Thursday, 27 November 2014

Our Day at QPT (With Pictures)

In a small Kingdom like Ealdormere, there aren't a lot of events that draw close to 200 people. Trillium War does it, but that's a multi-day camping event in the middle of the summer. But in the winter (or at least close enough that there's always the threat of snow), and an event without any martial activities? It's pretty much unheard of.

And then there's QPT. An entire day with the entire focus on just geeking out about research and arts & sciences projects. The fact that 200 people showed up is just amazing.

On top of entering a project this year for QPT, I was also scheduled to be a judge for four different projects, so my day was much busier than last year.

My Project

Last year for QPT I entered my period leather dye project and got lots of great feedback and tips to get the recipes to work better. It ended up improving the project, which I entered into Kingdom A&S in the spring.

This year I entered my full mock-up of the stick-purse. This was a pretty big deal since I've been working on the research and engineering for a couple of years (the dye project actually stemmed from my desire to go whole-hog on the stick-purse, which meant figuring out how they would have coloured the leather in period).

The conversation with my judges was interesting because it didn't really follow the usual flow for these things where I talk about what I was trying to accomplish, etc. We just jumped straight into what the heck it was, how it was used and the different design considerations. It felt like a pretty in depth discussion with people who really knew their stuff, which was fun. We were talking about what the best approach would be for the back seam, whether the bottom seam was the right approach based on the picture, and best materials for the final pouch.

They also seemed to agree with me on my theory that coloured leather (in this case possibly on the drawstrings) could have been used as a way to tell what coins were in which pouch. I specifically demonstrated this by having four different currencies distributed in the four pouches. We had no way of telling what was in each bag without pulling the coins out (which seems clumsy for such an otherwise well thought-out item).

Overall I got the impression that they felt it was a pretty accurate reproduction using modern materials, with a few possible tweeks that could improve it, so the next step is to translate it into the final period purse while improving some of the elements that I'm not yet satisfied with. The final purse may be done for Spring A&S, but it will depend on where the event is being held as well.

It was also neat to have conversations with a number of other people who've been following my work on the stick-purse and were really excited to see some sort of tangible product finally. :) The stick-purse got lots of strange looks by people wandering by trying to figure it out, which was fun to watch.

Here are some pictures of the final mock-up. It's not the easiest item to take pictures of since its kind of busy, but it gives you an idea at least.


My Judging Experience

This was definitely new for me, as it was the first time I've volunteered to be a judge for anything like this. Frankly I never really felt like I had enough knowledge or skill in any area to really contribute much. I'm still not sure I do, but there were so many people entering I wanted to help out where I could. 

I had offered to judge entry level leatherworking projects, anything with leather dyes, as well as any juggling or tumbling entries (given my circus background). Sadly, there were no juggling entries but I did get assigned to judge a total of four leatherwork projects (although one of them pulled out on the day so I ended up with three sessions total).

Overall, I'm not sure how much I contributed to the conversation on most of the projects. I was judging with people who had far more experience and knowledge relevant to the items, and kind of trumped anything I might have had to add (not that it came across that way or was at all negative, it was just that I had so little knowledge to pass on in comparison that I was more in listening mode than anything). I did learn a lot about horse bridles and knife sheaths though, so it was certainly a valuable experience. I had a little bit I could share for Grom around dying the leather and the pictures we took while in Dublin of tooled leather knife sheaths, but that was about it.

The one project I feel like I actually added some value wasn't even on my original judging list, it was added closer to the event. The project was around experiments with dye-stuffs, including applying dyes to fibers, leather and wood. I had a good chat with Brendan about his project and was able to share some of my experiences with my research project from last year. I gave him a copy of my documentation so he could track down some of the recipe sources and do some experimenting as well. Hopefully he found it useful.

The Rest of the Day

Both Avelyn and Emelote entered items as well and it sounds like they had good conversations and input on their projects.

For QPT, sponsors bring prizes equal to the number of people they sponsored and then they each pick entrants that they would like to present with their items. That way each entrant gets something, usually from someone who was really impressed by their project (and who wasn't their sponsor).

In my case I received a really cool mortar and pestle, along with a box of dried spices from Mistress Aibhilin (which I'll totally be able to use for some upcoming cooking). You can see it in the middle of the picture below.

I was also called up into court at QPT and presented with an Award of the Orion, which is an arts and sciences award from the Kingdom. This was really cool on a number of fronts. First, obviously it means people are liking the work I'm doing. Yay me! :) It also means I have awards in all three of the main areas of the society (A&S, service and martial skills). I think this is really cool because it's not all that common to have people active in all three spheres (although my martial participation hasn't been great lately).

It was also really cool because of the crazy scroll I received for the award. Lady Augusta went totally over the top with the artwork. There's a frickin leather kraken appliqued to my scroll! How crazy is that? The kraken isn't just in the name of my blog, it's also the main charge in my SCA heraldry. We call him Steve. :) And the wording, which you can't really see in the picture below, is full of groan-inducing puns by my very own Lady wife Avelyn. I know they are groan inducing because the room was groaning as they laughed while it was read out in court.

There were, of course, lots of other highlights. We got lots of hugs from friends, were able to see Her Excellency Christiana put on vigil for the Order of the Pelican (WOOT), I got my apprenticeship pudding (don't ask, long story) and we were able to start giving out some of the gifts we brought back from the UK (although most of them are still in transit).

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