Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ramblings - Belly Dancing with an Audience

I went to a Realms (LARP) event over the weekend and took some time to catch up with a friend in between my working in the kitchen for the feast portion of the event.  I talked to him about my disengagement with the Realms community where it seems that I only go to help out rather than play anymore.  He asked if there were things I found interesting in the SCA that I could do in the Realms, so I went down the list of art, cooking, etc until I go to dancing.

SCA - I do both European and Middle Eastern dance.  I may have even flown to Germany with a Duchess to go to a dance event.

Realms - I do European dancing at the Black and White Masquerade (the only event with dancing, we've tried to have more with little success).  I have ZERO interest in belly dancing in the Realms.

I stopped myself after that one and thought about it.  Belly Dance and Middle Eastern dancing in the Realms for me was scary and sends red flags racing through my head.

Let me back up here.  I started belly dance classes two years ago taking lessons from Mistress Anne with no intention of ever dancing in front of an audience.  I took lessons for ballet, tap, and jazz when I was young for a number of years and I do like dancing in general so a convincing argument from a friend who also dances with the group made me show up and give it a shot.  I've since done two public performances;  Bad Raqsan'e Sahra's recital for friends and family and a performance at the Quintavia Hafla.  Neither one of those felt weird or scary or anything.

The group of ladies I dance with (Bad Raqsan'e Sahra) is incredibly supportive, has ladies of all ages and body types, and boasts an almost equal number of children to advanced degrees within the group.  Did I mention they were all lovely?  I mean really lovely as well as being fun, flirty, and even downright ridiculous at times.  I have body image issues as so some of the ladies I dance with, but we joke and fan our selves over the sexiness of our fellow member's solo dances.  I was even convinced to don a pirate hat and send my crew to fetch yonder maiden whom I was swooning over as part of a performance.  There is a sincerity in appreciating of your fellow performer's art within the group.  It's always a fun, family-friendly, and safe environment.

That's the kicker:  safe.  Belly dancing in the Realms to me was always seen as purposefully seductive and slinky, dancing in front of a fire in barely any clothing, and always done in front of a crowd (most always a drunk crowd) of staring and sometimes leering people solely for their amusement.  I've heard the sneering comments of how "hot" or "vastly unattractive" some of the performers were from the patrons of various taverns and event goers.  Being ogled by a bunch of potentially drunk people, some of which I don't even want to be associated with out of game, is not my cup of tea.  It also doesn't help that most of the events that boasted dancing were thinly veiled drunk fests either.  I'm not trying to be a prude, but the thought of dancing in that type of environment gives me anxiety.  So...I don't.

I can thank fully say I've never run into this in the SCA or seem much of this (even at Pennsic, though I've never performed there).

How do as people, not just as a community, be a better audience?  How do we get to a point where our culture in the game (LARPing or otherwise) applauds an honest effort and rewards the desire to perform with appreciation in a safe environment?

Mistress Anne said something very profound.  "The first part of belly dancing is belly acceptance."  At the heaviest weight in my adult life, I found it easy to dance at the Quintavia Hafla for the performance.  There was no judging, but there was support and various fan clubs of people supporting their friends of all the groups.  We need more of that.

Picture by Madame Perronnelle De Croy.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Scroll Wording - Tullia's AoA

I found the documentation for this and felt the need to share it.

We managed to gt Tullia to 12th Night and all dressed up since Simon was being elevated to the Chivalry.  What she didn't know was she was also getting her AoA that same day.

Mundanely, Tullia is a high school Latin teacher.  Taking her love for all things Latin to the SCA, it's no surprise she has a Roman persona. I did some searching for ideas for wording for Roman personas from period texts and found this :http://avalon.law.yale.edu/ancient/augustus_001.asp. The wording was handed off to the scribe who was assigned the scroll and she managed to have it translated into Latin. :)

I wrote the following text based off the source.

"Emperor Brennen Augustus and Empress Caoilfhionn Augusta, supreme pontiffs, holding the Tyger throne for a second time, proclaim:
We know of an Eastern citizen who has done venerable work in the fiber arts of spinning and weaving and has distinguished herself in the study of Our noble Roman forefathers.

Whereas in accordance with the decision of Our advisory council, do We wish to recognize Tullia Tranquilla as a loyal daughter and citizen of Rome and award her the following arms: Azure fretty Or, on a chief Or three drop spindles azure.

Done at the celebration of the 12th Night, in Anno Societatus 50, on the second feast day of Carmentalia in the Shire of Midland Vale."

