Tea and tobacco leaves - bookmarks on Etsy

These original, hand-pulled and hand cut linocut bookmarks are available in my second Etsy shop, the Transylanian Trove.
he idea was originally a collaboration with a tea shop in Sibiu, so I thought the decoration was ideal for such a context. I then extended the project and used the individual lino plates in other compositions as well and for small-size art projects such as this one.
The price refers to a set of three assorted items, if you have any preference based on the item pictures, do let me know, otherwise I shall randomly choose.
For more items, feel free to follow me on Twitter as well: https://twitter.com/PompiliaSoimos
Tobacco and tea leaf linocut bookmarks


New linocut by Goddess Gruia

It is part of a small series of three unique linocut prints on handmade paper, depicting medieval houses on Buda Hill, in Budapest. Each print is singular through the combination of colors, as each ink is applied by finger and roller in various combinations, the ink have different consistency and texture, and some parts of the lino plate are second prints. The uncut edges of the paper contribute to the antiquated look of these unique prints. Entirely hand pulled.
Fell free to check my brand new Instagram profile as well: https://www.instagram.com/ana_maria_gruia/?hl=en

Medieval Houses on Buda Hill
Detail of linocut print
Detail of the above
Small series of linocut prints, before signature.

Variant 1 - available on Etsy

Variant 2

Variant 3
These works best reflect the description of my shop and style:
I am a weekend painter and it gives me great joy to go to the studio [aka Goddess Gruia's holy place, her Sancta Sanctorum] for the benefit of all, mostly myself.
My job is a great source of inspiration - working with historical artifacts and depictions allows me to research past techniques and the effects of time and patina. My profession is another advantage, as an art historian's eye is always receptive to aesthetic compositions and surfaces, even in everyday life.


Etsy sales winter 2017 by Goddess Gruia

Mixed media on canvas by Ana-Maria Gruia
In the spirit of the approaching holidays, my shop on Etsy - the Goddess Gruia - has a special, limited time offer: there will be one or more free linocut bookmarks for every order PLUS free shipping for orders over 50$ (until the end of the year) AND 15% off all listings over 35$ (until November 14th)!
I have also introduced new shop sections:
Feel free to check them out on Etsy.


Austro-Hungarian paper money on sale

The Transylvanian Trove on Etsy has just added items in the category of collectibles, i.e. paper money issued in Austro-Hungary in the beginning of the twentieth century:
The first is a lot of four circulated twenty filler banknotes from Hungary. Nominal value: husz (20) filler. Issued by the Magyar Postatakarekpenztar Bank (Hungarian Post-Office Savings Bank) on October 2nd 1920. Dimensions: 87 X 57mm (3.4 x 2.2 inches).
The second is a pair of circulated two crowns banknotes from Austro-Hungary. Nominal value: ket (2) korona / zwei kronen. Text in various languages of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy (German, Hungarian, Slavic). Issued by the Austro-Hungarian Bank on March 1st 1917. Dimensions: 48 X 32 mm (1.8 x 1.2 inches). See the presentation of krone emissions HERE. About krona and filler (Heller) HERE.
20 filler banknote 1920

Reverse of the 20 filler banknotes of 1920

Ket korona banknotes 1917

Revers of the above, zwei kronen


Recreating Roman perfumes

Saturday, October 14th, from 11 AM until 3 PM, there is a new workshop at Camp Virtus, near Cluj. The experimental archaeology and reenactment meeting is dedicated to Roman perfumes, unguents, and creams. There will be a presentation of the sources and other reconstruction attempts, of the ingredients and procedures, followed by a hands-on workshop and concluded with the tasting of Roman food recipes.
The meeting is part of the "Labyrinth through" time cultural project, co-financed by the National Cultural Fund  Administration of Romania and implemented by Virtus Antiqua NGO.

