ROMANA SUM

10710874_763484353724934_629618711708018130_n10714532_763268420413194_2166242524359540417_oTubeTunica

“ROMANA SUM” (the ancient Romans didn’t have lowercase letters) translates as “I am Roman,” where the single speaker is female. An alternative translation* – one I prefer aesthetically – is “I am a woman of Rome.”

I am doing my best, within the world of the SCA, to research and recreate the material culture and life of 50BCE. My persona is Tullia Saturnina, a widowed midwife. Tullia’s sweetheart is Caius (my guy Robert). I live in Dragon’s Mist but I also participate with the Barony of Three Mountains, Stromgard, and at the Kingdom level. I’ve been honored with the Jambe de Lion.

My goal is historical accuracy. If you ever catch me in a mistake (TANTUMMODO OVUM SUM) or think I’d be interested in hearing about something, PLEASE drop me a note! I’ll be posting my papers, etc to the Papers page so you can see what I’m up to. The Resources page has links to lots of info, shopping, etc. I’m not sure yet how else I will use this page. I like the idea of having time go forward at some point… Maybe post some letters from Tullia to her family members about her life, her reactions to public events as Julius Caesar’s story reaches its climax…? Who knows. Feel free to join in the conversation if there’s something you’d like to see.

*Unless you are nitpicky about Latin grammar, because it’s not in the genitive form. But “FEMINA ROMANAE SUM” doesn’t make for a snappy blog title, so bear with me.

Posted in Stickies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hercules Knot Jewelry

I few months ago I embarked on my “Making Roman Jewelry” project. The point was to use wire wrapping to help SCAdians discover the joys of making period adornments in their living rooms. In the course of researching and building that class, I was inspired to learn real metalsmithing. I’ve been assembling earrings and necklaces for decades, but suddenly I really wanted to solder, and set gems, and fabricate! Fortunately, my good friend Fjorlief Inhaga is a brilliant artisan, and she’s been teaching me and letting me use her studio.

9fab1367d079b61b6749fad951804050.jpg

The Hercules Knot represents strength and came to be associated with marriage. It’s a common motif in the 1st-3rd centuries CE. This one is dated to the 2nd-3rd century. Christie’s, lot 177, sale 1445.

For my first project, I wanted to duplicate this early Imperial necklace of emerald and gold. For cost purposes, I used brass and glass (a period substitute). The bracelet was my first soldering project, and had some issues. I’m very happy with the necklace, although of course there’s always room for improvement.

IMG_20170430_153610701.jpg

The first step was cutting and bending brass wire into tiny loops and soldering them, using a gas torch. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Heating and pickling (a chemical solution used after soldering) brings the copper to the surface, so the brass looks pink or reddish, depending on the light. The loops on the left are my very first solders, and you can see how sloppy they are.  Continue reading

Posted in Jewelry, Recreating history | Leave a comment

Guest Author: Greek clothing

NOTE: Click on blue text for more pictures and sources.

Author: Duchess Andromeda Lykaina

This is intended as an extremely broad overview of the clothing worn by the Ancient Greeks. For every generalization made, someone can usually find a counterexample to prove it wrong. It is also the case that garments labeled with the same name appear in widely different forms across different centuries. Last, how we define “Ancient Greek” in terms of where and when can change the landscape of clothing considered. So, keeping all of that in mind, let’s proceed.

There are four typical Ancient Greek garment types: chlamys, himation, peplos, and chiton. Continue reading

Posted in Clothing, Guest Author, Recreating history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Modern-style period plant-based dyeing

I have multiple friends who are good at period dyeing. I mean really, really good. Kingdom Arts & Sciences level of good. Seamus, Claire, and Marya spring to mind immediately, and those are just the local ones. Inexplicably, when I wanted to make my wool into something prettier than white…. I did not go to any of them. Instead, two blind girls led each other into the rainbow of experimental dyeing.

The story begins at June Faire. Scotch Broom was EVERYWHERE. I am blessedly free of plant allergies, so to me the flowers were just pretty. To my afflicted friends, they were evil… and an invasive species, so they were dubbed offensive to boot. Sadb decided we needed to dye something with them.

We picked them.

Lots of them.

18892989_1562704257136269_2049230551582881554_n.jpg

Drusa (foreground) and Sadb industriously stripped bushes with the help of some borrowed tiny, unripe SCAdians. I mostly watched the fighters, but picked some flowers, too.  We filled that bag.

Continue reading

Posted in Clothing, Recreating history, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Roman Stola: Part IV, Timing

colorcoded

Color by Dulcia MacPherson, captions by me.

I recently presented my stola paper at An Tir’s Kingdom Arts and Sciences Championship as a single entry. You can see a video of my presentation here (20 min talk, 20 min Q&A). Since I know not everyone wants to read a giant tome, I’m going to break up important bits of my paper into a series of blog posts. 

