Monday, April 30, 2012

Having trouble writing up my classes...

I've promised (and eventually sent in the info about) two classes on hair that I'll be teaching at Egils, but right now I'm having trouble figuring out what exactly to talk about in these classes.  The first, boringly titled, "French Braiding For Beginners," is a hands on tutorial on how to do augmentation braids, (French, Dutch and Cornrows).  It'll have a brief bit of explanation and demonstration before letting the students at each other's hair.  I haven't figured out if there will be any kind of handout, as I don't really want to spend money.

The second class is the one that's really holding me up.  The Boy and I talked about it on the way back home from the event we attended on Saturday.  I knew I wanted the class to be about authentic hairstyles, since French braiding hasn't been documented for most periods.  Unfortunately, authentic hairstyles is a very broad subject, and one I'm not as well versed as I would like to be, since my specialty is Roman.  The Boy suggested that I do a tutorial on hair sewing, but I was having a hard time envisioning the subject as a full class.  I get rather short sighted on things that I do well, and often don't realize that it may not be obvious to everyone how to accomplish some of the things I do.  So, talking through the class with Himself, we decided the class should have a brief discussion of the historical plausibility of sewing hairstyles together, followed by a basic tutorial in a hairstyle or two.  The Boy suggested my Norse braid loops, since they're simple, many ladies up her wear Norse, and, provided the student has long enough hair, can be accomplished on their own hair.

Odd how often my "attentive"
photos seem "surly"
The other option I'm thinking about for a tutorial in hair sewing is hair taping.  I've gotten pretty good at doing hair taping on myself, and fully believe this style was done by middle class women because it can be done to one's own hair with a minimum of effort.  I also believe it to be the structural basis for some hat styles, especially late period styles.  My introduction to hair taping was through Faoiltighearna's webpage on taping, but I've developed a few theories of my own since then.  The image below from her page of examples shows a woman wearing a cap similar to the style worn throughout several countries and centuries.

Those are my thoughts so far on the classes I'll be teaching at Egils.  Now to try to figure out what to say in my discussion without gushing enormously over the ancient hairstyle goddess Janet Stephens.  Check out her YouTube Channel, it's awesome!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trying something new...

So I'm going to try doing something new here on the blog, a period hairstyle of the month, every other week or so, maybe if I'm really dedicated it'll be a weekly occurrence.  I'd like to showcase a style, with citations of sources, and briefly explain how I believe the style was accomplished.  And of course, there will be photos!

I'd like to start with the style my hair is in currently, one I'm calling Norse Braid Loops. I first came across this style from the Viking Answer Lady's website on hairstyles when looking for proof of braided pigtails existence about a year ago. I know many women will wear their hair in braided pigtails with their Nordic clothing, and wanted to prove this was accurate.  Gunnvör mentioned, "women with their hair worn in two braids, falling to either side of the head beside the cheeks" depicted on carved stones from Cumbria.

So I decided I had to look them up.  I found W.G. Collingwood's article on Google Books, and copied the photographs.  I had only a passing interest in Collingwood's article about the stones, and skimmed it to see what he had to say about the hairstyles.  He says, "They have long plaits of hair curled at the ends (not aureoles nor hoods) which suggests that they are meant for female figures."  I took his paper with a decent dose of salt as it was printed in 1907.  It is clear from the images that the figures have their hair in either one or two sections, some show evidence to texture carved in, probably to indicate braiding, and many have a curl at the end of the tail.

Do follow the link to Collingwood's paper, the images there have more detail than is available in these copies.

Looking at the images, I interpret the style as the hair of the ladies with pigtails being parted down the center.  I took the hatching on the stone to mean the sections are braided.  My hair is extremely straight; I have a hard time getting it to hold a curl, and the women's hair I know that is curly doesn't curl in the same perfect loop.  Also the carving that indicates braiding is etched into part of the loop.  This lead me to believe that the loop isn't simply the end of the braid left natural, and had to be coerced into this shape.

For my recreations of this style, I begin by parting my hair down the center and braiding each section to create pigtails.  I use modern clear hair elastics to bind the ends when I get to the bottom. Then I use a large blunt needle, labeled in stores as a tapestry needle, and thick black cotton thread to sew the tail of my hair to itself in a loop. 

This is a photo from last year, a slightly surly (maybe attentive?) expression from the back of court at Egils, but it shows my Norse get up and the loops at the end of the braids.  I've learned that the loops at the bottom need to be joined for at least an inch above the elastic. This helps preserve the round shape.

