I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

Archive for October, 2021

MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION: II

CONSTRUCTING YOUR IMPRESSION

Name

What name do you use in reenacting? Is it the original form of the name or atranslation of the original Norse name? Is it a modernization or an Anglicization or some other transformation?

The use of a transformed name is rather endemic in many of the books that are otherwise full of vital information. There is an attempt, it seems, to make the modern spellings and pronunciations of the names, probably to make things more comfortable for the mainstream reader. However, looking at any good book, there is often an attempt to compromise between these two. If you want a name in its original form, the name that is given in the modern, more instantly recognizable form, you often find that the traditional form is given as well, in parentheses, in a footnote or even in an endnote. If it is not there and you want to use the original name, you should be able to track it down easily on the internet.

The reenactor must also deal with this, and there is no perfect answer. Just be very careful not to mix the names at a reenactment, which comes very close to intermingling the names of Greek and Roman Gods in the same project, a situation that is immediately hilarious in many cases. I prefer the use of a totally period name, but even that becomes questionable because in most cases, it is a modern interpretation that may or may not have been used in period.

When choosing a name, make certain that you know how and why names were constructed, and know the accuracy of the source. While it may be amusing to know the supposed meaning of a name, it is more important to know its origins. The baby-name books which list names and their meanings, however, might be amusing but are generally of very doubtful accuracy and should be regarded only s a starting point for further investigation.

Ethnicity, Class & Nationality

Keep in mind that ethnicity, class and nationality—or the combination hereof—will determine not only your name, often your costume (while styles of costume did not vary from location to location, details did have an effect) and must be considered. The addition of a single piece from another ethnicity or nationality is allowed by most groups, though more than one specific inclusion shoul be seen at single event since the common goal of living history is to represent everyday life. Ethnicity and nationality are also determined by feasability, since the goal for true living history is historic accuracy and not cheap pulp fantasy.

What ethnicity and nationality does not necessarily determine is the skin color. From ancient times, people of different races were easily found in the same ethnicity, class or nationality. Illustrations from the time indicate this, though primary literary sources do not since it was of such little importance to them. Racial prejudices seem to have started much later; at this time, religious prejudices were much more important!


MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION: I

In living history, the term “impression” refers to how a reenactor is dressing, behaving and presenting to the public and to fellow reenactors. A reenactor can create a feasible & believable persona impression. That impression—also referred to as persona or character—tells you how you should dress, behave and present yourself and is, therefore, integral in making certain that your living-history portrayal is not just another fantasy LARP.

PERSON IMPRESSIONS

By this we refer to how a reenactor presents himself to the public. There are three sorts of these approaches of dealing with the presentation.

First-Person

This is an acting option where you portray yourself as a person from the time being portrayed. People with first-person impressions cannot give any hint that they know after the time they portray, though they do not have to speak in the common language of the time.

Third-Person

This is more a dress-up than an acting option. While you accurately dress as a person from another time, you do not portray yourself as a person of that time. You know things after the time of you portray and can help to put it all in perspective with the rest of history—even today—when talking to a MoP.

Second-Person

This is a combination of first- and third-person impressions—sometimes also referred to as a ghost impression—where a person usually portray himself as a person of the time but can break into this portrayal to be a modern person if needed to clarify things.

There are some people who say a third person impression means that you really do not need an impression. I disagree vehemently. The impression tells you what you should wear and what you would know. Otherwise, you might wear an eleventh-century tunic, cotton pyjama bottoms, rhinestone sunglasses and Keds, telling everyone you are a Viking…

Historical Impression

Most impressions are of everyday persons of the time, and living history itself usually deals with is standard. Yes, they have a Buddha statue in Viking-Age Helgo, Sweden, but the chances are that not everyone had a Buddha statue!

The exception is when the person portrays an actual person from the time: King Ælfred, Knúdr the Great, Sir Walter Raleigh or Abraham Lincoln for example. These are first-person impressions on high octane, since you must not only be well versed with what an ordinary person of the time knows but with actual biographical data.


PROJECTS FOR THE PANDEMIC VI: EMBOSSED COVER

I have spoken before of the Cuthbert or Stonyhurst gospel. It is the earliest bound book in Europe that has not been rebound, and it is bound in a modified Coptic manner. I use its binding as a model for the binding of all the books that I have bound.

The cover of the book is decorated with a peculiar kind of decoration that I refer to, with no real documentation, as embellishment. The exact way that the decoration beneath the leather was made is controversial, although recent CT scans indicate the design was done with clay. Cord, wooden carving and seeds have also been proposed, and I chose to believe that cord was used.

I did the design using thickish hemp cord. I positioned it using a foundation. I then covered the hemp with more glue. I allowed it to dry for about a day.

I used a thin leather to cover the cord. It was about 1–2 mm thick, and applying it to the design took a lot of time. Additional glue was placed over everything, and I fitted the leather to the design, pressing and squeezing it tight. The original process was not very tight, and when it had dried a little, I did it again, squeezing it tight around the cord. I discovered that the leather would dry and tighten up. When it had dried, I glued the rest of the cover.

It had a steep learning curve. My first attempts were rough as well as fairly simple. In the time since, It has become more sophisticated, and I have gradually used more complicated designs. I have done more and more, eventually coming up with books for sale using the designs. It has become easier and fun!