Saturday, September 29, 2012

Quartz dust in the hair is not to be recommended

I need to add a hat or scarf to my protective equipment. I started out working with the cutting wheel to remove some of the unwanted bulk at the back edge. I'm also cutting the rock into a few smaller pieces.  Vaguely toying with shaping and polishing them up and setting them into the pewter findings I'm hoping to cast to make the girdle belt.  That may be FAR too ambitious for the next two weeks, however.

I was a bit too overzealous and pushed the first wheel, rather than letting it work it's own way through the stone.  Hence the discoloration.  It will wash off, so that isn't an issue.  Other than the destruction of the cutting wheel.

 After the third day (and an interval of waiting for more wheels in the mail, when I upgraded) of cutting, I shifted to starting to do some shaping and some smoothing with my carving bits, just to hopefully make myself feel better about progress.  It isn't actually as bad as I just made it sound; I have limited time for carving due to the noise and the fact that I need to do it after the kids are asleep, so there is a little window between bedtime and the point when it is to loud.  We're also pretty close to our neighbors, so powertools after 9 is probably not the best idea.

The stone is smoothing nicely, and it at least feels good, even if it doesn't look much different yet.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Rose quartz zibellino

A dress was obviously not inspiring me.  I was getting sort of excited about couching an interlace pattern in silver on the green sleeves, but to do it the way I really wanted to, a month deadline was a bit tight.  Especially after wasting 2 weeks. So, I'm shifting gears and trying something a little wacky. 
I had seen this extant zibellino head carved from rock crystal on both Sable Greyhound and Oonagh's site.  Not much info is available on it, other than it is in the Thyssen collection in Zurich.  More recently, I found another view of it at Bridgeman Art, originally from Christies.  I've made 4 zibellinos at this point, and my excuse for making them from polymer clay was that I couldn't afford materials and I didn't have the skill.  I've had a piece of rose quartz kicking around the house for ages, and with the pink theme for this challenge, I started thinking about using it as a replacement for the clear quartz that is rock crystal.  Skill, well, that's probably still an issue, but I have the diamond drill bits I got to carve the signet ring and a Dremel tool, so I figured I really didn't have anything to lose but time.

I also had the reddish mink I had planned to make the pair of zibellini from for IRCC 2.  I rather like the redheaded mink and the pink.  Conveniently, my chunk of quartz is already close to the right size and sort of has a snoutlike pointy end.  Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure I'll actually get the shape I want since it is pretty thin on one side of that projection.  That's something that is still up in the air.
I started looking around for what it would actually take to cut quartz.  Basically, you need a diamond cutting blade/wheel as the stuff is pretty far up there on the hardness scale.  A respirator is needed since the dust isn't something that should be getting in your lungs.  Safety glasses are a must due to the dust, sparks, and glass like bits it throws off.  Coveralls are good so you're not getting hit by the shards and the dust.

I've worked with bone before, so I had equipment to stop the dust, and safety glasses.  I bought a set of diamond cutting wheels for my Dremel for $8 plus shipping. (Dremel doesn't sell them, but there are off brands that fit.)  A water wheel would have been nice, but I settled for working in a plastic box and swapping that out with mineral oil.  It seems to be working,  Mostly.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Supposed to be cutting out fabric

Instead, I'm fooling around with ganutell flowers again.  I got inspired by nosegays and hair ornaments like those in this 1590 Livinia Fontana.    I did start fiddling with my new crazy idea where I carve a head for a zibellino out of rose quartz to go with the dress.  First experiments will get posted some time this weekend.  And I'll post the fabrics if nothing else.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Waiting for a screen for my laptop

My kids cracked the screen on my laptop. so I haven't had computer access.  Should be fixed in another day or two.  In the meantime, here's a picture of me in the super quick dress I threw together for camping this past weekend.  I'd just finished teaching my class on Medieval soft drinks and we were down in the "grotto" with loads and loads of shade.

The bodice is a bit bigger than planned, somehow.  Luckily,  it is side laced so I can take a couple of inches out without much hassle.  I also did super minimal boning on this one, and I may want to add a few more bones back.  Or possibly another layer of felt or two.  The bones would be cooler, however, so they may win.  It was certainly comfortable, however.  I set up my tent in this and tromped all over the place with no issues at all.  I just need to make a few alterations so the bust stays put and I don't end up with a bit of the center front poking out.

