New Pennsic University Map with Runestone Campus

24 July 2018

This year, Pennsic has a new set of classrooms called Runestone Campus. To help students find this new location, I’ve created a new map of Pennsic University that shows University Commons (the main campus), Runestone Campus, and several other popular class locations through the site. I’ve also mapped out the distance to walk from the University Commons to Runestone Campus, as I thought this would be helpful to know so folks can get to classes in time. Everything should be to scale, as the map was based off aerial photography and actual tent sizes. Copies of this map will be available at University Point, but I’m also including a PDF here for anyone who might like to look at it in advance. Hope this helps someone!

Many thanks to the Deputy Mayor of Technical Services (THL Magnus), the Pennsic Chancellor (Captain Elias Gedney), and the Deputy Mayor of Zoning and Planning a.k.a. Land One (Duchess Elizabeth).

Pennsic Prep: Project Tutorials

19 July 2018

Every year since my very first Pennsic I’ve taught classes. This will be the first year I do not, as I will be Deputy Mayor for Cultural Affairs (woohoo!) and I felt I should keep my schedule as free as possible. But I still want to help and I love to teach. So this year I’m sharing ALL the PDF handouts for every class I or my family (Lord Gregor and Lady Alexa) have ever taught at Pennsic, which includes a lot of Pennsic project things you might like to do now before you arrive. Enjoy!

Pennsic Project Tutorials

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Portable, Folding Armor Stand (see the blog post for more detail)

Make a Canvas Dayshade (see the blog post for more detail)

Painting Your Pavilion

Portable Clothes Rack (see the blog post for more detail)

A Working Camp Sink (see the blog post for more detail)

Breakdown Hand Cart

Breakdown Gothic Chairs  (see the blog post for more detail)

15th c. Trestle Table ( (see the blog post for more detail)

Breakdown Camp Kitchen

Honeycomb Pleatwork Apron

Drawnwork Hemstitch Hankie Handout

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Blackwork Embroidery Book (see the blog post for more detail)

Round Pavilion Papercraft (sides-straight-template)

Round Pavilion Papercraft (sides-sloped-template)

Round Pavilion Papercraft (top-template)

Chain Mail (Youth Activity)

How to Make Butter

Heddeby Leather Pouch


Despite our lack of classes this year, we’re still making things! We have a brand new four-poster bed, new finials for our new shade fly, a new pup tent for Alexa, a new coronet box, and tons of new garb!

Four poster bed at Pennsic Coronet Box by Gregor


Genoveva, Gregor, and Alexa


Pennsic Classes and Handouts

27 July 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.12.48 AMWe’re just about to leave for Pennsic 44! Here are all the handouts we’ve prepared for our five classes this year at Pennsic — each one is in PDF format.






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Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.15.03 AMround-pavilion-sides-straight-template





Our classes are as follows:

Thursday, July 30

Pleatwork Apron Make-and-Take (Genoveva) – 10:00 am in A&S 12 – 2 hours

A hands-on, instructional class on smocking, or honeycomb pleatwork, the gathering method commonly seen in German Renaissance clothing (but also popular for hundreds of years throughout Europe). You will make your own apron to wear around camp in style! We’ll also discuss pleating in general as we work, and students can read my 30-page research paper on historical pleating techniques. Materials available for 10 people ($10), or bring your own medium-weight, WHITE linen (1 yard). Free handouts for 25.

Period Pavilion Papercraft (Alexander) -1:00 pm in A&S 6 – 1 hour

Come learn how pavilions (tents) were made historically using basic construction techniques. Students will make a paper craft pavilion in the shape of their choice to take back to their own camp. Please bring scissors appropriate to your age (no sewing will be done). Free templates.

Enhance Your Camp (Gregor) – 4:00 pm in Camp Cynnabar (W02) – 1 hour

Join us at our camp to learn about how to make personal camp improvements that can enhance both its appearance as well as your own quality of life. Most projects are made from wood with basic tools and do not require special knowledge, skills, or equipment. Handouts will be available for each camp project ($1/handout), including our camp cart, kitchen worktable, sink with foot pump, trestle table, benches, chairs, clothes rack, armor stand, and more.


Tuesday, August 4

Mastering Pleatwork: Advanced 16th Century Techniques (Genoveva) – 10:00 am – A&S 12 (1 hour)

Experienced pleatworkers are invited to join me to discuss advanced methods of creating and securing pleats used in 16th-century Europe. Includes a review of my in-depth research on imagery and techniques, as well as a variety of reproduction pleatwork to touch and feel. After I present my research and experimentation, I will open the floor for discussion and practice. Participants will also have an opportunity to practice some of the more complicated stitches if they wish. 50-page handouts for 10 ($3 each), materials for 5.


Wednesday, August 5

Drawn Work Handkerchief Make-and-Take (Genoveva) – 2:00 pm in A&S 3 (1 hour)

A hands-on, instructional class on drawn work, specifically the hemstitch, seen in German, Italian, and English Renaissance clothing and accessories. Participants will create their own handkerchief with a drawn work hem, and learn how to make more elaborate drawn work designs on their own. Materials available for 10 people ($1 fee requested), or bring your own medium-weight, white linen (12″ x 12″). Free handouts available for 25.


Hope to see you at Pennsic!

Family/Youth SCA Classes at Pennsic, Taught by Alexander!

18 August 2014

This year at Pennsic my 10-year-old son Alexander taught two classes in the family/youth track, which meant they were friendly to both kids and adults. Both classes were overfull and I promised to put the handouts and details online for those who didn’t get there in time for the materials or handouts. Please feel free to use the handouts for teaching your own classes — I only ask that you give credit to Alexander and that you comment here or drop me an e-mail to let me know.

Butter Making

Alexander’s butter making class was an extension of his A&S project for making butter this year. We brought our large wooden butter churn, as well as mini butter churns for each person. The mini churns were 8 oz. jelly jars with small holes drilled in the top. The mini dashers were made of dowels and small pine toy wheels available at Joanns, kept together with a little wood glue (we made the churns and dashers in advance). Cream is simply heavy whipping cream available at any grocery store — you need only about 1.5″ in the jar. It takes 10-20 minutes of churning to get butter with this size jar (time depends on how fast and consistently the churner works).


The handout is a one-page PDF and it explains the two historic ways of making butter: Butter-Making

Note: If you do this activity, let butter churners know that it’s possible to churn too much and get a very smooshy butter. So when the cream starts to glob together and leave a watery substance (the buttermilk), open up the jar and pour off the buttermilk.

Leather Pouch Making

Folks can make a real leather pouch based on an actual find in Heddeby. Anyone can do it, though the very wee ones will probably need their parents help to thread the thongs through the holes. To prepare for this class, we actually cut out the leather circles and punched the holes with awls in advance so kids would not have to do this (see handout for details on this). So in the class all we did was have folks thread the thongs in the leather in the correct sequence then add small wooden beads to the end of the thongs.


