Upon being selected Kingdom Arts & Sciences Champion by Her Majesty Anna Leigh last autumn, it quickly came to my attention that I was the only champion standing in court with nothing to represent the position. The archery champion holds bow and arrows; the thrown-weapons champion sports an axe. Other champions stand in court with swords or shields. Arts & Sciences had nothing, even though the terms lasts an entire year. That’s a lot of events to attend empty-handed.
After some reflection on what item might be appropriate for court, there seemed to be no good answer that would represent the diverse types of arts and sciences practiced within Æthelmearc. That is, until I realized that a book would work: it could represent knowledge, research, study, documentation, teaching. After bouncing the idea off of a few friends, who offered support, I contacted Renata Rouge, the Minister of Arts & Sciences, who agreed that it would be a suitable solution.
Fortunately, a year or two before at Pennsic, I had caught up with a friend from college who had just had a son, and who made a book for people to offer advice for him as he grew up. His bookmaking skills impressed me at the time. Thus, I contacted His Excellency Hayashi Youichirou Norikata about his interest in the project. He graciously offered his skills gratis if material costs were covered, and so we began a collaboration on what he would make.
To summarize, after discussing time period, his comfort level with options, and costs, we chose an early Gothic leather binding, brass furniture (clasps) and Pergamenata for its approximately 100 pages. He incorporated two large raised decorative elements to the front cover: the Æthelmearc escarbuncle and the candle-in-archway insignia representing the arts and sciences. The back cover sports stamped designs, one of which is, again, the Æthelmearc escarbuncle impressed with a brass stamp I had made for the project. His Excellency has provided documentation for the book, including decision points, materials used, exemplars, and in-progress photos; it’s linked from the book’s web page referenced below.
While His Excellency worked on the project, I began to mull over the possibilities the book might serve aside from a bit of regalia. No one would know from afar what the pages contained, or even whether they were totally blank. But why have a perfectly good book with nothing in it? Why not, instead, have each champion write about their project, the one leading to them being chosen as champion? That way there could be an on-going journal of the diverse projects that might inspire future artisans and perhaps educate them or lead them to resources or people they didn’t know about.
Thus, it came to pass, after further thought and discussion, that the book’s first pages would talk about the purpose of the book, and charge successive champions with continuing its raison d’être. Following that would be an index, listing all of the champions since A.S. XL and the monarchs who chose them as champions. Two pages would then be allotted and assigned to each past champion up to the present, followed by a good amount of free space for future champions to summarize their projects.
Not being a scribe, I contacted Lady Asteriya Royarchevicha who lives locally and whose work I had seen previously, and she agreed to write out the initial text, indexes, page headings, and so on (see image title page). I left the book with her for a couple of weeks and was pleasantly surprised to find the first page had become an illustrated title page on its own. Most of her work can be seen on the book’s web page mentioned below.
Finally, with the text skeleton laid out, I began to flesh it out by adding my own entry well into the book on its assigned pages. I wrote a bit about my embroidered-shoes-on-bone-ice-skates project (see image) and then passed it to Elska á Fjárfelli for her to enter her material on Black Sope and she passed it to Hrólfr á Fjárfelli who wrote about his Warp Weighted Loom and textiles.
Now that new co-champions have been selected for the coming year, the book has been passed to them to have and to hold for their term. As stated in the book, it is hoped that past champions will be able to borrow it for a while in order to complete their entries, either directly or with the help of a scribe or illustrator. I very much look forward to reviewing the book in the future to learn about past champions’ projects and see what they are to add to this Kingdom document.
More information, photos, and the text of its first few pages as well as some Champions’ entries can be found on the book’s Kingdom web page.