SCA Life

I swear . . .

I think about oaths a lot.  I take oaths very seriously.  I am often surprised how not seriously some people take oaths.  Here are some thoughts.

In the SCA, we are attempting to recreating the Middle Ages as the should have been, or could have been.  So we give oaths and we value chivalry.  Or at least give lip service to that.  I am sure there are many people who actually also treat their oaths seriously but there are visible few who don’t.

In our modern society, there really is only one oath that has consequence.  If you are called to testify in a judical proceeding, you will be asked to take an oath to tell the truth.  If it is then discovered that you lied, you can then be tried for perjury.   Just about all other oaths have no real consequence.  The oaths of marriage are easily dissolved.  The oath of office for public service or the military are often overlooked.  Again, as long as the people vote for you again or your superiors don’t care, the oath is hollow.

And there is a reason our modern society went this way.  If there was honor in the real Middle Ages, it quickly was used for nefarious purpose.  Old Anglo-Saxon laws allowed those of high station to swear an oath as proof they didn’t do something.  I am sure originally it was felt that honor would rule the day but it probably didn’t take long for someone to simply swear they didn’t do something and suffer no consequence.  As society evolved, it was clear that most oaths didn’t mean anything.

Back to the SCA then.  I talked to a few friends about this.  Advice I got ranged from “some people just don’t think they are in the wrong and therefore believe they are true to their oath.” to “for some, taking oaths is just part of the game.”  And of course, there are many who believe the oaths they take.

Back when Sir Seto was on vigil, I made a replica of Oathbinder in stained glass for him.  I gave Oathbinder a motto (maybe it already had one).  I felt all good swords should have a motto.  I put on the stained glass, “No one may speak falsely within my reach.”  I intended a double meaning.  One, that the magic of the sword would not allow you to speak falsely.  Two, the fact that a naked blade was presented to you, you would be unwilling to speak falsely under threat of beheading.  It may be foolish to hope for a magical blade that made it impossible to say that which is not true.  Oaths would be binding then.  You literally could not say words that you didn’t believe.

In some way, the modern business culture of mission statements and values is like oaths.  We are encouraged at my company at least to reflect on that mission statement and corporate values daily.  How will I engage in teamwork today?  That kind of thing.  We should do the same with our oaths.  We should mediate on those words.  For me, since I am only a member of the populace, I would think “to serve where I might according to my knowledge and ability.”  How will I do that today?  For those of you who do reflect on your oaths, I applaud you.  We need more who will “champion the good”, “protect the innocent”, “work for the common good”, and “promote the diverse arts.”

For those of you who don’t really reflect on your oaths, maybe you should.  Your word should have meaning.  When you take an action, you should reflect back, did I act in accordance to my oath?  If not, what will you do about it?  I really wish there was a good mechanism for enforcing or giving consequence for violating one’s oath.

Just some thoughts about oaths.

SCA Life, tablet weaving

My love-hate relationship with tablet weaving

Before we got into the SCA, my wife and I went to Ren Faires more and we (mostly she) made our own clothes.  To help with that process, I decided to learn tablet weaving.   I figured, people have been doing this for 10,000 years, surely I can figure it out.

Needing help with those clothes is what brought us to the SCA.

I don’t mind weaving but there are certain things I don’t like.  I don’t like warping my looms.  That takes a lot of time and I often do it wrong.  Even for patterns I have done before!  Simple patterns are good for me.  I can get lost in the 4F/4B and etc.  But patterns which require turning certain cards and not others quickly frustrate me.  And of course, those are the interesting patterns!

I have finished my last round of glass and I said I would work on my garb.  I need to make new garb and accessories and those things need trim.

I am trying to decide what trim to make and trying to find patterns that I like and actually like doing.  My universe is small.  I have even considered buying some trim from others who (hopefully) enjoy doing the more complex patterns.  But the other part of me wants to do it myself.  So simple patterns here we come!

Wish me luck!

Here are some of the trim I have made in the past.

SCA Life

It is the simple things

This weekend was Simple Day.  It was a very enjoyable weekend.  And I re-learned, it is the simple things that matter.

  • The joy and ease of setting up camp with additional hands.  Quickest ever.
  • The joy of seeing a local group doing local things – begging a macaroon, giving out a baronial award, enjoying each other’s company.  That kind of thing.
  • The joy of good doughnuts.
  • The joy of watching parents and children enjoy the day together (mostly looking at you Adam).
  • The joy of a new(ish) person to the SCA meeting and geeking out with so many people.
  • The joy of managing to perfectly peel one egg.
  • The joy of walking into a room like you are Norm on Cheers!
  • The joy of hugs from close friends.  Especially Llew.  He gives good hugs
  • The sad joy of hugging friends who are hurting and hoping that it helped.
  • The joy of the blessings of the weather gods
  • The joy of chatting with friends about just whatever.
  • The joy of unexpected gifts from one’s SO.
  • The shame-faced abashed joy of forgetting that one has not ever introduced one’s SO to their Majesties and subsequent ribbing that resulted.
  • The joy of people using the photos you took at profile pics.
  • The joy of teaching eager students
  • The joy of learning that one’s efforts are worthwhile (apparently my vinegar makes good cheese)
  • The joy of good food, good friends, and good song.
  • The joy of meeting new people and remembering their names!
  • The joy of going home again after a good weekend.

