Chain-making, Roman style

Chains appear as decorative elements in jewelry as well as practical applications (suspended oil lamps, scales, etc). Although the finished products look similar to Viking wire weaving, the method is different.


Chain for a small oil lamp. I took this at the traveling Pompeii exhibit when it was in Seattle.

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Viking wire weaving bracelet


Wire weaving uses a single long wire, threaded back and forth, to create a strand.

Loop-in-loop (the Roman method) uses individual oblong rings. They are bent and hooked into each other. Here’s a modern tutorial.d9d449e8177b56e2d193f0d0e3443801--jewelry-clasps-jewelry-findings.jpg Continue reading

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Drusa’s Manumission Ceremony

Slavery in Rome (while obviously still horrible and unethical – I do not condone it in the real world) was not necessarily for life. Slaves could be released as a reward for good service, as a way to show off wealth, or in a Master’s will.

When Drusa earned her AOA at An Tir /West War, I knew I could no longer keep a Lady as my slave! I did a little research and we held a ceremony at Sport of Kings. Utter geek that I am, I provided a documentation handout for our guests. It’s been added to my handout for a class on slavery and manumission, which I’ll be teaching at Collegium next month. Manumission 1.jpg

Fiach was our herald and read the legal document (I strongly recommend hiring him for all your announcing and singing needs).

Baron Finn Grim was the magistrate and touched her with the rod.

I gave her a pair of nalbinding udones (socks -not part of Roman custom, but it set Dobby free and was worth a giggle).  Continue reading

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I’m the subject of an interview in the August 2017 Dragon’s Tongue – the newsletter for the Barony of Dragon’s Mist. Enjoy!

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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.


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.


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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