to consult with your local herald. In this consultation the Herald can work with you to create something that is acceptable to you and the SCA. Your local Herald can also help you with your name as well. They can assist you in ensuring that it is accurate, authentic and acceptable to the society. Once you have consulted with the local Herald and you have a name and device that work for you, why not think about registering it with the college of Heralds? Why?

By registering your name and device, you are ensuring that they are unique to you and no one else can have exactly the same thing. Do you have to? Nope! Once you have chosen your ”Who,” “When” and “Where,” you can either stop or, you can go further with your character development. Some people will research clothing of the period, opting to wear only clothes specific to their place and time, yet others will flesh out their persona histories to include a full biography of who they are…some will even take it to the point of talking in an accent particular to their persona at events. How far you take your persona development is entirely up to you. The key is to have fun figuring who you are out! We look forward to getting to know the new you – Have fun researching!

Apprentices, Apprentices everywhere....RUN!!!! Aug 18th, 2009

o, I have been a Laurel for 5 months now, and by the time kingdom A&S rolls around in Sept, I will have been a Laurel for 6 months. I have received a multitude of advice on the taking of apprentices, and what the proper time should be before taking your first apprentice. Ultimately it boils down to this: you will know when you are ready. I feel I am ready for my first - if I were in a different kingdom, with a large and complex Laurel's Circle, I might feel differently. However, given we have a circle of 20 Laurels in Gleann Abhann, 15 of which are truly active, the "politics" and "dynamics" of the circle are not that complex. There are some people that I truly believe in, and I want to help them further their endeavors in SCA A&S. That being said, I would like to let friends and family be aware of the following:

I will be taking the following individuals as apprentices, and if you can attend I would be very flattered.

1. Lord Padraic uHa Branain - War of the Pearls Sept. 11th, Minden, LA He does jewely, casting, research (not far for those in Dallas area...hint hint)


2. Lady Gentile D'Orleans - Harvest Home. October, 2009 Abita, LA She is involved in the Ddomestic arts.

3. THL Esperanza de Navarre - Christmas Revel. Dec.12th, Biloxi, MS - Esperanza is involved in Calligraphy and Illumination and Medieval cookery

It won't kill you to smile once in a while- June 13th, 2009

I look back in retrospect at some of the Laurels I consider to be the best and worst examples of the breed, and I wonder what I can do to be a better person and peer. What can I do to be a nicer person?

It seems to me that it's not just about what you write on a judging form that makes you a nice person and a good Laurel. It's everything: from your approachability, to your willingness to talk to people, to the very merriness of you disposition; it's so much more than just you not being rude on a judging form...yes not humiliating someone is a good step... it seems to me that there is quite a bit more to it.

We are judged so much through perception - you have got to try much more than just not being rude on a judging form. Here are things to try to make you seem a but more approachable and likable

1. SMILE at events - it won't kill you to smile at people when you see them

2. Be Genuine - people know when you are faking it

3. Talk to everyone you see, even if it is just hello and espcially if it is a new person

4.Compliment doesn't matter on what, everyone loves praise

5. DO NOT SET YOURSELF APART - if you only associate with your household and your close friends and never make an effort to get to know people -it's going to appear that you are aloof and removed. You may be a peer, but it won't kill you to party with everyone else on occasion.

6. let your humanity show - if you screw up, apologize and admit your mistake. Instead of being defensive, be humble and acknowledge your fallibility

7. Share your knowledge. Don't begrudge people your knowledge - yes, you know alot about something, so share it! Share it formally and informally - let people see your passion for what you do.

Those seveb things will make a huge difference in how people perceive you. I try to follow those things when I go to events - sometimes I fail miserably, (6 can be a bit difficult for me at times ) but I try!

I challenge every person who reads this to take one or two of the above suggestions and work very hard on incorporating it into your play at events.

Not Just another Bitchy costuming Laurel - May 20th, 2009

So, yeah a bit of a small change to the homepage, but one that seems a bit more "me."

So what precipitated this need to make my site a bit more "me?"

Well, this past weekend was Crown List, which was held at the Gulf Wars site. It was an amazingly wretched day - so many people got sick for the heat and humidity...yours truly included!