The stola had four major identifying features:

  • Worn as an overdress
  • Made of lightweight wool
  • Constructed as a simple tube, with straps, round pins, or fabric knots at the shoulders, that created a “V neck” with draping.
  • Worn double belted, to create an extra folded layer at the hips

The stola was popular for about 400 years (mid-Republic to early Empire), and was integral to the Roman matron’s sense of self. It gave its wearer special social and legal protections.

Note: Click here for PART I: Why Wool?,    PART II: Color & Embellishment, and PART III: Construction

 PART IV: WHEN did they wear this darn thing, anyway?

In the early Roman world, starting in the 5th century BCE, there was a garment called the vestis longa – (“long dress”) worn by matrons. By the 2nd century BCE, it was called the stola, and became emblematic of a respectable married woman. It was hugely sought-after for its legal and social protection in the middle and late Republic. It wasn’t necessarily worn at home, unless you were entertaining guests, but it was essential for going out in public if you were entitled to wear it.

As the Republic shifted into an Empire, the stola lost popularity. For a bigger discussion on “why,” see my paper, but the probable causes included: Continue reading

Posted in Clothing, Recreating history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Roman “Laurel Wreath” for a Pelican

For those not in the SCA: Being recognized as a Pelican is basically a lifetime achievement award for service. It’s based on the myth of pelicans piercing their breasts to feed their young with their own blood. The symbol is a white pelican with a teardrop of blood on the chest, sometimes with chicks in a nest.

18920545_1560728610667167_7169488794809703968_n.jpg

 

Being recognized as a Laurel is an equivalent honor, but it’s for lifetime achievement in the arts and sciences, so that particular symbol was forbidden (at least until he is elevated for his bardic talents).

As a fellow Roman, I couldn’t let my beloved friend Decimus Varius Felix go without a laurel wreath for his richly-deserved elevation… so I Pelicanized a circlet by using gold wings instead of leaves.

Continue reading

Posted in Jewelry, SCA specific, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Roman Stola: Part III, Construction

colorcoded

Color by Dulcia MacPherson, captions by me.

I recently presented my stola paper at An Tir’s Kingdom Arts and Sciences Championship as a single entry. You can see a video of my presentation here (20 min talk, 20 min Q&A). Since I know not everyone wants to read a giant tome, I’m going to break up important bits of my paper into a series of blog posts. 

The stola had four major identifying features:

  • Worn as an overdress
  • Made of lightweight wool
  • Constructed as a simple tube, with straps, round pins, or fabric knots at the shoulders, that created a “V neck” with draping.
  • Worn double belted, to create an extra folded layer at the hips

The stola was popular for about 400 years (mid-Republic to early Empire), and was integral to the Roman matron’s sense of self. It gave its wearer special social and legal protections.

Note: Click here for PART I: Why Wool?,    PART II: Color & Embellishment,  PART IV: Timing.

PART III: How do you make this darn thing, anyway?

I tried to find some Hollywood Roman stolae to make fun of, but nobody was wearing them at all! Even Spartacus, which takes place during the middle Republic and should be *lousy* with stolae… not a one. The costume designers made the same mistake many recreators do. They hit the eBay sari sales *hard* and then they put too much work into it. These garments are constructed, and trimmed… too many seams, too busy, not enough draping! Is…. that a CAPE coming off her left shoulder?! *boggle* 8554397b25c26342cc505b7882eb63f8

Put your scissors and sewing machine down. This is shockingly easy. Continue reading

Posted in Clothing, Recreating history | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Roman Stola: Part II, Color & Embellishments

colorcoded

Color by Dulcia MacPherson, captions by me.

I recently presented my stola paper at An Tir’s Kingdom Arts and Sciences Championship as a single entry. You can see a video of my presentation here (20 min talk, 20 min Q&A). Since I know not everyone wants to read a giant tome, I’m going to break up important bits of my paper into a series of blog posts. All the

The stola had four major identifying features:

  • Worn as an overdress
  • Made of lightweight wool
  • Constructed as a simple tube, with straps, round pins, or fabric knots at the shoulders, that created a “V neck” with draping.
  • Worn double belted, to create an extra folded layer at the hips

The stola was popular for about 400 years (mid-Republic to early Empire), and was integral to the Roman matron’s sense of self. It gave its wearer special social and legal protections.

Note: Click here for PART I: Why Wool?,  ,  PART III: Construction, and PART IV: Timing.

PART II: Color and Embellishments

The ancient Romans loved color! They painted their walls, their ceilings, their furniture, and their flags. Their floors were gorgeous (even garish) mosaics. They adored colored gemstones, and used rouge, eyeshadow, and lipstick. Dyes for clothing were used whenever they could be afforded. That said, the ancient world looked different from a modern mall.

Continue reading

Posted in Clothing, Recreating history | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments