ANST - RE- A&S Judging

dennis grace amazing at
Fri Aug 15 13:26:50 PDT 1997

Salut, Cozyns,

Lyonel aisai.

In response to Lord Stephan's plaint--

>>complexity and aesthetic value often get
>>more credit than authenticity.

--Baron Bors responds (in part):

>Well said- this is the main reason why I no longer enter into A&S
>Are we re-creating the past or
>modifing it to own own expectations.  Would my rough wooden feast box even be
>noticed if it was sitting in a 14th century great hall? Probably not.  Would
>some one wearing a sewing machine produced Elizabethian gown be burnt as a
>witch, for wearing something that could only be sewn by "the devil"?  Which
>item would successfully and acurately re-create the past? 

We are, Your Excellency, modifying the past to our own specifications.
Actually, we have little choice in the matter.  We could, I suppose, build a
small medieval city somewhere to provide a medieval support network, but
barring that we're stuck modifying the past to our expectations.  Thus the
need for that "Creative" in Society for Creative Anachronism.

His Excellency laments the poor reception of his rough hewn wooden box and
pats himself on the back for handsewing garb instead of resorting to a
sewing machine. Fine, but I have a few questions.

As to the box:  

Would the box have been used unfinished in period?  If so, would it have
been used by a Baron or a peasant?  How would the boxes used by a Baron and
those used in a peasant home differ?

How did you produce this wooden box, Your Excellency?  Surely you didn't
resort to machine-cut lumber, forge poured nails, Craftsman stainless steel

As to your garb:

Are you using alloy needles, steel scissors, poly-cotton thread?  Is your
material all natural fibers?  If so, is it woven on a manually operated loom
or purchased from House of Fabrics?  Are your materials dyed with woad and
lake?  Is any of your garb bleached white rather than urine-drenched and

No flames intended, Your Excellency, but we all utilize the conveniences of
this modern world to accomplish our re-creation activities.  We all, also,
delimit how much modern intrusion we will allow.  You set the limit at steel
needles; I set the limit at invisible machine stitching.  Since most of us
can't afford either the time or the servants necessary to produce garb by
hand, I think most of us will stick with our sewing machines.

Now, if you want to enter a hand-sewn bit of garb into a competition, I
definitely believe you should get higher marks for authenticity than someone
who uses a sewing machine (all other aspects of authenticity being equal).
Likewise, I believe a handsewn bit of garb should score higher on
complexity/degree of difficulty (again, all other aspects of
complexity/degree of difficulty being equal).  Of course, for this to
matter, you have to have a set of judging criteria that parses up the score
in such a way as to allow a set portion of the points to go to each of these

As to Baron Bors' and Lord Stephan's complaints that the pretty stuff wins--
well, yeah.  Sure.  It's an arts competition.  That's why so many artists
get in a huff over the Trimaran Brick.  Bricks aren't artistic.  Who wants
to point to a brick and say, "Behold, the pinnacle of our kingdom's artistic

lo vostre por vos servir

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis Grace
University of Texas at Austin
English Department
Recovering Medievalist
amazing at

Micel yfel deth se unwritere.
                           AElfric of York


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