Monday, June 09, 2014

Article on 17th century makeup at Your Wardrobe Unlock'd

My second article on mid-17th century beauty is now up. Makeup trends, skin care and ingridients and I also do two makeup tutorials with period makeup. I thought it was interesting to see how different makeup can look depending on ingridient and was of application.

If you subscribe to Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, then you can read the article here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I have written an article about 17th century hair for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd

Lady Margaret Tufton by David des Granges, 1638-1650
Some time ago, in February, I approached Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and asked if they might be interested in two articles about 17th century hair and makeup. To my delighted surprise they were and the first article went live today. I feel quite exited, I can tell you! The subject is the woman’s hairstyle that was popular for the whole mid-part of the 17th century where the hair was put in a chignon in the back and the side hair was hanging down around the ears. In my article I go through the key variations of it and also how to set and style a wig. The next article that will be up next month, is about makeup during the same period.

You can read, if you subscribe to Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A 17th century recipe for green hair

Anne Hyde, Duchess of York by Sir Peter Lely, 1662
This is a very short recipe

To make your hair seem green
The distilled water of Capers will make your hair green./Eighteen books of the secrets of art and nature by Johann Jacob Wecker, 1661

The questions this recipe brings are much longer. Does a distillation of Capers really turn hair green? I have no idea. The Caper bush, Capparis spinosa, is a bush that can be found, for example, in Mediterranean countries. It provides edible flowers, leaves and berries. It needs a long growing period and a lot of sun, so it may have been solely an imported item in the 17th century, which would make this tint quite expensive. It is certainly green and a distilled liquid would very likely provide that colour, perhaps even strong enough to provide a green tint to hair. If so it would probably not last long and I guess the hair would have to be fair if it was to show.

Intriguing. And, I am so curious about this, who, in the 17th century, would want to dye their hair green? Actors? Temporarily for a masked ball? The fashionable jet set?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spanish Wooll, a 17th century rouge recipe

The recipe

XIV. Spanish wooll, wherewith women paint their faces red.
Boil shearings of Scarlet in water of quick-lime half an hour, of which take two pound, to which put Brazil two ounces (rasped) Roch Alom, Verdegrise, of each one ounce, Gum-Arabick two drachms, boil all for half an hour, which keep for use.
XV. To do the same another way.
Take Spirit of wine one pound, Cochenele half an  ounce, rasped Brazil one ounce, Gum-Amoniack three drachms, mix and digest till the Gum is dissolved, then boil it gently and strain it for use, into which you may put old linen rags, or Spanish wooll at pleasure. / Polygraphice, William Salmon, 1672

Two recipes that differs quite a bit. The first recipe is more complicated and potentially more harmful. Shearings of Scarlet is simply scraps of red fabric, dyed with Cochineal, a bright red pigment, which is a thrifty way of taking care of the leftover after a sewing project or worn out garments. Quicklime, Calcium oxide, which is probably needed to make the fabric scraps give off its pigment, is a caustic substance which is definitely not advisable to inhale or apply to the skin. Rock alum is an astringent, and Gum Arabic a water soluble sap from acacia trees, which would bind the pigment. Brazil wood gives a brownish red pigment, but verdigris is a green pigment which is made be made from copper. It is poisonous and should not be applied to the skin. I find it a bit curious to add green pigment to rouge.  All in all, this recipe is a bit complicated, were do you obtain Cochineal dyed fabric to tear up, and is also harmful for you.

The second recipe, on the other hand, is perfectly doable. The alcohol is drying to the skin, but if one isn’t too sensitive, that isn’t harmful. It also makes use of cochineal as a pigment. Instead of Gum Arabic this recipe calls for Gum Ammoniac, a gum-resin, though I can’t really say why it is to be used instead of Gum Arabic.

These recipes are from the 17th century, but Spanish wool was available in the 18th century as well. Charles Lillie notes in The British perfumer, written around 1740 that it comes in various qualities and is cut into pads, the Spanish sort into the size and thickness of a crown piece (about 4 cm across), the Chines makes them a bit larger. There is also Spanish papers were the pigment is spread on paper instead, which makes them convenient to carry around in a picket book. He also says that the best Spanish wool should glisten in gold and green, which my version most definitely does not. Perhaps it would if there had been Verdigris in is.

