Thoughts on Being a Laurel

by Duchess Étaín du Pommier, OL, OP

(Originally posted on LiveJournal in 2008, posted more recently on Facebook, June 30, 2015 -- used with explicit permission, minor formatting by Hirsch)

This is my personal interpretation of what it means to be a Laurel. It is not meant as preaching, it is an effort to honestly share my feelings and expectations. I came up with this list because one of my apprentices asked me a while ago (now many years) what I would expect of them in order to recommend elevation. The following is mostly the technical part of the list, and the list is by no means complete. I have not touched on many of the PLQs, for instance. I also wrote this down as a frame of reference - to see if my standards or expectation have changed from when I was first made a Laurel in 2007, and what those changes are. (So far, they've stayed consistent from 2007 until the present.) Here's the list:

Historical Accuracy: I expect history, not historical fantasy. 'Nuff said. The rest is covered in "Research Skills." I want items/performances to be thoroughly grounded in the past.

Research Skills: Knowledge of the major sources in your field of study, both primary and secondary. A facility with quoting them. Understanding of how and why conclusions are drawn, and justification for why you make the decisions you do. Facility with finding primary source material from a period/geography you might not specialize in. Absolutely NO plagiarizing/taking credit for other's work. If you use it and it isn't yours, you must cite it.

Aptitude: The work in your area of expertise, whether it's in your specialized period or not, should show at least journeyman-level across the board. Whatever you pick up in your chosen materials and art should be good. It doesn't all have to be great, but it should be solid.

Originality: Original research or interpretation of primary sources. You shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel, but there should be something interesting/individual about your work. Includes "the ability to take research & extrapolate in a reasonable fashion to create something new yet still pleasingly period. For example, studying embroidery in era X, & designing your own pattern that would fit into that era." (Thanks, @Trystan) Not everything should be a spot-on recreation.

Breadth: Specialization in one period/geography is fine, but I want to see journeyman knowledge of a second period and geography. That's not and/or, btw, that's AND. You don't need to have a minor in an unrelated subject, but you should understand the context of your work, which means knowing where and when it came from.

Context: "One ought to study not only the same art in different periods/geographies, but also other (often related) arts of the same period/geography -- to give a good, well-rounded sense of the material and intellectual culture(s) of that time and place." (Thanks for that, @Ariane)

Body of Work: Your work should be out there, and there should be more than one piece of it. Seventeen dresses made form the same pattern does not constitute a sufficient body of work, as it's just the same thing over and over again. Seventeen outfits from the same time period made for different figure types, different genders, and using different techniques certainly would. (But also see the breadth and generosity requirements.)

Generosity: Are your skills being utilized for the good of others? There should be a visible contribution to people outside of yourself/significant other/household. Royalty and regalia, helping newcomers, donations to auction, etc.

Teaching: Be generous with your knowledge. Teaching doesn't have to be in a formal class setting, a brain dump to those who are curious is quite sufficient. (And no, you can't say "I won't tell you my sources because I want to publish." Either get off your duff and publish, or share with the rest of the people who want to learn, please. /rant.)

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