Simple Day is probably not all that simple to run but it is the simple things that matter.

SCA Life

What the Filk!

So refer back to “the (bardic) circle is unbroken”

The (bardic) circle is unbroken

if you need to.

I have dabbled in a few things.  Andreas offered to proof some poems I wrote.  Still waiting Andreas.  So much for Norman efficiency (I jest).

I have two very tentative starts on two filks.  I can normally make a line or two fit but my humor is a brief thing.  After attending the Martial RUM in June 2018, I had dinner with Dai and Lindan (Bill and Brenda Sutton).  Part of the conversation was on writing filks and Brenda offered to give me a hand.

The first filk is based on the Grand Pubs of Yorkshire.  I was sad to learn that it is not a period or even close to period song.  I might sing the original some time.  It is a nice piece about beer and home.  I can relate to that.  The filk will be the Grand Pubs of the Known World and I started doing some research.  Of course, Verena and the Drunken Duck will appear in it.  I understand that there is the Broken Harp in Calontir, The Cock and Bull Tavern in the West (I know that song too), The Green Dragon at Gulf Wars, and the One Paw Tiger.  I may not be able to get everything in but I think it will be pretty good if I can.

The second filk is based on Gaelic Storm’s Girls Night in Galway.  I did the original scan on that shortly after it came out.  Girls’ Night in Pennsic.  I had to ask around about what that entails.  The only time I heard about Girls’ Night at Pennsic was the first time I went to Pennsic.  I believe Katerina and Roana went out and invited Gertie.  Not sure what trouble they got into so I asked Roana about it.  A lot of this filk will be similar to the original but hopefully fun.


Glass, SCA Life

Making fused plates – Hadley edition

Here is how I make my glass plates from the beginning.  I was given a drawn sample of what Hadley’s submitted arms were.  I then made this mock up to work from.

I chose the glass and went to work.

Starting with the green.  I had this scrap of glass from a previous project.  I cut it to size.


I didn’t have the blue so I clean it, measure , and cut it to size.

So those two are very easy, just straight cuts.

I line them up and put them on a piece of clear glass to give the final piece its needed thickness.

Next come the circles.

This was my first attempt on the white circle.


Not too bad until I try to break it out.

I am shown a trick this time.  Score the circle and push it out on top of a surface that can give slightly (like a couple of cloths).  Turn the cut glass over and push it gently to run the crack.  If you look above, you can see where the crack ran from the circle to the edge and that is okay.  Nice looking circle there.

Do it again for the clear glass on top.

This is another trick I learned.  Others said to draw on the clear like a stentil and fuse that.  So I did.


It was much easier than I thought.  Having done it for this piece, I am reasonably sure I can do the same for Willows, Oaks, and Cavendish Knots.


I then cut out the stars and crescent on the ring saw.

As I say, it isn’t art until you bleed on it.  I made art.

And the final plate ready for the kiln.

The final piece.  You can see the paint smudged in the lower roots.  In hindsight, I should have wiped that off and started again but I was nearly finished when I hit a bit of water in the paint.  Overall, I am pretty happy with it.  It is the plate I have shown the most technique with and solved (with advice) a problem that was limiting what I could create.  Enjoy it Hadley 🙂

Glass, Persona, SCA Life

Making fused plates – abridged

I will have a more detailed post later about a different plate I did.  But here is a quick post about how I make my 12″ x 12″ fused glass plates.  This one is for my device as a sample plate for my display.

I had already cut the glass before I got to the shop.  My device isn’t that complex, other than the swan.

So first thing is again, glass likes to be ~1/4″ thick when it melts.  There are ways to force it.  But for my purposes, just use two sheets of 1/8″ thick glass.  I am spraying hairspray onto a clear piece to bulk out the plate.  I will then put the blue and green pieces on this clear piece.

Yep.  Just plain ole cheap hairspray.  I am told I use too much so I may need to cut back a bit on it.  It does burn off but on large pieces of glass, it has to get out somewhere. If it can’t, it makes bubbles.  So I will cut back a bit.

Adding the blue and green.  You can also see the swan on an irridescent white piece of glass.  I was normally use white for the swan but I had a scrap of irridescent.

The pieces of glass are supposed to be 12″ square but they rarely are.  And sometimes my cutting isn’t the best either.  This is just a hair off center (less than 1/8″).  It will have to be good enough.

