What does the public see?

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Phoenix Rising
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What does the public see?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:24 pm

Following some reading of websites and personal enquiries of some societies, I find myself becoming a little disconcerted at one particular aspect of re-enacting / costuming – that of the attitude that is shown towards those of us who have no choice but to wear glasses. Whilst I can understand the general need for historical accuracy as best as it can be achieved and having standards (including preventing anachronisms such as watches and mobile phones etc.), this seems to me to have become an area which has become prejudicial to such people as myself, as we are required to either:

a) Do without them (could be downright dangerous and hazardous!)
b) Wear contacts (not always possible due to cost / not being able to cater for particular eyesight needs)
c) Invest in ‘period’ glasses.(very expensive with prescription lenses – in my case more than the £200 that I paid for my modern pair!)

Now, as we all know, the economic situation for people is not good at the present, meaning that such things as (a) and (b) detailed above are becoming very difficult (if not impossible) to afford, not when other more important factors need to be taken into account such as paying your bills and keeping a roof over your head. However, in view of this, does it seem therefore acceptable to turn down people for living history / re-enactment on the basis of their having to cater for a very specific and essential need, and then also perhaps miss out on those people who might have a wealth of experience and be very useful to you, simply on the grounds of them having to cater to these needs but not being able to afford any other options? (And if the answer to that is yes, then doesn’t that mean that this pastime becomes the preserve of only those who can afford it?)

There is, however, more to it than that.

What I’ve found interesting is that I have been working in the re-enactment / historical interpretation arena for nearly two years now, in both Anglo-Saxon, Medieval and Tudor / Elizabethan guises, (including indulging in sword play where required) and yet thus far nobody, young or old, has asked me about my glasses nor even mentioned them. They’ve asked me all manner of other questions, from how long an arrow should be to what my clothes are made of, but never have I been asked about the small glass pieces in front of my eyes. Now you could say that this might be the adults being polite of course and not wishing to mention it, but would this stretch to kids, who, let’s face it, aren’t usually signed up members of the diplomatic corps? I rather think not!

So, if the public are able to see the person beneath and it doesn’t seem to ‘ruin their perception’ of me as a reenactor, then is it more a case of the problem lying with reenactors themselves and their ‘perception’ of what makes things look acceptable? And in so doing, do they themselves create an ‘anachronism’ or at the very least a falsity in that during the eras up until more modern times glasses were so prohibitively expensive that only the wealthy could afford them, thus making any interpretation of a normal run of the mill person from those eras who wears ‘period’ glasses become historically incorrect anyway?

Apologies for the length of this post, and please be assured it is in no way intended to offend or annoy anyone, but I felt that this is an issue that perhaps should be raised.

P.R



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby sally » Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:36 pm

I think it can depend a little on how you are pitching your presentation. If you are aiming for museum quality kit, and a first person interpretaion (eg: I am this historical personage), then you have to ditch any anachronistic items, regardless of how useful they may be.

If however you are pitching your display more as 'come and chat to us about how we are attempting to explore facets of life in the past' then you are indicating that you are being a modern person looking at certain, but not all, parts of your chosen dateline. In that instance, I think a small number of anachronisms will be forgiven, especially if you are utterly honest with your public when explaining that at this stage of your explorations, you have one or two areas that you find hard to resolve. You can even use it as a talking point ('of course, if I lived at this time, I wouldnt have these lovely glasses to help me...')

Most people come somewhere between these two scenarios. I need specs in day to day life, but made a decision to accept being half blind when doing living history, and just not do anything where I would put myself or others at unacceptable risk. I do however wear specs behind the stall, even in kit. Its obvious in that setting that I'm a modern person dressed up, and I found customers would prefer that and get the right change...



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Angie » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:33 pm

I have one pair that does for all the periods from medieval to 18th century, mainly as I'm too vain to wear the leather framed ones. My glasses are metal framed but do not have the nose pinchers. I'm sure the frames didn't cost much (my partner got them for me from the states I think) and it cost about £50.00 to get my perscription in them.

I have not been asked about my specs whilst re-enacting any of the periods, possibly because they do not look obviously modern.

As you say maybe it is down to the style of re-enacting you do. I do not do first person and chat to people and answer their question.