Hope this give people an option for wearing their hair with their "Viking" clothing.  It's a cute style that I like, though friends have threatened to stick the loops onto things.  The uniqueness of the style helps to complete the look of my garb, and allows me to feel just a little more finished.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Toga wool has arrived!

I'm so excited.  The wool for The Boy's toga arrived yesterday.  I ordered it from a website I'd never seen before, and shipping took a little over a week, which feels slow thanks to the ridiculously speedy delivery from I'm used to, but the result is so worth it.  Fabric Mart Fabrics has a somewhat limited selection of fabrics (keeping in mind that I only want natural fibers), but the prices are ridiculously nice, and they take the time to describe not only the weight of the fabric, but how it drapes.  There are suggested ideas of what to use the fabric for, but I don't know that they really pay attention to what they're saying, as they suggest making scarves out of gabardine.

I ordered this ivory wool crepe.  It's gorgeous, lightweight and drapey, and extra wide which I didn't realize before.  I'm looking forward to cutting it into it to make the curved edge, but I'm not sure if I should wash it or not.  I'm worried about it shrinking and getting much thicker than it is now.  The only piece of crepe I've worked with in the past got thick and felted after repeated washing, and I definitely don't want that for this wool.

I suppose I could cut the extra off first, and try washing the extra pieces to see how it washes up before deciding to wash it in the future.  I need to test it, since I want to dye some of the fabric to make the stripe on  the edge.

At least I have the giddy thrill awaiting me tomorrow of having a washer and dryer being delivered!  For the first time since I moved to Oregon, I'll be able to do laundry in my own home!

On today's to-do list, aside from dishes, I need to figure out the classes I'll be teaching at Egils this year.  I have had people ask if I'd teach how to french braid, and, although it isn't period, braided hair is better than a modern style. I'm also trying to figure out what I'm going to say for my more accurate hair styling class.  I think it will be titled "Sewn Hairstyles, Yet Another Thing to Do with a Needle and Thread."  Also on the Egil's front, some friends of ours, and their friends, will be joining us, making our own little camping group this year.  We need to get land reservations in tomorrow, and get to figure out what equipment we have for cooking.  It'll be exciting.

Ah well, lots to do today.  At least last night I made a little progress on the Overly Ambitious Embroidery Project of DOOM! I finished the dark gold color last night.  I need to go buy more skeins of thread, I'm running out of nearly every color.

Keeping Busy,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Working on Fancy New Garb for the pair of us...

The Boy and I are getting "matching" garb.  Since there's a chance we might be the next B&B, I've decided it's time to start working on our "potential investiture" garb for June.  We decided to go Roman should the occasion arise, and even if it didn't, we'll have a nice set of Roman gear to wear.

So I'm sort of in the planning stages.  I purchased some wool for a toga, and then decided to make up a list of garments I wanted to make, and a rough, totally overestimated budget for them.  I've also be perusing period imagery and information sites, looking for the appropriate color combinations and styles that go with the thought of us being invested as territorial governors in Imperial Rome.

For Bastian I was planning to make:

Tunic- Linen with maroon clavi or bands, sleeves?
Toga-Wool with maroon band
Belt-Fabric, gold fringe?
Calcei-Leather, dyed dark red

We're also considering:
Subarmalis?-red linen, gold fringe
Breastplate?-plastic or leather with sculpted embellishments and painted
I'm contemplating how exactly I want to do the Tunic.  I can't decide what the appropriate clavi (stripes on the tunic) would be for himself.  The two narrow stripes on either shoulder indicate equestrian status, and I haven't found a source that says an equestrian class could become a provincial governor.  There are two other clavi patterns repeatedly mentioned online, the senators wore a large stripe down the center of their tunica laticlava, and victorious emperors and generals got to wear the tunica palmate, a purple tunic with gold palm leaves embroidered on it.  Clearly The Boy isn't a victorious general or emperor, so the palmate is out.  I'm not a big fan of the way the senator's tunic looks with the single large stripe center front.  But if it turns out you can't be a provincial governor without being a senator first, then that's the way we have to go.

I read once that the imperial purple was actually a reddish purple, like a maroon, though I can't remember where I saw it.  Since The Boy got his PhD at a school whose colors include maroon, I thought it would be a nice touch.  Himself will be more comfortable in a linen tunic, especially in June, and linen is a sign of wealth.  I'm also not sure about sleeves.  I think I want to do a short sleeve, give him a little more coverage on the shoulder.