The handout is a one-page PDF and it explains how to cut the leather as well as how to thread it: leather-pouch-class

Note: If you teach this class, make sure your leather is not too thick to form into a pouch. Also make sure your thongs are strong enough not to break when pulled tight — some of the thongs we purchased at Pennsic broke when pulled.

Please let us know if you have any questions about these classes. Enjoy!


SCA Artisan Love: Gwenllian Annwyl (+ Cloisonné Tutorial)

8 July 2014

[This is the fourth in a series of articles on SCA artisans who inspire, teach, encourage, and/or make the Society a better place for us all! I learned so much through other artisans while preparing for the A&S Pentathlon, and now it is my turn to shine the love on them, learn more about their craft, and introduce them to you.]


Never underestimate the power of teaching. I first met Lady Gwenllian verch Rhydderch Annwyl at a class I taught on German costuming to the Barony of Red Spears. A few weeks later, as I was perusing the class list for Baron Wars, I saw this:

Gwenllian Annwyl – Intro to Cloisonné
Create a cloisonné enamel piece of your own! Students will be provided with materials to complete a piece. Class limit:15, Time: 3 hrs-ish, Age limit: 15 or with parent supervision, Cost: $20 – includes kit, handout, instructors materials, and use of kiln

I was intrigued by the idea of learning to craft and complete a cloisonné enamel piece, an art form I’ve long admired but felt must be particularly complicated. And she was bringing a kiln, too? This was simply too good not to try. And I did … and it was more amazing than I thought it would be. Gwenllian proved to be an excellent teacher, offering just enough information without overwhelming us, answering all questions cheerfully, and providing everything we needed to create beautiful cloisonne pendants.

And as it turns out, Gwenllian is well educated in the art of enameling. She graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jewelry/Metals/Enamelling, and continues to practice her skills today with cloisonne and decorative metalwork, including a few coronets. But her interests are not limited to these arts — she also enjoys costuming, brewing, calligraphy, illuminations, and heraldry. When I asked her who inspired her to learn more and push herself further, she named Mistress Cerridwyn verch Ioward for her attention to detail and her inspiration to research and pursue the answers to that all-important question,”How were things done in period?”

Not surprisingly, teaching is what Gwenllian loves most about her art. “Mine is an art that looks complicated, but can be fairly easily accomplished in a decent amount of time,” says Gwenllian. “When my students are just SO excited about this awesome shiny thing they’ve made and are just so proud of it, I LOVE it!” And that was certainly my experience — I was so enthralled with the pretty pendant I made in her class that I showed it to anyone and everyone who was willing to look!

Gwenllian’s favorite artifact created so far is the Byzantine-style cloisonné medallion she entered in this year’s Kingdom A&S Competition (and for which she took a first place). “It was a bit tedious,” she confesses, “but so satisfying. And it’s inspired me to do more pieces, try new and more period techniques of firing the enamels, and try to grind my own enamel powders.” Her medallion is really quite delightful, and looks remarkably like those that appeared on the original votive crown of Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium.


To learn more about Gwennlian’s arts, be sure to visit her blog at You’ll find excellent in-progress photos of her Byzantine medallion there. Gwenllian, who has received the Order of the Willow award, is apprenticed to Mistress Helewyse de Birkestad and plans to teach her Cloisonné Enameling class again at Pennsic 43 on August 4th at 5:00 pm and on August 6th at 4:00 pm, both in classroom 4—the class is most definitely worth the three hours and you’ll leave with a simply gorgeous piece of cloisonne with your own design!

How to Make a Cloisonné Pendant

cloisonne-pinterestThis step-by-step tutorial is based on Gwenllian’s class on June 21, 2014 — the photos and steps are those I took at the class. First, what is cloisonné’? The dictionary describes it as enamelwork in which colored areas are separated by thin metal bands fixed edgewise to the ground. The word enamel comes from the Old High German word smelzan (to smelt) via the Old French esmail. The ancient Egyptians applied enamels to pottery and stone objects, and sometimes jewelry, though the last less often than other ancient Middle Eastern cultures. The ancient Greeks, Celts, Georgians, and Chinese also used enamel on metal objects. Leading up to cloisonne in particular though, enamel was at its most important in European art history in the Middle Ages, beginning with the Late Romans and then the Byzantines who began to use cloisonné enamel in imitation of cloisonne inlays of precious stones (Faux stones?! Oh wait, we still do that today). This style was widely adopted by the “barbarian” peoples of Migration Period northern Europe. There are many examples of cloisonne that is very comparable to garnet inlay. The Byzantines then began to use cloisonne more freely to create images, which was also copied in Western Europe.

So let’s make something, shall we? It’s not as hard as it looks.

Cloisonné Enameling Materials:


Step-by-Step Instructions for Cloisonne Enameling:

Choose your design. Start by outlining your copper circle and then draw your design inside it. Keep things simple, as each line means a piece of copper wire. Note that you are not required to have wires around each spot of color, only wires between different colors — this means you can have a color/design to right to the edge without needing wire there.


Follow your chosen design above by bending and cutting the wire to match your lines. Use your pliers and wire cutters for this step. This takes some time to get right — be patient with yourself.


Apply an light brushing of oil to the copper circle, then transfer the wire one piece at a time to the prepared surface of the copper. This will help keep the wires from shifting when you pick it up in the next step.

Fire your piece in the kiln to approximately 1800°F long enough for the clear enamel on the piece to soften enough so that the wires ‘sink’ into the surface. This enamel has a higher melting point, so the wires should not move while firing later colors.


Allow time for the piece to cool sufficiently. The advantage of working with the smaller size is they take a shorter time to cool off. Mine took about 15-20 minutes.


Mix some of an enamel with a small amount of Klyr-fire. Using a small paintbrush, carefully apply the enamel to your piece. Nudge the enamel into position as needed. Continue until you have the enamel colors placed on your piece up to the height of your wire, but not over it. The goal here is to create an even layer of enamel all over the piece, out to the edges. Do not try to cover the cloisons as you will accomplish this on the next few firings, and doing so can make the enamels jump the fence to where you don’t want them.


Let the piece dry completely. Any moisture left may steam or even boil if placed in the kiln and can create issues with your piece. The piece can be placed on top of the kiln however, or in any other hot place to dry faster.

Fire the piece again once it is dry. Place the piece into the kiln and let it fire until the powdered enamel becomes smooth and glassy. Once done, remove the piece from the kiln and set aside to cool.


Repeat steps 6-8 until you have built up enough layers for the surface to be even with the wires. My piece required three applications of enamel. Gwenllian says that another finishing technique is to build up the enamel just over the wire, and stone (sand) it all to one flat surface—start with a stone or coarse sandpaper, and build up to finer grits until it is smooth and polished. Please note this needs to be done as a wet-sanding method because of the glass.


