Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Wigmaker, Barber..., Part 2: Powdering!!

Well frizzed and powdered, 1782.
Misses Annabella and Mary Craufurd (mistakenly
Crawford), afterwards Countess Lockhart
and Mrs Palmer. V&A
Another selection from the Encyclopédie Méthodique, Arts Mécaniques, "Perruquier-Barbier-Étuviste (Art du).

This time, let's have the English version, first.


The hairstyle being arranged, one has nothing else to do, but powder.

The best powder for the hair is made of wheat flour, and the pomade is of lard*; one puts the powder into a large box of tin, or in a sack of mutton skin.

The best powder puffs are made with the long bristles that are the tops of silk fabric (I am not sure about this, but this sounds like fringed ends from silk fabric. However, see the plate: the images show different materials!)

Begin by laying on pomade on the inside of the two hands, which you then pass lightly over the entire hairstyle; charge your puff with a little powder to powder "in half-powder style", as perruquiers term it.

This small quantity of powder suffices to make perceivable the hair which comes out from its general arrangement and [allows you] to cut it, after which you finish the powder.

For fear that the powder does not fall on the face and does not enter the eyes of the person being powdered, perruquiers give them a "horn"; this is a piece of pasteboard turned like a paper horn.
One hides one face in the large end of this horn; there are glass (glass-covered) holes for eyes, and air for breathing comes in through the small end; one holds it in one's hand.

* Many thanks to Marion Brégier for explaining that "satin-doux" is lard. Gracious, what a dandy name for something so, so, so...fragrant...

Madame Isis powders Marianne's hair. From Madame Isis' Toilette.
Now for the French original:


La frisure étant arrangée, il ne s'agit plus, que de poudrer.

La meilleure poudre pour les cheveux est faite de farine de froment, et la pommade est du sain-doux: on met la poudre dans une large boîte de fer blanc, ou dans un sac de peau de mouton.

Les meilleures houpes à poudrer sont faites avec les longues soies qui sont aux chefs des étoffes de soie.

Commencez par enduire de pommade le dedans de vos deux mains, que vous passerez ensuite legèrement sur toute la frisure; chargez d'abord votre houpe de peu de poudre pour poudrer "à demi poudre", terme de perruquier.
Cette petite quantité de poudre suffira pour faire appercevoir les cheveux qui sortent de l'arrangement général et les couper, après quoi vous acheverez de les poudrer.

Madame Isis prepares to powder
Caroline's hair. From Madame Isis' Toilette. Do
see the article!

De peur que la poudre ne se répande sur le visage et n'entre dans les yeux de celui que l'on poudre, les perruquiers lui donnent un "cornet", c'est une feuille de carton tournée comme un cornet de papier. On se cache le visage dans le gros bout de ce cornet; il y-a des yeux de verre, et l'air pour la respiration entre par le petit bout: on le tient à la main.



The process makes perfect sense: run pomade -- good sticky product -- through the hair with your hands, powder lightly, trim off any poorly cut ragged ends, and then finish the powdering.

Not that I relish hair that lacks softness and bounce and shine, but think how many people routinely spike or otherwise sculpt their hair into improbable shapes, or color all or bits of it in violent purples and hot pinks. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

What about the pomade's lard fragrance? I certainly hope that the perruquier either made or bought his pomade from a parfumier well mixed with good-smelling things. I've used pig lard to make winter bird food, and after five minutes with the stuff, had to take it outside to bury it -- well -- in the garbage. Granted, the 18th century nose, assailed as it was with strong odors every sort, from smoke and sewage to body odor, might not have objected out of hand to the scent of lard. Still, there were other, non-animal recipes. The Toilet of Flora (1772) has a chapter entitled Pomatums (pp. 152-176) with recipes for pomades of all sorts. These days, Ageless Artifice uses one of these recipes, with almond oil and beeswax, in their version. Isis discusses pomatum (pomade) at points in her blog. 

