Thursday 27 May 2010

The 18th century me

As I threatened in my previous post, here is the result after playing with my stuff from Ageless Artifice, helped along the way with some Titan Oxide and a few other small details...


Ageless Artifice doesn’t do white make-up, but the common thing in the 18th century was to apply a pomade and then rub in the white pigment into it, that is what I did. I applied it with my fingers as that was the easiest way to get the colour even. It’s pretty hard work to get it even. It leaves your face quite glossy as the pomade is so fat, but that’s just as it should be. Beauty ideals change and instead of glossy hair and matte face that is the norm now, back then it was the other way around. Titan Oxide is very similar in colour to the white lead used in the 18th century, but is harmless. It didn’t come along until the 19th century, but I ignored that anachronism for the sake of health.

In the 18th century you often used the same red for both cheeks and lips, but I used the liquid rouge on my cheeks here and the red lip salve on my mouth here. I applied it all with my fingers, but I think that a doe wand would be excellent for the rouge. I have that for my lip stain from Body Shop. (A doe wand is an applicator you often get in lip gloss. It's a little spongy, so it soak the liquid up very well, but release it on pressure.)I built up the rouge quite a bit, so it would show. Here you can see what it looks like when you use the red lip salve on booth face and mouth.

And here the rouge in the same way.

I also used talcum powder on her face instead of Titan Oxide, which just gave her face a lighter tone (it doesn’t show much on the photograph.)

To finish of my face a darkened my eye-brows with burnt clove, which is rather effective and applied a mouche. I punched it out of black paper and applied it with some gum arabicum. I also powdered my hair. I’ve used talcum powder before, but rarely, as it makes my scalp itch something dreadful within minutes after applying it. Talcum powder is very white, but the perfumed powder was more oath-coloured. The difference when applied was very slight, but the powder gave a softer colour. Also, it didn’t make my scalp go mad, which is a big plus!

I much confess that I’m quite pleased with the quick and dirty Rococo hairdo I did. Before the powder I worked some of the pomatum into my hair to give it something to stick too. Then I applied the powder with a big powder brush. That works well, but you need a light touch, or you work the powder too much into your hair.

It isn’t a very good comparison, as the light is so different, but this is my hair powdered with talcum powder.

And this is the colour my hair has without powder.

It’s also a good example on how my 18th century make-up usually looks like when I use modern cosmetics. Pale, but not white base, white powder and pink stain on my cheeks. I sometimes use that on my lips too, but sometimes I use lipstick, that depends on my mood.

I‘m pleased with the result, but it’s the white make-up is very impractical. It smears very easily and what it comes into contact with, it sticks to. Fat and white pigment isn’t easy to wash off. I took a shower and then I had to wash my face once again to get it clean. It also quickly settles into every line and wrinkle and shows them up excellently! So I will continue to use modern base and powders at my face as the risk of me ruing my silk gowns with white make-up is little too big for my taste. However, the rouge and lip salve have been, and will be, used. And I rather think I will powder my hair a little more often now.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

A review on Ageless Artifice

Last year I was tipped about Ageless Artifice, and bought two products to use in my lecture on 18th century beauty. I was very pleased with them and they made me want to try other of the products. Now when I finally have, I thought it could be of interest to other re-enactors to have a review over period products.

I felt so inspired when I got my parcel that I had to do a full make-up using “the right stuff” as far as possible. As this post got pretty long, I will make another post about that.

The company and the products

Ageless Artifice is a company that make reproduction beauty products. They recreate recipes from Ancient Egypt to the 19th century, though with two important omissions. No toxic products and nothing that is endangered. If possible, they use organic. They pack their products in containers that looks very period and reflect the time frame, alabaster jars for Egypt, wood for medieval and the 17th century. The 18th and 19th century is packed in round metal boxes. Liquids you get in small glass bottles. You also get a little card with the name of the product and the company printed on one side and the original recipe and its intended use on the other.

They ship worldwide, but make sure you go to shipping and read up on shipping costs, as you need to add that amount of money as Paypal doesn’t. Being a bit absent-minded I forgot to do that the last time, which bring me to their customer service, which is excellent. Within hours after placing my order I got a mail about the shipping and when I had paid it, again within hours, I got a mail that my order had been sent. It took six days (counting the time zone difference) from placing the order to receiving it and then it had shipped from USA to Sweden! First time I purchased I had a couple of questions and they were answered promptly and friendly then too. I paid through Paypal but it is possible to download an order form and pay with a check.

I ordered just about all the products of the 18th century, except those I already had. Here is what it looked like fresh out of the package.

You can see part of the hand-written note that said that as I seemed to have all but one 18th century products, the uncoloured lip salve, it had been included too. Very nice!


