Posts Tagged sca

Reflections Upon Becoming a Laurel Vigilant (It’s About Time)

13 January 2016
Genoveva-Vigilant

Me being placed on vigil to join the Order of the Laurel at Pentamere 12th Night on January 9, 2016 (Photo by THL Eva vanOldeBroek)

On Saturday, a significant and pivotal event occurred along my winding path in the SCA. I was invited to join the Order of the Laurel and placed on vigil. For those unfamiliar with this, it is the Society for Creative Anachronism’s highest honor for excellence and mastery in the arts. I am deeply honored to have been chosen to join the Order and I am greatly looking forward to “being a Laurel” and furthering the arts in our Society.

As you might imagine, I am still processing what this means, how I feel about it, and my intentions for my vigil and elevation to the Order. This will likely take me some time. I am definitely the “still waters run deep” sort of person.

There is one matter I would like to address now, however, and that is a sense by some of my dear friends that this was long overdue, that they were surprised it didn’t happen before now, and, well, it’s ABOUT TIME. For those who said this to me, I appreciate your kind words and I understand your sentiment, but I respectfully disagree on those points all save one: it really is about time. But not for the reason you might think.

As a member of the general populace, my perception of when someone was ready to become a Peer had a lot to do with time. I watched my fellow SCA members working at their art, doing their good deeds, and fighting the good fight. When I saw that someone had been doing something for a long time, with a purpose, I generally thought, “hey, someone should make that person a Peer!” I think this happens often, as I hear my friends and other members make similar remarks.

I recall one of my first thoughts about joining the Order came during Pennsic 2013. A friend from out of Kingdom looked at me and said, “You’re a Laurel, right?” Naturally I replied that I was not—I had not even received an arts award at that point. But it planted a seed in my mind. Why did she think I was a Laurel? Was I Laurel material? Should I be one if she thinks I should? Do I want to be one? And so on.

So now that it’s happened and I’ve been placed on vigil, what do I think? Was it long overdue? Was I held back? Were the Order’s expectations on me too hard? Did the Order make me wait too long and cause resentment and frustration and burnout? (All statements I’ve heard uttered.)

A good friend asked that I address these points for the benefit of others who may be thinking along these lines. I’ll do my best to give the honest answers, not just the noble answers. (That’s not easy for me, by the way. Still waters and all that.)

My inexpensive but lovely trestle table

My first A&S project, a table based on St. Jerome in His Study by Albrecht Dürer. I love this table. I’ve made nearly all of my A&S projects on it over the years, and it goes with me to Pennsic annually, too!

Was it long overdue? I started in the SCA in ’97, but didn’t progress. I began again in 2011 and jumped in with both feet. I made my first “thing” within one month (my early 16th c. trestle table), entered my first A&S display a few months later (blackwork), and entered not one, but two, things into my regional A&S competition nine months later (blackwork caul and the red goldwork Swabian gown I was wearing this past Saturday). From my observation of other artisans, this intense behavior was a bit unusual. But it was totally in keeping with my personality. I’m a go big or go home type. From an outside perspective, it may have seemed I was ready before now. Eight first place awards at Kingdom A&S and Pentathlon A&S Champion could give that impression. But despite this obvious enthusiasm, I was still a beginner at recreating period artifacts. It took time for me to dig deeper, understand nuances, create beautiful things that were both visually and structurally appealling  … and I’m still working on that. I have much further to travel and much more to learn. It’s only recently that I began to feel that I was achieving a sense of mastery, of hearing myself speak to others and being amazed at what information I was able to convey, and at my technical abilities that were all built upon one another. Only in the last few months had I finally arrived at a place where — frankly — I was less interested in other’s approval of my art and it was less of a motivation to do better. My motivation was turning inward, becoming more about my journey and less about proving myself to others.

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Me and my 16th c. style carved doll. Displaying and talking about my art took courage.

Was I held back? I don’t know what others have done, but I have no sense of this. It takes time to get to know people, and it took time for the Order to get to know me and see my progress. I won’t fall back on false modesty and say that I didn’t think I was ready, because I was already thinking of myself as a Peer long before I was recognized. If this seems impertinent, you must understand that I do not suffer from low self-esteem. My ego is quite healthy! But just because I know myself does not mean that others do. Part of this journey has been allowing the quiet parts of me to be seen by others. Being out there, displaying my art, writing blogs and tutorials, teaching, and sharing what I know with anyone who asks. These things took time and courage to do. When I consider how long it takes me make big moves in my own relationships, I’m rather impressed the Order came to know this aspect of me as quickly as they did.

