There is More than One Texture


Thoughts on a 15th C dining table…

Originally posted on Lost Art Press:


Not everything should be as smooth as a nun’s stomach. While every surface of my work is finished with handplanes, that doesn’t mean it was a smoothing plane.

Cabinet backs and the undersides of everything are best finished with a jack plane, either across, diagonally or parallel to the grain. Not only does this speed you along and allow you to save your effort for the show surfaces, it is pleasant to touch.

The shallow scallops – even the woolly ones that plow across the grain – actually feel like something worth touching. Even a little bark down below is OK with me. On the interiors of cabinets and drawers that will get touched frequently, I finish with a jointer plane. This leaves wider and shallower scallops that almost anyone can feel if they look for them.

On the show surfaces, the even-shallower scallops left by my smoothing plane are almost…

View original 128 more words

Moda femminile nella seconda metà del XIV secolo


Female fashion during the second half of the 14th century…

Originally posted on Vestioevo:

I cambiamenti più evidenti nella moda femminile arrivarono in Italia con la metà del XIV secolo, il mezzo più efficace per la diffusione dell’abbigliamento era dato dalla curiosità che destava il modo di vestire degli stranieri che venivano in Italia, questa curiosità apparteneva per la maggior parte alle donne.
La tessitura, in Italia, raggiunse una grande perfezione, famosa la Firenze della fine del 1300 per essere all’avanguardia in Europa nella fabbricazione di tessuti fini, quest’arte venne considerata fra quelle maggiori. I mercanti fiorentini, attraverso la loro potente corporazione costituitasi per favorire il commercio internazionale dei panni di lana, arrivarono perfino ad acquistare stoffe all’estero, particolarmente in Francia o in Oriente per sottoporle a speciali rifiniture: Arte di Calimala la quale era una della maggiori Arti per quanto riguarda la lavorazione dei tessuti.

Gli scrittori del tempo sottolineavano la signorilità degli ornamenti delle donne italiane e l’eleganza dei loro abiti, si…

View original 1,994 more words



I love her pattens! I plan to retrofit the ones I got at Pennsic with some of these features.

Originally posted on Katafalk - Cathrin Åhlén:

I like the extra things and sometimes I rather make a “unnecessary thing” than something that I would actually need. Well of course pattens are not really unnecessary, they are really useful thing to have in bad weather, but to make them for a summer event when you live in a apartment might see a bit unnecessary, at least to make them before you start a new dress that you needed.

But sometimes I can not help myself, I see a thing and then I need it. When I need something I make it!

pattens - 1
I made these for last years medieval week, my mothers boyfriend helped me to make the basic shape with the band saw and then I had a day of carving and filing to do. These I made using hand tools, it is funny since my mothers boyfriend did not really believe that I would pull it…

View original 288 more words

Medieval Medicine Receipts

Just as we do today, people in the medieval period worried about their health and what they might do to ward off sickness, or alleviate symptoms if they did fall ill. Here, historian Toni Mount reveals some of the most unusual remedies commonly used.

Medicines in the medieval period were sometimes homemade, if they weren’t too complicated. Simple medicines consisted of a single ingredient – usually a herb – but if they required numerous ingredients or preparation in advance, they could be purchased from an apothecary, rather like a modern pharmacist.

Although some medical remedies were quite sensible, others were extraordinarily weird. They all now come with a health warning, so it’s probably best not to try these at home!

Apothecary shop Johannis de Cuba Ortus Sanitatis, Strasbourg 1483

1) St Paul’s Potion for epilepsy, catalepsy and stomach problems

Supposedly invented by St Paul, this potion was to be drunk. The extensive list of ingredients included liquorice, sage, willow, roses, fennel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cormorant blood, mandrake, dragon’s blood and three kinds of pepper.

Although this sounds like a real witch’s brew, most of the ingredients do have some medicinal value: liquorice is good for the chest – it was and continues to be used to treat coughs and bronchitis; sage is thought to improve blood flow to the brain and help one’s memory, and willow contains salicylic acid, a component of aspirin. Fennel, cinnamon and ginger are all carminatives (which relieve gas in the intestines), and would relieve a colicky stomach.

Cormorant blood – or that of any other warm-blooded creature – would add iron for anaemia; mandrake, although poisonous, is a good sleeping draught if used in small doses, and, finally, dragon’s blood. This isn’t blood at all, and certainly not from a mythical beast! It is the bright red resin of the tree Dracaena draco – a species native to Morocco, Cape Verde and the Canary Islands. Modern research has shown that it has antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-viral and wound-healing properties, and it is still used in some parts of the world to treat dysentery – but I’m not sure it could have done anything for epileptics or cataleptics.

2) A good medicine for sciatica [pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the back of your pelvis, all the way down both legs]

A number of medieval remedies suggested variations of the following: “Take a spoonful of the gall of a red ox and two spoonfuls of water-pepper and four of the patient’s urine, and as much cumin as half a French nut and as much suet as a small nut and break and bruise your cumin.