This is simply almond oil and beeswax and you can get it unscented or scented with jasmine or cinnamon and cloves. I thought unscented would be a bit boring and dislike jasmine, so I ordered cinnamon and cloves. It’s very nicely scented, not too strongly. It is, obviously, a very fat cream and rather solid in the box. However, if you scoop it up, it quickly becomes runny from the heat of your hands. A little goes a long way here! It’s advertised for dry hands and this is what I will use it for, but in the 18th century you put this on your face, so I had to do that just to try. It felt very nice on my skin and my face felt very soft even after I washed it away, but this close to my nose, the scent got a little overwhelming. If you want to use it on your face, take the unscented cream. I have a friend who makes a similar cream for her face and swears to it and she has very nice skin.

Rouge and lip salve

The rouge and the red lip salve was what I purchased last year, so they have been used. The rouge is a liquid, actually brandy and what gives it its red colour is red sandalwood, brazil wood and alum. It’s a bit tricky too apply and you don’t need much, so practice a little. Better to start faint and build up the intensity in layers, but let it dry in between. If you have ever used a modern stain, then it’s very similar. The red colour is very warm in its tone. As you can see from the pic, you get it in a little glass bottle. The bottles ships with a screw-on cap, but you get a cork stopper too, which makes it looks more period. As my rouge gets to travel a bit I use the modern cap, but if you just going to have it standing on a shelf, the cork looks much prettier.

The lip salve gets it colour from alkanet root and is colder in its red tone. It doesn’t stay put in the same way as the rouge as it has the same base ingredients as the pomatum, almond oil and beeswax. However, it does give a very lovely rosy colour and I like it very much. Your lips will stay very soft and if you just want something that gives a little shine, then there is an uncoloured version too.

It’s hard to photograph samples, but this gives you an idea. The rouge is the more orangery red, while the lip salve is more pinkish. You can also see the difference in intensity where I have applied the rouge several times to just once.

Perfumed powder

Arrowroot scented with orris root, rose, lemon and cloves. Perhaps that sounds overpowering, but it’s really a very subtle and lovely scent. If you don’t like to wear perfume, this would be a good alternative, I think. Adverts be used on your body, but I used it the 18th century way, in my hair, with good result. I’ll talk about that a little more in my next post.

Lavender water and Hungary water

I was very sceptical to order this as I’ve never, ever come across a lavender scent I’ve liked. However, I’m a bit mad about perfumes , so how could I resist an 18th century perfume? I’m very glad I ordered it, because it smells wonderful! Not quite as subtle as the perfumed powder, but still not a “loud” perfume. I love it and I think I have finally found my period solution for the next 18th century party, as I’ve so far haven’t liked other reproduction scents on me much.

Hungary water is scented with rosemary. I liked the scent, very refreshing, but on me it faded very quickly and I couldn’t detect it at all after an hour. However, that could just be me, Scents react to your body chemistry and some scents may be very strong on you when it isn’t on others, and the other way around.

Both waters are definitely unisex. It was popular in the 18th century to use the same perfume as your loved one, so now you have the opportunity! I think they would work very well as an after shave for the gentlemen, as they are alcohol based and not too strong in their scent.

A powder to clean your teeth


Yes, you did clean your teeth in the 18th century, but toothpaste wasn’t along yet. Tooth powder was what you used then. You simply dip a wet toothbrush in the powder and brush away. Or rather, don’t dip, but sprinkle a little on the toothbrush instead- much more hygienic. This toothpowder contains dragon’s blood (a resin) and cinnamon. The cinnamon may sounds very weird, but it actually have antiseptic properties, so it isn’t as far-fetched as it may appear. It felt a bit strange to brush your teeth with it, though. It doesn’t foam as toothpaste do and you may need to sprinkle a little more powder on your toothbrush after a while, but my teeth felt very clean after, albeit in a rather cinnamon bun-y way. The cinnamon leaves your mouth a bit gritty, though, so you may need to rinse your mouth a bit more careful than usual.

Myrrh tooth powder

Similar to the other tooth powder, only this has myrrh in it instead. That taste bitter, so there’s some peppermint oil in it too. This makes sit taste much more like ordinary toothpaste and this powder dissolves completely, I rinsed with water more out of habit than by necessity. It left a very clean feeling in my mouth as well.

Which tooth powder to choose is a matter of taste buds, but if I were somewhere with limited amount of clean water, the I would go for the myrrh powder.