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Sophia » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:47 pm

The first thing is that groups are entitled to set their own authenticity requirements, you are not obliged to join any particular group. The second thing is that by the late medieval period glasses are being imported in significant quantity. Thirdly in earlier periods people were obliged to adapt their activities to their abilities. If you had vision problems or mobility issues then certain activities were simply not open to you.

So in effect your ability to portray certain roles will be limited by the authenticity levels required by your group/employer, your chosen period and your budget. On the basis of your post you have been very lucky to date as your employer has not queried your modern glasses. Many groups/employers would not allow them.

Finally are you sure that a pair of period glasses would cost that much, I have friends with complicated prescriptions who have purchased them for considerably less.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

P.S. I know of various people with disabilities who do react and have tailored their role specifically to their problems.


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:13 pm

As you say, Sophia, all groups are able to set their own standards, which is fine, but although glasses may have been being imported in quantities, would the ordinary person have been able to scrimp enough together to afford any in the first place? It is interesting to note that the illustrations from the medieval period do not (to my knowledge) show such people wearing them.

i agree that people would have had to adapt their lives to any disability, visual or otherwise, and of course certain roles would have been restricted or even impossible for them to perform in at that time. However, does that then mean that I, for instance, should then limit myself in such a way if both my interests and skills lie on such a path (ie, my skill is with a longbow and its uses / history) just because of that? When my own eyesight can be easily corrected by glasess that no-one seems to see?

Unfortunately my lenses are the major cost for glasses, and the lowest I have seen for my glasses is £130 for the lenses (the prescription is for both short sight and an astigmatism, more in one eye than the other), which at present with many other costs to manage is not really feasible to pay out for. The group I'm in seems to see more value in what I, and the others in the group, are able to contribute in terms of our knowledge, skills and costumes rather than (in my case) a visual impairment, so i suppose in that I am lucky.

P.R



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Mad Mab » Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:52 pm

In the end, it all comes down to, if the person in charge (group/employer/etc) say yes then it's fine and if they say no, it's not and you have to pick what you want to do to get your level of enjoyment while doing what you're comfortable with.

I'm lucky enough not to need glasses but I'm still occasionally limited in things I want to do because I'm female and, since I know I can't make a convincing male (2 points in particular) and I want to be as convincing as possible, I find other things to do that I can enjoy. Like everything else in reenactment, it's all about fitting in what you want to do and going to the level of compromise you're happy with. T'is, after all, a hobby

I would, however, be wary of thinking that just because kids (and some adults) haven't commented on your glasses that they have worked out that it's an acceptable modernism. They might just be assuming that that kind of thing was around in the period you're portraying and not questioning it because they're so used to them in modern life and, well, if a reenactor is doing it, it must be completely correct. (This is obviously an erroneous decision on their parts and shows that they haven't met many reenactors :twisted: )

My one little bugbear with glasses is if they're being worn in posed photos. I wish people would take them off for those. Mind I can understand how people can forget that they're wearing them and, as I say, it's a personal bugbear.


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Tod » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:06 pm

Angie is my partner so I'm not telling you how much her frames were, but she bought mine from a chap at TORM, I think they were less than £40 and with lenses total less than £100. I also wear daily contacts for re-enactment, I'll be the one that at 8am you can hear swearing like a trooper because I can't get them in. With either my authenti specs or my contacts I can't see any thing close up so I limit what I do.
I run a couple of groups and a few events and modern glasses are banned. It's not a harsh or unfair rule its just what I want and I'm in charge. I belong to one group where the chairman wears modern glasses and is very obvious, frankly he looks ****. He could invest in period specs but he doesn't, the public do notice and its good way to make a good picture bad.
What I would suggest is that the next time you need new glasses do what a friend of mine did, he got wire frames from the chap at TORM and uses them as his daily specs. That way it won't cost you any thing, and the authenti specs are cheaper than modern frames!



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby guthrie » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:10 pm

Phoenix Rising wrote:As you say, Sophia, all groups are able to set their own standards, which is fine, but although glasses may have been being imported in quantities, would the ordinary person have been able to scrimp enough together to afford any in the first place? It is interesting to note that the illustrations from the medieval period do not (to my knowledge) show such people wearing them.