Then boil these together till they be like gruel then let him lay his haunch bone [hip] against the fire as hot as he may bear it and anoint him with the same ointment for a quarter of an hour or half a quarter, and then clap on a hot cloth folded five or six times and at night lay a hot sheet folded many times to the spot and let him lie still two or three days and he shall not feel pain but be well.”

Perhaps it was the bed rest and heat treatments that did the trick, because I can’t see the ingredients of the ointment doing much good otherwise!

3) For burns and scalds

“Take a live snail and rub its slime against the burn and it will heal”

A nice, simple DIY remedy – and yes, it would help reduce blistering and ease the pain! Recent research has shown that snail slime contains antioxidants, antiseptic, anaesthetic, anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral properties, as well as collagen and elastin, vital for skin repair.

Modern science now utilises snail slime, under the heading ‘Snail Gel’, as skin preparations and for treating minor injuries, such as cuts, burns and scalds. It seems that medieval medicine got this one right.

4) For a stye on the eye

“Take equal amounts of onion/leek [there is still debate about whether ‘cropleek’, as stated in the original recipe, in Bald’s Leechbook, is equivalent to an onion or leek today] and garlic, and pound them well together. Take equal amounts of wine and bull’s gall and mix them with the onion and garlic. Put the mixture in a brass bowl and let it stand for nine nights, then strain it through a cloth. Then, about night-time, apply it to the eye with a feather.”

Would this Anglo-Saxon recipe have done any good? The onion, garlic and bull’s gall all have antibiotic properties that would have helped a stye – an infection at the root of an eyelash.

The wine contains acetic acid which, over the nine days, would react with the copper in the brass bowl to form copper salts, which are bactericidal. Recently, students at Nottingham University made up and tested this remedy: at first, the mixture made the lab smell like a cook shop, with garlic, onions and wine, but over the nine days the mixture developed into a stinking, gloopy goo. Despite its unpromising odour and appearance, the students tested it for any antibiotic properties and discovered that it is excellent. The recipe is now being further investigated as a treatment against the antibiotic-resistant MRSA bug, and it looks hopeful.

The ancient apothecary was right about this remedy, but it was one that needed to be prepared in advance for sale over the counter.

5) For gout

“Take an owl and pluck it clean and open it, clean and salt it. Put it in a new pot and cover it with a stone and put it in an oven and let it stand till it be burnt. And then stamp [pound] it with boar’s grease and anoint the gout therewith.”

Poor owl! I can’t think that this would have helped the patient very much either…

Anatomical chart of the human body, from 15th-century Tractatabus de Pestilentia (Treatise on Plague)

6) For migraines

“Take half a dish of barley, one handful each of betony, vervain and other herbs that are good for the head; and when they be well boiled together, take them up and wrap them in a cloth and lay them to the sick head and it shall be whole. I proved.”

Betony [a grassland herb] was used by the medieval and Tudor apothecary as an ingredient in remedies to be taken internally for all kinds of ailments, as well as in poultices for external use, as in this case. Modern medicine still makes use of the alkaloid drugs found in betony for treating severe headaches and migraine.

Vervain’s glycoside [a class of molecules in which, a sugar molecule is bonded to a ‘non-sugar’ molecule] derivatives too are used in modern treatments for migraine, depression and anxiety, so once again the apothecary knew what he was doing with this recipe!

7) For him that has quinsy [a severe throat infection]

“Take a fat cat and flay it well, clean and draw out the guts. Take the grease of a hedgehog and the fat of a bear and resins and fenugreek and sage and gum of honeysuckle and virgin wax. All this crumble small and stuff the cat within as you would a goose. Roast it all and gather the grease and anoint him [the patient] with it.”

With treatments like this, is it any wonder that a friend wrote to Pope Clement VI when he was sick, c1350, to say: “I know that your bedside is besieged by doctors and naturally this fills me with fear… they learn their art at our cost and even our death brings them experience.”

8) To treat a cough

“Take the juice of horehound to be mixed with diapenidion and eaten”

Horehound [a herb plant and member of the mint family] is good for treating coughs, and diapenidion is a confection made of barley water, sugar and whites of eggs, drawn out into threads – so perhaps a cross between candy floss and sugar strands. It would have tasted nice, and sugar is good for the chest – still available in an over-the-counter cough mixture as linctus simplex.

9) For the stomach

“To void wind that is the cause of colic, take cumin and anise, of each equally much, and lay it in white wine to steep, and cover it over with wine and let it stand still so three days and three nights. And then let it be taken out and laid upon an ash board for to dry nine days and be turned about. And at the nine days’ end, take and put it in an earthen pot and dry over the fire and then make powder thereof. And then eat it in pottage or drink it and it shall void the wind that is the cause of colic”

Both anise and cumin are carminatives, so this medicine would do exactly what it said on the tin – or earthen pot. The herbs dill and fennel could be used instead to the same effect – 20th-century gripe water for colicky babies contained dill.

This remedy would have taken almost two weeks to make, so patients would have bought it from the apothecary, as needed.

About the Author: Toni Mount is an author, historian and history teacher. She began her career working in the laboratories of the then-Wellcome pharmaceutical company [now GlaxoSmithKline], and gained her MA studying a 15th-century medical text at the Wellcome Library. She is also a member of the Research Committee of the Richard III Society.

