I did a Laurel-y thing.

Actually, I did a very, very period thing. I became a Patron of the Arts.

I had the wonderful experience this past weekend of judging at the Outlands Tri-Baronial Arts and Sciences competition (that’s Caer Galen, Unser Hafen, and Caerthe, the hosting group this year – it rotates – and my new home Barony). I managed through some dumb luck to land entirely first-time competitors, which was absolutely a blast – these folks all had such interesting, varied projects, they all had been doing the work for some time but were just now delving into competition, and seriously, I could have spent the entire day with each of the three of them. So much fun.

The last of the entries was a jewelry entry, but it was only one of the gentleman’s five projects, and as Master Rhys and I sat and geeked out with him we touched on all five projects at least a little.

One, a Mongolian quiver, had been made as a commission piece, and as I listened to him and Rhys talk about the quiver, it dawned on me – the constraints the client had laid on him were in conflict with his own desire to make the piece more period, and his extensive knowledge about how to do that. It was a beautiful piece, but he could have taken it farther, and he knew it, and it was tremendously frustrating to him. That was so disappointing to me!

Now, I’ve been meaning to make a quiver and bowcase for ages, and I have the skills, and I have the funds for the materials, and I really could make the time, but I haven’t yet, and every time I go to the range I’m embarrassed by my $10 polyester sporting-goods-store quiver. Juan had been pretty excited about starting work on it this winter, but now, I just can’t even think about it.

So while I was off filling out the judging form, I realized – these are two intersecting problems, and the solution is throwing money at them. I went back, returned his documentation, and said, “I’d like to talk to you about a commission.” I proposed: I supply parameters, he supplies an estimate, we tweak the plan a little, and he gets to go bonkers. By commissioning the pieces, I’ll provide the patronage, and he gets to do the research, make it kingdom-level-competition-worthy, put into practice all that knowledge he’s accumulated and just not had a chance to manifest. And I take a project off of my plate that was supposed to be a “me and Juan together” project and would have probably been delayed ANOTHER few years while I get to a place where the thought of it doesn’t make me want to sob. Reframe the question. Make it something new and different, with some joy in it and something for the future.

The look on his face as he wrapped his head around the idea was worth the price of admission. Pure awesome.

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Taking measure

Sometimes, I like to take on a project that is at the bleeding edge of my current skills, take my time, and just assess the current envelope (for to stretch it, of course). I’ve done this with big cooking and costuming projects, but this is the first time I’ve done it with a scribal project.

Recently, I was honored with the assignment of Duke Albert von Dreckenveldt’s Doe and Mountain, the Outlands’ award for long service in arts and sciences. His Grace is a dear friend and an artisan I’ve admired for years (and his Laurel is a couple of months younger than I am) so “daunted” was a little bit of an understatement.

As he is an armorer, if I were better at figure work, I’d have worked from a late-period illumination or print illustrating very fine armor design. I didn’t find an inspiration piece I was happy with, but I did find the Almugavar Hours, a scribe’s dream of an early 16th-century Spanish devotional. I decided that the best way I could honor Al’s art was with the very best art I could bring, so I did. This was a whole lot of fun to work on, and a delight to see presented.

Arches Cold Press Watercolor, Deckled Edge, 22×30
Higgins calligraphy ink
Windsor & Newton (Cotman line) paints
Liquid Leaf
Pigma Micron artists’ pens

Finished scroll

Finished scroll

His Grace Albert receiving his Doe and Mountain from HRM Anna, with many thanks to Lady Adelaisa Bernois for the court photography!

His Grace Albert receiving his Doe and Mountain from HRM Anna, with many thanks to Lady Adelaisa Bernois for the court photography!

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Battlemoor VI Chai Cream Cordial

For the many people that requested the recipe:

1/2 bag Vitamin Cottage Brand loose bulk bagged chai tea blend*

1 1.75L bottle vodka of your choice.

2 c. sugar

2 c. water

1/2 gallon half & half

Combine vodka and spices and let rest for two weeks.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and boil until liquid is thickened and reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. Pull off heat BEFORE syrup reaches soft-ball stage/235 degrees. Allow to cool.

Filter vodka and spice blend through a goldtone coffee filter or other fine mesh. Add syrup and let rest for another two weeks.

Filter through a fine mesh again, then filter through paper coffee filters (you will need to change the filter several times as it gums up). Add half & half. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

*The chai blend is in the bulk spices area, and the bags run about 1/4 lb, between $4.50 and $5.00 for for a  bag at $17.73/lb. If you’re using a different chai, the volume is roughly 1.5 cups. (I didn’t measure – I actually doubled the recipe and dumped a whole bag in – but I will check and update the post when I make another batch, and I WILL be making more batches.)

