The Skinny On SCA Arts And Sciences

Looking back over my blog posts I realize that while I often post about an SCA Arts and Sciences thing I haven’t really told you what they are. Like so many others I forget people have unintended gaps in their knowledge. You might be like me and have played for decades or just found this blog accidentally and are wondering what I even mean.

Arts and Sciences (A&S) in the SCA is any art, craft or science that was done before 1603. That date being the formal end date for the Society. There’s slightly more that goes into the cultures connected within the SCA, but that’s for another blog post.

A spinning conversation.

Most events you attend will have an A&S feature. You may find people gathered together working on projects and chatting. Usually someone is sewing garb or trying some embroidery. Another may be spinning yarn while gabbing with a leather-worker. And a scribe might be painting or trying their hand at a new script.  

Many of us constantly work on various projects. And like I am now, many are dabblers dipping in and out of projects that take their fancy. It’s astonishingly easy to get caught flitting between A&S interests.

Portable projects are easily available for A&S confabs and chatting while you work. Projects you share with others. They’re also things you create and keep to yourself , sharing only as much as you feel comfortable. For a scribe that may mean keeping project details a secret because you’re working on a future award.

M. Gerald Goodwine‘s Great Wheel

There are people in the SCA that avoid doing small stuff. They’re into huge projects like the Lilies War Great Wheel. Or silk reeling from your own worms. Those are A&S projects too.

Every local group has an A&S officer who tracks members’ A&S projects. Whatever size project you’ve done they want to know, whether it’s your new research, a just begun project or something you completed.

Each local group’s Minister of Arts and Sciences (MoAS) collects your project information in their own way. It may be by an email or it may be by a Facebook post. However it’s done it’s usually only a few lines that’s needed. Most anything counts. Your item might be as simple as reading about the paint SCA scribes use today. That counts as A&S research. Using your new gouache to paint a preprint or charter is a project. Designing and painting ascroll from text through completion is also a project. Whatever size your project is your comments can be as brief or elaborate as you choose.

The local group A&S officers make their report to a baronial, regional or kingdom A&S officer depending on how your kingdom is organized. Which ever path it takes your project information ends up with you Kingdom A&S minister (KMoAS). Your kingdom wants to know what’s happening with all members.

To peek your interest there are classes. Each year there are Known World Symposium for specific crafts. There’s usually one each for music and dance, heraldry and scribal skills, costume and fiber, and even agriculture and forestry. There may be others.

Every June at Lilies War there is a week long Royal University (RUSH). Other kingdoms give theirs a different name. For a whole week you can camp and attend classes if you’re not distracted by fighting or other fun things. And several times during the year you’ll find a day long RUSH event

A kumihimo class.

Local groups have classes on various A&S skills. I’m sure you’ll find some that interest you. Lonely Tower often has classes in armor making, gardening, scribal skills, and arrow making to name a few. Usually there’s a fiber gabbing group too.

Many specific A&S skills have organized craft groups you can join. Facebook has online SCA groups. To find one you can search for it there, ask your MoAS or a member working in your chosen field. Within your kingdom there are also specific craft guilds. I know there are groups for scribes, brewers and metal workers.

So what do you do with your projects? That depends on what you want. Garb projects have a practical use for you or someone else. Bags of any sort are functional some also very decorative. You might make something to use for feast like napkins, plates or mugs. If you like to cook you might make a dish for people to share. Your options are endless.

And there’s always largess. In the SCA largess is given by Monarchs to show the kingdom’s generosity and hospitality. In the Middle Ages it was a way rulers displayed their wealth. To have things to share Their Royal Majesties need members to give them cool things they make to essentially regift.

Lonely Tower A&S demo at the
University of Nebraska-Omaha

But wait, there’s more when you’re up for it. There are formal A&S displays, demos and competitions both at the kingdom level and locally.  For local competitions there are often formal judging arrangements and populace vote challenges. If you enter your work will be looked at by most event attendees. Depending on the competition’s rules you might need to provide a written project account including: what your project was, why you chose it, your information sources and creative methods. If you need help writing it your local MoAS will help you or find a mentor who will.

A&S competitions – especially Calontir’s Queens Prize – are great motivators because they spur you to try something. They also help you connect with other people who like it and possibly even trade tips. You get valuable feedback which boosts you on to greater creative heights.

But the best thing you’ll find about A&S is the interactions it provides your crafting. Whatever your skill level you’re able to connect with others sharing similar interests. Your skills enliven another person’s experience.

Related Prior Posts:

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