At this point you also have the choice to let your edges keep the oxidized look from firing, or you can file or sand them to the clean copper again, this is up to personal preference. I chose to leave mine as they were since I’d applied the enamel all the way to the edges. You can now loop a bail through the hole and show off your piece.

Here is my completed cloisonne pendant!


Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion with us all, Gwenllian!


Build Your Own Camp Sink With Running Water: Materials and Plans

15 August 2013

Our SCA camp sink

This year’s new SCA camp project was a wood and metal sink with “running” water. We wanted to be able to wash hands and faces, brush teeth, and wash dishes at our personal camp. The brushing teeth part was particularly important! So we made ourselves a relatively simple wooden stand that held a “sink” with “running water.” We didn’t actually have direct access to running water, though, which is what makes this a cool project. We did a test-run of our sink at a weekend event and then used it for two weeks at Pennsic. It worked like a charm, perhaps even better than we thought it would! So now we feel confident to share our plans with the world so you can make one yourself.

How It Works:

Fresh water is kept in a 5-gallon pail, which is then transferred up (with a foot pump) to a simple spigot from which the water flows. The waste water falls into the bowl, down a simple drain, and into a gray (waste) water pail. Very little water is used with this method. We only had to re-fill our fresh water bucket every 4-5 days. Yet thanks to the foot pump, we had a hands-free faucet to get water whenever we needed it. And the nice thing is that our modern pails were hidden by our wooden basin stand — the enclosed stand part is optional, as the wood will definitely add to your cargo load, but it made for a prettier camp.

What You Need:

  • Two 5-gallon pails with lids (available at home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s or Harbor Freight for about $5)
  • Fluid siphon pump (available at Harbor Freight for $5-$7)
  • 10 ft of 3/8″ clear, vinyl tubing (available at Lowe’s for $1.22)
  • 3/8″ brass fittings (available at Lowe’s)
  • Rubber O-ring (available at Lowe’s)
  • Hose clamps (available at Lowe’s)
  • Various pipes and fittings (to suit your needs for the faucet, also at Lowe’s)
  • Hinge (available at Lowe’s)
  • Tennis ball, cut in half
  • Spare wood and dowels (or just buy a 4″ x 1/2″ x 2′ whitewood board and a 3/8″ dowel at Lowe’s)
  • Metal bowl to serve as your basin (available at IKEA for $15).
  • Simple kitchen sink drain (available at Lowe’s for about $9)


  • One 4’x8′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood (Lowe’s)
  • Wood stain and polyeurethane (Lowe’s)
  • Metallic copper spray paint to make the pipes look nicer (Lowe’s)
  • Cotton or linen material for the curtains to cover the buckets (old cotton sheet)
  • Mirror to hang (old mirror I already had)
  • Little pails to keep toothbrushes and soap in (IKEA)
  • Glass bottles to keep dishwashing soap in (IKEA)

All told, the camp sink cost us about $100 in materials. If you choose not to use the optional materials, specifically the wood stand, it’s only about $60-$65 and your metal bowl rests right in the top of your gray water pail (without the pail’s lid on).


  • Power drill
  • Saw
  • Router (optional)
  • CNC Router (optional)

The Sink Plans:

First, you need to put together the sink and get the water to flow up through the tube. We used the basic instructions at for assembling the tubes, pump, and pails. Changes we made were at steps 4-6 (we didn’t use another pail as our basin, but a metal bowl with a hole drilled in the bottom into which we fit the kitchen sink drain). Steps 8-9 were also skipped in favor of our wood stand (see below). Step 10 was also changed — we attached pipes to the top of our wood stand and then fed the clear plastic tubing up into the pipes (all the way to the end of the last pipe).

The Stand Plans:

We made the wood stand to disguise all the modern bits. It packs flat (with the exception of the pipes, pails, and bowl) and is assembled with mortise and tenon keys. Here is the cutting plan for one 4’x8′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood:

Cutting diagram for wood sink stand (click to see closer)

And here is a PDF (CampSinkSImple) for a clearer view. We are also happy to send you the Adobe Illustrator file with all the vectors, if you want a better look or want to use it on a CNC router. E-mail genoveva (dot) von (dot) lubeck [at] gmail (dot} com.

The pieces go together quite simply. Use the tenon keys in the mortise holes to keep it all together securely. It is very stable — the sink actually went through a huge storm with 60+ mph winds and suffered no harm at all (it didn’t even tip over).

Here we are trying our camp sink for the first time at Baron Wars:

The camp sink in action!

And here’s the pails and pump underneath:

Blue pail is freshwater; gray pail is dirty water

And here is our camp sink as set up at Pennsic 42, after about a week or so of use.


Camp sink under our shade fly at Pennsic

Things to Consider:

  • We had some issues with the woodcutting on the CNC router and did not re-cut due to time. Basically, I’d forgotten that the mortise holes should be cut on the INSIDE of the line, not the outside. Our mortise holes were too large and a couple broke (and our tenon keys did not fit properly). I may re-cut it in the future, though for now it’s still functional. I’ll probably wait until the wood shows signs of age and then replace it. Thankfully, a sheet of plywood is only about $40, so it won’t cost too much.
  • The pump needs to be primed (step down on it a few times to get it going), and then the water must be pumped for each squirt. This wasn’t a problem, and it certainly saved water, but it’s good to know if you want to make this. So the water doesn’t run so much as squirt out, unless you’re pumping quickly.
  • Wood is heavy. Probably obvious, but when you’ve got a lot of wood furniture as we do, it adds up. I LOVED having the sink with us at Pennsic, but I feel like I need to reduce the weight of my existing things if I’m to add anything new. I think that this sink could be done with 1/2″ plywood instead, but I won’t be sure until I try it. I’m thinking I could also make more and larger cut-outs on the sides and the back to reduce weight. If weight is also an issue for you, consider doing this as well. Also the back where the mirror hangs is really only there so we could hang a mirror and could also be eliminated if weight (or space) were an issue.

If you need more photos of any part of our sink, or details on where we found something, just ask! And if you make a camp sink, tell us about it — we’d love to hear what you did. Many thanks to hpstoutarrow at for posting the water pump idea!

Note: Our wood plans are free to anyone who freely distributes them (no selling please) — we ask only that we be notified and credited.

Pennsic: We Will Never Forget — A Recounting by a First-Time Visitor, Carolyn J. Tody

25 April 2013

The author keeping cool at Pennsic

by Carolyn J. Tody

(Carolyn is Genoveva’s mother. Pennsic 41 was her first SCA event. This is a recounting of her experiences and adventures at Pennsic.)

