Monday, 28 March 2016

Kingdom A&S - Thoughts on the Day (Part 1)

I started typing this as one big long post and it was just way too long. So, part one will be just about the day and then I'll move my thinky thoughts to part two.

Kingdom A&S was a really busy day, with entering my girdle purse and judging two other projects. Avelyn was in the kitchen most of the day helping Emelote and John with feast prep so I didn't really see her all day except for occasional runs to the car to bring stuff in for them.

When I wasn't being all judgmental or being judged in turn, I was running around taking pictures. I always feel a certain responsibility for it at local events, but especially when Erik or Alex aren't at the event. I'm the third stringer but I think having pictures is important.

I came away from the event decidedly not super jazzed up, which is unusual. Normally after QPT or A&S I leave feeling all eager to work on new projects and do stuff. This time that wasn't the case. That's why this post is a week after the event - I've been analysing my mind-set to try to figure out what's off. I'll talk about that in part two of this post.

Event Overall
My initial observation was that the caliber of projects overall was really high. When I compare to my first A&S experience (which was really what I was doing all day) I think people have been really stepping up their game.

HE Lucia tried a couple of new things this year, and it will be interesting to see what lessons learned come out of it. First, there were no categories or levels (beginner/intermediate/advanced) for projects like in previous years. That meant everything was judged on the same basic criteria. There were then sponsored prizes for different things, rather than winners of each category. The sponsor set the criteria for the prize and handed them out during the day so it didn't bog down court. I honestly didn't hear a lot of discussion about the change at the event, so I'm not sure how it went over or if there were glitches as a result. It's interesting though because you had prizes for very specific things (best 16th century thing or best thing made from or bearing the image of a sheep), so the mix of prizes was definitely different.

She also introduced an online system for judging forms, which I think got mixed results. In my case it worked fine once I figured out that the wifi signal was too weak in the basement and moved back upstairs. Based on discussions I heard on the day, some people loved it, but I did hear some grumbling. I think some people found it a challenge to find time to fill out the online forms when they were judging upwards of 5-6 projects over the course of the day (and its hard to type extensive comments on a little phone keyboard for many - I brought my bluetooth keyboard and tablet so had an easier time of it).

I also was able to get on the Vigil list early for Marguerite so got in right away. I had made a gift for her and didn't want to be lugging it around all day. :) I bought a bunch of glass jars, and Avelyn did up a bunch of fancy labels for me. We filled them with all of my key leather dying pigments and supplies. My favourite was the jar of rusting metal! I put it all in a basket along with a bunch of leather pieces and bound it all up with some garters/buckled leather straps. The trick is she's only allowed to use them to experiment with leather dying (I had to put the qualifier in because they are mostly the same pigments she uses for her "alchemy"). I gave it the title "Things to help the newly sprouted Laurel to continue to grow". :)

I couldn't get a clean picture of the contents of the basket since it kept closing but here's the basket itself:

Projects I Judged
I was tagged with judging two projects this year. In all there were only four projects related to leather (including mine) so I basically was judging two-thirds of the available projects (the third project was Lucrece's book and was so far beyond my skill level there would have been no point).

Both of the projects were impressive in their own way.

The first project was a pair of early-period shoes (as well as a set of wooden lasts used to make the shoes). Shoes or finicky things to make in the first place, throwing in making a set of wooden lasts on top of it was really neat.

Here's a picture:

Given the hard time I had in sizing the pair of shoes I attempted, the fact that they seem to fit is really great. It'll be interesting to see if they settle in when he's wearing them or if the seams cause any issues.

The second project was an experimental project to re-purpose an old sheepskin coat into three-fingered mitts. In the end the project didn't end up working out, but we think that may be because of the materials, rather than any fault of the artisan. Certainly the research and conjectural concepts were sound. This was only the second time she'd worked with leather so I'm really pleased at the work she was able to do and she's definitely on the right track!

Here's a picture:

My Project
I've already posted pictures of my finished project on the blog, so I won't get into the details of the purse too much here. After I did my spiel on the day about what I did, why I did it etc, the conversation with the judges kind-of went into the related area of period leather dyes and whether the recipes in the Plictho are accurate representations of what was being done, or if the Master dyers would have held things back to keep their secrets. We also talked about whether the iron black recipe would have been commonly used in the period, since they had more industrial dying processes available by then.

Based on the discussion on the day and the comments in my judging sheets, there were only a few things I could improve, including:

  • Some tweaks to my documentation (in particular the pictures I chose to use from the artwork)
  • A period buckle rather than something I bought at the leather store

Overall the judges seemed to be quite pleased with the end result, and with my process of getting there. I'll call it a win. :)

Coming up next: Thinky thoughts on future entries into Kingdom A&S

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