Arts and Sciences - CHAMPIONSHIP COMPETITION - Where Do I Start???
It all starts with an idea.... something which interests you and which you might like to add to your SCA “stuff”.
Let’s say you want something for your encampment.... maybe a table or chair? Sure, a chair sounds good – let’s start with that.
Now, ask yourself if the chair you have in mind would have existed in period. Nope, a fancy cover for a modern “director’s chair” will not do. But a director’s chair has one nice feature: it folds up small for travel. Did medieval travelers have collapsible chairs? Did they bring their furniture with them when traveling or did they improvise with what was available when they set up camp? Hmmm... that might depend on the importance of the traveler and on where and when he traveled.
This is also the time to consider what resources are available. There may be pictures of later-period chairs: illustrations in manuscripts or paintings or even photographs of extant chairs. Early-period chairs are harder to research directly but you might be able to infer how they were constructed if you studied the tools, materials and construction methods which were available.
Email the A&S Champion and the Minister of A&S to tell them you’re planning to enter the competition. If things just don’t come together you can withdraw later (although we hope that won’t be necessary). Gather the materials and tools, and try making a chair.
If the materials are expensive you might first make a prototype out of cheaper material. Keep a record of every step in the construction. Take pictures! If the project doesn’t work out as expected, that’s OK. Learn from your mistakes. With luck you’ll have enough time and materials to do it again. Write a rough draft of your documentation. This is the scary part for most people but it’s not really so difficult. Here is a format which generally works well:
• INTRODUCTION – Tell what the object is, who might have used such an object, and where, when, and why. Include references and pictures to support your assertions.
• BODY – Tell how you went about making the object, step-by-step. Include photos of various stages of construction if that helps your explanation. If possible, include references to prove you made the object the “right” way. Also tell if you made any significant changes from the way things would have been done in period and why, e.g. using a cheaper material because authentic materials would be too expensive or using power tools to save time.
• CONCLUSION – Tell what you learned from making this object, how “authentic” you believe the object is, and what you would do different if you had to do it over.
• BIBLIOGRAPHY – List your references (There are other ways to organize the documentation which are also effective.) Proofread the draft or ask someone else to proofread it for you.. If you need help citing your references don’t be afraid to ask!
The final copy should be easy to read in about 5 – 10 minutes (usually about 5 – 10 pages). Make at least 3 copies of your documentation so each judge can look through a copy.
Give some thought to how the object will be presented. You will have some table space to display the object. Do you need a backboard to display information? A tablecloth? Some accessories, or tools, or patterns? If you’ve put a lot of effort into making and documenting the object then you want to display it in an attractive manner so more people will come by to see what you’ve done.
Imagine the questions the judges might ask you and think how you might answer them. “I don’t know but I’ll try to find out” can be a satisfactory answer. If the judges ask you to talk about your entry be enthusiastic about what you’ve learned. Remember, the judges don’t know everything – they actually enjoy learning from you!
If you are competing for the A&S Championship, repeat the foregoing steps several times. Be sure to send your letter of intent to the Baron and Baroness also.