Friday, August 23, 2013

I think I have a crush on Pellegrino

Plate from Pellegrino
As usual, I'm neck deep in modelbooks. I've been looking at various interlace designs for use on the Ursula dress, since the original pattern has some heraldic significance. The d'Este's got a fad going (as they were wont to do) and so there are quite a few examples of period versions to choose from. Right now I'm chewing at Francesco Pellegrino's La Fleur de la Science de Pourtraicture Et Patrons De Broiderie. Facon aribicque et ytalique.  (Full scan of Harvard's copy is available at that link, so you too can drool. Or maybe that's just me. . .) Kathleen Epstein mentions this as the first collected pattern book of this type of embroidery design for couched cord work in her introduction to German Renaissance Patterns for Embroidery, a facsimile of Nicolas Bassee's 1568 modelbook. Earlier strapwork and couched patterns certainly existed, and Durer had some published as individual sheets around 1506, but Pellegrino's 1530 book published in Paris seems to be the first collection.

Probably because I'm really not a counted blackwork fan (yes, I understand that it is heresy to say that) I adore the swooping curves and floral ornaments of these designs. More that that, however, I love the thought of how fast they work up with surface couching. Not to mention how much fun they would be to paint, since Arabic calligraphy is where the designs came from to begin with. They'd be lovely done in applique as well. The type is very similar to the pattern I used for the leather applique on my turquoise squirrel lined muff. Imagining similar borders worked up with cording and some wool or leather applique is rather exciting.

And then there's the girdle. I squeeed rather heavily when someone on the fabulous Facebook Elizabethan Costuming group posted links to a Flikr page from the V&A's blog containing gorgeous closeups of the textile girdle in the V&A's collection. You absolutely must go look at them.  The girdle is T.370-1989 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, dated between 1530 and 1580 and listed as either Italian or French. I've considered making it before, but the closeups of the knots and green silk convinced me it has to happen soon. Aurora from The Earth is Flat also reminded me of this 1530 portrait by Pierfrancesco di Jacopo Forschi with a similar girdle tied from cord.

It is a 1530's gown with a similar style to my Ursula dress, so it has the amazingly unusual advantage of being a project I can do that is actually in line with my current project instead of a random tangent. See, it was meant to be!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pad stitching

Progress around here is about as exciting as it looks. I'm on hour umpteen of the embroidery and about the same on the padstitching for my new bodice.

As I really can't justify in any historical way the boning I've been putting into my bodices, I'm trying something new.  My super pudgy body that has gone through 3 pregnancies (one of them twins) and the bustline that reflects having fed all 4 of those children doesn't really think this is the best idea. I figure I have to give it a shot however, just to say I tried.

Last weekend I wore my brown sottana. It is a self boned open front that was intended to be worn with a corset. I have dropped a couple of pounds since I made it and wanted to see how the V would work on me without a corset.
Photo by Laura Davis

It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't terrible either. My bust stayed up pretty well.  The largest issue I had was that the dress only has one set of lacing rings and it pulls the lining out. There's a possibility if I put in eyelets and lace that way that the problem will be solved. I certainly can't wear it as open as I originally intended it to be, but it seems like it can be a totally serviceable dress. And it gives me at least a little hope for how the open front will work without boning.

I, once again, want to wail about loads of handwork hidden from the light of day. It makes me grumpy to do stuff I can't brag about. I'm stitching through 2 layers of canvas and a layer of wool felt to make the inside stiffening that will then be sandwiched between fashion fabric and lining. It is certainly creating some texture. I think it is having some effect. At the very least, I feel like it is making the shoulder straps sit better.

Monday, August 5, 2013

50 seems like a nice round number

I still have loads to do on the mermaid bands for the camicia neck and cuffs, but they are coming along.  I have about fifty hours in to them at this point. I still have about a gryphon and a half to go with the backstich in the purple silk. Then there are four mermaids to do in the green silk. Then I've got to do some satin stitch and couching in gold. I have absolutely no idea how much more time it is going to take. I played with the gold on one cuff just a little in order to decide on whether to plan for gold, but I am nowhere near finished with what I want to put in. I'll probably put some gold on the centers of the mermaid tails and maybe some in their hair. The design looks a bit bare and I think it needs some bands on the edge, but there's not enough space on the linen strips, so those will need to be worked once they are attached.  It probably needs some lace as well.

Fairy Tales!

Lion from a felted tapestry I made last year with the Fiore animals

Another reason I love my persona? It gives me an excuse to research just about anything. I'm helping plan (and doing the feast for) our local group's November event. It is always a toy-raiser for Toys For Tots and we try to have a compatible theme. This year we are doing a fairy tale theme. Since many of the most familiar tales we still know were published in the 16th Century by Italians, I'm in heaven. I took a class in college on the history of children's literature and as a result always thought fairy tales began with Perault. Even the WIkipedia article agrees (ha!) He was beaten to the punch by the appetite of the Italian presses for things to publish. Giovanni Francesco Straparola published his 2 part book of 75 tales in the 1550's. It includes the oldest version of Puss in Boots (Constantine Fortunato) as well as others. Perault borrowed many of them for his collection. Giambattista Basile's book "The Tale of Tales: Or entertainment for little ones" was published pothumously in the 1630's and includes Cinderella and Rapunzel. I just got Out of the Woods: The origin of the literary fairy tale in Italy and France, which discusses many of the themes as well as why these tales came out of Venice, and am currently consuming it.

I'm also trying to decide on a menu. I keep going back and forth between a feast selected from Platina's "The Temperate Voluptuate" in keeping with the Italian origins of the tales or if I want to pick and choose recipes from times and places based on individual tales.  Plotting it out is giving me something to think about as I keep embroidering away on my mermaid cuffs.  The new camera is here so I'll post pictures of my progress in just a bit.

And, just in case you happen to be in Utah November 9th, here's the event announcement.

We invite you to join The Province of Arrow’s Flight on November 9, 2013, for Toys For Tots, our Signature Event devoted to generosity, history, fairy tales, and the child in all of us.

Rapunzel, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, The Goose who laid the Golden Egg, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. The stories charm every child anew and yet are timeless. Legend goes that Emperor Constantine’s mother Bertrada of Laon was called Regina pede ancae or “Queen Goosefoot.” She was known for her stories and love of children and as her tale evolved the nickname shifted to “Mere l’Oye” or Mother Goose. 16th century Italy finds the first publication of The Pleasant Nights by Giovanni Straparola and The Story of Stories by Gianbattista Basile where old tales, including those just mentioned, are first collected and published.

Bring your favorite tales to tell for the bardic and participate in storytelling and crafts based on stories throughout the day. Participate in our I Spy scavenger hunt, finding characters and treasures hidden in the stained glass decor. Youth, heavy, and rapier fighters can save the fair maiden, foil the dastardly witch, and create their own legends in scenarios based on classic stories. While away the afternoon by attending some wonderful classes on fairy tale subjects, or teach your own, then end the day with a sumptuous feast featuring subtleties like 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie and Cinderella's Coach as well as seasonal favorites like gingerbread and baked apples.

Also planned: lunch fundraiser, youth activities, contests, games, prizes, and more. Watch for details!

Directions: From I-15, exit 278 for American Fork Main Street, turn East. Drive for 1 mile and the destination is on your right.