Now for the tricky part.  I use a ring saw to cut out the swan.  Just Elmer’s paste glue to glue the paper to the glass.  The water in the ring saw quickly saturates the paper but it usually holds it in place long enough.

There are a few spots to be touched up.  Because the glass will melt in the kiln, most of the small imperfections will smooth out by themselves. I touch up the spots I can get to with the ring saw or a normal grinder.  But I am not too worried about it.

And there we go.  Ready for the kiln.

This will be part of my Artist’s Display.  I have been advised that I need to have examples of my own work.  Since I give so much away, I need to make a few pieces that I don’t give away.  Where we go.  My device is pretty simple.

Glass, SCA Life

Making Purple Frets

At Crystal Chamfron, I started work on a project I wanted to do for a while, making award medallions.

When I received my purple fret, I got a belt favor.  It was one of my prize possessions for a while.  I am not inclined to wear a lot of regalia so I only wear my Dragon’s heart now.

But I felt that people would like a special token for their awards and the Purple Fret is both possible to do in glass and important to me.

For this project, I decided that a 2″ in diameter circle is a good size.

First, cut the glass to 2.5″ by 2.5″ squares.  As a reminder, fused glass wants to be about 1/4″ thick.  I need to cut the yellow glass for the normal background of a purple fret and another color to provide the additional thickness.  I chose white because it is cheap and I had it.


The next step is to make circles.  You can do this by hand but there are special tools to make it easier and more accurate.  For this, I used a lens cutter.


I cut all the white circles and most of the yellow circles before I ran out of yellow glass.

To do the knot part of the purple fret, I used noodles.  Glass noodles are like linguine.  They come in 16″ lengths and about 1/8″ thick.  I played around with the placement to make the knot.  I was asked, “could I make it look interweaved like the drawn image?”  The answer is “yes with a but.”  Some of those lines are pretty small and manipulating small pieces of glass is tricky.  I compromised and did the following.

The “square” of the knot is made up of 1″ lengths.  The “x” of the knot is 2″ lengths.  Here I am cutting the noodle into the smaller pieces I need.

There is specialty glass glue to temporary join the glass together.  Fusing is needed to permanently make it one piece.  But that said, plain Suave Extra Hold Hairspray actually works better than that specialty glue.  Here I am spraying the hairspray onto the yellow circles before moving the purple noodle pieces.

Since the purple pieces intersect each other, I need to build them up in layers.  I start with one of the long pieces and two short ones.  Bisect the circle with the long piece and get the short pieces half way between the long piece and the circle edge.  It will look a little like a Deadpool icon 🙂

By this point, the hairspray is going to start to get tacky.  I use my exacto blade to more precisely move the pieces around until they are where I want them.


Not shown is hitting the piece with more hairspray.  But now I am adding the cross pieces to make the square part of the knot.  Again, I use the exacto blade for precision.  Also not shown is adding the last long piece but the process is the same.  Spray more hairspray, place the long piece going perpendicular to the first long piece.  Use the exacto knife to move the piece precisely.  Then put the piece aside for the hairspray to dry.

I wrapped the pieces in paper loosely but securely.  I often have trouble going from my house to the glass store to fuse.  The “glued” pieces tend to slide around with the bumps and such on the road.  However, I was surprised by how few pieces got out of place going from basically St Louis to Champaign (~3 hour drive).

The next step hasn’t happened yet but then I will cut lengths (~1/2″) of heavy wire to be a ring for the medallion.  The wire will then be hairsprayed between the white glass back and the yellow glass front.  In the kiln, the wire will sink in the glass as it fuses and be a permanent part of the medallion.

I expect to be done in time to give these to Their Majesties by Martial RUM or Simple Day at the latest.


Finished product right to gift.

By and large, I am happy with them.  I could paint the lines on but I am not sure that would help.  I might try to replicate the knot better in the future.

Persona, SCA Life

Two pieces that say a lot about me.


The first is my arms with a motto.  The colors of my arms are no accident nor is the symbol.  The problem?  My subconscious picked them and it took a while for my conscious to figure that out.  I will give you a hint, “My cloak is blue as sky in summer. Or green as grass. Or white as lime.”  The feathered bird is no accident either.   The motto is a paraphrase of something I say often.  What I say is, “it isn’t Art until you bleed on it.”  The motto on the arms translates as “Blood makes Art.”  It is a little vampiric but the Latin of what I actually say is awkward and lengthy.

The other piece is my Dragon’s Heart medallion with something extra.  I don’t know who made the copper hearts.  I am going to guess Coresande but I really don’t know.  The center bit is a crude fused glass piece to represent my Evergreen.  The whole thing is to symbolize that the core of my service is my art.  I give away a lot of what I make.

