Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here's the dress

In need of steam, the real bodice cords and the sleeves still, but its officially a dress. The weird bulge I was worried about in the right shoulder strap isn't there once its laced on rather than just pulled close to check fit so WHOO_HOO!

Even with the lining and padding in the cartridge pleats the skirt doesn't seem as full as I'd hoped. I think I may wear it with my larger gold petticoat rather than the salmon one I made for it. That actually sort of works out well. I wore the salmon one with the red dress at Solstice Court and it made the red dress skirt hang much better. The salmon one is shorter and lighter weight and the red skirt is more narrow that the one on the new dress. There are more than 200 inches in the hem for the blue and orange and it is cartridge pleated so I think the gold one will support it better.

I need to put chapes on the kumihimo cord I made to lace the bodice closed and I'm calling it quits for tonight. Bianca announced on the AErie that we needed to bring documentation to 12th Night and if we were doing that full documentation by midnight was optional but encouraged. I'm going with optional and spending the holiday with my husband and kids rather than scrambling. We have lobster tails, shrimp, a couple of bottles of mead and a big ol' pile of board games.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

I knew I'd forget something

34. Larva mask. My vizard/moretta isn't all that much fun to wear what with not being able to talk so I made a more wearable (and hopefully less creepy one.) It's plain and seems boring compared to what I think of when I think Venetian mask, but its more accurate to the research I can find.

35ish Not sure if this is really an accessory or not, but I braided a pair of silk bodice laces/accordoletta on my marudai.

Skirt is now on the bodice and I have a dress. It remains sleeveless, however. I did something funky to the muscles in my right forearm pushing the awl through the heavy layers in order to finish the eyelets for the front lacing. There are 26 of them and the bodice is 4 layers of twill (lining, flat lining and 2 for the boning layer,) 2 of wool felt, and the silk layer making it a bear to push an awl through. Add to that sewing several hundred cartridge pleats (silk, wool padding and twill lining) to the aforementioned 7 layer bodice and I'm just not up to any more hand sewing tomorrow. I guess I'll have to be sleeveless for contest end. I'm sure I can get them done before 12th Night but it just isn't happening in the next 12 hours in order to be officially counted.

I promise pictures (if crummy ones) in the afternoon tomorrow. Davey has confirmed that he'll be coming over to take nicer ones on Thursday to put in my documentation for 12th Night so y'all can see how these things really look as opposed to my terrible photos.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I know, I know, I haven't updated

I've been trying to balance sick kids, scrambling to finish and the holidays. I swear, I'll have pictures and updates soon. The dress is getting close. The bodice is done and I'm just putting the skirt on now. I already had it lined and pleated, so its just a matter of lots and lots of tacking to the bodice. We're taking the kids to their grandma's tomorrow so I hope to finish it in the car. Baragoni are cut and pieced, but I need to bombast them. Still need to cut and piece the sleeves. Its going to be really, really close as to whether the lower sleeves get done by the New Year's Eve deadline. I'm pretty sure I'll have the baragoni done, though.

I was looking at my list of stuff and realizing that I haven't blogged a lot of finished projects so there may be some quick pictures of piles of things to prove they're done and more leisurely posts after the deadline to actually show them off and talk about them. I think all my time is pretty much committed to dress finishing, so this is the list of my completed items unless something unforeseen happens and I find a time portal that lets me get an extra month to work.

Skin layer- Camicia. I finished the plain pleated one so don't need to substitute my lace inserted one, yay!

Main garment-Dress. Should technically be a "dress" by late tonight, some time after dinner. Obviously, I want to complete the sleeves as well, but they'll be getting done at the last minute despite my better intentions.

Warmth layer- Mantellina. Complete in all its handsewn, furlined, cutwork, pearled glory.

Accessory- Peacock feather fan. I think my giant fan of awesome is going to be my official layer 4. I couldn't be more pleased with the luxurious fantastic over-the-topness of it.