I've seen comments of prices and the like which suggest that they would have been, in the late medieval period, several days wages for a craftsman, i.e. a shilling or two or maybe a bit more. Or in other words easily purchasable in a normal year by anyone who is above the level of peasant (Which still excludes a good 70% or more of the population I suppose) . The illustration question is more difficult because there's other things that aren't shown in illustrations either, but IIRC by the late 15th we are seeing non-scribal sorts wearing them, and you aren't telling me that all the spectacles imported through London in the century, many tens of thousands of them, were only being purchased by scribes and illuminators. Not after various nobles are mentioned as buying them. That reminds me, I must look through some accounts for mention of them.
This is another topic in need of a good bit of research and pulling of information together.



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Wim-Jaap » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:18 am

I do 18th century.
I got my frame ( model 1740) from Jas Townsend in the USA ($30), then took my lenses from my daily glasses and had them put in there while I bought my new lenses for my daily glasses.
Oke my prescription changed a little bit, but it's not so much that it get's dangerous or anything, it's just that I can't read a license plate from 30 yards, but I can make out which friend is which at 30 yards.

That way you can save money on lenses for your tenti glasses, because you already paid for them.
My prescription changes every 3 years, so I only buy one pair of lenses everey 3 years and the ones that are replaced are going into my tenti glasses.

greenthings,

Wim-Jaap


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby saracen » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:11 am

Tod wrote:Angie is my partner so I'm not telling you how much her frames were, but she bought mine from a chap at TORM, I think they were less than £40 and with lenses total less than £100. I also wear daily contacts for re-enactment, I'll be the one that at 8am you can hear swearing like a trooper because I can't get them in. With either my authenti specs or my contacts I can't see any thing close up so I limit what I do.
I run a couple of groups and a few events and modern glasses are banned. It's not a harsh or unfair rule its just what I want and I'm in charge. I belong to one group where the chairman wears modern glasses and is very obvious, frankly he looks ****. He could invest in period specs but he doesn't, the public do notice and its good way to make a good picture bad.


I'm with Tod on this one - my eyesight is appalling and I wear disposable contact lenses for all work in costume, but they are not full strength as my eyes are just too rubbish! so my sight is not perfect but it does not get in the way of what I need to do. I've twice turned up for a gig (both with schools) without my lenses and did them without glasses, which meant staring vaguely at a row of blurry blobs, but I managed (thankfully I work with a partner...!) I know that it can be expensive or far from ideal not to be able to wear one's glasses, and also appreciate that it is up to particular groups and/or individuals to make their own choices about the matter - but frankly it really annoys me when I see costumed folk in period settings in modern glasses . You might as well not bother with the rest of the kit as far as I'm concerned - sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's my standpoint!

The public may see more than we suspect but (if they know it is wrong) just not like to comment (that's me on several occasions) or as others have said they may simply come away with entirely the wrong impression about what was or was not around in the past. So for me, no spex please!



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby SirRustbucket » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:22 pm

saracen wrote: - but frankly it really annoys me when I see costumed folk in period settings in modern glasses . You might as well not bother with the rest of the kit as far as I'm concerned - sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's my standpoint!


I side with Sally in this. It depends on your approach. There are a lot of things that are in some way off from how it should be.

For example, personally I think unless you know how a sword is actually used, you shouldn't be carrying one or pissing about withing pretending to be portraying a fight... but that's another can of worms...

I've resigned myself to the fact that a good three quarters of reenactors are probably utter crap and not worth hiring or paying. And that includes my own group and portrayal.

But these days I don't care much about that anymore. I've moved on from my anger and outrage and found acceptance. Glasses don't bother me at all. It's obviously a modern concession to practicality, like the fire extinguisher and the first aid point. Just get on with it, for crying out loud. >..<


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:25 pm

My wife often gets comments about her glasses. This is because they are authentic frames, so people aren't used to seeing them. Several times, people have queried whether they had glasses then and have learned something unexpected as a result.

I understand about the cost making authentic glasses unafordable, but we can apply that to many aspect of our hobby. Authentic shoes are expensive. Does that mean that wearing modern shoes should be permitted for people on low incomes? You've simply got to decide where to draw a line and then stand by it. Inevitably you'll get critisims both for being too lax and for being an authenti-natzi. Your group allows modern specs, mine doesn't. That's just where the respective lines have been drawn.

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Re: What does the public see?

Postby John Waller » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:42 pm

Most re-enactment groups try to be inclusive but life is just tough and we should be able to accept that there are some things that we can not do because of financial or physical constraints.