 See other experiments:

Smell like Julius Caesar: recreating ancient perfumes in the laboratory

The Scent of Love: Ancient Perfumes

Read our handout (in Romanian)



Labyrinth through time - a different kind of reenactment event

The dates are set for the Labyrinth through time event I've been talking about. Thus, on October 21st and 22nd the entire hill of Camp Virtus will be transformed in a giant labyrinth  inhabited by characters born out of the Antiquity. Unlike usual historical reenactment shows in Romania, this is not a spectacle to see but an experience to immerse yourself in. Once in the labyrinth visitors will meet and interact with Dacians, Romans (gladiators, auxiliary soldiers, civilians, priests) and Celts, will smell and taste ancient recipes and snacks, will touch natural samples and guess their ancient uses, will make their own ancient perfumes in unguentaria, will take part in the uncovering of a pottery firing pit and in the reenactment of Roman religious rituals, will weave on a vertical loom, will be able to practice shooting a bow and play Roman board games. There will also be an archaeology corner, with children being explained the principles of excavation and stratigraphy and then discovering strange objects, filing and keeping them.
Still, a show part is also included, with gladiatorial fights (munera) and military drills (with commands given in Latin, naturally).
Labyrinth through time event, 21-22 October 2017 at Camp Virtus

The event is family-oriented, with families of volunteers dressed in the era's costumes and inhabiting the labyrinth and the experiences designed with families of visitors in mind, where adults mediate and help the young experiment and learn. Still, all types of visitors are welcome, as access is in no way restricted to them.
We shall also hold a special ceremony for the volunteers involved in the weekend meetings, granting them diplomas and prizes, and the final event and a campfire to end the event.

Building the labyrinth near Cluj-Napoca
Join the Facebook event for updates!
Check out the web page of the entire Labyrinth through time project (in Romanian but with much illustrative material).
Experimenting with Roman recipes from Apicius

Reconstruction of a bread oven that we will use for baking

Educational activities
Auxilia Batavorum, reconstruction of a unit attested in ancient Dacia

Ludus Memnii - the gladiator school of training


Remake of a Roman altar

Saturday, September 30th 2017, a group of historians and volunteers from Transylvania are building a remake of an ancient Roman altar, with painted inscription in Latin. The meeting is part of the "Labyrinth through time" cultural project implemented by Virtus Antiqua, a reenactment NGO from Cluj-Napoca. The activity will take place at Camp Virtus, near Cluj, outdoors in the future historical park planned there. Volunteers and visitors shall receive handouts on the topic [free download of the Romanian presentation], shall work on the experimental archaeology activity and then will be able to taste recipes inspired by those of Antiquity.
Families are mostly envisaged through this project, but all visitors are welcome - all activities are free of charge. The workshops takes place between 11 AM and 15 PM.
Roman altar - experimental archaeology at Camp Virtus
 in preparation, we have gathered more images of Roman altar and ceremonies reconstructions in a Pinterest album HERE 
A brief presentation in Romanian is also available HERE.
Read also the explanation of ARA (altar) in Lacus Curtius HERE.

Reenactment of a Roman wedding ceremony from http://www.roman-empire.net/


Vintage felted flower

I am not a big fan of felted handmade decorations, because they are often kitschy through the too-realistic shapes and too strong colors and combinations. Still, I like simple felted slippers, for example, or a vintage flower in natural colors that I have just added to my Etsy shop, the Transylvanian Trove.
It is a felted flower in warm, autumn colors, irregular, organic shape, and intentionally asymmetric. It can be sewn on clothes, as a nice accessory, or can be attached with a pin (not included) and worn as a brooch. Possible decoration for several hair, feet, jewelry and dress accessories.
Unique vintage item from Transylvania, entirely handmade.
Dimensions: ca. 5 x 4 cm (1.5 x 1.9 inches).

Vintage felted flower

Felted decoration from Transylvania


Transylvanian winter landscapes of 2017 by Marin Gruia

Marin Gruia's landscapes are classical and sensitive, displaying a subtle color palette. His winter landscapes in particular fit this description and their special charm is rendered by the inclusion of elements typical to his homeland, Transylvania. The haystacks laden with snow for example are masterfully rendered through the relief structuring of the oil color paste. Here are two very recent such paintings, made in September 2017, oil on canvas, ca. 70 x 50 cm.
For updates you can follow his Facebook page HERE
See more of his winter landscapes HERE.
See his working technique described in a previous post HERE.

