Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why Write Documentation For SCA Projects?

Over my 26 years in the SCA I've heard many people lament writing documentation. They want to show off their authentic medieval re-creation. 

They excitedly show me the well-done "what's it" they made from start to finish. It's a real medieval-style treasure! 

They ask me, "What can I do to show it off, without writing documentation?" 

I have a few tricks to share here. Ways that don't require a detailed write-up.

Share your re-creation in a group discussion. In Calontir it's called an "artisan show-and-tell". 


It's being back in school. The maker talks about their creation, usually passing it around. Others ask questions. Sometimes a lively discussion gets going about your process. Simple, easy, friendly.

I enjoy these. Sometimes there's a "work-in-progress" shared that lets you really see the methods used. 

If you can't find an artisans' show and tell to enter, lead one yourself. Coach everyone in the circle to share their work before you do. Encourage comments on each item. You finish by sharing your creation and thank everyone for participating.

Show your work in a display with others at an event.


display of multiple hand painted medieval-style pictures, embroidery, and glass
Artisan's Display 
There are no judges or prizes. Some ask you to list basic information about your entry on a small card. Your name, the century and place of your item. You may  want to tell what it is, if your creation is off beat. Easy labels.

Displays may be for a specific purpose. (Make sure it isn't for items to be given away unless you want to give it as a gift.)  Displays may show off largess donated to Their Majesties, or creations by a guild, or items to be sold at a later auction. They may be entries by people who didn't make the things themselves but received them as gifts. A cool "rat-on-your-friends" showing work by people that don't enter competitions.

Enter a populace choice competition.


4 entries of hand made medieval style drinking vessels
Populace Choice Competition
These are similar to displays, but with a winner. The event attendees pick the entry they prefer. At the closing, the entry with the most tokens wins. 

Populace choice competitions usually ask for a card label for your entry, similar to a display. They may want more. The event notice will tell you. It will also tell you if there is a theme for the competition, like "a tree in any medium", "hand embroidery" or "drinking vessel".

Give your creation to Their Majesties in court.


Everyone in court that day will see you give your special creation to The King and Queen. You can present your work as a gift for Their Majesties themselves, for use by the Royal office, or for their use as largess.

Give your item, or similar ones, as 12th Night or birthday presents.


If your main goal is for your work to be seen, consider the recipient. How would they display or use you work? Is it an item they can keep with them most of the time?

2 women merchants behind their handmade pottery items
Handmade Pottery Merchant Display

Sell multiple creations as an event merchant.


It takes dedication and effort but selling personal creations at events is a display that may pay for itself. This takes organization, planning, storage and hauling. It takes having tables, chairs and display items. Still, many turn their hobby craft into income, sometimes on-line, too. 

Enter a novice competition like Calontir's Queen's Prize Tourney.


This is my favorite competition, even though I'm no longer a novice. Sadly I can't enter, but I can sponsor entrants. I love sponsoring almost as much as when I entered.

This amazing event displays many artisans' works and a huge craft variety. 

To enter, you find a sponsor. The sponsor will help you with anything you want, except the hands-on making of the entry. They can help you with registration and the limited documentation asked, a  3"x5" card with the basic stuff. 

Calontir Queen's Prize entry descriptions only need:
  • Description of entry including some of the following: country of origin, period of origin, characteristics of style for that period.
  • Lists materials and skills used to complete the project.
  • Lists methods and tools used to complete the project.
  • Research and reference: cites at least one source and one visual or descriptive reference, or two of either.

Judging is gentle and depends on your wishes. It is more like artisan coaching or guiding you to possible future efforts. 

Those are the tricks I know to show off SCA recreations without writing detailed documentation. There may be others. (If you know of more, tell me in the comment section below this post.) Take advantage of one, or all of them. Show your period re-creations to the Knowne World. 

I promise you the populace want to see your work!