../images/blank.gif ../images/blank.gif Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

AS-cont-docu-msg - 1/25/01

Documentation comments and ideas for SCA Arts and Sciences Contests.

NOTE: See also the files: AS-compet-msg, AS-classes-lst, AS-classes-msg,
AS-events-msg, AS-food-msg, 5x8-Doc-art, AS-ideas-msg.


This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that
I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some
messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with
seperate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes
extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were
removed to save space and remove clutter.

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I
make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the
individual authors.

Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these
messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this
time. If information is published from these messages, please give
credit to the orignator(s).

Thank you,
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
mark.s.harris@motorola.com stefan@florilegium.org

Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 01:29:47 -0500
To: ansteorra@Ansteorra.ORG
From: Gunnora Hallakarva <gunnora@bga.com>
Subject: Re: ANST - A&S Judging Suggestions

Baron Bors of Lothian said:
>labored more on the documentation than I did on the original work. This was
>what was required at the time-ei: GOOD DOCUMENTATION. Entered the windows in
>Stargate Yule and got a two word comment- NOT PERIOD. Thank you Lord or Lady
>judge who ever you are- I never entered nor will enter a stained glass piece
>again. Although some of the BEST PEOPLE in the kingdom have my work, I guess
>it's not good enough for competition.
>SO!!!!!!- my question is- what are minimum documentation requirements now and
>what should it consist of?? Not that I will be entering A&S compititions
>soon- others may whant to know.

Sael og Heill!

Bors, you are evincing the biggest A&S attitude problem I have ever seen!
And the problem is, your response is all too typical. When you got an
idiot judge who didn't read your documentation, instead of doing something
useful about it, you sat down in the middle of the road, threw up your
hands, and began to lament loudly that now you would eat worms.

Whining is not the answer. Neither is being a quitter. If you had taken a
proactive response instead of a passive-aggressive one, you would be much
happier in the long run.Worm-eating will not make you feel better, and
usually doesn't get you what you want. And if you have talent, it is dumb
to quit instead of looking for better answers. I know you are intelligent
enough to find good answers if you'd just look.

Here are some ideas for handling this problem better:

(1) Track down the commenting judge and discuss the matter in depth. If
you don't know who this person was, talk to whoever is organizing the A&S
at the event and find our who the judges were and speak to each of them.
Find out why they came to the conclusion they did. I think I can tell you
what happened -- you submitted your beautiful piece of work with a research
paper (ideally should have been two entries) instead of brief documentation
that was to the point... the judge saw this huge bit of documentation and
declined for whatever reason to read it (not enough time, patience,
interest, etc). and then based on whatever they knew or thought they knew
about the artform made a judgement. Then the person proceeded to give you
an execrable critique (a good critique would have said what was not period
and how you could do it better, plus given you the person's name and
possibly referred you to other experts in the field). Had the critique
been better, you would have had better clues for going to talk to the
judge, or understanding what they thought was not period about the piece.
It may not have been the construction. The design may not have appeared to
them to be period, etc. Nevermind that it was in the documentation, we
know they didn't read it.

Good documentation does not equal weight or number of pages. Let me stress
from my own experience displaying: NO ONE WILL READ MORE THAN A PAGE OR TWO
AT THE MOST, EVER, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. Write your documentation like it
was a newspaper article: get the essentials in the first paragraph, then
elaborate upon them as necessary at length, but still don't go over 3 pages
max, and really 1-2 pages if you can manage. Big stacks of paperwork will
scare people off. All your documentation for the piece you describe needed
to say was:

* What is it (i.e., an exact reproduction of this Edinburgh window dated
ca.____ in which I used foiled glass and ______ etc. exactly as was done in
the original window).
* I used these materials ____, including these which were period:______ and
these which were not: ______.
* This piece varies from the period example in these ways ____. It matches
the original in these ways:______
* The reasons I used these nonperiod materials/techniques was ____.

(2) If you couldn't or didn't want to find the person giving the bad
critique, take the time to track down a Laurel or two who are knowledgable
in the field. Get their critiques, whether in the context of the display
or outside it.