Additional garments and accessories

1.Gold coverciere/partlet (needs to be blogged)
2.Salmon linen petticoat (ntbb)
3.Blue linen drawers
4.Particolor leather slippers
5.White linen stockings
6.Blackwork garters with buckles and tassels
7.Orange silk saccocia
9.Fur lined muff
10.Tasseled bag
11.Nosegay (Needs to be blogged-- I even grew stuff!)
12. Sculpted jewel necklace
13. Peacock comb
14. Blue and gold girdle (ntbb)
15. White apron with orange accents (ntbb)
16.Pearl drop earrings
17. Pearl necklace
18. Pearl girdle with tassel
19. Paper and filigree flag fan
20.Chainmaille bracelets (ntbb)
21. Turban
22. Gold and blue hair ornament (ntbb)
23. Crazy curly hat (I made a lot of changes due to some new research so ntbb)
24. Silk sash with cast terminal decorations (ntbb)
25. Handkerchief (currently using my IRCC one since my drawnwork one is incomplete)
26. Zibellino (Using Galanthis since she's pretty awesome and I see no reason to make a new zibi- she was made within the contest parameters)
27. Chopines (using my original pair-- see above for reasoning. Also, I didn't get the pantofles I started done.)
28. Street veil with tassels (Again, using the IRCC one because I love it and it was made within the parameters of the contest.)
29. Parasol with fringe (ntbb)
30. Blue leather gloves (ntbb)
31. Zimarra (I'm REALLY close on the blue and gold. It might not get done by the deadline, in which case I will wear my other one, which is within contest parameters. I hope I can finish the blue to wear to 12th Night even if it doesn't make the sewing deadline though.)
32. Walking sticks (so I don't fall on my head wearing the chopines since I lack servant boys. Found a little research, but its lighter than I'd like. The sticks are fun though. Needs to be blogged.)
33. Blue and orange with gold pincushion. (ntbb)

Stuff I didn't get done and am grumbly about:

Pantofles-- Slide on wedgie sort of sandals to wear with my slippers rather than the crazier chopines. They're cut and mostly shaped but need finish work and to be covered. Guess its something to do in the spring.

Book-- Book of sonnets bound in cuir cisele (water tooled)leather. It was supposed to be just a quicky project for Realm of Venus Idle hands in October but very much mushroomed. I have 4 sonnets written and 2 illuminated. This is going to be a long term on going project.

Drawn thread linen handkerchief-- I have a basic braided border done but the hankie isn't anywhere near completion. It needs a good solid week of work minimum.

Needlecase-- I still haven't figured this out. I've tried a couple of other things since my early experiments but haven't figured out how to make it really work. I did make a little pincushion to hang from the saccocia, but would rather have finished the needlecase and maybe done something more like April/Aurora's gorgeous sewing kit

Pearled reta/caul-- I got the cords stretched on a frame, but didn't have time to stitch the pearls. A day or two would finish it.

Lightweight dyed silk veil-- Just never got around to ordering the silk so this one is more just an idea. I'd like to have one though. I think I'll be ordering it in a week or so just so I have one.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Filigree flag fan

My last attempt at a venterolla/weathercock fan/flag fan was a quicky thing I threw together to motivate myself and I have never been particularly thrilled with it. The handle was too short and I didn't care for the fact that it spun around on the stitches that attached the fan to the handle. After seeing the GORGEOUS fan Angela Bacci made for Idle Hands I was even more determined that I needed a fantastic fan. Angela's is machine embroidered and I don't have that option, nor the months I'd need to do the goldwork by hand but the filigree she used for the handle gave me an idea. I had the same square pieces in stash that I've used for hats and the collar on my zibillino and a bunch of other projects over the years. I was going to just do like she had and wrap the handle and then do the fan of cutwork leather. I even made a fan that way. Its very bright and fun, but after it was done it seemed more like Russian folk art than something for an Italian fan. That's not to say that the flag fans weren't fun. They were printed with rebus puzzles and music and other things.(Again, I'm taking documentation from Purple files archived page.) This image from At Home in Renaissance Italy is of a rebus puzzle poem from the late 16th century by Giulio Cesare Croce.
Another time I want to draw up one of the rebus from Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks (he composed dozens of them) and put it on a fan, but it just wasn't what I wanted for this one. This fan had to rival the peacock feather one I'd already made for elegance and decadence.

