Did you know the Kingdom of Æthelmearc is home to a wonderful albeit reclusive lady called Aunt Æthel? She likes to reside behind the scenes, but welcomes any and all of our mundane and wacky arts and sciences questions. Do you have questions? Read her column on the Kingdom Ministry Arts & Sciences website! Do you not see your question answered there? Please email her and we at Kingdom A&S will make sure to post her answer when she does.

To wet your appetite, here are a a few examples of her wholesome advice!

Question by Aethelred the Unready: Why do artisans enter competitions? It seems like an awful lot of work.
Aunt Æthel: My dear, unready gentle, my artisans have shared with me over the years that they enter either for feedback or for exposure. Not all see the need to enter and compete: those interested in creating the thing to wear or use can share just as well in person, at events.
But if you are also interested in sharing your work to a broader audience otherwise unknown to you, perhaps to find someone who knows even more than you to learn from, or become known to those part of an Order you might be interested in joining someday, then visibility through participating in competitions and displays is well worth the challenge.

Hector, Tamer of Kittens: Dear Aunt Æthel, what would you recommend to have a good shot at winning a competition?
Aunt Æthel: My dear Hector, if you are in it to win it, then go all out and make a show piece. Use the judging criteria, have several people proofread your documentation journal, practice your presentation, test run your display and ask for critiques before the competition. Will you win then? Maybe. That’s always the answer – you have no way of knowing all the factors ahead of time, just make it the best you can each time. And then take the critique and make the next display/project/documentation/presentation better. Up your game any way you can.

Carol of Carolingia: When I share my project does that automatically mean my work will be critiqued?
Aunt Æthel: My dear worried Carol, no, it should not. Unless you, the artisan, specifically invites someone to critique your project, feedback should be kept to compliments. Keep in mind, though, that once you, the artisan, enters into a judged competition this will be considered consent to critique. Judges are recommended to keep their commentary focused on the project at hand and serving the compliment sandwich (constructive critique sandwiched between two feel-good compliments); making sure every part “tastes good”.

Enabler of Largess: I am one of those people who love our inspiring Kingdom artisans… how can I help?
Aunt Æthel: Thank your inspiration! You can do this in person, or by leaving a thank-you token with their display or entry. Yes, anyone can leave tokens – it’s fun to do so, as well has hugely rewarding in artistically meager times (feel blocked and unappreciated? Enjoy your jar of collective praise and supportive magic!). And the simplest answer of all? Write letters of recommendation.

Aunt Æthel can not stress enough that arts & sciences activities are supposed to be fun!

While most evaluators are careful about serving edible compliment sandwiches, sometimes you are going to get anchovies & pineapple on the same pizza. It is unfortunate when that happens, but it does happen. It’s a risk of competition: take the feedback as it applies, disregard the rest. A&S competitions are supposed to be educational. They are supposed to be fun. If it’s not fun for you, don’t do it. If you aren’t looking for feedback, don’t do it. But if you are, we are very happy you found us! Together, we can challenge and inspire each other and reach for the stars!

For more of her good stuff, read her column at Ask Aunt Æthel!


Original art by the Honorable Lady Fede di Fiore, based on a 15th century grotesque by Leonardo da Vinci.