Fifteen thousand participants from around the world began to filter into the mile-long encampment in western Pennsylvania. Ahead of them opened a portal to a magical time capsule. Inside lay a ticket to travel back to the Middle Ages.

Sighing with satisfaction, Lady Genoveva von Lübeck looked back at her encampment. It was an enchanted place. The enormous rainfly gave her a private outdoor living space spanning two round canvas pavilions and the portable wooden furniture she created over the past year. Even so, she wanted to do more. In the meantime, she walked through the turreted castle arch that served as an entry to the Barony of Cynnabar’s camp at Pennsic.

Genoveva stared in amazement as she walked through the Pennsic War historical village. Although this was only her second year at Pennsic, it was the forty-first anniversary for historical reenactment.

For thousands each year, this became a secret world, a retreat from the pace of modern life to another time and place. More experienced reenactors had as many as forty years of attendance. Each day brought new participants from around the globe. Their clothing and campsites largely reflected the period of medieval life occurring worldwide between 600 and 1600 A.D.

Yesterday, the earth was bare as far as the eye could see. Over here was a permanent camp store and an office; over there was an open barn. Today, a medieval community was rising. A global village was forming. This paradoxical new world was growing daily. Homespun wearing apparel and makeshift armor was juxtaposed against the occasional hidden cell phone linking its owner to the twenty first century technological age.

Genoveva in her new gown

It still seemed a bit surreal for Genoveva in her second year. She wandered through, looking at each section of the campground. Marketplaces and eateries sprang into existence. Long-established kingdoms breathed life into their compounds. Castle gates and reviewing stands sprang from their components. An even more complex marketplace rose. Vendors set up awnings with historical displays of pottery, clothing and other accessories from every corner of the globe.

Pennsic University and its related colleges staked their massive tents near the heart of the marketplace. An entire book was published to list every class offered over the two week event.

Emergency services brought in ambulances and created a sprinkler system to cool the overheated, listing daily temperatures and heat indices along with warnings on a large sign at the site. Gatekeepers set up booths to validate in and out traffic. Handicapper services did likewise, issuing ECV passes and limited vicinity parking as an alternative to the massive, yet distant hillside.

Administrators took their places. Volunteers at a location they called “Troll,” the registration pavilion, entered data on specially outfitted iPads and distributed two huge, printed directory guides to each newcomer. A medieval world began to emerge.

For Genoveva, this modern ‘old world’ bore some similarity to the Disney resorts to which she was accustomed. It was complex and otherworldly, yet vastly different and historical in every sense. The olde world became  tangible. It was awesome.

Watching Pennsic battle

And so it was into this magical environment that I entered as Genoveva’s invited guest. The evening was dark even though it still quite early, and I had driven far to find this campground outside of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. As I motored along the entry road, an unexpectedly new and surrealistic lifestyle emerged. I realized that I would learn more here than the eagerly anticipated Pennsic University classes on fiber arts, earthen kilns, silk painting, and the ancient art of Japanese calligraphy. My class list expanded. So did my camping survival skills.

Although the vast Pennsic historical village seemed new to me at first, my vast background helped me relate, as it always does. A few years before, I had lived on property at another global village, known fondly as the Disney World complex. At the time, this entertainment giant offered widespread historical elements. With an educational leave from my professional career in my pocket and a ‘for sale’ sign in front of the house, I accepted an invitation from Disney University to intern in theme park management. Even though I was a decade or two older than some of the participants, I chose the immersion experience to live with roommates from Norway, United Kingdom, France, and Washington State rather than live offsite. In part, this meant sharing a room with a night owl and navigating my own daily commute to classes, on stage presences, and professional casting, sometimes riding a shuttle bus along with characters half in and out of costume. So, after being dropped by a shuttle at the airlock entrance to the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom, I navigated my way on foot, dodging pargo forklift trucks until I reached Costuming, where I donned my new street length outfit and wove in and out of pargos again until I located the particular stairway ascending into my ‘onstage’ role.

Disney University designed the classes, even though I reported directly to MSU. Besides studying business and joining Disney Management trainees in special DM development opportunities, I toured developing attractions in steel toe shoes and a hard hat, attended “evenings with” the directors of Imagineering, Animation, Audioanimatronics and others. At one point, my own interdisciplinary team designed a new restaurant for Space Mountain and presented it in costume to the theme park Vice Presidents. Other opportunities came through VoluntEars, Give Kids the World, ToastMousters and assisting in the development of the Spectromagic parade.

During each of my dinner breaks in the Magic Kingdom Tunnel’s own Cinderella Cafeteria, entrenched employees would seek my attention as a role model for change and ask how to live their own dreams. I hadn’t realized this would happen, but happily encouraged and coached them in the necessary action steps until they moved with great momentum into their dream careers.  I, on the other hand, barely rested during long months of enjoying my survival in this 24/7 world that never slept.

During that experience, Olde World Antiques in Liberty Square commanded a large part of my Disney presence. Sharing the Silversmith building and located directly across the moat from Cinderella Castle, the antique shop broadened my horizons with visitors from around the world. From here, I often joined in spectacular media events after regular park hours and watched presidents and media moguls venture next door to eat at the Liberty Tree Tavern. European antiques filled this shop. Silver items hallmarked during the Middle Ages featured maker marks that the buyer taught me to read. Vintage jewelry filled display cabinets. Capistrano porcelain chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Artists demonstrated their unique specialties. I mixed many different perfumes from essential oils using an ancient book of recipes, bottling them in replica containers bearing the stamp of antiquity.

Least of all, I liked the silence of the Annex. More than once, as I stood here in costume behind the Annex podium, guests jumped in shock after mistaking me for one of the antique dolls lining the shelves behind my stand. But I did not have to worry; decorated masks, dolls, and vintage bears kept me under their constant vigil as I began to write on 2″ x 3″ break slips ~ at first, poetry about moonbeams dancing along the bridge to Cinderella Castle; then, about my frustration at being confined behind lacy curtains and not outside playing in the sun with guests; and finally, a story about the adventures of antique dolls escaping into the tunnels at night which thus began my current series.

My favorite visitor in the otherwise boring Annex setting was a Brazilian doctor, who closed his clinic for the first time to attend his daughter’s wedding; our fascinating conversation lasted over an hour. Another visitor was a British woman who invited me to visit her estate in England, because “we women must stick together.” During my daily commute through this vast, complex property, my internship experience became a less and less surreal immersion into a new world.

Now, here I was at Pennsic, entering a new “Olde” world. As I soon discovered, the international Pennsic War event annually draws participants from across the globe. Hosted by SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism is an international ‘living history’ group aiming to study and recreate medieval culture prior to the 17th century, primarily European. SCA provides participants with a way to learn beyond the textbook. The organization reenacts the richly detailed past from its current world headquarters at Coopers Lake in Butler County, Pennsylvania, a state richly steeped in history. “Pennsic” is a combination of ‘Pennsylvania’ and ‘Punic War.’