Bone-handled toothbrush

Natural bristles in a bone handle. I’m not sure what natural means here. Traditionally it meant swine bristles, so perhaps that is it. It’s not a very comfortable brush as its large and the bristles very stiff. However, it does the job and now you can brush your teeth in public at the next 18th century event and not be ashamed. Well, if you want to brush your teeth in public that is...

General opinions

Am I pleased with my purchases? Yes, definitely. I think it’s great that you can buy reproduction beauty products. Even if you can make this stuff yourself, with more or less ease, I find it easier to be able to buy it. They did sell pomatums and powders in the 18th century too, so you don’t have to make it all in your kitchen to be period. I haven’t quoted any prices and I know what is considered affordable vary, but for me they are definitely affordable. Everything I have tried form Ageless Artifice have been well-made and of good quality too. Being all natural they may not keep as well as modern products that are filled with stuff to make them keep forever, but just use clean hands and applicators (you should with all beauty products anyway) and I don’t think you will have any problems. My lip salve was purchased nine months ago and it is perfectly fine.

Will I purchase again? Yes, definitely. I have my eyes on the 17th century Damask powder and perfumed water and there are some 19th century products I would like to try too. And I’m very curious new products.

I hope you have enjoyed my review. Perhaps I should add that I’m not in any way endorsed by Ageless Artifice, this is my opinion of them based on what I have purchased.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Ageless Artifice

Today I got my beauty products from Ageless Artifice and now I have played with most of it. Shamelessly calling it practical research for my lecture on 18th century beauty, I ordered just about everything 18th century they have. I just had to try out an 18th century make-up with it today and have had great fun. I plan to write a more extensive review, as I think other people who like the 18th century ought to be interested. I also had my gentleman to take a few pictures of me in all my white and red glory.

Monday 24 May 2010

A shifty question

Namely, what kind of chemise to go under a 17th century gown? The sleeves are easy- voluminous seems to be the keyboard. And though I have seen cuffs, the style I like is when there seems to but no cuff and all the excess fabric is folded, back or in loose pleats. Like here, where the shift sleeves seems to have been tucked up with the sleeve and then a decorative pin is used to keep it all in place:

The sleeves look like they have been either pinned up or basted to the gown’s sleeves.
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(Black sleeve from a Swedish painting)
So the sleeves are no problem, but how to make the body of the shift? The neckline treatment can look very different. Looking through Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashions 4, I find that most of the shifts are versions of this (Or rather, thjis is a modern version of that...). I don’t think I’m too far-fetched is I assumes that these are made up that way:
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It’s nothing wrong with this kind of chemise. It’s easy to make and the chemise itself looks very nice. I have one. I just don’t want it with a 17th century gown. Then these are many painting where you just see the edge of the shift along the neckline.
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They could be the gathered kind of chemise, I suppose, but they look, at least in my eyes, to be much smoother. When we see more of it, the wrinkling gets more horizontal than vertical.

And lucky us! The very last pattern in Patterns of Fashion 4 is a shift that fits the bill. It is thought to have belonged to Catherine of Braganza and though it has very wide sleeves, though the neckline is shaped like a smooth oval with a slit in the front.

My books are still unpacked so I can’t give you a direct quote, but I’ve read in more than one book, that the shift was sometimes pulled out and folded over to make a simple collar. I think that would be pretty easy to do if you are wearing a Catherina of Braganza-type of shift.
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Some even look like the slit is in place too!

To finish, let’s look at two examples of collars that imitates a folded out shift, if it isn’t the shift that imitates the collar.

This is a French gown, it could be a shift, but it’s so much more gossamer than the visible shift.

I really like the look of a shift that is folded to look like a collar, so that is the look I will go for. The Catherine of Braganza-shift is also unusual because it hasn’t triangular gores to give it width, but squares that are cartridge-pleated at the top. It would be fun to make a new pattern!

Note: In a try to be more consistent, I have tried to only use English picture sources and in case not, I will tell. However, the time frame is 1640s-1660s. I know that this will mean both puritans and Restoration, but I feel that the fashion didn’t change too dramatically under that period. Many of the paintings don’t have a more exact date than the decade. Also, if anyone wants to see the whole picture of one of my cropped ones, just tell me and I will post it.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Dreaming of the 17th century

Slowly unpacking ad slowly sewing. I’m still very tired which is truly frustrating as my mind wants to do so much more than my body can manage. I have unearthened my medieval smock though, so I’m felling seams while I think about what to do next. Finish my stays, definitely. However, sp far the fabric needed for the shoulder straps have eluded me, so that is on hold until that surfaces.

