Documentation

What is it?

Documentation at its most basic is a written or verbal explanation of:

  • what you have made (or performed, or researched without producing an actual item)
  • the research you did for your project
  • the trade-offs and decisions you took whilst completing your project, and
  • anything you’d do differently next time.

Think 2-6 pages of explanation, with photos and references.

What it isn’t:

  • a long academic article or thesis on your project/area of interest, although you can write this if you want to
  • a requirement to be an artisan of Lochac. You can have an enjoyable artisan experience making stuff and talking to people.

There’s a Lochac facebook group for sharing research & documentation, if you want to have a look at some examples from the Kingdom.

What’s it for?

First and foremost documentation is a way to share your work. It can allow other people to learn from what you’ve done, especially if you publish your documentation for others to read.

You might write documentation to enter an A&S competition. You might prepare some as notes if you are teaching a class. Maybe you share documentation if you keep a website of your research.

Documentation in A&S competitions

Documentation is a very important part of judging an A&S competition, as it helps a judge grade all the other aspects of your entry. It informs the judges of your methods, your skill level, perhaps something about the art form they do not know or had misconceptions of in the past. Also, our judges are volunteers and often operating out of their core competencies, e.g., the judge is a costumer, but their specialty is 16th century Flemish and they’re judging 14th century English costume. Your documentation helps them have confidence in what you know and how you have thought about your work.

There is space for basic documentation on the competition entry form, but you are encouraged to prepare two-six pages (including pictures and references) on your entry.

How do I do it?

Documentation in Lochac is usually written, although there are some verbal documentation forums such as Laurel Prize (an artisan display at Rowany Festival for non-Laurels to share their projects and research).

Start by reading this article: A&S Documentation: What Do They Want? [PDF] By Mistress Ealasaid nic Suibhne. It lays out a nice progression of examples of documentation with explanations as to what is missing and what has improved.

Also, keep in mind that documentation isn’t just the piece of paper you produce at the end of your project. It’s something you should prepare for as you work on your project:

  • Keep track of your research as you decide what to make – which books and websites did you look at?
  • Take notes as you make the item, and photos of your progress

Mistress Ailis ingen Mheadhbha gave an excellent class on this topic at Politarchopolis University in 2016, and has made her class notes on research and documentation available.

One of the easiest ways to prepare documentation is to answer a series of questions about your project. This A&S Questionnaire by Antonia di Lorenzo from Stormhold has a variety of straightforward questions which are easy to understand. It’s helped lots of first time documentation writers.

You could also read this explanation from Southron Gaard on the purpose of documentation and how to do it. (suspected author is Mistress Eleanora van den Boegarde)

Finally, Drachenwald’s A&S judging criteria for specific crafts might help you think through additional things you might want to discuss, based on your A&S area.

There is no set format for documentation, so have a look through the templates below to see what suits you and your project. Or make up your own format.

I don’t want to write!!!

If writing is not your strength, and you’d rather run screaming for the hills than spend time writing about your project, then you could try the following approaches:

  • Find a friend, talk to them about your and ask them to help you write the documentation
  • Use speech-to-text options on a computer to talk about your project and then clean up the text once it is transcribed. Again, you could ask a friend for help with this. (This method was used successfully by Mistress Clara van der Maes in her first year of University when she could speak clearly on a topic in class, but couldn’t explain herself on paper. With thanks to the kind lecturer who suggested the idea)
  • Make a video of you demonstrating and talking about your project. Just make sure that the video can be viewed at the event i.e. you may need to provide the viewer (tablet, laptop, etc.)

Templates

Various people in various Kingdoms have produced documentation templates to help with the “staring at a blank page, where do I start?” phenomenon.

If you come across any others feel free to link them in the comments, or send to the site editor

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