“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

--Desiderius Erasmus

Friday, October 22, 2010

New C&I and odds and ends.

After a review of the A and B blanks at Coronation by Master Gevehard, I touched up the whitework:

Detail A

Entire A

Detail B

Entire B

And the new one, which is in a Romanesque style:

We all live in a capital "I"...

There are also a couple of paternosters done, with the world's ugliest tassels, and I will photograph those and get them up as soon as I can. And a white linen twill cote, and a red sleeveless overgown/cyclas/surcote, made of the most evil worsted wool twill ever. No good photos of me in it, though.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New C&I work!!

I finished the A and B blanks a week or so ago, I just never got around to photographing them. These are the first two blanks in an alphabet of blanks, each of which should challenge me in some way. [Just doing 26 goldvine initials? Not a challenge.]

A is here.

B is here.

A is done with yellow underpainting for the gold. I can't say it makes a huge difference, actually, you really have to look closely at the right angle to tell the difference at all. Thus, I'm not likely to bother doing it again. The challenge here was a combination of diapering and whitework, and accomplishing same with a pretty pronounced shake in my hands (damn fibro!) and not having it be too visible in the finished product that my hands shake like aspen leaves in the wind.

The next one on the list is an I that I'd penciled but never finished, adjusted to be more Romanesque-y. Because it was there and didn't require a lot of planning out. ;-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

A not-entirely-random costumey thing.

In the Italian cotton book (which I forgot to grab this morning so I don't have the exact reference to hand, but if I wait this will continue to not get posted) there is a 13th century German reference to someone complaining about the women wearing brightly-coloured short jackets.

The artistic styles in the time period I recreate are somewhat stylized and frequently quite iconographic such that there are many items of clothing mentioned in accounts and other literature that are not pictured in the manuscripts. And then there's this:

The scan is not the greatest, and it isn't as high-res as I'd like, but if you look carefully, down in the lower right there is a devil wearing a green dagged vest*. It could be padded. Now, this manuscript was made in Castile (it's one of the many Spanish commentaries on the Apocalypse) so there may be no relation at all to the abovementioned German jackets, but it was an interesting discovery nonetheless.

Devils commonly appear dressed in feminine articles of clothing that churchmen preached against, so it's quite probable that there were complaints about that particular fashion.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

King Cotton.

I have very mixed feelings on the subject of cotton. We are told from the beginning by people who are assumed to be more knowledgeable on the subject that "cotton isn't period". Then later, we find out that cotton is ok for Elizabethan and Persian. And most people will look the other way at camping events if you're wearing cotton broadcloth in the July heat. We say "When you see "cotton" in medieval and Renaissance European sources, really they mean linen."


We are wrong.

The word "cotton" is a direct cognate to the Arabic qutun, from which we get the French coton, the Spanish algodon, the Italian cotone, and probably the Dutch katoen. It was never used to mean "linen", which meant "fabric made from flax, hemp, or nettle fibers".

We cannot say that cotton isn't period, because that statement is wildly incorrect. In the archeological record there is a 5th century Merovingian find of cotton thread used to quilt a garment, and Queen Arnegunde's tunic (7th century Frankish) was a blend of silk, cotton, and some other vegetable fiber. Some of Bishop Timotheus's (14th century Nubia) garments and his shroud were cotton. We cannot discount the limited appearance of cotton as evidence of its limited use, as the archeological record for linen is almost as scant and we know it was heavily used throughout SCA period.

Cotton was introduced into Sicily by the Arabs in the early 9th century, and cotton cultivation and production continued to spread through the Mediterranean thereafter. After 1300 there were established cotton production centers north of the Alps (i.e., Germany). In China cotton was in common usage beginning with the Yuan Dynasty (1271).

By what is generally considered "middle SCA period"--starting in about the 12th century--cotton was extremely popular for everyday clothing through most of the Islamic world, and economically it was a big thing in India, the Arabic peninsula, and in Italy. It was easy to grow and cheap to produce labor-wise. Unlike linen, cotton was easy to dye and it retained dyes better. It continued to be a reasonably big thing throughout the rest of SCA period, and there was a huge export market in addition to that manufactured for local consumption. Much of what was exported was heavy and/or coarse cotton fabrics like bed and table linens, sailcloth, and canvas, but there was also plenty of trade in the finer kinds of cotton used for clothing. Cotton blends were also extremely popular--cotton/wool, cotton/silk, cotton/hemp, cotton/flax.