(3) Shrug off the bad critique and take your art to a different venue.
Stay with your display so you can talk to the judges and answer any
questions. If an artist is with their display and I think they have an
authenticity problem, I will ask them about it. Either they will teach me
or I will end up teaching them, a win-win situation. As a case in point, I
remember Mistress Muriel displaying a pastel portrait at an A&S. I knew
pastel was period, the portrait was much like a period oil painting so the
overall style was period, but my question was whether pastel was used to do
portraiture in this manner. Muriel was able to show me where I had missed
the answer to this in her documentation (yes, it is period) and let me tell
you that I had just read that documentation, but either overlooked the
sentence I needed or didn't understand it the first time I read it.

(4) Exhibit in body of work displays where the judges expect to talk with
the artisan. Make sure you do talk to the judges. If they don't seem to
getting the clue, gently lead them to it.

I am certain that others will be able to come up with other alternate ways
to deal with this type of thing better than just quitting.

One thing to remember for everyone. If an event or a competition or the
whole world does not turn to your expectations, it is up to you to do
something about it. You can change your expectations. You can change the
world. It is up to you.

Gunnora Hallakarva

Subject: Re: ANST - Need some costuming advice
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 98 15:03:22 MST
From: "Wayne Ross" <eat@joes.com>
To: <ansteorra@Ansteorra.ORG>

>Regardless of what fabrics, tools, or techniques you use for this garment-
>and so long as your end product *appears* to be of the same construction
>(see the note in this thread about not using zig-zag topstitching) as an
>original would have- there is a way for you to use time saving devices such
>as your serger and your sewing machine without ever violating anyone's
>accuracy issues. The trick is in the set-up of your documentation.
>A dear friend of mine showed this method to me and I find it most useful:
>Heading- what this thing is supposed to be and from when it's supposed to
>be. (note: do NOT include your name in your documentation- this is not a
>popularity contest)
>Part the Firste- A carefully documented (use footnotes) short dissertation
>on how this entry fits into it's historical context: where it was used, who
>used it, and most importantly, *how THEY made it*. This should be the
>largest section of your documentation and should go the farthest to teach
>the reader how some task was really done in period. Use primary sources
>here to support your views and use notes such as, "if you look in photo A
>(Painting of Significance, Leonardo di Whoeverpaintedit) attached to the
>back of the documentation you can clearly see..." to stress your points.
>Parte the Seconde- An exact and detailed account of how you reconstructed
>this whatchamacallit to include materials, methods, and tools. This is the
>tell-on-yourself portion of the documentation. In essence, when Ms
>Authentic Nose-in-the-air comes by to look at your stuff and inform you on
>how you made your left-handed-spam-opener with a modern squoozle, this
>portion of your documentation will allow you the ability to reply, "Yes, I
>know... I even said so right there in my documentation... and if you'll read
>the documentation you'll see that in Parte the Thirde I explain just why I
>did it..."
>Parte the Third- I call this the justification. If you haven't already
>guessed, this will be the portion of your documentation that allows you to
>tell the judge or reader your reasoning for errata betwixt the first and
>second portions of your documentation...
>*I used poly-rayon because it has the same weight and drape and color as the
>silk and wasn't so bloody expensive.
>*I used another pepper instead of grains of paradise because I couldn't find
>the darned things.
>*I used a serger because I intend to be a bit rough on this garment and
>would like it to last longer... also, you can't see any of my serging so it
>doesn't spoil the appearance of the garment.
>*I used acrylic gesso rather than a period gesso because I am not yet
>comfortable with the process to a degree that I would risk the entire piece
>by utilizing it.
>*I used my sewing machine because I work and don't have the time to do it by
>hand... but you can't see any of the machine stitching- you can even see at
>the cartridge pleats where I broke down and hand sewed them on because they
>would be visible.
>Parte the Fourth- Bibliography. Now this may seem an easy thing to do- but
>you wouldn't believe how badly it can be ruined. Did you note how many
>folks referred you to Janet Arnold in regards to Elizabethan costuming? You
>can guess from that response that if you left out Arnold, noted expert on
>the subject, as a reference there had better be a good reason. In a similar
>vein, check your references with *other* references as there are some REALLY
>inaccurate references out there in one form or another and a good judge in
>your category will know it. As an example, almost all my costuming friends
>own Patterns for Theatrical Costumes, by Holkeboer because it's a lovely
>'ideas' book for people new to the sca... but if any of us caught the others
>using it as a serious historical reference it would be a disappointment.
>And every single subject has it's books in the same vein so beware what you
>Now, all that said (and I'm sure others will follow on with more comments),

