Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This amuses me

I was up late last night (early maybe?) after being awoken by my younger son and was browsing portraits when i came upon this one and then had to stay up until I figured out what in the world is going on in the right corner. What is that attached to her girdle? It's not a zibellino. What IS it?

The title I found it listed under was doing nothing to help me; just a standard "Portrait of a Woman." This one is by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo. After a bit of hunting I found a further title. "Portrait of a Woman as St. Margaret." That opened it up. Its a dragon. This is an allegorical portrait of a woman as St. Margaret of Antioch. Martyred in 304 AD, she is another virtuous woman of Old Rome put forward as an ideal to be emulated. The dragon is one of her symbols. I seem to keep finding these type of portraits and falling in love with them. The Lotto gown I love is also an allegorical portrait of a famous virtuous woman. Also in a strange pose. Margaret here has a furrowed brow and that great turn of her arm that makes her look so tough, while Lucretia has that "masculine pose." For more on the furrowed brow, check out this interesting article by Clare Renkin.

I really like the quirkiness of these and the fancy dress/dress-up aspect of them. The layers of meaning while still getting to wear something fashionable. I'm sort of tempted to find my own woman of historical virtue and define her allegorical dress as an exercise. Or maybe just make a stuffed dragon to wear attached to my girdle.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Long time no post

I've been buried under a giant pile of grapes, plums, quince, and crabapples that I am attempting to turn in to jams, jellies, and other concoctions. Almost finished and then its on to Halloween costumes for my kids. I'll try to get a real post up soon, even if its just about the fun stuff I cooked up. Some of it is even from historical recipes (chardequince and pekmez to drop some names.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More stuff to put in the bag

Still slowly working on the ubrus and the "hat of doom" but I made some quick notions to go into my shoulder bag for fun. I did some thread winders in the krin motif. I had some little bits and pieces of rawhide scrap at the top of the crafting closet I ran across while I was cleaning last week and I've been trying to figure out a project so I could justify continuing to not just throw it out. I pulled them out the other night and ended up making thread winders. I'd made her a pocket and still had needlecases on the brain due to the fresco picture of the socaccia (one day I will figure out how to make one!) and the inspiration hit. The new owner of the pocket is an embroiderer so something to keep her threads in order seemed like a good idea. Her heraldry has owls and the thread winders turned out adorable if I do say so myself. I liked them so well I had to make myself some. The started out plain with just the silhouette, basically heart shaped. I added the spur shapes on the outside to make it a little more and then the drawn in fleur got cut out. Once I got them sanded I decided some paint would liven them up. Then, since I'm not known for restraint they got some gold. I didn't have quite enough rawhide for the dozen I'd planned, but I did get 10 done. One went missing as I took the picture. It's here. Somewhere. . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

I really do have a thing for hair toys

I keep finding more pretties. Here's another beautiful ivory Italian comb from the 1600's. Not as flashy as the painting and gilding of my current favorite but beautiful. If you have anything like my weakness you should go have a look at where this comb lives. It is part of the collection of The Creative Museum. An entire museum of nothing but hair accessories. Dreamy! I've been randomly wandering through the collection by geographical area. I stumbled on to some to die for painted ivory combs with Persian miniatures and some lovely Etruscan inspired ones in the Italian section. Its a fabulous mix of stuff from up and down the timeline.

I think I'm going to dig out my own vintage collection of kanzashi from the 1940's and wear some silly, happy, over the top beautiful hair tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some days I just need to have someone apply the brakes

I do not have delicate hands. That fact was once again made clear to me as I drafted a pattern for mittens. Dainty fingers are not among my graces. I am excited about the mittens, however, which is good since that was the point of making them.