Since modern times spring from the past, knowing from whence we came can be of great help when attempting to understand the present and plan for the future. Pennsic kingdoms attempt to replicate the medieval period without a measure of the treachery, disease and otherwise harmful elements occurring during the Middle Ages. In this way, Pennsic reflects strong values in art and science, chivalry, heraldry, and valor found in various Period societies.

Chivalrous action unfolds in the heart of the Kingdom of Aethelmarc, which is one of nineteen SCA kingdoms throughout the world. My home state of Michigan is in the Middle Kingdom, and stretches from Kentucky to a portion of Ontario, Canada. Other Kingdoms include Atlantia, Meridies, Gleann Abhann, Ealdormere, Ansteorra, Calontir, Drachemwald, An Tir, West, Caid, Lochac, Artemisia, East, AEthelmearc, Trimaris, Northshield, Outlands, and Atenveldt.

During the Pennsic gathering, participants dressed in period apparel gather to socialize and shop, as well as craft, learn new arts, and indulge in the sport of honorable combat. No real conflict exists between the kingdoms. For the sake of calling it a “war,” though, the participants do pick competitive sides but only in a spirit of fun and friendship. In fact, friendly people provide the main attraction for participants whether they are returning for the first or for the twentieth time.

In most kingdoms, new kings and queens are chosen every six months after holding an arms tournament to select the winner. In turn, kings and queens recognize people for their service, arts, and marshal prowess.

Titles are taken seriously. You may be a Lady or a Lord, a Baron or a Baroness, a Duke or a Knight, a King or Queen, but there are no peasants; everyone is respected as nobility. Participation is growing. Currently 9,000 to 15,000 global participants attend annually, regularly averaging between 10,000 and 11,000. Foreign guests quite often attend from such countries as Sweden, France, Italy, Germany, and Greece in Europe, Japan, Australia, and occasionally the Middle East, among others.

During the second week of encampment, four major battles occur. Contenders compete early on in the Town Battle for “last man standing.” In addition, the Bridge Battle and Champions Battle yield their “best” from each battle. Melee provides an opportunity for team combat.

High safety standards are imposed throughout. Combat is a chivalrous sport. Good armor and excellent sportsmanship make the use of single and two-handed “weapons” less dangerous than the game of football. Moreover, this remains true even during the excitement of hand-to-hand combat involving hundreds. There are many different types of siege weapons, including broadswords, maces, and nine foot long spears. Some combatants also enjoy using archery equipment or other smaller specialty equipment. Well before the battle sports begin, all weapons and armor are rigorously inspected, weaknesses are corrected to specification, and passed for use.

At the beginning of the War, teams choose their allies with an attempt to keep each side as even as possible. A battle plan is formed. Combatants in this sport are fighting for their Kingdom or household. Combatants practice, often warming up in pairs or units. Teams and units are varied. The lesser skilled Baronial Levy Units perform in large blocks, consisting of newer members or those who attend once a year. Elite units perform more complex maneuvers.

Marshals are present to ensure safety, but not necessarily to referee. Pennsic uses an honor system to determine its winners. Players are on their honor to say, “I was inflicted with a “kill action,” a hard enough blow to a certain area of the body to kill a person if this were a real battle.” The action may knock them to their knees, where they fight from that stance. They are also “killed” if they are hit in an appendage hard enough to lose an arm or leg.

There is a great deal at Pennsic to interest a newcomer. Clothing alone is enough to set in place a sense of the medieval world. Many outfits are highly elaborate; a great deal of talent attends this event, and many make their own apparel. If desired, there are also commercial outlets offering the components.

Numerous items are used to denote achievement. White belts, worn by Knights, are considered to be ‘black belts’ of the sport, an achievement usually accomplished only after seven to ten long years of training. Various crowns convey a bevy of different meanings. Kingdoms and Baronies award special medallions. Artistically illuminated certificates are completed by hand, then personalized in ancient calligraphy to acknowledge a new level of achievement.

Participants are motivated to attend in ways too numerous to comprehensively list. Some people enjoy the combat. Others like to be part of a group learning fascinating historical insights. Another prime draw is found in experiencing new techniques in arts, crafts, and science. Camping is also a sport many enjoy. But overall, people come to meet new friends or reunite with those they already know.

Newcomers can watch a tremendous amount of developing activity as it unfolds. On any given battle day, a tremendous amount of pageantry occurs when uniformed units form into lines and march onto the battlefield carrying banners. Spectators will hear the clash of weapons and shields. Most agree, however, that the most exciting time for an outsider is at the end of the event when the Friday Field battle ensues. At this time, large units collide, moving in mass to make or break the day.

In addition to happenings already mentioned, there are occasional stage performances. The Known World Players is one group that encompasses actors from all of the Kingdom chapters within the SCA, including parts of the world that were known to exist during the Medieval period. Players are auditioned and cast a year before coming together to direct a play, which at Pennsic XLI was “Anne of a Thousand Days.”

There are also art and craft demos, primarily Blacksmith. Goods produced are not sold but smiths may entertain a barter or exchange of goods.

Lady Genoveva felt that her campsite bore improvement over her first year of attendance, when she crowded herself into a borrowed pavilion. Now she owns two. For the next few days of the event, I shared one of those pavilions with my seven-year old grandson and several dividing curtains. My space contained a closet rod, chair, and nice camping cot, which I made extra comfortable with an air mattress and a memory foam mattress folded in half. His portion of the pavilion contained a small canvas ‘Kidcot’ bed covered in a blue tent that enclosed the sleeping child. The remaining space in the pavilion was given over to an entryway with shelves and hanging organizers for storage.

Our two pavilions and shade fly with furniture

The morning after my arrival, I ventured out to view other campsites in our Barony. As I later came to understand, each Kingdom is a regional club within the greater SCA organization. Many of them had well-established territorial encampments around the vast campground.

Our site was located at the front of the Barony near a castle entry arch. I was surprised to discover that after assembling our pavilions, my grandson and Genoveva’s friend Gregor had dug the Barony firepit in front of our site. Actually, our campsite was in front of the firepit. Either way, I appreciated conversations shared around social centers in the encampment.

Our camp master assembled several helpful features in advance. Most prominent among them was a vast community awning and nearby hot and cold running water for a sink in the kitchen tent, water that was filtered three times for drinking. But what surprised me the most was an enclosed, open air shower tent with adjoining dressing room. Later that evening, I realized I could take a shower under the stars. The only drawback to the entire camp arrangement was a shared bank of portable bathrooms that sat just outside the entry to our Barony. Entering those on a hot summer day was akin to roasting in a sauna at my gym.

