Well, I made it through my first Kingdom A&S. Fortunately, I approached it as an opportunity to get some feedback on how to improve, rather than entering hoping to win, because the lady who won the studio arts division (which is the category where leatherwork is listed) was amazing. She'd made several leather bottles, and also brought in semi-finished ones as well as the wooden moulds she'd made to shape them so you could see the process. They were really impressive. It was also really intimidating because her project was right next to mine on the table. Talk about contrast. Turns out she was the Pentathalon winner from last year, so she's obviously hard-core!
I think to summarize the comments I got, the pouch was structurally sound, it worked well as a pouch and my research was solid. We had a bit of a discussion around why the design would have been good for use in period, which was nice.
What I was missing was some refinement on my technique. I need to work on cleaning up the lines, making sure my cuts are straight and clean, and working on my stitching. They also gave me some tips on materials that would be more period.
I definitely think I made the right choice in scrapping my first attempted pouch, which was much better constructed but not accurate from a research perspective. This is Kingdom A&S after all, and I just couldn't put forward something that I knew was wrong.
I think at this point in my A&S career I'm just into making functional objects, rather than the ornate stuff that tends to do well in competition. I think that's why I really appreciated Aelfwyn's comment that it's nice to see a simple, well made project entered at Kingdom A&S. I might argue with the suggestion that it was "well made" given some of the things I think I could have done better, but I appreciate the point. It'll be interesting to see their comments on the judging forms.
The truth is if I had wanted to enter a stronger project I could have easily done a pouch design that I was more familiar with. I've made a number of falconry pouches that I know how to do well. That wasn't the point. The point was to expand myself and try something I hadn't done before, and then get suggestions on how to do it better. With that goal in mind, I would say it was a success.
Pictures of both versions of the pouch will follow in the next couple of days.