Most people reading here already know that I received a writ for elevation to the Order of the Pelican this last weekend at Crown Tourney. It’s been quite an experience! Trying to get my thoughts in some sort of order at this point… Continue reading
I forget about this blog a lot… I just go do what I’m doing and let that be it.
But, OK, things are still happening! Continue reading
I’m gradually catching up with the aftermath of July’s Laurel ceremony, including chipping away at the dozens of thank-you notes that I owe to the many awesome people who made the day so special. Today, I also took the opportunity to snap a photo of my Patent of Arms scroll on the copy stand at work, so that I could show it off here. This marvelous work is by Leah bat Yehiel of Three Mountains. I can’t believe that she completed this piece of art with only eight days notice!
It’s been far too long since I’ve posted here, but the recent news is so excellent that I thought it might be time to return to this forum. In short, at An Tir’s July Coronation I was elevated to the Laurel in one of the most moving and well, LONGEST ceremonies to which I’ve ever been privy in the SCA. Continue reading
Bar Gemels is this weekend! It’s an indoor/outdoor sort of site, and although the weather forecasts are good, I figured it was still good to have some warm-and-dry stuff available. So I finally started on the Norse coat I’ve been thinking about for ages.
There’s slim evidence for a coat like this, and even less for how specifically it might have been constructed, but I’m basically making a Nockert type I dress, a little bigger than usual to fit over layers, slitting it up the front and cutting a V-neck down to a couple clasps slightly above the waist. The fashion layer is a wool blend, black with an overlay of SPARKLY RED STUFF. It’s so not period, but I don’t care, I adore it!
I got it all cut out yesterday; I recently acquired a cutting table and mat and it made the process SO MUCH FASTER. As usual I did some things weird or wrong, but I’m learning! (Yesterday’s lesson: cut the sleeves FIRST. I almost forgot about them completely, and I ended up having to piece one together out of scraps. Had I cut them first, I’d just have a shorter coat, but normal sleeves, which would be better.)
Since the fabric is already not-so-authentic, I don’t have to hand sew this garment (‘have to’ being my own standards, you understand :). That helps in terms of speed, although not in terms of back pain. I continue to adjust the exact angles of the top of the body pieces (continual struggle is that at shoulder level, my measurement is significantly different than at bust level, and standard rectangular construction with a straight body piece gives me shoulder seams near the elbows!) – we’ll see how this one turns out. I’m also trying two square underarm gussets rather than four triangles – the geometry is messing with me but I’ll persevere. Although given that I’m putting pretty wide sleeves on I’m not sure I’ll really need the gussets – we’ll have to wait and see.
Anyway. While I don’t know that the embellishment will get done by this weekend (in fact, I doubt it will!), I plan to try a new craft: needle felting! I scored some supplies via freecycle and bought some lovely wool yesterday, and I’m intending to do some felted vinework along the edges. Stay tuned to see how it goes!
So I finally finished the red dress! Mostly, anyway. All the seams are sewn and flat felled and it’s ready to be hemmed. I didn’t have quite as much fabric as I’d hoped, so it hits about mid calf. I could either leave it is as a shorter overdress, or add a length of another color around the bottom. Given what’s in my stash I think I’d have to add white. Not sure how I feel about white at the bottom! Not the most practical idea, certainly. I could wait a little and see what I have left when I make up the gold wool for Galeran… ponder.
Anyway. I had originally planned to norskify the hell out of this with mammen embroidery but I have changed my mind; if I do something less culturally specific the dress is more versatile. But I do want to jazz it up somehow, just not something that screams ‘norse’ so I think I’m going to take inspiration from these lovely cuffs I saw at Crown last fall and seek out some metal findings and accent those. It’ll be sort of generically period-esque, I know, but beautiful and versatile!