Several of the Cynnabar tents rose to a twenty foot high peak similar to “Genoveva Pavilion,” although others were square or domed. One was artistically handmade. Another was the ‘EZ up’ variety of awning with customized canvas sides.

Genoveva and Gregor had created the massive canvas rainfly supported by striped poles that spanned the front of  their pavilions and created a fine outdoor living space. The intense sun was no match for our shelter. Although it only rained on one of the days I visited, we were well protected during this horrific, battering assault. Under the rainfly, she assembled a dishwashing station and furniture she had built to fit together without the benefit of glue or nails, which included a six-foot table and four benches. Two high back chairs completed the group, one painted with her crest and the other featuring my grandson’s crest. Between them on the ground lay a large, Persian-style rug.

Her cozy interior contained a modular queen bed. Hats hung on hooks slung from the supports, as did canvas slings to hold shelves. Other features included a makeshift vanity table and desk. I was impressed to see her open a freestanding canvas closet and take out five costumes to lend me from many new ones she had sewn over the past year. There was also room for period clothing she made for Alexander and for Gregor, who was about to join us with his SCA-approved armor, ‘weapons,’ and a measure of chivalrous heraldry.

Even under this rainfly, summer temperatures mounted. Ice replacement became a daily chore using a collapsible borrowed wagon. Alexander chose to help out in this category with very little assistance, and this year he will be surprised to see that I purchased one for permanent use in the camp.

The S'more Cake

I stayed long enough for Alexander to celebrate his eighth birthday. Baking a cake in camp was challenging, so without prodding he designed a S’more cake constructed from marshmallows. On top of this we drizzled melted chocolate over graham crackers. We lost our birthday candles and instead lit toothpicks. The Baroness made a surprise visit to present him with his first scout knife which he stored in his treasure chest. Overall this was a very special celebration.

Soon, knights began to shine their armor and seek inspections for their weaponry. Some purchased new protective gear or replaced weaker armor for a safer experience. A vast array of ethnic flair appeared, including many outfits featuring chainmail. Feathered hats and shining helmets looked distinctively diverse, yet somehow provided symmetry to the field of color that flooded battlefield viewing stations.

A reenactment was underway. At home in the mundane world, however, a workweek was ending. New participants arrived to erect their campsites. Soon the Barony was so full that I could barely wind my way between tents to reach the open air shower in the evening.

My days were full. At a minimum, I joined classes and ate dinner with my family in the marketplace, shopping a little along the way. Fresh produce and other healthy foods were available for purchase among the abundance of period merchandise and crafted objects. I had plenty of opportunity to linger and talk too long with new acquaintances, but very little truly quiet time to write or practice any of a various array of my usual arts. We should all be so lucky.

At night, I occasionally watched Alexander as respectful social parties began to blossom all around the encampment honoring their Kings and Queens. Our campfire attracted an amazing number of fascinating storytellers from across our entire Barony.

When I left several days later, I took home fond memories shared with others, and incredible insights into the world that existed before my time. Spending time with family was my main motive for attending before I time traveled into the past. I found much more, however, after my daughter introduced me to Pennsic and the SCA, where I met interesting friends, other published authors, and artists who were expert in their specialties.

My insider peek at Genoveva’s glorious creations was satisfying. Among those especially highlighted were her classes, Art and Sciences exhibition booth, and pavilion. There were also many other classes I journeyed through as well as my first battle reenactment intermingling thousands of combatants wearing finely crafted armor.

One of Genoveva's blackwork students showing her work!

Genoveva is now a blackwork enthusiast. She is a period seamstress and maker of fine millinery. As Pennsic University opened its doors, she taught a well-received blackwork class. For the rest of that week, students sought our camp to show us finished work and earn the ultimate prize: a set of tools to fill the class project in the wooden box she bestowed upon them. A week later, she joined the many fascinating presenters who represented each historical period at the arts and sciences show, with her booth featuring a blackwork head covering and period garments. It was here at her booth that the local channel 10 television crew covering Pennsic XVI filmed an interview with Genoveva. Naturally, I filmed the crew filming her. But overall, it was fascinating to learn about arts and methods practiced during various historical periods.

I received other gifts during my stay. My daughter customized for me a large “platter” hat as protection from the sun. She fashioned this avant-garde, flat-brimmed hat from black wool, trimming it with feathers and dragonfly cutwork as a practical aspect of German period fashion in the sixteenth century. Her own red platter hat received nodding approvals whenever she wore it to marketplace. Returning from an errand one day, three artists asked her to sit while they sketched her.  I too benefited from her artistry because, as we walked along together laughing, a gentleman smiled and tipped his hat to me in the style of a bygone era.

Gregor in his German garb

Our peak experience arrived when Gregor joined us in Pennsylvania. He was tall and carried his armor bravely into battle, looking wonderful in a feathered platter hat. She also made him a new shirt with complex upper sleeves that were both folded and pleated.

We spent a day or two preparing for the first battle reenactment. When the time came for the first of five battles, the Barony of Cynnabar’s company of thirty joined the Middle Kingdom procession to the battlefield. Music played, drums beat, and banners flew. Our colors were red, black, and white. Over my long red dress, I wore a crested, cross-body banner (baldric) from right shoulder to left hip. I held my long skirt up to avoid tripping, using the same hand that held a parasol aloft as a sun shield. In my other hand I held a pewter goblet but my huge feathered hat dropped down, obscuring my eyes so that I had to push it higher with the water glass sloshing over as we enjoyed the thrill of partaking in pageantry.

With taller contenders marching ahead, I could only see Gregor’s armor and huge feathered hat moving through the camp. Eventually, we ended at the field for pre-battle pictures; that was when Gregor turned around to step into the picture. Genoveva caught sight of the reenactment spirit reflected in his and others’ eyes as we waited for the battle to begin. For as long as I live, and probably longer, I will never forget the surge of beautifully armored men and women recreating history before my eyes.

The first battle of Pennsic XLI occurred on Monday, my last day at the camp. I left the next day to bring Alexander home. This year, Genoveva was Chamberlain to her Highness. Next year, the keyword is ‘more.’ She created a blog to feature articles about reconstructing sixteenth century clothing, and suggested an adjoining table with my artwork at the Arts & Sciences Display. In the future, she plans to meet and help more people who enjoy the event.

She has also begun to make more things, the first of which is a castle privacy screen. She hopes her queen will find this very helpful.

By 2013, she will make a wagon and cool garb. Her pavilion will have new finials, banners, and a mirrored vanity. Gregor will enjoy a portable chair and an armor stand. Alexander looks forward to learning more about tools and the discipline of knightly period valor for children. He enjoys a good blacksmith demo and anything involving engineering.

As for me, I’m researching the period aspects of miniature replicas, figurative clay, painting, fiber, and writing. I haven’t decided which to pursue, but am happy for a few months without the nightly temptation of delicious dinner with family at Beast & Boar. Next year, I will be skinny and join Alexander in eating stirfry.