I've already purchased the wool crepe I intend to use for the toga.  I found a good deal on, $9.99/yard for an ivory crepe.  I ordered 7 yards, and when I checked out, they gave me a surprise $2 off per yard, and with the shipping it came to less than $65!  I plan to cut it to a half circle shape of the earlier Imperial togas, mostly to save money on buying fabric, and because it will be slightly easier to wear.  See image 5 as the simplest style.  I'm thinking of visiting Eugene Textile Center and dying the fabric for the clavi and the stripe on the toga to the maroon color.

The belt is pretty simple, a narrow width of fabric, red since Himself is a squire, with fringe.  I like the look of gold fringe.
The calcei are Roman boots, made from leather with cut work that laces up on top of the foot with some ankle support.  Romans wore boots when outside, and sandals indoors.  The wealthiest Romans with slaves would have a slave to carry their sandals when they visited others.  So The Boy and I both need boots as this will be an outdoor event.  I'm also thinking about making these myself, because shoe making seems exciting, but this particular style requires a last, and I don't know if anyone in the area has a set.  Roman culture has some guidelines for shoe color, and red shoes are reserved for the Patrician class.
The garments we're considering for him, but aren't sure are the Subarmalis and Breastplate.  They'd be an easy way to save money by excluding them.  I want them because of the image of Augustus in his embossed breastplate and toga looks so mmmmmm!  The combination of militaristic and oratory makes sense for me since Himself is both a fighter and a talker.  If we do manage to get them done, I would make a light weight Subarmalis without all the padding since Himself wouldn't be fighting in it and wouldn't need it.  I'm planning it from Crimson Linen from with the pteruges (strips around the waist and shoulders) done in linen with bullion fringe at the bottoms.  Theoretically, I'd buy a plastic breastplate that is fairly plain, and use Sculpty or something else to create the embellishments, and paint it in a bronze color. 

And now for the parts that I'm wibbling on.

As for my new Garb I was planning to make/aquire:
Tunica interior-white linen, long sleeve
Over Dress-Egyptian style tunic? Gathered neckband? “tapered”?
Palla-silk? Linen? Patterned?
Boots-leather, cutwork
Jewelry-moon necklace, two or three drop pearl earrings, coral necklace, bracelets, rings
I'm not sure exactly what I'll be making for myself yet, since I can't seem to pick a style.  I know I want a new linen under tunic, the tunica interior which will be plain white and long sleeved.  I might embellish the neckline with a little trim, but not much.  I found a website with a bunch of Fayum mummy portraits, and I love the look of this lady.  The blue and gold are a lovely combination.  The ladies of Roman Egypt all wear colorful tunics, many in red tones, including one in bright pink!  Most have clavi in a dark color, some with a thin gold edging to black bands.  There is a large variety in their jewelry, but the metal all appears to be gold, and there is a frequency of pearls.  Most of the necklaces are chokers, but there are a few with longer.

Alternatively, I could stick to the Roman styles I've been doing and do a sleeveless stola.  There are a couple styles I haven't experimented with yet, specifically the banded stolla as done by Iohanna fillia Iacobi.
The banded style or one with the top gathered into shoulder straps are much more appropriate for a woman living in Roman Italy like my persona does.  I'm not sure what colors I'm going to use yet, I haven't found a fabric I'm in love with yet, and there's not much in my stash that's calling to me.  I have a metallic silk stola that I started ages ago that could be finished for this purpose, but because it is so see through I'd want a layer between stola and tunica interior.  No idea on that yet.

Equally, I have no idea what I want to do for the palla.  The fabric I'm currently using for a palla is a gorgeous gold silk sari with metallic threads woven throughout.  But I'm getting a little tired of it.  I'm not sure what I want instead, a linen or wool or silk, patterned or plain, maybe with fringe along the edges?  The sash I'm using now is a brown and white silk, and it's fine, but again, I'm bored with it.  I would love for this to be the opportunity to get something nicer, but I haven't really looked into it.
I also want to make myself a cute pair of Roman shoes to wear for this.  The same Roman reenactor site that has the cute boots above has a pretty pair of women's shoes.  I want to dye mine red also, because I wouldn't be the wife of a high ranking governor if I weren't high class myself.

I'm looking forward to making some of the jewelry for this outfit.  I've found a little bit of information about the crescent moon pendant worn by many of the Fayum mummies, but I need to find out more.  The little I know is that they are good luck charms against evil, and are likely devotions to Diana.  They're very pretty, and I like adding little things to an outfit that make it more accurate.  I also want to find the findings necessary to make the three drop pearl earrings that are very common in portraiture.

So those are my current thoughts on the fancy new clothes.  I didn't realize I had so much more planning to do on my side.  I suppose I just have to wait a little while for some fabric to speak to me.

Also, I have no idea what to do with my hair!