If I saw a Roman re-enactor wearing specs I would laugh, ditto a viking or saxon. Find a solution or try a later period. I feel your pain as I'm just short of a white stick and a labrador myself and after 33 years of wearing contacts I'm starting to get problems.

As a little bit of historical input I did a quick trawl through the 1480-81 Petty Custom Account Imports and find spectacles on the manifest of 14 voyages, totalling 5280 pairs. Similar numbers of spectacle cases also feature.


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby SirRustbucket » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:14 pm

I'm inclined to agree...if you can't afford to buy the right kit for the role or cannot make it yourself, you shouldn't try to portray it. I especially dislike re-enactors portraying nobility in shoddy kit that would make a hobo feel uncomfortable, telling people they're the genuine article. Even if absolute authenticity is virtually impossible, that's getting a bit carried away...

But see, for me there's two different things going on. If someone's in shoddy kit, with glasses, then they obviously are just starting out or they can't be bothered. Fair enough.

If someone is dressed in very good kit, with modern glasses, however, then the glasses are obviously not part of the kit. I can blank it out in my mind.
It's not like a wristwatch or a fag packet peeping out of your cod piece, glasses are something that this person needs to function so they can entertain me, as a visiting MOP. In this case, the more obviously modern and not part of the costume the glasses, the better imho.

To be honest, if someone genuinely believed that a Viking (for example) might wear 20th century specs they're obviously a bit thick and not worth educating. Probably the same degenerates that keep sticking their hands into my campfire to find out if it's real...grrr...

But that's just my personal take.

I must admit that I, too, have issues with people's appearance where I won't tolerate compromises. These things totally ruin it for me and I pursue them with a passion.

They are:

- fat walts pretending to be fighting knights or WW2 elite soldiers who couldn't even manage to mount a horse or do a single pressup ...and have never fought anything in earnest except a ginster's pastie.
- people pretending that medieval villages were made of canvas tents
- the notion that archers or men-at-arms are good beginners roles and are sufficiently portrayed with a belt, shirt and tabbard.
- people pretending that clunky, unbalanced, over heavy and poorly constructed armour and weapons are the real deal. That includes anything made by Lancaster Armouries in particular. It's only ever costume and as such just a rough approximation. There's nothing wrong with it, mind, but I'll tip my hat to any reenactor who will boldly admit that he's just giving an impression, as best as he can instead of bulls****ing people into believing what they see is authentic.

Compared to all that glasses are really not an issue. People in glasshouses and all that...

I think the main problem is that sometimes we take ourselves too serious. Re-enactment is not serious business, unless you are in the enviable position of making a living through your reenacting.

But fair enough, we each draw our own lines in the sand. ;-)


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:47 pm

Have to admit I think the MOP's are a little more discerning than perhaps given credit for, and when it all boils down to it, what are we actually doing? We are modern people of the 21sr Century, attempting to look, sound and be as authentic as we can, but think Sir Rustbucket has it well said - it is exactly that, an impression of such. I am fairly sure that there aren't many MOPS that wander away from any re-enactment event who actually beleive that those they met there are really people from the 16th, 15th, 14th or whatever century. After all, even in a child's mind, you are standing before them as real flesh and blood, in the same place as them and the same time - so unless you have a TARDIS and some very nifty moves, I think that they do know that you are simply portrayinga role, and that glasses are glasses, plain amd simple and that you are obviously wearing them because you need to. As long as I educate and entertain folks then I have done what I should.

From my own standpoint I believe that trying to do without glasses when you patently do need to wear them is a downright dangerous act - if you can't see properly then you are a danger to yourself. Even simply walking from one place to another can become hazardous, as if things are blurry to you then you might not see that cable in the grass, or that rather sharp knife left carelessly in a place it shouldn't be.(ouch!). As a medic I've treated enough accidental injuries to know that I'd rather be in decent kit with glasses on and able to see, thanks! In that respect what Sally said makes sense, and can even use them to my advantage. And, whether we like it or not, the real world will always intrude in one way or another, whether it be glasses or fire extinguishers or first aid points or whatever else. Limit / ban the non-essential itens yes, that makes sense, but not when something is essesntial for safety's sake, and doesn't detract from the person's knowledge or skills. i'm not employed to do re-enactment, I do so because I enjoy it and I cherish the thought that maybe what I say to someone might spur them on to read up on a subject or follow it up in some other way.