I considered doing a cut paper fan, especially after seeing Aine's printable fan based on the extant vellum one in the Marselleti collection in Venice.

I love the lacey reticella effect. So, I pulled out some bristol board and my filigree bits and started assembling my supplies. Seeing the filigree on the paper gave me a new idea, however, and the wheels started turning. I glued the filigree to the paper (on both sides) and thought I was happy with it, but then considered color. Then I added pearls and beads to the handle which meant I needed pearls on the fan. It kept escalating. After all, as Praksedys will tell you, "More is more." I can easily see how regulations forbidding decadent ones like the 1522 statute forbidding "fans of lynx and ermine with handles of gold and silver encrusted with jewels and pearls" happened. They're addictive. For further information on statutes and some great pictures, check out Anea's page on flag fans.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another attempt at a comb.

I spent a good part of October trying to make myself a comb after I gave up the idea of finishing my book of sonnets (which is still progressing, if very slowly.) I found and fell in love with this 16th century Italian ivory comb at the Met.
Its the only one I've found so far that is painted. Many of the others I've found have cast gold decorations (these are often liturgical combs,)some carving and inlay, or are just plain. Getting the two sided comb with variated teeth is something I have not managed quite yet. The first attempt at that was rather sad.
This one is actually the 3rd attempt. The first two didn't get this far. I spent hours on it sanding it only to have teeth break. I tried a hack saw first but had large chunks break out. Then I moved on to my Dremel and a carving bit. Obviously that didn't work very well either. There was less initial breakage, but it just doesn't look right and the teeth still broke when I attempted to sand them smooth. After getting this far, I came to the conclusion that there were 3 things wrong. The blade on my saw wasn't sharp enough. I needed to use more clamps, and my wood was too thick.

After looking at a couple of tutorials, I tried shaping the wood so it was more of a wedge shape tapering to a point at the edge of the teeth. Splitting it worked well for this. It worked really well, but I have not figured out how to taper the top and the bottom in order to do the double sided comb. I used a carving knife rather than a saw, and I clamped the blank in place so it wasn't sliding about. That got me a nice little comb. I think its a good start, but I have to figure out how to get the correct shape. Since I'd spent more than a month on it and not finished the Realm of Venus Idle hands Competition I just wanted to finish something before I gave in to discouragement. Therefore, I moved on to painting.

The ivory Italian comb has plants and animals painted on it front and back. The description also states that it has a heart enflamed in the center of one side. I decided to use my krin heart in the center, paint the floral and vine design from the bottom and to add some birds. I've always loved peacocks and with the color scheme of my dress it seemed natural. I based the shape on this window design from Packwood House in Lapworth, UK. the house is dated from the 16th century. The peacocks also bear a resemblance to those in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, so they seem a bit Rus flavored, making my persona happy. I inked the design in, added a bit of color with gouache, gilded it a bit with some gold leaf, and then went back in with some more black ink. Its sealed with olive oil and beeswax since its intended for use in my hair. I tried it out yesterday and it combs rather well, even standing up to some rather nasty knots and a bit of candy cane tangled and stuck in my hair thanks to my twins.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Purplefiles is down

And I am really sad! Katerina's site is one of my favorite places to go for inspiration and inspiration. Bella, Anea, and she are my top 3 places to start any crazy Italian research quest. I'm hoping she'll get back up.

I swung by this morning to help put together the references on my turban/headwrap. While they are far more common in Florence than elsewhere, I did find one beautiful portrait from Venice with one in it. By an unknown artist of the Venetian school and currently held at the Louvre, Portrait of a Young Woman has the sitter in a gorgeous blue headwrap. Bella has it in her 1520's section.
The references I have seen for Florentine headwraps seem to be for plain or embroidered linen. Again, I'm jumping off of Kat's research. You can see bits of it on the archived page, but most of the pictures are down. Several of the reference photos are from Carole Frick'sDressing Renaissance Florence. I have a copy, but it is currently wrapped and under the tree for me, so I'll have to add pictures after the holiday (I did sneak a peek before I wrapped it though.)