Winter landscape by Marin Gruia

"Winter in Transylvania" by Marin Gruia


Celtic costumes workshop

In Romania, the Celtic civilization has enjoyed little interest on the part of reenactors and historical festival organizers so far. There is a single Celtic Festival, organized a couple of years now in Beclean/Baile Figa, but the Celtic reenactment camp merely provides a distraction for festival goers who are there to enjoy the massive evening rock concerts. Several reenactment groups also have Celtic costumes among those of other "barbarians" and, naturally, Dacian and Roman ones. The most numerous Celts, with the most elaborate costumes, are to be mentioned among the members of Omnis Barbaria NGO.

Inside the "Celtic village" during the 2016 Celtic Festival in Baile Figa
Virtus Antiqua acknowledges the relative neglect of the ancient Celtic civilization, despite the impact in had on Transylvania at least, during the Iron Age. One of the weekend workshops organized part of the "Labyrinth through time" at Camp Virtus, near Cluj, thus focuses on recreating Celtic textiles and dress elements employing fabric that might have been used during Antiquity. The workshop "Atelier de reconstituie istorica - costume celtice" is held Saturday, September 23rd, at Camp Virtus - find directions HERE.


Dacian pottery workshop

Modelling by hand Dacian clay pots
Saturday, the 16th of September, between 11 AM and 15 PM, the meeting at Camp Virtus, in Salicea, near Cluj, is dedicated to ancient Dacian pottery. As many are interested today in the little-known Dacian civilization from the present-day territory of Romania, we have decided that some of our project entitled Labyrinth through time shall be dedicated to it. This meeting of experimental archaeology will consists of a presentation of the pottery shapes considered typical o the Dacians, many modeled by hand, including the distribution of handouts, followed by the actual clay modelling of shapes such as the cup, the jar-pot and the so-called fruit bowl. The pots will be pit fired in October, during our special Labyrinth through time event, in one of the centers of the actual 1 ha labyrinth inhabited by historical characters.

Dacian pottery experimental archaeology meeting at Camp Virtus
Free access on Saturday for a fun, outdoor experience for the entire family, involving a bit of education in historical and patrimony matters. See you at Camp Virtus!


Collectibles from Transylvania

Handle -

Dracula, small metal spoon, enamel, vampire, bat, blood drops, Romania, collectible spoon by the Transylvanian Trove, Halloween gift 

I have recently added to my Etsy shop the Transylvanian Trove this collectible little spoon from Romania with vampire decoration: the handle is in the shape of Dracula and the bowl is decorated with bats and blood drops. Inscribed "Romania" and "Dracula" in archaic font. It is made of common metal alloy (not silver), with enamel decoration in white, black and red on the front, while the back is left undecorated. Dimensions: 12 x 2.5 cm (4.7 x 0.9 inches).
Spoon bowl - Dracula, Romania

Lot of 25 vintage metal pins, collection of pins from different countries, fashion accessories, collectibles, traveling souvenirs

 My shop also includes another collectibles item, a lot of 25 metal pins from different countries that I have visited (Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, Andorra, Austria, Slovenia etc.) and organizations (UNV, UNCCD).


Ancient pottery workshop

New experimental archaeology meeting this weekend, at Camp Virtus, near Cluj - "Intalnire ceramica antica". In a series of reenactment and reconstruction meetings part of the Labyrinth through time cultural project, this workshop focuses on the modelling of Roman and Dacian pot shapes. After the pots have dried, during a subsequent meeting the team project members and volunteers shall experiment with the old firing technique, namely pit firing.
Feel free to join us, despite the cloudy weather, September 9th between 11 AM and 15 PM in Salicea, near Cluj, to learn more about how the ancients modeled out of clay the largest category of everyday items they used and to experiment the process hands-on.
"Labirint prin timp" is partly financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration and organized by Virtus Antiqua NGO. Don't miss out on the news and stay tuned for the final event, in October this year, the creation of an actual labyrinth with different cores inhabited by Dacians, Romans, Celt, gladiators, auxiliary soldiers, civilians, perfume makers and hawkers!