Guthrie mentioned about researching into the subject - might be a thought, as although we can see that glasses were being imported, we don't know who the customers actually were. Be good to find that out, I think, as might make a good talking point.

And perhaps Sir Rustbucket has a point over being too serious at times...? :crazy:

All best,

P.R :)



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby SirRustbucket » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:59 pm

Just a quick helpful hint: I spoke to a capital fellow at Tutbury not so long ago who'd made his own leather-framed glasses.

I actually think that would be a really easy DIY project, even for a complete novice to leather crafting, as long as you have an old pair of glasses that you might be willing to sacrifice...people need to be encouraged to make their own kit. :D I'd be happy to give pointers!


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:01 am

Interesting project methinks! All pointers welcome... :D

Cheers,

P.R



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby SirRustbucket » Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:21 am

Basically, this chap took the lenses out of an existing pair of glasses to use for his leather-frame. I believe he filed them into a circular shape but you might not have to do that.

I found this interesting picture here by typing 'leather spectacles' into google image search.

http://leatherworkingreverend.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/dsc00251a.jpg

I'd start by making a mock-up out of thick cardboard, big enough to accommodate your lenses and have that stitching all round. Basically you make the frame twice and sandwich the lenses in between. Most people put some sort of wire stiffener into the top so it doesn't flop about on your nose. The whole thing just ties on with cord. If you get a nice thick piece of brass wire from B&Q you can even make a half-frame out of it, with hooks to go over your ears, that you just stitch to your leather frame. Nearly as good as modern specs then.

You can find scrap leather on ebay or at any of the big markets. What you want is vegetable-tanned leather of approximately 3mm thickness. It is easier to tool and work with by wetting it slightly.

This tutorial may be helpful:
http://www.bowstock.co.uk/saddstit0.html

Tools needed are an awl, thread and needle. In the spirit of thrift I got a cheap scratch awl from Wilkos and sharpened it up a bit so it would go through leather. To mark my stitch hole I use a simple table fork, slightly sharpened. My entire leather working toolkit cost me a little under £5. A generic repair needle kit from ASDA and some stout cotton gardening twine will do but you get nicer results with proper saddlery needles, linen thread and some beeswax.


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby tanyabentham » Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:59 am

I tend to do without, although my eyes are very bad - I do have a rule that I absolutely will not leave site without my glasses though, as I wouldn't be safe to cross a road.

I treid and failed contact lenses, and have been considering authentispecs for a few years. My main sticking point is that I'm also extremely photo-sensitive. I can't wear untinted lenses without getting a crippling headache by midday (I'm ok without glasses as long as I stay in the shade) so I would hvae to have leather or wood frames with reactolights in, which kind of seems to defeat the object?



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby SirRustbucket » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:24 am

I am not sure if this is true...I think I read something once that medieval lenses might have been tinted in some cases, especially in blue as it was supposed to have a calming effect?

Might be utter hogwash though, you'd have to do some research.

If this turns out to be true it would make an interesting conversation topic, should you decide to have permanently dark tinted lenses, for example, where you could explain the difference between modern lenses and historical ones.

I kind of know where you are coming from. I get terrible migraines in bright light. I find that a really big straw sun hat helps somewhat.


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Polaris-light » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:23 pm

Yes obviously more research is required…

Whilst at lot of these ‘must be utterly authentic groups’ and ‘you can join but only as a slave and work your way up the hierarchy’ etc regardless of their actual historical knowledge, do put a lot of effort into re-enacting a certain time period, and do so adequately, you are all missing another point…portraying history authentically is a very good way to educate the masses, however if you are going to resort to insisting on those who need glasses wear ‘period’ ones, then this perhaps needs to be extended to speaking the language of the day as well, all texts and written work should be displayed authentically, (signs, books etc) with translation obviously etc so the public can understand them.

After all that is ‘true authenticity’…
I mean ‘people’ will think they all spoke ‘Modern English’ in those times, which clearly they did not. That is an ‘anachronism’ that all re-enacting groups do (maybe one or two that don’t) but if its authenticity you are striving for then this should be just as important as the lowly spectacles. (Displaying and or/ the wearing of)

The issue with Period Glasses, without further research and conclusive documentation of the usage it is likely you could actually be creating an’ anachronism (certain people slaves, low class etc wearing ‘period glasses’ in any of the time periods), when they would not have been worn and thus mislead the public.

