My wife and I have just moved to Arizona from Connecticut (yes…yes…I love wearing sandals in the winter) and we are very happy to be here. All the outdoor activities and cultural events are right up our alley.
As some of you may know, I love doing projects, especially with wood and stone. I do miss my shop and barn back in CT, but I’ll just have to build another one when the time is right. Anyway, I made a medieval longbow with my wife a couple years back, and we were out shooting it the other day. My wife went from barely being able to pull the string back, to keeping right up with me.
We were recently up on the Mogollon Rim north of Payson, AZ shooting our bows and having a picnic. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a small gathering of a local SCA group up there with us. As my wife and I were shooting a Ford Excursion pulled over and out came an a couple who were dressed in Garb…They came over to us and introduced themselves and we all started chatting about the SCA. I have of course heard about the SCA before from the Renaissance fests we have been to, and we were immediately interested. We ended up packing out picnic up and going to the gathering a few miles up the road.
The couple who had stopped to talk with us were fairly high ranking, if that is the right terminology…They were up from Phoenix where they had were the Lord and Lady of their Barony (if that makes sense)
I got a chance to practice some more with my longbow, and to see some of the craftmanship of the other bows there. I could not believe the detail in the garb, tools, weapons these folks were wearing and displaying. I was very impressed. The Lord and Lady we were introduced to asked us if we’d like to join their particular barony. I being a prof. and my wife in the publishing world, we were good targets I suppose. I have a decent knowledge of medieval life and am always willing to learn more. My wife and I really like the era (however, have never dressed in period clothing).
We are planning on going to a meeting this weekend to see a little more of the life these people are creating.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to good questions to ask? How much time is usually devoted to your respective group? From what I can see the attention to detail is supremely anal at least, can these clothes be bought or must they be tailored? Any anecdotes would be greatly appreciated! For more info see the SCA home page.
I’ve been in the SCA for a little over ten years and I really like it. More than anything else the SCA is a umbrella organization for people who have weird hobbies. If you want to learn to dance, or how to make shoes or coins, weave your own fabric, or do calligraphy, you will find someone who can teach you within the SCA.
You don’t have to make garb, you can purchase or barter for it. If you decide to purchase, I recommend Historic Enterprises. http://www.historicenterprises.com/ A bit expensive, but well made and reasonably historically correct. And if you sew even a little you can make a simple t-tunic. The SCA, like any other hobby, will take all the time and resources you are willing to give it.
My advice? Don’t volunteer to do anything (other than one-day tasks like helping with clean-up) until you know the political landscape. Like any other large organization the SCA has its politics and long standing feuds.
I was involved in the SCA for about five years when I lived in Oklahoma. I loved every minute of it. Going away for the weekend to an event was like going on vacation. Yes, there was sleeping in tents,and some times cooking over an open flame, and using Port-a-potties (and most of the time, no shower facilities), however, there was nothing like the welcoming and openness of those who participated. Yes, there were snarky people involved (don’t they manage to show up everywhere?), but the good far outweighed any bad. When I was involved, the HallGirls were little (about three and five), and they had a blast as well.
I learned how to sew garb, make mead, how chainmail was made, and how to appreciate a time and life I could never have appreciated had I simply read about it in a book, or watched it on television.
It’s been about 15 years or so since I was involved, however, all of my garb is still in a chest in my basement. (Including the “play dresses” for the HallGirls that they would wear at events.) Although I doubt that I’ll ever have the time in the near future to become involved again, I simply cannot let go of the garb and the memories I had of my own involvement with SCA.
As far as your mundane life professions and being “good targets”–that really doesn’t matter. In the SCA, you create the person you are.
You can, if you find that interesting. I live in the West Kingdom and the whole “create a persona” thing is not a prevalent here as it is in some places. Regretfully I know little about he specific area you are living in. Some people take “being” a historical character very seriously and go to depths of research on what that character would eat, how they dress, how they would have looked at the stars and their world. It’s not my thing, but it’s cool.
However, when you are in the SCA you have a great opportunity to escape the labels put on you by your profession or SUV owning ordinary life. There’s people I’ve know for years, who I consider good friends, and I have no idea what they do to earn money. You have a unique opportunity to go from being “Phlosphr the software engineer” to being “Phlosphr, the guys who makes cool archery stuff” or whatever you’ve always wanted to be.
**The Devil’s Grandmother ** has offered some very good advice. Heed it. You should also be aware that the SCA is also refered to by others as standing for Sword Carrying Assholes. Just because they are still human, with all the pettiness and grudges that go with the species. My experience with them has only been positive, however.
In my experience, the SCA is largely just an extended social group focused around some unusual interests. You may learn a lot and develop some neat skills, but in the end in all comes down to one question. Do you like hanging out with the folks in your barony? Because that’s what most SCA time comes down to.
