Thursday, August 27, 2015

Costumes in Wolf Hall

Many of us who love historical costume were completely smitten with the production shots we saw before Wolf Hall aired earlier this year. Now the series is available for sale through PBS, BBC, and even national retailers like Target. With the popularity of this series I want to take a moment and give those new to Tudor fashions a few notes before you take everything in the series as gospel. This is one of the most accurately costumed historical dramas that I have seen in years. The color palate, cuts, underwear, and fabrics are impeccable. But don't forget to do your own research into the clothing as you make your own ensembles.

Odd Piece #1: French Hoods

  • I appreciate the costume designer here for acknowledging French hoods need veils. I doubt though that you will find a single portrait from the 1520's or 30's in England or France that uses fine silk chiffon. Typically you will see a solid black veil on the French and English hoods. Medals done in profile from the time period and illuminated manuscripts also suggest these are hats, not pretty head bands. 



Odd Piece #2: Infamous Cod Pieces

  • The internet was a buzz with interviews from the cast and production team about these being a choice. Yes the cod pieces in period were larger, but the designer didn't want to distract from the story. Modern audiences just can't seem to handle a good cod piece. 


Odd Piece #3 Wrinkled bodices.

  • Several of the productions shots on Anne's airy silk gowns that were build for Claire Foy show wrinkles across the front of the bodices. It does create a fun visual with the light playing with the fabric, but is not historically accurate. I have had this happen even with velvet if I don't use enough tension and pins on my placards. Practice makes perfect!



Great thing #1: Men have correct hats!

  • All of the men have beautiful hats. The designers put so much energy into sewing , knitting, or felting these hats from the correct materials they add a new dimension of texture to the screen. check out all of the different shapes which are specific to clergy, scholars, nobility, common people. The range is also stunning.


Great thing #2 Jewelry!

  • Many of these pieces were researched to extremes, and then used appropriately. Jewelry wasn't just thrown on anyone of rank to make them look wealthy. The designer uses it for impact and with class. The jewelry also has the correct styles for the period instead of being modern baroque jewelry from a costume jewelry shop. (Anne Boleyn still shouldn't be wearing earrings based on my research, but at least these are tasteful drop pearls typically.)


Great thing #3 Middle Class Clothing!

  • Very few productions show middle class clothing without disappearing into ren faire stereotypes. Thank you for doing research and even setting the primary styles of clothing on the middling sort back 10 years from the royal court, and in correct fabrics. Elizabeth Cromwell's costumes are actually my favorite of the whole production!


Great thing #4 Table manners

  • The actors and directors added a fun Easter egg into their stage business for well researched individuals. Take a gander at their table manners. Napkins are not in their laps but on shoulders or other easy to reach places and there are very few forks floating around. 

Great thing #5 Pregnancy Clothing

  • Woman of the time did not have clothing they only wore for pregnancy. There are styles that are more comfortable than others women may gravitate to, but most of the accommodations for the growing belly were done by lacing a garment looser, adding placards for modesty, or altering clothing. Anne's coronation scene shows her very pregnant, which is consistent with historical accounts. Rather than wearing a tent to hide the baby bump it is triumphantly displayed and the gown is pinned to the kirtle with a gap. Bravo!

Great thing #6 Pins
  • For ease of use there are so many times small details are over looked. Dressing pins are an essential part of the Tudor wardrobe. Everyone used them and they used them by the pound each year. Rather than stitching turn backed sleeves into place or solely wiring bonnets the wardrobe crew used period appropriate dressing pins. Thank you! I noticed and I appreciate it so much!


Conclusions:

I love this mini series and can't wait for season 2 to hit the small screens. The research in the fine details shows through on the costumes and accessories. I will always encourage people to do their own research before hopping in to build one of these ensembles. This is one of the most historically accurate dramas for this period I have seen in many years, so if you need cinematic inspiration please do start here!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Strawberry Hill Kirtle and Foresleeves

Anne Boleyn by Lucas Horenbout
Strawberry Hill ID: sh-000468

My pattern for the kirtle was based on the Henrician kirtle in The Tudor Tailor. I constructed it using 2 layers of linen canvas and on outer layer of white silk. As an experiment I did not stiffen this kirtle with reeds or boning as the Tudor Tailor originally suggested. Now that I have worn the kirtle a few times I may change my mind and add channels for reeds to be inserted and stiffen the bodice front. This bodice does not feel as supportive as my previous kirtles. I will give this style without boning a few more chances though before I stitch in all of the channels required to apply reeds or boning. I hand stitched the side seams of the bodice using white silk and I bound the bottom of the kirtle in scraps of white silk.



