Monday, 28 November 2016

Epic QPT (as always)

This blog post isn't about anything that I have made, but rather about all the things I saw at QPT.

This year, for the first time, I wasn't eligible to enter Queen's Prize Tourney. It felt really odd not entering QPT.

Having received my Crucible at Feast of the Hare, I had a couple of weeks to find someone to sponsor....and boy did I ever.

I'm super proud of  Marguerite of Boldt Castle. Not only did she make some really awesome period gingerbread, but then she turned it into a gingerbread diorama (which is a bit of a running joke locally thanks to her dad). She totally made the recipe herself (with just a little bit of help from her mom for the steps involving heating the honey on the stove), but she actually adjusted the spicing of the recipe based on taste, rather than just sticking with the recipe as it was printed. There are adults that don't do that kind of adjustment, never mind a six-year-old!!!! The best part is both she and her mom were super jazzed about the day and really seemed like they had a good time.

As my sponsor prize I brought something that would be appropriate for a youth entry (I actually brought a couple of things for different age groups). I ended up giving my prize to Saraphina of Caldrithig. My prize was a starter set for silk banner painting, including a piece of silk, 8 colours of dye, a tube of black gutta and two brushes. I chose Saraphina because I heard that she didn't really enjoy the spinning she did for her project, so I thought I'd give her something new to try - maybe she'll like that better. She's also really local (like 3 minutes from our house) so I offered to come over at some point to teach her how it works.

I also helped judge four projects, which I think went pretty well. I feel like I was more actively involved in the discussions this year (Master Dafydd may have made a comment about "our newest Crucible proving his mettle..or would that be metal ...or something like that). :) Hopefully I was able to help some people out rather than scaring them off. Also got a really nice compliment from HE Lidr that kind of made me think.

Lots of other people entered some really cool stuff. Both Avelyn and Emelote had entries, along with a whole bunch of other Skraels. Sounds like everyone I talked to had a really positive experience.

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of everyone's projects this time, didn't have time with everything else going on during the day. But I know THL Alexander took pictures all day so I'll just have to look forward to them like everyone else does. :)

I have my pictures from court posted though, you can see them here.

Friday, 11 November 2016

News and Thinky Thoughts from Feast of the Hare

So, now that the post about the projects for Feast of the Hare is out of the way, I can report on the rest of the stuff that happened at the event. This is going to be another long one I think (sorry).

It was a crazy busy Feast of the Hare this year, even more than usual. Part of that was because we hosted the Rick Mercer Report, which was pretty cool. I spent a large part of the day running around to support Avelyn while she did her job as Kingdom Media Relations Deputy, and of course taking pictures.

Here's a pic I took while I was playing paparazzi.

The other thing I did over the course of the day was a little bit of fencing. I haven't been to practice much lately, but I always try to enter the Baronial Champion Tourney, which is run at Hare. I feel its part of my job as a former Champion to participate.

This year the format was different. It was a single elimination tourney with retained wounds, which means when I lost my left arm in the first fight, I couldn't use it for the rest of the tournament. We started out with eight fighters but due to a double kill in the first round, we had three finalists. I suggested to Her Excellency that we do a last man standing melee to solve it, rather than a round robin. She grinned and giggled with glee (she may have also chanted Kill, Kill, Kill, I can't remember).

I was at a disadvantage without my left arm, but I probably had a bit of an advantage in having fought in a lot of melee situations, so it may have balanced out. We swirled around for a while and then after a minute or so of back and forth, first one than the other of my opponents were out and I was last left standing. So I am now both the Rapier and Thrown Weapons champion for the Barony (although apparently I'm not allowed to throw my rapiers, which really takes some of the fun out of it). :)

During Baronial court, in addition to officially being named as Their champion, I also assisted with the presentation of taxes. This year the taxes for the populace taking a class and teaching a class, which totally falls within the scope of my job as Minister of Arts and Sciences. So I plotted with Her Excellency Lucia to introduce some shtick. After everyone else presented their taxes, I presented Their Excellencies with a scroll that captured all teaching and learning that had been reported to me in our A&S reports for the year. I offered to read it out alphabetically, but given the scroll was 10 feet long, I thought I'd save the populace that pain and just rolled it out in front of Their Excellencies. It went down to my feet and across the floor, it was epic!

Then, during Kingdom court, something else happened. It's a bit of a blur, but I was busy taking pictures as usual when Their Majesties called up the Order of the Crucible. The next thing I know my name is being called, and now I am a member of that really impressive Order (I even have a really awesome scroll to prove it).

After I stood up I got swarmed by a whole bunch of people giving me hugs, AElfwyn being first in line. Beyond that it was all kind of a blur, but it was really awesome being surrounded by so many people who I really respect and consider my friends. The fact that they wanted me to join them and think I belong, and that Their Majesties agreed, was a bit overwhelming.