Experimental archaeology meeting at Camp Virtus
Such activities contribute to the development of Camp Virtus, an open-air reenactment center focusing on the history, material culture and practices of the inhabitants of Transylvania during Antiquity - mainly Romans, Dacians and Celts.


Labyrinth through time - free online resources

One of the objectives of our reenactment project Labyrinth through time, financed by the National Cultural Administration Fund [AFCN] of the Romanian government, is to make available free online a series of resources regarding ancient history, reenactment, and patrimony. These are the handouts provided to volunteers and visitors at every weekend meeting, but online they may reach a wider audience.
The handouts contain general presentations on topics related to the reenactment activities performed at Camp Virtus: ancient plants, gardens and gardening tools; textiles, looms, and weaving tablets in Antiquity; Roman altars and ceremonies; food and cooking; bread and ovens; Celtic clothes and costumes and others.
All handouts [in Romanian only] can be downloaded in pdf format from the project's pages on the Camp Virtus website HERE

Handout sample - Roman altars and ceremonies pdf


Linocut mounting and framing

I usually write about my art projects while they are still fresh in the studio, so I rarely get to follow up to the final, mounted works. I have recently recovered a mounted and framed linocut work from 2015, part of the Nurnberg project, from an art gallery and re-discovered the series. The print rendered below now hands in my home.
Unlike with other prints, for this larger work I chose a strong, colorful passepartout and a copper-colored frame, not of the thin, simple kind usually employed for graphics. It is like approaching prints like "proper" oil and acrylic paintings, thus making it more "serious" and "respectable".

See the Nurnberg linocut project HERE.
"Nurnberg" linocut by Ana-Maria Gruia
linocut project in the making by Ana-Maria Gruia


Marin Gruia - abstract paintings in blue

Marin Gruia is a painter of flowers and landscapes, but he has always attempted to expand towards oniric surrealism and, lately, to abstract compositions. These latter painting experiments also envisage larger formats than his usual, a mix of techniques (including subtle collage for example), and the creation of improvised tools and implements in search for spontaneity, novelty, and the pure pleasure of color and texture. Here are his best 2017 blue abstract compositions, oil on canvas.
For updates you can follow his Facebook page Marin Gruia.

Abstract painting by Marin Gruia
Abstract painting by Marin Gruia

Abstract painting by Marin Gruia


Balneum Mariae in alchemy and pharmacy

Balneum Mariae (also known as Mary's Bath, water bath, bain-marie or double boiler) is a process of controlled heating in a pot with liquid, usually water, aimed at heating substances in controlled conditions (in terms of both time and temperature) or keeping them warm over longer periods of time. In fact it limits the maximum temperature of the substance in the main container to the boiling point of the liquid in the second boiler.
As the name indicates, the process has been attributed to he alchemist Maria Prophetissima or Mary the Jewess (3rd c. A.D.) The process was nevertheless known before, during the Roman period for example, and became common in cooking, industry, chemistry and pharmacy.

Alchemical balneum Mariae from Coelum philosophorum, Philip Ulstad, 1528
Discover more about the inter-twined history of pharmacy and alchemy by visiting the temporary exhibition at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca.


The pharmacist's costume

Habit d'apoticaire, in
“Recueil les costumes grotesques et les métiers de Nicolas de Larmessin”.

Reproduction of a 17th-century engraving depicting the typical costume of a pharmacist, imagined as consisting of the tools of the trade – an alembic is worn as a hat and iconographically the most significant element, but there are also typical jars, tools, containers, a syringe and various medicinal plants. All visual elements are identified by inscriptions in French. From the work “Recueilles costumes grotesques et les métiers de Nicolas de Larmessin”.
The alembic is a distillation still, borrowed from alchemy, consisting of three parts. The cucurbit, a heated pot that contains the liquid to be distilled,   the ambic, covering the cucurbit like a cap, collecting the vapors and leading them down a descending tube, and   the receiver, holding the condensed distilled liquid. The term comes from Arabic (al-anbī), in itself a borrowing from Greek (ambix), meaning cup or beaker.