More about Battlemoor later. It was a glorious event.

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I have just had the best couple of weeks! This past weekend was Outlands Heralds and Scribes, and the weekend before that was the new Kingdom A&S Collegium. I’ve been playing at a pretty low level since Fall Coronation, and although I’ve been recovered from the post-elevation fatigue for a while now, I haven’t been caught afire by any new projects yet. These couple of weekends have been just what I needed – coming back to what drew me into the SCA in the first place, the geekery and discovery, learning and teaching and sharing.

I actually only took three classes at KA&S, but they were really good classes. An all-morning reprise of the Battlemoor lampworking class and open torch time, timed just right to refresh everything I learned at Battlemoor and was starting to get anxious about losing.

2015-04-14 08.56.21

After lunch I took Mistress Eibhlin’s cheesemaking class, which was intended to be practical and turned out to be incredibly informative and useful on a theoretical level because the curd didn’t cooperate, and then Mistress Ursula’s arboriculture and medieval gardening class, which was fascinating on a theoretical level but also left me with a lot to think about practically as we lay the groundwork for moving to a new place.

But the best part of the event, as ever, was the people. The long drive and opportunity to really catch up and gossip and talk deep SCA philosophy with HE Leofsige, and a fantastic dinner with a bunch of Dragonsspine and Aarquelle people.

Then turning around the next weekend and heading up to north Denver for Heralds & Scribes. Classes on the history of heraldic tabards, on streamlining workflow for combat scribes, on applied gold leaf, and on faux non-Roman-alphabet hands (where my own Laurel scroll, which is done in a faux proto-Cyrillic that HE Avram developed specifically for that project, was featured in the examples). Every class was exciting, inspiring, and immediately practical. But the highlight of the event was the scribal display. I would have loved to have just blown off a couple of classes and spent hours just studying those scrolls – the extraordinary masterworks and the pieces of history. Many, many premier scrolls. Scrolls in every imaginable size, style, period, material, language. Just amazing. I’m absolutely humbled; I realize how far I have to go to be doing really masterful work, but I also have a better idea of how to get closer to it. And two current assignments that I am excited to start on. So much fun.

And because it just gets better, on Sunday, we went and ran a bunch of errands all over the city before heading home. At Black & Read, our favorite used bookstore, I found a lovely little calligraphy book, an annotated excerpt of Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta. At Colorado Fabric, I found wool for Juan’s Norse garb, a beautiful diamonds-within-stripes faux-silk satin for a new doublet and paned slops set, a half-yard of rich dark indigo linen (in the $2/lb discount bin! Seventy-eight cents!) for a new veil or light shawl, and a gold-stamped silk crepe that will become the accent fabric in a late-period project for me. Unfortunately, the big Korean grocery was out of goose, so I couldn’t pick one up to start recipe testing on Corazon.

And now I have a few weeks of breathing room before Coronation, no immediate deadlines except those two scrolls, and lots of fabric and wood and glass and food and ideas to play with.

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Pattern darning and veil pins


Just some off-and-on side projects in between working on the Stibbert doublet. I’m doing the length of pattern darning for fun and practice – not sure what I’m going to put on yet. The pins are just an excuse to play with glass while I wait for the bead release I ordered to come so I can start making beads.

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Stibbert Doublet: sewing started

Haven’t we all drooled over this doublet?

I came across it about four years ago and always wanted to make a reproduction of it, but lack of good materials, my own lack of skill, and other pressing projects have back-burnered the idea. About a year and a half ago I lucked into some exceptionally high-quality faux suede (really, you need a magnifying glass to see that it’s fabric, and cannot tell to the touch) in the $4/lb discount upholstery scrap bin at Denver Fabric, and bought every scrap I could get my hands on. Which is JUST BARELY enough to make the doublet.

I got as far as patterning it last summer, and it went back into the UFO basket. I’m between projects now, so last night, after getting home from a VERY busy and wonderful event weekend, I put my feet up with a cocktail and Netflix and started embroidering.

2015-03-09 08.57.41 2015-03-09 08.57.55 People always ask how long stuff like this takes, so I’m going to keep track and do periodic writeups, and one at the end. My off-the-cuff guess: if I worked steadily (3-4 hours per night, 4-5 nights a week, and on road trips) it would take 3-4 months – call it 300 hours. I won’t work anywhere near steadily on it; like the Blackwork Shirt of Doom, which took two years, it’ll be my fun, no-stress, no-deadline project for between other things. A year and a half to two years seems likely.

Actually, I’m starting three projects this week – this, a pair of Tatar boots for myself, and Juan’s brigandine mark II. There’s a bit of a rush on the brig, we want it in service early in the spring fighter practice season, but it doesn’t have a specific target date. The boots will also be a low-pressure project; done by Battlemoor would be nice but I’m not heartset on it.

