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March 25, 2003

March Crown - Pavilion & Brie

March Crown in the West was my one year anniversary in the SCA.

Honestly, I'd attended an SCA event before March Crown last year.. but March Crown was the event where I said, "Oh yeah, this is for me." Ninety percent of my conviction came from looking across the event site and the gorgeous view of all of the period pavilions. Right then I decided I must have one.

I made my plans.. waited for a while to make sure I was really in this for the long haul... priced the parts and finally dove in.

I decided to make a 12 sided round spoked pavilion. I started with the site by Master Dafydd (http://home.adelphi.edu/~sbloch/sca/tents/kuijt.article/)
and accessorized that with information from his apprentice (http://moas.atlantia.sca.org/oak/16/pav.pdf) and House Greydragon (http://www.greydragon.org/pavilions/index.html)

In October I set myself a simple goal. I'd be camping in my pavilion by March Crown(6 months away) or I wouldn't be camping at all.

To make this I ended up buying:

99 yards of 60" wide Sunforger from Bob Shaver(ya gotta love Bob).
2 - 6'x2 1/4" octogon poles from DragonWing Pavilions(and a sleeve)
13 - forged stakes from DragonWing Pavilion(3 long, high wind stakes and 10 short stakes)
12 - really big nails with really big washers from Home Depot(because I didn't buy enough stakes from DragonWing)
1 - 1 1/2" welded metal ring(for the peak) from Tandy Leather
1 - 12"x3/8" aluminum spike from a craft store on 16th and Geary in San Francisco
1 - tapered table leg(for a flag pole at the top)
1 - wooden ball (spray painted shiny gold)
5 - 10'x1" plastic conduit pipe(for the "hoop")(cut to fit the circumferance of the eaves)

Since I made the walls detachable I also got:
132 - welded D rings from Tandy Leather
132 - S hooks from HomeDepot(which I hand squished to make the hook closed on one end)
70 yards of tubular nylon from Para-Gear
a ton of braided nylon rope(I lost track of how much and haven't totalled my reciepts yet)(probably close to 500 feet(lots leftover in small chunks)).

I started (seriously) working on this project in October last year. I started cutting/sewing in February. With a delivery date of March Crown (end of March).

Important lessons learned:

Good things come to those who plan and have backup plans.

After months of fussing with it I finally ended up making a hoop pavilion instead of a spoked one. The main reason is that I couldn't figure out how to keep the spoke's hub at 7' when my sleeve for my poles was at 6'. (Mater Dafydd's plans call for welding a lip onto the sleeve of your poles.. but with 6 foot poles the lip would be too low).

After I'd decided to go with a "hoop" pavilion I was faced with the difficult decision of how to make it. There's remarkable little information available on the Internet about this(or rather searches for "pavilion AND hoop" yield more hits for basketball then for medieval pavilions). I did find one site that recommended a very complicated process of steaming, bending and shaving a wooden hoop. It sounded horribly complex and beyond my skill (or tool) level. I also read a few horror stories about segmented hoops that collapsed into a "sawtoothed zigzag" under the slightest breeze. It seemed that, if it could support the weight, plastic conduit would be ideal(smooth, rounded and not at all zig-zaggy).

Although I'd started my project in October I was slightly stalled until I changed my plan from a spoked pavilion to a hoop pavilion. This means that I didn't actually start cutting/sewing until February and put me a little behind my schedule. This shortened my "trial" period to the point where the pavilion was ready for its first trial only a week before its official launch date. Poor planning on my part.

For our first trial we setup in a corner of Golden Gate Park the Sunday before March Crown. We set it up and to my horror achieved a vaguely taco shapped roof(high on two ends, low on the other two ends) . No only that.. but the hoop portion(when it did achieve a round appearance) hoola'd around the center pole(ie, freely swinging as with a hoola hoop). Add to that, it creaked alarmingly and one of the joints popped out so my "taco" fell flat. Not an auspicious beginning. At this point I was using 3/4" conduit pipe. Also I hadn't made any roof tie-down ropes yet.

Not to worry, I had remediation plans. We did our second trial the very next day in Oakland on the banks of Lake Merritt. Unfortunately both my partner in crime and myself ended up working until 6:30 at night.. so we weren't able to start setting up the pavilion until well after dark. Luckily the park is bordered by huge street lights(insert pithy story about 2 women setting up a medieval pavilion in a park after dark and the helpfulness of gangbangers). For this trial we added roof tie down ropes. Being a novice tentmaker and a software engineer(SOFTWARE not STRUCTURAL) I had no clue where to put the roof ropes... So I'd made them long enough to reach the ground.. but not really providing any support for the pavilion. These tie-downs improved the pavilion somewhat.. they kept the sides from flying up too high.. but they weren't keeping it from drooping inwards. Another dissapointing trial. But I still had two more things to try.

Our third trial was scheduled for Wednesday. For this trial I'd changed the roof tie-down ropes so they were on the same line as the roof (ie extending the roof line to the ground) and we were going to use 1" plastic conduit. Unfortunately we were rained out. This meant I was out of time for trial set up (Thursday I was hosting a henna party(world renouned henna artist.. does great work.. now merchanting at West Kingdom events) and Friday was the event). After much woe-and-betiding I decided to have my trial number three at the event site. If it worked I'd sleep in my brand new snazzy pavilion. If it didn't work.. I had the nasty modern dome thingy to fall back on.

So on Friday for the first time ever I(and 5 of my camp-mates) successfully setup my very first pavilion. The extra 1/4" of diameter in the conduit pipes seems to have made the difference. There was no taco to be seen and there was no creaking to cause alarm.

That said.. it's BIG. OMG I could sleep the whole of our encampment, cover the camp kitchen and still have room to park my car. This is a 12 sided round made from 60" fabric. I still have a few kinks I'm working on.. but it's finished.. and I'm beside myself.

I also entered my Brie into the A&S competition but I didn't win or get my judging sheets back. My cheese didn't get soft like a modern brie. I'm not sure what I did wrong.