Were the Order’s expectations on me too hard? Well, let’s see. My own personal signifier of mastery is the ability to write an entire book about one’s field of study and have it be well respected and regarded by its audience. That’s what I do in my modern world. Did they make me write a book? Have that book win awards? Have that book be a bestseller in its field? No, they did not. Thus, the Order’s expectations are actually lower than my personal ones for myself. (No, I do not expect others to do this in the SCA either, but the expectations I hold myself to are different than what I hold others to.) And for what it’s worth, I would one day like to write down what I know in a book so it can be preserved and shared with others, but I’m still a ways off from that. Just know that that that expectation has not changed just because of this event.

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Winning the A&S Pentathlon in 2014 was both joyous and frustrating. It was frustrating not because I thought, “hey, I won now I should be a Laurel” but because it underscored the fact that not everyone was confident in me.

And finally, the big one … Did the Order make me wait too long and cause resentment and frustration and burnout? This one is a less pat answer. I’m rather an impatient person, as can be evidenced by my enthusiasm and history of making things. When I get a notion to do something, darn it, I want to do it. Now. Right away. I hate to wait. This is both a blessing and a curse. If I am completely honest, there were moments of frustration. I felt confident in myself, but there were times it was pretty clear to me that others were not as confident in me. That was difficult for me. But after I cooled off, I could see the solution — if some individual was not confident in me, then it was probably because I wasn’t expressing myself well enough. I usually didn’t even know that person. So then the ball was in my court to get to know them, and if I couldn’t do that for whatever reason (shyness), I could at least try to express myself to the world better. Because in the end, being recognized as a Peer is really just recognition of the awesomeness already present. It won’t change who you are, make you a better person, or anything like that. It’s recognizing something you should already be feeling inside. So, yeah, I felt frustrated when the Order didn’t work as fast as I wanted, but not resentful. Honestly, I’m grateful they even noticed me — I do not like to toil in obscurity. And now that I’ve been placed on vigil, I feel humbled that they chose me at all. It has put many things into perspective for me.

As for burnout, that’s really more about my inclination to take on ambitious projects. That is MY problem. That has nothing to do with the Order. I get burned out all the time. I also bounce back all the time. But the burnouts are usually preceded by burning brightly and making or doing something awesome, often something that challenged me to grow. So that’s alright with me. Life might be a bit boring and mundane for me otherwise.

Of all the things on my mind since this happened, a big one is how my being placed on vigil could make others feel — those who are not yet Peers but might like to be. Maybe someone out there reading this is feeling a bit sad, or overlooked, or just unrecognized.  Why her and not me? Or why her and not this other person? If we’re all honest with ourselves, I bet we all have felt this at one point or another. My best advice, and this comes direct from my psychology degree, is to neither repress this feeling nor to feed it. In time, you will find the ways to express the awesomeness inside you to the point that others recognize it, too. In that way, it really is all about time. Time to be the best you can be, time to share it with others, and time for the Order to recognize it.

Children in the SCA: An Introduction for Newcomers

1 June 2012

[I’m working on adding information to The Barony of Cynnabar’s Newcomer page, and this is the first of several short and sweet articles I intend to write. – Genoveva]

Our children will lead tomorrow’s Society, and we encourage them to join in the fun today! It’s possible for most children, depending on their age and interest level, to participate in nearly every aspect of what we do in the SCA. The Society is not only a fabulous way to do fun things with your children, but it’s a tremendous learning opportunity for them as well. Yet it’s important to stress that the SCA is a family activity — most everything you’ll do together with your children under your direct supervision. Here’s a brief overview of how you can get your children involved and find their own special place in an SCA group:

Alexander in his pirate garb!

Garb (Clothing) — Dressing in medieval and renaissance-styled clothing is one of the best ways for your child to get into the mindset of “historical recreation.” I urge you not to make the mistake of thinking they won’t want to “dress up” or “they’re just kids, no one will care.” A simple tunic works for both girls and boys, and is easy and inexpensive to make — the tunic can go right over their normal clothes for convenience and comfort. If you’re interested in costuming, get your kids involved in choosing clothing they’ll enjoy wearing and picking out colors and fabrics. When I asked my son what he might like to wear if he were “in the old days,” he answered, “a pirate!” So together we settled on Elizabethan-era clothing of a doublet and breeches. He picked out the materials and even created the trim with tablet weaving (a new craft to learn!). He wears his garb with pride, and looks amazing!

