on developing a system of honors and awards — part the second

on the construction of traditional-style medals

historically, a medal is the most visible and obvious sign of an award given by a government to civilian or military personnel to mark and honor achievement.  typically, it comprises two main components, the medal itself (a small disk, usually metal, often struck with some image) and a ribbon it is suspended from.  medals are usually worn on the chest (by convention, on the left breast), less frequently around the neck or (rarely) on other parts of the body. 

traditionally, medals are constructed of two main parts – the medal itself (a metallic disk or other flat shape), and a ribbon that it’s suspended from.  generally, the whole unit should be about four inches (ten centimeters) in length, although this may be varied for aesthetic reasons, particularly with narrower ribbons.

the ribbon portion is normally a cloth strip of either satin or grosgrain – although it could be other flexible material, such as a strip of leather, or even a piece of fine-link chainmail.  for micro-scale production, we recommend grosgrain ribbon over satin, as it tends to be more forgiving of adhesive seep-through (although care should still be taken to use the adhesive sparingly).  if you use either grosgrain or satin ribbon, the use of a batteryoperated ribbon cutter (which uses a hot wire to melt through the ribbon, cutting and sealing it simultaneously) is highly recommended.

the width of the ribbon should be approximately equal to the width of the medal that will be suspended from it.  ribbons are readily available in crafting stores and the like in several different widths, including 5/8″, 7/8″, and 1.5″, and less commonly in other widths such as 1″ or 2″.  we recommend your system of honours use a standard and easily-obtained width of ribbon, such as 1.5″.  standard NATO military ribbons are 1-3/8″ but we have found this is not as easy to find in the usual shops.

the medal itself (the part that hangs from the ribbon) is normally a disk or other geometric shape, although it can also be some other relevant symbol, such as an eagle.  as noted above, the medal and the ribbon it hangs from should be approximately the same width.  additionally, all decorations you award should normally use the same width of ribbon (for aesthetic reasons when more than one are worn together), meaning all of the medals should also be about the same size.

there are several options for the medal proper – you can look for pendants or medallions of the appropriate size from stores that sell sports trophies (which often allow you to customize the center to some extent), use pendants of the appropriate size from an arts and crafts store, or even design something and have it printed on a 3D printer, an approach we are seeing more and more due to the relatively high degree of flexibility and comparatively low cost (versus having a custom medal cast).

one of our favorite ways to create a custom medal is to obtain a cabochon tray (also called a pendant tray) of diameter equal to the width of our ribbon, together with a glass or plastic cabochon of the appropriate size to nest within the depression in the cabochon tray.  we create circular artwork that can be printed and cut to fit within the tray, glue it into the tray, glue the cabochon over top, and clamp until dry.  (here we must pause to recommend a particular brand, “Judi-Kins Diamond Glaze”, which holds the parts together quite well with little or no bubbling.)  this task is made even easier by the existence of hand-held circle die cutter punches; carefully center the image in a die cutter of the correct size, squeeze it, and you have a ready-cut circle to glue into the tray. 

medal components, together with a 25mm circle die cutter for cutting the inserts

we have also considered acquiring cabochon-cut semi-precious stones of the correct size to fit into the cabochon trays – a variety of coloured stones are available, and you could easily build up a system of awards that corresponded to the different stones.

the medal and the ribbon must be joined into a single unit.  the medal will normally have a metal ring at the top, by which it’s suspended from the ribbon.  often, this is done by carefully folding down the ribbon and feeding it through the suspension ring, but this can be a difficult process to figure out.  we have found a much quicker and more forgiving way to mount medals to their ribbons – by means of a “ribbon clamp”, which is exactly what it sounds like – it is a v-shaped trough of metal with tiny teeth along the edges of the “V”, which clamps onto the end of the ribbon (with the assistance of pliers) and has a small loop that the medal’s suspension ring can latch on to.  ribbon clamps can be found in lengths corresponding to all common ribbon widths.

