Managing a large Arts & Sciences Project

by Mistress Ealasaid nic Suibhne

The first step to any Arts project is to decide what you wish to make. If you are planning on creating Regalia, it is imperative to check with the Regalia Officer to see what is needed. It is not wise to surprise the Baron or the King with Regalia. Personal gifts can be a surprise. Regalia should be approved. Next, you will need to decide how long it will take to complete the project and the minimum number of people you will need. Double the time estimate; add half again as many people. We all always think we can work faster than we actually can. Set the deadline two weeks before you need the parts of the project returned to you. More if you will need to do a lot of work combining all the components. People will turn their work in late, so plan for it. Plan on providing all supplies, if you want the bits that come back to you to match. Write up clear directions for each part of the project. Include examples, if possible. Keep instructions clear and specific, and cover all areas of the project. If there is more than one way to interpret an instruction, your volunteers will find every possible interpretation! Privately select a few people for your team before you start asking for volunteers among the general populace. This will guarantee that you will have at least some help with the project, and for timid volunteers, it can be easier to join an already existing team than it is to be the first volunteer. A personal invitation to participate is also more effective than a general request for volunteers, so don’t rely solely on general calls for volunteers. Plan on making 15% more of whatever it is, so that when some of the work doesn’t get done, you still have enough. As an example, if you are making a garment with hand made buttons being made by several people, assign more buttons than you actually need. If your volunteers are weaving or embroidering trim, assign more than you need. You are guaranteed to have people drop out of the project, and you are pretty much guaranteed to have someone fail to notify you that they have dropped out. That is not catastrophic if you plan for it. Create a spreadsheet to track the project. You will need columns for the following information: Real Name SCA Name Phone Number Email Address

Home Barony/Shire/College Portion Responsible for Materials Supplied Deadline for return of completed item Date Item returned Notes

Let everyone who volunteers participate. The biggest complaint from new members is that they are turned away when they try to participate. If you have doubts about someone’s abilities, give them some of that extra 15% to do. You might be surprised, the brand new member you turn away might turn out to be a highly talented artist in the modern world who just needs encouragement to become a well known artist in the Society. Be prepared to teach some of your volunteers the skills they will need to help you. As much as possible, divide the work evenly among your volunteers. If there’s one part that absolutely must be done first (for example, fabric must be woven before the dress can be sewn), be sure to assign that portion to someone you know will get the job done on time. If a portion can be divided among many people (for instance making buttons), that is a good choice for anyone untried and a good place to add 15% to the total needed. If you want people eager to work with you again on a project, then be careful not to make anyone feel guilty if they fail. If someone turns the supplies back in before the deadline, thank them for letting you know in a timely manner that they will be unable to finish. Things happen and sometimes real life interferes with our game. If someone turns their portion in unfinished at the deadline, smile and tell them it’s okay, you had extras assigned to people just for this situation. Since you set the deadline two weeks early, if they are nearly done, you can let them know they can have another day or two to finish, if they wish. You do not need to let your volunteers see your frustration, even if someone turns their untouched supplies in the day after the deadline. This is why you set your deadlines early, so you will have time to pick up any slack. Have one or two trusted people who are willing to help you scramble at the last minute in case you do end up with a lot of work to be done. Some examples of types of projects that have worked well as group efforts (which is admittedly textile-centric): Site tokens for a Kingdom event (painted, carved, cast, woven, embroidered, anything!) Favors for a new Baroness’ or Queen’s Court (embroidered, woven, fabric painted) Kneeling pillows Clothing for anyone who needs it

Items for Gift Baskets: Woven or embroidered trim, embroidered cuffs and necklines Needle books, Mug Covers, hand sewn bags with finger braided drawstrings Embroidered, beaded, fabric painted, appliquéd, carved or cast kingdom heraldry Handmade buttons, Lace hemmed handkerchiefs, coifs Small illuminations, decorated wooden boxes, painted tiles Reliquary bags: knitted, embroidered, or quilted Handmade needles, handmade candles, lotions, Flint and steel fire starters, shaped wax and sawdust fire starter “candles” Most importantly: Be Creative, Have Fun!

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