Garb Tip #1: I made my son’s garb a little big, so he’s still able to wear it a year later and I estimate he still has a couple more years left before he outgrows it and we pass it on to a younger member.

Garb Tip #2: You don’t have to have lots of outfits for kids — you’ll notice Alexander wears his gold doublet in most of his photos. Kids are generally content to wear the same garb to events, and may take comfort in familiarity of it. Just be sure you can wash their garb in some manner, as kids get dirty! My son’s doublet isn’t machine washable, but the white shirt he wears is … and I wash it a lot!

Beading at Fall Coronation

Arts & Crafts — I don’t know about your kids, but my son ADORES arts and crafts. And the SCA is the perfect place to learn and try new crafts because we’re all researching and trying out handicrafts of all types. Many events will offer crafts for kids to do — things my son has made in just the last six months include a wooden pirate ship, an ornament, a leather pouch, marbled paper, cookies, spinning top, hammered copper, beaded favors, heraldic devices, and a working catapult! Check the Children’s Activities on an event’s schedule to find out what might be available. You can also do historical arts and crafts right in your home or local group — good projects for children include painting, tablet weaving, cooking, and embroidery. Kids may even be able to enter some arts & sciences displays and competitions, including the Youth Craftmens Faire and Prize Tourney in the spring and fall.

Craft Tip #1: If you’re going to an event without formal kids activities, bring along a craft box with historical crafts. I like to keep a craft box filled with clay, beads, and period games (such as pick-up sticks), all of which are easily obtainable at stores.

Alexander's boffer axe

Martial Arts — SCA “combat” is considered a Western martial art, and youths ages 6-17 can get involved in what’s called “boffer” combat. Boffers are padded lengths of PVC plastic with handles, allowing kids to learn combat techniques without being harmed. Kids have armor requirements like the adults, though their rules differ and less armor is required. You can get inexpensive armor by purchasing things like street hockey helmets from a used sporting goods store. If you’re interested in youth combat, ask your group’s Knight Marshall about how to get in touch with a Youth Combat Marshall and start learning!

Fencing — Youth ages 6-17 can also fence in the SCA!  From age 6 to 13, youth use plastic swords that cost about $20, and the same armor otherwise as an adult (gorget, mask, etc) — local fencing groups often will have youth loaner gear so children can first experience fencing for free. From age 14-17, they are allowed to use metal swords like adults, but only allowed to fence youth-approved adult fencers or other youths and are not allowed to participate in non-youth tournaments.  Again, fencing groups will usually have loaner gear for this age of youth also (since it exactly matches the gear for adults, just perhaps a bit smaller). [Information courtesy of Birke, Cynnabar’s Fencing Champion]

Archery — The Disney/Pixar “Brave” movie (summer 2012) brings a resurgence in kids’ interest in archery, and the SCA is a particularly good place to learn youth archery. A number of events encourage youth archery, which has an even lower barrier to entry than youth combat.

Service — A big aspect of being a member of the SCA is giving back to the community, and kids are encouraged to participate as well. Depending on their age, children can assist in group service and crafting projects, help retain for royalty and barons/baronesses, teach classes on arts and crafts they enjoy, and help other children feel welcome at meetings, practices, and events. My son, who is 7 at the time I’m writing this article, has done each of these things as proud member of the Barony of Cynnabar, from simply helping to keep a water cup full for someone who is otherwise occupied and painting shields for an upcoming war to teaching an embroidery class and folding brochures (and encouraging other kids into helping him fold said brochures). Your Kingdom may also offer a Page School to help develop leadership skills and promote the skills and knowledge of the Middle Ages, which is a fun (and recognizable) way for kids to contribute.

Alexander helping wrap presents at a group fundraiser

It’s important to note that there are responsibilities on the part of both the parents and the kids, but I consider them all basic common sense. Parents are responsible for the supervision, care, behavior, and well being of the children attending SCA activities at all times, minor waivers are required for minor children (they are available when you arrive at an event), etc. Children should only attend events with parental/guardian supervision, exhibit appropriate behavior at all times, and must be able to tell an adult their parent(s) SCA name, legal name, and where they can be found. Check with your Kingdom’s Minister of Youth for more details on their Youth Policy.