>if you wish to be as competitive as you can be with the entry, then let
>there be as little difference between your first portion of documentation
>and your second... (nonono... don't *lie* about it... just do it right when
>you make it). The shorter your third paragraph needs to be, generally
>speaking, the more authentic the piece will be and the higher your marks for
>authenticity. Keep in mind that even though what you have done may be very
>authentic there are many other categories to be judged including
>originality, attention to detail, and creativity (the 'C' in SCA) to name
>some that I've seen. Be sure also, to make your documentation less of a
>labor to read by adding in a splash of wit where you can, people being what
>they are. I know I'm more likely to get through documentation if I get a
>giggle out of it.
>Ritter Dieterich

I think that Dieterich makes very good points on how to do documentation
except that I disagree him on one point. That is I believe that you should
include your name in your documentaion. You don't include your name for
popularity but as a refrence as to who made the piece. I personally have
given my documentation to other people when I am finished because they have
asked about a particular subject therein. When these people in turn use my
documentation I would like to be given credit for my work. Also, if I happen
along and want to know who did the piece and they are not present then all I
have to do is look at their documentation. Besides, I am a student and it
has become ingrained - you put your name on everything you do.

Genevieve de Courtanvaux

Subject: Re: ANST - Need some costuming advice
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 98 07:57:17 MST
From: "Casey&Coni" <cjw@vvm.com>
To: <ansteorra@Ansteorra.ORG>

Genvieve had penned:
>I think that Dieterich makes very good points on how to do documentation
>except that I disagree him on one point. That is I believe that you should
>include your name in your documentaion. You don't include your name for
>popularity but as a refrence as to who made the piece.

Perhaps a good solution to this problem would be to make a cover sheet for
you documentation. When actually competing in the competition proper,
remove it, but when handing out copies of your work afterwards, include it.
I find that if someone needs to tell you something about your piece, they
will leave their name and a way to contact them on your commenting sheet-
this has happened to me twice. I really desire my judging to be as
impartial as possible, not judging me against my own ability, but rather, my
work against the public highbar.

Although it's a sticky comparison, the knights (I feel) would never knight a
person on the basis of how far their fighting has progressed, but will
always attempt to measure their ability against the mean level of the
circle. It's not that we don't take note of progress- we do notice and
praise it- it's just that we would feel awkward knighting a person whose
personal best doesn't measure up to our standard as a whole. Adding your
name to your piece in an A&S competition *could* cloud someones judging one
way or another so I try to avoid letting the judges even see me putting
things out. I would hate to win a competition simply because (and I have
heard this said...) "... it wasn't exactly a masterwork but, my goodness, a
_man_ made it... isn't that impressive?". The other side of the issue is
that there may be those out there who don't get along with you *personally*:
"Good grief, Mistress Whoever, there's that loudmouth, Ritter Dieterich...
let's just get through his stuff as quickly as possible, shall we?"

Peers should be above all that? Naaah. Peers are people, too, and I'd
rather just narrow the odds of them judging to either side of the line.


Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 19:20:16 EST
From: <LadyPDC@aol.com>
To: sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Documentation difficulties [SCA]

I also find that using the OED to show word meaning and sources for the actual
name of whatever you are doing can be a very useful source and can lead you
to other sources but very few people either know about it or think to use it.


Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 21:06:40 -0800
From: Edwin Hewitt <brogoose@pe.net>
To: sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Top 10 Documentation difficulties

Chris Laning wrote:

> * What do you find most difficult about documenting your projects? What
> * do you hear *other* people saying they have the most trouble with?
> (lady) Christian de Holacombe

First, congratulations and Godspeed on your project.If the documentation
exists, I can usually find it or at least make a reasonable
extrapolation of existing documentation. However, when I was judging our
local Arts/Sciences Pentathlon a number of years ago I did see some common
deficiencies. These included:

1. No documentation at all.

2. Xeroxed encyclopedia entries or pages from books without specifying what
they were trying to document by doing so.

3. Confused and unorganized documentation making it difficult to understand
what they were trying to document.

4. A lack of understanding of what is period documentation for a particular
historic object (Just because a technique was used within the SCA time-period
doesn't mean it is period for the object in question. For instance, an oil
painting on a viking cart. Or 12th century Irish food using potatoes).