Carmentalia is a Roman festival taking place on two days (11 January and 15 January) . Since 12th Night happened to be January 16th, I thought it was okay to include it to make the scroll persona specific (and I was only off by a day).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Maunche - Ulfgeirr

This is a project that almost got got away from me in terms of my artistic "vision" colliding head long with my ability to procrastinate and still maintain a deadline.  Usually I budget a week to do research in what I'd like to base the scroll on, but somehow I had in my head that this had to be awesome.  This is also the first maunche scroll I've done so I think I was a little intimidated subconsciously.  I've actually met Ulfgeirr a few times (while retaining for Edward)  and I have a tremendous respect for his work and craftsmanship.  The award write up was incredibly helpful as well with examples of his work and a few killer youtube videos.

I hemmed and hawed for over two weeks of what I wanted to do for someone with a 9th century viking persona.  I had a ton of great ideas but nothing felt "right" or "appropriate".  I eventually enlisted my super-spy Thyra to try to find out what he might like in a scroll.  Because Thyra obviously knows everyone, she confirmed via his lady wife that Ulgeirr like the Urnes style of artwork used in the later part of the viking period.  Let's just say I did a bunch of research based on that tidbit alone.  ;)

For those not in the know, the Urnes style names for the style depicted on the Urnes stave church (which is an example of the later Urnes style). The church doors have a lovely knotted art style with very stylized animals.  You can see that below.  I'm in the camp of people who think the figure on the left hand side is a wolf because hooray wolves!

Urnes stave church door in Ornes Norway.

Great!  I have a style to go on!  I then got it in my head that it would be awesome with a week and a half left until it was due to try my had at making a runestone carving in a similar style.  I thankfully came to my senses and said hell no, I am not picking up a new hobby right this second for a piece with a firm deadline.  I wasted a good three days trying to figure out the logistics though.

I kept with the idea of doing a runestone with the Urnes style and settled on this lovely example.  The ever talented Anne of Framlingham graciously crafted words and my personal viking superhero Avaldr Valbjarnarson provided the translation into runes.

U240 Lingsberg Runestone, Sweden.

Recipient: Ulfgeirr Ragnarrson (the Nice)
Award: Order of the Maunche
Words: by Anne of Framlingham, translation by Avadlr Valbjarnarson
Specs: Acrylic on slate tile, sealed with W&N matte sealant.
Source: U240 Lingsberg Runestone (see above)

This lovely slate tile was found at Home Depot and it was "the one" due to it's variations of pink and red in the slate.  I opted for my good friend Liquitex Acrylic to get a good coverage on the uneven surface of the slate.  I used an enlarge pic of the runestone and transfer paper to get the proportions correct (and done within my time fram) and ended up freehanding a lot of the design elements since pencil was incredibly hard to see.  Faces and toes were almost entirely tweaked since they didn't transfer well and all managed to get onto uneven surfaces on the tile.

Complete outline of the design done in white.

Choice of two reds,  I went out and bought the one to the left because I thought the one on the right would be too orange.  This is why we test swatch people.  I learned that early on.

Mostly finished base.  All animals are painted and you can see the penciled maunche symbol in the cross if you squint.

Once the base layers were painted, it was crunch time: put the words on the scroll.  I had a fit of shaky hands toward the end but my stubborn streak would not let me put the paintbrush down.  Thyra suggested doing a double ribbon of text inside the snake/dragons as she had done something similar in a runestone scroll.  As Donovan Shinnock (my gracious transporter of the scroll to the event) point out, you can tell I paint miniatures with the tiny handwriting.  I touched up the outlining and sent this scroll on it's merry way.  I'm always going to be my own worst critic, but I do feel like I could have done more for this.  I'm not unhappy with the result, but it left me wanting a tiny bit.

Finished stone with tiny rune writing.

Scroll text by Mistress Anne:

"Hearing I ask from Heimdallr’s sons,
For the worth and might of Ulfgeirr Ragnarrson,
Known to all as a prince of men,
Wielder of counsel, wise in speech.

Brave battle-tree of iron bone-house,
Tames the ravager, bane of wood,
Brings forth battle metal, man’s measure,
And rings to adorn the valiant of Tyr.

Fire-beater acclaimed by all,
Name him among the Sons of Ivaldi.
So says Brennan, Warder of the People,
And so says Caoilfhionn, Willow of Gold.

Done this day in A.S. L, at K&Q A&S Championships, in the Shire of Barren Sands."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Queen's favors- Caoilfhionn II

The call for embroiderers always needs to be answered especially when it comes to queen's favors.  Having worked hard in two reigns, I got to see how much it means to someone to be given a favor by sitting royalty.  Spoiler alert: seriously makes a person's day.  I've seen a lot of people tear up and be very moved by a seemingly simple thing.

Once again, the good idea train (lead by conductor Marieta) stopped by to hand me a pile of favors to work on.  I started working on favors at Coronation and then put them off to work on scrolls and Cassandra's Laurel coat.  I picked them up now and again as a fiddley thing to do while watching TV and to relieve stress.

