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Aritsans Display Skills Against Backdrop of Great Hall

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Grand works of art on display at the Great Hall
Photo by Lady Kathryn de Wrytar

Lady Kathryn de Wrytar
Features Writer

The excited chatter of the Arts and Sciences Fair attendees created a musical background to learning and increased fascination about the supportive craftsmanship of our past. To understand the complexity, work, talent and passion needed to produce a single garment, embellishment, chair, lace, arrows, or even libations is to love and appreciate the artisans in attendance.
Vivianne Dunbar (Heather Fox) has spent 96 hours in her pursuit of an authentic 14th century surcoat and she is only halfway there. The process of transforming raw dirty wool through the washing, carding, spinning, weaving, felling, teaseling and sewing process has given Vivianne a deep understanding and knowledge of what clothing meant to people in the 14th century. After 20 years in the SCA she has been encouraged to share her talents and her project with the greater Society for the first time.
Lady Ruth Baraskaya (Ruth Burkoswky) has been a consistent attendee at war since Pennsic 7 and this is her first A&S display in 20 years. Encouraged by her friends to participate, she shared a smock embroidery pattern based on a book from 1632 which took her three years to complete. She also displayed a blue tiger pillow top to be presented to East Kingdom royalty. On another pillow top she will embroider a documented floral border and include her husband’s device in the center.
Keely the Tinker displayed her arts and sciences entries including beads based upon period dragon pieces. Driven by the 50 year challenge, Keely set out to make 50 beads of 5 designs, but her abilities developed so quickly that she is starting another challenge of 50 different bead designs.
Lady Larissa Mikhailouna of Barony of Bright Hills displayed stitching and embroidery. Lady Amie Sparron of Atlantia displayed a German Peasant work jacket for a woman. Lady Grazia Morgano from Altlantia displayed a Milanese gown from the 1580s.
Katheryne of Bakestondone, Æthalmearc, displayed a group of Laurel and Pelican hoods that she has been giving as gifts. Her talents, developed over a short four-year period are the envy of even her mentors. One entrant in the fair was only 12 with a wonderful display of handmade moccasins which show the interest of our society youth to partake in this wonderful event and development of their own interests.
Also displayed was a four-by-two foot tapestry based on depictions of the early years of the Shire of Heronter in a Bayeaux tapestry style. Renata Rouge of Æthelmearc explained the process of her tapestry as well as offered information about how to construct a tapestry stand. If you missed a class, it is likely that you would find the presenter at the A&S Display as well. Many of the artisans were happy to offer information about classes and also handouts to promote their craft.
If your interests revolve around the more personal, presenters also offered documented evidence, process, and uses for reusable prophylactic devices; yes, I said reusable. With recreated examples, complete with a silk ribbon to tie it on, the presentation gives thought to the understanding of human interactions, and perhaps a desire to learn more about our past, whatever your interests may be.
What was apparent was that each artisan had something to offer to everyone. Whether visitors were looking for clothing, food, drink, embellishments, or weaponry, each presenter was very aware of the importance of their craft in the time period we embrace. The value of the items created was so great that these persons of talent were revered in period. Indeed they are revered today. The talents of the presenters raise the awareness of Society members to the complexity and commitment of our medieval counterparts to live daily life.
Looking to the AS 50th year Anniversary Challenge, perhaps it is time for you to develop 50 examples of your artistry, interests, or develop one of your own. It is difficult to imagine that anyone who attended the display could leave without a renewed or new passion for the arts and sciences that supported the medieval period. My challenge to you is to honor, support, and encourage those members who you know to be artisans. Provide for them the feedback that builds confidence to display their talents, no matter their age. Our Society is built upon a place and interest for everyone. Support our artisans; they would have fed, clothed, housed, produced weapons, and healed you in the past. Embrace them. Celebrate them. Become an artisan yourself.