Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Girdle is done

Jewelry always looks so much better in person than in my pictures. I should have taken some close ups. This girdle belt  is made of glass pearls, textured goldtone chandelier findings with amber crystals, and blue glass beads with gilding. One thing it doesn't have is a jumpring. They are my nemesis. I can never keep the things closed, even when I solder them. I've spent more time maintaining my last two girdles than wearing them. Except the pearl one. That one has stayed together wonderfully since it is entirely strung on wire.  This one is a combination of wire lengths and head pins. I'm hoping it will stay in one piece.

There's a frame on the end that I hope to eventually put a miniature of my husband in.  Just as soon as I get around to painting it.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Not very exciting, but this is the picture to prove I made it because, unlike Oonagh in her discussion of "The Elusive Smock," I won't be wearing this by itself for pictures. I wanted to try the bodies both under and over the camicia to see where I stand on the various theories regarding the Venetian V bodice. I've got the stomacher, a boned bodice that can be worn without bodies if necessary, a pair of heavily boned bodies, and the camicia, so this is the sleeveless under camicia or smock to give me the full gamut of possibilities.  While it does have a bit of lace for straps and across the top, I also thought it would make a reasonable intima for wearing as an underlayer with my Roman in the super heat of the summer since it won't be visible. It's just a couple of rectangles with triangular gores in need of an iron, but it exists and I'm sure I'll get a great deal of functional use out of it.

Much gaudier gauds

Can I just say that this is a huge improvement on my past rosary attempts?  My first one made of rose petals was very sentimental with the roses and help from my children making the beads, but was not very authentic.The gauds were far too small and the beads made of rose petals not remotely documentable.  The second gold one was reasonably close to some of the extant types, but even with loads of gold beads it just didn't have any oomph. I'm super happy with the new one, and I think it has something to do with the extreme contrast between the jasper ave beads and the big goldtone gauds.  Because of the late date of the dress, it comes after a papal bull issued by Pope Pius V, Consueverunt Romani Pontificies.  Issued in September of 1569, the bull standardizes the use of the rosary to the 15 decade Dominican version.  The 5 decade rosary with the 3 antiphone beads in the dangle became the norm for rosaries that weren't used by the clergy.  I loosely based mine on an emerald rosary in Munich dated 1600 featured on Chris Laning's  Paternoster blog. Her supposition is that it is Spanish because of the materials. I wanted to try the cross made of beads, but couldn't get a bead to drill cleanly to make the center so I settled for a tassel instead. And yes, I do realize that this ensemble has bunches and bunches of tassels.  What can I say? I like them.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another lace camicia

I really did intend to make a different sort of camicia this year.  Honest.  I just truly love wearing the one I made last year with the lace inserts. I made a plain one this winter and I never wear it, opting instead for the lace. I was really impressed with all of the embroidery and such on so many of  the other competitor's camicie but nothing spoke to me as much as crazy amounts of lace (I used about 50 yards.) I did do an integrated ruffle and cuffs on this one rather than using the twill tape and mounting lace on that. It also has a more tightly pleated neckline so it is smaller and doesn't have the problem of going down my arms like last year's was doing in the pictures of the corset and petticoat. Those are about the only differences other than my use of a different lace pattern.  Oh, and this one is linen/cotton blend rather than the cotton batiste of last year's/

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Maybe they're pianelles?

I have hearts on my toes!

There are a few things I can already tell I want to fix in the next incarnation, but they fit and they're fun. A little wider that I would prefer,the lining didn't work, and the openings are a little bit lower on my (total lack of) arch than they could be, but on the whole I'm happy for a first try. You can't really see the smaller cuts, but the center is actually an angular heart pattern taken from Ostaus' Perfection in Design. The vinyl just doesn't want to play nice. I'm sure it will look much cleared in leather. On the plus side the issues with the cuts and pinks spreading I was worried about don't seem to really be an issue, which makes me think the weight of leather I used for my previous pairs of slippers has been too light. I'm also considering a weld so the edge turns better. It would bring me closer to real turnshoe construction. I'm hoping to eventually step up to lasted type construction, when I've got a bit of cash to throw at it,  but that will be awhile. For now I'm moderately happy with making soft slippers to match my different gowns.

I put some scrap linen in to the shoes to take a picture and it convinced me the plain white stockings I had cut will have to wait while I make some light orange ones. Much more exciting. They should also work with both my blue drawers and the red and orange petticoat and tie all my color whimsy together.

To pink or not to pink

That is the question I've been fussing with all of last evening and this morning. I have the pieces cut out for the shoes and I need to decide what I'm doing with them. The two shoes I'm using as design inspiration are both heavily pinked/slashed/cutte in intricate lace-like patterns. They're pretty spectacular.