All of the two tailed mermaids (melusine) were done using the reverse chain stitch,  I ended up doing about 7 or 8 favors with another unfinished one still in my bag I hope to have done before they step down.  All in all, it helped me feel more confident in my embroidery skills and it was fun.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Compass Star - Cassandra Grey's Laurel Coat

This was my second embroidery project (finished for Yule December 2015).

I was convinced to help out with the laurel coat for Cassandra Grey's elevation since it was sold to me as a "small embroidery project".  Well..that and I couldn't say no. :)

Duchess Aikaterine spearheaded this project of a coat fitting for a middle class Elizabethan woman that incorporated Cassandra's compass rose design.  Each person would be given a kit to work on and they would later be appliqued onto the coat.

Aikaterine's design schematics

Aikaterine's finished applique.  Setting an amazing example for the rest of us.

I learned SO MUCH doing the embroidery for this like:

  • Metal thread is a pain
  • Couching! 
  • Beading
  • How to be sneaky with a group of 10+ people
The finished coat was paneled for Athena's Thimble and we were given competency for Free Embroidery, Applique, and Metalwork.

Some last minute finishing work was done the day off by the group right before the panel and before court.  Epic teamwork by all!

Go team sneaky embroidery!

I will post a picture of my individual star at a later date.  This is one I didn't get a chance to do progress pictures of.  On the plus side, everyone signed their names into the embroidery so we could keep track of them. Photos to come!

Award of Arms - Erik

This was an AoA due for 12th night Jan 2016.  A few of us were furiously working on garb for Simon's knighting and something for Tullia to wear to court (she was getting her AoA in addition to being front and center in the knighting procession).

Marieta found a nice late period source that was similar enough to the Italian manuscripts I was looking at for me to choose this.  Funny enough, we believe our two AoA recipients were dating so it was only fitting they were being worked on at the same time.

My goal was keep it simple, clean, and don't try anything new because I had a bunch of stuff going on.  I'm particularly proud of the white work and details.

Recipient: Erik Gutermuth
Award: Award of Arms
Hand: Humanist bookhand
Specs: guache on bristol
Source: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0010/bsb00103265/images/index.html?seite=14&fip=

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Court Barony - Marieta

This was many of the secret projects I was working onto be given out at Yule (December 2015).  Thyra approached me about tag teaming this project and I immediately started doing some digging.

Something to keep in mind during this process:  I host weekly an informal scribal work day at my house every week and the recipient of said secret project is a regular attendee.  I had to work on this scroll without Marieta catching on (and also gathering anecdotal information about her persona and things she likes)

As part of the Queen for a Month garb project with WC, I found out her persona was a textile worker from the Netherlands and had a range of dates to work on for time period.  I hit the jackpot with the source text on Pintrest as some beautiful and lovely person linked the page back to the original source.  <3  I looked at a few pages from the source to look at examples of marginalia and layouts and consulted with my intrepid calligrapher Thyra.  The super bonus for this is it had red and blue flowers (which I found out later Marieta's favorite color is blue).  Since my artist mark is a blue flower, I thought it was nice that both Thyra (favorite color being red) and I had another signature on the piece.

One particularly sneaky thing we did was have Marieta work on the resubmission of her heraldry and had her sent the original docs to my husband so we could print them.  Once those were printed, those files were emailed to me to use to incorporate her mice into the design.

Stylistically I wanted to give a nod to the activities Marieta enjoys and things that were a part of the reason she was getting a Court Barony.  Mice (which are a main part of her device) became an obvious choice to include.  I worked in a scribal mouse, an embroidery mouse, a mouse waving a pennant,  one holding a shield (for her arms when they pass), and two at the bottom of the scroll holding up the line drawing of the court barony coronet (I call those the Triforce mice).

Without further ado...

Recipient: Marieta Charay
Assignment: Court Barony
Words and Calligraphy: Thyra Eiriksdottir
Illumination: me
Specs: Guache on pergamenata
Source:https://www.pinterest.com/pin/452471093786986945/, http://www.sothebys.com/content/dam/stb/lots/L12/L12240/252L12240_6G4XZ.jpg (Southern Netherlands Book of Hours, also note there is a calendar component for more capital letter examples)

Completed piece!
Thyra's calligraphy is done.  Artwork is 50/50 freehand and tracing.

The outlining of the mice was not my best work, but I also was on a tight and very secretive deadline.  The gold I borrowed was from Constance.  It's a very neat cake of gold paint that acts a lot like shell gold.  Once I got the hang of it, it was awesome!  The swirlies were inked with a crow quill.  I would have loved to do more detail and fussy work on the flowers, but I was running into the "fuss with it and potentially screw up" vs "it's done, lovely, and don't overly work it" conundrum.  I opted to leave it as is with the thought that I could always steal it later to do more work on it.  Fast forward to now, it's already framed and hanging on a wall which means it's perfect the way it is.