5. Mis-matched historic periods or locales in a single entry (not exactly a
documentation problem, but it overlaps). For instance, having Golden-age
Celtic knotwork on a rapier frog.

6. Using documentation which itself is unclear about what dates it refers
to. (it's very common to call 19th century techniques "old" or traditional).

7. "Creative" extrapolation of technology or techniques (i.e. "the Chinese had
all the separate technologies to make a fully-automatic blackpowder firearm

8. Reference to sources without period references as well. (i.e. "I liked the
way Laurel Cnut did this so I did it his way..." or, "I saw on the Learning

9. Not using "scholarly" sources (i.e. "I saw this in a 'Conan the
Barbarian' movie")

10. Relying on verbal sources without documenting the reason that these sources
are valid or where these sources received their data (i.e. "My grandfather
said," or "my college professor said...")

These are common problems off the top of my head. None of these have to do
with what first, second nor third-hand sources are, nor what to do if period
documentation is lacking. That is a whole different kind of issue.

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 01:06:43 EST
From: <LadyPDC@aol.com>
To: sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Documentation - Where & How do I Begin?

Please teach in your class two important things (things which I had been
told but didn't really understand until I did them the wrong way)

1. Research and start your documentation before you start doing your

2. Copy, highlight, and begin notes on your documentation *as you are doing
your research*. Can't tell you how many times at the last competition I
entered I found myself doing the documentation and able to picture the very
page where I had found the information I needed but unable to remember which
of the many books stacked about me it was in. Such last minute re-researching
is not only frustrating and time consuming but it might result in your
discovering that something which you thought you remembered in a book was just
slightly different and you have done the whole project wrong. (Hasn't
happened to me yet but came close a couple of times)

Also, it is helpful in the documentation to tell the judges why you decided to
do a particular project. It makes it real for them, makes you real for them.
Remember in your documentation that you are talking to real people just like
you. If you write and organize it in such a way that you could understand
it if you had no knowledge of the subject it will read well to them too.

Last, but not least. Have someone else look at the project and the
documentation and see if they understand it. Makes all the difference in
the world and also helps to share the knowledge.

Constance de Larose

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 09:06:15 -0500
From: "Gray, Heather" <Heather@Quodata.Com>
To: "'sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu'" <sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu>
Subject: RE: Documentation - Where & How do I Begin?

Well, there certainly have been some wonderful suggestions made so far.
The only other thing I might add is on the question of whether to have
long or short documentation -- why not both? Put all the basic
information on one page (as described so well by other folks on the
list), with an indication (like the word Summary at the top of the page,
after the subject title) that this is the synopsis of your
documentation. Add pictures of what you based your work on (if
possible/available), or other pictures as you feel are necessary (tools,
work in process, etc.). Then (if you have it available -- really
depends on what you're submitting) include the more detailed
information. That way those judges who prefer the short form can read
that (but know that you have more info if they want it), and those who
want everything also have it. The nice thing about the one pager is
that even if they read the whole thing, they have been given an idea of
what type of details they'll be reading about, and that helps to provide
focus. As a plus, by the time you have it written up as concisely yet
completely as possible to fit on that one page, if someone asks you
questions about it (here's the oral part...), you pretty much have all
the important facts memorized.


Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 08:29:14 -0600
From: khkeeler <kkeeler@unlinfo.unl.edu>
To: sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Documentation difficulties

I'll add a couple of difficulties

as entrant: remembering to explain all the really obvious steps
like: cooked it on an electric stove. Not at all period, but the only
way I cook things, so I overlooked it while carefully documenting all
the other steps and ingredients.

as judge: the web. My Kingdom doesn't have a policy yet. I think the
web is not documentation unless the item is published on paper somewhere.
It a godsend for people in small towns. At the same time, we risk very
bad scholarship if you can cite a personal web page (of "clothes I
made") equal to the archaeological publications of the Museum of London.

as judge: judging good references from lousy ones. In my specialties,
sure. When judging something else--much harder. Quality of references
is not very important for picking a winner, it is important for the
underlying educational goal: helping people learn about the Middle
Ages. Some sources are the best available information, some are full of
undocumentable statements. Entrants should get praise for using The
Best, help/suggestions if they found only fourth hand sources.