Things made of cotton: Canvas. Cotes (12th, 13th, early 14th c., especially France and Italy). Undergarments. The jupon. Short jackets (late 13th c. Germany).Quilted jackets and vests. Quilted bedcoverings. Candle wicking for wax candles. Accessories such as gloves, purses, caps, coifs, veils, hat linings, hoods, ribbons and handkerchiefs. Stuffing for pillows and mattresses. Mattress ticking, bed linens (sheets, pillowcases, etc.), curtains, upholstery, table linens, and towels. Sailcloth. Sewing and embroidery thread.

So we shouldn't be saying "No, you can't make that Gothic Fitted Dress out of cotton because cotton isn't period." We should be saying something like "No, you shouldn't make that GFD out of cotton because you're portraying a rich noblewoman and she would have worn expensive quality wools and linens, not cotton. Cotton in late 14th century France was not a common fabric for the well-to-do." We do ourselves a disservice when we use unqualified absolutes.

If you want to know more, I recommend

Mazzaoui, Maureen Fennell. The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages, 1100-1600. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008. ISBN: 0521089603.

It is a reprint of the original 1981 volume rather than a second edition.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More C&I photos and some handouts

I also uploaded another small batch of old C&I work, the Social Distinctions class handout, and the article I wrote for the North Star on spiced wine.

On veils.

As a proper 13th century lady, Margaret wears a veil. [As a widow she ought to be wearing a wimple, but I have heat issues.] When I wear my period (800 years ago today), I wear the long rectangular veil. When I wear Edwin's period (1225), I wear a barbette and fillet and an oval or circular veil over that. I do not wear a hairnet as they don't show up in the illuminations until much much later in the century. The few existing hairnets that we have are made of silk thread and are netted. I also do not wear one of those little white hats, as they don't appear in the English illuminations until after 1230. There is another style of headwear that you see occasionally in the manuscripts for the next couple of centuries, which is a linen cap like a snood. Sometimes it is portrayed with a couple of what look like strings wrapped around it. There is an extant cap, the Swedish cap of St. Birgitta, that fits with this depiction, but this style does not appear in the manuscripts until post-1250 as well.

The long rectangular veil:

My rectangular veil is approximately 80" x 22", with doubled hems. It has a center seam since it was made from two 40"x 22" pieces of lightweight white linen. I wear it by folding the front edge under by about four inches and then draping it over my head with the center seam at approximately my right ear. The right side then comes across the front and over the left shoulder. I have found that twisting the right half of the veil clockwise (i.e., outwards from my chin) keeps the edge from collapsing onto my face. I also have a lightweight off-white cashmere shawl which is slightly shorter that works as a veil in cooler weather. It has fringe, something I can document on this style of the veil until at least 1210.

In the earlier manuscripts (pre-1225) you frequently see women wearing what looks like a poncho with a hole cut into it. The artistic style is so lacking in detail that it's sometimes hard to tell which they're portraying--it could be an overgarment that also wraps around the head, it could be a very large veil with a hole for the face, it could be a veil and a wimple, or it could be the rectangular veil wrapped around the neck. That said, if you take that long rectangular veil and center it on the head, then wrap both ends around to the back, you get something that looks kind of like the manuscripts including where you see the chin and part of the neck directly under the chin. If the veil starts at the chin then it's probably a veil and wimple that is portrayed.

The short veil (and wimple):

There are three parts to the short veil--the barbette, the fillet, and the veil itself. The barbette and fillet are bands of undyed linen about an inch or so wide which are wrapped around the head and pinned in place. The barbette (French for "little beard) goes around vertically, under the chin and over the ears, while the fillet goes around horizontally, above the ears. I usually pin them together where they cross to prevent slippage. Over all of this goes the veil, placed so the hem in front is right above my eyes, and pinned on the sides to the bands underneath. The barbette and fillet are folded on the grain, while the circular veil seems to hang best when it is oriented so that the edge in front is a bias edge. The oval veil hangs nicely if it's cut on the grain. It is about 24" by 28", while the circular veil is about 28" in diameter. All the edges are rolled hems.

When I have occasion to wear a wimple, I take a circular veil, fold it on the bias, wrap it around my head in place of the barbette, and pin it in the back and where it crosses the fillet. Then I tuck it into the neckline of my gown. One could also use a rectangular piece of fabric for the wimple instead of a round one.

