The SCA is a hobby of hobbies, as I have been told by others, and boy is it true. I know I can get caught up with so many interests and goals that I sometimes feel paralyzed with choice. I have a full set of clothing I am happy with in terms of being period accurate, material accurate and fit. I have some individual pieces that I have mixed feels about that I use from time to time.
While I certainly need more functional items in general for events, I’m also itching to submit something for A&S competitions…but sometimes I just don’t record my process, love the item, and immediately start wearing it which make it hard to submit. So I need some more rigid goals.
Right now I am teaching myself some basic weaving. I picked up a book, tablet cards, wool, and a shuttle and began teaching myself tablet weaving. It’s been going well but every time I put the project down for the day…I screw up the next few turns when I pick it up again. So every 6-8 inches I screw it up royally. My friend, Lady Anne d’evreux, lent me an inkle loom of hers so I can see if using a loom, rather than backstrapping, might help me with the flips and twists that I seem to encounter when I stop weaving. As much as I wanted to work with backstrapping, I think for the sake of my sanity this is a moment where my “period stick up my butt” needs to be removed.
Weaving, while I am not sure will be my thing, is probably the only thing that will get me some of the patterns and prints I want to work with. I’d love to graduate to a warp weighted loom to make larger panels for clothing, but starting small is probably best. I also picked up a book and some sticks for sprang, so in the near future I’ll work on that. I have a modern bit of stretch fabric on one of my archery gloves that I think I am going to removed and replace with a little sprang for a nicer look. I am also considering a long, rectangular hairnet to get a certain effect.
I’d like to finish the two tunic dresses I have in various states of done-ness. One I put in gores…which I have decided really aren’t period for me but I am loathe to undo the 10+ hours to sewing on it. The other just needs to sleeves adjusted. I’d also like to make at least two more peplos-type dresses and use some tablet weaving to either finish the ends (woven into the fabric) or just be lazy and border it with some decorative stitches. If sprang works out I suspect a pair of sprang pants for warm weather to cut down on the “chub rub” is in order as well. I never feel comfortable wearing the dress with bare legs, and while the medieval linen shorts I have work out fine for now, I am wondering if sprang shorts/capris might be even better…
I also cannot seem to decide wtf to do with my hair. I try a new style pretty much every event with varying feelings on it. Determining easy and comfortable Gaulish hairstyles that can be done with my modern bob is proving to be a pain. I can live with clip-in extensions, but it’s the part after that leaves me wanting to gouge my eyes out. Also the sources for pre-Roman Gaulish hair is pretty much nil…which is super unhelpful. I could probably just tease the dickens out of my hair and leave it down, but you couldn’t pay me to wear my hair down in warm weather.
As for research topics, I am hoping to start teaching a class or two come summer or fall this year. The two topics at the head of the list are:
- Body Part Votives in Provincial Gaul – mostly about body part votives which are thought to be used as a spiritual form of medicine practice. This would be a NSFW topic as a great many of the votives are genitals and relate to venereal disease. I would likely have to reference votives in Greek, other areas of the Roman provinces, and even into the Middle East, as the practice itself is rather global, but the focus would be on Gaulish material items and the methodology around determining their usage. If you ever wanted to say you had a class on a literal box of dicks, this would probably be it. I feel pretty comfortable working with clay so I’d love to recreate some of the votives not only for a class display but also for an A&S entry. I figure a paper, A&S entry and class brings the topic full circle. My only hold up is that I am lusting over a few books that are just out of my price range ($150+) that I know are pretty much a requirement for me to feel like I am up to date with my my info. I JUST missed a votive exhibit at Bard this past year, so I am a bit salty.
- Curse Tablets – Curse tablets are items created with the intent of harm or justice. These items are often deposited with the dead as the messenger to the gods, or sometimes even placed with the remains of someone to be cursed into their afterlife. While curse tablets can also be found independent of burials such as at shrines or in lakes/rivers/streams, being stuffed into an urn is often how we find the best preserved one. These are common throughout the classical world (and even in pre-colonial North America!) and are fascinating to read…festering wounds and boiling organs anyone? As an informational class this is pretty simple and has the option for it also being a “how to” class seeing as they are usually made of sheets of lead or metal, carved into with the a nail, rolled, and then the nail is struck through the roll. This could also fall into the “write a paper, A&S entry, then teach class” category. I have another friend who is thinking about teaching a class on devotional items that I hope will consider doing a back to back with me. I think having a class of items of devotion followed by items of cursing has a nice round path of mystical intents.
- Barren Women in the Ancient World – As a woman who has no interest in having children of her own, I find a distinct disconnect with a lot of the history of women when it comes to the Matronae for my own period. I suspect I would feel this way regardless of what persona I would have picked. In a more modern Pagan thought process, some people re-assign the “Maiden, Mother, Crone” life cycle to “Maiden, Warrior, Crone,” and again I don’t fancy myself a warrior by any means. To quote my husband, “The only battles I want to encounter are margarita hangovers.” For so many cultures the focus on identity for women surrounds having babies, but what about those that couldn’t or didn’t want to? What role did they play? This is not something I know a great deal about right now but it’s something I would love to investigate. I know that Roman women who were widowed, unmarried or barren could not be handed down property unless specifically named in the dead’s “will”. I also know that many barren women went on to hold spiritual roles in the communities, but this couldn’t be their only outlet for prestige? I will have to dig more into this. The previous two topics are the ones that will most likely get actively worked with this year.
Plenty to work on, read up on and put into practice for the time being. I will need to take a look at my available sources and decide whether votives or curse tablets should be my first goal. Spring is here so I need to get working if I want to make a Summer Atlantian University deadline.