Agnes deLanvallei
Mag Mor, Calontir

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 10:16:00 -0500 (EST)
From: Jenne Heise <jenne@tulgey.browser.net>
To: sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Documentation difficulties

[The comments below are from a librarian who helped people research
papers, not an A&S Judge)

On Mon, 30 Nov 1998, khkeeler wrote:
> as judge: the web. My Kingdom doesn't have a policy yet. I think the
> web is not documentation unless the item is published on paper
> somewhere.

I don't think this says what you think it means. 'Published on paper
somewhere' doesn't automatically make something a better
source. Now, 'published by a reputable academic publisher or journal'
would make it a better source. However, an essay by a reputable student of
the genre on the web is 10x better than something cited from some craft
magazine or 'Sewing News'.

The Quality of your source matters; journal names and publisher names help
to establish that. If you don't have such information, but you think the
author is reputable, see if you can find their credentials and make a note
to that effect in your source list.

> It a godsend for people in small towns. At the same time, we risk very
> bad scholarship if you can cite a personal web page (of "clothes I
> made") equal to the archaeological publications of the Museum of London.

One of the major problems I see in SCA society is that one printed source
is seen as good as another. If your printed source isn't high quality,
you might well be better off writing to an expert and getting back a
personal communication and citing that.

The trouble with web sites is that you need to dig to find out about the
author-- it could be a second-grader or it could be a professor, museum
curator, or doctoral student.

>Quality of references
> is not very important for picking a winner, it is important for the
> underlying educational goal: helping people learn about the Middle
> Ages. Some sources are the best available information, some are full of
> undocumentable statements. Entrants should get praise for using The
> Best, help/suggestions if they found only fourth hand sources.

It's important to distinguish between primary (written in the time period
by someone who knew firsthand), secondary (so and so said), and tertiary
(not written in the time and place, not reviewing what so and so said)

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa (Shire of Eisental; HERMS Cyclonus), mka Jennifer Heise

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 11:51:50 EST
From: <LadyPDC@aol.com>
To: sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Documentation difficulties

This seems to be getting into just the sort of documentation type discussion
that scares many about doing A&S because they don't know what to put in for

I helped a 7 year old and an 8 year old put together documentation for our
last Barony A&S. I think that some of the things which I told them would
work for anyone.

1. Sources mean start with where did you first hear/read about this and tell
where you looked to find more information step by step just as you researched
it until you ran out of material and were ready to do the project. Example
which the 7 year old used: "I read this book which talked about infusions on
this page - then I looked up the word infusion in the dictionary and here is a
copy of that. Then I looked up several herbs in this book on these pages and
decided what I wanted in my infusion for these reasons. (reasons being based
on two herbals written in period)"

2. To write your documentation just answer these questions:

a. Why did you decide to do this project
b. How was this used/done in period
c. Did you do it differently? How & Why?
d. Explain exactly the steps you took to do it
e. How did it come out?
f. How has it been used since you did it and what were the results.
g. What did you think of the project and would you do it again
h. (referring back to statement #1) What did you read that told you
how to do it or what materials to use?

BTW - there were only two children's entries so they grouped the children in
with the adults and the 7 year old still took top honors in the area where
she competed.

If a 7 year old can do good enough documentation just following those simple
directions and questions, any of us should be able to do as well.

Constance de Larose

Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 10:22:10 -0500
From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd@gate.net>
Subject: Re: SC - Huh?

>LrdRas@aol.com wrote:
phelpsd@gate.net writes:
>> << a recreated 12th century Yorkish hole >>
>> Ok, I'll bite. Explanation, please?
>> Ras
>Typo for "Yorkish home", perhaps???

Regarding "The 12th Century Yorkish Hole" Suffice it it say that when you
combine a fit of pique, a soupcon of whimsy, and really good documentation
of an obscure period object you get results which can be quite outre'. In
my case "The Excavations at York; The Viking Dig" by Richard Hall, 1984 The
Bodley Head, London, ISBN 0-370-30802-6 has on page 127 plate 153 a picture
in situ of "Twelfth-century toilet seat fallen into a cess pit." In
approximately 15 pages I document in exhaustive detail the hole in the plank
and my reconstruction of it. It was in essence a study of documentation.
I asked them to judge not the plank but the hole as it was analogous to
judging a painting but not the frame. What insued was a brief decision of
what was appropriate for Art/Sci and what category it should be entered in.
We decided domestics and the consensus was that it indeed was appropriate
for art/Sci. Incidentally we came to the conclusion that, for example, the
instruments used in the regicide of Edward II were not. The Principal of
the Laureate in Trimaris said upon reading the documentation that it was
worth the trip as I made her laugh twice. Everyone involved asked for a
copy of the documentation. The King declined to test it but at least one
person said it was more cumfortable that hers at home. I have sent copies
of the documentation privately to several persons on this list. If anyone
else is interested I will attach them to private side messages to avoid
clogging up the works. If you are at Gulf War next I plan on entering it
in the grand melee competition.