The first pair is in the MFA in Boston. They have narrow tongues, pinked side openings, and large round medallions framed by scallops. The decoration is on the quarters as well, wrapping clear around the foot.  The leather is alum tawed and the shoes look incredibly delicate. They probably did, in fact, fit like a glove.  My second pair of inspiration shoes reside in the Deutsches Ledermuseum and are dated 1590-1600. These have intricate cutwork as well. The tongue isn't as long as on the other pair and the latchets are more narrow. It also is a very delicate looking shoe. Both appear lightweight and flexible and perfect for wearing with an overshoe/zoccoli of some type. I don't want to make another pair of tall chopine style shoes, but I have been considering the shorter pantofles/pantobles/mules/whatever they are called.  Since I don't have the tools and technique to do lasted type shoes, but enjoy making these soft slippers to match my individual dresses, having a pair of overshoes easily worn and easily slipped off and on seems a good idea for outdoor wear.  Whether I will get them done for the Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge is another matter entirely.

But, back to slashing.  I have the pieces for my shoes cut out in blue. I wanted leather since I prefer to work with that, but since this is a first run of the latchet style and I found the perfect color, I'm basically doing a mockup-I-intend-to-wear-for-a-while in vinyl. Yeah, I know, I'm not all that thrilled either. I tested a bit of pinking on a scrap and it looks like it will work. The only concern is that it doesn't show very much. I'm hoping that will change as I move my foot. I will  be lining the shoes so the interior of the vinyl doesn't show, so, if I pinked them, a bit of gold lining might flash which would be fun. I'm also planning gold ribbons through the latchets. The biggest cons to pinking are stability of the shoe and whether the cuts will cause gaping and distortion and time. On the other hand, I've already wasted quite a bit of time worrying about this, so doing it might at least make some of that time worthwhile.

Oh, and since we're talking slashing, there's also the question of the sleeves.  I think they're done, but maybe they need some cuts and pinks. What do you think?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sorry for the long silence

I've been freaking out a bit about the dress and the other pile of stuff I've got to get done for family obligations.  Dropping out of the IRCC has occurred to me several times and I've been rather whiney, which I'm sure y'all don't need to hear.  But, I'm back in a better mood and we'll spend some time playing catch-up since. I need to show off my garters, the apron, and the stomacher from the last update,so lets start there. 

So, there they are.  Silk garters with blue fabric left over from my Lotto/ACC dress. The reticella stomacher made from the recycled table runner, and my new apron, which also includes vintage lace.  I feel like I should talk more, but the construction on all of those pieces was pretty straight forward and I've obsessed about the research previously, so there's not too much to say really.

Regarding current progress.  I need to rescue my camera from kids again and I'll get to documenting what I've done in the last two-ish weeks.  As of this morning the dress is done, as are the sleeves. I just need to decide how I'm attaching them. The girdle is done, as is the veil, and the sleeveless undersmock.  The camicia is about half smocked. Stockings are cut out. I still have buttons and frogs to attach to the cappotto and need to finish the sleeves up.

The biggest projects left to go are the ruffs, the jerkin, gloves, and shoes. The ruffs have me utterly terrified so I need to get to those soon. Gloves are just a matter of doing them when my hands feel reasonably good since I have a well fitted pattern and mock-up. I want to try something a bit different with shoes and try a latchet style so that needs to be drafted still. I may work on the jerkin today or tomorrow depending on how quickly the stockings come together.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My keyboard works! My keyboard works! (oh yeah, I also painted a parasol)

In their ongoing efforts to make certain I don't have access to the outside world, my kids lost my phone and pried off the keys from my keyboard. That shouldn't have been a big deal, but they somehow or another shorted it out as well so it put a slash mark after every space and I couldn't use the z, b, 6, or shift keys. New keyboard arrived this afternoon and I'm pretty thrilled.

I sent in an update to Bella with the 5 or 6 projects I got done since the last one and really want to say something other than what I said there, but I'm not sure what else to babble about. I'm starting with the parasol as it was a Mother's Day gift from my kids and I'm trying to remember how much of a joy children are and how much I love my kids-- even if they do have destructive tendencies.

