Monday, May 15, 2017

Growth and new research replacing old

My SCA kingdom, Artemisia, is gearing up for its 20th Anniversary this June. My favorite event locally, Arrows Flight's Toys for Tots,is also celebrating its 20th Birthday this year in November. The wave of nostalgia has me looking at my own SCA history. I originally began playing the summer I graduated high school in 1991. I happened to start in exactly the place I now live, and Arrows Flight was a Canton. I had spent the previous summer costuming shows for the Park City Shakespeare Festival and I thought myself very knowledgeable about the 16th Century.That summer I played recorder with a group of musicians, fought rapier with foils, and made a dress out of old table cloths. It was exactly what I was looking for and I wished it would never end. Seventeen is a very silly age, but oh so very magical.

When I left for college, I hoped to continue doing SCA stuff, but the local group had been going through a lot of political things and there wasn't a group to join. As I was broke, didn't have a car, and very, very young, I didn't realize I could have kept playing even without a local group. I reached out a couple of times to see about getting a group going, played with the incipient Shire of Ard Ruadh when I could get down to St. George (and they existed,) costumed for the Utah Shakespeare Festival, got a B.S. in history, played recorder and sang with friends who were alumnus of Renaissance Ensemble, played with the local Empire of Chivalry and Steel group when it cropped up, hung out at the Ren Faire, began researching Elizabethan Sumptuary Law and built the perfect garage for a Scadian with all kinds of hobbies and skills and the accompanying equipment.

Then my husband got a job up on the Wasatch Front and we were able to move north where there were active groups playing in the SCA. I jumped in with both feet almost a decade ago and haven't looked back. Seems like it is about time to do that, I guess. Evaluating progress is a useful tool for making future plans. This seems like a great time to create some focus for myself.

With that idea in mind, I pulled out my oldest major project; the gold coif I embroidered. It is based on an extant piece in a private collection. It also happens to be the cover image for Mary Gostelow's book Blackwork. Originally published in 1976, the book is usually pushed as the beginning book for historical blackwork. This was even more true 10 years ago when I was doing my research and there weren't as many other options.

I was displeased with the research flaws and problems with this coif, even before I finished it, However,  it is still something I am proud of. It is a beautiful, wearable piece of art as it is as well as being a case study in where mistakes can be made. All in all, it seems to be the perfect project for me to re-do as a growth project. I consider research to be my major art and I have certainly improved in that respect. The resources for materials and information have vastly changed, and so has my actual embroidery ability. I'm excited to do a better version of it.

I am starting with Jacqui Carey's book, Elizabethan Stitches, where this coif is case study 19, and laying out the embroidery pattern today. Better scale, more appropriate materials, and the correct stitches are the first changes. in the works.