After court, people descended on The Green Dragon en masse. I, arriving late, had decided i was done with German, and went back to the hotel and change into Greecian. Something very very similar to the man on the right in this picture

So, I wandered into the tavern and sat down with some friends who were involved in a conversation, including a certain Laurel who will be known as Mistress X. It was she and one of her apprentices. I totally crashed their conversation, but they typically are really interesting to talk to, so I didn't feel all that bad. I forget how we got on the topic, but I was retelling a story how someone came to me to ask for documentation on 12th century embroidery.

Me, I'm a later period costuming laurel ie 15th-16th century...I have no more knowledge on 12th century embroudery than the next person who has been in the SCA for 15 years.

So I was perplexed as to why she came to me for assistance, until she told me that I was a costuming Laurel and I should know this. I was perplexed and felt slightly inadequate. But, I knew the perfect person to put her in touch with, and I do so...she got the information she needed.

Mistress X then proceeded to tell a story how when she was a new Laurel (she's been a laurel for over 15 years) someone came to her to ask for documentation for a certain kind of garment. Mistress X said that to her knowledge said garment did not exist, why did they want to make something like that. They responded that she, Mistress X, had been wearing something like that at another event and they assumed it was accurate because she would never put anything that wasn't "period" on her body.

Which to my mind is complete horse droppings.

She was using this to illustrate the point that as Laurels, people will assume everything we do, say, and wear is period just by the very nature of the fact we have Laurel leaves...and our knowledge is unlimited.

How scary is that? To be on that kind of pedestal is just asking for a fall. So, I decided to ask around if people really thought like that about Laurels. Though answers varied, the general consensus seemed to be that while they have higher expectations of authenticity from the Laurelate, there is certainly no expectation for absolute and consumate perfection...with one caveat:

Costuming Laurels!



(of course not everyone said that, but enough to make me curious - and just a bit paranoid)

Though the responses were not verbatim, the gist was the same. Somehow costuming laurels have this reputation for being bitches - snarkey, hyper-critical, no patience having bitches. They hold people to impossibly high standards; therefor, everything they do, say and wear MUST be period...the sarcasm was not subtle there.

We do hear the horror stories when we joined the SCA about Mistress Laurel Seam-checker and the proverbial SCA clothing dressing down that "everyone" has received. The problem is, everyone haas not received that, and are actually hard pressed to find an example of that happening.

So that got me to thinking...I am not a bitch. I have moments when that pink spandex belly dance outfit walking by me at war makes me die a little bit inside, but that hardly qualifies me as a bitch. Especially for someone who loves to be a bit "creative" in his own interpretation of period fashion...

Who am I to be critical...

So yeah.

I am so not a bitchy costuming laurel


Vigil and Elevation - March 23rd, 2009

Greetings everyone, my vigil and elevation were amazing...and aside from a few petty jealous individuals (you know who you are you cranky-pants) it was full of love and positivity.

It felt wonderful!

I have had so many people tell me how wonderfull the ceremony was, and tons of folks who have just been amazing in pulling something of this scope together. I sat vigil from 8:30 PM until roughly 4:00 AM when we had to shut it down. As soon as all the pictures start being sent to me, I will put them up for everyone to see.


It Never Rains but it pours... March, 6th, 2009

So time is drawing close for my elevation (two weeks!!!!) and two days ago I received a phone call from Their Majesties of Gleann Abhann. It seems that my dear friend Martha and I are to be invested as the Baron and Baroness of Axemoor.

This has been one hell of a year for me, and we're only three months in! To say that I am bit overwhlemed would be an understatement. I truly love Axemoor, and I dearly hope that I am up to this challenge.

Keep your fingers crossed! See you at Gulf War!!!!!

Elevation - getting closer! - Feb 17, 2009

o I have put up more pictures of the progress of my elevation outfit...The U-front Jerkin is completed, though I may add a second band of trim at the hem...I am not sure at this point. What do you think? I still have to put lacing rings on one side of the doublet, gather the sleeves into loose cuffs, and then put the lacing holes for the points of the hosen into the waist. Once I get those things done, I will have the Jerkin and the doublet finished...woot!

The next step is to male the Tudor Coat from the blue velvet with the embroidered laurel wreaths and fleur de lis. I am going to have this in leu of a cloak. I also decided to go with a satin collar instead of the silver fox collar simply because I think it is going to be more flattering to the look that way. I will use the fur for something else in the future.