The other popular style in the 13th century is the short rectangular veil, hanging straight and puddling a bit on the shoulders. It is usually depicted worn without anything to secure it, but this is probably due to the artistic style as an unsecured veil would eventually fall off. Initial tests with an oval veil suggest that a fillet is prone to sliding backwards due to the weight of the veil, since it's not also anchored to the barbette, but a fillet under the veil would show on the forehead and the depictions of this type of veil show the edge of the veil at the top of the head rather than just above the browline. It's possible that like the 12th century examples there is something, possibly a cap, that the veil is pinned to that we cannot see.

There is an existing rectangular, almost square veil with a 13th century Italian provenance at the Abegg Foundation outside Bern in Switzerland. Legend has it that the veil "was handed to St. Francis just before he died by the Roman lady Jacoba di Settesoli". This particular veil is also embroidered. I wrote to Dr. Evelin Wetter, the curator of the 13th century collection at the Foundation, and it was her opinion (and was also that of Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, the former head of the textile department), that there is no reason to doubt the provenance of the veil. She says neither the veil itself (linen) or the embroidery (silk) has been radio-carbon dated, but that the style of the letters in the embroidery is consistent with 13th-15th century letters.

Manuscript images from the British Library:

Arundel 156, f. 103v, Germany, before 1236
Mary is wearing a long veil plus what looks like a small cap underneath.

Arundel 157, f. 5r England, before 1225
Mary and the woman in the "Massacre of the Innocents" miniature are both wearing what looks like long veils wrapped around their heads.

Arundel 439, f. 192, Italy, 13th century
This manuscript is a glossed Digestum Novum by Justinian, so I have no idea what is going on in this particular scene. There is a guy in vair lecturing, and there is a lady with a veil of the poncho-esque variety. The men in the picture have hats of the chaperon-worn-sideways style so this is most likely post-1250.

Edgerton 1066, f. 10v, England, 1270-1290
This is the Edgerton Psalter. Folio 10v is a portrayal of several saints--Catherine, Mary Magdalen, and Barbara on the top half. It's hard to see with the crowns in the way, but Mary's veil has a double line up at the top which might be the cloth folded back or it might be something hiding underneath the veil, like a cap. The edges on her shoulders look straight.

Edgerton 2432, f. 133v, Germany, post-1250
This is a partial psalter. Mary's veil looks very much like the edge is folded or rolled under, but I think the entire veil is rectangular here.

Harley 928, f. 7v, England, post-1275
The Harley Hours. Mary's veil looks very much like it is folded under across the top of her head and that it is much shorter on the sides than it is in the back. This could be a round or oval veil with a front fold, or the short side of a longer rectangular veil.

Harley 2449, f.167v, Netherlands, c.1276-1296
A book of prayers for saint's vigils. In this depiction of the three holy women at the tomb, note the woman in front who is clearly wearing a veil that goes across under her chin from left to right and then over her shoulder. A bit of her hair shows at the top and sides of her forehead.

Hirsch III.934, f. 40v, Austria or Germany, 1175-1200
Missal. In this miniature of the crucifixion, Mary's veil is also very clearly wrapped from left to right around her neck.

Royal 1 D X, f. 3, England, before 1220
Psalter. Mary, on top, has one of the short poncho-like veils. Below, the woman with the fashionable sleeves has what is clearly a long rectangular veil wrapped right to left and hanging behind her shoulder on the left side. http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=30150

Yates Thompson 2, f. 21v, Germany, before 1200
Collectar. Reading from left to right, the first woman has a red overgarment and a blue veil which is hanging behind her. The second woman has a blue overgarment and a red veil which is also hanging behind her. The third woman has a blue veil which looks like it is wrapped around somehow from the right and the left side is hanging behind her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fur, Glorious Fur!

Fur handout is posted.

Elspeth Veale in The English Fur Trade in the Later Middle Ages talks about King John (England) wearing ermine, squirrel, and sable linings. His brother Richard apparently ordered that if anyone was captured wearing fur lined garments, those garments were to be confiscated and sent to the king.

There is fur in the Huntingfield Psalter (Pierpont Morgan Library. Manuscript. M.43 Oxford, England, 1210-1220)--the angel kicking Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden has a vair-lined cloak. Abraham entertaining the angels has a vair-lined cloak. Rebecca looks like she's wearing a vair-lined cloak.

