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Re: Heraldic help

Poster: Kai Scheppe <scheppe@hpel.cees.edu>

Thomas MacFinn offered many a good criticism:

>> A) Anybody who is not in some fashion called a Herald should STAY AWAY from
>> blazoning anything.  If you are submitting a device, chances are you are
>> relatively new to the SCA and may have walked past a good work of heraldry,
>> but no more.  DO NOT BLAZON, even if you think you know what you're doing.
>My opinion is quite the contrary. Since any device will be passed based
>soley on how it looks, a blazon on the form can only ADD to the quality
>of the submission, not detract from it.

Not necessarily true.  My reason for the suggestion came from the statistics
given by Mistress Jaelle, showing that about 1/3 of all blazons are useless
and another third was not given.  As such, plain english labelling (see
below) would avoid potential confusions and misunderstandings caused by a
lack of knowledge of blazon.  It's the heralds job and passion...let them do
it.  Most of us "mortals" would probably muck it up :-)

>> B) Submitters should make their best attempt to depict what they want to
>> show.  This means making use of new technology, i.e. clipart and copies of
>> actual pictures.  Cut, paste and enlarge are powerful drawing tools even to
>> the most inept artist.  Any goat you find, that is drawn by a professional,
>> should do, for example.
>I would warn against "good art - bad heraldry". Again in my opinion,
>heraldic figures should be slightly "cartoony". They should have a
>strong outline and be distinct from a distance. I once saw a dragon
>handed back by the herald for a redraw because the art was too good -
>the artist drew each scale of the (argent) dragon with his pen, causing
>it to blend in with the dark background at a distance.

A good point, but there are plenty of pictorials out there which can be put
to great use at Kinko's with scissors and scotchtape.  I would like to see
the herald that will argue against an actual, heraldic depiction on the
basis of it not being heraldic :-)  Good art, however, as you point out may
make the device ineffectual.  Yet, it should still be submitted, upon risk
of having it returned because of the aforementioned reasons.

>> C) This is the most important suggestion, which I employed myself with
>> success.  Draw lines away from each item on your submission and LABEL it in
>> PLAIN english.  Say what it is, what color it has, what orientation or
>> anything else that is necessary.  It's a big form with lots of room.
>I don't know that this is most important, but I would certainly file
>that suggestion under "couldn't hurt to try".

Herladry is complex not because of it's rules, but because of the possible
variations.  The more precisely and clearly something can be described, the
better.   Compare it to scientific names given in latin.  There is no ambiguity.

>> D) Point out the obvious.  The submitters has thought over and over again
>> about his device.  The Herald will see it for the first time on the
>> submission form.  What is clear to the submitter may not be clear to the
>> Herald at all.
>I don't remember which herald told me this but I do remember one local
>herald saying that the first thing she does is pin the form on one side
>of the living room and then look at it from the other side of the room.
>Having the submitter do it with her eliminates many devices submitted
>that are "too busy" or have "charges drawn too small."

I do the same on my computer.  I simply shrink the size of my drawing to see
what it looks like from FAR away.  It's something that I've heard many
heralds say and is absolutely cruical.

<snipped suggestion>

>> F) If, after all this work, which is done solely by the submitter, the
>> Herald still has a question, a phone call would be more than justified.
>For the local herald, I would agree. Expecting Triton or Laurel to call
>each person with a poor form is a bit much for the volume of work those
>officers do.

This I have no basis to judge on, but my feeling is that if all the other
suggestions are followed there would be very few instances where a call
during a heralds meeting would be required.  Especially if the local herald
also has done his/her job.  Finally, if the suggestions have not been
followed it should be sent back because the submitter did not make a
complete attempt to reduce the work of the heralds.

>> G) Lastly, include a return post card with the submission forms, prestamped
>> and prewritten, that can be sent back to the submitter when the submission
>> has reached a certain point, i.e. Herald's meeting or some such point in
>That is an EXCELLENT suggestion that I have never heard voiced before.

I think that the heralds in the SCA are overburdened with work and have to
deal with a subject matter that is so very personal and close to the heart
of the submitters that feelings can seriously get hurt.  
Delays in submissions prevent the law-abiding SCAdian from decorating his
person and belongings with his device, which severely limits the pageantry
and colorful displays in the SCA.
The system which has been in place so far works to a certain extent, but
great improvements are necessary.  New technology and communications devices
make it possible to shift much of the workload back to the submitters.
After all they only have ONE device to deal with, which is usually their own
to boot.  If people are given good guidelines by the heralds office then
their workload can be greatly decreased.

        Somebody who's had a very frustrating time
        with his submissions, but hasn't lost faith


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