After years of using Livejournal, and then seeing it quietly die as many of the folks I’ve enjoyed following migrated away to other journal/blog platforms, I’ve decided to take the plunge and get a website up to keep track of my own research adventures as they relate to my time in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Facebook’s great for keeping in touch with folks, but it’s not set up for much in the way of in-depth posts.
So who am I? Currently, I’m in the middle of a persona change. For the last decade, I’ve been Elinor Strangewayes, a very late 16th century Englishwoman who aspires to the upper middle class. I chose this period because a) I love the clothing and material culture, and b) I am fascinated by the history of the Atlantic world. The story of the mingling and transmission of cultures across the Atlantic Ocean is so multifaceted I will never run out of things to research or projects to recreate. (My mundane academic background is in maritime/Atlantic history, especially the early European salt cod fisheries in the New World.)
Recently, though, my love of ancient glass beads and Roman culture has led me towards a thousand years earlier. I’m shifting my persona to the Romano-British or Romano-Gaulish frontier, circa 100AD. I’ll probably change my persona name eventually. I’m still fascinated by the mixture of multiple cultures. Learning about how Rome built and maintained an empire is a whole new adventure for me. I will miss my Elizabethan clothing, but I’m enjoying the challenge of learning something so completely new.
Oh, and please note: I am not Elinor Strangewayes of Dorset; that is someone else entirely. I am Elinor Strangewayes without any byname. My partner Master Ekkehardt of Oakenwode and I live in northern Vermont (USA) and play mostly with the Barony of Stonemarche in the East Kingdom (mundanely New Hampshire).
I both joined the SCA and founded my household in a very casual manner back in 2001, when I convinced a couple of college friends that they might like this SCA thing. I’d never been to an SCA event before, but knew people who participated. We tested the waters by going out to King Richard’s Faire, then plunged in whole-heartedly by going to the Great Northeastern War in Maine. We were horribly ill-prepared, but the kind folk of Malagentia fed us and humored our terrible attempts at garb. Since then, I’ve graduated from that sad first T-tunic to hand-sewn reed corsets, fitted English jackets, and linen underwear from the skin out.
The following year, I assisted Lady Marielle de Chalon in founding the UNH Medieval and Renaissance Club (later to become the Incipient College of St Cuthbert), where I served alternately as Vice President or Minister of Arts & Sciences for the next six years.
Got my AoA in 2005 at Northern Lights 14 for my work with the College, as well as my research in period maritime navigational equipment. That was my first A&S competition as well. I submitted a research paper on piracy and privateering, a blackworked herbal pillow, Excellent Small Cakes (from Digby), and a reproduction quadrant (navigational instrument). I didn’t win anything that year, though.
Was made a companion of the Maunche for diverse arts at GNEW 2007.
I autocratted the College’s Old Hampshire Faire event for three years, and co-autocratted it once. I served as the A&S coordinator for Harper’s Retreat (2007) and have been a judge for the research paper category at several Northern Lights A&S Competitions. My household and I have made a point of offering our services as security and gophers at Birka for many years now.
I won three categories at Northern Lights 15: Herbalism and Period Science, with a “Powder for the Cough,” and Metalwork for a floating brass plate Period Compass. I also submitted a Medicine for an Ague.
I won the Research Paper category at Northern Lights 16 with my article “Desirous to See the Strange Things of the World”: The Curious Voyage of M. Hore. This paper explored the 1536 voyage of Richard Hore to Newfoundland, which is a fascinating story both for the myth – cannibalism, shipwreck, piracy – and the actuality: Admiralty court intrigue, nationalistic propaganda, and 16th century concepts of “civilized” behavior. Other entries that year included the first draft of my period drinking chocolate and a rendition of Ravenscroft’s 1611 song “I Have House and Land in Kent,” done in the appropriate accent.
At the Northern Lights A&S Competition in 2010, I won the overall competition as well as every category I entered. My entries included a 9th century Norsewoman’s necklace, an egg tart from Sabina Welserin‘s 16th century cookbook, a hnefetafl board, bread stamps, and a reproduction fiddle from the Mary Rose. Documentation can be seen here while I slowly transfer it all over to this site.
My major focus these days is the history & manufacture of glass objects, particularly beads, in SCA period. I have researched and reproduced over 50 different documented beads from museums in the UK and Scandinavia. I’m participating in the A&S 50 Challenge with the goal of documenting and reproducing 50 period bead designs. I’ve already met that goal and am now shooting to repeat the feat.
Classes I have taught:
- Lampworking 101: Basics of how to make a bead, torch safety, overview of period techniques.
- Intermediate Lampworking: Pulling twisted stringer, encasing techniques, making small batch murrini/millefiori.
- Period Bead Petting Zoo: Show and tell of various period bead replicas with some of the stories and history of specific designs. I love this class because it’s basically a casual roundtable for talking about the people who wore these beads and why beads were popular.
- Obtaining Authentic Beads at your Local Craft Store: How to develop a period eye for authentic bead styles, colors, and materials; what to look for and what to avoid if you’re aiming for a historically accurate look.
- Late Period English Rounds: Just like it says, a selection of late period English rounds, mostly from Ravenscroft. I started offering this class in an attempt to get more people to sing period songs with me.
- Period Sea Chanteys & How to Tell Them Apart: The overwhelming majority of sea chanteys come from the 19th century, but there are a very small handful of sea songs that date back to SCA period. And if I never hear “Barrett’s Privateers” again, it’ll be too soon.
- So You Wanna Be a Pirate, or Late Period Maritime Technology: Tired of seeing self-proclaimed “pyrates” who couldn’t tie a bowline or find the North Star, I began offering a crash course in basic maritime skills with an emphasis on what was done in period. Mundanely, I have several thousand miles of tall ship experience.
- The Making and Drinking of Chocolate from Beans to Beverage (in two parts):
Working from late 16th and early 17th century sources, we start with cacao beans and an assortment of spices and end up with a selection of drinks and dishes that would have been familiar to the more adventurous of Spaniards.
- Cooking over an Open Fire: I live on a primitive farmstead in real life, where I do all my cooking over a woodstove or campfire. In this class, I share the tips and tricks I’ve learned.
Other Ongoing Major Research:
- Chocolate consumption in period
- Late period maritime life, technology, and material culture. Currently I am focusing on fishermen and fishing technology.
- English colonial and entrepreneurial efforts in the New World (yes, this is solidly period by even the most rigid definition of the SCA’s end date, and it was quite profitable. There were English fishing vessels returning from Newfoundland as early as 1502, and that’s not even touching the Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, and French merchant adventurers.)
- The absorption of New World foodstuffs into Old World foodways
- 16th century English and German costuming, especially funky hats and ruffs.
Some of my past projects can be seen by following the Project Documentation link.