Documentation Series – Preamble

Ambrosius Holbein – Signboard for a Schoolmaster c. 1516

Thus begins a series of posts about documentation in the SCA, my process for creating it and the expectations judges will have at various levels of competition.

I hope with this series, people will find some answers, tips and tricks to create documentation for competition in Arts & Sciences in the SCA.  I am a costuming artisan in the Kingdom of Avacal. I have received my Grant Level award from the Kingdom of An Tir for my artistry. I have also been the Avacal Champion of A&S, the Baronies of Montengarde and Borealis’ A&S champion and I am also a Courtier Sargent of Borealis.  I have won prize tournaments and judged every level of A&S competition possible. I LOVE entering competitions, not because I want to win but because I want the feedback given on entries. That feedback is valuable, it shows an artisan where they are at, where they can improve and how people are receiving their work.

Over the course of this series, we will look at the basic starting points of research and documentation. We will also go into detail with ways to ask and answer the relevant questions in A&S documentation.  Throughout this series I will be posting examples of mine (and hopefully others) documentation and talking about the level of competition as well as strengths of the documents.

This is the handout for a class I teach on Documentation in the SCA.  Enjoy!

Documentation Made Easy


Aprons – A Historical Overview

Aprons can be seen everywhere, on everyone in the 15 and 16th Centuries.  Worn by both men and women at work and at play, they appear to be a standard attire throughout the early modern era.

Worn by the lowest classes as working garments to offer some protection for their dearly owned clothing underneath, aprons were also worn by the highest classes as a show of status in extravagant embellishment and fine work.  Even women of the gentry would need some protection of their clothing when doing the various household tasks not trusted to the staff.

Clothing cost money.  Lots of money.  The poorer classes would have 2 maybe 3 outfits.  One for church, one for the rest of the time. They ate, drank, worked, and even slept in the same small wardrobe.  In order to maintain the best condition of their clothing, protective layers (both inside and out) were made of cheaper materials. Items such as the hemd (English: smock, Italian: chemise) and the schürze (English: apron) were generally made from linen and served this purpose.  I believe there are some records of wool aprons, but I am lacking a citation at the moment. It would make sense, since wool was nearly as cost effective as linen, although harder to clean.

Aprons in 16th century Germany are standard to a few different styles.  I will explore these designs in detail in future posts.  For now I will refer to them as “Front Aprons”, “Full Aprons” and “Shoulder Suspended”

Image 1, Center: Full Apron, Right: Front Apron
Image 2: Left: Shoulder Suspended Apron

Aprons were often smocked with either basic or elaborate embroidery, displayed cutwork and pulled thread work. The colours ranged from undyed to black, reds, blues, greens and yellows can be found in imagery of the time.  Most often, aprons were white presumably for ease of cleaning and re-bleaching for reuse.

Like head coverings, aprons are something we often neglect in our portrayals of persons in history. In our modern recreations of historical dress, we go for the flashy, big picture. Accessories are the details that blur the lines and make our garb more authentic and feel more real.

Image 1:  Costumes and moral images of the 16th century from Western and Eastern Europe, Orient, the New World and Africa – BSB Cod.icon. 361

Image 2: The Sächsische Stammamuch – Mscr.Dresd.R.3