Monday, October 14, 2013

How to Give Feedback

There are many ways to do the same thing. There are many ways to go from point A to point Z. You can go straight or take the scenic route or anything in-between. Some people like to get hung up on the same route, day after day, while others like to change it up every day or week or month.

Feedback goes much in hand with this. There are many ways to give feedback. Some people tell it straight. Some like to consider the criticism sandwich style (compliment, critique, compliment).

A friend of mine recently wrote an entry about feedback and her words rang with a wisdom that I would like to share with people. This is a style of feedback she gives that she says works well with teaching peers and colleagues when they ask for it. This style of feedback has only three steps to it:

1. Get consent
2. Use observational language
3. Leave it be

Now, let's break it down step by step and see what that means.

Step 1) Get consent. What exactly does this mean? Well, exactly what it says. Not everyone always wants to hear feedback. It makes a lot of people go on the defensive very quickly because, let's face it, a lot of feedback is judging. It doesn't take long to ask. Ask simply. "Can I give you some feedback?" And leave it. Don't just ask and then start in with the comments. That also gets them on the defensive. Give the person a moment to decide whether they want the feedback and to get in the correct mindset.

Step 2) Observational language. Do you know what that is? My friend mentions that "Observational Language is concrete, specific, and about you and your experience." This is very very important. When you start talking in generalities it makes people feel that you are speaking about everyone that might be looking at them in any one given moment. If you use observational language, you are sharing the only thing you really know: what -you- observed.

So, what is observational language? Most any sentence you would use in this context will start as such:

I saw...
I felt...
I heard...

They are very much the same feel as the emotion statements of I feel ______ because _______. These sentences are even easier, though. All you do is pick a sense to start your sentence with, tell them what you experienced, and stop. Leave it alone.

Let's show an example.

Let's say you just walked into an a bar and someone had a beer they wanted opinions on that they made.

I felt carbonation against my lips.
I tasted salt.
I smelled bananas.
I saw a golden color.
I saw you shook the bottle before pouring.
I felt a warm cup.

There is no need to add in a 'because' or 'however' into this form of feedback. You are just telling the person exactly what you observed. Maybe they hadn't realized their beer was warm. Maybe they didn't realize they had shook the bottle slightly before opening it. Maybe the smell of bananas was exactly what they were hoping for. Maybe they were trying for a darker beer and knowing you thought it was golden when they thought it was more amber would be helpful. There is nothing to argue with because you are merely stating what -your- experience was.

In these sorts of statements, you can even give your emotion. Saying things like 'I felt excited' or 'I felt satisfied' or even 'I felt frightened' are all fine types of statements to give. However, saying something like 'I felt you could have...' is not as welcome. That, again, is putting the person on the spot.

The thing about people is that they like coming to conclusions themselves. They don't want you to tell them how the story ends, but they like that you give them all the clues so they can work it out themselves. A lot of the same with critique. Telling them all the points they hit, they can think back on what they did in hopes of you having a different experience next time. The  important thing is to make sure, even if you heard several things, you separate each sentence. "I heard you pause often. I heard you hit a high C. I heard your voice get quiet during this verse."

You may wonder how this feedback will work. If I approached someone to say 'I heard your voice get quiet during this particular verse.' and that is all I say, that gives them a chance to think about it. 'Oh, I never noticed. Thank you for pointing that out!' Or perhaps 'Yes, that is a particular moment I want to be quiet. I feel it is important'. You don't need to say more than that. They will either happily talk to you and discuss why they did it as they did or they will thank you for pointing it out (without telling them it was wrong, but merely telling them you noticed it). This is science for people. Each thing they do is like an experiment and they are looking for specific results. Give them the facts so they can tweak their next experiment in hopes of getting different results if they want.

Observational language is never quantitative. If you say something is cold, well, how cold is cold? How loud is loud?

My friend goes on to note: "You might also notice that 'thinking' language is off the table in this model. Thinking language might be something like "I thought you were flat." - that's an evaluation disguised as an observation, and it is out of place here. It has a place elsewhere. I assure you."

Lastly, we get to step 3. In step 3,  you leave it be. What does that mean? You offer what you have to offer and then leave it alone. Let the person decide if they want to take your feedback or not. You might have been the only one to have that experience. Leave it as it is. Don't push it.

Now, there is a huge difference between feedback and evaluation. Evaluating someone is basically telling them what you like and what you don't. And evaluation is when you judge something based on the amount, quality, etc of something and is very self-preferential. I could evaluate there being too much food on my plate while other people I know that have higher metabolisms and eat more may say there is just enough if not too little. In feedback, you are just observing your experiences for them, such as saying "I see there are three pieces of meat on the plate. The sauce was green." Consider it like a science experiment. They just need the facts.

How to Be a Rock Star

I came across an interesting post by a friend of mine in a different community and thought to myself, wow. That would work so well for every aspect of my life.

