Love’s Labours Found

by Lady Mary of Montevale
Features Reporter, Pennsic Independent

Virtually every single item on display in Monday’s annual A&S Exhibit in the Barn was a labor of love.
Of love and persistence, and perhaps in some instances, a moment or two spent wondering “Why did I ever start this?”—which has long since been replaced by pride in one’s workmanship and artistry. Even a project which is a few hours short of completion merits display, as evidenced by the pieces of baronial regalia for the Barony of the Flame exhibited by Baroness Camilla de la Reynaude (Middle).
One red glove, its cuff banded with several repetitions of the baronial device, was finished. Her Excellency modeled it for me. The second glove is yet a few fingers shy of complete “glovedom,” but the set will be ready in time for Midrealm court on Thursday. Fellow knitters will appreciate the work that went into the gloves even more when they learn the gauge for the yarn is 17.5 stitches to the inch, and that the gloves were knit using five size 0000 (1mm) double point needles.
Another item for which the details of production boggle the mind is the Byzantine set of headdress, collar, and pallium which Lord Corwyn MacCamie (Calontir) is quick to tell the inquisitive took him six years to complete because of all the semi-precious stones which form the decorative patterns on the three pieces had to be sewn on by hand.
How many pieces?
On the headdress there are 3,000 pearls. On the collar: 4,700 2mm semi-precious stones of 27 different kinds. On the pallium: 7,655 pearls and 6,730 of the 2mm stone. Do the arithmetic. Sewn on one at a time. Six years. Think about it.
Stopping to examine each individual exhibit and speak to each exhibitor in the Barn might take as long as Lord Corwyn’s project. Thus what follows is only a small sample of what could be seen on Monday.
Ose Silverhair (East) has been in the SCA for only eighteen months. She displayed her experiments in nalbinding in which she tried out various stitches with a variety of weights of yarn. A 3-section display board showed clear explanations for each of the stitches as well as two or three samples apiece from various kinds of yarn.
Baroness Maigret of Carrigart, OP (East) only knits in the evenings, so she was able to progress at a rate of about an inch per hour on two pairs of stockings in the manner of Eleanora of Toledo’s grave stockings. The red pair on display were knit of silk, the white pair of wool. It took about 30 hours to complete a single stocking. She followed a set of instructions written by Baroness Camilla de le Reynaude (of the baronial gloves described above) that has been published worldwide. Just do a search on “Eleanora of Toledo’s stockings.”
The current Baroness of Storvik (Atlantia), Janina Krakowska, displayed the baronial heraldic cloak which she wore at Sunday’s opening ceremonies on which she had embroidered a scene depicting the founding of Storvik about 35 years ago. She also displayed what she called a humor piece: a muslin bottle carrier, lined with insulating wool, in which one could carry (back in the day) a bottle of Pennsic chocolate milk. The outside was embroidered in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry with an image of Cooper’s Store and a young Norman departing, carrying his bottle of chocolate milk and his bag of ice.
A very eye-catching and beautiful gown was made of white and black wool by Lady Odile de Brienne (Middle). Lined with silk, the gown is based on the blue gown in the April illustration in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.
Also inspired by medieval sources was an oil painting on board by Lambert (Middle), done in the styles of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel. Using a favorite theme of medieval iconography, “Cynnabar’s Fighters” shows the Baron and Baroness of Cynnabar and several other baronial worthies in a large cauldron set over a blazing fire.
Lady Elsa de Lyon (East) used French sources to create the illumination on a Pelican scroll. The general design was based on a French book of hours from Rouen (1500), while the fencers portrayed on the scroll were from The Art of Fencing (1595) and the archers came from Froissart’s Chronicles (15th c.).
Baroness Sfandra Dmetrieva Chernigova (East)’s persona served as motivation when she created a married woman’s headgear in 14th c. Novgorod style. The fabric used, cotton upholstery velvet, was the closest in appearance to period silk velvet because of its short, dense pile. Lined with linen, the headgear has 12 oz. leather as stiffening because of the weight of the many pearls used in the ornamental decoration.
Mistress Maudelyn Godelinva Taillour (Meridies) found herself beginning to work with fiber as an offshoot of the costuming work for which she received her Laurel when she needed accurate accessory pieces for her Anglo-Saxon garb. On Monday she displayed completed items made using sprang: an Arden Mose woman’s cap and a reproduction Skrydstrup cap, a 14th c. grave find which might have been worn by a man. During the exhibit she worked on another Arden Mose cap, this one of blue finger-weight wool, using a frame also based on late Viking archeological finds.
Popular with many visitors to Monday’s exhibit was the display of “Pigment Mythbusters” by Atlantian scribe Lady Lavia Zanna. All of the supposed facts displayed were things people have told her about period scribal supplies which she believes are not true. For example, she is 90% certain that the pigment Indian Yellow was not obtained by feeding certain animals a diet consisting only of mangoes.
Lord Corwyn Ravenwing (East) began painting pottery reproductions about a year ago. He does not throw the pots; he only paints them. On display in the Barn were an Aramaic incantation bowl (4th to 7th c.), an Iranian painted bowl, (10th c.), and a piece of Teano ware from the 4th c. BC.
Every year, the A&S exhibit serves as a delight for the eye and a source of inspiration for newcomers and SCA veterans alike who want to return home from Pennsic to begin A&S projects of their own.