The Venetian portrait is most definitely not linen. As I had a full plate of embroidery already and love the luminosity of silk I went ahead and made mine from a long scrap of coppery brown silk I had in stash. I really love tassels and fringe, so added some, reversing the gold fringe on white from Guiliano Bugiardini's "Portrait of a Young Woman" for white fringe on gold(ish.) The picture is in the National Gallery of Art. The photo is from Hans Ollerman's Flikr photostream. Great closeup of the fringe and embroidery.
An embroidered headwrap is on my spring agenda. Its impossible to resist and would be useful for my Rus as an ubrus, to wear with my Persian coats, or in case I suddenly decided to do a 19th century odalisque My peacock feather fan would work wonderfully for that too. Not likely, but rather amusing.

Still have to work on tying the turban/headwrap correctle, but I think its very fun and love fun hair and hat options so I'm pleased with the overall effect of this quick project.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meltdown the first

The pretty picture of the fan is there to remind me that I am, in fact, getting things done even if it does not feel like it. There are holes in the top of most of my fingertips and ripped cuticles where I've ripped out hangnails. My hands are cracked and sore and I'm feeling stupid right about now. Christmas presents for my kids are actually at a reasonable place but the dress seems hopeless right about now. Therefore, I am posting a list of what I do have done and wearable in an attempt to make myself feel better.

Layer 1- Camicia. My lace inserted one would legitimately count and so this is technically complete. I have a second, plain one in process. Most of the panels have been hemmed and just need to be assembled with an insertion stitch and the sleeves and neckline gathered.

Layer 2- Petticoat. Salmon colored linen lined in chestnut linen and cartridge pleated. It is trimmed in green ribbon and corded.

Layer 4- Mantellina. Chocolate cotton velveteen lined in brown shearling with an intermediate layer of copper silk. Cutwork border accented with pearls. Completely handsewn.

Particolor leather slippers lined in wool with leather heart applique

White linen stockings with cotton lace cuffs.

Green edged garters with buckles and tassels. They feature blackwork hearts in tangerine silk.

Blue linen drawers with brass buttons trimmed in waterlily trim and lace.

Orange silk saccocia with orange and gold trim lined in blue linen.

Golden bead rosary on black silk with white ribbon tassel.

Gold tone beaded girdle with blue beads.

Pearl drop earrings.

Oversized jewel necklace with chain. Sculpted of polymer clay and gilded.

Half Persian maille bracelets.

Freshwater pearl necklace.

Pearl girdle with tassel.

Copper silk poste (scarf/sash) with tassels and pewter cast hearts.

Copper silk turban with fringe.



Black street veil.

Peacock feather fan.

Leather cutwork flag fan.

Fur lined muff with gold trim, pearl buttons, and chain.

Tassel bag.

Fringed parasol.

You will notice the absence of Layer 3-- the dress. Yeah, that lies at the heart of the meltdown. It'll get done. I hope. There are also several other accessories that I've already put a bunch of time in to that I'm hoping to finish. The trim and buttons on the zimarra continue to frustrate me. But the done list isn't half bad, and I'm really, really pleased with some of the pieces. The peacock fan, tassel bag, and muff are things I'm pretty proud of.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bodice cut and pieced.

My children have once again seized and broken the camera. With their assistance it now shoots the batteries across the room (my son broke the latch.) Since he had previously wrapped his kazoo in the last of the duct tape, I cannot fix the problem quite yet. Thus, there is no picture of the silk patchwork.