Making the recipe
It was really very easy and fun to make. I used Vodka to which I added cochineal, Brazil wood and pulverized Gum Ammoniac. I stirred it a bit to dissolve the resin and then let it simmer a while before I strained it through a coffee filter. Then I saturated a piece of clean lamb’s wool into the solution and left it to dry. In retrospect I think I may have used a little more wool, but that is not really a problem. When dry I cut it into round pads. To use it one will damp a pad slightly and rub it into the skin.

As you can see it turned a very bright red. I suppose that the Brazil wood tampered the cochineal somewhat, but not so I noticed. It also became quite bright red on the skin and I think I will have to be very careful to just dampen the pad slightly, at least as long as there are a lot of pigment left.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An article on stage makeup in the 17th and 18th century

Some time ago I was asked by Talia of The Gibson Girl's Guide to Glamor if I wanted to write an article about stage makeup in the 17th and 18th century for a website she runs about Commedia dell'Arte. Which I, of course, wanted and you can now read the article here.

I wish I could have found out more, but if there is a work especially on stage makeup for these centuries, then it has eluded me. 16th century and 19th century yes, but not for 17th and 18th century. I think it is a very interesting subkect, though.

David Garrick as John Brute in 'The Provok'd Wife' by Vanbrugh, Drury Lane by Johann Zoffany, 1763

Saturday, January 04, 2014

At the vanity, 1750-1800

You may have noticed that the mythological ladies primping themselves are gion ein the 18th century. There are, of course, plently of allergorcal nakedness elsewhere, but the vanity is now for the ordinary lady, with or without an entourage of maids and friends.

This charming lady has a small pot of rouge on her table and either a swandowns puff for application, or perhaps just some crumpled fabric.
Portrait of Madame Courcelles by Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Alexander Roslin, 1755-1760
The Toilet, 1760

A lady at her toilet in an interior by Abraham Hendrick van Beesten, 1762
Van Loo

Powder box with a powderpuff with a handle as well as a cabinet that sems to contain bottles of various kinds.
Powderbox with puff and a small brush beside it. I winder to what? Powdering face, rouge, clothes?
A family scene by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, 1778

A Woman at her Toilet with a Maid, a Boy, a Dog and a Young Soldier; verso: A Sketch for a Similar Composition by Johann Eleazar Zeissig, called Schenau, 1770
The Morning Toilet by Pehr Hilleström
The lady and her maidservant at the morning toilet
 Not an ordinary toilet room but an actress dressing room, but it is worth noting that she has just about the same thing on it as other ladies.
An Actress at Her Toilet, or Miss Brazen just Breecht, anonymous artist after John Collet, 1779

Pehr Hilleström

My favourite pictures are those were you get a glimpse on how the hairstyle is constructed. Here you get a view on both the front and the side.
Mademoiselle Du T... by Jean-François Janinet, 1779

 A hair that has completely broken down.
The Broken Mirror by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763
Two back views that clearly shows how hairstyles was worked in sections, first the front, and then one could arrange the backhair in curls, braids, etc.
An Interior With A Young Lady At Her Toilet, Combing Her Hair Before A Mirror by Johann Anton de Peters

A woman combing her hair in front of the mirror by Pehr Hilleström
What to do when one hasn't got a special powder room. Protect the furniture with a screen and draped curtains and protect the floor with a piece of cloth.The lady herself is swathed in a powder cape.

La Coiffure by Baptiste Mallet

The Toilet by Robert Sayer, London. 1786

The English Dressing Room, Stipple engraving by P. W. Tomkins after Chas. Ansell published 1789

Lady with attendant, engraving by Jean Francois Janinet after Nicolas Lawrence
The Coquette at her Toilet, after George Morland

Dressing for a ball, 1797
There is an abundance of satirical drawings depicting vain men and women in the 18th century, but the items of the dressing table looks just about the same as in more serious paintings.

Frontispiece to Anstey's election ball, 1776

The Lady's Maid or Toilet Head Dress, 1776

The English Shaver of Frenchman in the Suds, 1772


The Coiffure, model attributed to Gottlieb Friedrich Riedel, c. 1770

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Pre-orders from 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling is up!

You can now pre-order 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling through Indiegogo. The pre-order price is lower than it will be if you buy it after the book has been published and you also get a chance to sponsor a unique book. You can read why at Kendra's blog here. And go and read more at Indiegogo.