bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Unusual use of beeswax

Here's a rather unsettling use of beeswax as a cosmetic. It will be featured in the Pennsylvania German Folklife Festival this weekend:
Kocher explained that the linen canvas screens which are mounted on a stand and now used as ornamental pieces, served a practical purpose for wealthier Colonial women who had been stricken with smallpox.

The disease pitted their skin and many women filled the depressions with beeswax which they covered with rice powder, Kocher said.

“If you sat next to a warm fire your face would melt,” she explained, and the screens, which looked like “a framed piece of needlework on a stand,” were used to shield those nearby from the fireplace heat. The height of the screens could be adjusted for convenience, Kocher said, noting that she enjoys adorning the linen with various patterns.


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