I'm rather pleased with it actually. I'm also pretty surprised at how quickly it went together. I had stressed about it a lot. Noelle was sweet enough to throw in the muslin we used to fit the bodice pattern in with the paper and I used it to sketch and cut up and divide the bodice to bits, then redrew the pieces with what I thought were generous seam allowances. Somehow they shrank (I blame how late it was when I finally cut it,) but it was enough. When I matched it back to the pattern it was pretty close with only a tiny issue on the shoulder strap. I "think" it will still be fine since it wasn't too far off. Trying to get the 4 strips to all come together squared at the shoulder with an angled seam wasn't as bad as I'd made it in my mind. At least I hope so. We'll see what happens once I actually get the whole sandwich put together and the shoulder seams done. Crossing my fingers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Still don't have a dress, but I am making progress on my A&S 50 challenge

I took a day off to work on a quick little belt pouch gift/prize to give to the cook who made the best bacon treat at Solstice Court. I wasn't able to stay to see what happened, but I hope whomever won it likes it. I decided to arbitrarily add it to my list of favors and tokens I'm making for my SCA A&S 50 Challenge. I have until the year 2015 to make 50 of them. I'm also doing a few other challenges; 50 skills Praksedys would have developed and teaching 50 classes head the list.

I haven't been particularly scrupulous about making my favors and tokens entirely historically accurate, instead working with what the intended recipient would like and appreciate and the budget and circumstance as in the case of the 100 wool rat site tokens I made for our Mystery Event in March 2010. This time around, rather than doing wet felting, I needlefelted the pouch since I'm still working on improving my felting detail work without tidying the lines with some dry felting. Here's the little pouch before I sewed it together (I forgot to get pictures once it was complete-- its a problem with most of my projects.) When complete, it was lined in a gold colored broad cloth and stitched together with a blanket stitch in yellow cotton. There was enough overlap with the flap that I didn't do a fastening and chose to not put belt loops or anything on it since I wasn't sure how the recipient wanted to wear it.

The gryphon is loosely based on the crest of the Crosby Garret Helmet, a Roman Silistra-type cavalry helmet dated between 100-300 AD and found and sold in 2010
Mine is far too cute and not nearly striking enough to be more than inspired by the original. Too many years of felting children's toys, I suppose. It also suffers from lack of texture. I'd like to try sculpting something like the crest in the future, its such a beautiful image.

It is a restored piece, however. A more recent find at Vindolanda in Jan 2011 has a similar gryphon (stated to possibly be by the same craftsman) that has not been restored.

Living in the "Gryphon Lands" of Artemisia, more images of gryphons are always nice to have and I'm sure I'll come up with a reason to play with it again in the future.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Drawers are done

Still haven't gotten around to doing an embroidered pair. Maybe for next year's IRCC? As I have a lot more colored linen than white linen in my stash I went with a pale blue. Since the petticoat is already orange/coral it seemed only right to alternate the other color. I also had a short length of vintage embroidered trim with waterlilies on it that I thought would be fun to use. My last pair of drawers were a straight leg. I like them but thought I'd try a different shape and went with the more full leg gathered into a cuff. I had just enough of the trim for cuffs and then added a simple lace. Rather than a lacing point I put a button on the waistband.

The general shape is very much like the embroidered pair I want to do eventually.
It's a later pair, being firmly early 17th century, dated about 1630. They're held in the Museo del Tessuto, Prato and written up in a number of sources. Go look at the link to Realm of Venus and check out the graphed embroidery pattern and extra pictures. I feel like drafting my pattern for the shape at least puts me a hair closer to making them. My cuffs are more elaborate than the narrow binding and ties of the extant pair because the trim dictated it. I used the trim as the front of the cuff and linen as the back, then added eyelets for ties rather than having them be self tying.

The legs are more full than they need to be and the waist a bit larger. I think its a reaction to my pink pair being a bit tight. Since its the holiday season I'm going to hold off on altering them until my New Year's weight loss resolution gets going.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Giant jewel of sparkliness

This is another one of those "learning experience" projects. It did not turn out remotely like I wanted it to, but I think it might be a stepping stone to get there. Just probably not in the next 3 weeks.

The large jewel sort of stuffed into the front of Lucretia's dress is rather intriguing. It has pinky/red gems and blue ones with a drop pearl. It has foliage and figures and the center is a giant flower. All kinds of interesting stuff going on.
Wikipedia's zoom is loads better than the images at the National Gallery and allows you to see the spiky topped flower stems and the faces of the cupids/putti.