The Lothian Bible (Pierpont Morgan, M. 791, Oxford, England, c. 1220) is a typically 13th c. style but no fur linings.

Harley 2799 (Germany, Arnstein, c. 1172) has fur. Solomon (f. 57 v) has a strip of fur over his arm which could be a cuff. His left arm is covered by his cloak so there's nothing to compare the mystery fur with.

Harley 5102 (England, before 1225) has fur as a cloak lining.

Yates Thompson 2 (Germany, Ottobeuren, between 1175 and 1200) has a fur something in the miniature of the Nativity (f. 57v). It could be the edge of the coverlet. The Magi in the Adoration (f. 62v) have fur-lined cloaks. Then there's f. 91v, which has a king with a vair lined cloak. The depiction of Felicitas and her seven sons (f. 103) has a plethora of vair lined cloaks.

So I have evidence for Margaret's potential use of fur, especially squirrel and especially linings, but not a whole lot, because it looks like the common artistic style(s) precluded the depiction of fur before 1225.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Pictures are up!

I have put the photos of the 12th Night A&S up where people can see them without having to log into the Northshield gallery, and also the C&I work that I have scans or photos of (there are a handful of photocopies that have yet to be digitized and uploaded) and a photo of my seax that I made at Quest 2006, for Wulfgyðe (my Angle-in-the-Danelaw alter-ego who is woefully underdeveloped) There's a photo of me filing it somewhere that I should put up. I apologize in advance for the purple hair.

Also I have finally found the notebook from 12th Night 2003 so I will be putting up those redactions as well.

Embroidery part 2

My collar embroidery is almost done!! All I have left is the pearling. Yay!! It got cut out and sewn to the gown on the way to Crown in Dreibrucken (Wilton ND) and in the hotel room. It was done before midnight. I need to sit down with the dress and the white marking pen and put the dots for the pearls in and then I can start sewing pearls. It will look remarkably like Edwin's tunic. Hopefully, to the average viewer it will look identical to Edwin's and nobody will notice the oddness at the back where I had to do some easing to account for the fact that the pattern was taken off the keyhole neckline template which is nice and flat. My shoulders slope (so much so that I should have done Victorian re-enactment--they're perfect for it) thus the top of my gown is slightly conical rather than flat like a normal person's would be, and a flat circle has a little too much fabric in it to fit over a cone nicely.

Therefore, I need to take the keyhole template and turn it into something that will fit on my gown, then I will have two separate patterns, one for normal people and Edwin, and one for me. Mine will be in two pieces so there is the possibility that it will fit in a small space when drawn out on the ground fabric, and the thought of carrying around a smaller embroidery frame is a pleasant one.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Embroidery, part 1

These are Edwin's collar and cuffs for the Crown outfits, fully pearled. The brooch is a commission piece from Gaukler Medieval Wares in BC.

The embroidery is done in split stitch with two strands of white silk embroidery floss on dark blue linen and ~4mm button pearls sewn with silk thread. The pattern is from a 12th century German altar frontal--the cuffs have it as-is, the collar is adapted for the shape.

Cheese biscuits, take 1...

The original, from the Dutch cookery manuscript "Wel ende edelike spijse", dated to approximately 1484.

1.21. Dough to make "pipes".
Take cheese from Gouda and eggs. Grind together with white flour. Lay it on dry flour and make small biscuits of it.

The other recipes are quite detailed about what one is supposed to do, then there's this one. What do they exactly mean by "make small biscuits," anyway? So this first attempt they will be drop biscuits.

2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1 cup finely grated Gouda cheese

Combine eggs and cheese, add flour gradually to make a sticky dough. Line a pan with parchment, sprinkle with an even coating of flour. Drop dough by spoonsful, flatten to 1/4" thick. Bake 15 mins at 350F.

Edwin thought they were too rubbery, but Edwin is notoriously picky. Edwin also thinks they should have salt in them. They are also bright yellow due to the notably intense yellow-orange yolks (from free-range chicken eggs) and the pale yellow cheese.

Next attempt: subject cheese and egg to the blender to better approximate grinding and then mix in the flour. I'm also thinking about trying them as more like a cracker than a biscuit. One could also reduce the amount of cheese, but one change at a time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I have a thing!!

"a glutton for books"

That's what the title means. If you've seen my library you know from whence I speak. Anyway, this is meant to be an actual project diary and repository, since my project LJ has turned into a really fancy to-do list.