I still very much want to make a robe battante and will probably order some striped taffeta soon for that project. Meanwhile I feel very inspired to make and 17th century gown. I will definitely use the silk that didn’t get to be the battante, but I’m not quite sure what kind of style. There is this gown, which seems to have been popular in the 1650’s:

I like the simplicity, the lovely fabric can speak for itself, but I also like the style with decorative borders. I get a distinct feeling after looking at so much 17th century, that this style becomes popular closer to the 1660’s. This painting is from 1657:

I’m not at all sure on what kind of decoration I want. A simple ribbon? A metallic braid, or similar? Then there’s the sleeves question, or rather what kind of cuffs.

Anyway, I have decided to make it easy for myself and use an old pair of stays, or rather mock up. It’s extremely un-period as it’s made out of black denim and with metal grommets, but all the boning channels are already sewn. The stays are too big fo9or me, so I will totally disregard the original seams and cut it in a more 17th century shape as I need to make it smaller anyway. Something like this:

(Please ignore the sloppy drawing)
I will need to add a shoulder piece and rebone it too, obviously. If it works, then I’ll have a working pattern for more 17th century sewing. 

Tuesday 18 May 2010

An 18th century weekend


Last weekend at Leuftsabruk was really wonderful. It was actually just not a weekend, for those who wanted, they could come Wednesday evening, but with everything that has happened lately, we felt that just the weekend would be enough. We came up in the late morning and found that the weather was summery warm, so it was very pleasant to take strolls in the garden. I had a very relaxing and pleasant two days. On Saturday we strolled around, occsionally meeting friends at various places in the garden for a little chat. In the early afternoon there was a guided tour of the castle and after that a very long and lazy lunch. I actually sat and talked with friends for so long that the only thing I did before dinner was to change my clothes.

Dinner was excellent, but by the end of it, both my gentleman and I felt the toll of the past weeks, and retired too early to be able to go and have midnight snacks in the orangery. Instead we slept for ten blissful hours and woke up feeling very refreshed. So we had a loong breakfast, milled around a bit and chatted and in the early afternoon we went home. It was really just what we needed- rest at a lovely place with good friends. I do hope that the next time we will have energy for more than two days and perhaps a spot of party too.

I couldn’t find my camera- it’s somewhere in all those boxes, so I just took a few with my mobile phone. Annali has a few, but lovely, photos here. I really missed my stays, though! I just felt sloppy without. So I’m not overly sad that I haven’t seen any pics of myself, so far. I was very pleased with my new cap, I can’t say that I really found it flattering, but it felt right, and is pretty in its own right. It was very pleasing to see that nearly every female there had their head covered properly. I feel that caps are something that is often omitted, probably because they are considered so un-pretty and un-flattering. But they do bring so much to the overall picture. We actually discussed how much better people have become to wear caps only in the last few years.

A few of us also discussed the neglected 17th century and it seems that we are several who would thing it would be fun to do something like that. And not just girls. My gentleman surprised me with saying he has always longed to have a musketeer’s uniform and another friend talked about breeches with “all those ribbons”. A big problem is the lack of places that goes in the 17th century style, but I’m sure that can be solved.

Speaking of the 17th century, I saw a portrait that interested me quite a bit.

The lady in question was called Christina Rynning and the painting seems to have been painted in 1653 to celebrate her husband elevation to something grand. I like her look, she seems to smirk, which we all thought must be to the REALLY BIG JEWELS she has in her hair. One thing that interested me was that her bodice if laced shut in the front. It’s a bit hard to see, even in the enhanced picture, but standing close to the portrait one could clearly see even the lacing holes.

Friday 14 May 2010


No robe battante for me tomorrow. I could pull it off, but I'm tired and quite sore today and I prefer to rest. I may not be as smart as I would wish tomorrow, but I prefer to be rested and have fun instead. I have my blue casaque for day time and I think I'll bring my velvet wrapping gown for the evening. Not as nice as with stays, but workable. And I have a new pretty cap made by madameberg!

It feels a bit meh to have an almost-finished gown that I probably won't finish now, because I'm all set to have a striped taffeta battante and not a solig satin one, but I will have to see it as an useful experience. I know I have a pattern that works, and the small things that could have been better, will be better next time.

Now I just have to locate my pocket hoops and my wide-sleeved chemise. Of course, I know prefectly well where my narrow-sleeved chemise are. Oh how annoying it is to moce house and not know where stuff are.

Hmm, a new thought. Perhaps I could use my chemise a la reine without stays...

Friday 7 May 2010

I want to sew so badly!

I want to sew on the battante and I want to finish my stays.

The new apartment is filled with boxes and I've no idea where the stays are, thoughj I think I know where the cut pieces for the battante are. However, I had surgery the day before yesterday and is way too dizzy and tired to do antything else than dream.

I hope I feel better tomorrow!
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