Sunday, July 29, 2018

Judging: What Happens During A & S Competitions

A competition of any sort is an activity requiring you to enter using your skills to try and win. The skill amount needed depends on what the competition is asking you to do. 

If the competition is well defined and uses Kingdom judging criteria you already have a leg up on how your entry will be judged. The criteria tell you what to look for, the expected results and how values will be given to your work. Ultimately your judges give you points and a total value for your creation.  

But more goes on during judging at a Calontir Kingdom level competition than evaluating an entry and ranking it among others. It's a way for a judge to mentor entrants, to encourage and teach them. It's also a way to encourage and teach a newer judge.

The Kingdom criteria for a craft limits a judge's biases focusing their attention on the specific qualities to consider and rate. 

Calontir has a long history of coaching judges to use gentler tactics, especially at Queens Prize, where everyone is newer. Like asking you how you want to be judged? By a grade or just chatting. And including any critical points sandwiched amoung way more praiseworthy comments.

Judges, yes there should be more than one, should be knowledgeable in the area they are expected to judge. The knowledge multiple judges bring to a  competition gives you a sense of fair play. It also allows a "teachable moment" to naturally happen between you and your judges. 

So a lot happens during each judging session at a Kingdom A & S competition.
But there's also a competition shortcut. It is the popular "populace vote". The one where you choose your favorite among entries. This competition type is well liked because the written documentation is almost none. It's mostly listing the 5 Ws. Who. What. Where. When. Why. On a 3x5" card.

There are drawbacks to populace "fav voting". While the SCA and Calontir emphasize honor in the Society, it's possible an entrant's friends may vote their friendship rather than for the best quality entry. And the number of beans for each entrant may influence the choice others make. 

Populace choice competitions seldom have ties because when the designated deadline looms heralds announce to all the selection deadline is looming. So those who haven't seen the entries may make a selection just to break a possible tie.
Judging at the 2018 12th Night event.

And what do you do if you are running the A & S competitions at an event? What if there is a tie? Do you have a formal plan B or pull one out of the air? 

It's good to have any possible need for a backup defined in advance. If Kingdom Criteria are used you could designate "In the event of a tie, the score for Documentation'' will be used as a tiebreaker.” Or  “If a tie occurs, a special tie-breaking Judge will apply the same Judging Criteria to determine the winner.” 

Contests are worth the effort. They’re fun and generate an arts and sciences buzz, awareness and potential entrant attention. But more goes into judging than you can see.
Related Prior Post: 
6 Links To Remove Scary From Writing SCA Documentation

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 3

Link to image.
When you look through this 13th-century manuscript made for the Pope you see it's filled with giant killer bunnies, geese lynching wolves, and other crazy things. They are cute, silly, or a comment on Medieval daily life.

But not all. This one pictures a dog hanging by its neck from a tree. The rabbit with his paw to his mouth casually shushes the dog. Even if the rabbit was a human why would 'he" do that? Perplexing.

And there's more. The woman over the tree is looking into her mirror, a sign her looks are most important. The mirror shows she's vane. Vanity is prideful and "Pride" was one of the 7 Deadly Sins.

So not exactly things you want to put on a scroll. What would they tell the recipient? They're mean or hate dogs. Lack respect. Think highly of their looks.

There are cuter, sillier bas-de-page illuminations you can use in the Royal 10 E IV. There's also weirder ones, too. You'll find them in the manuscript's perplexing details. 

Related Prior Post:  
Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 1
Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts  2

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Why I'm Thrilled With My New Found Interest - Finding Jehanne

If you are like me and it's expensive to get away from your home group you might try upping your activities there. That's what I've done.

I'm still doing my usual blogging and helping with kingdom events the Barony of the Lonely Tower hosts. There's always one or ten handcraft projects to do. But my new passion is developing more fully my Jehanne Bening persona. 

About 2008 or so, I became Jehanne Bening from 15th-century Bruges after starting my SCA life as Siobhan le Blake from early 14th-century Galway, Ireland. I made the change because I couldn't then find any female illuminators in Ireland. That's about as far as I went with it until now.

I'm so excited because I recently learned even my ancillary interest areas fit within that persona. There are records of women illuminators in Bruges guild logs. And a note of one living in the Beguinage there. That fits Jehanne. 

I found that information reading the tome Illuminating The Renaissance: The Triumph Of Flemish Manuscript Painting In EuropeEdited by Thomas Kren and Scot McKendrick and published by the Getty.

