Sunday, October 23, 2016

Every Journey Begins Somewhere

People often complement my garb and level of authenticity in it. I've heard people say they wish they could make garb like mine. I've heard people say they don't have the talent to make clothes like mine. However, I didn't start with this garb. It's taken years of practice, research, and more practice, to get where I am.

Let's start with a picture for some perspective, shall we? This is me just before I began in the SCA. When I began, I didn't know what a 16th century English woman would wear, let alone what fabrics or construction techniques she would use. I didn't know that linen and wool were the fabrics of choice. I had never even considered embroidering anything. To be quite frank, I didn't care know, either. I could sew a straight line with a machine, and I could darn a sock, but I did not hand-sew things by choice.

When I first joined the SCA, I joined as a "Rennie" (as we are referred to). I wanted a place to wear more fun Renaissance clothing. I was young and shiny, and knew nothing about the Society. After joining, I was given both positive and negative feedback on my clothing choices, among other things.. Very quickly, I realized there was more to the SCA than just wearing the clothing I love. I began to look through paintings. I began to read about fabrics, techniques, trim, accessories, etc....

I made gown after gown, researching more and more after each one - changing and improving, making each piece a little more accurate. I fell in love with the Armada Portrait and began working to put the pattern from the sleeves onto a red velvet stomacher (after learning what a stomacher is, of course).  I used couched bead-work to create the effect, though I didn't know that's what it was called until many years later. I did it because I though it looked cool. Would I make that same choice today? I'm not sure. I'd need to look into the fabrics and applications of patterns first. Though, with what I know now, I believe it is plausible, given: we know the pattern existed in period, velvets were used in period (though the one used here is synthetic - sometimes compromises must be made due to budgetary constraints), and couched bead-work is prevalent in the mid 16th century as well.

I continue to learn and grow, just as we all do. I am happy to share when I am able. I find teachers and students in nearly every person I meet.

The next time you look at someone and feel overwhelmed by the authenticity of their garb, or the terminology they use, or the knowledge of their art, or their skill with a weapon; remember they, too, started somewhere. They did not join the society as a Master, Mistress, Baron, Baroness, Duke, Dutchess, etc; they began as a bright-eyed, eager student, excited to do something that makes their heart light up. I bet if you ask them about their craft (whatever form it may take), their heart will still light up.

We love to share our crafts, and we share our crafts with love.