Daniel Raoul le Vascon du Navarre'.

Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 11:23:49 -0500
From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy@asan.com>
Subject: Re: SC - Huh?

Daniel Phelps wrote:
> Regarding "The 12th Century Yorkish Hole" Suffice it it say that when you
> combine a fit of pique, a soupcon of whimsy, and really good documentation
> of an obscure period object you get results which can be quite outre'. In
> my case "The Excavations at York; The Viking Dig" by Richard Hall, 1984 The
> Bodley Head, London, ISBN 0-370-30802-6 has on page 127 plate 153 a picture
> in situ of "Twelfth-century toilet seat fallen into a cess pit." In
> approximately 15 pages I document in exhaustive detail the hole in the plank
> and my reconstruction of it. It was in essence a study of documentation.

Ooohhhh, flashbacks!

I'm put in mind of an event I autocratted many years ago (14 or so) in
which Master Alric Bowbreaker, O.L. and then seneschal of the East,
submitted to the A&S competition a period artifact with exhaustive
documentation on construction and usage of the artifact. The entry was
entitled "The Rock in the Middle Ages".

Østgardr, East

Subject: ANST - Documentation -- A Viewpoint from a West Kingdom Laurel
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 99 18:06:48 MST
From: Gunnora Hallakarva <gunnora@bga.com>
To: ansteorra@Ansteorra.ORG,

In the interests of sharing with the general populace some information baout
how documentation is regarded across the Known Worlde, I have sought out
permission to repost the contents
of several collected messages on this topic which originated on the SCA
Laurel List, the SCA Arts List, and through private correspondence. I have
been collecting this information for
use in creating a formal Ansteorran Documentation Standard that hopefully
will be useful to our artisans as a "blueprint" for how to write
documentation without having to commit hari-kari due to "documentation fear".

Here is the first piece of this information, graciously provided by Mistress
Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn, OL, OP, Ct. Baroness, etc., of the
Kingdom of the West, and a noted
contributor to the College of Heralds for her expertise in Welsh Studies.


Tri geir wrth dogfeniad:
- Mynag a wnaethant
- Mynag a wnaethost
- Eglura'r gwahaniaeth
Ac un geir sy'n uchaf: ymchwil, nid dogfeniad.

"Three sayings concerning documentation:
- Tell what they did
- Tell what you did
- Clarify the difference
And one saying is chiefmost: research, not documentation."

I. Research, not Documentation

I.e., if you are only now trying to put together "documentation" for
some artifact you already have, you have a much more difficult, and
possibly impossible, task. If you did research (and kept notes) before
coming up with the artifact, you have a very easy task. Why set yourself
up to do unnecessary work?

II. The Tripod of Documentation
A. Tell me what _they_ did.
B. Tell me what _you_ did.
C. Point out and explain the differences.

III. Leave a Trail

I.e., give me enough information that I could double-check your
information, if I so desired. And give me enough information that I could
precisely re-construct your artifact, if I so desired.

Thanks to Mistress Tangwystl for sharing her outline.


Subject: Re: ANST - Diarmaid on Documentation
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 99 08:28:05 MST
From: "Don Christian Doré" <jtc@io.com>
To: ansteorra@Ansteorra.ORG

On 15 Feb 99,, Gunnora Hallakarva wrote:
> This segues into the other major reason for documentation, besides the
> argumentative, "prove to me you didn't just make this up" thing -- you may
> have information that the judges, people who are ostensibly (one hopes)
> versed in the field you are displaying or competing in, don't have and may
> want to study themselves.

It might even show us something that none of the rest of us know.
When it does, that's really cool. Better yet, it may disprove
something that we all "know".

