Handmade leather flag

A special order received by Atelierul de istorie consists of an entirely handmade leather flag inspired by the ancient Dacian civilization. The project is a complex one, with several working stages and materials involved. The central element is a piece of veg tan leather, tooled with the ancient Dacian war standard, the Draco, hand-dyed in contrasting colors The background is made of brown, predyed leather, with the letters for "Dacii liberi " (the Free Dacians") perforated and sewn with silk thread, as it is more resistant. The flag is meant to be attached to an inverted L-shaped support.
Size: ca. 50 x 40 cm
Read more in Romanian HERE.

Silk thread sewing on leather

work in progress handmade leather flag

Freshly dyed veg tan tooled leather
Free Dacians leather flad


Artblr profile Ana-Maria Gruia

Another website promoting artists and galleries has popped up: artblr. It does not intermediate sales, just shows artworks uploaded by the artists themselves or by galleries. Two items are free of church, the following come with a small fee.
Here is my profile, brand new and shiny: Ana-Maria Gruia on Artblr.
The design is alright, minimalist, with a couple of pop-ups, a bit confusing for showing the large search section on top of the search results or actual artworks. Check out my two artworks below :)

artblr artwork


Pomanders and perfumes

Several ingredients of animal origin employed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period as apothecary ingredients, were also used for perfumes. Thus, some of the ingredients discussed in the "Animals that heal" temporary exhibition at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca, were also presumed beneficial due to their smell. Thus, ingredients such as ambergris or zibethum were worn on one's person in pomanders to ward off pestilence (presumed cause of infection) or simply bad smells. In fact, the word pomander itself, in French pomme d'ambre, comes from Ambra grisea=ambergris, substance obtained from the digestive tract of sperm whales.
Here are some historical pomanders, containers of such scented substances, sometimes combined in several individual containers:



Guinea fowl feather earrings

I have just added another listing in my Etsy Sop the Transylvanian Trove. See here the guinea fowl feather earrings.
Handmade vintage earrings made of guinea fowl feathers and silver metal hangers (common alloy).
Black-and-white, modern large earrings, polka dot pattern.
Light and comfortable to wear.
Size: ca. 9 x 7 cm (3.5 x 2.7 inches) one earring.
Vintage but in good shape.  

Guinea fowl feather earrings, handmade jewelry, statement earrings, vintage fashion accessories, feather earrings from Transylvania, Romania


Handmade leather goodies from the Transylvanian Trove

The Transylvanian Trove includes several handmade leather items - bracelets, earrings and coasters. The most recently added is a vintage tooled veg tan leather bracelet decorated with a hand-painted geometric flower motif (that some have also interpreted as Neptune's trident :)).

Vintage tooled leather bracelet, natural leather cuff, handmade leather jewelry, geometric flower, design in Transylvania, Romania

The leather earrings available on the Etsy shop are both tooled and plain leather ones. The advantage of both is they are light and warm to the touch, so very comfortable to wear. The octopus earrings have been described in a previous post HERE and the autumn leaf earrings HERE.

Leather earrings, autumn leaf shaped, asymmetrical (framing the face), handmade jewelry, veg tan natural leather, from Transylvania

Octopus leather earrings, animal earrings, handmade jewelry, natural leather, 3D, designed in Transylvania, trendy accessories, Romania

Leather earrings, round earrings, handmade jewelry, natural colors, natural leather, metal hangers, made in Transylvania, Romania

I have also recently added another category, i.e. leather coasters, made of up-cycled natural leather, assorted in brown and black colors. The colored coasters can be used to differentiate between glasses at parties and receptions.

Set of 4 leather coasters, assorted natural colors, natural leather, drinks coasters, gift for him, handmade in Transylvania, Romania


The feast of love 2017 - a history of the heart

As every year, the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca celebrates Valentine's Day in a special way, through the annual event entitled The Feast of Love. In 2017 the focus is on the history of the depictions of the heart. How did the heart end up as the symbol of romantic love? The heart was always considered the seat of emotions and the ancient authors envisaged the organ as having three chambers and a dimple in the middle. Artists attempted to depict the heart according to this description might have ended up "inventing" the geometric heart shape we are so familiar with today. During the Renaissance the symbol was used in both lay and religious context, in iconic depictions such as The Instruments of Christ's Passion. During the Baroque era it was often used on Romantic letters and cards. Meanwhile, the anatomically correct depiction of the heart also became popular through publications and teaching plates and the organ was identified as the body's blood pump.
Event poster - The Feast of Love at the History of Pharmacy Collection
The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca invites visitors to discover both types of hearts in the decoration of the old apothecary shop (hearts and cornucopia, signs of plenty), on apothecary items (romantic hearts, doves and flowers on 18th bottles for the Elixir of Love) and on medical plates (part of the Medical Equipment Collection).
The Feast of Love will be celebrated on February 25th 2017.