I also have to make a shirt - my apprentice sister, Genevote (who is being elevated to the order of The Pelican in the same court as me), blackworked cuffs and a collar for me with fleur de lis and that Is what i am going to wear for my elevation shirt since both the collar and cuffs of the undershirt will be quite visible.

The plans for the elevation ceremony and vigil are moving along quite nicely. I have so many friends who are volunteering to do stuff that I am complete humbled and overwhlemed with gratitude.

The vigil will be Friday night of Gulf War in Bede hall, and it is going to be a chocolate and champagne extravaganze...why? Because I love chocolate and champers. We will have three chocolate fountains going: A white chocolate fountain, a Dark Chococlate Fountain, and a Milk Chocolate fountain. In addition there wiwll be all varieties of fruits, cookies, cakes, candies, and snacks ALL chocolate related. There will also be two champagne fountains going as well: one with regular champagne and one with a champagne punch. The hall is going to be draped in blue and gold fabric, white lights, greenery, fleur de lis everywhere, and French flags: both the Bourbon flag as well as the traditional blue and gold flag. I am so incredibly excited about my vigil...

The elevation ceremony is still being written...I have it pretty much finalized, but I am waiting for Their Majesties to add to it or subtract from it. I was torn on how I was going to do it...was I going to base it on a period ceremony of a similar type or was I going to go with a more SCAdian version. Ultimately in researching ceremonies online, I found the program from the very first laureling ceremony. I am incorperating it into my ceremony as well as using bits and pieces from other ceremonies that I thought were cool...

So, that's kinnda where things stand at the moment...I'll keep everyone posted as things progress.


Down with the Sickness - Feb 9, 2009

So I had the best of intentions of getting alot of sewing done on my elevation outfit, but instead I have managed to succumb to the flu. I have been riddled with alternating bouts of chills and hot flashes, fever, and achiness. I didn't accomplish much - I did get a portion of the "U" front jerkin done, and I have posted that in my Elevation outfit section.

Hopefuly I will be up and around and on a sewing roll...Gulf Wars is right around the corner.

Historical Interpretation vs. Historical Reproduction Jan 11th, 2009

A discussion has recently popped up on the Gleann Abhann list in regards to Historical Interpretation versus Historical Reproduction and what does the SCA embody.

This was brilliant dialogue, because I firmly am a Historical Interpreter, and I am definitely not a Historical Reproductionist.

What's the difference?

In reproduction, you are striving to reproduce an object from history identicalin form to the original...either in it's current state or original state. This requires insanse discipline and suspension of all creative interpretation.

For a costumer, this would require choosing a garment either extant or a representation from a portrait and creating the identical matching gown using the same stitches that would have been used, the same fabrics that would have been used, the same trims that would have been used, the same patterns that would have been used, and the same thread that would have been use.

See what I mean by discipline?

I have tried and failed on numerous occasions...not because I do not have the skill sets to complete the reproduction, but rather I am too creative and lack the requisite discipline.

I find it much more rewarding to design a gown or doublet that is original that could have existed based on extensive research and knowledge. This allows for the artist to come forth in addition to the scholar. To me it is important for both to be represented equally in my Arts and Sciences.

Which is right - Which is wrong?

Which is easier - Which is harder?

I think that neither is wrong for the SCA, and they both have their place in our lives. As for which is easier or harder - well, I suppose it depends on the person.

It might be easier for a person to look at a gown and follow it step by step to the conclusion like a set of instructions. For the same person it might be a bit more difficult to design something unique and yet authentic which requires more "out of the box" thinking.

Then again, it might be easier for someone with a bit more creativity to design something authentic as opposed to recreating a garment stich for stitch. They might feel resentful because their creativity is being stifled.

The key is understanding what you want to accomplish, where you want to go, and what you enjoy doing. 

Understanding your nature is the key to understanding what suits you best.


I cried a tear... Jan. 8th, 2009

A few days ago I finally got my hands on Janet Arnold's (RIP) latest book: Patterns of Fashion 4, which is dedicated to underpinnings and neck wear from the late 16th and early 17th century.

It is beautiful!!!

When I got to the part about ruff construction, I think I teared up a little. It was so amazing to see all the extent ruffs up close and personal.