So the longest-term project in my crafting life lately has been the red dress. This is a red wool dress that was made at the last minute the night before an event and, well, looked like it. Last June I picked it apart and started the process of careful measuring, cutting, and all that to put it back together (100% hand sewn, silk thread, bone needle). I also made google drawings of my body measurements and of the shapes I cut for the kyrtel, so that I’d have a record of what I did and how well it worked.
Well, last night I finished everything but the hem and tried it on. It’s tight, but it fits, and looks a zillion times better than last time. There are things I want to finesse about this pattern (a pretty standard Nockert Type I garment, with the shoulders cut in a bit), and there are a couple places where my sewing did not do exactly what I wanted it to, but overall I am very pleased with it!
I had originally intended to jazz this dress up with tons of Viking-style embroidery based on the Mammen finds, but I’m reconsidering that plan. For starters, the dress isn’t perfect enough for me to want to spend THAT much time on the embroidery – and I was figuring a LOT of embroidery! I think I’ll do some simpler embroidery designs on the dress, and will probably do something pretty elaborate on my Jorvik hat, but I think I’ll leave the red dress alone at least for now.
Instead… MOAR PROJECTS! I am torn between doing another Nockert Type I garment in hopes of perfecting the pattern, and doing a St. Francis tunic as described by Alianor, which has the advantages of (she says) producing a perfect 13th c. silhouette – and, as you will note, NO DAMN CENTER GORES! (I am contemplating cutting all my future gowns that have center gores all the way up the front to avoid inset gores, since I simply cannot get them right.)
I dunno. What do you think I should work on?
When I first joined the SCA I wanted to be ‘something celticy’ and ‘early’ ( before 1066 when being ‘celticy’ became less pleasant). I ended up choosing to be Welsh, and went along having fun, and somewhere along the way decided I cared about authenticity, when I realized how difficult it was to know much about daily life in Wales that early.
Happily, I found a time when I could be Welsh, but not completely oppressed: 13th century! Sharon Kay Penman’s fabulous historical novels might have had some impact here, plus Galeran’s persona is also 13th c., so it all works out nicely! 🙂 But you’ll find a number of 13th c. Welsh personas, because it’s about the only time where you know something of your period AND live under a native Welsh prince: Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, called Llywelyn Fawr (‘the Great’) – for more about him, go to the google.
So, 13th c., Welsh… what else? Well, I already have ‘Llanaelhaearn’ as part of my name – Llanaelhaearn is a small cantref near the northwest coast of Gwyneddd. Llywelyn and his court also lived in Gwynedd – as did his children! Those children traveled and married outside of Wales, which gives me a great opportunity to meet this French musician….
So, Rhieinwylydd’s story: my mother was Gwerydd Wen (‘Gwerydd the Fair’), and she was a pretty but not particularly high ranking person. She caught the eye of Einion, the lord of Llanaelhaearn (not a historical person), very early in the 1200s. Gwerydd was Einion’s common-law wife (a fairly usual practice in Wales at this time) and I am the result! Einion brought Gwerydd with him when he traveled to Llywelyn’s court; he made a politically advantageous marriage there but did not give up his relationship with my mother entirely (however, our position at court was somewhat lessened).
In 1207, Siwan (aka Joan/na), Llywelyn’s wife, had a baby girl, Elen. My mother had lost a baby boy around the same time and so became Elen’s wet nurse. I was around four or five at the time, and helped my mother care for Elen. I was very fond of the princess and she seemed fond of me as well. We remained close as we grew older and I was appointed one of her ladies in waiting (possibly my father influenced this choice). As the daughter of the Welsh monarch, Elen was married an English lord, John de Scotia. He died without issue and Elen then married Sir Robert de Quincy – another Englishman. So you see how a nobleman’s bastard daughter from a tiny village on the coast of Wales traveled to England and sometimes had opportunity to visit France!
Someday I might go through and draft answers to all the questions at http://www.modaruniversity.org/Persona1.htm about persona development. But not today. 🙂
What about you? How much do you know about your persona’s history?