Yet ye gods, the idea of running one's hands through a beloved's be-floured hair...erk...


Okay, now for the plate. It's a repeat from last post, but you don't mind, do you? The implements used in powdering are at the bottom of the plate.

(Hey! If you haven't heard them, have a listen to the Icelandic band, Of Monsters and Men. First heard them on Tom Morton (Radio Scotland). What a band, what a sound! I know, they've been around a bit, but I'm a bit slow, you know.)
Planche II.
Plate 2.

Fig. 34, n°. 2, boîte à poudre; A, la boîte à poudre; BB, les boîtes à pommade liquide and forte; C. l'anse. Fig 34, number 2, powder box; A, the powder box; BB, the liquid and strong pomade boxes; the handle.
Fig. 34, n°. 3, pot à pommade liquide. Fig. 34, number 3, pot of liquid pomade.

Fig. 35, boîte à pommade liquide; A, le couvercle; B, la boîte. Fig. 35, liquid pomade box; A, the cover; B, the box.
Fig. 36, bâton de pommade forte. Fig. 36, stick of strong pomade.

Fig 37, sac à poudre pour porter en ville; AA, les cordons. Fig. 37, powder sack for carring in town; AA, the twists.

Fig. 38, poudroir à soufflet; A, la boîte; B, le soufflet. Fig. 38, powder bellows; A, the box; B, the bellows.

Fig. 39, houppe de cígne pour la toilette des femmes; A, la houppe; B, le manche.
Fig. 39, a swans-feather tuft for the women's toilette; A, the tuft; B, the handle.

Fig. 40, houppe sans tête. Fig. 40, tuft without a head.

Fig. 41, houppe à tête; A, la tête. Fig. 41, tuft with a head; A, the head.

Fig. 42, masque à placer sur le visage lorsque l'on poudre. Fig. 42, mask to place on the face when one powders it.

Fig, 43, cornet destiné au même usage. Fig. 43, horn meant for the same usage.


Madame Isis' Toilette (blog). Isis is making and testing 18th century receipts for pomades, rouges, powders, and more.

Hair and Hairdos of the 18th Century. La Couturière Parisienne.

Women’s Hairstyles and Cosmetics of the 18th Century: France and England, 1750-1790. Kendra Van Cleave. Démodé.

American Duchess (blog). Type 18th century hair into the blog's search engine and you'll find several nifty posts.


Marion Brégier said...

Super interesting read !
The pommade is of "saindoux", so... lard.

ZipZip said...

Dear Marion Brégier,

Ah, lard, sweet lard. Thank you so much! I will amend the text right away.

So glad you found this post interesting!

Very best,


MrsC (Maryanne) said...

So, basicaly one is coating one's hair in a roux, or treating it like caketin about to be used - the coat of butter/fat then the shaking over of flour! hehehe.

Isis said...

Pomades could quite easily be scented and the hair powder seem to always have been scented anyway, so I think that would mask the smell. Still, rancid pomades couldn't have been that uncommon... Ewwww!

Thanks again for a truly interesting post. And to feature me, too, of course!

I think I will need to try my hand on the bath sections, because that piques my interest. Or, rather, force a French speaking friend to check it... :)

ZipZip said...

Dear Mrs. C. and Isis,

You have me laughing: wonder what happens when you bake the hairdo, such as in the sun? Does it harden up or go to goo?

Isis, if you get the chance to work on the bath part, that would be so neat! Looks like there may be saunas?

Ah, herbal saunas. Pure bliss...

Very best,


lahbluebonnet said...

It's amazing how you've translated all of these latest posts. I only know a smattering of other languages.

I think I'll do the colonial natural hair look as I typically do! Not everyone powdered their hair and that sounds fine to me after this enlightenment! LOL


ZipZip said...

Dear lahbluebonnet,

Thanks! Translating is a fun sort of hobby: it's brainwork, like a crossword, but it produces something you can use, too.

A lot of American portraits show women with natural hair, sans powder, so there you go!

Very best,