While I would like to make a reproduction of the portrait jewel (in Sculpy since that's as close as I'm going to get to gold) I'm not so sure about my ability to sculpt it. I started on it and the proportions were not very good. I was having a tough time with the total 3 dimensionality of the putti. The entire piece also didn't seem particularly stable. And then my son tried to eat it and I gave up once I wrestled it away from him. I figured I'd start with something a little easier after that. I found this simple pendant dated 1540-1560 at the V and A (museum number M.242-1975) It is that simple because it is more concerned with the efficacy of the stones and their value as talismans, but I love the lines of it. I bulked it up a bit, both because of my sculpting ability as well as needing something more monumental.

Here it is before it hit the oven.
You'll notice the green and red stones, which is what I wanted (mostly. At least as far as the confines of what acrylic stones I had to hand.) I sculpted it, pulled the stones out so they wouldn't melt and put it in the toaster oven. Then my children once again intervened. They ran off with the acrylic. I have no idea where. I had given them their own sparkly stones for "treasure" but that was apparently not sufficient. After several hours of looking I gave up and went back to the bag to see if there were other options. The only ones in the right sizes were blue and pink. I'm not against the blue, but I hate the pink. I think it makes it feel like its something you'd find in package with a tiara and plastic high heeled sandals in the kid's dress up aisle. Also, just to add to frustration, I thought I'd accounted for shrinkage, but not enough. I broke a bit of the setting on the bottom stone getting it in to place. Even after sanding it down it didn't go in smoothly. So I added the pearls to disguise the fix. Then I added some more so it wouldn't look like they'd been tacked on in the end. Every place where I had had little gold balls I removed them and replaced with pearls. Not sure I care for the effect. To make things not so visibly Sculpy, I used liquid gold leaf and then buffed it with a wax gold finish to try to pick up some of the detail. Loads of gold chain and a clasp finish it out.

As I said, learning experience. I thought the acrylic would look fine since they are table cut. The color is a huge issue, however. Some colors look fine and others do not. While the blue and pink is actually pretty close to those in the original jewel, using a semiprecious stone of some kind might be a better option, especially to counterbalance the fact that I'm using a polymer clay. Another few attempts at sculpting is going to improve things over all, and I might get crazy and try the figures in the portrait. I think a bad looking attempt at the portrait necklace is going to make me feel better than a marginally better attempt at something that is already a compromise.

So, making my own sculpted medallions/pendants is going to go in to the pile where comb making is. I'll try again another time. Its something that I certainly want to figure out at some point.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Working on garters

I spent the weekend on the road where I determined that my garters are the perfect travel project. Since they're a repeating counted pattern all I needed was needle, silk, and the garters which all were easily shoved into my pocket. If I had daintier legs they'd be done, but I am rather close to finishing the first one. Just have to do the return journey on one section and attach the buckle. I'm working on a prefinished aida cloth trim that I bought at the thrift store. I got an entire roll (about 100 yards. . .) for $2. I'm pretty thrilled at having come up with some way to use it. Its ten squares wide so it limited the patterns I could use, but one of the first places I ever encountered blackwork, The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework had a repeating heart motif that I've always loved. While that's not exactly an historical source, it is very similar to this pattern from Nicholas Bassee's New Modelbuch of 1568.

The chart is one of Claudette Ziemann's. It used to be available for free in "The Bronwyn's Blackwork Library" but has been taken down. You can still find it via The Internet Archive. The difference between the historic one and the modern is the stair stepping rather than the use of diagonal lines for the sides of the hearts. Leslie Wilkins has a fill pattern very similar to the Reader's Digest one in her Beginner's Guide to Blackwork pictured on one of the band samplers, but it is not charted. Rosemary Drysdale has a chart for the smoothed out heart border identical to the Reader's Digest one in The Art of Blackwork Embroidery.

I started with the hearts and made a few adjustments. I modified the cross in the heart by adding more diagonal lines and turned the cross into something closer to my fleur/krin. That was about it though. This is the fastest pattern I've ever done since its totally straight journey, no trips off the line.

I'm planning to put a buckle on one side and did a bit of fringe on the other end. I left it long enough so it can loop around and hang down. I don't have any documentation for this form of garters, but the last time I went looking at extant examples they were so wide ranging in design that I don't feel that it is crazy. Sprang, woven, macrame, embroidered, knitted, plain fabric, leather. . . the only thing they have in common is that they hold up stockings.

