Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mini Scrolls for Battle of Bannockburn Demo

Recently, my shire was asked to assist with a demo at an event to commemorate the Battle of Bannockburn, to be held in the town of Bannockburn, IL.  Static A&S displays, demonstrations of period activities, heavy and rapier combat demos and many people in garb were planned for the day.  It was also mentioned that there would be a mock court at the end of the day, perhaps giving awards to "winners" of the day's combat in addition to thanking the coordinators of the event.

About two days before the event, I was planning what I could bring to do and how to interact with the public.  I warped up my inkle loom with some new yarn and cards, though I didn't end up using it since Acelina was there using her inkle loom.  I pre-cut some lengths of yarn to do some fingerloop braiding.  I figured I could be doing the braiding to give away to people, and possibly teach anyone who seemed particularly interested.  I actually think this would be a bigger draw in the future.  A number of people, seeing Acelina's woven trim and my fingerloop braids, referred to them as bracelets, and a couple girls even asked if they could have one.  I think that I should make up more braids in the future, specifically for giving away to the public.  It could lead into presenting the braiding as a period activity that still resonates today.

So, then it got into my head that if we were having mock court, we should have some mock scrolls.  I have several scroll blanks that I've made, as well as photos of scrolls that were completed and handed out as awards.  I took photos of these blanks and scrolls, removed any text that was in the photo, and then shrunk them to about 1/4 page size.  In some cases, I rotated and manipulated the designs into a landscape orientation, since I felt that would work better for the text that I had planned.

Then I took a sample sheet where I had practiced my gothic lettering, and scanned it into the computer.  I copied the best of each letter into a separate file, so that I had a hand-written alphabet from which to create text.

I didn't have time to run my idea by anyone else in the shire, so I simply decided to use some formal language to say "you were here".  I left room for a person's name to be added in calligraphy at the event.

I printed up many copies of these onto card stock and cut them out.  Each ended up about 3 1/2" by 5".  Finally, I made up labels with the name of our shire, with its website, as well as the SCA's website link.  I put a label on the back of each card.

At the demo, I set up at a table in the center of the pavilion of A&S displays.  I sat and worked on practicing my calligraphy, and as people came through I offered to write their name for them onto the cards.  Most people were amazed that I then did the calligraphy on the spot for them.  When appropriate, based on the individual's interest level, I also discussed the artwork of each scroll, explaining that these are custom pieces of art as well.  I showed the the original full-size scrolls in the cases of the scroll blanks I still had.  It would have been better if I was more prepared for this interaction - the scrolls could have been in a manageable display binder, along with the inspiration pieces they were based on.

At first, it was mostly a few children who wanted their names written out on something pretty that they could take with them.  But word spread as they walked around with their scrolls, and more and more people came over to the pavilion who hadn't previously wandered that way.  Quite a few of the scrolls that I ended up writing were clearly for adults.  My hope was that these would be more memorable, and less likely to find their way immediately into a trash bin than a small business card.  I don't know at this point whether there has been any follow-up contact from anyone who took home a scroll, but I'm hopeful that this technique could be quite useful at demos in the future.

I had also made some full-size copies of a few of my blanks onto card stock.  I got my first experience as a combat scribe, when I received the desired wording for our "thank you" to the coordinator at about 20 minutes before we wanted to give it out in our mock court.  That was also quite well received, and hopefully they will keep it and remember our group for future endeavors.

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