So the attitude must be addressed….

The vast majority of the public is more interested in your knowledge, skills and costumes and of course swordplay, fighting, battles etc and all the ‘orrible bits of history’ that was not taught in schools, but above all else they also want to be entertained.

They are well aware that you are ‘portraying’ visually the history of any particular time period, so modern glasses and like wise the way you speak is actually irrelevant to them.

However, correct attire should be worn there is little point in dressing up in ‘period’ clothing as say ‘nobility and looking naff’ as Sirrustbucket said, or indeed having bits of kit missing, or waving swords around with no idea of how they were actually used.

The whole aim is to educate and entertain….


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby acecat999 » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:56 pm

SirRustbucket wrote:I am not sure if this is true...I think I read something once that medieval lenses might have been tinted in some cases, especially in blue as it was supposed to have a calming effect?

Might be utter hogwash though, you'd have to do some research.

If this turns out to be true it would make an interesting conversation topic, should you decide to have permanently dark tinted lenses, for example, where you could explain the difference between modern lenses and historical ones.

I kind of know where you are coming from. I get terrible migraines in bright light. I find that a really big straw sun hat helps somewhat.




it might be just that reenactment is best looked at through rose tinted glasses?


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby SirRustbucket » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:57 pm

acecat999 wrote:it might be just that reenactment is best looked at through rose tinted glasses?


I always thought sunset was the friend of the re-enactor. Everything looks so much more authentic int he dark. :devil:


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:00 am

As the descending darkness hides a multitude of sins!!

Thanks for the links and the advice, I'll follow them up.

All best,

P.R



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby steve stanley » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:35 pm

Horses for courses...I'm doing this for my standards,not the public's.....So whenever possible I go glasses-less,but use my authenti ones for when I really need them...I saved my old modern ones,£15 to have lenses cut down to fit frames from a junk shop.....BUT I wouldn't consider a period where I don't have their use as an option........


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby steven pole » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:53 pm

A good article.
I found that I couldn't look authentic 15th century whilst wearing my modern specs. I tried contacts but in the middle of a field was not the best place to change them. I opted to make my own leather frames based on some that I had seen before and they are very comfy, plus they flex a little so they won't break. Since then I have made and sold a few of these basic frames to fellow reenactors.



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nathan
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Re: What does the public see?

Postby nathan » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:37 pm

I think there are a couple of things going off here:-

Answering the OP wider question what do the public see, they see a chap in glasses. It's a sad fact that a lot of MoP don;t ask questions and take what they see at face value. I'm willing to bet for every person who asks 'so did they live in tents all the time then' when they see all of the structures at a medieval event there are more than one who just assumes that was the case because that's what they are seeing.

But there are wider considerations perhaps.

Groups inherently have the right to make determinations of what they deem 'authentic' and restrict the costume, equipment or even activities of it's members. The implicit social contract you make when joining that group is to conform with that determination or provide compelling evidence that the existing determination is in some way deficient so that the definition of authenticity is changed. This could equally be applied to 'women fighting on the battlefield', 'wearing the colour red' or 'wearing glasses'.

Some clients (most notably EH being the biggest out there) may also have authenticity or other requirements laid out when a group performs at their site. The group decides if these conditions (e.g. 'women may fight but only if dressed as men') are acceptable, asses their ability to meet the contractual obligations and decides to work (or not) under those conditions. I believe (though those that do later periods than I) that EH has a blanket exclusion for glasses on any medieval or earlier group.

I don't think anyone active in UK re-enactment would see any concerns with this as it is all fairly normal stuff.

As I understand it the vast majority of early (prior to the C17th) corrective lenses were of relatively low power and designed to correct near vision rather than distance vision, effectively these are reading glasses. Perfect to help the literate minority as they age but of no use to somebody like say for example me. Some groups may then choose (as is their right) to work on the basis that the lenses exist therefore wearing that type of glasses is ok.

In a way I can in part see an aspect of the OP's conundrum, 'well if that is ok then why can;t i just wear my actual modern glasses', ff course that again is the groups call really.