She speaks about how she once was in a room where everyone was throwing themselves at a man she was with, shouting his name and showing their excitement he was there. In that particular community, they had a specific form of salute to show Rock Star status, and everyone was giving this man the Rock Star Salute (RSS from here on out). Picture, of course, young teens at a concert. What is the RSS? Pulling their hair, screaming at the top of their lungs, waving hands in front of their face, reaching hands out to the person on stage. This is a RSS. This is where we get the term from. Think of Elvis. Think of the Beatles.

Now, let's look at it in terms of the way life works. The beloved member of your family who you only see once a year during the holidays just arrived. What is the RSS? Usually it is everyone putting down what they are doing, cooing their hellos, and suddenly encircling the person. Maybe they are a Rock Star because they moved out of the area and became a doctor or a lawyer or some other amazing profession through long long years of education. But they are someone special and being with them is amazing.

How about meeting your favorite author? Hugging the book to your chest. People do this all the time. Even if they aren't meeting their favorite author, but instead found their book on the shelf of their local book store.

In the SCA? I know you have seen a million versions of RSS. Sometimes it is people crowding around someone, not letting them move five feet before more people add to the circle. I always hear you should never wear your metals of office (coronet, laurel leaves, medallions, what have you) when you are trying to make an ice run. The ice will melt long before you get home. But yes, the SCA has RSS in many different manners due to the extremity of different communities within this one large group. It could be people cheering for a particular fighter, people begging for a performance from a certain performer no matter where they see them, people oogling and gossiping over the amazingness of a particular artisan and how they are the best at what the do... think about all the different ways we, as a group, put someone up on a pedestal and form them into a Rock Star.

In either case, she continues to say, "I have saluted many a Rockstar, and I'm happy to know that it has caught on, that Rockstars are now 'making' new Rockstars. A Rockstar can 'make' another Rockstar, but a random cannot make a Rockstar." Think about that. Try and really think and grasp that. Let's pretend that you have a Big Important Title aka YOU ARE A ROCK STAR (and this could, honestly, be anything. You could be a baronial champion, you could have an award people look up to, or you could just be the go to person in your area where people know you know everything). Yes, getting a RSS feels amazing, but do you know how much good you can do as a Rock Star? You are looked up to. You are believed in. You are amazing. And if you tell people 'wow, have you seen this person?' They are going to look. If you give that person the RSS, people are going to say 'wow... so and so just gave that person an RSS! They must be amazing and I should be doing that too!' YOU have the power to point people towards people that YOU think are amazing! You can't create a Rock Star out of nothing, but you CAN point people towards someone who has been overlooked and deserves time on that pedestal.

I have seen it happen. I have seen a Rock Star give their version for their situation of a RSS and, it may have taken days or weeks or months, but people realized what a Rock Star this person they were saluting was and they, in turn, became a Rock Star.

My friend continues with a list of ten things to help you decide if you are a Rock Star (because sometimes you need a reminder or you just never realized) or not (which I will put into more general terms so I wont out my friend at all):

Well, You Might Be A Rock Star If...

1. When you go somewhere, more people know you by your Rock Star name (think SCA versus the rest of your life) than by your mundane name
2. It takes you 45 minutes to walk a path that others can walk in 10, because so many people are coming up to you and saying hello
3. People you consider colleagues keep randomly giving you RSS
4. People you don't know and have never met you want to meet you
5. You teach a class with 200 people in it as effectively as you can teach a class with 20 - or 2, because size doesn't matter to you.
6. You participate in your community beyond being the Rock Star on stage and in front of an audience
7. You treat people with kindness and respect, regardless of what they may or may not have to offer you
8. Your name has become a household name - and you didn't create it yourself
9. You need help when you are finished teaching or demoing just so you can get back to your room (be it from exhaustion or so many people wanting your attention the second it is over)
10. You don't really care if you ever get a RSS, because you know it isn't important

So go out there. Be a Rock Star and create Rock Stars. Inspire through your words and actions. Remember how good it was the first time someone gave you the RSS? Don't you think other people deserve to feel that amazing as well? Go create Rock Stars!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bene Bache Venies

Some time ago, when I started making these Inspiration Cards, I had people tell me that I should make scrolls. I was very uncertain about this, due to the fact that I was barely having the energy to sit and do a little card. How could I have the energy to make a huge scroll?

But as weeks passed, the cards became easier and I began to itch to try my hand at making something bigger. So I began to ponder what to do. I didn't want to put a call out that I was ready to make a scroll, because what if I wasn't very good at it or gave up half way? While my child was asking me, once again, to play Bene Bache Venies, I got an idea. The Bene Bache is from the Carmina Burana manuscript which was filed with songs of love, drinking, lust, etc. So, why not try and recreate a open page of the Bene Bache?

So I began to research to see if I could find the actual manuscript of the Bene Bache. I could not. So I began to see if there were any other full page illuminations I could find (there are only 8 in all of the Carmina Burana), but other than the inspiration for one of my cards, I couldn't find another full page. So, although I am certain that it was in reference of a different song of spring and lust (I mean, look at all the symbolism in that picture!), I used it as the opposite side of the song.