Putting together a puzzle at an event without organized kids activities

You may be wondering if your child will be interested in all this. I’ve experienced a wide variety of interest levels in children in the SCA, from “barely there” to “totally engaged.” The biggest common denominator in whether a child takes an interest appears to have a lot to do with their parent’s own interest level and encouragement of it in their child. If this is just “your thing,” and you’re dragging your kids along without any input or encouragement, it’s very likely they won’t enjoy themselves or be “bored.” If, on the other hand, you actively involve your children in planning activities, choosing events, packing, and helping out, you’ll find they are often active and engaged. That said, as children get older is a natural and healthy for them to seek our their own interests. Even in those cases, it’s healthy for children to experience “boredom” because it prompts them to seek out things, within their current context, rather than wait for you to entertain them. Don’t be afraid of boredom — it can lead to quite amazing things, given adequate supervision, of course. Teenagers can be a whole different scenario, and I don’t feel qualified to speak to that situation yet, so I encourage you to check out the SCA’s article on “Your Teenager and the SCA – Some Answers for Parents.”

I, for one, am over the moon happy about discovering the SCA and experiencing it with my son in the Barony of Cynnabar within the Middle Kingdom. It gives us quality time together doing something we both enjoy, it educates and stimulates his young mind, it teaches him how to behave around adults, it helps his interpersonal skills with other children, and it makes him feel involved in something bigger than our small family. I encourage all parents and families to get your kids involved in the SCA!

If you have questions about kids in the SCA, I’m happy to answer questions from a parent’s perspective, but please note that I am not a Youth Minister nor can I speak to SCA policy. Feel free to share this article with others (with proper attribution please).

Cynnabar Fight Song

28 June 2011

This weekend at Cynnabar fighter practice (a “Kill and Grill”) we learned the new lyrics to the Cynnabar Fight Song, as follows:

 

 

Go forth and fight for Cynnabar

Beneath the dragon’s wing

Go forth and fight for Cynnabar

For baron and for king!

Very easy to remember and quite epic! To help me remember it, and hopefully learn the rest of the fight song, I recorded it. Here’s several of Cynnabar’s talented musicians teaching us and performing the song:

 

Here are the lyrics in full:

A New Cynnabar-Style Song for Fighting
(To the tune of ‘Nonesuch’)

Red Black and White our colors fly
So proud upon our tower
They show to all who fight with us
Our courage and our valor

CHORUS:
Go Forth and Fight for Cynnabar
Beneath the Dragon’s Wing
Go Forth and Fight for Cynnabar
For Baron and For King

Our mighty giant elephant
strikes terror in our foes
Impaling knaves upon his tusks
Their meat shall feed the crows

[CHORUS]

Our sweet saint Cynnabarius
Does bless our shining steel
His relics we will bear on high
To force our foes to kneel

[CHORUS]

Our fortress shall protect the land
No rogue nor cur admit
Our Barony is great and true
It never will submit

[CHORUS]

The Dragon’s blood runs through our veins
As hot as any fire
The tide of blood left in our wake
Is rising ever higher

[CHORUS]

Approval was obtained from each of the five musicians recorded in this video (thank you!)

Our Cooler Cooler: How We Turned a Boring, Mundane Cooler Into an Old Treasure Chest

6 June 2011

In preparing for Pennsic, I know we want to bring a cooler. Gregor will be fighting hard, it will be hot, and it would be good to have a cold drink or two. But a cooler? How mundane is that?! So I set out to look for ideas on bringing a cooler to Pennsic. Here’s what I found:

  • Hide the cooler in the tent
  • Throw a blanket or rug over the cooler
  • Make a wood box and put the cooler in it (i.e., Medieval Cooler Chests)
  • Buy a fancy, expensive, wooden cooler (i.e., Cowboy Country Coolers)
  • Change the outside of the cooler so it wouldn’t stand out

My Old Red Cooler

The last idea fascinated me, and I discovered this link on Making a Cooler Cooler by Ceallach mac Donal. I loved his idea of decoupaging his cooler, so I set out to try it with my old, bright red cooler. It was pretty simple but still quite functional, so it seemed like the perfect guinea pig for this idea.

Next I needed to gather the supplies, and luckily I had several at home already. Here’s my list of what was needed for this project:

Things I used to transform my cooler

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