So this is where the thinky thoughts come in. For a guy with zero artistic ability (who nearly failed art class in Junior High and never took anything artistic except for performance arts after that), being inducted to a Grant-level order for my work in the arts and sciences is kind of mind boggling. I still think of myself as the same guy who took that very first Intro to Leatherworking class from Tiberius at Practicum 5-6 years ago.

But its also I think a really good story to tell new people who join the SCA. I can't draw, or paint, or really do anything that modernly we would consider "art", and yet here I am making things like the stick-purse or my black and white kidney pouch, and having people come to me for advice on leatherworking (that still feels weird, my first reaction is still to redirect them to someone who knows what they're doing). If I can learn this stuff, dig into it, and get to this point - anybody can with a bit of work and some elbow grease.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Unveiling the Feast of the Hare Projects (with pictures)

Heading into Feast of the Hare, Avelyn and I may have set a personal record for the number of projects we had on the go for any one event. To the point where Avelyn was having to turn stuff down because we just didn't have time to do it all.

Now that everything has been presented, I can unveil the stuff I worked on.

Our Baronial Signet Mistress Alais contacted me to see if I would be willing to do a scroll for her. Given my total lack of any artistic ability, we laughed about that for a while, and then asked her what she had in mind.

Turns out Their Excellencies had a plan to award a matched set of five Hare Valiant awards to the five currently active Knights who call the Barony home. They would have matching wording, but Alais wanted each to receive some sort of customized scroll or token. I offered to take on the project for Sir AElfwyn and Avelyn offered to take on (or coordinate) the project for Sir Menken.

For AElfwyn:

I wanted to go outside the box. Everyone would expect me to make something out of leather, since that's what I'm know for and AElfwyn is my Laurel. But since when do I go the easy route? Plus, AElfwyn doesn't need me to make her leather items. So, I went the silk banner route. I went through a few different designs, but I eventually landed on something I felt I could produce (because my first few ideas were a little overly ambitious given the timeframe we had and my total lack of artistic ability).

Here's a picture of the banner in progress. The badge of the order is on the bottom half (on the right), while the top image is actually me taking a bit of creative license with period illuminations. I found period examples of a dog riding a boar, and another of a hare riding a dog. So in Photoshop I moved the hare over so it was riding the boar (AElfwyn's heraldic charge).

Around the edge of the banner in silver metalic gutta on black background are the mandatory elements of the scroll to make it official: Barony of Skraeling Althing - Order of the Hare Valiant to AElfwyn et Langenwuda by Their Excellencies Shahid and Catherine at Feast of the Hare November 5 AS 51. This was my first time doing text on a banner. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, although I don't think I'd want to go any smaller than the font size I used. I basically printed the text using calligraphy font on the computer (after checking with Alais to find one that was close as possible to an actual period calligraphy style of course) and then traced it onto the banner.

Here it is with the red coloured in (the shield on the original hare was green in the illumination, but I'm sure I'll be forgiven for going Skraeling/Ealdormere red). What you can't really see in the picture is that I also used silver and gold gutta to mark some metalic highlights in the swords to make them pop a bit.

After it was dry and fixed, Avelyn sewed on some bias tape on the top edge and made some loops so AElfwyn can hang it somewhere.

For Menken:

We knew we wanted to do something different for Menken, not the same type of banner that I did for AElfwyn. Each person needed to get something unique.

Avelyn engaged Lord James (Menken's Squire) to help with it. He worked with a fellow fighter (Paddy) to make an actual spear, which is very cool. I think Avelyn was just thinking an armoured combat spear but this is even better.

So, we had to figure a way to turn that into an official scroll-like item. At that point Avelyn got pulled into the chaos of organizing Rick Mercer's visit to the event, so I took over the work.

We decided to make a leather sheath for the spear, and then to do a small silk pennant to attach to it. Since we didn't want it to be too similar to the banner I did for AElfwyn, I tooled the mandatory wording around the edge of the sheath (rather than putting it on the pennant) along with the main charge from his heraldry (a fleur-de-lys and three billets fesswise) on one side. I then stained the leather using an antique finish and painted a bit of gold outline to mark where the blade actually sits in the sheath. I then stitched the two pieces together using some brown linen thread.

Here it is. Hardest part was definitely tooling the lettering.

For the pennant, Mel told me she wanted the chequey to feature prominently in the pennant, and we wanted to include the badge for the award since it wasn't on the leather sheath. This is the design I came up with based on what she told me she wanted.

and here it is after Avelyn did the bias tape and ties for the pennant, attached to the final spear.

I think if I had it to do over again I might make the badge a bit bigger, and would increase the area of the chequey, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it. The badge was probably the most difficult part, those hares are pretty intricate for such a small size (up close, or backlit, there's a difference in tone between the black gutta and the black dye, so you can actually see much more detail).