Documentation also gives us an idea of the scope of a project. I
was a judge in one A&S where we awarded top honors to a mead. A
few people were quite upset that a "simple" project like a mead
won out over more complex projects. They did not read the
documentation. That mead started with raising the bees!

I have also seen a knitted shawl place well over items that seem to
be more complex. But if you read the documentation you will
realize that shawl was started when the lady visited a sheep farm
and had them sheer a sheep for her. That should be worth extra
points in anyone's book.

I have to agree, serious A&S entries revolve on the documentation.


Subject: ANST - Documenting Original Performance Art
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 99 10:27:54 MST
From: Gunnora Hallakarva <gunnora@bga.com>
To: ansteorra@Ansteorra.ORG

Karl Muller <apophysis@hotmail.com> asked:
> How do you document when your song, story or poem is your own composition?

If an original song, story, or poem is appropriate in any way for
performance within the SCA, then it should be documentable.

You should be able to document some (ideally all) of the following at least:

(1) period form (i.e., ballad, sonnet, oral delivery of Norse alliterative
poetry, rondelay, virelay, etc., etc. ad infinitum)

(2) period performance technique (i.e., no vibrato, opening a Saxon poem
with a loud and resounding "Hwaet!", specific period dance
steps, period harmonic technique, period instrument technique etc. etc. ad

(3) period content (i.e., topic and content of the piece is similar to
actual medieval poems, songs, dnace etc.)

If you are not using at least one of these three items, then your piece
probably doesn't belong in an SCA venue.

To document period form, generally you have to pick out the form BEFORE you
compose the piece -- probably the most pathetic
documentation I've ever seen (and I mean pathetic in the sense of I really
felt sorry for the poor artisan, as opposed to the
documentation just being sorry) has been for people who wrote a poem out of
the blue with no regard for form or previous research, and
are after the fact trying to find a period poetic form that is similar
enough to what they wrote to use as documentation.

In cases where you wrote the piece, and then find that you cannot locate a
period form that is in anyway similar, seriously consider
adapting your work for an actual period form. I had a bunch of "heroic
fantasy" poetry that I wrote before I became interested in the
SCA. Once I discovered the SCA, I found that a lot of this poetry had
similar content and themes as Norse, Old English, and Finnish
poetry, so I actually sat down and re-wrote almost all of that early poetry,
following the proper forms. It was fun to do. For one
thing, I was much more mature when I undertook to rework the poetry, so
aspects which were very juvenile could be happily discarded.
Plus, being forced to hammer the loose original verses into a specific form
forced me to be more precise in my word choice, and I
think made for much better poetry in the end. I am not a wordsmith -- I
admit it, I'm a hack -- but I aspire to being a wordsmith of
the caliber of Thomas of Tenby or Mari ferch Rathyen. And while
wordsmithing requires discipline, I found it was also rewarding and
best of all, fun.

And before anyone starts tearing their hair and shrieking that there ARE no
period forms that they like, there are SO many different
forms available out there, ANYONE can find at least one period form that
they like and work well in. WHY limit oneself to writing
that darned Hallmark Greeting Card doggerel of four lines to a verse,
end-rhymed ABAB, CDCD, EFEF and so on? There are so many
exciting forms out there that can be used to great dramatic effect in a

I've heard people state with great conviction that there is no way to
document period performance technique. My answer is "Pshaw!"
Actually, you might be VERY surprised at what can be documented in the way
of period performance technique. I found a really
fantastic paper a while back in a journal called "Literature in Performance"
by a man named Dwight Conquergood on Anglo-Saxon poetic
boasting as a performance art, which used Beowulf and The Battle of Maldon
to illustrate some common performance techniques that can
be used to very good advantage when performing ANY early Norse or German or
Anglo-Saxon boast, poem, story, song, etc. And there's
lots more interesting literature about early period Old English performance
(buried in scholarly discussions about music and meter).
And the same "Literature in Performance" journal no doubt has many other
equally useful articles for other cultures and periods.

I'd be interested in hearing from performers what other documentation they
have found for period performance technique.

As a note, it's probably not enough that your piece have dragons and knights
in it to *really* be able to say that you're using period
content. For example, if you had a poem about some knight feeling sorry for
a poor dying dragon and they become fast friends until
the dragon dies etc., you're probably going to have a VERY hard time finding
a similar story in any form during the period -- this is
a fairly modern fantasy type of idea.

