THL Elisabeth Thielmann, OSR
Minister of Arts and Sciences, Shire of Iron Ox
mka Bethany Theilman
Good Day and Greetings!
The SCA time period is between the fall of the Western Roman Empire - 476 to the end of the Tudors -1603, and the area centers mostly on Eurasia (including British Isles) and lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Arts and Sciences (A&S) is the study of how everything people needed to live, work and play during that time was grown, created or performed. As with all the other aspects of the SCA, we learn by doing.
If a skill was required for human (or animal) survival or happiness in period, someone in the SCA knows how it was done and is willing, NAY, WOULD LOVE, to impart that knowledge to others. The preservation and passing on of 'lost' skills is also a huge part of our non-profit status as an educational organization.
Just think about clothing - Known in the SCA as "garb". One of the most basic SCA rules is to make an attempt to LOOK period, but it's difficult to go buy 5th to17th clothing off the rack so we make them or barter the products of our own skills with people who know how to sew. Most people start off with a simple T-tunic. Want some style? You'll need embroidery or to weave trim to sew onto it Need buttons? They can be crafted from fabric, wood, shell, bone or cast in soapstone molds depending on the period you wish to recreate. Oh, and the fabric itself? In period, people wore what they grew -- usually wool and flax linen. Your fiber had to be grown or sheared, washed, carded, spun, dyed, and woven.
Obviously, our climate is not that of Northern Europe, and most of us do not have time or sheep to go to this level of re-creation. The rule of thumb is that garb has to look period from 10-20 feet. We find that during 10 months of the year in hot and humid Mississippi flax linen fabrics feel best.
Formal Royal University of Gleann Abhann (RUGA) classes are held at SCA Events. RUGA is fondly known as Ram U and you can earn "degrees" from RUGA by taking certain numbers of classes.
Locally, we have classes at A&S nights and Historical Arts Nights depending on instructor availability and interest in a topic. One on one instruction is very common within the Shire. Realistically, as soon as you know more about a skill than someone else, you're a de facto instructor and get to pass it on - if only to a curious onlooker at a demonstration.
Research and attention to period detail can be rewarded in local, regional and Kingdom Arts and Sciences competitions.
The difficulty and documentation requirements increase at each level. Judges in each field look at the item, and more importantly, your documentation telling how you made it. Documentation tells what your historical sources were, if you deviated from period methods why, and how would it have been done in period. eg. In period, they would have used lead white, copper acetate, realgar and orpiment as pigments, but I didn't because they are toxic and I have inquisitive cats.
Entering items into which you have put love, labor and blood can be intimidating, but please give it a shot. You are competing only against yourself on a point scale within a given category. Judges are kinder to novices than people who have entered a category multiple times. Remember not to take any unfavorable commentary personally. The judges are merely trying to help you learn to make your stuff look like you have a time machine.
Why bother? Entering things in A&S competition is a great way to come to the notice of the Laurels and Crowns. Individuals who like to encourage the arts often leave you neat little happies, and sometimes Laurels sponsor competitions within the competition with really cool prizes!
The Order of the Silver Ram, and the Silver Lamp are awards given by the Crown to reward those who work hard at their arts and benefit the Kingdom.
Those showing promise and skill in a field may be apprenticed by a master/mistress of that craft 'known as Laurels', and may aspire to become Laurels themselves. Laurels are the "Knights" of the Arts and Sciences, experts in their field and peers of the realm.
Have FUN! Learn Skills! Make Stuff!
If learning period performing arts, shoe making, woodwork, beekeeping, medicinal herbs, blacksmithing, music, brewing, leather work, metal casting, etc. appeal to you, check out the Arts and Sciences. Almost any day of the week someone is making something in the Shire of Iron Ox.
Fighter Practice is held most Sunday afternoons, and the non-fighters often work on projects. The Second Thursday of the Month is the monthly Iron Ox Arts and Sciences meeting at Fat Cat Ceramics. Unofficially, Wednesdays - 6:30 to dark - I personally often host the Iron Ox Woodwrights - an open wood shop time in the reservoir end of Brandon Thursday nights - sewing circles and armor making at member's homes Fridays - at Books-a-Million Cafe 10:00 to 2:00 - small non-messy projects.
Before attending, Check out the Iron Ox Yahoo Group and Facebook for the latest.