Displaying your A&S work

A&S display at Avacal Sergeant Trials - focus on my Finnish Coils Work In Progress

A&S display at Avacal Sergeant Trials – focus on my Finnish Coils Work In Progress

As you might know, I’m hosting a few SCA A&S (Arts & Science competitions) this year, and one of the questions/concerns I’ve heard from people is “how do I display my work?”

I’m in NO way an expert on this… I’m still pretty new to the SCA, and haven’t travelled outside of Avacal to see how things are done elsewhere. Still, I’ve been to, judged, and competed in a few competitions, and have some suggestions and things to think about… so if you’re thinking of competing and this is something you’re thinking about… keep reading!

Think of your space

  • Will you have a whole (6-8 foot long) table to yourself for each project? For all of your projects?
  • Will you share a table with other competitors?
  • Is the competition space inside or outside? Protected from rain/wind or not?
  • Will you stay with your display while it’s up, or do you need to move around during the display period?
  • How much time do you have to set up? Tear down? What can you reasonably transport to the event?
  • Will you be able to have your display up all day, or only for the competition period?
  • Will your table be up against a wall, with judges/viewers sitting/standing in front of the display, or will they sit around the display to discuss it?

If you don’t know, or it hasn’t been fully communicated to you, ask the person hosting the competition!

Think of the rubric

The judging rubric is sort of the guideline to assist judges to fairly evaluate different competitors. YOU can use this rubric to get ideas on your display. Some ideas from the rubric I’ll be using for Montengarde’s Emerald Rose competition include:

  • A photograph of the original object you are trying to re-create
    • Example: A museum photograph of the extant purse, necklace, pottery, etc.
  • Prints of paintings showing your object being used in period
    • Example: A painting showing the purse being worn at the hip of a dancer
  • A tablecloth which reflects the mood/feel of your project
    • Example: A fancy brocade cloth used to highlight your late-period necklace, or a hand-woven cloth used to show off your early period pottery.
  • Tools you used to construct your project (period-informed or otherwise)
    • Example: Modern woodworking chisels used to carve soapstone, or a hand-made wood and stone spindle used to spin your wool.
  • Other period-style objects usually used with your project
    • Example: period-style thimbles, thread winders, and snips to add to the flavour of your embroidery.

Think of the event

Not all competitions, challenges, or tournaments are the same. If the competition you’re entering was announced two weeks before the event, don’t stress about having an awesome display. Some nice name tags might be enough to show off your project. If the competition is the Kingdom A&S championship competition, you might want to put more thought into your display.

Be visually dynamic

If your display table is against a wall, consider how you can use your space:

  • Consider hanging things on the wall behind you (ask your autocrat first) if applicable
    • Not things that your judges will want to touch and feel however
  • Consider putting items up on stands to get them off the table and add levels of height to your display.
  • Go vertical! When many things are just laid flat on the table, you can add visual pop to your display by getting things up off the table.
    • Use photo frames to display flat objects so they can stand instead
    • Use stands to raise elements of your display. These can be under your tablecloth if they’re unattractive (shoe boxes..) or on top of the tablecloth if they enhance your display.
    • Use a dressform to display your clothing items – or even better, a live model who can wear them! (Only use a live model who fits the clothing well however… not one several sizes too big/small.)
  • Use attractive tags to identify your items; giving your table a unified look, while still differentiating between projects.
  • Consider colour-theory. Think about the colour of your project and the colour of your tablecloth – do they compliment? Contrast? Does your project stand out, or blend in?

Display your process and your progress…

… not just your project.

  • Bring your “failures” – it’s great for people to see what didn’t work as much as what DID! It’s a great way to illustrate your growth in your area of interest.
  • Likewise, consider bringing things like samplers, tests, etc…
    • Not all of this needs to be on display, but can be in a nice box behind your display for you to share with judges and others who might be interested in your process.
  • If your technique can be worked on (cleanly and safely) while you show off your display, consider bringing it.
    • This is a great way to use your time while waiting between judging sessions without leaving your table.
    • For instance, you could spin wool using a drop spindle, do naalbinding, do embroidery, etc…  I worked on my hat for an outfit that I wore that night between judging sessions during Kingdom A&S!

Check out others

Below is a short slideshow of photos I’ve taken at competitions… look at what you like, and what you can be inspired by! Some of these were passive displays where the competitor didn’t need to be attending, while others were more active. Some other really good ideas and photos can be found here, on the Wandering Elf’s blog.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other considerations

  • If you will be behind your display, remember to stand when presenting your work – don’t hide behind your display!
  • If people will be around your table, don’t make anything too tall – they’ll want to look at one another as they discuss.
  • Remember to give your judges space to write on the table if they don’t have clipboards.
  • Consider putting items that could be ruined by water (or food, or small hands) further back on your table, rather than at the edge. Someone putting their drink down could be disaster if it got knocked over!
  • You can always move around your display to make it easier for presenting or judging vs. display.
  • Include space to display your documentation, feedback forms, etc for those who are interested.

Have ideas?

Do you have your own blog posts showing off A&S displays in your area? Please share a link in the comments below!


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