Facebook Group for Pennsic Classes

I’m REALLY MEAN when I teach at Pennsic and only give out outlines when I teach my classes. There’s multiple reasons for this:

 

1: You can’t show up, jack a handout, and then not stick around for my class thus shorting the people who stay a handout.

2: It’s harder to plagiarize me. Yes, it’s happened. Really people, just cite me in your work.

3: It makes you become more engaged in what I’m teaching by following my outline, and taking your own notes for your own benefit. I do pass around supplemental materials and draw pretty pictures on the whiteboard and I want you to pay attention.

4: IT SAVES TREES. If I printed everything I needed for a 2 hour class, it would be a small booklet, and cost me a lot.

 

However, this has a downfall. Those that want to go to my classes and then can’t get shafted. So I was thinking to myself, “How do I make this easier for folks who can’t make it? You can’t learn much from a boring old handout.”

DING. SOCIAL MEDIA.

I understand that not everyone has Facebook, I apologize, but not everyone has Google + either, and I find the Facebook group interface a bit better for discussion anyway. Therefore, I created a group on Facebook that I plan to fill with all of my class goodies after war, so everyone can jump in, ask questions, and engage in a sorta online class. This is pretty beta, and I hope it works out. If it doesn’t, I’ll just can it.

Group link:

AΔΣ’s Pennsic Classes
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1448455932095583/

 

Please feel free to join in advance for when the fun begins.

Idle Musings, Part 2: On the Wearing of the Color Purple

In more of my pre-Pennsic Procrastination, additional thoughts have chopped their way into, “gee, I should be sewing right now” time.

 

Namely, this:

 

No! I mean THIS:

 

That is the shade of what is known as Tyrian, or Murex Purple.  The imperial purple of Rome.  As you can see, it is NOT indigo, it’s closer to a magenta-red, and it’s actually quite nice.

This was brought up because right now I have enough free linen points over at Fabrics-store.com to do some damage, and wildcherry, a color similar to this purple is on sale. This put me in a conundrum. Do I spend the money and being haughty and make a lovely purple piece of garbery, or, do I let it slide and stay within my persona? The East Kingdom has no sumptuary laws, especially when it comes to the wearing of colors, so I could wear this without any issue on the game side of of things. However, on the Anna side of things is where I question it. Would my persona be in the purple? As an imperial with the rank of lady, it’s likely I could have afforded it, and sumptuary laws did change over time to make it more available…IF you could afford it.

However, I feel like the wearing of purple, to me, as a Romanian (Byzantine), is being presumptuous in rank. If I was bestowed the gift of purple from someone of a higher station, that’s different. If someone won crown for me (highly unlikely situation) then well, yes, definitely. But the purchasing, sewing, and wearing of a purple garment would make me feel like I cheated. Yes, even though I hold the rank of lady, and I have seen period imagery of ranked women wearing SOME purple in their embellishment, they were never clad in it fully like the actual emperor and empress. So even though I may hold a position that allows me to wear it, and I could probably afford the dye, I would limit my purple to embellishment only, rather that entire garments.

Instead, I will play with words. Purpura, in both Latin and Greek, is a funny word. It means both purple AND red, so it’s hard to assume which color was being worn unless modifiers are being given, which they sometimes aren’t. And a good red color, like kermes derived from crushing little insects into dye, was just as expensive as milking murex snails. So I will gladly spend all of my persona’s invisible money on quality crimson and not feel like I’m placing myself higher than I should be while still dressing as a diva. 😉 Problem SOLVED. HOMERUN!

This of course doesn’t mean a thing outside of my own persona and kingdom. If you want to wear purple, and can wear the purple,  rock that purple.

I need to get work done.

 

Send in the clowns (Roman makeup research, part 3.)

So I was able to get some calcium carbonate (natural chalk) from a brewing supply store, and decided to, you know, put it on my face with the other questionable materials I’ve been using.

DISCLAIMER: NOT APPROVED BY THE FDA, NOT APPROVED FOR COSMETICS, YADDA YADDA CANCERFACE YADDA YADDA DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

Okay, so…the article I’m using as a basis for this starter kit said that the chalk was mixed with vinegar. So, I raided my kitchen for white wine vinegar that I typically use to make sekanjabin or oxymel, and combined the two in a plastic cup. This immediately caused the fizzies due to the reaction of the acetic acid releasing the carbon, much like what would happen with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) but not nearly as explosive. This intrigued me and worried me, but it seemed too thin, so I added more chalk to get a paste that was more reminiscent of a modern liquid foundation. I slathered it on my arm for a patch test, and let it dry. It didn’t look so bad or cause a reaction, so…

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…I slathered it on my face…IMAG2163 As you can see, it was a bit…paste-like, and didn’t blend well. It clung to every wrinkle and scar or zit on my face, and I immediately remembered I was in my 30s. So I washed it off with soap and water and it came off quite easily. (Note, it’s not in my hair, that’s my Rogue stripe.)