Version the Short: I had the good fortune to claim victory at An Tir’s recent Kingdom Bardic Championships. Now I get to wear a big cloak and carry a shiny horn in court, and more importantly, have the responsibility to perform and teach the art of performance throughout the Kingdom for the next year. You can find some lovely photographs of the event by Talentus here.
Version the Long: I had been strongly considering entering this year’s Kingdom Bardic competition ever since last March, when my single entry of Cantiga 322 on harp and voice was so well received by the judges. I generally dislike competitions in the Arts and Sciences, as I don’t feel that these activities are inherently competitive (topic for a different post), but at the same time there’s a lot to recommend this particular competition. For one, the judging is highly informed and thorough, and the general skill of the competitors is quite high, so the event is a real pleasure to attend. For two, and more importantly, the position of Kingdom Bard is highly visible and provides the ideal position from which to encourage performers and foster more interest in the Bardic Arts. I decided that I wanted that particular job and duty, and thus submitted my intent to compete last December.
I’m glad that I did submit that intent, as An Tir seems to have many great performers, but few performances. This competition was a case in point, as there were only four entrants in the competition (and only two competing for overall best), but more than ten highly competent individuals serving as judges. Had I not entered, the title would have gone uncontested, and that’s not a healthy thing. I’m not really sure what’s driving the phenomenon, but I’ve rarely encountered music, storytelling, theatre and so forth at An Tirian events, particularly in any organized fashion. The problem is definitely not a lack of talent, but it may be a lack of encouragement or a dearth of appropriate venues. I hope to work to improve this over the coming year.
In any case, I performed three pieces at the event: the 14th century istanpitta “Tre Fontane” on alto recorder, the 13th century trouvère reverdie “Volez-vous que Je vous chant” on harp and voice, and one of my few SCA bardic compositions, “Laurel Green, Laurel Fair” for harp and voice. The first two were for the formally judged rounds, the third was for populace’s choice. The first two received very high marks from the judges, though I really wasn’t that happy with my performance of Tre Fontane. It is a very difficult piece and some stumbles are almost inevitable, but I had performed it much better in practice. So it goes. The last piece won the populace’s choice award, and clearly resonated with much of the audience, as I had hoped.
On day two of An Tir’s competition, (yes, it is two days long) each finalist repeats one of their performances for a much larger audience that includes the royalty as well as people that are primarily in attendance for the concurrent Kingdom Arts and Sciences competition. I reprised the trouvère song (which is better suited to the SCA bardic tradition, more universally accessible and the stronger of my two performances) and definitely nailed it. I’m very happy with my arrangement of the piece and I performed it as well as I ever have. The grill session after the performance also went well (I’ll chalk it up to the combination of my experience defending a Ph.D. thesis, and the rosewater wafers and hazelnut milk with which Rhi plied the judges). My challenger Jahnkin de Leeuw chose a Gregorian chant as his final entry and performed exceedingly well. I was particularly impressed with his control of pitch and tuning . . . his chosen piece required completely exposed, very long notes. I couldn’t have held such tones nearly as constant as he did! Still, for better or worse the judges chose my entry for the top prize, and in the closing court I received the cloak and horn of the Kingdom Bard to wear and keep for the coming year.
I’m still planning out what I’d like to do with the position, but I’m certain that I want to encourage a lot more performances in a variety of genres. That will certainly involve running some bardic circles and performing in court, but I’m also hoping to showcase some other folks and to insert music into some places where it isn’t as commonly encountered, such as tournaments. I’d also like to build a greater community of performers, but I may end up with some challenges there due to a potential major division between (self-classified) bards and musicians that I’ll discuss in a subsequent post.
I’ll close with a question for any gentle readers who care to comment. With respect to the performing arts in An Tir, what would you like to see happen in the coming year? My ear is open to you, and there’s no better position from which to spark some change in that area than the one I now hold.