SCA Life

The SCA is Legion

Two unrelated thoughts.

First thought.  I think I have some small understanding now of my friends with anxiety and depression.  I am not saying I have full understanding.  I don’t suffer from these things.  But I have found that the SCA is probably like having rabid brain weasels.  Let me explain.

Any question or thought you throw at the SCA will result in EVERY possible answer coming back to you.   It is what I imagine the guy possessed by Legion must have felt like.  Pieces of thought and advice without any internal consistency bombarding you.  Much of it contradictory and of widely different volumes.  How do you decide which advice to take?

The only answer I have to that is do your best to find a small number of voices that you trust.  Voices that support you. Voices that lead you to a path that makes a better you.  In the cacophony, block out the rest and heed these voices. These are the people who want you to be you.  And a side note: they are often the quieter ones but not necessarily.


Second thought.

I am going out on a limb here. I am not casting aspersions at anyone nor railing against anyone.  It is just a thought I had in the shower.  Who else ends up with deep thoughts in the shower?  Raise your hands. Good!

It seems to me that the service in the SCA operates in a scarcity environment.  And that seems weird.  What do I mean?  Service in the SCA seems to think there are limited opportunities.  And the other parts of the SCA operates in an abundance environment.  Let’s look.

Fighting, rapier, archery, thrown weapons, basically all of the martial activities want as many people as possible.  The more people doing the thing, the more people who can do the thing.    Even the service side of the martial activities is abundance; the more marshalls, the more people who can participate.  And since the majority of marshalls are also people who want to do the activity, there is no overlap or competition.  Too many marshals that day?  You get to fight or whatever.

Similarly on the arts side, it is an abundance environment.  There is no such thing as too many blacksmiths or too many people making trim.  There is no call of “what do we do if so-and-so stops smithing?”  There is no call of “I wish so-and-so would let others weave for a change.”  The SCA can support as many people doing as much or as little art as they want to do.  In part, that is because there are just SO many arts that it would be almost impossible to find someone to do each of them.  But the rest is that there just isn’t a limit.  You can make as much art as you want and the A&S community will cheer you on.  The only limit I see is that if you want to connect to a certain teacher, that person might be limited in terms of how many people they can mentor.  But for the most part, I haven’t seen this as problem.

So Service.  Why is it a scarcity and more importantly, should it be?  That is what I would like people to think about.

To an extent, I think there are some limits that we impose.  We only want one Kingdom Seneschal for instance.  Some positions require or at least work better with specific skill sets that not everyone has.  But also, some positions carry prestige and/or power.  And that is not present in the other parts of the SCA.

Service gets tied up with other things too.  There is need and desire.  Let’s imagine a quadrant graph with need and desire on the two axes.  When jobs are both desired and needed (Q1), lots of people want to do the job.  When a job is desired but not needed (Q2), there are still plenty of people who want to do the job but the job is not very fulfilling because it is not needed.  If the job is needed but not desired (Q3), there are few people who want to do it.  And lastly, if it is both not desired and not needed (Q4), there are no people for that job but really, we probably don’t have those positions because they are not needed.

In a scarcity model, let’s take these kind of jobs.  The highly desired and highly needed jobs are limited in a scarcity model.  We only need a few of them (or one of them) but lots of people want to do them.  The highly desired but not needed jobs are also limited in a scarcity model.  We don’t need those jobs (or not many of them) but we have lots of people for them.  The highly needed but less desired jobs are self-limiting.   We need people in those positions but we have few people who want them so we may have beg but they get filled.  And lastly, the less desired and not needed jobs are self-limiting.  We don’t need those positions and no one wants to do them.

In an abundance model, Q1 jobs are great.  We need them and people want them and because we work in an abundance model, we have as many open positions as we want.  The Q2 is the same as Q1.  Yes, we don’t necessarily need that many people to do the job but we can make many positions if called for.  Q3 is about the same as under scarcity.  We need people to do these jobs but they are not as desirable so we probably have enough people.  We can still make more if we need though.  Q4 is the same as well as they just aren’t needed.

Lastly, I see in service that it is viewed as a sacrifice, a burden.  The whole idea of “need” also implies burden.  “Someone HAS to do this job.” “We don’t want you to burn out.”  No one tells fighters they fight too much or artists that they make too much art.  Heck even the symbol, the pelican in piety is about sacrifice.  “This must be done (feed the chicks) so I will give of my own life for them.”  What if the symbol for service was something else?  An otter frolicking in the sea with its raftmates.  “I have fun so others can have fun.”  Would our view of service be different?

I don’t have an easy answer.  For the sake of efficiency, the number of certain jobs is limited. But is there a way to push service into an abundancy model?  That all who want to serve can serve?  That more jobs can be Q1 jobs, that are both desired and needed?  That service isn’t seen and talked about as a burden?  Something to think about when you are next in the shower.