Sunday, July 15, 2012

Skagit Valley Highland Games

This weekend, many of us from the Shire of Midhaven, and some from the Barony of Aquaterra held a public demo at the Skagit Valley Highland Games.

The morning was somewhat easy-going with a few people coming by and about an hour or so of drizzle.  We had a bit of rapier-fighting with Lord Bryson MacLachlan, Duncan of Hawkesborough, and Keegan of the Black Company.  Sir Thorkell FitzHrothgar led the heavy-fighting demo with Lord Derfail Bjornsson, Hassa, Aláric Arabis Bjornsson, Arthmæl and Keegan, all of the Black Company, as well as Lord Etolé Marchant (of KeyPoynt) and Johara al Wadi, our youth combattant.

Lady Samira al Wadi, together with companions, performed some belly-dance.

A lord from Aquaterra, whose name I never found out, but who is a part of House Redstone, demonstrated the crafting of wooden spoons.  Martha at Gore, our own Deputy Minister of Arts & Sciences, demonstrated the spinning of yarn from wool.  Cailin Cobb and I demonstrated the making of mail armor.  Duchess Angharad Banadaspus Drakenhefd and Lady Mericke de Ross displayed garb, and both Sir Thorkell and Lord Vedr Fawkner displayed a selection of weaponry.  The heaviest foot-traffic was between the parade of the clans at noon, and about 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon.

Toward the middle of the afternoon, I took a stroll over to where the (bag)pipe and drum bands were rehearsing and competing.  There was something profoundly stirring about being in the midst of them, as their music all blended together filling the air with a surreal mood.

I had the opportunity there to provide a bit of training for Cailin and also for Libuše Makovička in field heraldry.  I greatly enjoyed spending so much of the day (between heraldry, and the chain mail demo) with Cailin, for whom I have great respect as a person.  I also found it really cool to hear him explaining chain mail to the public, when he, himself, was so new to the craft.

I had to smirk to myself when during the parade of the clans, the announcer mentioned how anachronistic it was for our group to be using a golf cart, which was necessary because Duchess Angharad has a broken leg.  Her Grace has a great and inspiring enthusiasm.

Also, right before the Highland Games, Duchess Angharad invited me to become her ducal herald, which I gladly accepted.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Miscellaneous Musings

Well, this coming weekend the Celtic Arts Foundation will be putting on the Skagit Valley Highland Games at Edgewater Park in Mount Vernon.  Yours truly is planning to attend all day on Saturday, but will miss Sunday.  While there, my main activities will be to provide field heraldry support for the SCA fighting demonstrations, and to work on an A&S (arts & sciences) project or two.  Currently, I am continuing to embellish a dress of my daughter’s with embroidery.

I am pleased to report that one of my A&S entries at Terror in the Tulips was judged second place in the beginners category.  It is a hand-sewn 13th Century coif made of white 100% linen simple-weave fabric and featuring chinstraps of white cotton DMC embroidery floss, hand made (by me) using a 10-stranded braid.  I also displayed a necklace that I had made for my daughter on a lucet, and a sleeve of butted mail, complete with tapering from the shoulder to the wrist and a wholly-incorporated mitten-style hand.

After seeing the many photos of myself that were taken at Terror in the Tulips, my initial reaction is something like, “Gadzooks!  I need to lose weight.”  There’s just something about a photograph that makes one face reality.

This coming Wednesday, the Shire will have its July business meeting.  As my wife, Lady Avelyn de Mowbray, is visiting family in the West Kingdom, I will be bringing the A&S judging forms for Midhaveners from Terror in the Tulips.  Also Lady Avelyn’s deputy, Martha at Gore, will be presenting the A&S Minister’s report.

In my interest in the art of blackwork (speaking generally), I have recently joined the Yahoo! group of the West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild, and done some online research into 16th Century English blackwork and scarletwork, the materials used (generally hand-waxed silk floss on white linen simple-weave fabric), what items or parts of garments were embellished with blackwork (or scarletwork), period designs, the stitching techniques employed, and modern sources for obtaining the proper materials and tools.

As a result of all this, I have decided a couple of things.  First, since my research to this point indicates that period blackwork and scarletwork did not use wool or hemp, and I have a certain quantity of both, I may try my hand at counted-thread embroidery in the style of blackwork in these media, before beginning any actual blackwork or scarletwork projects (especially since I have yet to obtain any black or scarlet silk floss).

Second, I plan to make a few counted-thread embroidered pillows for largesse.  These may be sized for children, for dolls, for carrying small thing upon (such as rings, etc.), or possibly for adults, depending on how big the resulting design comes out on the particular fabric.  I suppose to stuff pillows, I’ll need to get some downy feathers (perhaps goose down?  If you have a good, inexpensive source, I’d be interested to know.)

Two quick notes:  (1) In looking for sources to document the name of Libuše Makovička for submission to the College of Arms, I came across an online collection of Seigneurial Land Records from the Kingdom of Bohemia dating from about 1450 through the 1800s.  A cursory scan of some of the earliest images revealed to me that it is nigh impossible to make useful sense of low-resolution photographs of 600-year-old cursive manuscripts written in Czech.  As the decades progressed, more of them seemed to be written in Gothic calligraphy, but still, I have yet to find any useful information.  Even so, there are over 2 million images in the collection, certainly enough to leave room for the possibility of something useful.

(2)  This coming October, the Shire of Midhaven will be having a Fall Ithra.  I have gotten a tentative “yes” from the Pelican Queen-of-Arms, Doña Juliana de Luna, to her teaching one or more classes on the new Standards for the Evaluation of Names and Armory.  I plan to work with the relevant Ithra chancellor, Lady Elewys Cuylter of Finchingefeld, JdL, GdS on putting together a track of classes specifically related to heraldry.  More on this later....

The Barony of Aquaterra was invited by the organizers of the Stanwood-Camano Fair to put on a fighting demo this year (Friday, August 3rd from 6 to 9 PM).  As the fairgrounds are about a half-mile from my home, Lady Avelyn and I are planning to participate, although neither of us is a fighter.  Certainly we can be in garb, and contribute to the ambiance.  I might get the chance to do some voice heraldry, and we both may get the opportunity to field questions from the modern public.