A&S Activity Kits for Recruitment, Retention and Other Purposes

2023 update coming soon


This class describes a project designed to encourage personal ownership of A&S exploration, encourage active participation at meetings and aid people in their first explorations of A&S activities. In using the kits we have found several ways that the same arrangements of supplies and materials can be utilized.  The class will describe the process we went through to settle on the current design, describe the usage of the kits and discuss the design and materials found in them.

Development of the A&S Kits

There are many ways to play the game, just as there are many ways groups can encourage their membership to participate in a variety of Arts and Sciences.  Several years ago a conscious decision was made in our group to move away from prescheduled A&S classes at our meetings and instead encourage personal development and one on one learning, to strive for increased personal connections between members.  Although this decision was, I feel, correct for our group at that time, I am not claiming that this would be true for all groups or at all times.

We saw that some groups that have a set pre-scheduled A&S night monthly or every other week would quickly run into a series of the same issues.  A lack of instructors volunteering to teach anything, people wanting to learn something specific but “it was just done last week” or “that isn’t scheduled for several months”, classes where everyone taking the class already is familiar with the topic but they feel bad that no one is taking the class so they sit through it anyway and often developing members that seemed to desire to have A&S projects spoon fed to them rather than exploring on their own.

From these issues we developed a plan that first started with encouraging everyone who is an ‘expert’ in some area to be open to teaching that topic in a one on one setting when asked at meetings.  These one on one classes could turn into larger classes, but they did so naturally, and on occasion turned into group activity nights.

One of the next stages was to encourage people to have traveling projects that they can bring with them to meetings and events as much as possible.  When we tell potential members that we are an active organization that actively does a variety of arts and crafts we should actually do what we say we are doing.  This connected to other parts of our recruitment and retention strategy.

To facilitate the teaching of some of the basic and often repeated classes that were taught to newer people we came up with the idea that became the A&S Treasure Chest.  It was decided that having kits made that would provide the resources to teach these common topics on hand and ready to loan out or use at meetings would facilitate this process.  The initial idea was analogous to A&S loaner gear.

In the brainstorming process it was decided that there were specific areas that lent themselves better to the A&S Treasure Chest than others.  But in general they would take the form of plastic containers holding sets of materials, instructions and most of the resources needed to explore the topic.   That they would build upon each other and provide for and encourage interconnecting between areas.

The original design of the kits included a variety of “Make and Take” projects that supplied the materials at cost and allowed for the member to take the finished project home after the self-guided activity.  This plan was later scaled back out of concern that by the time the new members are to the point of taking on full projects they should be searching out the materials and supplies themselves.  Handing them too much of it would reduce the amount they have invested in it (time, money, effort) and might backfire resulting in members who want more spoon fed activities rather than producing membership that self-motivates and seeks out the resources themselves.

The majority of the “Make and Take” activities were replaced with folders containing hard printouts of various classes and instructions people have taken at events as well as ones found on line.  This maintains the natural progression of the learning process and reduces the cost and size of the A&S Treasure Chest greatly.

One other point is related to the ownership of the kits.  It was decided early on that the A&S Kits would be owned by individual members and not become the property of the local group, and thus the property of SCA Inc.  This meant that they would not fall under an inventory of the group’s property and if kits were lost, damaged or not returned it would not be a matter of theft of SCA Inc. property.   This may or may not be of concern to others, but it factored into our design.

Ways We Have Utilized the Kits

Although the main initial thought was to use them for introducing newer members to a variety of A&S topics, we have found that they can be utilized in several ways

  • Activity kits to demonstrate A&S topics at demos
  • Allow more established members to explore an activity outside of their usual area of interest
  • Supply additional resources for group A&S activity nights (C&I night, group largess projects, etc)
  • Provide activity resources for members with children
  • Aid members in filling out their kit.
  • “Fidgets” for people who need an introverts buffer or simply something to keep their hands busy

Staged for learning and Self-paced

The general progress is to have people begin with the activity that best fits their current skill and knowledge level.  Our new members come to us with a variety of backgrounds and skill levels.  Some of the kits begin with extremely simple activities and build as skills and knowledge builds.  One of the examples with this is the sewing progression

Activity Kit 1 – Identifying Types of Fabric – The fiber identification and burn test kit the familiarize people with different fabrics and the pros and cons of the different choices.

Activity Kit 2 – Basic Hand Sewing Kit – Introducing some of the basic hand sewing stitches.

Activity Kit 3 – Basic Seam Finishing – Introducing some of the basic seam finishing techniques.

Activity Kit 4 – Make and Take Coif Kit – Using hand sewing to produce a wearable coif from pre-cut supplies.

From this point the member should be able to identify an appropriate fabric choice and have the skills to sew a basic garment.  The member could then look at some of the provided handouts on basic garb items (t tunic, pants, tunic dress, etc).  The more experienced members can assist the newer members with taking measurements, pattern choices and pattern drafting, and the newer member can use the skills acquired in the earlier kits to continue their learning.

A new member may come in with no sewing experience at all, but with a knowledge of fabric, or with no knowledge of fabric choices but a good understanding of sewing.  Some members may jump directly to the handouts on patterning and dress styles, or go back for the kits on seam finishing, button holes or making fabric buttons.

All of this is done with the understanding that current experienced members are always going to be available to assist when someone gets stuck or needs guidance

Variety of Topics Covered

This style of kit does not lend itself to all topics covered in the SCA in the areas of the Arts and Sciences.  Logically we chased after the low hanging fruit first of topics we already covered, ones we had excess tools and supplies for, common ones that many of our members did.  However there are others that we did not either cover yet or might not for various reasons.