This beautifully photographed catalog tells about the finest illuminated manuscripts created in Europe during the greatest era of Flemish illumination, the reign of the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold. It begins in 1467 and ends in 1561 with Simon Bening's death. Jehanne was born in 1439 and lives as many years as I do.

To me, this is illuminations grandest epoch and Bruges its greatest city.

Illuminators of that time and area made stunning, innovative use of color, light, texture, and space. They created a dominating natural style that was demanded throughout Europe for a century. 

My renewed fascination for this book - I've owned it for years - is its information on the illuminators' activities and roles in the County of Flanders during the Northern Renaissance. Especially for women. 

This book gives information such as there were more women illuminators than women painters of tempera and oil because they could do this at home without a ladder and large easel. That's fascinating to me. It makes 15th-century women illuminators seem real. 

I can't read enough of this book at one time, now. It is too large to read casually and I want to soak up everything as I do it. Not just its gorgeous pictures.

Related Prior Post: 
How to Find the Script Your Persona Might Have Used

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Best Beginner's Paint Making Post

My students making their own paint.
I missed something. Something you will really want.

Two or three years ago when I was getting up to speed again for teaching my paint making class I missed the best introductory Medieval paint making post.

It is the Medieval Yorkist's Eulalia Piebakere's adventures in "Making Your Own Paints: A Beginner’s Guide".
Just what you need to get started making your own paints.

Paint making is fun. It's very sensual. Enjoy the subtle texture variety you feel as you squish the pigments into the binder. Be a kid again messing around while combining the parts. Try it, you'll like it.

Related Prior Posts:
10 Free On-line How To Make Paint Tutorial Links  

My Class Handout:
Playing With Period Pigments: A Make And Take Class--The Google Doc of my class handout minus its pictures.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Illuminated Diapering

One of the easiest ways you can embellish a scroll is to add diapering. Diapering is the geometric checker-board pattern you see in illuminated manuscripts. It adds dramatic visual interest and fills the vacuum medieval art abhorred.

Link to image.

Link to image.

You may see them include gold leaf or without it. 

Link to image.
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You may even find it decorating a grotesque animal or clothing article.

Diapering isn't difficult. You can make it simple or complex, whichever you want. The more complex patterns are easily created when worked in steps.

It's all based on a supporting grid, even if it's invisible. You first construct a grid then systematically insert your chosen colors or patterns.

Quality diapering is determined by evenly distributed grid lines. While you want an accurate grid I think extreme precision detracts from a medieval feel. You don't want it to be vector-graphic perfect.

With every diaper pattern, you begin with a grid. If you want you could generate one on Incomptech and trace it using your light-pad.

I use a ruler and a 4H pencil, and evenly measure each side of my chosen space and make marks. I then connect opposing dots. If you want your lines visible go over them with ink then erase your pencil lines.

This first diapering pattern was done into the late 14th century. It is the less complex one I'm sharing. It's also easily modified using other shapes and patterns. 

  1. You begin by selecting the area you want to embellish. 
  2. Paint it all over with your choice of light to medium color. Let this dry completely, even overnight. 
  3. Using your best method construct an even grid over the selected space. Making your gridlines black makes the colors stand out and hides straying paint. I use a black Pigma Micron pen. 
  4. Next, build your pattern. Here I place a small red square in each grid-square’s center. Use a color that contrasts with your underpainting color.
  5. Last using white gouache you make a small X over the intersection of each grid line.

diaper pattrn construction (2).jpg
Tip: If your selected space doesn’t have straight sides like in the clothing and grotesque I've pictured above, imagine the area is set within an external frame. Construct your grid straight with that frame. Your frame doesn't have to be straight with the support's edge; turn it however you wish. If you rotate your grid 45 degrees you'll create diamonds.  

My second pattern turns up later in the Gothic era. 
  1. Select the area you want to use for diapering. 
  2. Use your best method to construct an even grid over the selected space. As before, if it doesn’t have straight sides, imagine the area is set within a frame. Place the grid straight with that frame. 
  3. Apply gold to every other space, making a checker-board. 
  4. Paint red all the squares in one diagonal row. 
  5. Paint a second red diagonal row two spaces to the right. Repeat this throughout your selected area. 
  6. Perpendicular to the first red rows, paint one red diagonal row of squares. 
  7. Two spaces over paint a second red diagonal row. Repeat this throughout your selected area. 
  8. Select a group of four squares to paint blue. It will be just to the right of your intersecting red squares. 
  9. Just below the intersecting red squares, paint the four squares green. When both green and blue are completed, the pattern should alternate four-square groups of green and blue.
  10. Add small black plus lines to each of the blue and green squares. 
  11. Go over your grid lines in black again. AND In each red square use white to place an X and a tiny square. 
  12. Finally, place a tiny white dot over the black cross in the green and blue squares.

diaper pattrn construction2 (2).jpg

Tip: With the second method it's less confusing if you paint one color at a time. It's also easier the further you go in the process. Once you paint step 6 you'll see the design clearer. 

