Monday, December 22, 2014

Our holiday photo began with a manicure crisis- I was headed to the St. Augustine Archaeology Association's annual holiday party where us FPANers had offered to present our 6 minute Pecha Kucha's we performed for Florida Archaeology Month.  Mine was the ever popular "Majolica Manicures" that features several of the nerdy but authentic manicures based on some of the 215 historic ceramics found in Florida.  True, I could do the talk with naked nails, but with only 6 minutes to explain its easiest when my nails can be a contributing visual aid to the presentation.  So minutes to go before heading out the door, I begin to panic: red!  What ceramic is decorated in red?

Photo credit: Chipstone Foundation.
I don't know of any Florida majolica the features red decoration, but I do know that English shell-edged pearleware featured red and green rims.  Shell edging is found worldwide after it begins production in 1775.  For us in Florida red shell-edged would date to the very late end of the British Period, throughout the Second Spanish period, and blue and green shell edged would continue to be popular up through Territorial.  Red and green overglaze enamels were applied to Rococo-inspired edges popular from 1775-1810.

Previous attempt at blue shell-edged pearlware.
 Step 1: Apply historically appropriate, ceramic inspired manicure to hand.

Started with naked nails I applied a China Glaze white.  Trickiest part is getting the white to even out.

Add alternating red and green tips.


With a thin white brush I cheat and paint over the color to achieve the fine edged lines.  And voila!

Step 2: Take photo at archaeologically appropriate site.

Most the time I wear a ceramics inspired manicure the unsuspecting public is not aware of what I'm doing.  For the holiday photo I wanted to be sure people understood from the picture alone that it was a ceramic or at least from the world of an archaeologist.  I have no active site of my own, so I headed over to the diggin'est man I know, Carl Halbirt - St. Augustine City Archaeologist.  He has several sites open currently, including at the St. Augustine Art Association.  Carl was not on site yet, but SAAA president and faithful volunteer Nick McAuliff joined in the reindeer games.

Was going for a nice stratigraphy shot.

Realized I was holding the Marshalltown wrong, proper position is with thumb on the blade.

Found a nice dirt pile under the screen and went for the buried effect.

Just as I was leaving I noticed a nice pile of SHELL!  Get it?  Shell edged?  Plus Nick thought if it didn't work out for the holiday photo I could reuse it for Halloween.  Creepy, no?
Then, just as I was really truly leaving the site what should appear before my wandering eyes?  An actual green shell-edged rim sherd, in the shape of a tree!

And add a little photoshop magic (thanks EmJ!).  Tah Dah!

For more ceramic-inspired manicures check out these previous posts:

For more #MajolicaMani posts check out:
*Initial Feb 2013 posting MajolicaManies.
- See more at:

For more information on FPAN, check out our website and Facebook.  For more on shell-edged ceramics a great place to start is the Diagnostic Artifacts page of the Maryland Archaeology Conservation Lab website.  Or check out their reference list below.

For more #MajolicaMani posts check out:
*Initial Feb 2013 posting MajolicaManies.
- See more at:
For more #MajolicaMani posts check out:
- See more at:
For more #MajolicaMani posts check out:
- See more at:
For more #MajolicaMani posts check out:
- See more at:
For more #MajolicaMani posts check out:
- See more at:
Hunter, Robert R., Jr. and George L. Miller
1994   English Shell-Edged Earthenwares. Antiques, March 1994: 432-443.

Majewski Teresita and Michael J. O’Brien
1987   The Use and Misuse of Nineteenth-Century English and American Ceramics in Archaeological Analysis. In Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, Volume 11. Edited by Michael Schiffer, Academic Press, New York, pp. 98-209.

McAllister, Lisa S.
2001   Collector’s Guide to Feather Edge Ware; Identification and Values. Collector Books, Paducah, KY.

Miller, George L.
1980   Classification and Economic Scaling of 19th Century Ceramics. Historical Archaeology 14:1-40.

1991   A Revised Set of CC Index Values for Classification and Economic Scaling of English Ceramics from 1787 to 1880. Historical Archaeology 25:1-25.

Miller, George L. and Amy C. Earls
2008   War and Pots: The Impact of Economics and Politics on Ceramic Consumption Patterns. In Ceramics in America, edited by Robert R. Hunter. Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee, pp. 67-108.

Miller, George L. and Robert R. Hunter Jr.
2001   How Creamware Got the Blues. In Ceramics in America, edited by Robert R. Hunter. Chipstone
           Foundation, Milwaukee, pp. 135-161.

Text and Images: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff except where noted in photo caption.

One Response so far.

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