Out of curiosity can anyone provide provenance for the leather frames worn around the ears type frames posed higher up this thread. I'm a little out of touch on common thinking in the medieval societies since i moved over the pond and it's always nice to learn something new.

Oddly since i moved and am now re-enacting (a bit at least) in North America the culture here is fairly different. Without major clients like EH setting some high level rules in place and with the dominance of the SCA as somebody involved in 'Viking' re-enactment over here I'm asked the question 'why can't I wear my glasses' all the time. The Vikings Vinland being a part of of the Vike of course inherit the basic set of standards from the parent group in the UK.

Being somewhat afflicted I guess I get to have an opinion as to why it's not the done thing without being seen as a ----ist.

The vast majority of people I speak to who have concerns actually have fairly ok vision (prescriptions around the 2 diopter level) for the majority of activities around the average re-enactment camp it's not too hard to adjust to working without glasses. There are a few activities it's worth avoiding (I can't do fine metalwork on site).

Most people can wear contacts (though they may be uncomfortable at first) and get near perfect vision (reading could be a problem) a daily disposables used to cost me a couple of quid a pair (and i found i can really only wear one quite expensive brand for more than 4 hours). It took a couple of tries with an optician to get the right mix but that's what the 5 day free trials are good for (i know more than one person who has never paid for lenses, they go to a couple of different opticians and keep asking for a trial of xxxx).

The main thing there as I say is to work with an optician, when I moved here and I asked about getting a prescription refill the optician was _very_ cautious (for a whole bunch of reasons). After I explained I wore then for 8 hours a day maybe 4 days in the month he was far more willing to work with me.

Occasionally you will come across somebody who really actually cannot wear contact lenses (unfortunately so many people who say they "can't" mean "they don't really want to") and if they feel they won't get everything they want out of the hobby with unassisted vision then I'm more than happy to help them find something more suitable for them (early modern period or SCA over here or a later medieval group when I was in the UK).

2d
N. (who even in contacts can't drive or for that matter be trusted to cross a busy road, never mind do horrendously fiddly things with metal)


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Strickland » Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:13 pm

SirRustbucket wrote:Just a quick helpful hint: I spoke to a capital fellow at Tutbury not so long ago who'd made his own leather-framed glasses.

I actually think that would be a really easy DIY project, even for a complete novice to leather crafting, as long as you have an old pair of glasses that you might be willing to sacrifice...people need to be encouraged to make their own kit. :D I'd be happy to give pointers!


That would be the very fine Steven Pole on this very forum!!


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Re: What does the public see?

Postby lillicat23 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:29 am

When I first started re-enactment it was with the Vikings. I joined a group, trained, made a lot of effort getting the right kit and ensuring it was authentic. I turned up at a show with my group and got a dressing down from one of the organisers for having blonde streaks in my hair and was made to cover my head. The irony was that the fella had a tongue bar in at the time. At least that solution was free, but I'd have refused to remove my glasses.

We should make an effort as we try to be authentic as possible, but I think some groups take it way too far. If you want to use cotton instead of linen I don't see a problem. If you need to wear glasses then I don't see a problem with that either. Re-enactment can be expensive if you don't have a disposable income or a trade where you can barter. I'm lucky enough to be able to afford and wear contact lenses but other members in my new group aren't and I wouldn't endorse a decision that meant they were wandering around blind - it would endanger them and MOPs. Safety has to take precedence over authenticity and if an MOP challenges us on this then they need to be put in their place, plus I wonder if someone is severely short sighted whether there would be any discrimination liability against the people running the groups/shows and refusing to let people take part.

I've been to a lot of shows and met many groups with different takes on authenticity. Some groups can go to far and it almost becomes a clique where you'll have the purists looking down their noses at those that aren't as experienced/educated in the period or can't afford to purchase the things that are needed.



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Re: What does the public see?

Postby Brian la Zouche » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:00 am

i DO get the many points raised, but the, ''i cant afford to do it authenticly'' one to me doesnt hold water..


however if your group if fine with it. whats the problem ?, groups have so many different levels, and each to their own, its their choice ( and rightly so )

i am not as anal about authenticity as some, so yeah i'll have machine sewn where it cant be seen, tho i know some groups even find this unacceptable. and its just a fact of life, that if i wanted to join a group who insisted on everything being hand sewn, i could not afford to join them,........ no matter how i tried to justify it




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