The best way to make sure that your original pieces have period content is
to actually read poetry and literature from the period.
That will give you a feel for typical poem and story themes that you can
then use for your own works. The Catalog of Folklore Motifs
is a great place to find plots for performance pieces as well.

If you want your performance works to "ring true" you have to capture the
essence of actual works of the period, even in totally
original works. For instance, those who are familiar with Master Ragnar
Ulfgarsson's work, "Dragon's Gold"
(http://lonestar.texas.net/~rferrell/rsdraggo.html) will quickly recognize
that the original tale does not use an actual period form,
yet the content uses themes which are very period, and would be recognized
as familiar by many medieval audiences. Ragnar captured
the flavor of Norse and Anglo-Saxon poetry by using elements of speech and
image actually used in the sagas and Eddas. Furthermore,
though there are no Norse tales told first person from the dragon's point of
view, anyone in Northern Europe would have been familiar
with the story of Fafnir, a man become dragon. (see
http://lonestar.texas.net/~rferrell/rstoc.html for the complete texts of
Ragnar's poetry)

The moral of the story...

The moral of all of this documentation information is that it is best to
read a little *before* you compose your original work -- it
not only makes it easier to document your work, but it also makes your work
better by allowing you to incorporate more period
techniques, themes, and forms.

None the less, even if you *didn't* do any research before composing your
piece, it may very well be possible to document it anyway --
it's just a little harder.

This should get you started.


Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 13:39:30 -0600
From: Roberta R Comstock <froggestow@juno.com>
To: sca-arts@raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Documentation Question

It's difficult to give specific advice without knowing the particulars of
the competition you are entering, but I suggest you consider the
following questions:

Is this a kingdom championship?

Is this your only entry?

Is it a special category related to the theme of a particular event?
(Best <xxx> in any medium...)

Is your category a popular one in your area?

How complex is your entry?

How long will the judges have to evaluate each entry and its documentation?
If there are twenty entries in a category and the judges have four hours
to complete their evaluations and written comments, they will have to
judge five entries per hour. That gives them twelve whole minutes per entry.
Think about it.

Will the judges have a slide projector and screen in a dark room for
viewing slides? How would your slides be presented? Would they be in a
carousel or would they be tucked into individual pockets of a plastic
storage page? (Looking at slides with a hand held viewer is not an
acceptable way to observe details and fine points.)

Is you entry in a category that is familiar to the available judges, or
is it something obscure that few other people in your area have studied?
(Are you attempting to teach the judges something new?)

Are you providing a copy of the documentation for each judge, or will
they have to take turns on a single copy?

Is this a face-to-face judging process, in which you will be present and
available to answer their questions on the spot?

How much time does it take to read your documentation? (If you don't know,
give it to a friend who has never seen it and time their reading. Is
this a reasonable amount of time to expect a judge to spend on a single

Do you know the extent to which the judges are familiar with your

Have you included enough reference(s) to recognized experts in the topic
of your entry to demonstrate your familiarity with acknowledged experts?

Does your interpretation of the evidence differ from that of the
recognized experts? If so, have you explained how and why your
conclusions differ?

If you were giving an oral presentation of your entry to several people
who know nothing about the subject, how long would it take you to
describe it and explain your rationale?

How long would it take you to give such a presentation to a panel of experts?
Could you do it in 5 minutes?

Have you clearly specified the date, cultural and geographic setting,
use, purpose or function of the entry, materials, methods and tools used,
how and why you deviated (if at all) from period practice?

What is your reason for entering this competition?
What is your reason for preparing such extensive documentation?
What is your previous experience entering A&S competitions?

I may be misinterpreting, but it seems to me that you are preparing for
the judges to be antagonistic and are being overly defensive. Are you
trying to prove a specific obscure point? Have your past entries been
unjustly criticized? Is this a trial run for defending a master's

Are you having fun, yet?

Mistress Hertha Blair of Froggestow, OL, OP, etc.....
Experienced A&S competition judge in Calontir

<the end>

../images/blank.gif ../images/blank.gif Home Page

Copyright © Mark S. Harris (Lord Stefan li Rous)
All Rights Reserved
Comments to author: stefan@florilegium.org
Generated: Mon Feb 5 2001