I then found, what I believed, were all the words of the song. I sketched out the lines of where the words would be placed and found this amazing illumination that I was going to place as a break between verses of the song to make it pretty. Probably after the chorus.

Then I sat listening to the song as my son bounced around the room for the fifteenth time that day. And I was singing along with the latin in front of me until... wait... where is that verse? And that one!? So I put a call out for anyone who knew where I could find all the verses. Finally they were acquired, thirteen in total. Not the eight I previously thought there was along with a pretty illumination. Well, scratch the illumination.

So I finally got everything set up and decided to ink out the base colors for the illumination, all painted on with a paintbrush, so that it had plenty of time to dry while I worked on the words.

At this point I needed to start figuring out what style of typography was correct. I found something I thought was close and decided to work with it. Once I got the first line down, I couldn't change it anyway. And I am someone that works a lot better if I just have all the uppercase and lowercase for different typographies written down just like that so I don't have to try and pick them out from the words. In fact, that is a project I may work on at some point, out of ease. Unless someone knows of someone who had created a book of just lettering from the various manuscripts for easy reading/access. If you have seen something like that, please point it towards me.

So, I began the words. The illumination used to black for the drawn design. The illumination is more toned down than that, so I used a sepia instead. The words, though, I wanted to stand out bold, so I did them in black.

I started with a c-4 nib, thinking it would be okay. You can see the first line of the song is actually a little thicker than the next written line. And this is my first time writing for a long time instead of just three words, so keeping things even and similar was difficult. I think I need to practice more on that to get good at it. I'm feeling good with the illumination and now want to work on my calligraphy. In either case, when I switched over to a size c-5 nib, I felt a lot more comfortable, but I think I would like to pick up a few c-6 and play with them and see what they do. I have a feeling the font will be even more elegant that way.

Close up, it doesn't look the most amazing, but further away? Wow. It popped.

I decided, like in some manuscripts I had seen, I would make the chorus a separate color that was not too obtrusive. I used blue, since it is also pretty heavy in the illumination. Other than the base lines, nothing was done with a nib in illumination. It was all done with paint brush mixing various brands of inks.

You will notice a difference between my illumination and the one of the original. It must have been wider, because I was having trouble making sure everything fit, so the lower pane left out some of the curly vines to the right of the first tree on the left.

In either case, it seemed to come out well.

Final size: 14" x 17"
Based on: the Carmina Burana, circa 1230-1240.
Materials: bristol paper and inks applies with nibs and paintbrush.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

'You Inspire Me' Month of September

Based on Epistles of Othea, circa 1404-1408.

I fell in love with this design due to the simplicity and the quiet of the colors. Everything is muted in fall warm tones. I only wish I had any kind of proper nib for the lettering. I feel like what I had was too thick and left me disappointed with how it blopped ink down. Maybe I just need to sharpen the nib.

Today's inspiration is JP, also known as Jean Paul. He is a fencer in Concordia. Or, at least, that seems to be what most people know him for. But he is also dedicated to the arts, making wonderful books and understanding and practicing the science behind making vellum. He is one of those people who supports every aspect of the SCA and understands how important it is to do such. I happened across him at an event once working on some book binding. I'm usually nervous around fighters and fencers because I don't understand their culture and don't think I would be well accepted. But JP has such a great smile and attitude towards teaching, the next thing I knew an hour had flown by and I was really enjoying chatting with him about book binding, something I knew nothing about.

That positive attitude along with his respect for all aspects of the SCA are what inspire me about JP. He is incredibly talented with what he does and, more so, humble about his skills and happy to discuss and teach.


Based on Hamzanama: The Adventures of Hamza, circa 1558-1582.

This is officially the first time I have looked at a singular piece of work and fell in love with a pattern and wanted to do a whole card based on the pattern. In this case, the water. It reminds me of a cartography map. And it was a lot of fun to try and create.

Today's inspiration is Martyn de Halliwell. Not only does he have an incredible voice, but he is an incredible person. Every time we have interacted, he has always been kind to me and happy to listen and help in any way he can. He is what I consider the UBER volunteer in the SCA. I haven't seen an event where he has just... sat down. He is always helping work gate, working in the kitchen, playing music for background purposes, or whatever else needs a hand. He will come early to decorate a hall or stay late to clean up and pack vans. I don't think I have ever met someone quite so dedicated to helping make things run smoothly.

That and, well, Martyn rocks. And makes good food. And is great company on any day!


Based on the World Chronicle of Charlemagne, circa 1310.

What have I learned over the past month of making these? The paintbrush is your friend and very seldom do you actually pick up your nibs. Of course, I think I need various sizes and flavors of brushes in my kit and I think it is about time to get a small mixing well palette as well as start looking into gauche paints. I'm thinking, if I set my kit up right, I should want for nothing and be able to travel with it easily. Right now it isn't much or even very exciting, but it does its job. But I know what tweaks will make it better.