I'm hoping to finish the other garter next weekend at Solstice Court. It's the perfect sort of project to have at an event and I have the entire day without my children to chase.

I finally found somewhere that has the fabric I used. I was looking for cotton aida cloth trim or ribbon. Apparently its called banding or just aida bands. Zweigart makes one that seems to be what I have and its available in lots of colors. Not for nearly the nothing I paid for mine, but I like it so its nice to know I can get more. There are also similar products in linen. I was thinking this sort of thing might be fun to make for largesse as either garters, bookmarks, or trim. As I said, its a fabulous travel project.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last pearl is finally stitched on the mantellina

I've apparently been getting the word wrong. I originally ran across the article of clothing at Mistress Belphoebe's site.
From there I dug a little and found three portraits in the Realm of Venus' selection of portraits. Two are by Licino and the third by Catena, all of them in the 1520-30's.
They remind me a great deal of modern fur stoles, especially the Licino ones which are squared in the front and have interestingly shaped hems.

I didn't have enough fur around to make something this full, but Davey had picked up a beautiful chocolate brown shearling hide to play with. He brought it over for me to look at and I swiped it and cut out the mantellina right then since I had the outer cut from brown velvet. The ones in the portraits might be velvet, might be fur. I really can't tell. I ran across Katherine's mantellina and her discussion of the mentions of them in Moda a Firenze Kat lists wool,taffeta,satin,and velvet with ermine lining. Red is the most popular color listed. Embroidery of gold and decorative frogs are also mentioned. As I don't have a copy of Moda (yet) I haven't done my own reading. I'm really grateful for her summary of options other than the dark and plain ones in the portraits. Not that dark fur isn't beautiful on its own, but I like playing with embellishment.

It's gone through a few design changes. There was the moment of peach flowers. Then I moved on to trying some cutwork to expose one of my favorite flaming orange silks. I designed something that I hope looks like my Krin/fleur on a heart, but isn't so detailed that it is out of style with cutwork designs.
The velvet has a bit more stretch than would have been ideal, especially with the curved shape having most of the mantellino on the bias. When I clipped the krins, it sagged out of place and refused to lay nicely. I didn't interface the velvet or treat the edges. It was a conscious choice, but I wouldn't do it that way again. In trying to come up with a solution, I decided to add some pearls to further decorate the points where I tacked the cutwork motifs in to place.

I'm mostly happy with how it ended up, but it was another of my harebrained decisions. In adding the pearls, I could not use a glover's needle that would have made it easier to put the tacks through the velvet and silk in to the leather of the shearling. I needed a small pair of needle nose pliers to pull the embroidery needle through the leather after awhile as my fingers got cramped and full of holes. I ended up bending about 7 needles in the process of putting the 351 pearls in place. It's not that many pearls, but it certainly seemed like more.

Originally, I had a collar on this, but the curve of the mantle was sitting too far up on my neck once I finished it. I took it off and re-cut the back neckline. I was going to add the collar back on, but decided to keep it closer to the portrait shapes. The largest reason for this is the general lack of collars in the 1530's dresses/partlets/etc. After spending some significant time looking at partlet styles over the last couple of days, a collarless mantle seemed more correct. It is also more in keeping with Katherine's mention of the wearing of mantellinas under other coats for additional warmth. With the oversized baragoni of the dress, trying to stuff more under the zimmara didn't seem like much fun or at all comfortable.

I'd toyed with some gold frogs or edging the mantel in a gold lace, or maybe putting a flat gold braid on the inside of the cutwork, outlining a border. I'm afraid it would further downplay the cutwork and the contrast from the orange. I'm open to suggestions, however, and to be contradicted since I want this to pop and look as finished as it can, especially after all the time spent on it so far. In the meantime, I added a subtle antiqued bronze clasp I've had in stash for a couple of years. It has vaguely heart shapes in the filigree and the color blends nicely in to the velvet. I'm declaring victory and moving on.