So I thinned the paste with more vinegar, and got a more powdery, fast drying finish. It was still lightening my skin, but not the consistency of glue.

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Quickly, it was evident that thin layers would do the trick. It’s not an emulsion like a modern foundation, and therefore the mineral can be displaced and clump easily, as you can see on my eyebrow and cheek. I did apply it with a modern cosmetics brush as well, so I need to do more research into period applicators, that should also help.

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Well, there was only thing left to do: PUT THE WHOLE FACE ON. I went lighter on the red ochre this time, since I haven’t yet made my balm for it as planned. I should do that, oh, tonight.

I applied the lamp black to my eyebrows and as eyeliner using the olive oil mixture from my first post. (I also patch tested this. ALWAYS PATCH TEST!) I went a bit crazy with it on the eyebrows, I need better brushes to tone it down. Eyeliner was done by toothpick.

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This side was a bit heavier, and I look even less glamorous:

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Of course, now I had to take this stuff OFF. Modern soap and water worked fine for the chalk and the ochre, but the carbon?

.

.

. Not so much. (I had to.)

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I was able to remove it using the olive oil mixture it was applied with, to a point, and then with a non-oil based modern makeup remover, which helped but wasn’t great. The oil is needed to break up the black. It’s very staining, and I wasn’t able to remove it completely, so I think a modern oil-based remover would do the job nicely.

So, I now have the beginnings of a basic Roman makeup kit which should make my A&S display this weekend at Palio di Stonemarche an interesting one. I hope to have something more to show come Pennsic.

 

 

I’m feeling a bit rusty.

A pigment used for blush and lip stain from Egypt through Byzantium was red ochre. This is a very safe, non-toxic pigment that is derived naturally from iron oxide (rust) and hematite. It’s been used in artwork since the cave paintings in France, so we know it’s been around for a very long time, so use in cosmetics would make sense.

Like I mentioned, it was used as a blush, and a lip gloss. The Roman women were known for going a bit…overboard with their rouge, so sayeth Martial, who was convinced their faces would melt. Well, here’s my face, complete with annoying duck face (I HAD TO) slathered in rust. Really. Note my bathroom light for whatever reason makes my black hair look purple. It is not. It is black, but other than the the pigment looks correct.

This is 100% natural red ochre pigment that I use for my icons from Earth Pigments. I applied it to my face using  a modern angled blush brush.

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My right cheek I applied the pigment straight on with knocking the brush a couple times to remove excess. The resulted in…OH MY GOD. ORANGE CHEEK, with next to no fall out.

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My left cheek I used the brush after I had used it on my right, and it gave a nice bronzing effect. This would have been a lovely healthy glow that I think the Egyptians prized, but Roman ladies apparently were a bit more bold with their color usage.

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I applied the pigment to my lips using a Q-tip soaked in olive oil. The pigment still dried my lips out quickly, but it did not burn.

I assume once I get the chalk and vinegar face paste on there, it will look even more ridiculous. I will be making that up once I find powdered calcium carbonate, which is true chalk, versus the gypsum chalkboard “chalk” used today. I should be able to locate it in a vitamin store or a brew store.

 

Until then…rouge it up, ladies! *_*

My Crush with Eyeliner

I’ve decided that since my Kingdom thought I was good enough to get a Maunche (and I got to write OM after my name on a class handout coming up. WEIRD!) I needed to step up my game and get down and dirty. Since I’m really good at making a mess, I decided to jump into the dangerous, but interesting world of  ROMAN COSMETICS.

Here it is, my disclaimer:
What I do here is at my own risk. Please, for the love of Hades and all that is holy, do not try this at home if you feel that you may react to any of these cosmetics or their contents make you feel unsafe. Although I am working with non-toxic ingredients, some of them can be a bit scary.

The Romans (in this case, we are including the Byzantines, as they SHOULD be included) were fond of personal hygiene and their appearance, so there’s a great deal of information on what they used for makeup, face creams, depilatories, and the like, so it’s something I’ve been kicking around for a bit. After talking a bit with Mistress Aife who has done similar things with Irish cosmetics, I decided, “Oh hell, why not? As long as it’s not lead and mercury I should be fiiiiiiiine.”

So I decided to start with the famous kohl eyeliner that was all the rage in the Levantine civilizations, and the early 1990’s. I’m a pretty heavy eyeliner wearer when I DO wear makeup (see also, 1990’s) so I always have some on when I have court garb on, but if I want to be authentic, I should take the next step.