Heart and cornucopia, 18th century medallion in the Officina

Heart on a medical plate

Heart and doves on an 18th c bottle for aphrodisiac drinks

Heart-shaped decorations on an 18th c apothecary recommendation letter


Octopus leather earrings from the Transylvanian Trove

Among the earring available on Etsy from the Transylvanian Trove, the owner's preferred pair is octopus-shaped. These design handmade leather earrings create a 3D effect during wear, plus they are warm and comfortable.

3 color variants available

Octopus leather earrings, animal earrings, handmade jewelry, natural leather, 3D, designed in Transylvania, trendy accessories, Romania

3D leather earrings

Statement leather jewelry

Octopus leather earrings, entirely made by hand, modern design.
The 3D effect is generated by the combination of overlapping leathers - varying in color, thickness and texture.
Each pair is slightly asymmetrical - and this adds to the overall modern effect :)
Due to the primary material employed, these statement earrings and light, warm and comfortable to wear.
Common metal alloy hangers.
Size: 5 cm (2 inches)


A history of Aloe vera

Aloe vera - FOCUS February 2017 at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca

The plant Aloe barbadensis or Aloe vera has a long history of medicinal use, for over three millennia. The Egyptians first used it to treat sun burns and intestinal parasites. In the sixth century the Arabs used it as laxative. Dioscorides recommended Aloe vera in afflictions of the digestive tract, of the mouth and of the skin. Aristotle presumably suggested Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socotra, where aloe was cultivated, in order to ensure its constant supply. It seems that the plant was the secret ingredient in Cleopatra’s beauty treatments. Aloe was also popular among the Romans, described by Pliny the Elder in his famous book Naturalis Historia.

 Apothecary jars for aloe used in Baia Mare (present-day Romania)

For a long time, between the sixth century B.C. and 1673, the plant was only cultivated on the island of Socotra, east of Africa (today part of Yemen), reason for which one of its names was Aloe Succotor or Succotrina. In the seventeenth century the English started to import it from the Barbados Islands, calling the species Aloe Barbadensis.
Wooden apothecary jar for aloe from the Unicorn Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca

          The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca includes five jars for aloe, either as extract or powder. All of the items are dated to the nineteenth century and were used in various pharmacies: Baia Mare (the wooden jars inscribed PULV ALOES and ALOE), Cluj – the Unicorn pharmacy (the wooden jar with the signature ALOE SUCCOTOR), Tuda – the Velits pharmacy (the ceramic jar inscribed EX ALOES AQ) and Oradea – The Golden Cross pharmacy (the wooden jar marked ALOES LUCIDA – containing transparent or glassy aloe). These jars and a sample of the plant are exhibited in February part of the thematic display FOCUS - exhibit of the month.
Pharmaceutical jar for glassy aloe from Oradea

Ceramic jar from the old apothecary shop in Turda, near Cluj


Apothecary ingredients obtained from humans

Among the ingredients from living creatures once used in the old apothecary shops one can include those obtained from humans. Naturally, they were less numerous than those collected or extracted from various species of insects and animals, both local and exotic, but their fame was presumed effects were greater.

§      human fat (Axungia hominis), used as base for unguents between the sixteenth and the eighteenth century,
Early Modern apothecary jars for human fat at the Apothekenmuseum Heidelberg, Germany

§      shavings of human skull (Cranii humani rasura) sometimes employed as calcium supplement
§      mummy powder (Pulvis Mumiae Verae), considered a universal medicine and sold for its weight in gold.
18th-century mummy powder (Pulvis Mumiae Verae) from the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Sometimes pharmacists obtained such products from the corpses of executed prisoners, others - like the mummy powder - were the focus of specialized long-distance trade.
For the animal ingredients see the recent temporary exhibition in Cluj-Napoca entitled "Animals that heal". 