ribbon clamps, unattached and attached to ribbon, plus soft-jaw pliers to clamp them onto the ribbons

the last thing a medal needs is a way to attach it to the wearer’s clothing.  often this is done with a pin back, which can be found at craft stores.  typically, we fold the top of the ribbon over a small piece of plastic cut to size for the purpose, glue it (and clamp until dry), and then adhere a pin to the back.  for this task we typically use a very strong adhesive called “E6000” (which must be used in a ventilated area due to fumes).  once the adhesive has cured, the medal may be worn or awarded as appropriate.

you may want to consider providing a certificate or other document to the individual being presented with the award, as another memento of the occasion.  additionally, presenting the medal itself in a box is a professional touch that also allows the awardee to safely store it when it’s not being worn.  finally, we would encourage you to consider documenting your creations at the microphalerist archive, MEDALS (microphalerist.com) for others to see.  submission guidelines are available on the website.

author bio

King George 2.0 is the ruler of Slabovia, the chair of MicroCon 2019, and the founder of the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS).  he resides in Toronto, Canada, with his Queen Consort, the royal mouse-catcher Schroedinger, and the trainee royal mousecatcher Madeline.

about MEDALS

the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS) was created by royal charter signed in 2018 by His Royal Majesty King George 2.0 of Slabovia.  the archive exists to document, for the public interest, examples of awards, honors, and medals that are awarded by micronations.  the archive can be found online here.

on developing a system of honors and awards — part the first

development of a system of awards

many micronations seek to reward their citizens and others through the development of a system of honors, medals, and decorations, the most obvious of which are medals.  this article will provide guidance to the new micronational on the development of such a system, and provide guidance on pitfalls to avoid.

a representative sample of micronational medals

before we begin, we start with such a pitfall—the use of any macro-world military decorations as part of micronational uniforms, if not awarded to the wearer by the macro-national entity in question, is to be strongly discouraged.  this includes not just medals but qualification badges and other insignia that are obviously attributable to a specific military.  the perception of “stolen valour” in the public eye is something to be avoided, both for the sake of your own micronation and for the others to come after you.  in some jurisdictions, such as Australia, it is acceptable to wear your relative’s war medals during ceremonies of remembrance; otherwise such an action is considered tacky, rude, and sometimes even illegal depending on the jurisdiction.  generally, err on the side of caution—if it wasn’t awarded to you, don’t wear it, and if it was awarded to you by a macronational entity, then you should already be aware of the rules and requirements for displaying or wearing such items.

decorations are awarded for many different reasons, such as:

  • commemoration of an event such as a coronation, royal anniversary, etc.
  • service award for completing a period of service, particularly in a hostile environment
  • campaign medals issued for military endeavors
  • decorations for valor

designing a system of awards should take all of the above potential circumstances into account, and should allow room for growth.  for example, maybe you don’t account for service awards initially, but later on decide that long-serving members of your military should receive such an award.  are you able to easily expand your award set to include such awards?

there is generally a hierarchy to awards.  the most objectively difficult or dangerous awards to win (for valour or bravery, etc.) typically precede service awards, which themselves normally precede commemorative awards.

you should determine and document the criteria for awarding each award, as well as the potential recipients.  for example, if you have an award for bravery, is it only for members of your military, or can your civilian population win it as well?  can your decorations be awarded to both non-citizens and citizens, or only to citizens (or even only to non-citizens)?

finally, what format will your decorations take?  the usual route is what we’ve come to call “medals”, being a commemorative disk hung from a short length of ribbon.  however, you may want to think about “turning things on their head” and suspend the ribbon from the disk, as seen in Slabovia’s “king’s mark of merit” award.  briefly, these are made by creating balls of “Fimo” or other bakeable plastic, using a sealing stamp (like you’d use for sealing wax, note that it should be lightly coated with mineral oil or baby oil to minimize adhesion) to compress the ball into a disk, and then baking it per the manufacture’s instructions.  after it has cooled, a quick rinse removes any residual mineral oil, and then the ridges of the impression are highlighted with a metallic marker.  finally a ribbon is cut to length and glued to the back, and the award is ready—see the picture.

