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The Society of Creative Anachronism: Collegium

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Left to right: Cuttlefish bone casting and medallion, leather press medallion, Alpha cape pin, Viking medal pendant, cow bone needle. March 2016.

Recently, pretty much since being home, I’ve been attending events put on by my local SCA, aka The Society of Creative Anachronism. While you can read more about the society on their website, I’ll give you a few pointers.

The SCA is approximately 50 years old and can be described as a haven for all those loving early history – circa 800-1600 CE – from fashion to craft to fighting to history and beyond who want to do more than just reading about the time.

While there are basic meet ups weekly such as fighter practice where fight forms from heavy armored to rapier are (obviously) practiced, there are also much more extravagant outings.

While these range from week(s) long camping trips (some over a thousand strong) to day campaigns, what I am really focusing on is an event which took place a few weeks ago: collegium.

Collegium is a two day garbed event (meaning you must be dressed in period) which you attend in order to take classes hosted by others in the SCA which span metal work, leather work and crafting to fiber arts like weaving to history classes, working as a scribe or more fundamental fighting technique classes – just to name a few sections.

For me, this led to a lot of time sitting outside at lunch tables creating a lot of crafty trinkets. We were technically only at collegium for 6 classes over the weekend but with some luck I managed 8.

While I’m not going to explain everything I learned over the weekend (we do not have the time or the space) I can give you some brief overviews of some of my favorites!

In terms of classroom lessons, I adored my lecture on metallurgy and Viking casting theory – yes, this was as amazing and nerdy as you can imagine! I loved learning about boiling points and differences between theorists (and the fights between practical theorist and research theorist). Plus learning from fellow nerds? Totally awesome.

When it comes to things I got to make myself, I’d have to say crafting a bone needle and creating my pewter casting were my favorite crafts.

The needle in this picture started a two and a half inch long, triangular shaped cow bone shard, about 2/3 the thickness of a #2 pencil. So, over the course of an hour and a half to two hours, using (basically) a super coarse nail file to reshape and thin out my bone, followed by super fine sandpaper to smooth out any bone fibers. Once it’s shaped, you thin the non-pointy end to easily be able to drill the tiny eye to thread through.

Easy enough, right?

Pewter was, obviously, a much trickier craft.

I never had to melt down any of the metal or even handle the casting – very luckily for my beginner skills – but I did learn to make a cast out of cuttlebone fish!

And not only did I learn this, but it’s super easy!

Basically, you buy cuttlefish bone from your local pet shop, then sand it down until it’s flat with little visible spine indent. The last bit of real prep is to cut it across the middle so you have two relatively even pieces.

Cuttlefish bone is extremely soft so you can press anything or carve anything into it with a little pressure and get a good amount of detail. I used a flat circle to make a pendant shape, a ring for the center design, and then carved in the edging details and hook. The shape should be about half an inch or so down.

The last step of carving is to put a few divots into the top to help the pewter get into the mold. You then fill the mold and let it set but that’s all the description I’ll be giving (don’t try this part without someone who knows EXACTLY what they are doing! You don’t want to burn yourself!)

Once set, you clip the extras bits of metal (which will go back in your main pot), file the edges down, and then sand/polish to a shine!

I had so much fun making this medallion which I plan on wearing to future events and details come out so well.

Again, this is only a small look at this weekend and the SCA as a whole but if you are a fan of crafts, history, or just learning new things, I really recommend looking up your local barony and getting involve. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and learned a whole lot.

– Taylor Gallagher

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Very happy, Very busy.

So I know I was supposed to write about the SCA this week, but it’s been hectic so that’ll have to wait. It’s holy week, so that alone – especially being involved with a Catholic school – makes this week insane.

On a brighter note this week has been niece-centric, but in the best way (like there’s a bad way?).

But here’s the main bright spot of the week:

My mom was very insistent that I come with her Wednesday morning to my sister’s house to help run some baby related errands. Now, usually this wouldn’t be an issue in the slightest – I’ll take all the baby time I can get. However, This particular morning I woke up to a few frantic texts from the school principal asking if I could come and work as a sub.

So,  told my mom this and asked if I should bet my younger sister up to help with the baby stuff so I could get to the school ASAP. Her response was: It’ll be quick, let her sleep and text that you have a few things to do first but you’ll be quick.

Okay, strange, but I get some niece love and cuddles before work so I’m a bit stressed but we’ll make it work.

By the time I’m dressed and we’ve reached the apartment (luckily located across from the school), I’ve gotten the thumbs up from the principal and I’m ready to go.

Once inside, my sister, who was finishing getting ready to walk over herself, asked if I’d mind changing the baby girl. while a dirty diaper isn’t how I’d normally start my day – or really want to- I’m a trouper so I lift the giggly girl off the bed and set her in the changing crib, cooing as we go.

The first thing I notice is that there is a onesie under her PJs – again strange but I let it pass. I finish all the buttons and staring at me from the onesie reads : Will you be my godmother?