A few of the items in the books were included in either earlier books or in some of her earlier articles, but by and large much of what was presented was new to me.

Having looked at Elizabethan fashion for nigh on 15 years, it's always an awesome surprise to have something new presented to you.

The book is amazing!

The section that deals with starching and constructing ruffs simply blew my mind, not because it was something new, but rather it was something I had hypothesized and I was correct.


Anyway, I just wanted to add my endorsement to the growing list of people who are raving about this book. If you don't have it...



So, I was helping a friend of mine look for construction techniques for truncated hennins, and I suggested the possibility of pasted paper (similar to paper mache) since I know it was used to make hat bases in the 16th century.

Personally if I were judging a hennin where they used pasted paper as the base and they reference 16th century construction techniques as there are no extant hennins to speak of or construction guides from period, I would be inclined to accept it as plausible justification in the documentation.

We know they had paste, and we know they had paper in the mid 15th century. I also know that paper mache' can be documented back to the Orient in the 2nd century AD, so is it plausible to have all of that in documentation and make the leap that perhaps it "could" have been used in henins like the Elizabethans did in their hats?

I say Yes, but I know many will disagree...

What are your thoughts?


oliday Wishes Dec. 24th, 2008

I want to wish each and every person a happy and safe holiday season...see you all soon. Now is the time to start making your Gulf Wars plans...see you there!


My philosophy of A&S in the SCA Dec. 23, 2008

I am not a Authenticity Nazi, and contrary to popular belief not all late period costuming Laurels (or soon to be Laurels in my case ) are period police!

I try to reserve my commentary on clothing to judging at A&S competitions. If someone asks me for my opinion on what they are wearing, I'll give it to them as tactfully as possible. Mostly I just feel uncomfortable critiquing people's clothing outside an A&S competition...ugh!  

ow, I can be as catty as the next person when that gold lame' chemise and corset combo comes walking by, but by and large I try to remember that not everyone has put in the research and study into clothing that I have.


not everyone cares what I think!!!

I can't really even consider myself an authenticity maven, because I tend to be over creative in some of my own clothing designs. To me the key is to know what is period and create things based on what you know was done. I'm not a big fan of attempting to recreate a piece of clothing. I would rather see someone research a period, know how the clothing was constructed, what the style and design were and create a unique garment based on that research. I want to see the creativity involved in the project.

Fortunately, every person plays the game a bit differently. I have been fortunate to be allowed to and encouraged to play it my way!

I prefer to think of myself as a"Period Fashionista!"

That being said, in the galleries section I do have some gowns that I did based on extant portraits of garments, because it was something someone requested. Or in the case of The Pelican was over the top enough for me already :-)

So yeah, um anyway....welcome!!!!

My thoughts on Documentation Dec.17th, 2008

y thoughts to my fellow artisans

There seems to be a very interesting perception in regards to documentation, especially the number of people that seem to have such (in my opinion) a misguided and archaic opinion of what it "should" be. If anyone has ever sat in any of my classes one of the first things I say in each one is, "My time machine is broken! I will not tell you definites, but rather present possibilities based on research. Anyone who tells you something was absolutely done a certain way in period should be smacked...there are no absolutes, as we don't have the extant output of every person who ever existed in time. The best we can do is postulate based on what we do have and take into account that human nature has not changed."

I feel the same way about documentation.

The whole concept of making documentation laborious, cumbersome and intimidating is anathema in my book...It should hit the salient points and be done. Exhaustive annotated research is ridiculous from my perspective unless you are writing a paper. If it intimidates, then it is destructive to the practice of the arts in the society.

I don't personally care if you give it to me in AMA or MLA format...irrelevant.

Give me enough to show that you know what you are talking about, that it is period, and enough info to find your sources if I am interested. Anytime in these discussions when people start using "should" and "need" in regards to documentation it makes me twitch. I am not saying I am a documentation expert...far from it. I don't think anyone (except perhaps people who have PhD's in this kind of thing) can be called experts.

We all have grown up with A&S horror stories, and many of us have even experienced them. It is my mission to ensure and influence our Arts community to a more gentle and open minded approach to succor and nourish confidence in our artisans to create and enter and to ENJOY documentation and the process involved in the research...not to intimidate, destroy, and inhibit.