Today's inspiration is Olivia Bakere. This is a woman with a voice and a kitchen. Everyone knows her to be an amazing baker. I have had the pleasure of helping in her kitchen before. She also has an amazing talent for harmonies that people are beginning to realize. But beyond that?

Beyond that, she is one of the strongest women I know. She is kind and giving and happy to teach. She has a great sense of humor and she is beautiful to boot. All these things, and the one that always strikes me, always inspires me, is her strength. And I'm not talking about physical strength. I'm talking about emotional strength, strength of character, moral strength... She will stand up for what she knows to be right and she wont let anyone push around the little guy.

Olivia is a person to know. And I was a complete jerk to her when we first met (cause if I mention it, she wont), and she had the strength to forgive me. Because she is awesome. And an inspiration.


Based on Gospels of Otto III, circa 997.

I have found that when I first started this project, I feigned away from styles such as this. I was afraid. I didn't think I could do it. And today I pick them up because they look exciting and different and I can't wait to try it out. This has been a really exciting journey and I've learned an incredible amount by doing these little cards. I'm thankful to those of you who have followed me on this journey.

Today's inspiration is Mistress Brid. A woman full of knowledge, hospitality, wisdom, joy, light, strength, talent, and generosity. You can tell you are loved by this woman when she brings you around to various people with the sole purpose of introducing you, someone very special to her, to other people who are very special to her. Once you are loved by Mistress Brid, you will always be loved by her. Once you are in her heart, you will always have a place to call home.

There really isn't much to say about Mistress Brid that people don't already know. She makes sure every person who is beloved by her knows it. And not just knows it, but she takes time out of her day, sometimes just minutes, sometimes whole hours, to make sure everyone she adores has one on one time with her. Because it is that important to her.

One of the things I know about this woman is that she is called a Tiger of the East. What that means is that she is the embodiment of the East Kingdom in the SCA. Although I haven't known her long and I haven't spent nearly as much time with her as other people, I can see it. I can see exactly why she is a Tiger of the East. Between her wisdom, her generosity, her talents, and her overwhelming love, how can she not be an inspiration to not just the East, but the world around her?

Thank you, Mistress Brid, for being the person you are and sharing that person with all of us. We are all blessed and lucky to have you in our lives, no matter whether we are close and see you daily or if we are only able to have a few hours with you during the length of our whole lives. There is just something special about this woman that even touching her for a few moments can be life changing.

Based on the Chronicle of the Crusader Kingdom of Jeruselam, circa 1455.

Circles are hard. Need to work on them more. Still using the paintbrush for almost everything. Did do the little black work leaves and such with regular nib tip, of course, but everything else is paintbrush. Slowly getting better at lines with them. Will eventually get more even, I'm sure. Or I will switch back over to nibs which are easier to keep even for just the outer lines.

Todays inspiration is Baroness Sabine. A beautiful woman with a beautiful family, gentle and adorable and super sweet...

When I think of Sabine, I think of her talent with music, especially her rauchfife of bard summoning +7. She seems to be able to jump in on just about anything, switch up her instruments quickly, and read music as if it were just written there in regular words. I wish I were so able to do things with instruments.

But more so than that, when I think of Sabine, I think of her smile, her kindness, her welcoming manner. Have you ever been in the Bhakail camp during Pennsic? She will gladly offer a glass of minted water, a place to sit in the shade, and when she isn't running around busy, she will even offer some very delightful company. And not only is she well versed in many subjects, she also has impeccable manners. I think of Sabine and I think of... dainty old-school parties with glasses of wine and tittering laughter and smiles where people really listen to each other. When they open their mouth to speak again they have really thought about what they were going to say and because of that they sound as well educated as they are. They never make any of the conversation faux pas. No no. And that is Sabine. A beautiful woman, incredibly respectful and giving and kind with the warmest hospitality. I suppose it is difficult to describe, but if you have ever been to one of her Courts of Love, you would understand. She has this air about her where not only does she hold this amazing poise, but everyone around her is inspired to follow in suit because she just makes it look so easy.

Beautiful woman. Beautiful smile. And her addiction to BPAL certainly doesn't hurt. She is incredible and I certainly adore her.
Today, before starting my card, I worked on a different project, but only slightly. I was given a small cardboard box with magnetic latch for me to put a few of my cards in to make it easier to carry. This means I needed to decorate it. Without much ado..

Based on the cover to the Gospels of Henry the Lion, circa 1175 -1188.

The metal is just a very cheap pewter, medium weight, that I had laying around from my crafting days back in highschool. These are the only parts that I did the embossing on that are worth even having pictures taken of, but you get the idea. I may do some kind of rub to make details stand out, and I am in no way finished yet. But this project will probably take a few days to get the detail I want. But I wanted to put the idea up now.

Today's inspiration... have you ever met someone that seemed so out of the regular mold that you couldn't really group them? Yeah. Master John Thorpe is definitely like that. So, I couldn't just make a regular card for him. It wouldn't make sense. And the entire time I made this, I could hear echoes of his encouragement.

