I know you've been waiting for it 'cause I couldn't wait to start it.
And of course my funding page to help get me and it to Maryland and Canada
(thanks for everyone who donated thus far).
A little behind-the-scenes story for this one because there was a lot that
went into it and the why was pretty important in terms of how the tapestry
started to develop image wise.
The panel is called "Widow's Lament", but I could have just as easily named
it "Year of the Woman". Female sovereigns are still pretty rare, even
after all this time, so to have two in one year seemed like a Big Deal(tm).
I wanted to make their Highnesses the focus of the panel, initially
thinking that it was all the year had to offer. I had the luck of being
able to track down Sir Viresse (with help) and exchange a few emails
regarding her time as Princess by Her Own Hand. At the time, I was still
working on the first five panels of the tapestry late in 2008 (that's how
long I've had this image in my head waiting to be done!) and had intended
on doing each royal in their own arms. Through all my research I began to
discover that rather than being Society Standard on who wore what arms (ex
- Queen always wore roses even if she won a crown herself) it was dictated
by Kingdom. Rather than King/Queen arms, some had Sovereign/Consort arms.
To clear up my, and possibly the the viewer's confusion, I tried to track
down all the Female Sovereigns to ask them what arms they wore during their
reign - Wreaths or Roses? It was Sir Viresse that made clear to me that
some territories don't even _have_ different arms for each royal - but
where they sit and how they process (all about the precedence ) is what
marked a sovereign and consort.
Blew. My. Mind.
Quiet honestly, Sir Viresse did me the greatest favor ever in the creation
of this tapestry. By the time I was working on the Middle Kingdom, I
already knew that I hated embroidering teeny roses more than I did laurel
wreaths. I could, and did, just use the arms of any given Kingdom without
worrying about Consort arms as well unless I felt the scene warranted dual
heraldry. Seeing as how wide sweeping skirts of a lady royal is a better
canvas for armorials than a man's shorter tunic I could cut down my
heraldry repetition and swap up the costumes a little so its not 50 panels
of the same garb. A little more interesting for the viewer and suggests
the wide time frame/geographical locations of our members.
And it gave me an out for not having to do An Tir four times over. An Tir
has the best heraldry, but checky in any medium is a pain in the dupa.
Doing that lion in miniature would have driven me to drink. Or murder.
But the collection of people between the honor guard is a different story.
The Pennsic of year 31 marked my one year anniversary into the Society. I
probably had been to all of four or five events that first year, including
my first and second Pennsic war. While I had the luck and privileged to be
the guest of a distinguished peer of the realm, I really didn't understand
how things worked or even just the social aspect of it all. When the
Prince died, I was surprised by the reactions that followed. I obviously
didn't know him but expected the people that did would be struck by the
tragedy of it. There was no way, I thought, that _that_ many people knew
him or could be personally affected. I marked a lot of it up to the way
people react when a Famous Person(tm) passes - the whole having never known
someone but somehow feeling that you did. The rest I chalked up to the
Dream. Our Society is not dynastically focused and so not really set up to
handle the surprise passing of heirs. If a king had ten sons to follow, it
would just roll down the hill to the next princeling. Not so in our game.
But since that first year I've gotten a better understanding of not only
what we do but why we do it and how it is done.
My husband has fought in crown a time or two and it is now made clear to me
that by the time you are participating at that territorial level, you have
met a lot of people on the way. While they might only be event friends -
you not even knowing their real name - their faces are familiar, you're
welcome at their fires, you have shared food and drink and maybe even a few
tears. I now understand that the passing of a Royal is not just an glitch
in the Dream, but does indeed impact people on a personal level for having
been around so long and touched so many people (hopefully for the good) on
their quest for the crown.
I have the (un)enviable position of deciding what is important and what is
not when it comes to the collecting of stories. I have been asked why I
haven't (or will I in the future) include the passing of Notable Person X.
I cannot include every one or else the tapestry fast becomes a Book of the
Dead. Kingdom Rolls of Honor are more suitable places for that kind
of remembrance. Also, I have tried to include stories that either affected
the Society as a whole or at least crossed a kingdom border. Its not that
smaller stories aren't important, its more that I have limited time and
limited space in which to record what ends up on my plate. So the death of
a royal is included in my recording of history because I presume that the
other kingdoms that have lost one of their Royal Family suffered similar to
what I saw/experienced here in the Middle that year.
And the last bit -
I don't remember if someone mentioned it to me in passing or if I stumbled
across it in my readings (some kingdoms have very nice handbooks on line,
I paraphrase here, so my apologizes to the original author - "You might not
be the First Queen, but you're someone's first queen." Having been in the
SCA a year, there had already been a few royals on the throne and I could
not tell you who they were. But at Pennsic of year 30 I remember very
clearly standing on the edge of the battlefield in my bright orange
polyester chiffon sari (was playing with personas) watching the Queen, in
her armor, making her way along the line. There were banners and entourage
and she shook hands all down the length, thanking the army and allies
and mercenaries and whomever for fighting for the Middle. I remember the
sound of clinking metal on the wind and I remember the sun behind them and
how it made things glow as if lined in gold. How it glinted off shiny
surfaces like a hundred tiny mirrors.. I remember how beautiful the day
was and thinking how sad that Queen might be, even as she was so proud that
so many people came to her banner.
To this day, I have not yet met her. I have embroidered a dozen of First
Queens, but she was my First Queen.
to the Dream, my friends
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]