Mixed Medici & Africans In Italian Renaissance Art

Alessandro de’ Medici wielded great power as the first duke of Florence. He was the patron of some of the leading artists of the era and is one of the two Medici princes whose remains are buried in the famous tomb by Michaelangelo. The ethnic make up of this Medici Prince makes him the first black head of state in the modern western world. View the PBS article on him at

Alessandro was born in 1510 to a black serving woman in the Medici household who, after her subsequent marriage to a muleteer, is simply referred to in existing documents as Simonetta da Collavechio. Historians today are convinced that Alessandro was fathered by the seventeen year old Cardinal Giulio de Medici who later became Pope Clement VII. Cardinal Giulio was the nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The greater majority of the noble houses of Italy can today trace their ancestry back to Alessandro de Medici. And, as shown in the two lines of descent to the Hapsburgs drawn up below, so can a number of other princely families of Europe. Here is a painting of Alessandro:


Alessandro Medici, Duke of Florence

Here are portraits of Alessandro’s daughter and grandaughter:

Giulia dei Medici

Giulia dei Medici

Maria Salviati de Medici

Maria Salviati de Medici

More on the mixed (Italian-African) Medici at

_ _


JULY 2014 – From

“It is a habit that I can’t break – spotting the black face when visiting museums and art galleries. I am looking for the African face in the paintings and sculptures. It is an old childhood pattern of trying to find people who look like me.Growing up in England, I learned about classical Europeans paintings – from their images on the biscuit tins, chocolate boxes and jigsaw puzzles.Yet, I never saw a dark face among the art. It was easy to assume that Africans only entered European art history during slavery. This misconception is still common today. Africans have appeared in European art for as long as the continents could be reached by walking.Here is a selection of portraits of African women from the last 500 years. Which is your favourite?”

Frederico Bartolini, Portrait of an Arab Woman

Frederico Bartolini, Portrait of an Arab Woman

 Simon Willem Maris, Portrait of a Young Black Woman, Netherlands , 1890s

Simon Willem Maris, Portrait of a Young Black Woman, Netherlands , 1890s

 School of Paolo Veronese, Portrait of a Moorish Woman, Italy , c. 1550s

School of Paolo Veronese, Portrait of a Moorish Woman, Italy , c. 1550s

 Joanna Boyce Wells, Head of a Mulatto Woman (Fanny Eaton)

Joanna Boyce Wells, Head of a Mulatto Woman (Fanny Eaton)

Jean Etienne, 1790

Jean Etienne, 1790


More on Africans in Renaissance Europe at

Liebster Award Nomination!

I have been nominated by the Liebster Award by Fionn of Broider Me ‘Bethan (Grazie!) You can find her blog at


She wrote: “I really enjoy your blog, so I have nominated you for a Liebster Award, (which you are free to accept or refuse.) The Liebster Award is basically an award that is by bloggers, for bloggers. It’s passed from person to person to encourage connection and support within our writing community, and to aid in the discovery of new and upcoming bloggers. Thanks for the great blog!”

I accept this award and am paying the compliment forward by linking back to Fionn’s blog and nominating 5 blogs to receive the award. I nominate Anna Attiliani, Jeanne Clifton, THL Peryn, Belphoebe, and Esperanza Navarra. There is also a variation where you ask the nominees to answer a set of questions. My questions for the bloggers are:

If you could choose be born in any particular historical time (year) and place what would be they be?

What is your biggest inspiration for continuing your living history journey?

What (and where) is your favorite living history event?

Here are links to some (mostly) Italian focus living history blogs that I really enjoy following. I hope that you enjoy them as well!

And here are some blogs that Fionn loves:

Is That An Apres
It’s About Time
American Duchess
Dawn’s Dress Diary
The Parti-Coloured Fleur
Madame Guillotine
A Damsel in this Dress

Leonardo da Vinci’s Resume

(From blog post by Robbie Gonzalez)

Today, Leonardo da Vinci is renowned for being one of the Renaissance’s most illustrious polymaths – but back in the late 15th Century, the artist, inventor and all-around genius still had to job hunt like the rest of us. And yes, his resume was… intimidating.

leonardo da vince resume meme

“Before he was famous… Leonardo da Vinci was an artificer, an armorer, a maker of things that go ‘boom’,” writes Marc Cenedella, on his blog devoted to job searching and recruiting advice. “And, like you, he had to put together a resume to get his next gig. So in 1482, at the age of 30, he wrote out a letter and a list of his capabilities and sent it off to [Ludovico Sforza, regent, and later Duke,] of Milan.” (The letter, it seems, made a lasting impression; Ludovico would become a longtime patron of da Vinci’s, and is remembered especially for commissioning The Last Supper.)

Included with daVinci’s letter was a silver lyre of his own creation, sculpted in the shape of a horse’s head. He references the lyre in item eleven of his missive, the translation of which appears below (a digitized copy of the original letter, at the end of the post:

Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.

1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.

Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.

leonardo da vince resume 391r

More on Leonardo’s inventions at