Lady Rosalye, posting this was, in and of itself, an act of bravery. My metaphorical hat is off to you.
Congratulations on your championship. I'm sure your work was well-deserving.
I too believe that as artisans we can all aspire to greater heights within our work. I also believe in standards and in striving to attain more knowledge and skill in our fields, although for some of us skill can simply be a noble aspiration. I was very inspired and encouraged to hear a story from Kingdom Arts and Sciences about an entrant who made a piecework pillow. She didn't have the means to afford real velvet or silk so she used synthetic replicas. When she was asked how she would like to improve on what she's done technically she replied, "I don't think I can." Her hands were damaged and handsewing is painful for her, but despite that she still attempted to handsew a portion of her project. She explained, "I made this piece because someone said that they didn't do piecework quilting in period and I wanted to show that they did." --She won in my book.
The mediocre artisans you decry as retreading common things are taking the steps necessary towards achieving higher goals and perfecting their art. (Also as someone who enjoys making beautiful-to-me 14th century clothing I take umbrage with your implication that the common is unchallenging.) They are mustering up the guts to invite people who may even be strangers to sit with them for 40min or more. They are there to gain feedback to help them improve their artistry and achieve those high goals you challenge them to strive to.
I went to my first QPT with my first sewing project and had two laurels and a Hammer kindly give me feedback on how to improve my patterning, how to finish my seams etc because they knew I'd never seen anything until three months prior. They declined to rate me according to points. At my next QPT, two years later, I entered at the advanced level and scored so well I kept it on my fridge for months.
That would not have happened if someone had posted to the Calon List with the implication that I should leave my work at home until it was up to snuff.
We're all aspiring to greater things in the SCA, either in regards to our artistry or our character. We're here to make things we love and share them with people we love. There are singers who will never sing like Renee Fleming with all the lessons and practice in the world, but they still love to sing and sing out. There are dancers who will never be the Julie Kents of Persian dance with all the practice in the world, but still they dance because it brings them joy. The SCA is here for them just as much as it is for the best of artisans and craftsmen. It's here for the lowly men at arms as much as the greatest Knights.
Also, I was a violinist and I can tell you from personal experience that practice never did get me to Carnegie hall, but I did play in other venues along the way to help prepare me.
Rosalye Langmod, OGCS
-- Manage your subscription at http://listserv.unl.edu