So I’ll bounce around between these three and a couple of others (camp furniture, a little basic garb – more Norse tunics and pants for Juan, more Tatar salwar and undertunics for me – a back scroll assignment, some largesse) until something with a deadline pops up. I’m also working on some non-SCA art projects. Having no deadlined projects at the moment is LOVELY and I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!

2.5 hours in

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Catching up: SCA edition

Following on this post: I actually started writing February’s post on February 3rd, but got derailed and never got back to it. So here, I’m both reflecting on February and looking forward to March.

Big projects (that won’t be finished this year but will be worked on this year)

I finished and delivered a back scroll using the February theme, which I’m delighted about.

Had a great conversation about a possible future event proposal and ongoing project that has got me inspired to start up work on Motino again.

The Great Baltic Mapping Project is a bit stalled. Maybe set aside an evening next week to figure out the next step with it.

I’m really, really ready to start on the Stibbert. I don’t want to get sucked into a big SCA project when I’m really trying to focus on non-SCA art, but maybe once the weaving is done on the new mixed-media piece but before starting the surface embellishment, take a couple of evenings to get the ball rolling, and then relegate it to a car project. There will certainly be enough traveling in March and April.

The event calendar has firmed up A LOT in the last month and a half, so there are some pretty significant adjustments to my own event planning below.

February: Taking stock

Corazon was cancelled because of a blizzard, which makes the entire month of February feel – not wasted, something beyond that: like somehow it never even happened.

KAOS is due Sunday; I have two evenings of work left, and ran short on one supply and can’t get to the craft store till tomorrow. Get as far as I can tonight, finish tomorrow evening, get it in the mail on Thursday. And that’s an end to February.


The Next Thing is Dragonsspine Candlemas/Queen’s Prize. I’ve resold the Corazon lunch to Queen’s Prize, so there’s that, but there’s very little prep to do – most of it is already sitting in my freezer. Mainly, it’s getting together my chukies and gifts and things. I picked up some post-Valentines candy, and need to go through my stash of sparklies and bits, maybe make some more.

Need to check work schedules, because I’d like to go to Crown Tournament – it’s at the magnificent, early-18th-century colonial Rancho de los Golondrinas facility, one of my favorite SCA event sites ever – but two weekends in a row is really difficult.

Also up in March: Dance Collegium in Caerthe.

Each of these three events, individually, is pretty low-prep, fun, and unstressful; but three of them in a month makes for a scheduling challenge. Probably one of the two latter ones will get dropped. Pin this down before the week is out.


April has ArtSci Collegium and Heralds and Scribes. I definitely don’t plan to put in a teaching bid at H&S, just to go and have fun and learn. I need to make a decision about ArtSci, like, yesterday. Caelainn has been moving forward with the project we kicked around in December; I haven’t had the time or energy to do anything more than read the material she sent me and not approvingly. Need to follow up and see if we’re actually ready for this thing to go live in April, or if it should wait for a summer event.

April is when fighter practice and archery practice can start in earnest. Juan and I have discussed revisions to his armor, and are going to start on those pretty much immediately – probably over the next couple of days – and I’d like to get started on mine too.


May is First Camping. In January, I wanted to pick ONE major project and work on it, and it looks like it might be a Viking bed, so maybe lumber shopping on Saturday.

June and July

The North doesn’t have anything on the calendar for July 4th weekend, and I’m not super excited about Keepers of Dry Stone. And I’m not sure we can swing Lilies, in terms of either time off or money. Al-Barran is doing Nock on Wood in late June, and a low-key archery event sounds fun, so we’ll probably do that. I’m just not sure what’s going on here. There will be more events announced in the next four to six weeks, so for now, make some beer and decide on the season’s sewing priorities, and wait and see.


Brewing and sewing – those are the things that have to be put into motion far in advance for Battlemoor to go smoothly. I know I want to do more Indian and more Central Asian, and Juan wants more Viking, and particularly a Viking coat. Start on that stuff before the end of the month, so there’s some breathing room to maybe make one party outfit for each of us once the party themes are announced.

I plan to participate in the Battlemoor scroll challenge, so maybe start sketching out the first three or four scrolls in the next few weeks, and then work on the calligraphy for all of them at once.

September & October

Corazon may be rescheduled for somewhere in here, a decision that will probably be made at populace meeting on Friday, and I also want to make a Florida trip. Sit tight and keep options open.

November & December

I have made a pretty big dent in organizing my craft supplies, and need to continue on with that. Pin ideas for 12th Night gifts, think about putting some stuff up. I have an overabundance of sugar – it might be fun to start some spiced sugars.

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