Something period

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This page is a subsection of SCA Without Breaking the Bank. It provides information about medievalizing your encampment.

General tips on medievalizing your encampment

  • Keep your persona to something you can afford: Obviously, you're not going to get a full-blown Elizabethan noble's look on a tight budget. But there are plenty of other times where you can get by just fine. A minor lord living in early- to mid-period (ie: after the fall of Rome and before the Renaissance) might not have had too much more extra money than you. You can relatively easily pull off a Viking or Saxon (or Frankish, etc.) look without shelling out too much cash. Keep your budget in mind when picking your persona.
  • Do your research: Following from the previous tip, look into how things were actually done in period. If your persona didn't have much more money than you, they definitely wanted to make the most of it. Often what was done in period was the most economical way. For example, what did they eat at different times of the year? A medieval person had no choice but to eat in season (ie: whatever grows now is what you eat), and even today, eating in season is significantly cheaper than eating out of season. A period pattern like the Tunic of St. Louis can save you nearly a yard of fabric, even on a simple t-tunic. If you're going for period materials, this can add up to significant savings. The same applies to nearly all aspects of your persona.
  • Drop cloths and slipcovers: Even if all you can afford is a nylon camp chair, you can still make it look good. Go out and buy painter's drop-cloths or some cheap cotton, and make a slipcover for it. Have an ugly (obviously modern) cooler you want to hide? Cover it with some fabric. And just because you're buying cheap fabric doesn't mean it has to look cheap. Paint your device or other scenes on the fabric. If you're a seamstress, try some embroidery. Embellish it. Have fun! A little fabric paint can go a long way.
  • Tents: Though I use a modern tent right now, my goal for this summer is to have a viking-style A-frame pavilion. I have been told that making this style of pavilion is cheap (less than CAN$100, perhaps significantly less), easy (can be made in a weekend), and fairly portable (everything except the poles can fit into a large rubbermaid container). I can't attest to this yet, but check back and I'll be giving updates as I make my pavilion.
  • Small accessories make the big viking: A t-tunic is just a t-tunic. But a t-tunic with period-style trim, a wide belt, costume jewelry, a belt-knife and pouch, a veil (for women) or cap (for men), and boots... now we're talking persona! If you can't afford fancy fabric, try to get accessories that fit your persona. Little things here and there make a huge change to your overall look.
  • Act and speak forsoothly: Even if you can't afford anything yet, people will ultimately be impressed by your actions, not your gear. Act like you want others to act around you. If you want to bring out a period atmosphere, begin with your own words and actions. I know some people don't care about whether they're acting like their persona, as long as they have period gear. A lot of people think it's very hard to maintain your persona all day. This would be true if you needed to know details about every event going on in your persona's life, but this is not the case. Like your clothing, small changes make a huge difference. For example: Bow instead of shaking hands. Greet people as "milord" or "milady" instead of "hi". Don't talk about computers or George Bush. I find that a way to get myself (and keep myself) in persona is to pick up an accent. It's an instant reminder that I'm someone different, someone who doesn't know about television or microwaves. Give it a try for an hour and see the difference it makes.

Submitted tips

Submitted by Tatojiya of Dunromi

The household of Dunromi has used a number of techniques to medievalize our camp.

  1. Strategically locate the most period tents in the most visable places of your encampment while hiding the mundane tents behind.
  2. Our household pitched in a bought a period community tent which we call "the gypsy cave". Most of us do not have the kind of vehicle that will accomodate the poles etc. for us all to have period tents. All efforts are made to keep "the cave" free of mundane items. This way we have a place to host guests to our encampment in a period location that is also out of the weather!
  3. We use this space as you would a living/dining/kitchen area of your home. All the kitchen gear is at one end and is hidden behind a cloth wall we added ourselves. This way the coleman stove, coolers, rubbermaid totes etc. have a place to go that is out of sight. Also we don't need to cover individual items with cloths since they are all collectively out of sight in the "kitchen". They are also easier to access without having to remove the cover.
  4. We set goals within the household to add to the encampment for every upcoming event. This year for The Grand Outlandish, we intend to add a front door made from tassles and cloth that can be drawn back to be inviting or closed to keep out the dust and wind.
  5. Putting down carpets adds a lot of appeal to our "cave". It keeps dust down and gives a safe place to walk barefoot or sit on the ground. You can usually get inexpensive persian-like rugs at discounts stores, but keep your eyes open at flea markets and yard sales. I picked up a really nice orange carpet that was room sized for $15 once!! The condition doesn't have to be great, after all you're laying on the ground....
  6. We covered our coleman lanterns with a really nifty linen-like outer structure. We used very large macrome hoops at the top and bottom and simply hand stiched a length of cloth in a tube shape between the hoops. A regular wire hanger can be rebent to create a hook to both hang from "the cave" and hang the lantern to the frame of the cave.
  7. One of our event goals was to cover all the camping chairs. Some of us have several, but mostly if everyone covers their own, the cost is low. Simply use a slipcover technique: cut pieces of fabric in an extra large fashion in the general shape of the chair. then place pieces on the chair, back side out and use pins to adjust the fit. (strongly suggest sitting in the chair before sewing as this may change the fit) sew around the edges using a double stich for durability. turn right side out and viola! a medievalized camp chair! if you use a broadcloth weight of fabric, it will usually fold up and still fit in the original camp bag!
  8. An event goal we have discussed at length, and will employ in the future is snubbery. For those who don't know, snubbery is the term for an outdoor wall made from cloth generally used to enclose an encampment. We plan to use it to hide our mundane tents too!
  9. I loved the previously listed tip "Act and speak forsoothly". Dunromi challenges ourselves to speak "Gypsy" everytime we gather for household meetings, events, fighter practices etc. This way we stay in practice regularly and it comes more naturally. This is also really really contagious! By the second day of the event even the new SCAers are making a decent effort to sound like the old timers! Warning: Once people begin to speak gypsy-like they often cannot stop when they go home...tee hee!

Submitted by Eulalia de Ravenfeld

Being frugal has made me more medieval. Eating seasonally was the only way to eat in the middle ages, and it's the cheapest way to eat now. Instead of buying a food dehydrator, I figured out how to dry fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms for (almost) free, using nothing more than string to hang them up, or in the case of the mushrooms, a basket to lay them out in. Real quills can be cheaper than the calligraphy pens you'd find at an art store. Cutting your garb on a period pattern saves a lot of cloth. Hand sewing is less expensive than buying a sewing machine. I only own a few outfits, which is (I believe) more accurate than making myself a new dress for every event. I actually joined the SCA in a large part because I wanted to learn utilitarian things like sewing, food preservation, and spinning.

Submitted by Brynna of Axewater

Do you want a cool looking banner, or do you want some applique to cover up a stain/tear in your garb? Get in touch with that quilting group I mentioned, or find someone in the SCA that will teach you. It is a VERY period way to cover up oopsies. And then you'll have that bartable skill that you need.

Submitted by Joe Papasso

There are times you want to be yourself, and there are times that you need to be a different version of yourself. When I'm at work, I wear a ring on my right hand that's a bit bulkier and tighter then my wedding ring on my left. Now since I don't always wear this ring (as opposed to always wearing my wedding ring), when I have it on, I can feel it. This is a constant reminder that I need to act like this "other" me. If you incorporate this into your costume, it may be easier to stay in persona.