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Now, since this baby girl was born, it’s been common knowledge that the maid-of-honor – and my sister’s best friend – and the best man were going to be baby girls godparents. This is why I immediately turned to my sister to ask: “Is Marcella coming over later or did she already?” to know if I was stripping her out of the onsie or just layering for a surprise later.

Both Meg and my mom were cracking up: “No, it’s not for Marcella; she’s asking you!”

I instantly broke into tears, tripping over everything to hug my sister, laughing and cursing my lack of waterproof makeup and Meg said that I shouldn’t be hugging her but answering the giggly girl still half dressed in the crib.

Obviously, my answer was yes and I got in a decent amount of snuggles and a baby outfit change – they’d already sorted the diaper for me – before having to tearfully – but beaming through it – trek over to work.

And I’m over the moon. There is a lot of work to do – we’ve got less than a month until the baptism – but I couldn’t be happier or more ready for it.

See, told you it was quite a week! So until next time – and the SCA, I promise – live well, smile and everything’s shiny, captain.

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Sorry this is short….

It’s been a long week of volunteer work – it’s softball season – and getting things done with the neice, so I’m going to keep this short and tell you about this weekend which I’ll post about in detail post-event.

My sister is a member of a group called SCA aka the Society of Creative Anachronism which I tag along to most weeks. This is an internationally reaching organization which celebrates 17th century and earlier arts, dress, fighting, history and more through recreation and events.

This upcoming weekend is our barony’s collegium – members will get together to teach/learn new skills from dress making, cooking, fighting, and metal/leather work.

I’m focusing my activities in crafting and can’t wait to show you all the fruits of this weekend and tell you more about the organization. Until then, for more information to look over in your own time is on the SCA website and have a fabulous weekend – I know I will!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Books, Uncategorized

40 Book Challenge

This past school year our fifth grade class has decided to challenge itself with a readin challenge: in our 10(ish) monthes of school each student set out to complete 40 books at their reading level (working steadily upward), across genres.

Even back in London, I was invited to join the class as a bit of extra motiveation – telling fifth graders their challenge had gone international was a real motivation!

So now we have a single trimester left and I’m looking to start book number 20…. so far in and so far to go.

Thus far my books have ranged from classics I’ve missed from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to Judy Bloom’s Are You There God, It’s Me, Margret and long pieces from Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series and as many Jojo Moyes and Cecilia Ahern novels as I could get my hands on. Top this list off with the always necessary conclusion to the Princess Diaries’ series by Meg Cabot and I am sitting happy.

I will say this: I’m a bit of a book-horder so it’s been an expensive year! For me, however, it has been so worth every read.

I really encourage this challenge for all ages – it increases reading and language skills from comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling, as well as lets you spend more time away from screens – always a plus in today’s plugged in world.

And in a time where many fantastic book series are being made into television and film, getting a jump start on a series in print can be a great way to explore worlds at a much deeper level.

I’m hoping to speed through books through the rest of the year from more Shannara to starting in on The Magicians series by Lev Grossman which recently was made into a television series (which seems loosely based on the novels). I was lucky enough to win the second book in  a fundraiser but I’ve yet to actually by the first! So you can only guess what my next errand is sure to be!

And if you would like to try this kind of challenge – you can really start whenever and just go for a year! – but don’t have much money at the moment, don’t forget to utalize local secondhand shops and libraries.

Also, if you are going to use the library – even if you think it’s nice – don’t reshelve your own books! Libraries get more money the more their books are used and one major way this is kept track of is electronically monitored reshelving. You don’t even need to fully check a book out to help!

But that’s all my booknerding for now so until next time, read well, live well, be well and I’d love to hear some of your favorite or most recent reads!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Books, Uncategorized

Soups for Syria

For anyone who isn’t part of of the Catholic community you may not know that we are currently in the middle of the lenten season. In my church, we spend this time doing something called “Living the Eucharist” where weekly groups meet at different houses reflecting on scriptures and discussing other relevant topics.

In the group my family goes to, every week the host family has made a different sampling from the cookbook Soup for Syria by Barbara Abdeni Massaad.

This cookbook was created with multiple goals in mind: they were looking for ways to reach as many people as possible – food is one of the amazing things which brings us all together; they wanted food that was easy to make with easy to follow directions and easy to find ingredients; and the biggest reason, all profits from the sales of the cookbook are donated to help fund food relief efforts through various nonprofit organizations so that these books will actually help in these relief efforts.

Each recipe has come with rave reviews both for the ease as well as taste, but for me, I believe this book is just as important as a teaching tool as it is a book to teach you how to cook.

Imagine being able to teach people about cultures through food and the experience of cooking it – experiencing the world in this one way has been shown to open up worlds.

The fact that this particular book also helps fund relief efforts which puts it at the top of my must have book list.

So from one foodie to another, cook well, eat well, live well and do good in the world – it’s really the least any of us can do.

  • Taylor Gallagher
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