How long have you been participating/performing within the SCA?
Garret (son) was almost 1 at our first event, which was Estrella War in 2005, and it was still out at the Estrella Mountain Ranch. My aunt invited me to come out, and she told me it was camping in funny clothing, and it is fun. It was not super great, because I had gotten a terrible cold from it, and it had rained. The only person in the family who could stay dry was the baby, because we did everything we could to keep him dry and warm. My aunt also threw some belly dancing clothing on me at this event and I tried it out for the first time. I had no idea what I looked like at the time.
For a long time, we were fringe players, and we really only came out for Estrella War events. My kids were really small, and it can be hard with little kids to be more involved. I actually got very involved with belly dancing after my first event. I knew that the Barony of Atenveldt, where we lived at the time, met at Encanto park, but it was a weeknight and that can be tough with kids. So, we just didn’t go. It was probably about 7 years ago when we moved into Barony of Sun Dragon that we got more involved because their practices/events were, and still are, on Sundays in the afternoons. This was way more kid friendly for us. That is when I met Jackie. Our kids are close to her kids’ ages, and she sucked me in.
What is the first Art/Science you partook in?
I was, early on, encouraged to participate in belly dancing. I belly danced at my first event at Estrella in 2005, because of my aunt. I had decided that if I was going to do belly dancing at this event (Estrella), then I needed to know what I was doing. So I started looking up where the belly dancing classes were at, and I found one taught by Morgiana. She was teaching free classes over at Bookmans Bookstore. I would go over there on Sunday afternoons and take her classes. From there, I joined a troupe, which also happened to be when Morgiana stopped teaching classes. When that troupe disbanded, I joined another troupe, which had been active up until the pandemic hit.
I have been in several troupes, and on top of that I have been a part of several belly dancing events, from running to participating. I have actually been running a monthly hafla in Phoenix, up until the pandemic hit, that both SCA and non-SCA people have attended. It is a drum and dance thing, so we have had several SCA people come to help put it on. There is some overlap with the belly dancing crowd.
I have been bellydancing the longest out of all the arts, and I continue to do it. I do it because it is good exercise. One of the things about it is that it challenges your mind, because different parts of the body go in different directions. It keeps your mind sharp because you have to work out how to do multiple moves at the same time.
How many and what are the Arts/Sciences do you practice/perform?
I have been a seamstress from the start of my SCA life. It’s so expensive to buy stuff from other people, so sewing is essential when creating outfits for a family of 4, that includes 2 children that decided to grow-up. I also sew a lot for my household and the new participants. I have done a lot with block printing fabrics, illuminating and calligraphing scrolls, and making cordials. In addition, I have done kumihimo and fingerloop braiding. I have done some fabric painting, which includes baronial walls and parasols. I have assisted with decorating of the archery targets that my husband has created and various minor projects like the occasional beading or helping make largess. I have done so much, and of course I want to do more!
I have an outfit set that I made for my husband and me that I absolutely love. I found a piece of silk at Goodwill. There was only enough to make the Ottoman coat for Flip, my husband, and a little mini top for myself. I did the research on how they made those Ottoman coats, and I did the finger loop braiding on it for the decorations on the front of it. Looking at all the photos for the Ottomans, they had a lot of clashing colors and busy fabrics. The undershirt for him has pink flowers, and I had pink flower pants. I really enjoyed putting the outfit together for him. He has told me, though, I am not allowed to make him wear anything more with pink. He was very good about playing along with my ideas. We were very matchy matchy during our time as Lord and Lady of Love (Barony of Atenveldt).
It was probably about 5-6 years ago when I started cordials. I was inspired by a household member who was doing it. She had an Apricot tree in the back and she would take those apricots and put them in with her stuff (vodka and apricots). I was like, “How do you make this?” She explained it to me, and I was fascinated. It seemed to be easy enough, and from there, I started to make them. My grandma will bring me some of her fresh oranges from her place, and if you mix that with a whipped cream vodka, it tastes like a dreamsicle. That is my favorite cordial I have made, so far. I have also looked into the history and other ways of making it. I entered it once for Defender and won. I had documentation on it for that. I would be happy to share it if someone asks.
Several years ago, there was a big parasol purchase that the Kingdom was doing. One of my household members was talking about it, and you had to order 6 parasols at a time. So, we made the purchase, but then they sat in my house for about a year. A little while after that, I had won a parasol from an archery event that we had. Red isn’t really my color, but it is Sun Dragon’s color. I painted the little battle dragon onto it, and I took it to the Baroness of Sun Dragon at the time. I made this Sun Dragon parasol, which is still in use now. That gave me the confidence to make the ones for myself, my daughter, and my aunt. I took a piece of paper and printed out all the designs, then pinned the picture to the inside of the parasol. I used a light to show the design through, and I used a heat-based disappearing ink pen to draw the pictures on it. I ironed it afterwards to make sure all the lines were removed where they did not need to be. Always test your disappearing ink pens before using them out-right.
The archery targets are a little different than anything else I do. It is always big and bold, with not as much detail. You want to be able to recognize what you are shooting at from far away. One shoot in particular, we made basically popsicle men from the waist down, so the tops were the parts you were shooting at. They were designed so that when you moved the ropes attached to them, they would move from side to side. As if you were really shooting at your enemy in battle. You wanted to shoot the opposite team’s “men” until they were “dead”. We had made two very distinct warriors, so one side was marked with the red crosses, and the other side was blue. One of the Mixed Weapons Wars, we had a walking shoot. It was like a storyboard shoot. You had to walk the line of the archery shoot. I helped paint all the story boards for that shoot.
