ROMANA SUM

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“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.

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Modern Jewelry: Solar System Necklace

IMG_20170904_151108071.jpgPardon me while I hijack my own blog here… I don’t have another place to write about this and I really want to share it! Learning how to do metal-smithing to make Roman jewelry made me realize I could make my own solar system necklace. This was a design I came up with about a decade ago (Before ThinkGeek came out with a similar one – I’ve always been a science dork). I always thought I’d have to commission a jeweler to do it for me… but with my teacher Fjorlief’s help, I made this!

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The Romans invade OMSI

TulliasJewels at OMSI.jpgOMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) holds a monthly thing called After Dark from 7-11pm, where it’s adults only and there’s booze and vendors. July was all about the traveling Pompeii exhibit (here til Oct 22 – Don’t miss it!), so I sent some emails and wrangled a spot for a demo / display booth. Skamp did his  93 CE “soldier in Britannia” thing, while Drusa and I of course stuck with the late Republic in the city of Rome. We brought material culture objects for the public to play with (the wax tablet was surprisingly engaging) and I sold a few pieces of jewelry. People even read parts of my papers! We dispelled some common misconceptions, and talked about a wide variety of topics.  Continue reading

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Updates to Clothing Papers

Both the Intro to Roman Clothing and the TLDR: Bath papers have been updated. In fact, the bath one is now renamed “Super basic Roman garb AKA OMG IT’S HOT OUTSIDE” and I’ll be teaching it this Friday at Revels. Intro has been tweaked here and there… mostly in the tunica section, but small changes throughout that will hopefully be an improvement. As always, if you have questions or suggestions please let me know!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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The Roman Stola: Part IV, Timing

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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

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