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Re: light-hearted and fun

Poster: "Stephanie M. Thorson" <smt2@st-andrews.ac.uk>

Anarra asked:

> What is your ideal venue for A&S?  What would make you go out of your 
> way to enter/display your creations/knowledge?
> Competition or Display?

Both have their merits.  Competitions are great for feedback, although I
have found them sometimes bad for self-esteem.  Unfortunately not all of
the feedback I've gotten has been constructive.  Displays are great for
"showing off," especially for events and demos when members of the public
are likely to be present, and also good for the nervous. 

<whoop!whoop! personal opinion coming>

I have a friend here in St Andrews who is a Caidan.  She tells me that
there is a widely practised custom out there which they call the "Laurel
Prise Tourney."  The basic principles are these: people put together their
creations, documentation, a notebook and a bowl and lay them all out on
the table(s). Then those members of the Order of the Laurel who are in
attendance peruse the table.  They write comments and suggestions in the
notebook (eg., nice poem - how about calligraphing and illuminating it?)
and if they find an entry particularly nice, they leave a bauble (bead,
bell, other trinket) in the bowl.  Lady Catharine tells me that these are
great ...  prizes do not have to be awarded, and there's no "winner" or
"losers" but everyone comes away with feedback and a few trinkets.  The
general effect is to make people feel good about what they've done and
make them want to do more. 

Personally, I think we could do with more of that sort of thing in
Atlantia.  Some of the when-rocks-were-soft crowd assure me these were
done in the past (I only just post-date the Invention of Stew, so I don't
have personal experience of all Atlantian history).  It might take a
little extra organisation ... the A&S officer of a group might want to
contact some local Laurels to make sure there will be some at the event,
for instance ... but I think it would be worth it.  The problem with the
way some competitions are structured is that you can do a lot of work on
your entry, not win, and get no feedback at all - sort of makes you feel
like someone has dropped a bushel basket over your little lampstand.  Not
a fun place to be, and it scarcely encourages the average budding artist
to run out and do more work.  ("well, gee, if nobody noticed ...") 

> Prizes?

Not entirely necessary, although the occasional bauble is nice.  What I
would *really* like to see, especially at large events (like 12th Night)
is to have the top 3 or even top 5 finishers' names read out in court. For
instance, it was announced at 12th Night that there were only about 1.5
points separating first and third place.  Nifty.  What wasn't done was to
tell us who those people who'd run so closely together were, which would
have been a nice, encouraging touch.  No prize, no cooky, but a little pat
on the back.

> Theme?  Topic?  Way of displaying?  Kind of event?

So long as the theme is reasonably inclusive.  I'm a late
fifteenth-century persona with an interest in cooking and fiber arts; not
every event is going to have something for me.  On the other hand, themes
like those of the last two 12th Nights (hats, footwear) are specific
enough that judges aren't faced with a complete apples and oranges
decision, but I could knit my fifteenth-century stockings and someone else
could make Viking shoes and we could both participate in some way. 

> Documentation?  If so what kind?

Yes! Yes!  Lots!  We are supposed to be educational after all.  Visual
sources are good; sometimes visual sources are the only thing we can get. 
On the other hand I think that the SCA doesn't give enough emphasis to
book research.  (OK, so I'm a professional historian.  Humour me).  I
spent a lot of time digging around in law books documenting knitted
stockings and gloves to the 15th c.  That should count for something; in
fact, given the relatively lousy state of publication on 15th c. knitting,
it should count for quite a lot.  I couldn't show you a photo of an
archaelogical find of a 15th-c. knitted glove; I can show you the place in
the Southampton Court Book where the arrival of a shipment of knitted
gloves from the continent is recorded in the 1460s.  Does the lack of a
photo make my research and documentation less good than that of someone
making Tudor shoes who has 10 portraits of Henry VIII to document the
shape of the toe? 

> What kind of comments do you like to see/receive??

Constructive and honest.  Tell me what I could have done better, but don't
make me feel like I'm an idiot for not having taken something into
account, or chosen one technique over another, or even for simply not
being as good as another competitor.  The point is to encourage people to
do better, after all.

> Tell All!!

Oh, trust me, you don't want that ... :-)

Alianora the Longwinded
Stephanie M. Thorson			|  SCA: Lady Alianora Munro
Dept. of Scottish History		|  Clan White Wing
University of St Andrews		|  Tarkhan, Khanate Red Lion

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