When things go wrong

I had to call a halt to SCA, mundane work just got too busy and too fraught, my health took a little interesting detour and I’d end up an awful lot of evenings utterly unable to remember my name yet alone how to SCA or anything like it. There was an occasional wave through a door sort of drop by with SCA folk, or helping out with moving stuff at the nearest event venue, but nothing that felt like I was properly SCA’ing.   My mundane job finally sorted out help for me in work a couple of weeks ago, after an epic worthy saga, (I really, really have to stop calling the poor guy my minion) and in some ways it’s like my brain just keeled over and switched off since he got here while I started training him in. (He’s a lovely guy, I’m very lucky)

On the plus side I feel like my attention can finally unwind and move about more freely now, I can poke at ideas and pull my A&S materials out of storage and DO something without feeling like my insides are trying to choke me. The idea of looking at recipes or researching how to make gesso doesn’t cause the sort of paralysed brain stutter it’s been doing for ..god, ages now. I’m not recovered or back to normal yet – I’ve made the mistake of thinking and declaring that already – but it feels airier and more comfortable to start moving in the SCA direction again. I had thought I’d be closer to this point at Coronet but I really wasn’t. That said I did try a couple of projects and while I definitely have issues with aspects of them they are work in a direction and were important lessons in how sometimes you just need to do the thing to be able to do the thing.

First I undertook to provide an illuminated panel for a scroll caligraphed by Lady Sela and written by Lord Aodh.. oh wait.. that should read the Honorable Lady Sela and Honorable Lord Aodh now, as awarded for their fantastic work on the Drachenwald website. The scroll by our consortium was to record the awarding of an Augmentation of Arms to Dame Genevieve for her work, also on the website.  According to the scroll she is entitled to the “tolls on all roads going to and from our Shire of Myndd Gwyn”.  That to me clearly called for an attempt to include Raglan castle somewhere.  As usual I took the picture of my work before it was finished (I used shell gold which is not yet shiny in this image, and there were extra white work details and cleaned up pieces in the end.)   I really need to remember to take pictures of the finished piece as well.   It was an enjoyable piece to try to return to scribal with, and I hope the recipient will forgive the unpracticed execution.


The other thing I was working on was the token for the Coronet event itself. It’s probably important we own our mistakes as well as our successes, and on this one my big mistake was trying to do too much with too little practice and too little time. The tokens asked for were to be butterflies, and I suggested Brimstone butterflies to capture something of the nature of the Fey, a theme for the event. I had trouble when one of the backplates for my mould cracked badly and because the remaining time was by then short it proved difficult to get sorted with a fix. I tried workarounds trying to save time and materials and I would have been better starting over. With the crack workarounds I made a stupid mistake in trying to get the pin mechanism to work. It all sort of escalated from there.   I ran out of stone and time and had to go with what I could work and wishing I had stuck to a straight forward flat token.  But the butterfly itself was kind of pretty.


Helping out in the kitchen was fun, I love working with Mistress Melisende, and I loved how she went with a feast that had no fiddly side cooking to provide gluten free alternatives for coeliacs, so for example we made a coeliac friendly Carneline sauce for everyone.  It took a few reviews to get balanced but worked in the end.  I couldn’t stay as long as I wanted to in the kitchen, but I look forward to the next time.

I have been trying to get myself to write this post for ages, and kept getting blocked by my sense of having screwed up.  I didn’t really want to write about screwing up, it feels like I do that a lot sometimes, certainly over the last two years,  but at the same time not letting the screw up go and move on was making other stuff harder to do.  It’s not healthy, in trying to learn any new skill, to allow yourself to get paralysed by making mistakes – It’s not a terrible thing to go “yep, that totally didn’t go according to plan!” but it FEELS like it is sometimes and that kills all momentum in moving forward with your chosen pursuit.   When you are unwell, tired and generally running on empty small things feel enormous, your sense of proportion is completely off and you let the anxious voices in your head tell you not to try.   It’s worse when you’re trying “in public” where your mistakes are in plain sight.  The secret to getting better at things is to do them anyway, and that is, I hope, where I’m going next, that whole “onwards and upwards” thing.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Alays says:

    By the way, I didn’t hear one negative comment about a pin less backside of the butterfly, so I think that confirms that the front was fantastic. But especially the public side of learning things. It’s easier and safer to do to tried and tested version than to move forward.

  2. Tessa Leavesley says:

    I’m sure many have already told you about the coronet tokens. But I just wanted to say I love them, and without reading this I would have never known they were not perfect.
    But I agree owning stuff and being able to record it so you can do it differently next time is important. Yay you for taking steps to be better (both with work and with allowing yourself some space and some slack from the SCA)

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