There are many ways to detail diapering; boxes, crosses, dots and diagonal lines are only a few. You're only limited by the space you have, your smallest brush, and your steady hand. 

After looking at countless medieval manuscripts with geometric diapering you'll have the “eye” to see the steps and layers building the whole. They become simple. You’ll also find your own methods to recreate them. 

Just create the grid. Fill sections with colors. Add tiny highlights. Repeat.


  • Alexander, Jonathan J. G. Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
  • Asplund, Randy. “Making an Illuminated Cover Illustration” on Randy Asplund’s website. accessed 20 March 2016
  • Backhouse, Janet. The Illuminate Page. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.
  • Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut ed. The Goettingen Model Book. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1972.
  • Lynskey, Marie. Illumination for Calligraphers: The Complete Guide for the Ambitious Calligrapher. Hong Kong: Harper Collins Publishers, 1990, pp 52-58.
  • Reynolds, Caleb. Caleb's A&S Blog "How-to Diaper a Scroll" accessed 21 May 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

4 Arts And Sciences Activities At Calontir's Summer Coronation

Calontir's 2018 Summer Coronation is just around the corner. I truly hope you can come. It will be a grand time. Not only for the court's pomp but because this one's also a camping event. 

Camping coronations give you more time. More time to talk to friends, attend meetings, enjoy bardic presentations, eat the feast and take part in Arts & Sciences activities. 

This time I'm in charge of the A&S competitions. Create them, display them, find judges and voting tokens. I also get to find or create prizes for the winner(s). Fun things for you to do.
Largess Display

Here are the competitions you can enter. If you don't enter, come by and see who did... and what.
Largess Display: Any person or group's item(s) to gift the incoming reign. Items should be labeled with the giver(s) names. 
Peers Only Novice Again Competition: Entries should be a peer's first attemp at a craft they started within the last 365 days. They may be a work in progress with a large portion completed. Written documentation should be limited to 1 ppage, not counting photos and soucrces. Judging will be anonymous and based on generic intermediate level Kingdom criteria. Note: hide all identifying heraldry etc and names. 
Populace Choice: Entries should be a recreation of a Roman item made within it borders or territories. Entries should not also be offered in the other competition or display. Please provide a card with your name, what the item is, its location and approximate date of original.
But there's more. This one is for anyone that's made an SCA thing in the last year. Anyone. Anything.
Show and Tell: A throwback to younger days. Bring something you've made in the last year, completed or in progress, to show others in the circle and talk about your "thing". Easy, peasy. And social too. HL Natalya Alekseya Vasilova is the moderator.
There's something for everyone. I hope.

Related Prior Post:
 Largess: The Art Of Regifting

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Nobody Told Me...

My binder-portfolio with the early stuff I made.
Nobody tells this to you who are beginners. Beginners in any creative craft.I wish someone told me. 
If you do creative work, you get into it because you have good taste built within you. But there's a gap between starting to create and being good. 
it’s the just not that good but trying hard gap. It's potential. 
Your taste that got you into creating is still killer. Your taste is also why your efforts disappoint you. 
Some people never get past the gap. They quit. 
As a Laurel doing creative work many go through years knowing our work doesn’t have the special quality we want it to have. We all go through this in some form. I know I did.  
If you are just beginning or are in this gap, please, know its normal. And the most important thing you can do is more creating. Commit yourself to creating something every week. 
It is only by creating a huge body of work that you close and remove the gap. That your work becomes what your dreams imagine. And I took longer to figure this out than most. 
Know it’s gonna take awhile. Know it's normal. Be aware, keep creating and you'll fight your way through the gap. 
 Related External Links:
Ira GlassPosted on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, April 25, 2011

Related Prior Post:  

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Celebrating Our Nation's Independence

Independence Day is a family day of barbeques and fireworks to celebrate the American freedom traditions. You'll find watermelon and hot dog eating competitions, sporting events, three-legged races, and water activities.
I display my American flag outside my door and listen to the neighbor's fireworks go off with loud bangs scaring my dogs. I think the most impressive fireworks are on television with blaring patriotic music. 
Independence Day is a patriotic holiday to honor the best of our United States of America. A time to give thanks for the freedom and liberties fought for by our earlier American generations.