Master John Thrope, as his wife puts it, has A&S ADD. He, like me, has a trillion and one hobbies. Music, metal working, fighting, you name it! He is not just an inspiration, he is the epitome of encouragement at the same time. He is NEVER one that will look down on you and tell you your dream or your project is too big. Instead, he will get as excited as you are and look forward to seeing its completion, no matter where that completion may take you. Sometimes it is into a different idea than you thought. Sometimes it is learning a new technique than you thought.

Master John Thorpe is one of the best teachers I can think of. He is patient and, the thing that is most important to me, he lets you learn by DOING so you can feel, hear, understand your mistakes. He takes you through -why- it doesn't work instead of just telling you that it is wrong. He doesn't frown. He smiles! And mistakes mean learning opportunities. Oops means you can make something different. There is no such thing as waste and garbage.

The things I have learned from Master John Thorpe do not just settle with metal crafting. A lot of things I have learned can be taken into a bigger context about life in general. Because life, like metal, although solid, can always be shaped and move however you want it. But, you can't force it. And something it is a lot of hard work to get it to look like you want it to. Nothing is ever easy. But if you have the technical skills, the world is your oyster and you can create anything you want if you just set your mind to it.

I am humbled by this man on various occasions. To sit beside him and work at his bench is an honor and, I'm certain, a privilege that I hope to never take advantage of. I am a lucky person to be able to work beside, under the hand of, someone who can encourage as easily as they can inspire. He is one of the first incredibly craftspeople I have met that I instantly felt like family with and the fear of greatness dropped away into stunned awe and 'teach me'. And he is determined to make that fear drop away so that I can feel that way with everyone and anyone.

Based on the Gospels of Henry the Lion, circa 1175 - 1188.

I am entranced by the pictures sometimes. The more colorful the better. But I finish the card and suddenly it feels too busy... but beautiful. In either case, I think within the next month I may be picking up some gauche so I can start work with what people tell me I should be using instead of using just inks.

Today's inspiration is someone I feel is a brethren in arms of language: Fridrikr Tomasson. Although I don't know much nor understand a lot of the Viking sagas, he is doing what I have always wanted to. He has researched into the language, the rhyme, and the meter of traditional skaldic tales and has been doing it so well that he is able to create his own made pieces that sound to fit perfectly well against those of the period. That, to me, is astounding. It is what I hope to be able to do at some point in time. I am hoping that all my research into IPA will help me with these tasks as I learn more about the rhyme and meter of traditional byliny, but I haven't had time to just sit down and really read them, over and over, until I have the language down.

But the fact that I know someone who is, has, and does do this is incredibly inspirational to me. It is someone I know I can go to when I am in a slump, even if the language may not be the same, because I'm sure the steps of creation are still going to be similar, no matter what the poem may be. In my eyes, he paved the way that this is not only plausible, but 100% possible to be done.

The fact that he is also interested to learn IPA is just an extra happy. Someday I would love to make an IPA guided class to languages people like to be able to read or speak in the SCA. And he is my inspiration to create that class... all with the words 'I am interested to learn.'

Based on the Missal of Jean Des Martins, circa 1465-1466.

Playing with just taking bits and pieces of things I like in a scroll and making something that makes me happy. I actually like how this one reminds me of some kind of city letter, complete with wax seal stamp.

Today's inspiration is truly an inspiration of the arts, Baron Pierre deTours. Pierre is one of the first members of what I consider royalty (Kings, Queens, Princes, Princess, Barons, Baronesses) that had it all wrapped up in one package as far as support. He is a well known fencer, even if he may not fence in tournaments any more. And yet, you wont just see him at fencing events encouraging fencers from this area. You will also see him travel to King and Queens bardic because he saw so many of the people from his barony were participating. And he will cheer them on. You will see him at Arts and Science events. And he will make sure to sit down with every single person competing or displaying, if he can, and talk about their entry and give words of encouragement. He will open a ball by being the lead in the dancing. He will have people over to his home to watch him break his arrows... I mean, to shoot archery. He will happily talk and discuss metal working with interested parties. I don't think there is a single thing I haven't seen him encourage and make sure people know he encourages.

That is the kind of royalty that I would like to see more often: putting aside your favorites and making sure that everyone knows exactly how important every aspect of the lands can be, from the cooking to the fighting, from the dancing to the archery, from the singing to the fencing. Everything plays a role in making a very well rounded group.

Pierre is pretty awesome. And it also helps he sent me on a quest to see Black Adder. I honestly never knew what I was missing.

Based on the Lambeth Apocalypse, circa 1260-1270.

After making this pieces, I've decided I really want to try gold leafing so I can get a more solid tone. Something to think about later.

Today's inspiration is not just an inspiration to the world, but the whole universe. Well, the whole Liam-verse. That's right. Liam St Liam. Do you know Liam? Of course you do! Everyone knows Liam! There are very few times that I think I have been privy to him extending a hand and saying, "Nice to meet you, I'm Liam!"