Author at the Arts & Sciences Display

Level Up to Our Second Pennsic: Even Better Than Last Year!

15 August 2012

We’ve done it — we’re now level 2 in the SCA! How do we figure that? If we can survive our second Pennsic, we deserve to level up!

Pennsic last year was epic, but this year was even better! We remembered all sorts of promises and goals we’d set last year after various incidents, including:

Shopping at Pennsic

  • We brought more garb! We both had more stuff to wear. AND this year we set up a proper laundry station and clothesline behind our pavilions, so we could wash things during war … made a big difference! Alas, we still need more. Next year we’ve set a goal of having more Pennsic-appropriate garb, which for us means more linen shirts/smocks and doublets/gowns.
  • We used our space better! Last year we borrowed a 14×14 Regency that was just too small for the three of us. This year we purchased TWO 12 ft. round pavilions that we setup side-by-side — one for us, and the other one for my son and my mother. MUCH better! I had my own little space which no one ever need enter where I managed to put in a small desk and vanity, and I was ever so much happier.
  • We improved our beds. While we used the same double bed as last year, I did NOT bring the cotton futon nor the cotton sheets — last year they held moisture and I was miserable at night. Instead, I brought several foam pads (one camp pad and two pillowtop pads) all covered by microfiber sheets — such a difference! The bed was always dry and comfy. And Alexander has a special “KidCot” with a tent over it — keeps him off the ground (dry) and enclosed (warm and bug-free).
  • We did more. I made it to the A&S Display (awesome), taught an embroidery class, and experienced my first Pennsic Party. Gregor fought in EVERY battle this year (so proud of him). And we were Head Retainers for Their Highnesses, and as a result, we saw new sights.

That said, we still have a fairly long list of things we want to improve upon or make for next year, which I will record here in the hopes we remember!

One of my blackwork class students

  • Leave earlier! We left at 11:00 am, but we should have left before 9:00 am. We had to set the second pavilion up in the dark.
  • Pick classes in advance. I didn’t attend classes early on because I was too distracted, so by the time I was ready, there wasn’t much I wanted to take (except for one class, A Tale of Two Aprons, which was cancelled!)
  • Teach more classes. At least two, if not three. This is such a fantastic opportunity to meet people. Which leads me to my big one…
  • Meet more people! My darned shyness is always getting in the way here, but this is such a great place to meet new people, and I really need to try harder. I want to go to more parties next year, introduce myself to more people, and get more involved. It’s so easy to feel lost in the crowd, and only I can remedy that.
  • Help more. Everyone seemed to think that being Their Highnesses’ Chamberlain was “enough,” but it wasn’t … I wanted to be more involved and be more helpful. I suspect this will come in time. Last year I had nothing to do, and I remember being really bummed about that, and I went home and fixed it by volunteering for various things. So this year I had more, but I still felt like I had more to give.
  • Make more stuff. Things we want to make by next year include: a break-down wagon, a vanity with drawers, mirror, and small bowl, an armor stand, another chair for Gregor, more cool garb, and finials and banners for our pavilions.

Highlights of this year at Pennsic include:

Gregor looked great!

  • Marching out to the field twice with Cynnabar, music playing, drums beating, banners flying … just love this.
  • Welcoming Gregor back after every battle.
  • Being interviewed by Channel 10 during the A&S Display.
  • Introducing my mom to both Pennsic and the Society!
  • Discovering that one of my class students had a connection with me in the mundane world, and neither of us knew it!
  • Going to a party with Ceara and sharing some of Straum’s meat … (get your mind out of the gutter!)
  • Watching my 7-year-old haul 130 lbs. of ice back to camp by himself. So proud of him!
  • Having good enough garb that I got compliments and photos taken of me
  • Being sketched by three lovely ladies in the market … quite delightful!
  • Getting the Award of the Tower’s Foundation from my Barony, our mid-level award for service … wow!
  • Going to bed early and getting up late … 😉
  • Retaining for Their Highnesses when two lords were made into knights and watching their faces …. I cried!
  • Being able to help Their Highnesses and Their Excellencies during court
  • Rounding up retainers, scheduling them, and giving them little tokens as thank-yous … my first time doing this and it went smoothly.
  • Shopping with Her Highness one afternoon … the crowds parted for us!
  • Watching it hail … and having our pavilions and shadefly weather the storm!
  • Drinking mudslides with the ladies in camp!
  • Getting a pity beer from Hjorlief while out “wandering” with Ceara

    Watching the Midrealm Dragon Kite above the field

  • Seeing the gorgeous dragon kite flying above the battlefield
  • Wearing striped stocks the ENTIRE war!
  • Sitting with my creations at the A&S Display … what fun!
  • Marveling at how good Gregor looked in his doublet, his hat, and his new helmet.
  • Celebrating Alexander’s 8th birthday with a ‘smore cake of his own creation, complete with lighted toothpicks for candles!
  • Being of help to my fellow campmates in various ways … love being helpful!
  • Dancing under the shadefly during the big thunderstorm that popped up during Drunken Court
  • Receiving Eggbert, a little green knitted dragon from Gregor <3

Suffice it to say we had a wonderful time. We were sad to see it end and we can’t wait for next year!!

Our Epic Pennsic: Videos, Photos, and Memories!

20 August 2011

We’re home from our first Pennsic War! The Midrealm didn’t win, but we certainly feel like victors! We successfully prepared, survived, and enjoyed a 10-day long SCA event/camping trip filled with both amazing and challenging events. If you want just the highlights, check out this short video I made of our “Epic Pennsic” — it even has a soundtrack and some battle footage.

As is to be expected, our Pennsic was not perfect. But I believe strongly that mistakes can be the best path to success (if you learn from them!) so it’s all okay. Here are the bumps in the road we encountered:

  • Strapping stuff to our car rack was NOT easy! We’d chosen to put our futon up there and it kept flapping up when we got up to highway speeds. We had to stop three times to re-strap it, and that put us behind schedule. Solution for next Pennsic: Buy or rent a small trailer so we don’t have to put stuff on the roof!
  • Arriving too late in the day to set up camp before dark! This was related to the point above, as stopped to re-strap really slowed us down. Solution for next Pennsic: Plan to leave by at least 9:00 am.
  • Putting the tarp under the canvas pavilion as if it was a modern nylon tent with a floor resulted in a moat around the inside perimeter of our tent after a rainfall on the first night. It was sprinkling and getting dark fast when we arrived, and we didn’t understand that the tarp had to go OVER the edges of the pavilion so that the rain would run off the canvas into the ground, not into the tarp. Had we not been pressed for time when setting up, we could have probably figured that out. This is one of those cascading issues. But we learned fast! Solution for next Pennsic: Set the tarp up the right way to start with, and think carefully about where water will go when it lands on the canvas.
  • Not enough garb! Gregor laughed when I told him I thought we needed at least one outfit for each day. He changed his tune once we got to Pennsic. We need more! Doing laundry was too time-consuming. Solution for next Pennsic: Try to have at least one outfit for each day PLUS a few extra for clothing changes due to heat, humidity, or rain.

