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hat is a Medieval Artisan Program of Study (MAPS)?

hat is a Medieval Artisan Program of Study (MAPS)?

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Each Craft comes with a Medieval Artisan Program of Study (MAPS).  These MAPS include a set of craft Skill Definitions, Skill Tests to verify mastery of the Skill, How-To Guides to explain the Skill, Projects the Artisans have done using the Skill, an Annotated Bibliography and Resource List relevant to that Skill.

We’re the kind of folks who love to learn new ways to make things.   That’s a trait that comes with plenty of blessings and an occasional odd look from un-crafty folk.  We are both self-motivated and apply ourselves to learn new skills.  On the flip side, we both have day jobs that do not include improving our medieval artisan skills, which means our time for making art and learning new skills is limited. 

Unfortunately, for me at least, without a formal program of study to follow, it would be very easy to follow a haphazard learning path.  To avoid that, and build the set of skills we want to have in an orderly manner (so that they mutually reinforce one another), we’re defining a structured Medieval Artisan Program of Study (MAPS) for the two materials we’re most interested in, Clay and Metal.  That way, step by step, we will build the skills we need.  An interesting graphic at Jamie Hall’s blog site and the Masters Registry for Precious Metals Clay (PMC) were the genesis for this idea.

We feel this might be useful for others with similar interests, so we’re going to publish them online.  (Hopefully, if others find this useful, they will take the lead in defining MAPS for fabric, leather, bone, horn, wood and glass.)  Many hands make for light work!

An important part of each of the MAPS is a set of skill tests that can be used to objectively measure one’s progress in each Program of Study.  Each skill test will define a project to complete and the evaluation criteria used to judge one’s success.   We think a color-coded graphic that shows a student’s progress and the next logical step(s) would be a nice way to feel good about one’s progress and to help decide what to learn next.

Ideally, we’ll hook How To articles to the relevant Skill Tests as we define them and provide an online way for others to document their own progress through each Skill Test via a progress report or a How To article they supply.  Over time, we might be able to set up a juried evaluation process similar to that used by the precious metal clay industry that could act as a professional certification – or at least provide a working prototype of standards for such a purpose.  The only reason we would charge for such a service would be to cover costs or if so very many people participated that it became a burden rather than a joy.

David Wendelken

edieval Artisan Programs of Study (MAPS)

edieval Artisan Programs of Study (MAPS)

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NameDescription
Preparation of metal from ores to the finished product.
Preparation of clay from raw clay to the finished product.
Preparation of wood from the tree to the finished product.
Preparation of bone from the animal to the finished product.
Preparation of horn from the animal to the finished product.
Preparation of fabric from the raw material to the finished product.
Preparation of leather from the animal to the finished product.
Preparation of glass from the raw silica to the finished product.
Preparation of stone from the quarry or field to the finished product.
Preparation and use of Pigment in making a material or decorating an object.
This includes a variety of skills and knowledge that are useful for the modern medieval artisan to know that do not fall under the other craft headings.
hat are Skill Definitions?

hat are Skill Definitions?

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Skill Definitions are a structured way that defines how to achieve a specific result.  They include one or more How-To documents that explain how to perform the skill, a set of Skill Tests that enable a student to determine whether they have mastered a particular aspect of that skill, an Annotated Bibliography and Resource List that contains resources relevant to a student of that Skill.
hat are Skill Tests?

hat are Skill Tests?

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A Skill Test defines a particular result to achieve in the context of a Skill Definition, which implies a certain degree of specificity on the process used to achieve the result.  The Skill Test defines the starting situation (components and tools) and provides one or more Skill Test Evaluation Criterion to define how well (or whether) the result was achieved.

Each Skill Test allows you to determine whether you understand the technique and how well you can perform it.  It also provides a way to determine if you need more practice at it and what areas of improvement you need to work on.

It would be nice to include a time-elapsed component with each Skill Test but neither of us have sufficient knowledge of the subject to provide any guidance on this.  We'll have to await the valued input of others and gain more experience ourselves before we can add time taken to complete the task as a Skill Test Evaluation Criterion.

One of the interesting aspects of defining Skill Definitions and Skill Tests is determining which is which.  For example, should we define Alloy Bronze and Alloy Brass as two different Skill Definitions, or do we need a Skill Definition for Alloy and they are two different Skill Tests of Alloy?

Another example:  Are Lost Wax Casting and Sand Casting two different Skill Tests of the Casting Skill Definition, or are they two different Skill Definitions?

The answer has to do with process similarities and differences.  

At this time, we feel that an Alloy Skill Definition with two Skill Tests, Alloy Bronze and Alloy Brass is appropriate.  We don't believe, given our current level of knowledge, that the process is all that different.

Lost Wax Casting and Sand Casting have two almost totally different processes, so we feel they are two different Skill Definitions under a more general Skill Definition of Casting.
 
Each Skill Test comes with a set of specific Skill Test Criterion that is used to judge whether one has succeeded or failed at the test, and how well (or poorly).  The intent of each Skill Test Criterion is to provide guidance for improvement.
hat's a How-To Guide?

hat's a How-To Guide?

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A How-To Guide is exactly what it sounds like, a document that describes how to perform a particular task.  It won't cover the finer points and all available knowledge about the topic, it's focus is on just enough information at just the right time to learn the basics of a Skill. 
hat's an Artisan Project?

hat's an Artisan Project?

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Each Artisan approaches their craft somewhat differently.  Ideally, an Artisan Project is not just a photo of a completed item, it is a record of the making of that item and the decisions (both artistic and technical) that were made in the course of that work.

It is always instructive to see how another person makes use of the same basic tools, materials and constraints inherent in a process to make an item.  Sometimes the smallest variation in how another person does a given task can make all the difference to your own work!
hat's a Resource List?

hat's a Resource List?

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A Resource List provides the Medieval Artisan with a list of vendors who can provide raw materials, tools or  training for their craft.  This page lists general purpose links that provide assistance across many different crafts.  Individual Craft pages also have Resource lists for those vendors and sources that specialize in their craft.