But seriously, if you do not know Liam, ask someone, anyone, and go meet him. You will never meet a more friendly, jolly, happy soul in your life. I don't recall ever seeing Liam upset or even angry. He knows how to roll with the punches, improv in the moment of the situation, and finds humor each step as he goes along.

You will also never find a more fiercely loyal friend than Liam. Although he knows everyone in the world, he also wears his heart on his sleeve and cares about each and every person he has ever met, even if he has only known you for a short while. He would do anything under his power to be able to help you out, whether it is with a silly dance to cheer you up or finding you the exact person you are looking for in all due haste.

After meeting and knowing Liam, I had made a goal for myself to try and hug every single person at Pennsic and keep a recorded log where people would sign their names but... I just don't know people well, I'm kind of shy, and I don't have that same fiercely friendly manner as Liam does. Some people even claim I intimidate them. So... I scratched it and just try and hang out with Liam more instead.

But he has inspired me to smile more, talk more, get to know people, make a habit of trying to remember their names, and check in on them each year at that event to keep the friendships growing. And, of course, always tell people how important they are to you. Because Liam totally does. Thank you, Liam, for being so very awesome.

Based on The Golden Haggadah, circa 1320-1330.

Something simple for today. I feel like I've been inundating myself with some of the most crazy designs that I can think of.

Today's inspiration is Katherine Ashewode, also known as Pocket Bard. This is not a woman to be trifled with in a muse battle. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING (have you read her song about tent seeds?) is an inspiration that is just waiting to be made into a song. And woe be unto the person who only brings one tunic and one pair of pants to Pennsic, because you are sure to go down in history if you are camped at McGuire's Marauderers.

Katherine is an incredibly friendly person who loves to talk performance/bardic shop and get together for singing. She likes to learn new things and enjoys being able to share new things with you. The first time I ever met her, we clicked right away and spent, more or less, the whole weekend together plotting and planning and more or less having an awesome time singing bawdy music and making people wonder about us. She knows how to travel, where all the good fires are (which is any one where she is and you can hear her repertoire), and has come across to my friends as 'the person who knows where all the fun is.'

If you are ever looking for anything bardic fire wise going on at an event, Katherine will know where it is. Hunt her down. And then ask to see her 'menu of pieces' and pick anything at random. Trust me, you will not be sorry that you did.

Based on The Jewish Antiquities circa 1405-1465.

Today I really wanted to try and do this in layers, since the more I do these the more I can plan really well for how/when to use colors. I failed. I kept missing areas and then needing to reopen bottles and go back to doing them again. But all in all, quite pleased. Today was supposed to be a simple card to give me time for other things. I'm not sure I even succeeded there.

Today's inspiration is, what I consider, the first "mama bear" that I ever met. She will adopt anyone into her arms, and she is fiercely protective of all those that she claims as hers. This woman is best known to most of you as Stefka.

Stefka is a woman that will notice poor lost souls wandering and immediately take them back to her camp (which, truly, Clan Campbell is deserving of its own card and it will come in time) and make sure they are fed, hydrated, entertained, warm, and comfortable. Is there anyone here who has not met the amazing hospitality of this woman? Very few, I am sure. Human and animal alike are given equally loving comfort in her home, wherever she chooses to make it.

This woman is not lacking in talents, either. She has a beautiful voice and is the maker of a fine and delicate craft that is rare enough now a days, which is a shame: psanky. An incredible woman full of patience, love, and a desire to just help anyone she can. It doesn't matter if she is helping them through teaching, feeding them, or even giving away what little she can, she will do it. I have never met someone who gives so selflessly as she.

Her attitude is always positive, no matter what the situation. She has been through some rough spots, but she always seems to try and put a positive spin on everything.

All of these things makes her an inspiration. All of these things and more. Stefka, you are adored.

Based on Biblia Pauperum, circa 1395-1400.

Today's hope was really just to make something quick. I don't think I got the fleur de lis patterns quite correct, but, give me a break. I was also making a four tier wedding cake. You can see the stress in my handling of the pen. I have also learned that suddenly my red is a lot richer than it used to be. It used to be watery and almost pinkish. But now it is... well, it is actually pleasant to work with and not nearly as transparent. Go go evaporation!

Today's inspiration is someone who refuses to go the normal path and I don't think he could think inside the box if he tried. Today's inspiration is Magnus. Magnus, for anyone who doesn't yet know him, is someone that refuses that everything has to be cut and dry exactly as everyone else says. Things aren't black and white. There have to be other options out there. Not everyone was always offered the same ingredients to work with. And so, as one of my favorite scientists, Magnus experiements... with everything. From his brewing to his stories, he leaves no stone uncovered. He has an enthusiasm for finding new ways to do things. An enthusiasm that most would call... passion.

Magnus is an incredible person with an intense amount of knowledge about an amazing amount of topics. If you meet him, sit down with him. Ask him about his latest failures. I promise you will learn something. And, knowing him, he is sure to walk away with a new idea because of something you say. Because he is that kind of person and always thinking and schemeing.


Based on Gaston Phoebus: Book of the Hunt, circa 1405-1410.