Did I mention this is now referred to as my "Happy Meal Dress?"  Thanks go to my 5 year old who exclaimed when seeing the guards in the back (which are vaguely arch like)  "Mom!  You're a Happy Meal!"   I'm sure it was meant as a compliment.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I've been scrambling to finish up a basic red sottana with yellow guards for camping this weekend, and consequently have been doing lots of thinking about my next project but not much doing.  I'm planning to participate Bella's next Italian Renaissance Costuming Mini-challenge "Perfectly Period Pink."  It starts in 2 days, but I won't get started until after the weekend is over.

I will be up front with the fact that I don't wear pink.  Ever. I don't really care for pastels to be honest.  I did think about making something for my youngest daughter as she does look adorable in pink and there are some absolutely beautiful pink striped little girl's dresses in some portraits.  The problem is that if I made something for one child I would have to sew something for all four.  They just got some functional garb (I need to get pictures of the girls in their dresses and smocks and the boys in shirts, doublets, and Venetians.  They turned out rather cute, even if it was a rush job with a great deal of compromise.)  I also considered doing a fun fashion doll, possibly dressed in the black strapwork gown with pink underlayer like the one in this portrait of Margherita Paleologo.  I had far too much fun, in general, hunting for pink, as evidenced by the Pinterest board I created for it.

I then went digging in my sewing room.  So close to IRCC II, this absolutely had to be a stash project since I blew my crafting allowance.  Since I don't wear pink, I also don't really buy it.  I have a couple of things I picked up for the girls, but they're modern fabrics.  I did, however, have about 6 yards of a shocking pink linen I bought a couple of years ago on ridiculous clearance.  I think it was 97 cents a yard.  You don't leave linen at that price so I came home with about 20 yards.  I've used it as linings and interlinings and mockups for things and I'm down to just enough for a dress.  That basically settled me on doing a dress.  Not a a winning strategy for a mini-challenge where handwork is huge, but I have an event in November I can wear it to and deadlines are great things to have.

I also found a really fun silk with pansies that I thought would make a nice version of the Venetian take on the Ottoman coat.  I thought it had a bit of pink in it too, but on further inspection it is more mauve.  Especially up next to the eyepopping color of the linen.  So I kept looking, but kept the idea as a fall back plan.

Then I kept finding portraits of pink with green and realized I had some of the green textured linen I used for my stockings for IRCC I, and the drawers I made for that were this same pink linen.  The combo is pretty fun.  It certainly is not pastel.  And I started to think maybe I could like pink.  I'm going with the Moretto da Brescia portrait up top. I'm rather looking forward to it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pleater needles are here!

I got a Read pleater last August at a garage sale and it has been sitting in a box since then because there were no needles.  Pleater needles are not the cheapest items around so I kept putting off buying them.  Then, one of the prizes for the IRCC (did I ever actually mention I won?) was a pleated and smocked camicia that I really, really, really wanted.  As it was pre-made I knew that there was no way it would possibly fit me as I am most definitely not a one-size-fits-most sort of person.  It did inspire me to want to make my own, however.  The prize I received as part of the IRCC was a chunk of money meant to purchase fabric donated by Lorna at The Tailor's Apprentice.  I wasn't sure what fabric I wanted right now as I have the fabric for my next few projects already, but Lorna was kind enough to tell me to buy "whatever makes your heart sing."  The only stipulation was that it not go for bills.  I decided pleater needles and a new fluffy smocked camicia would be fun so I went for it.  The rest of the money went to buying a melting pot for pewter so I can improve my casting of dress accessories, and some threads to start embroidering some drawers.  All in all, I'm over the moon about my prize.

I have to laugh a little, however, because the money was sent in Australian dollars, converted to US, and then became Australian again since that's where I had to order from.  They got here very quickly and the packaging was lovely, with some enclosed English steel handsewing needles in a variety of sizes as an extra.

They arrived this afternoon and I spent about an hour hunting for good pictures to explain how to change needles.  Then I put them in, threaded the thing up and held my breath.  IT WORKED!  I've got a random piece of linen in beautiful pleats now.  When my husband saw it he immediately put in a request for pleated cuffs on a new shirt.  Since the man never wants garb, as he rarely goes to events, I guess my next project is a smocked shirt.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Courtesans bullbaiting

Just sharing this because it makes me laugh.  Because, why wouldn't you wear a soaring ruff to chase cattle?  At least there's some good sense in bustleing the skirts. Not to mention that the pinked shoes are adorable.

Anyway, at least in Giacomo Franco's Habiti delle donne venetiane (dated 1591-1609) there's an association of bulls and courtesans. Not sure what the story is here, but I'm intrigued.