Baroque flower etching

The latest item listed on Etsy by the Transylvanian trove is a lovely small print after an original eighteenth-century plate. The central element is a heart-shaped composition of finely engraved flowers, an appealing Baroque decoration.

1772 engraving plate hand pulled in 2014

Under the central floral composition one can see on the left a small city vedutta  and the engraver's name and year: Josephus Vasarhelly (in Latinized Hungarian meaning Joseph from Vasarhellyi=Targu Mures) 1772. According to the artist's name, the city of fortification depicted is Targu Mures, in Transylvania.
Etching, numbered in pencil 9/I. This means it is one of the first prints in the series, with good-quality details.
Dimensions: 7.7 x 8.5 cm (3 x 3.3 inches), not framed, in good condition, reprint made in 2014 by the National History Museum of Transylvania in Cluj-Napoca, Romania after one of the eighteenth century printing plates in its collection. According to the name, the author was a Hungarian master from Transylvania. The 2014 print, the ninth in the series, is hand-pulled in sanguin typographic ink on printmaking paper with the dry stamp of the museum. 

detail with the city vedutta and the marking "sc: Josephus Vasarhellyi" (made by Joseph of Targu Mures)


Linocut bookmark - fish-boar symbol of the Getae

The item most recently added to the Transylvanian Trove shop on Etsy is inspired by ancient history. The original linocut bookmark is in shape of a fantastic animal,  the mythical fish-boar encountered on ancient gold artifacts of the Getae. Each item is entirely hand-made - hand printed and cut into shape. Several color variants are available.

Linocut bookmark, hand printed on paper, artist bookmark, decor boar-fish symbol of ancient Getae, designed in Transylvania, Romania

Art linocut bookmark

Original linocut bookmarks

Animal bookmarks on paper
Original linocut bookmarks on paper, design inspired by an ancient motif - the boar-fish of the Getae population inhabiting the Danube region in the 5th-1st century B.C.
Entirely hand made and hand printed.
Various natural colors (white, green, brown) on black or white paper.
Size: 14 x 4 cm (5.5 x 1.5 inches)


Apothecary uses of rose chafer

Cetonia aurata is one of the insect species used as apothecary ingredients, besides the Cantharidae (Spanish fly or soldier beetle) and others.
The rose chafer is the insect closest to the ancient scarab, with its metallic, golden shine. It is common throughout Europe (less so in the northern part of the continent). During the nineteenth century the beetle was considered an efficient cure against rabies.
Vintage engraving of a rose chafer (Cetonia aurata)

Such ingredients are exhibited part of the "Animals that heal" temporary exhibition currently on display in Cluj-Napoca, at the History of Pharmacy Collection (Unirii Square 28). One of the artifacts is a small glass bottle for Cetonia aurata dilution from a 19th-c. homeopathy set from a pharmacy in Baia Mare. Homeopathic dilutions are diluted forms of certain substances. there are several kinds of dilution: decimal (1:10), cent decimal (1:100) or even higher, through successive repetition.

Homeopathy bottle with paper label Cetonia aur. and cork stopper
Detail of the homeopathy set from Baia Mare


Autumn leaf leather earrings

A brand new item has been added to the Transylvanian Trove on Etsy today: entirely handmade leather earrings, incised and spatter-dyed (Jackson Pollock style :). These large earrings, made of sturdy leather are made to last.
See more items in the shop described in a previous post HERE
All the earrings available in my shop are available HERE.

Leather earrings, autumn leaf shaped, asymmetrical (framing the face), handmade jewelry, veg tan natural leather, from Transylvania

These original leaf-shaped leather earrings are made of vegetable-tan natural leather, and incised and dyed by hand. The edges are buffered and the surface is treated with two leather seal solutions. Still, it is recommended to take the earrings off while showering, for example, as submerging them in liquids can still cause stains and deformations.
Each pair contains two slightly asymmetrical earrings, each with the tip towards the face/neck, in order to nicely frame it.
Two color variants available: nuances of red and green.
Common metal allow hooks, assorted with the earrings, i.e. reddish and silver in color.
Length: 4.5 cm (1.7 inches)