Our group already has a resident fiber arts expert in weaving with loaner looms, so it was felt that topic was already well covered.  Another local person had regularly offered shop time for armoring and other metal work.  So, again, some of these topics were not explored yet.

Other topics don’t lend themselves to this for other reasons.  We had the ability to make a lamp working kit, but we felt that the inherent dangers with this activity made it better covered in some of our group project nights.  We were contemplating a pewter casting kit but felt that would have similar concerns.

Some topic ideas did lend themselves well to kit construction, however the expense associated with the kits made their loaning out a risk.  In dealing with new and potential members it is important to keep in mind that they may, at any time, not return.  So there is always a risk of kits going missing.  One of the examples of this is a chasing and repoussé kit.  It doesn’t often get loaned out to people until we know then well.

Obviously there are many, many other topics and areas that we could, and I hope will, explore given time and resources.  Rarely is it that I can wander through a large event and not see another activity that would lend itself well to this project.

Sources for Subject Lesson Materials

It was decided early on that we did not need to reinvent the wheel on any of the topics that we were covering.  There are already many resources on line and at our own events providing us with classes covering any number of topics and the instructors are normally fine with using their materials to teach other people as long as they are sited.  Realistically all we are doing is printing out a copy of a set of instructions that any newcomer could find for themselves but ensuring them that the one we print out does actually work and is a good example for that topic.

There has been some gaps in our lessons and these, on occasion, must be filled in by one of us finding the time to research the topic and generate our own new lesson. But once a gap is filled it continues to be filled and it is covered.

Plans for Future Expansion

It is my hope to continue expanding the topics we cover and the kits we house as we have time and as we find more projects that fit in it.  Being that I also work a great deal with costuming for newcomers I plan to expand the sewing/patterning section as well as the various other projects that fill out a complete kit.  I place specific importance on these as they aid in yielding a newer member who not only looks like they belong, but more importantly feels like they look like they belong.

I also hope to continue the integration of this project with other projects I have worked on, including a garb guide for newcomers.


The A&S kits have been an attempt to foster a culture of personal ownership of ones exploration of A&S topics and avoid a group full of members who need to be constantly entertained with and spoon-fed activities and classes.

We have found many other ways to utilize these kits and make the initial investment in them pay off.  It is my hope that other groups may see in this project, if not a framework to emulate, then an encouragement to proactively think about how newer members are constructing their way of looking at the Arts and Sciences.

Axed Root’s

A&S Treasure Chest

Kit Name Here


The brief introduction to the topic


What skills you need before starting this project

Things to try after this kit

How this project connects to other projects and where this learning can take you

Things to make that go along with this kit

Ideas about what to try next to connect this skill or project to your sca kit

Difficulty Level

Relative difficulty of the project


What you need to have

Things you need to do this project (scissors, pencil, paper)


Specific materials provided in the kit and the cost to use it

Item and cost

Included Materials and Tools

Materials tools and supplies provided in the kit that are not consumed and should be returned with the kit

Historical Background

At what point does this project fit into history and what cultures does it represent.

Safety Warnings


Links to additional information or videos on the topic

This Kit belongs to Kristine nic Tallier and Vincent de Vere.

The total kit cost is $XXX.  If you lose the kit or damage it in some way you will be asked to pay replacement costs.

**Example – Axed Root’s – Example**

**Example-A&S Treasure Chest–Example**

Calligraphy and Illumination


It may be Calligraphy to us, but in the middle ages it was simply writing.  They used the quills, styluses and  reed pens because it is what they had.  Illuminated manuscripts still live on as representations of faith and devotion as well as love and artistic endeavor.  The techniques they used produced enduring works of art and inspire us today.

We use calligraphy and illumination to produce artworks and award scrolls to recognize the works of our friends.  It can be as simple or as complex as you desire.

Prerequisites – What skills you need before starting this project.

None – this is an introduction kit.

Things to try after this kit- How this connects to other projects and where this can take you.

Try painting some pre-prints for crown

Make your own borders inspired by the many different styles of calligraphy and illumination found throughout history,

Difficulty level – Relative difficulty of the project

Beginner –

Materials – What you need to have to do this project

Paper towels


A cup or bowl for water

Consumables – Specific materials provided in the kit and the cost to use it.

Item and Cost

Pre-print borders – $0.05 each

Materials and Tools

Materials tools and supplies provided in the kit that are not consumed and should be returned with the kit





Unused pre-prints and borders

Ink bottle

Calligraphy pen and 6 tips

Historical background

At what point does this project fit into history and what cultures does it represent.

Safety Warnings.

Don’t spill the ink.  Might not want to drink the ink either.


Use the included handout “Calontir Scribes Handbook” as your instructions for learning about calligraphy and illumination.

The pre-print cardstock border sheets are $0.05 each for replacement cost.  Leave a nickel in the kit box if you wish to use one.

Let the paints in the shells dry out before packing up the kit.

You will be asked to pay for replacing anything missing from the kit

Links to additional information or videos on the topic

none yet – search : sca + Calligraphy + Illumination

This Kit belongs to Kristine nic Tallier and Vincent de Vere

The total kit cost is $40.  If you lose the kit or damage it in some way you will be asked to pay replacement costs.

Axed Root’s

A&S Treasure Chest

Calligraphy and Illumination

Axed Root’s

A&S Treasure Chest

Calligraphy and Illumination

Axed Root’s

A&S Treasure Chest

Calligraphy and Illumination

Axed Root’s

A&S Treasure Chest

Calligraphy and Illumination

Axed Root’s

A&S Treasure Chest

Calligraphy and Illumination