A Different ‘Combat of the Thirty’

The Honorable Lord Steven’s curle chair
Photo by Nicolaa de Bracton

A Different ‘Combat of the Thirty”
By Magistra Nicolaa de Bracton
The Pennsic Independent

To be chosen to display as part of the A&S War Point is a true honour. Just thirty artisans have that privilege, and their works were on display at the Great Hall on Thursday.
“Fifteen champions were chosen for each side—Middle and Allies, and East and Allies,” said organizer Mistress Gianetta Andreini da Vincenza, who along with Masteritsa Anastasia Kirilovna Ivanova and Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona organized the event. “The artisans were primarily ‘unwreathed’—that is, non-Laurels—although a few Laurels were chosen as well,” Mistress Gianetta explained, noting there was no restriction this year to non-Laurels. Mistress Orianna, keeping the list of entrants, noted that there were representatives from six kingdoms—Æthelmearc, East, Middle, Northshield, Atlantia, and Ealdormere. “Each kingdom determined how their representatives would be chosen,” she said. “Some are their kingdom’s A&S champions; others are not.” Entrants were officially anonymous during the voting, although a few stuck around to answer questions.

Voting was open to anyone holding a kingdom-level A&S award of any kind. Each person was given just three beads, and then came the hard part—choosing which entries to vote for. New this year were specially-crafted cups (made by volunteers in the East and Middle Kingdoms) to hold the beads, which each entrant got to take home. The winner of the War point was the side with the most beads.
Entrants ranged the full gamut of SCA arts and sciences. Clothing, calligraphy and illumination, woodwork, metalwork, fine metalsmithing, beadmaking, stained glass, ceramic tiles, knitting, bookbinding, playing cards, block printing, soapmaking—these were just a few of the arts on display. All were deserving of my beads, but here is who received them:

Dame Kat Ferneley of Atlantia’s entry featured tools for fiber processing, including a large spinning wheel, teasel cross (for raising nap), a niddy-noddy, and wool combs. She also displayed a large number of handmade hooks and eyes, lacing rings, and pins.

Dame Kat and her spinning wheel
Photo by Nicolaa de Bracton

THLord Steven of Silverforge of the East showed another comprehensive body of work, including a lantern with panes made of linseed oil treated parchment based on a find from the Mary Rose, a box, a curule chair, Laurel medallions in enamel and glass, hand-cut leaf-shaped bezants, a measuring chain, 2nd a pavilion mast (metal piece to join a support pole).. He mentioned that he had picked up an enormous piece of horn this year at Pennsic and would be changing the parchment since it was “a little unstable” in the humidity.

Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen of Æthelmearc presented a block printing display concentrated on this art ,which is growing in popularity in the SCA. Hand-carved wood blocks with various designs were used with handmade inks from period recipes to print intricate designs on paper and cloth. Even the tablecloth was printed in this manner.

Block printing on paper and cloth
Photo by Nicolaa de Bracton

At the conclusion of the event, His Majesty Byron of Æthelmearc addressed the entrants. “The silver lining from the battlefield being closed was that I got to come back here,” he said. “I could spend hours lost here. There are the equivalent of whole textbooks displayed on a 3’ x 4’ table. I am floored by the quality of the work.” He noted that one of his own kingdom’s champions had brought their entry in a wheelbarrow, another with a microscope.
Mistress Anastasiia then announced the results: 445 points for the Middle and allies and 577 for the East and allies, giving the East the war point. She also noted the outstanding turnout of those who had voted: 110 from the Middle, 73 from Atlantia, 72 from the East, 50 from Æthelmearc, 26 from Ealdormere, and a scattering from other kingdoms.

After a successful second year, in the words of His Majesty Byron, “a tradition has begun.”