I started the day with progress. The shoulder bag body is coming along nicely. I'm not so sure about the strap however. The applique stiffened the suede I was using enough that it may not need the lining i was planning, but it isn't heavy enough to make a good strap. I'm trying to decide if I should line it all in wool felt anyway and use 2 layers of suede for the strap with an interlining of the felt or try something else. Maybe do the strap out of a heavier leather, but that would introduce a 3rd color and type of leather to it and I'm not sure I want that. The whole thing gets further and further away from my extant inspiration. So, I put that aside and started working on a simple leather drawstring bag. It's a kalita or moneybag and should have been a nobrainer. There's one in Novgorod and its just a plain drawstring bag with a leather drawstring. But, I had the leather out for the applique and I started thinking how cool it would be to make it match the shoulder bag and I drew a nifty krin motif and cut a couple out. While I was at it I thought how these colors just so happen to be perfectly matched to the silk bodice laces I braided for the Italian dress that don't fit into the eyelets. And it snowballed and my plain pouch now had an applique and silk drawstrings and in no way resembled my nicely documented kalita.

So then I thought, "I should use the applique from the bag to do a comb case, because that would be something I could document and it would still be nifty and be another cool thing to put in my bag." Did I mention this decision was made at 4 AM? That information might be important. . . So, then I spent the better part of the day looking at combs. I found everything but what I wanted, which was a nice single sided wooden comb. I wanted that because I already HAVE on of those. No go. I can find single sided combs into the Viking age, but they're really not what mine is. I also found a GORGEOUS Lombard one decorated with sapphires and it would have been cool to attach some beads and baubles to my comb, but its 7th century. So, no go. There is also a beautiful 16th-17th century Turkish comb in ivory, gold, precious stones and rock crystal that is pretty identical to one in the Hermitage that has an embroidered goldwork case. There are Chinese and India examples as well and I might be able to make a case, especially as the Chinese is from a Mongol connected area. But honestly, a few bits of bling attached to a wood comb don't come anywhere near truly evoking any of these pieces. So, I figured I'd just carve a double sided comb. Then I found this ivory one with painting and gilding and fell for it. Unfortunately, the material to carve it isn't an easy thing. Ivory substitutes are basically plastic and I don't want to put all that work in to making a plastic comb. Especially when I could basically buy a plastic lice comb for $2 and have something similar. It just seems lame to go out of my way to do an historical item but have it be plastic. I had similar issues with the zibi, but it was the very best option and its not in contact with things like my hair. So, natural materials. I can't find bone blanks large enough (the width is the issue) and I'm not familiar with working with horn. So wood. I can make a wood comb. The issue with that is that, while wood combs are very, very common, wood combs are common. If you could afford the painting and gilding you wouldn't have had a wood comb.

That was my day. Fussing over the silly idea that was supposed to be easy yet let me use silly appliques and fit into my bag. The bag that seems to be getting further and further away from documentation. I'm still worrying it but am trying to move to a different project. I figured the appliques would look cute on mittens. I have pictures of a set of children's leather mittens and adults wore similar ones. I'm doing what are called "cold mittens." They are not fur lined. That goes back to the fact that I do not have dainty hands and mittens for me would use up a lot more fur than I want to invest in this. They'll be red leather lined in wool felt so they should still be toasty. Yes, my pattern mock up is Batman fabric. I'm working on placemats for my 4 year old son and its what I had out and in scraps. I started with this how to on leather "chopper mittens" and adapted it to have a period style thumb Seems like its going to work, we'll have to see tomorrow when I will hopefully have a clearer head.
My project just keeps getting sillier and sillier and more all over the place. Sigh. I guess at least mittens might be functional for other uses.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Leather applique is cut

I'd hoped to do the cutwork out of red and put it on a buttery orange leather I had, but the scrap wasn't nearly as large as I thought. So, I'm doing it the other way. Unfortunately the red leather is very, very lightweight. I'm thinking I need to interline it for structural stability so that the applique is visible rather than just sagging together. Doing that really steps away from the original pieces and I'd much rather buy a thicker leather, but I don't have room in my budget, either the $100 ACC one or my actual budget. So, I'm going to have a pretty shoulder bag with wool felt interlining and silk lining. Sumptuous, but not particularly accurate. I'm sort of bummed by that, but the result should be gorgeous.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I think I've changed my mind

Maybe I shouldn't plan. I just seem to change my mind anyway. Between a tight budget, the kids' need for Halloween costumes and warm clothes, Christmas plans, etc, etc, I'm going to have to put the book on the back burner. I considered simplifying it again, but I'm really excited about how it would be if done right, so I'm going to leave it until I can give it the attention it deserves and focus on the ACC and my family instead. I think I'm going to do a set of bracelets like those the fabulous Aine blogged about here. My husband does chainmaille, so I've already got the equipment and I am pretty sure I have a couple of clasps that will work. I want a set anyway and its a low pressure sort of project.