Just for size reference, the frame this thing is balanced on is the floor frame I use for large embroidery and was made to hold a baby sized quilt (36x45" or so.) My kids usually have it covered in a blanket and it makes a pretty nifty fort.  We shop for my Mother's Day presents at the Ren Faire, so this is a canvas and bamboo parasol that is intended to be embellished. I thought that would mean it would go faster than the one I covered in silk last year. Nope. Painting it took more time than just swapping out covers. I do like the ability to customize for my heraldry though. My heraldry is an Apres with a ring of the seeblatter around it. The ring (orle) of inverted seeblatter works with the parasol fine, but I knew trying to put the bull in the center with the ruffly topper and the wooden finial wasn't going to go so well. Since I've been doing to much sculpting lately, the idea of making the bull three dimensional hit. He's done in blue polymer clay with gold horns and a ring of gold seeblatts around his neck. He is actually supposed to be vair (blue and silver or white with a patchwork effect) but my oldest son swiped the clay before I could use it and mixed the two colors together so my attempts to make a cane didn't happen. Instead there is a slight marbling/swirling effect, but mostly the two colors mixed and I got a lighter color cow than planned. To add some of the interest back I gave him his garland. I rather like it.

There was a great deal of empty space between the seeblatter and the apres needed something, so I added my impresa motto. I then edged it with some gold trim and a few tassels. They seem a bit spotty and kind of wimpy so I am going to look for some more fringe or possibly add more tassels or some larger ones.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Zibellino in blue

Another one of those instances where I really wish I could take a decent picture because this little boy is so much better looking in person. The blues are Swarovski crystals and the sparkle is pretty serious. He's a stone marten upcycled from a vintage stole and the fur is wonderfully soft. I did a beaded drop to attach to the girdle, but may have to attach him up at the waist since he's rather long. 

 I used Primo this time rather than regular Sculpy and I don't really like it. It is softer than Sculpy and I was fighting that. The ears kept drooping and the clay kept mashing on to the tin foil form I was using to support the head shape. I ended up having to remove it in bits after the head was baked instead of it just providing support and being easily removed.e

I had planned to do 2 matching heads in order to make a piece to be worn at the neck, but after I got the first one sculpted I decided I didn't want to try to make a second to match. I still to try that type down the road, but the right design idea hasn't hit me. I've got quite a few more stone marten, however, if inspiration does set in at some point soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bodice patterned and mocked up

I've been moving slowly with the cappotto, trying to finish my outer layer before I started on the dress. I feel so far behind everyone else right at this minute after seeing that several people have finished their dresses already, however, so panic has set in.  I'm hoping if I get at least the bodice done my dread will calm down and I'll stop freaking out about the deadline. I swear it feels like I've got nothing accomplished. I better switch in to high gear, I guess.

In between festivities and taking the kids places for the 4th, I patterned the bodice. It's my first time patterning something worn over a corset by myself and getting in and out of the corset to try on the pattern is a total pain. I'm pretty pleased with the result though-- even if the mockup is made from the ugliest fabric ever. It's a vintage 1970's canvas. I got a 3 yard piece for a dollar a few years ago and I honestly cannot give a good reason for why I bought it or why it is still in my stash.  But hey, it matches the rest of the project-- technically. It might even find its way in as interlining. Just as soon as I decide how many bones I want in the dress.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hairpin trials

After looking at pictures of extant pins, I decided  I really liked both the bodkin style of pin and the monogram style. I also decided I was too impatient to wait for my pewter, soapstone, and other casting supplies to arrive. So, scrounging and modifying other things became the plan.

I was a little worried about doing monograms as I've been considering changing my persona name.  I solved that by picking a second name just in case. The choice I'm looking at is Greek (so I can do both the Italian and Rus a little more easily with a culture that bridges the gap.) I'd be switching from Praksedys Turova doch' to Praxilla Taurinae. Either way the initials are the same and the surname means "Daughter of Bull." Conveniently, P and T rank right up there with X and Q for popularity and I found some silver charms on clearance for 50 cents a piece. I rolled some thin sheet metal as if doing an aiglet for the pin part. The charms slightly overlap one another to emulate the look of the Catherine de Medici C's. T's are, unfortunately, not very successful at interlocking. I do like the back to back P's though. 

To do the bodkin style pins, I turned a bad purchase to good use.  I had bought some vintage "serving spoons" in a pattern I loved. What they actually are is a demitasse spoon. They're tiny. Only about 4 inches long. As I don't collect spoons they were not doing me much good. They did have the look of the bodkin to them though, so I clipped off the bowl of the spoons with aviation snips and took the grinding attachment of my Dremel tool to them. I was a bit concerned that the ornament would be a problem catching in my hair and the short length an issue. I tried them out before gilding them and was pleased when a single pin was able to hold my bun in place for several hours. The bottom segments were sufficiently smooth to not get tangled in my hair and the points sharp enough.

I took a bit of spray paint to all 6 pins to prime them, and then went back in with a brush on one stage gold leaf. First hair pin trials seem to be a success. I have several more spoons that might get sacrificed and I might try some of the other styles as well. I'm still also considering painting the initials a bit to approximate the enamel of the inspiration, but I like the plain gold quite a bit.