allowing our thoughts to stray further, while medals are normally worn on the chest, that is by no means the only part of the anatomy that could be decorated.  we could, for example, picture an award system founded on lengths of cord of various colours, intricately knotted into lanyards.  of course, if your awards system allows for more than one award per individual, you might want to remember that humans generally have only two arms available (at most) for such a display.

author bio

King George 2.0 is the ruler of Slabovia, the chair of MicroCon 2019, and the founder of the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS).  he resides in Toronto, Canada, with his Queen Consort, the royal mouse-catcher Schroedinger, and the trainee royal mousecatcher Madeline.

about MEDALS

the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS) was created by royal charter signed in 2018 by His Royal Majesty King George 2.0 of Slabovia.  the archive exists to document, for the public interest, examples of awards, honors, and medals that are awarded by micronations.  the archive can be found online here.

new lgbtq+ pride poster honours movement, progress

with pride month already upon us, making a new Sandum lgbtq+ pride banner has always proven to be a challenging task. each sandum banner has meant having to think about the current state of lgbtq+ politics and life. how can one poster capture such a diverse community and movement, with no leaders or figureheads?

it can’t.

Sandum lgbtq+ pride posters have often focused on velocity. they give a sense of movement, meaning that they come to focus on abstract shapes or even lines. the pride flags themselves become lines focusing the audience on a direction, whether up or down, read left to right. over the years, i have produced a lot of different posters on behalf of Sandus–some more successful than other.

the focus changes year after year. but this year is a little special. in 2018, i experimented for the first time trying to make the lgbtq+ pride poster feature something typically Sandum: an abstract skyscape. i did the same this year, except instead i wanted to choose something that fits more with the artistic / design revolution that we are advocating for.

the 2019 Sandum lgbtq+ pride week poster

still an abstract background, but now more simplicity. first, the base image is free. technically, most backgrounds for our posters are free. often, i take them, or i find copyright-free images. but this image is in the public domain and is free. (affordability being a major part of sandhaus’s tenets.) what i like about this year’s poster is that the paint strokes not just include our national colours (blue and white), they also include pantone’s colour of the year: coral. the colours are as much about Sandus as about this year in particular.

2019 is a momentous occasion. of course we know this: it marks 10 years of Sandus. but it also marks 50 years of the stonewall revolution, a momentous occasion that stirred lgbtq+ peoples to advocate for their freedom and to launch the gay liberation front (glf). we honour their work and all lgbtq+ peoples’ work with this poster, its colours and its devises.

the movement of the paint strokes signifies, to me, movement that can be found at pride parades. if you’ve ever been to one, you know what i am talking about: people are dancing in the streets, bystanders are flailing and hollering, folks are walking up and down all around. people permeate your every sense. like the human movement, these paint strokes are ecstatic.

next we have the flags. the new Sandum lgbtq+ pride flag just recasts its white with its component rainbow light rays, inspired by party secretary adam von friedeck’s recommendation that “the white of our flag is really just a rainbow.” normally, the flags take pride of place, but this year they are relegated to the right hand side of the poster. again, we have movement. the Sandum lgbtq+ pride flag moves from the bottom-left to the top-right and literally makes an upwards-facing arrow with the corner of the poster. the same is true of a larger pride flag at the very bottom.

the fonts are sans serif to maximise their utility for those with dyslexia. more and more recently, Sandus has been using more sans serif fonts in posters and public graphics versus our traditional serif garamond fonts. garamond is still used in written documents, but less so in public media. this is in order to be compliant and usable for those who have difficulty reading serif fonts.

this poster may not seem like much. in fact, it does not differ from the style of many contemporary Sandum posters. but, in my opinion, it does reflect what we are trying to do in Sandus today: to revolutionise our art and our design in this centenary year of bauhaus. the poster reflects and commemorates the movement and the progress of the lgbtq+ movement over the last 50 years, and it does that in its own uniquely Sandum way.