So, while I keep plugging away at embroidery on the ubrus, I thought I'd do a "quick" project and do a purse for my Russian outfit. Instead of the pockets Italian women went for, Russian women wore either bags attached to the belt around the underlayer (they belted their smocks) or shoulder bags. They were worn under the upper layers and reached by slits in much the same way as a pocket. This 15th century example is located in the Novgorod Historical Museum. Seems sort of fun and rather modern, even if we're used to them being on the outside of an outfit. So, I thought I'd give the shoulder bag style a whirl. I wanted something a little fancy but it couldn't involve embroidery, so I went with this interesting leather cutwork applique and adapted it a bit. The original piece is 12th-14th century, also in the Novgorod museum, and on either a bag or comb case. I'm leaning toward the comb case idea myself since they tended to be really ornate. I wanted the krin heart to be a little more noticeable than in the original, so it is slightly larger proportionally, I also changed the shape a bit, making the design more vertical and less horizontal. I also added an extra flower/vine to make that work. The mock up in paper is the picture up top. I'm going to cut it out of the same red leather I used on my Italian slippers (its the background in the picture) so it will really pop. I haven't decided yet if this will be the flap of the purse or the back of the purse with the flap on the other side.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Even more planning

I know, I know. Nothing much to see here. I have made bits and pieces of progress, but there's nothing to see yet. I've taken a few reference photographs of the kids for their miniature portraits and started writing the poetry. Well, I've put a few random words down on paper in forms that sort of vaguely resemble Petrarchan structure. It certainly isn't poetry at this point.

I'm trying to decide how crazy I want to be and if I want to weave the inkles (narrow strips of fabric) to attach the endbands of the book to. Its a late period method, but it was done and the bookbinding business was a big employer of the inkleweaver. It won't be seen, so it might be a good place for my unskilled weaving to be. It would add more authenticity, more handwork, and more things for me to babble about. Its also more work for no particular reason.

Other things to think about include the leather. Apparently goatskin was more common in Italian books than calfskin. I don't know how it would work with the cuir-cisele (water carving) I'm planning to use for the tooling of the cover though. There is this extant book box dated to 1475 from either Venice or Lombardia that is Italian, goatskin, and cuir-cisele so I'm probably safe but I have no experience with using goatskin leather so I'm nervous. I really love the central medallion on the book box though and it is causing me to consider changing my design to once again use the krin motif.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More planning

I feel like Pooh Bear. "Think, think, think." That's how the first day of the mini-challenge has gone. I've just been thinking. I have decided to meld several of the ideas. I think I'm going to do a series of Petrarchan love sonnets about the kids and Gandhi and the "wondrous occurrences" of our lives. I'll use the frame from the German manuscript since it is used in each of those miniatures 9although the flowers vary)and do miniatures to accompany the sonnets.

I was going through our wondrous occurrences, and there are actually quite a few that I think will illustrate well. My husband and I both realized we were in love while flying kites and celebrate our "kite anniversary." The illustration above is from Konrad Kyeser's 15th century "Bellifortis." I'm looking at other kite images, but since kites seem to be primarily of military use, its going to be stretch to use them. Not that that I won't. Should be a fun scene to draw. I'm going to start the poem tomorrow.

Incunable-- Isn't that a great word?

The word incunable comes from the Latin for swaddling bands. The word pretty much means "baby books." How awesome is that? The image to the left is from a 1482 printed edition of Euclid's Elementa Geometriaea. Isn't that the prettiest math book you ever saw?

I've been looking at pages and [ages of beautiful facsimile manuscripts and playing in the incunabla. Talk about a great way to start the day!