For the most part, kohl was made (and is still made in some countries) with galena, which is lead sulfide. This is baaaaaad. So, I looked for alternatives. Immediately, I found that both in period and in modern preparations, lamp black is used with some sort of medium to spread it on the eyes. In Roman times, this is a scented oil or water, and in modern times, it’s ghee, a clarified butter. So, here I was getting all excited about this fun new exciting way to make sexy eyeliner when my med school friend Margaret down in Meridies nearly beheaded me on my Facebook page. Come to find out, soot and lamp black have something called  polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and these such things are a carcinogen. Who knew? She did, and then I got a bummer, but I was determined to make some anyway for science and display purposes. I have no intention of putting this stuff on my face, but I needed to find an alternative. So, in some skimming today of a couple of articles, I found that they also used charcoals and ashes, basically anything that could smear black. Saffron was suggested, and I happened to have some I could, well, reasonably part with. So I made 3 batches of kohl, lamp black, willow charcoal, and saffron ash, and a scented oil carrier that’s simply olive oil with a few drops of frankinscense and myrrh.  Here are my observations:

Lamp black: This stuff is great. If it wasn’t for the fact it could give me cancerface (that’s a thing now, I just made it up) I would rock this. Why? It’s smooth and already somewhat creamy from the oil content from my burning lamp. It made a beautifully dark line on my wrist that didn’t wash off easily. I’m really tempted to use it on my eyes, just once, but my better judgement is getting the best of me. As you can see, I used my Roman lamp from Claybaby Pottery, with a wick I braided myself out of fustian and olive oil, and collected the soot in a lead-free pewter mortar.

lampblack2

lampblack

Willow charcoal: I have lots of charcoal sticks around the house, so I picked one from a natural source and got to smash it up in a mortar and pestle. This was great fun and a great mess. I wish I could grind it a bit better, but it did give me a decent line once I got the balance between kohl and oil down. Easy, readily available ingredients that are affordable, and charcoal eyeliners are already prevalent in the modern market. And one stick of charcoal filled my tin. I’ll have eyeliner forever! I want to try to apply this using  modern eyeliner brush and water.

charcoal willowcharcoal

Saffron ashes: I was hoping this would be better, I really did. I need to figure out a better way to carbonize the saffron, because at first I tried to burn it on an incense burner/oil warmer. That didn’t work well, though my house smelled lovely. So I resorted to just getting impatient and setting it on fire with my lighter in a metal jar lid. This burned it, and I was able to get ash from it, but it does not carry well as a liner at all. It was suggested by both Geoffrey and a friend on the Romans of the SCA page to treat it as if I was making charcloth. So basically, I need to put it in a metal container and bake it until it turns to ashes. Yes, I’m basically cremating saffron…I’m going to need to buy more I’m not afraid to waste for this project to do this. The bit I burned did not yield much.

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Here’s a picture of my filthy arm, top to bottom is lamp black, saffron, and charcoal:

eyeliners

 

I will be re-trying the saffron kohl sometime this week, as well as making my face whitener and blush. Once I conclude this project I’ll provide a list of sources I’ve compiled.

…And they got me.

Although I do have substantive posts actually planned, I suppose I reserve the right to brag that yesterday at Crown Tourney in the Montreal area, I was inducted into the Order of the Maunche, which is the highest honor given in the East Kingdom in arts and sciences. I received it for my research and teaching of Roman and Byzantine clothing.

I was so tired at court (seriously guzzled coffee as fast as possible before I stood watch as Queen’s Guard) that I apparently didn’t show much emotion, but I do remember going, “Ahhhh, I can kneel for a bit.” Priorities. -.-  So, for those that were like, “Wow, she seems out of it.” I kind of was, but I was very excited, and still am. Thank you all for the recognition, and I hope to do my best to represent the order. 🙂

thronsie
An official #betweenthethronesie by Ryan McWhyte. Har. Oh hey look, my Bamberger Gunthertuch stola.

My medallion, made by my laurel, Mistress Clotilde von der Insel…which was backed with the orange fabric leftover from my Bucs dress. That was carefully acquired (see also: asked for) by Geoffrey, and snuck down to Rhode Island. EVIL!

 

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My scroll and wording, done by Mistress Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova, who also did my AoA. The wording is based on The Alexiad.

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Well played, East Kingdom, well played…

Byzantine patterns! THEY ARE HERE!

They aren’t scanned fabulously, but heck, you get how they work. These WILL be posted on my Eastern Roman Garb page as well, but I wanted to get these on a blog page and tagged for searchability as I plan a better layout for the current page, but this is a huge step in the content direction.

HERE GOES.

Also, let’s try to start using the Greek terms, Kamision and Delmatikion, for Tunica and Dalmatica respectively to help disseminate Greek over Latin.

Anna’s Quick n’ Dirty Byzantine Kamision (tunica) and Delmatikion (dalmatica) Patterns!

