Where did you get your start within the SCA?
I had originally been invited out to the Estrella War in 2007 by Sir Trudy. My first experience was not the greatest, to be honest. I was introduced to the members of the local group there, and it wasn’t the experience I was looking for. I took a year off from the SCA.
A year after, in 2008, Sir Trudy learned that I did not have a great experience the year prior and offered to help re-introduce the SCA from her point of view. It was from that point on I wanted to be more involved, but had not gotten the “do all the things” bug, yet. I ended up making a couple new friends, and we started hanging out outside of the SCA. I went to a few other events, and tried to go to Estrella in 2009, but that was a bust because of work. I did make it to the Highlands War that year, and though there was not anyone from my Barony, aside from the Baron and Baroness, I had a really good time and made some more friends.
Then, a couple months later, I lost my job. I was already playing on the fringes of the society, so, at that point, I had stopped SCA entirely. It wasn’t until four years ago, March, that I was brought back in through the love of cosplay. My wife, Lady Olrun, and I love to cosplay, and in 2017, I had a small leather emergency come up. I had contacted a few of the people I was still speaking to from the SCA (Master Heinrich and Mistress Juliana) to see if any of them could help with my emergency. They introduced me to Taka-Kensei and Eiwa, who were happy to help me with the issue. We hung out after that, and they had invited my wife and I to Wild Wild West Con in Tucson. When we all got to know each other better, and Olrun had gotten to know enough people to feel comfortable doing so, we started attending practice in the Barony March of Mons Tonitrus. It was from there that we were hooked into the SCA (again for me). It was the Middle East Feast in April 2017 that was our first event together. And from there, we have been a part of everything we can since.
Why did you take on the Kingdom Web Minister Office?
I can honestly say that I never thought I would be here if you asked me four years ago. I had originally stepped up as the Baronial Web minister in my barony because I wanted to help make things updated and more modern. I started out asking if there was a need and found myself as the deputy. A few weeks later, I assumed the warranted Officer position for the Barony due to the previous holder stepping down. It took me a couple of months to get the old website out of a private server, and update all the information on it for current officers and more. I held the Baronial office for two years (2017-2019).
Because of my work on the Baronial page, I was asked to help with the Estrella War web page by one of the autocrats. It took a while, but we had an updated webpage that was released for the world to use back in the beginning part of 2020. When the Kingdom website went down and the position of the Kingdom Web Minister became open later that year, I jumped on that as quickly as I could! Ever since then, I have, with the help of my deputies, released a new Kingdom website, and have been working with many others to produce more content that is modern and relevant to today’s users and members of the society.
What art form did you get started with in your SCA life?
I never even thought about the arts when I started. I had not even thought about becoming a Laurel. I was so focused on Rapier. It wasn’t until I had attended the Great Western War in later 2017 that I was introduced to Tablet Weaving by Lady Liadan of Lochlainn. She and another were sitting in front of tents, working away on something when I walked by. I asked what they were doing, and Lady Liadan explained it to me. She told me about how you can use the cards and turn them in different ways to get different patterns as you weaved. It clicked for me, because I am a computer guy, and it seemed very similar to coding. Once I learned about this and told my wife all about it. I was very excited to try it out and see what I could do. A few weeks later, she had gotten me a loom for my birthday. Best. Wife. Ever!
This is where it really started for me. I started off learning the basics. I was introduced to a book called Tablets At Work, which is what I will always recommend people to start out with. As time went on, I met other tablet weavers, and learned more and more. I had a fun little brotherly rivalry with Sir Demetrius when it came to skills. He had started before I did, and when I was coming up into it, he would learn something new, then I would try to match him. There was a point where he had actually told me that I had surpassed his skills. It was a very shocking, but wonderful complement.
Tablet weaving seems to be your favorite. Are there any other arts that you find enjoyable?
I have dabbled in other art forms; period style cooking, kumihimo, and dying. I have found that by far, second to tablet weaving, I really love making cheese. I made that discovery while I was the deputy Cook’s Guild Master in the Barony. Mistress Dairynie and Lady Aysun al-Andalusi came down from Barony of Tir Ysgithr to one of our meetings and taught us about mozzarella cheese and how to make it in 30-minutes. This was awesome because I figured I could make most cheeses in a day. I could make them in advance for events, and then bring them to share with friends.