Yes. I've done this before. But I really was just focusing on the colors. The previous one I did (that I used a different border scheme) I used a terra cotta instead of red. But now that my red seems to have thickened up, I decided to use that instead. I think I prefer the terra cotta. It gave it more of a rich feel. But I know borders are fairly straight forward, and although not as fancy as the other... give me a break, I was in Buffalo for a wedding.

Today's inspiration is someone who needs no introduction: Svan. She is a no nonsense (unless there is lots of nonsense) kind of woman who is straight forward and direct and I honestly think the reason that our business meetings only last about 20 minutes. She believes in schedules, timing, volunteering, safety, and fun.

Wait, what? Fun? Yes. Have you met Svan?

See, the thing is, she is able to balance it all. And because she is all zen with the balance of fun and work, she can see when someone is burning out on one or the other and she is able to calmly help them sit down and talk with them without making them feel awkward about it. She is also able to see the unsafe things, and believe it or not, she knows where the fun is.

Now, Svan has done many things in the SCA. She used to fight, she just started Commedia, she sings.. this woman has lots of hobbies. But I think the one she enjoys the most is helping others. She is, in my mind, the epitome of the Pelican. Not only is she always volunteering to help out where needed at events, she is the kind of person who instead will walk up to you and say 'no... I know THAT needs to be done, but what do YOU need?' I'm used to people just pitching in and helping out by getting things clean, setting up, tearing down, but Svan makes sure you are mentally/emotionally/and physically taken care of as well.

When I think of service to the SCA, I would certainly want to take the same line as Svan does. She serves the populace. She serves the people. It isn't all about the royals. There are lots of people that serves the royals. The fact that she has fun and enjoys doing it is key. I hope to learn how to do that.

Based on Rheinau Psalter, circa mid 13th Century.

I had been doing too many clean and breezy pieces and needed to do something with a little more 'umph'. So here it is.

Today's inspiration is Siobhann MacNamara. Or, better known to me, Kathy.

Fiber. I have a LOT of fiber inspirations. I would think it would make me do fiber more. I will get there. It is very much a winter thing, for me.

Anyway, Siobhann was my first inspiration in fiber. And I think it is because she was able to talk about it mathematically, which made it all make sense. Just like with baking, there is a science to the fiber, the twist, the weave, everything. The first time she took me to a sheep and wool festival and I plunged my arms into a bag of fiber, I was in heaven. The first time I heard the purr on the soon to be mine wheel, I felt goosebumps.

And all of this is because she is happy to teach anyone, take time to talk about anything. And she wants to learn more.

She is also incredibly dependable. If ever ever ever I need a hand: in the kitchen, at home, wherever... I know she will be there.

She tells it like it is, works through problems with you, lets you learn through hands on application (so important for me!)... Yeah. She's pretty awesome. In all aspects.
Based on Oscott Psalter, circa 1265-1270.

Oh man, this looked awesome and then I added the black and the white highlights and!!... I need to do arched pieces more often so I can play more with how to space the words and sizing. This is obviously not my best attempt, yet I still like it.

Today's inspiration is someone I like to call my brother in arms: Mikulaj. Mikulaj is considered my brother in arms because, like me, he gets excited about all persona related detail. Watching him grow and his knowledge base has been an incredible joy. Watching him fence and grow in the fencing field has also been an incredible joy.

So, you ask, what makes him inspiration worthy? He is one of the few people I know that says 'I want to do this. This is my goal' and you can actually watch as he grows to reach that height. It is amazing to see someone stick with it with as much enthusiasm now as they had when they first made the commitment to themselves. And here you are, Mikulaj, card number 43. I plan to be sticking to this in hopes of growing better, just like you do.
Based on Ramsey Psalter, circa 1275-1300.

I feel a little better with spacing and size on this particular piece for the letters. I also tried a different gold just to see what it was like. I kind of like the effect. I'm also loving this walnut ink. I don't know if I mentioned that before.

Today's inspiration isn't a who, but a what. Today's inspiration is Dancing Fox, the first event I ever went to. And it must have inspired me to want to stay in the SCA because I have not missed a single Dancing Fox since in my 6 years in the SCA. I think it is 6, that is. In either case...

IF you have never been to a Dancing Fox, you should. The people are friendly, the food is amazing, and the entertainment is second to none. It holds four of my favorite hobbies in one place, so it is no wonder that it called out to me 'you must join the SCA and stay there.' It combines dancing, music, food (OMG THE FOOD) and costumes. Which, now that I think of it, were the four things that I started with in the SCA. Singing, dancing, cooking/baking, and my garb. And if it weren't for Dancing Fox, I don't think I could have had such a pleasant and welcoming first experience, honestly. I will always look on this event with fondness.

Based on La Somme Le Roi, circa 1290-1300.

Simple. Nothing too complex today as I do have other projects going on.

Today's inspiration is Sir Koga Yoshitsune, one of the most courteous people I know. This man is incredibly gentle and warm, always making you feel welcome and safe at the same time. He has stood watch as a guard, he has escorted people back to their homes.. he is a protector through and through.