These patterns are pretty self-explanatory for folks that are used to basic medieval clothing. Byzantine garb is basically all t-tunics, with only a few minor twists. The biggest issue is really the width of your fabric allowing for the nice curved underarm seam, that’s about it. These blocks are not the be-all-end-all ways to make these garments, but rather one interpretation to show you the pieces needed. Once you get a handle on the basic construction, all that’s left is embellishment and sleeve variations.

My pattern is based off of the 7th Century tunic in the permanent collection “Under the Stairs” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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Kamision (Tunica) instructions:

Recommended fabric: linen or very light wool
Recommended yardage: 4 yards of 60” wide

First, assess your fabric, and see if you can use this pattern layout, note the positions of the folds. This pattern is not to scale, and the average sized person may not have enough extra fabric on the sides to warrant the inclusion of the gores. This is okay, as they can be cut separately.

A breakdown of the measurements you will need as laid out in the patterns, they DO NOT include seam allowance:

A: Tunica length. Measure from the nape of your neck to where you want the tunic to end.
B: 1/4th Chest measurement + ease. Typically what I do is take a chest measurement, divide it by 2, add 2 inches, and divide again by 2. That is your number.
C: Upper arm length has everything to do with the width of your fabric and not your arm. If you can fit the length of your upper arm (shoulder to elbow) here, that’s awesome, but it’s not necessary, you will want at least to the half-way point between your joints, otherwise your underarm will not fit.
D: ½ Bicep measurement. Remember your fabric is on the fold at the top for your sleeves here, so you don’t want this to be very wide against your body. Tunicae were fitted as dalmaticae were not, so you will want to adjust ease here as necessary.
E: Lower arm length is the difference from where your upper arm length ends to your wrist.
F: ½ Wrist circumference is actually ½ the measurement you get around a closed fist. You want to get your hand into your sleeve, after all.
G: Gore length is the measurement from the top of your hip to the desired hem of the tunic. Now, if you have a fine derriere, so to speak, feel free to elongate that gore to your waist, but the original tunic’s gore comes off the hip.

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There’s a variety of formulas out there to make a neckline. I have a small neck at 13”, so my go-to cut is 4” from the center point on each side, with a 1” dip in the back and 3” dip in the front, but a 2” dip in the back and a 4” dip in the front should fit most people. A boatneck, or basically just a slit, is also a common style for this period. The tunica at the Met has a keyhole neckline with the opening on shoulder seam. I’ve done that before as well. I recommend finishing your neckline with bias tape or a narrow hem before moving on.

Before any piecing of the pattern takes place: GET YOUR EMBELLISHMENT DONE. There is no way to apply clavii to a tunica once those side seams are in place. Get any roundels or segmentae you want on as well. It’s just easier to handle at this point.

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Follow the diagram on the piecing. If you are going with the smaller gores if you were able to cut it from the folded fabric, follow the illustration at top, if you cut gores from a separate piece, follow the bottom. Apply trim over the seams where the upper sleeve joins the lower sleeve.  This is definitely something else you want to do before you sew up the side seams.

Now all that is left is to join the front to the back along the side seams, hem the sleeves and bottom, and finish trims, and you’re done!

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Delmatikion (Dalmatica) instructions:

Recommended fabric: Linen, silk, damasks/brocades, light to medium weight wool
Recommended  yardage: 5 yards of 60” wide

Think of the Dalmatica as an oversized tunica, but as the tunica can be worn by itself as one layer, the dalmatica is an overtunic only. This is a unisex garment, and sometimes for women you may see it referred to as a “gunna.” Either way, this is where you really get to jazz up your wardrobe. They can be floor length or short enough to show off your tunica embellishments.

Sleeves can be short, long, or extra-wide as was the style in the 11th and 12th centuries when my persona lived. The only real difference is that typically the dalmatica was cut from one piece of fabric, including the skirt width, whereas the tunica had gores. However, gores are still a perfectly period option in the event of a smaller bolt width. Follow the instructions as laid out above for the tunica, and you should be in good shape. As far as embellishments go, the best way to go about this is to follow some period examples.  Clavii didn’t seem as popular on dalmaticae as the centuries progressed, and richness was displayed not so much with embroidered bands of trim but rather in the heavy silk damasks and brocades that were in fashion. My drawings including clavii to better illustrate how to embellish.

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Note that I included a curve at the edge of the skirt portion in order to better facilitate trim application on the dalmatica’s hem. This is optional, especially if separate gores are chosen, but note that wide trims will require careful piecing and pleating to better conform to the hem.

Just like in the Tunica instructions, remember you NEED to add any embellishment such as clavii and other appliques BEFORE you close the side seams.

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Once your garments are completely sewn, then it’s time to go in and add all the really rich goodies to your pieces, such as hundreds of pearls and other gemstones. 🙂