I have made some silk banners with our heraldry on it. It was quite challenging. When I applied the gouda, my hand would cramp up, and I would make a little mistake. I was frustrated because you can’t really fix those. They still turned out really well, considering I had not done them before, but for a class I took once.
What brought you to competing in Arts & Sciences competitions?
Once I started playing more in the Barony, I started to look at other things I could do. Every activity that I started with outside of belly dancing started because of something else. My daughter wanted to start doing the scribal nights, so I would take her and she would paint. I went a few times and the group asked, “Why don’t you try it,too?” I was hesitant at first, but they encouraged me to try it out, and once I did, I was addicted. I started doing a lot with the scrolls. I went from the $5 paints, to paints that are $10 a bottle. My love of scribal arts was really inspired by His Lordship Gregior le Gris and Mistress Cecily de la Warde. They were very encouraging and gave me lots of tips. I will ever be in their debt.
I did a scroll for the Kingdom A&S competition, and I won in the Illumination category. I also entered that same scroll into the current Barony of Sun Dragon Defenders, which I won. It was held back in 2019, but I have not been able to step down yet due to the pandemic. It was my second time doing Guilding (an illumination technique), I did one other scroll as a practice. It was a really fun period example of a scroll with actual gold gilding on it.
The biggest thing I could tell anyone who is going to compete is: Do not be intimidated by the paperwork. It really is not that hard to do the documentation piece of it. There are so many resources out there and so many people who would be willing to help you. I’ve only competed twice on the Kingdom level, first as a novice, and second year was in the scrolls section. Both of them, I had a great time. My judges were fantastic. Really, if you follow the formula of what to do on the documentation, it can make it easier.
I went to our scribal community, because both entries were scrolls, and I borrowed a few books to help with my research and selections. I talked to a couple of people about how to write the paper, though I was not super worried about the documentation because I am very comfortable with writing papers. So, personally, I used it more as a resource to check my work. I had a laurel, Mistress Cecily, read my paper before I submitted it to get feedback.
What are some resources you would recommend to others?
Obviously, you can look for your local Baronial Arts & Sciences Facebook group. There are specialty Facebook groups as well, such as the SCA Scribes and Illuminators, that are open to all of the SCA and can inspire whatever your art is. I also love Google, but you have to get the terminology correct. I also bookmark some of the museums for their collections so I can get it straight from the source. Other people have great book collections that you can borrow from and even we use “adult coloring books” for inspiration.
Use your current artisans. We all love to share our art with everyone. Use that resource. Do not feel bad about using their supplies and time. We are not going to be upset about you using our equipment and the like to see if this is something you want to explore more of. Make sure that the art is something you want to put your money into, because you can get burnt out if it is something that you don’t truly have a passion for.
I think doing the online classes has pros and cons. I like hands on and being in person. I like to do it along with that person who is teaching the class. If they have all the resources at their house, and I don’t have access to, it is hard for me to spend the $ on the materials. However, if I say that I want to learn this particular style of painting, then I can go online and research for videos or other materials to help teach myself how to do that particular style.
It can be challenging when you are a teacher trying to teach an online class. When no one shows up for the class, it can be very disheartening. I tried to teach an online class for the t-tunic, and no one came. I think that the resources for the online classes and teachings are great for a resource, but I miss the in person classes a lot.
If someone is interested in learning belly dance or wants me to help them with sewing projects, I am happy to help. Please reach out to me via messenger on Facebook or via email. Here is an album of my SCA projects. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Ee6dHpuLjVAmzLGL7
What have you found to occupy your time in the arts during covid?
I did the largese challenge that Lady Rós inghean Uí Ghallchobhair put together. I made some pouches that I did a little bit of embroidery on (for the first time). I made some pockets, and block printed them with the Atenveldt sun on them. I did paint some of the paint brush holders that Lady Ros had, as well.
I have also been working on some scrolls for the Kingdom for the Ethereal Courts. I really enjoy how they have been doing scrolls right now, because I will be asked if I want to do a scroll for someone specific, and I am all for it because I really enjoy making them personalized. It fires me up, I love it! I am currently working on a mundane project for my dad. I am working on a t-shirt quilt for my dad, because he travels a lot. He gave me over 30 shirts, so it is going to be like a king sized quilt.
What is some advice you would give to a new artisan?
Try everything, commit to nothing. The wonderful thing about the SCA is that most of the groups have stuff you can borrow so you don’t have to spend a ton of money to start up a new hobby that you don’t know that you want to continue to do. Don’t compare your art to others. You can compare your own journey, but don’t feel like you have to put yourself down because of someone else’s standards.
In the upcoming year, what are you looking forward to most?
Getting to be in person again, safely. I hate to say this, but I miss the deadlines: I had a plan. I was working on an Egytian costume, and I was going to compete for A&S champion on the Kingdom level with it. I was going to do a whole Eqyptian theme: a necklace, a sheath dress, a headdress, a cul, and another item. I started working on my necklace, because it was going to be my main showcase piece. I did not like how it was going, so I put it in “time-out.” And then, everything got shut down because of Covid-19. So, I still have the piece that I started, that I don’t like. Have I even worked on it yet? No, because I don’t have a deadline at this time. I have been working on other things, of course, but I have put that project to the side because I have no time frame to get it done before-hand. Having deadlines help motivate us to get things done.