But more, and this is the part that gets me, is his courtesy while fighting. He is, most definitely, a knight. He fights with honor, courage, and truth. He stands tall on the field and truly represents the East in a glorious way.

Beyond that, he will not hide tears that fall at the elevation or even the loss of a friend. And yet, even in moments of sorrow, his arms are still strong and his hugs are the best.

I don't know Yoshi well, nor have I spent a lot of time with him, but I always feel comfortable spending time with him. And I hope in all my endeavors, in everything I do, I can show courtesy through my actions and words as well as he does.

Based on Li Livres Dou Sante, Circa late 13th Century.

No book picture with this one. I was searching for something in particular and this image came up of a sneaky monk enjoying some particularly tasty beverage. I loved it, so I figured I would give it a shot.

Today's inspiration... is someone I know would be entertained by this. He is also the person who first offered me alcohol in the SCA. Today's inspiration is Diablu.

Diablu is NOTHING like his name implies. Perhaps on the battlefield, but in person you will never meet a more gentle man. And, I say this with full knowledge that I am sure he would rough up anyone who would try to hurt me. That aside, I have never seen him be anything but kind and gentle to everyone he meets.

Diablu is, what I would call, one of the first 'teddy bear men' I have met. And by that I mean he is comfortable and safe and you can just cuddle up next to him and whatever was troubling you will just drift away into the sunset. He has a way with words, his calming voice and just a hand on your back that will make you feel like maybe the world isn't such a bad place after all.

Everyone knows Diablu. Everyone has a story about Diablu. And if you don't know Diablu, ask about him. Find him. Introduce yourself. You will never in your life regret taking the time out to meet him. And your life will change forever to make friends with this man.

Based on the Albani Psalter, circa 1125.

This was a fun and simple one to play with. I'm starting to really love colors. I'm also enjoying doing everything with my 00 paintbrush instead of with a nib. And at some point today it hit me: Although I love the opaqueness of the acrylic inks, I prefer the water based inks because I can get a sharper and cleaner detail.

Today's inspiration is Joel Lord. This man is like... the best organizer I know and incredible when it comes to running events. He has an artistic mind like no other when it comes to events. He can visualize exactly how the space will be used, where things will be placed, and how to decorate it to get the best possible feel of the building being used. He isn't just an autocrat, he is an artistic director. Did you go to Beowulf in Concordia? Did you go to the Coronation of Edward and Thyra? Yeah. He did a lot of the special effects. He planned. He agonizes and pays particularly special attention to details to make sure it is perfect.

It is people like Joel that make the magic of the SCA feel more real. He is incredible with what he does. It is an amazing inspiration to be a part of his events.

Based on Stammheim Missal, circa 1160-1180.

Good gravy, I love colors! I love bright and beautiful colors!

Today's inspiration is Lady Mhari. Yes. I can use Lady. And I plan to, because it is fun.

Mhari, for those who do not know her, is kind of person who takes on the most extraordinary projects. She takes them on, sometimes to the point of stress, giving herself deadlines and raw materials and then, suddenly, from just a lump of wool she will create a huge king sized afghan. Or a few bolts of fabric, she will create a beautiful dress, hand sewn. She is a fiber guru that starts by knowing just the basics and will then shrug and say 'I will learn it as I go along'. She is an incredible talented and beautiful lady.

Based on Hildegard of Bingen: Liber Divinorum Operum, circa 1230.

I loved this particular piece. They said it was about numerology and divination and various other things of that nature... for nuns. And the woman reminds me of mother earth, or mother nature, holding and swaddling the world within in her warmth.

So it is no wonder that today's inspiration is Adrin. This is a woman, I am sure everyone who knows her will say, is like the original 'mama'. She holds everyone close, cherishes every moment with them. She will hold your hands, give you advice, stroke your hair, rub your back. This woman is always giving.

I have camped with Adrin for a few years now, and the other thing I have seen about her is that she is certainly very spiritual in a very motherly way. I don't know how to describe this, but I can promise you that anyone who knows her has seen and experienced this in a grand manner that is calming, overwhelming, and very grounding.

Adrin is an inspiration in her gentility, her kindness, her quiet nature, and her good spirits. This woman does not get angry that I have ever seen. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She is an incredible woman.

Based on the Gospel Lectionary of Henry II, circa 1007.

I'm trying to experiment with my different metal inks again to decide which is my favorite. I have a feeling I am only moments away from starting gold leafing.

Today's inspiration needs almost no introduction. Today's inspiration is Lady Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt. For those that don't know her, search her name and go look at her website. Ever since getting my KoE scroll illustrated by her, I continue to look at it in awe, wondering if I will ever be so good. It has inspired me in this project numerous times, looking up at the work she did. I have been inspired to take the pattern and make it into a collar and cuffs. So many inspirations! Her work is breathtaking. And although it brings tears to my eyes, I'm very glad I did not cry on my scroll. She is... incredible. I hope I can inspire people half as well as she can.