Greetings, good gentles !
I completely agree with *Seigneur Etienne Le Mons d'Anjou* - "When judging
authenticity, I look heavily at the documentation. I look to see if they
have shown in their documentation how things were done in period, how their
project is different, and (if period methods were an option) why they did
things differently or used different materials. For example, I'm not going
to deduct points from authenticity because someone used a lab-created gem
when their documentation clearly shows that they know the difference and
made the substitution due to finances."
In my humble opinion, we sometimes emphasize the authenticity of an item
too much; it can be very expensive to produce an item that comes anywhere
close to being authentic. While we are raising the bar on our expectations
for documentation, we must not expect all artisans to be able to afford the
authentic "ingredients"; we must always accept a reasonable substitution,
as Etienne expressed.
On a related note, I have been considering the "quality" of workmanship
idea. Since I sew a lot of clothing, I will use that as an example.
I am, mundanely and in SCA, head of a household and have children. I sew
for my children and those in my household on a routine basis. I have sewn
for most of my life (since I was 5.) I hand-sew and I machine sew; I love
to sew. I design my own mundane clothing, and I make my own patterns for
SCA clothing. I know what I am doing, and I have made a very wide variety
of clothing for all ages and both genders.
I believe that my experience is similar to what a medieval woman (wife,
mother) would have. However, I do not pretend that my technique is
flawless. My seams do not come apart, and most of the time things fit
reasonably well, but there are always garments that didn't really come out
the way you expected. I also believe that our medieval counterparts had
the same experiences. They made cutting errors, they under-estimated the
amount of fabric they needed, they rushed to finish a garment because it
got put aside until the last second (yes, I'm sure they did procrastinate
then, too), and maybe they didn't do a perfect job every time. They also
did not generally have the luxury of scrapping a piece entirely and buying
new materials. They used what they had, and did their best.
Should all items in our competitions be expected to be of the quality that
royalty would posses, that a master craftsman (who performs their craft for
pay) would produce for royalty ?
It seems to me that, if our goals is to educate ourselves on the life of
those in the middle ages and reproduce items which would have been used by
those living in that time, we should acknowledge that there were many more
items (in total) made for the lower classes than those made for royalty.
Is there any room in our A&S competitions for the "average" household item
- researched to perfection, documented to the Nth degree, but not perfectly
executed - as the "perfect" example of a period household item made by the
"average" person in period ?
Dum Vivo Servio (While I live, I serve)
Rachel Cundiff, OL
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