I was a member for several years, mostly because of my ex-wife (who’s been a member since she was 3), but also because I’m a history nut. While I did have a lot of fun (and acquired enough Halloween costumes to last a decade), I eventually gave in to the fact that I was never really an accepted member of the social circle. That’s not to say that I was treated poorly – I just didn’t hit it off with enough people to keep me interested in hanging out. Since the group chemistry varies from place to place, I may well find myself a member once again after I relocate this summer.
One thing that isn’t emphasized enough about the SCA is how great it can be for kids. Since a lot of the adult members are basically big kids that never quite grew up, they tend to make actual children feel welcome and included. Not to mention safe. I attended the Estrella War event some years back, and made the observation that this was a place where you could send your five year old daughter to the porta-potties half a mile away, at two in the morning, and not be the least bit worried for her safety. Were she to let out a single shriek, a dozen buff guys would be on the scene in mere seconds (with swords) to investigate.
Just because you can, of course, does not mean that you should. While I do feel far safer wandering around at night at an event than I do in my neighborhood the perils of sprained ankles and people on their fourth beer who think they are terribly funny are still present.
I don’t much care for children and pretty much only run into minors when I teach dance. That aside, the kids I do meet seem to like the SCA.
Back to P’s questions: you may have run into people from The Barony of Sundragon. There’s a page of links that looks like it includes a link to their local emailing list. You might want to lurk there a bit. Good questions to ask are “What do you guys like to do?” (if all the answers are things related to heavy combat, you might want to find another group), “Do you have an archery company?” and maybe “Is there an Inter-Kingdom Archery Competition (IKAC) any time soon?”.
And yes, if your wife is in publishing she might get hit on for books…I’ve never met so many people who owned so many books as people in the SCA. And speaking of “hit on”, don’t panic if anybody flirts with you or your wife. In many SCA circles it’s just friendly and not necessarily evidence of actual sexual interest. But there’s also an honest polyamorous population, so if someone asks you if you’re monogamous, it might be a serious question. Sorry if I’m not clear, there’s so many people in the SCA it’s hard to generalize.
There’s also a lot of geek-overlap in the SCA, so if you are interested in the local gaming groups, other silly dress-up societies or anything related to Star Trek there will be people in the SCA who can give you info on that too.
I’m an SCA member, and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I’ve learned to do cool things, and I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends. If it sounds interesting, you should give it a chance- go to a couple of events, meet people, make an outfit, and see if it looks like it would be your thing.
My wife and I just got back from an outing here in Phoenix. We met some very nice people and I was even asked if I wanted to part with one of my longbows. I declined, but offered service of showing the couple how to make one. We’ll see if we go full into it or not.
My minimal experience with the SCA has been entirely negative. The folks in my area seemed to mostly be arrogant jerks. They generally insisted that they knew everything, even when they didn’t know what they were talking about. I never had the urge to hang out with them, so perhaps I just didn’t meet the decent ones. Really bummed me out, too, because when I first heard of the organization it sounded like the coolest thing ever.
I’ll second FisherQueen’s comment. It’s been loads of fun, and my husband and I have made some excellent friends! Oh! And DO be careful about the volunteering! :: laugh :: Stonebow and I have only been in for two years, and we’re both Baronial officers now!
I started a similar thread. last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to join. School took up too much time and I didn’t have the money to devote to the SCA.
There have been others on the same topic, though none recently.
I’m still really into costuming – I went to a costume party last night as a rather period pirate wench/whore. It depends on what period you want to put yourself in. The SCA covers a gigantic amount of time – pre-1600 Europe includes everything from apron dresses to really ugly late Elizabethan. (Or, for you guys out there: Viking men, Elizabethan.)
T-tunics are fine. They’re actually really attractive if you take the time to make a mock-up in cheap fabric and fit it. Best of all, they can be altered for either men or women. As a rule, lower/middle class is generally cheaper and easier to build. Upper class garb takes more fabric, time, and skill. Lower class garb is generally more comfortable, as well, since it’s less restrictive.
To get a feel for what period you want to aspire to wear, assuming that the t-tunic doesn’t do it for you, I suggest going to La Couturiere Parisienne and look at the galleries there until you see something you think is attractive. Once you’ve nailed a period, start researching what you need to achieve the basic look – do you really need the poulaines? Could you live without the banana-sized codpiece? When your list is ready, start shopping around. If you want to make your garb, Simplicity has some good patterns that can be easily modified.
If you want to know more about Elizabethan, Italian Renaissance, or High Middle Ages (14-15th century; funny hats), let me know. I’ve got a ton of links in my favorites folder I can pass along. I might be able to send along some links on food in period, too, if you like.