If you follow me on Facebook or were attending the recent Market Day at Birka (SCA) event, you’ve probably already heard: I was elevated to the Order of the Laurel for my glass beadmaking and research skills. This is the highest award the SCA has to offer for excellence in the arts and sciences. It was a very long and hectic day, and if I fail to mention any kindness you offered me during the event please understand it’s due to the fact everything was all a happy blur.
I was called into morning court on Saturday along with Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt, and the two of us were each sent off to our respective vigils. I was whisked off to a curtained off area near my merchanting booth. My Laurel, Mistress Bess Darnley, had coordinated my apprentice siblings and household members into various tasks. My former apprentice sibling (elevated before me) Master D’Unstable and current siblings Lady Pypa Ravenild, Lady Mergriet Van Wijenhorst and Lord Díarmait Ó Bríain had set up a vigil space near my booth so I could both attend my vigil and also keep an eye on my shop. They outdid themselves. It was an elegantly appointed chamber under a skylight. Comfortable Roman-style chairs and pillar candles were around the room, as well as sprays of laurel in a brass pot. My apprentice sister Lady Mergriet had made strands of beads out of sugar paste and left them as a subtlety. She also made a wonderful selection of Roman dishes and served samples in little boxes. (The event site did not allow food to be openly served, but box lunches were okay.)
I had a constant stream of visitors for the first few hours. Some were people I knew; others were unknown to me. The advice ranged from brief expressions of congratulations to anecdotes and some deep philosophical conversations. I took advantage of the wonderfully pure clear light coming from the skylight to take a bunch of pictures during the quieter moments. The green and gold curtains made an elegant backdrop, and my household had created a number of heraldic banners to hang on the outside.
My Laureling was the very last item in the royal court docket, so my housemates and apprentice family had time to assemble at the back of the room. My friend Tiberivs Ivlivs Rvfvs had made a lovely silk banner with my heraldry, and my mistress’ son led the procession with it. My partner Master Ekkehardt of Oakenwode walked up with me, and behind us walked Mistress Bess Darnley and her husband Syr Yesungge Altan. Following them marched the co-leaders of my household, each holding parts of my regalia. The diadem was made by Lady Cornelia vandenBrugge, veil pins and earrings by Lady Konstantia Kaloethina, cloak by Mistress Bess Darnley, and fibulae by my own Master Ekkehardt.
My Laurelling medallion has a legacy behind it – it is the same one given to my Laurel upon her elevation, and it’s strung on a chain of beads made by glassworking friends and students I have taught. There are a few non-glass ones in there – one is made of ceramic (made at a ceramics class and donated when she couldn’t find the glass bead she’d meant to offer) and another is a good luck charm of ivory. They’re all separated with little brass beads.
Syr Yesungge Altan spoke for me as a member of the Chivalry. Mistress Mirabel Belchere, who had been helping out all day covering my shop while I was in vigil, spoke for me as a Laurel. Mistress Aine Callaghan spoke movingly as a member of the Order of the Pelican. She was the one who taught me to use a glassworking torch years ago while I was in college and she was my closest SCAdian neighbor. We tried our hands at all sorts of projects from brass etching to wild-harvesting grapes and elderberries for jelly together. When she finished her speech, I think half the folks on the dais and more than a few members of the crowd were quietly sniffling. And I’d been holding it together up until then! 😉 Hlafdig Arastorm the Golden testified on behalf of the Ladies of the Rose afterwards, and her humor gave me a boost to get ahold of myself so I wouldn’t cry through the rest of the ceremony.
When Their Majesties asked if a member of the populace would speak, there was a moment’s silence – the gentleman who had been going to speak had been called out for a last minute errand! I had to laugh at the awkward pause. Another friend later came up to me and said that he didn’t know what the etiquette was for that situation, but that if anyone had been allowed to speak at that moment he would have vouched that anyone who could teach his wife to play with molten glass without burning down the building around herself was clearly doing it right. And I think that’s an awesome testimonial.
My scroll is simple and elegant – a lovely illuminated capital that shines with gold in the sunlight, and two classically-dressed women as supporters holding a Laurel wreath over my heraldry. The text was written in English by Díarmait, translated into Latin by Master Andrixos Seljukroctonis of Calontir, and put to paper by Mistress Caterina (whose last name I didn’t catch).
The ceremony was given one last happy touch when King Kenric asked my partner Master Ekkehardt to pause a moment before escorting me back down the hall. His Majesty spoke of Ekk’s long service to the Crown and to the armies of the East, and presented him with half a dozen silver coins as payment for his service. The coins were struck with Kenric’s likeness and are very nifty. Ekk is planning to get back into armor again after a hiatus of several years’ duration from a back injury, so this was a meaningful gift.
After my Laureling, it was right back to work as I now had to go take down my merchanting booth so the hall cleanup could begin. That didn’t stop me from getting this picture taken during a break in the work. Even in the terrible fluorescent lighting of the merchant area, it came out great. Once the booth was all broken down and back in the car, I discovered my household had made arrangements for an afterparty in the rooms we had booked. They had made marzipan leaves and decorated a cake, as well as a platter of beads made of marzipan. The room was packed.
Once the party started to wind down, I decided that as the newest Laurel of the East I was gonna go see what trouble my new medallion could get me into. Since this wasn’t a camping event where the parties are a lot more obvious, this proved harder than expected and I ended up in the big suite at the top of the hotel with a lot of nobles higher up on the food chain than myself. I chatted with a few of the folks there that I knew, but by then the excitement of the day was catching up with me and it was time for bed.
My deepest gratitude for all the friends who came together to make this day go so smoothly. I am overwhelmed by your generosity of time and talent.