After figuring out that I really enjoyed making cheeses, I have been experimenting with my friend, Master Heinrich. We have been playing with different hard cheese recipes, which is a longer process. They have been great in the flavor, but they have been a little dry. Once I get the hard cheeses figured out, the plan is to move on to moldy cheeses, which is a far more advanced cheese making skill.
I do want to learn more about glass work. Specifically, I want to learn how to make glass beads. My wife is the one who makes our garb, and I want to contribute to her work for us to wear. I have added a lot of trim to our clothing, which works due to our Viking style personas, but I want to help add more. With lamp work, I could play with molten glass and make pretty things for us to wear on our garb. I also really like to make things for people, and I want to add beads to that list of gifts I make for my friends and family.
Have you ever competed with your tablet weaving?
Something to know first is that when I was introduced to some of the tablet weavers of the Kingdom, like Sir Ivan and Master Domagnev, I didn’t really know how far I wanted to take my tablet weaving. Sir Ivan specifically has been a big part in my weaving path. It was a couple weeks, and a few lessons, after my encounter with Ivan, and many encouraging words, that I decided to enter a piece of tablet weaving into Kingdom A & S. I had woven something to submit within a week. Then, I had written up the paperwork a week after that. It was the night before the event for Kingdom A & S. This is when I really sat down with my current peer, Master Ritchyrd. He helped me with my documentation, because at the time, I was not good at citing my sources. That encounter is when I realized that I worked well with him as a mentor.
My experience overall with A & S has been mixed in terms of competition versus just doing a showcase. I would recommend everyone enter their work into Showcases every chance they get. It is a great opportunity to show off your work. You can even get information from others if it is something you are just starting out with. The competition side of things, be it on the Baronial or Kingdom level, is a whole different beast. You have to be prepared for your work to not meet everyone’s standards. If you like to compete, it can be a great experience for you.
How has teaching during the Pandemic been?
Well, I have taught four classes during the pandemic. One of them was my tablet weaving double faced technique, and it was recorded and is on the Kingdom of Atenveldt Youtube channel. the other three were my Sulawesi class, and two cheese making classes. Many of the classes that I teach for tablet weaving or cheese making are better received in person. I have also taught Basic Tablet Weaving and Brocade in the past. With cheese making, I have had people over at my house to learn some basics in the past. Nothing has been recorded for that as of now. I teach about making Lemon Cheese, Ricotta, and even teach my own version of the 30 minute Mozzarella.
I have a plan to have classes available when everything is safer. If anyone wants to learn about things I have done, they are also welcome to get in touch with me. There are also plenty of Facebook groups and books I can recommend for anyone who may be interested.
Who inspired you, or who still inspires you?
The basics of tablet weaving and basic patterns were pretty easy for me to pick up and get better at. It wasn’t until I started to learn 3/1 twill that I really started to feel challenged with the techniques of tablet weaving. I have learned to master it from the books I have read and figured out a lot of it on my own. Master Domagnev has been my biggest cheerleader with this art, and I find it humbling that he feels I bring a better light to the world of tablet weaving with the 3/1 twill. I look up to Master Domagnev a lot. He is one of my heroes. The biggest shock to me was when he expressed to me that I have pretty top notch work now.
Countess Golda helped get my work out there. Back in 2018, when she was sitting as Queen of Atenveldt, she noticed my work with tablet weaving and asked if I wanted to help her out with a few little gifts. We had sat down and figured out 12-13 designs to make, and I made little gifts for her to give out to people as she reigned. This is when I really started to accept that the arts were going to be the path for me, along with service.
There are several tablet weavers who have also helped me along my path, and that I would let others know about. Especially since everyone learns differently, and these other tablet weavers may be able to teach it to someone in a different way from myself. Master Domnagev and Sir Ivan are within the Kingdom of Atenveldt and Sir Demetrius is in the Outlands. Several others are out of Kingdom: Mistress Aldgytha in Caid, Sir Liam in the West, and Mistress Megan and Master Herveus in Atlantia.
What is something you would like to tell future artisans of the Kingdom?
Don’t get discouraged by other people’s art, especially people that may be doing an art for a longer or shorter time. You should also seek out anyone who may be doing the kind of art you have an interest in. In many cases, that person will be more than happy to share their skills with you, and teach you about that art form. Sometimes, if you are willing to listen, it can be a discussion that lasts an hour or more.