How to be an awesome A&S judge

A&S display at Avacal Sergeant Trials, with my device banner on the end

A&S display at Avacal Sergeant Trials, with my device banner on the end

As you might know, I’m hosting a few SCA A&S (Arts & Science competitions) this year, and I’ve found in the past that finding judges can be very challenging. Judges play a huge role in the success of a competition though, and we need them! In this post I’ll try to address how to be an awesome judge – even if you don’t always feel like you’re qualified to judge other people’s 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…and this is my soapbox! 😉

Are you qualified?

For some levels of competition, expert judges ARE very valuable. However, even at the highest level of competition, one competitor doesn’t need a whole panel of expert judges in their subject matter. They need judges who can assess their project, their research, their documentation, and their presentation – you don’t need to be a textile expert to assess if someone’s textile presentation is compelling and informative!

Generally an organizer will look for a judge who can offer special insight into the type of project they’ve done, another who will offer insight into the culture they’re examining, and a third who might be valuable in assessing documentation, research, or presentation/display skills.

At other competitions, experts are still valuable – as they can offer additional resources, guidance, suggestions, and advice to competitors, but they’re not necessary. One of the competition styles I’ve been using is a ’round table’ discussion format – where ALL competitors and judges sit together, and ask questions, offer advice, etc – so you don’t need to be a subject-matter expert at all to assist.

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I’m naming all the stars

I'm naming all the stars - poured acrylic painting

I’m naming all the stars – poured acrylic painting

A few months ago an acquaintance started a Craft Swap – the basic idea is that every month a theme is selected, and we have a week or so to opt-in to that theme…. once she has all of the committed participants, she pairs people up randomly, and we have a month to make a craft (any medium) on that theme for the other person. We then arrange between ourselves where and when to exchange the craft (with the intention of it being near the end of the month).

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Dress in the style of Elizabeth Woodville portrait

The dress I’ll show today was made for someone else – a woman in the SCA living in Edmonton who I actually only met once before offering to sew a dress for her! She’s a friend of a friend, and for a special occasion needed/wanted a dress – and had been wanting a dress in the style of the Elizabeth Woodville portrait. (below)

Direct link from Pinterest. Click for original, or the original source here.

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Grandmother’s fabric sale – Saskatoon

Direct link from Grandmother's website

Direct link from Grandmother’s website

I don’t know if I have any readers in Saskatoon, but if you are (or if you can get there easily) you really should consider going to the Grandmother’s Fabric Sale on October 15th. (And drop-off your donations on the 13th!)

I go to this sale annually in Calgary, and it’s a great deal – basically people donate fabric, notions, yarn, and sewing equipment, and then the organization sells it off for pretty much dirt-cheap. All of the funds go to the non-profit organization, to support African grandmothers raising their grandchildren,when their own children are unable to care for them due to HIV/AIDS.

When I say dirt-cheap… I mean it… most fabric is approximately $1.00/meter, and they have quilting fabrics, fashion fabrics, knits, upholstery, home decorating, fleece, wool suiting, and fancy fabrics like brocades, velvets, and silks… It all depends on what was donated. I have had some amazing finds there… and I get a LOT of cool fabric for costumes there.

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To see my posts from previous sales in Calgary (and Red Deer once too!) click the “Grandmother’s” tag!


In the past the sale was in Regina at the end of October… I don’t see anything about it on their website at the time of writing, but if you’re in Regina, check out their website to see if they’re hosting one this year too!


Coming up soon is the Lethbridge sale as well, on October 29!

Lip balm – DIY recipe

Chocolate-mint DIY lip balm

Chocolate-mint DIY lip balm

While making the beard balm and beard oil lately, I figured I’d make up a few tubes of lip balm while I was at it.. (since the bases use many of the same ingredients).

I bought a dozen lip balm containers from a local supplier (I’ve heard they’re seriously overpriced though, so I’m not going to link them here… if I want to do this again and it’s NOT on a whim or tight deadline, I’ll likely order them online or find a more affordable supplier) so I didn’t want to make a LOT… just enough to fill up the containers I had.

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