That list isn’t so bad, really! Much worse things could have happened, such as my painter’s canvas shade fly collapsing due to all the rain. But, amazingly, it stayed up for the entire time and provided MUCH needed shade. I am glad I took a chance on that, but next year we’ll have a proper shade fly that keeps out water, too.

Some of my personal highlights of Pennsic XL are:

  • Retaining for the king, His Majesty King Arch, immediately after Opening Ceremonies. I’d never retained before, so I totally winged it … and it worked out fine. I got to see the Heroic Belted Champions Battle and Belted Champions Battle up close. I got to see the broken arrow that starts the war! I got to see Her Majesty Queen Runa give out awards (tokens?) to the Belted Champions on the field. It was a terrifying but thrilling experience for me! Definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing.
  • Camping with Cynnabar. Everyone was kind and welcoming, and helped us feel like part of the group. The showers were awesome, as were evenings around the fire. And my son even had another 7-year-old to play with, which I wasn’t expecting. Cynnabar was also VERY convenient to shopping, food, and the battles — a really prime spot. We are very fortunate!
  • Going to a vigil for a knight-to-be with Their Excellencies, Cynnabar’s Baron and Baroness. They invited us along one evening, which we really appreciated. So not only did we get a chance to speak with them for an extended period, during which they patiently and candidly answered our questions about the SCA, but we also were able to witness a vigil. Very cool!
  • Seeing all my camp furniture in action. Everything worked and stood up to the rain, wind, dew, and heavy use we gave it. That made me feel great!
  • Volunteering for guard duty at the Midrealm Royal Encampment. We did it twice, and it helped us newbies feel like we were involved and useful. I highly recommend this for other newcomers.
  • Walking with Gregor when he was in his full plate armor. This was an unexpected experience. I mean, yeah, I thought he looked cool, but I didn’t realize how unusual his armor was until people stopped and stared, took pictures, and gave him kudos. It was a little like walking with a celebrity. He did look really good!
  • Talking a stroll at twilight around Pennsic. Gregor and I went exploring one evening and walked down around the lake. There was a mist everywhere and it was pure magic. At one point when we’d paused to stare across the lake at the encampments, a woman stopped to tell us how she and her husband stopped every year on that exact spot to take it in, and how she and her husband had met at Pennsic 20 years ago.
  • The Cynnabar’s Got Talent show. Lots of fun, but let’s just say that Ermenrich is lucky Gregor didn’t challenge him in defense of my honor. Ha ha. ‘Nuff said. 🙂
  • Getting my first SCA award — the Award of Elephant’s Heart! This was totally unexpected and it made me really happy!

I could go on and on, but then I’ll never get any new blog posts up. So I’ll just end it here with some of my favorite photos. And this …. I can’t wait for next Pennsic!

Gregor ready for inspection before war

The OTHER Cynnabar Shield Wall

The Pennsic Battle Horn blowing at the start of the field battle

Gregor on Midrealm Royal Encampment guard duty

Encamped at Pennsic: Rainy Days, Shopping Sprees, and Quiet Nights

5 August 2011

We did it — we made it to Pennsic, got everything setup, and have begun to enjoy all our hard work in preparing for this event. I am currently back at home, as I am returning my son back home for his birthday party tomorrow. I’ll return sans kid tomorrow or Sunday for war week at Pennsic. Gregor is still at Pennsic, holding down the pavilion! At least I think he is — without his cell phone, we can’t keep in touch. I look forward to returning to him as soon as I can.

Setting up our encampment wasn’t really fun, to be honest. We arrived at 5:30 pm and it got dark pretty fast. Especially when we learned we had to move our pavilion after we had it set up already (there needed to be a walkway beside our tent but we hadn’t been told until after the pavilion went up). Then it began to sprinkle. So once the pavilion was set up, we moved on to putting the bed together … only to discover the bed had been packaged without its hardware. Ugh. We dragged everything in from the rain and slept on our futon and air mattress. It rained hard during the night. When we woke, we discovered water all around the inside edges of the pavilion. The carpet was wet, the futon was wet, almost everything was either damp or wet. We hadn’t realized we had to put the tent OVER the mud flaps. It seems so obvious now, but we were very tired when we arrived, and it was dark and wet!

The next day (Thursday) we went to get food at the Wal-Mart then drove to IKEA in Pittsburgh to get the hardware for the bed. Turns out they didn’t have all the hardware, so we just bought a new $50 bed. But … it was worth it. I should be able to return the bad bed later after Pennsic. For now we do have a bed and it’s very nice not to sleep on the ground!

We also set up our homemade shade fly on Thursday — it’s just two canvas dropcloths sewn together, grommetted, and held up on poles with ropes. It’s working, and keeping the sun off us. And it was a little windy yesterday and survived. But I am worry what will happen if it rains. A proper shade fly is on the list of things we need for next time!

The camp chairs, table, and benches I made are all working great. I’m very pleased I took the time to make them! They aren’t amazing works of art, but they are sturdy and functional, and that makes me a happy camper.

It seems like it took us the better part of two days to setup, but really it was probably more like a day and a half. Let’s hope we do better next time! Everyone was tired and grumpy by the end of it. But … it was worth it. The encampment is now setup and looks great. I look forward to returning to it!

There’s so much more to write, but I need to do laundry and see if I can’t sew a few things before I return tomorrow. So watch for more of our report on Pennsic when we return! In the meantime, here are some of the photos I’ve taken so far…

Finding Camp Cynnabar at Pennsic ... this is the signpost at the end of our road.

My son Alexander walks (runs?) toward the Gates of Camp Cynnabar at Pennsic!

Gregor stands in front of Camp Cynnabar's gates at Pennsic.

Our encampment within Camp Cynnabar at Pennsic. Gregor is painting his shield here.

The silk standard Gregor painted (dyed?) for me at our encampment. You can see the Cynnabar gates behind it!

Our camp chairs at Pennsic ... so happy I made these! It's great to have a nice place to sit.

Our trestle table and benches at Pennsic. Also very handy!

A look down one of the rows to tents at Camp Cynnabar!

Camp Cynnabar's common tent and firepit. You can see the kitchen tent behind them.

My little pirate at Pennsic!

Our encampment at twilight, taken from inside our pavilion looking out. I was putting Alexander to sleep when I snapped this shot. I love this photo!

Shopping at Pennsic

About to eat an epic sandwich in the food court at Pennsic

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