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I am really glad I gave myself permission to skip today’s run and count tomorrow’s twice if I go twice the distance. I am whupped.

Today was Stromgard’s Arts and Sciences championship; they call their A&S champion the StormMaker. (Stromgard is Vancouver Washington). I decided a couple of weeks ago to compete. There were five of us. Three rounds. The first two rounds were kind of traditional “make a thing, write some documentation, present it” that we see in every other A&S contest. The third round was what I’ve taken to calling “Iron Artisan.”
They had five boxes. We drew straws, and we could go pick out the box. Then once we all had boxes, we could open them up and look inside. Then we had some time to discuss with our advisors, make plans, build a fire (every contestant had to start a fire from a flint and steel), and we could trade between each other for items, OR we could trade against the sideboard for items OR we could trade our items for tools. Otherwise, work with what’s in the box.

In my box, I had a pretty good hunk of leather, some lard, two fresh eggs, a bunch of salt, some … wax, I think, a needle, two kinds of thread, waxed sinew, a dish of crystallized honey, two little vials of pigment materials (lapis, I think, and mercury sulfide — blue, and red), some white vellum.

So then, while I started working on the fire, I began talking to my assistant about what we could do….
Oh, right. Each of us contestants could pick one advisor. I asked Brynnen to be my advisor — I was thinking it would be some nice father-daughter time. I was not prepared for how much she’d rock it.

selecting trades

selecting trades

As I’m bashing rock and metal trying to start this fire, someone (I forget his name) makes a suggestion, and I do it, and it’s sort of working. Then Master Bill shows up and starts offering advice and shredding some pitchy logs for me.

Look, if Master Bill Bjornsen offers you advice on building a fire, you listen with every ear you’ve got and then you take one from your neighbor.

And then Fjorlief speaks up and both of them are helping. I’m being helped by two people I look up to like … I can’t explain. I’m still bashing on this rock- ten or fiiften minutes, trying to light the punky charcoal or this piece of mushroom Ed brought me or … anything, really. Finally, with the assistance of Fjorlief’s modern flint and steel, I get it going, and get some flame. I’m not worrying about the fire much because I don’t think I need it, but Master Bill takes over and keeps it running for me.

Which is good – because I talked to Brynnen and we’re making an irish book satchel out of the leather, and maybe if we have time we’ll paint my device on that bit of white vellum (my device uses both red and blue, which is convenient because I had those colors in my randomly selected box!)… so I’m making this sack and Bryn needs something to do, so I suggest she work on separating out the egg yoke from the egg shell…
Because I remember that Laurel made paint (or ink, whatever) from egg white, honey, and pigment. Which I have. So Bryn gets a little bowl of the egg white. And then we have to talk about the honey. It’s crystallized. What do we do? OH, trade some materials and go borrow a pan. So she gets a pan, we put a little water in it, and do like a double boiler with the honey. (On the fire that Bill kept running for me). It melts, she lets it cool so it doesn’t cook the egg whites, and she and I talk through the process of mixing the egg whites with the pigment and then adding honey until it was thick enough for paint.

She does this, all the while having fun. I mean she’s kind of doing science. She might have needed to grind the pigment a little further, but it’s fine. (that thought came much later) She gets a nice paint texture, and we try it out on a scrap and it’s a little runny. So we add a little flour. Bam, paint.

All this time, I’m chatting with Bill and Fjorlief (these two are pillars of my SCA play – I cannot explain) and anyone else who comes by. Fire good, rain wet. Everyone comes to talk.

Well, we have this nice paint, now what… nah, let’s not make the red paint. Oh, sure Bill , you can cook and eat my other egg. (he just cooked it in the coals because by that point I was out of things to trade for a skewer). Brynn sets the paint aside while I finish up the satchel. Oooh, brain flash– I tell her to make a crane with this swoop, and then this swoop. And to try it out on the scrap. Hey, that looks good- so Bryn paints it on the satchel, and we place it next to the fire to dry.

This crane, btw, is awesome.

She’s had a great time, I’ve had a great time, and there’s a little bit of time left before we’re done. Maybe I could have made something else, but I’m feeling pretty good – leather haversack and blue paint? Not bad for an afternoon. Malek made a cool painted vambrace out of his leather, (different recipe for the paints), the other contestants all cooked something delicious. (Lisette made awesome apple fritters and a lamb stew, Ed made a chicken soup, I’m not sure what Muirrean made). I just watch the paint dry (I put the sack next to tthe fire but didn’t want the sinew to catch or anything to scorch) and work on my schpiel for when the judges come by.

Oh the judges came by in order of box selection – so I’m first.

“You see, when Fionn Mac Coul, ok his dad, Coul – was killed by Goll Mac Morna. Goll stole Coul’s crane bag of magic. Then Fionn grew up, took over the Fenians (from Goll Mac Morna) and took back the crane bag of magic. (breathe in, out) I’ve created an Irish Scholar’s Crane bag, to hold my scholarly magic.”

Seemed ok.

Anyway, Brynn’s crane is fabulous and everyone made sure to talk about the shape and stuff. She really nailed the painting and the creation of paint. She also helped me by running errands and stuff. Like when I locked my keys in the car (thank you again, Meghan). I didn’t take enough photos, but here’s what I did take.

Thanks for the photo, Finn!

but my mouth is closed. Must be talking out my butt.

I gave out some personal “you’re awesome” tokens.

At the end of the day, the victor was Muirrean.

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