Improving Your Project Display

Ten Simple Things You Can Do To Impress the Judges at an Arts and Sciences Competition

  1. In Atlantia, we don't have set judging standards for each A&S discipline. However, other kingdoms (Artemisia, Drachenwald, and Midrealm) do have discipline-specific standards, and you might find it useful (or interesting, at least) to use these standards to evaluate your own work.
  2. Be sure to arrive at the event and set up your entry on time. Generally, event announcements will post the deadline for setting up your entry, or at least when judging will begin. If you need this information so you can arrive on time, talk to the autocrat or the A&S officer of the group that's hosting the event.
  3. Type your written documentation neatly (using a typewriter or computer) and put it in a report cover or binder.
  4. If your documentation turns out to be really long, consider writing a summary (one or two pages), and put that between the cover page and the longer documentation section.
  5. Most people -- including A&S competition judges -- tend to be visual thinkers. They can understand a picture better than just a written description of it. Include pictures of the original period artifacts that you've based your entry on -- scanned and reproduced within the text, xerox copies, or have a book with a picture of the item open to the relevant page. Was your procedure very technical? Consider including photographs of your item in progress. In either case, use captions so that the reader understands how the picture relates to the entry.
  6. Events often include some period of time when your item is on display -- when it's not actively being judged, just sitting out on the table so that he populace can view the entries. Stay with your item during the display period -- not only will you be able to absorb the praise and adoration of the masses, but you can answer questions about your work as well.
  7. Unless the folks running the competition tell you otherwise, ALWAYS PUT YOUR NAME (SCA and mundane) WITH YOUR ENTRIES. Anonymous entries are awfully hard to return to their owners. And if someone wants to ask a question about your work after the event, how are they going to know who did it? At the very last, be sure your name's on the cover page of your documentation.
  8. Don't enter the same item into A&S competitions at a lot of different events. It's kind of in bad taste, and the judges' sneaking suspicion that they've seen it before isn't going to help you too much. You can enter it into A&S displays at as many events as you'd like, though.
  9. Show the judges (and other observers) that you are serious about wanting feedback on your entry -- provide paper (index cards or a notebook) and a pen by your work, with a note that they are for the populace's comments.
  10. Presentation is an important aspect to the display of your entry. Unless you have made specific arrangements with the folks holding the competition, you will probably be allotted part of a table to set your display upon. Do what you can to make your display a little more eye-catching -- but be considerate of the space restrictions, you don't want to be taking up a whole table for your impressive and eye-catching display if there's only two tables for the whole competition. Here are some ideas ...
    • Consider how you would display the item if it were an original artifact in a museum exhibit. Would it be on a stand? In a frame?
    • Because most items in an A&S display are simply set down on a table, your display will be more eye-catching if it is displayed more vertically. A gown will look better on a dressmaker's dummy (or better yet, on a model) than simply folded up on he table; an elaborate headdress is better displayed on a wig stand (or "styrofoam head" draped with fabric); a plate will look better if it is arranged on a stand rather than simply laid down flat.
    • Put a contrasting solid-colored surface beneath the item, so that it will stand out. If your item is light-colored (like bobbin lace, silver jewelry, or bone-carving), set it on a dark-colored surface, like a smallish piece of black or navy-blue velvet.
    • Should you frame your item? An illuminated manuscript will be better-protected if it is matted and framed under glass -- and this way it can also be displayed on a stand. An embroidered panel might look better in a frame (without glass) -- but make sure that the judges have some way of looking at the back. (There are frames that ere simply two pieces of glass, surrounded by a frame, which allow the item to almost "float" between them -- I don't recommend using these for embroidery, as they will mash the surfaces of the embroidery and distort the stitches, unless you have some means of putting spacers between the pieces of glass.)
    • Present comestible items (foods and beverages) on nice, period-style feast gear. Put a nice (clear) goblet by a brewing competition entry; have food laid out on a period-looking platter, with whatever sorts of period-style utensils might have been used to dish it out.