Documentation Class Outline

 Documenting Your Projects for

A&S Competitions and Displays

Oda Wlslagre dicta Widoeghe
Barony of Marinus

Some General Rules
  1. Research BEFORE you start your project – it's a good idea to start writing before you start your project. Have your sources identified and understand them before you start working.
  2. All sources are not created equal – primary sources are the best but won't always be accessible or available.
      Primary sources – the item itself, artifacts (or very good museum pictures of them), untranslated recipes, etc. Academic drawing in archeological reports can be considered primary sources.
      Secondary sources – second-hand description or re-drawing of the item. Book-quality photographs would constitute a secondary source. Most academic books would fall into this category. Some secondary sources, like Janet Arnold, are so good they carry as much weight as primary sources.
      Tertiary sources – someone else's interpretation of the piece, a museum reproduction etc. These should not be used for documentation but can be great inspiration!
  3. Use quality source material
      Just because something is printed in a book or on the internet does not make it true. Look at who wrote the book and their credentials, who it was published by (academic publishers are always better than Time Life) and what sources the author cites.
  4. Take notes as you work – save everything! You never know what will be useful, in writing about your process. Sometimes you will need your notes to reproduce your results later (like dyeing, cooking and brewing)
  5. Neatness counts! Type your documentation and formate it as though you were writing a report or paper for school. Use proper formatting for your bibliography and footnotes (I like MLA but use what you know, just be consistent). Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  6. Ask someone to read your work – if possible have two proofreaders, one who knows the subject matter and one who does not. If it makes sense to both of them, you are in good shape.

Some notes about competing and displays:
  1. Think about your display – present your work in a pleasing and attractive manner, don't just toss it down on a table. Make your display as eye-catching as possible – use props to bring your items off a strictly horizontal surface or to create dimension. Use a table cloth.
  2. Have someone else you trust read your judging sheets before you do look at them – not all comments will be helpful and some will upset you
  3. Don't take your scores personally! Some judges just won't give you a 5 or 6 no matter what, and others won't read your documentation at all.
  4. Don't Panic! This is supposed to be fun. As long as you are challenging yourself and having a good time working on your piece, you have already won something.
  5. Bring an extra copy of your documentation – you never know.
  6. For Pentathlons and Triathlons, look over the entry categories and judging sheets BEFORE you finalize your projects! The Atlantia Persona Pentathlon sheets can be found here -
  7. Get a comment book so the populace can leave you feedback as well. You can get some really valuable feedback from people who know a lot about your subject area and did not get a chance to judge this way.

A Basic Outline
  1. Cover sheet – This should have at least your name, the name of the piece, and a picture of the piece. You might also want to include the date you completed the piece, the name of the event, your contact information and the name of your local group.
  2. Summary – a one or two page version of your documentation. Refer to the appropriate section in the longer version of your documentation for more detail. If your documentation is very long, this should be separate from the long version. This might just be a paragraph if you documentation is only 4 or 5 pages.
  3. Main Body
    1. The original piece. Use pictures!
      1. What is it?
      2. How was it used in period?
      3. Who would have used it?
      4. How would it have been made?
      5. Etc.
    2. Your work
      1. How did you make the piece?
      2. Why did you make it the way you did?
      3. What materials did you use and why?
      4. What interpretations did you make and why?
      5. The key thing is to explain your thinking and decision making process here – show the judges that you understand the source material and show them your analytical process.
      6. Think of this as a project diary. For some things, it will help to take pictures of your work along way and include those as well.
    3. Conclusions and Lessons learned
      1. Not necessary but can be helpful
      2. What did you learn?
      3. Where did you go wrong?
    4. Bibliography
      1. List EVERYTHING
      2. List primary sources first, secondary second, etc.
    5. Appendices and Attachments
      1. Go nuts!
      2. Include whatever you want, pictures of source material that did not make it into the main body of your documentation, copies or articles, photos, samples of dyes, swatches, etc. If there is a lot of material here it would be useful to put in a table of contents.