All of the eyelets were worked by hand using an awl and metal rings. I chose to use the button hole stitch for working the eyelets, in cotton embroidery floss. These rings can be purchased through sites selling historical costume notions, but some drapery shops may have something similar as well. You will be looking for a solid metal ring the size you wish to make your eyelets.The button hole stitch makes they look very even and pretty.  I used white cotton embroidery floss because I already had enough to finish the eyelets.Patterns of Fashion. They were spaced in for spiral lacing to make it easier to use shorter laces. In period these would have been sewing using linen or silk. Janet Arnold discusses this technique for Eleanora de Toledo's dress in

Queen Jane Seymour
Has Holbein the Younger
The neckline of the kirtle appears to be decorated with gold pieces and pearls. I recreated the look with freshwater pearls and brass beads sewing to a removable band of white silk.  The size of the painting limits my ability to know exactly what these gold pieces look like. Some of them seem round and others have squared edges. After more research I believe these may be quatrefoil like pieces called ouches. Ouches were popular among many of the Tudor nobility.Here are the ouchs worn by Jane Seymour in the famous painting done by Has Holbein the Younger. When funds allow I will replace these beads with ouches. Most retailers selling these jewelry pieces ask for$5-10 USD. Given the time it took them to research and reproduce the pieces I  feel that is fair, just not something I can jump into today. I have had it suggested I make ouches from fimo clay, so I may explore the idea further and post a separate entry about my results.


Cutting in progress and finished bodice
The kirtle skirt has a decorative front panel made of light blue and yellow upholstery fabric, I then cut out the matching foresleeves. I was free to use any fabric I wished because the miniature does not go any lower than the rib cage on Anne Boleyn. the piece I selected reminds me of damask and velvet pieces from the period I have seen online. I built the kirtle in this order so I could use all of the scrap from the dress to build bands of fabric around the back hem of the kirtle. When I finished all of my piecing there was only a small pile of scrap that I had not used. Based on the readings I have done on period tailoring techniques, I believe this was keeping with the wish not to waste any fabric if possible. I didn't feel it was necessary to create a train on the kirtle as well. The gown worn over this kirtle will have a train and when the train is hooked up using skirt hooks the lower decorative edge of the kirtle will be visible. I used a cotton twill for the non-fashion fabric. It is sturdy and gave the skirt a better drape than muslin alone.
Small pile of scrap left from cutting decorative kirtle forepart and foresleeves. 
The foresleeves are lined in linen. with false puffs made of handkerchief linen. the edges of the sleeves are connected using some gold plated points made in the same fashion as the buttons I have made previously. These half sleeves will tie into the gown using hand made laces. This pattern was inspired by The Tudor Tailor, but based on some of my own research into different styles of foresleeves popular in the Tudor court. I do not attach my decorative cuffs to my foresleeves. Based on my research into undergarments from the time, I believe it is more likely that the decorative cuffs seen in paintings are attached to the woman's smock. I have been known to drip things onto my cuffs and keeping these attached to my smock gives them a chance to be regularly cleaned.

Handmade aglets using gold plated beads and wire. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Strawberry Hill Miniature of Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn by Lucas Horenbout
Strawberry Hill ID: sh-000468
My newest Tudor project has been researching this portrait to reproduce it the image. Scholars have identified this as Anne Boleyn, from her time serving in the household of Catherine of Aragon. The gold frame now around the miniature identifying this miniature as Catherine was added in the 19th, century. This miniature also bares a good resemblance to Anne's commemorative medal which was struck in 1534, with a more fashion forward version of the English hood. This medal is now housed in the British Museum. Anne is known to have used her clothing to make political statements. During this period of history, people used their clothing to show alliances. Fashion was very political. Anne is famous today for her preferences for French fashions, manners, and politics. What is commonly overlooked or forgotten is that she was English first. Anne wanted to be seen as a virtuous, English Queen. To better fit this role for state appearances she could be seen in English fashions, unless she was trying to make a statement or flatter a foreign dignitary. I will be blogging about the progress on this gown as it is finished.

Lead Medal of Anne Boleyn as Queen of England, 1534
British Museum # M.9010
Links about the portrait:

Strawberry Hill Official Website
Miniature Online Through Yale University
Art History News Anne Boleyn Medal
British Museum Collections: Anne Boleyn Medal

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Silhouettes of History 2015

The costume department at Phoenix Comic Con hosted its second Silhouettes of History fashion show. The show was even larger this year than last year. I chose to model my red and gold Venetian gown. These photos were all taken by Patti Jo Collum, a member of the Costume Department staff. Thank you to the staff for another beautiful show.




Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Different Kind of Apprenticeship

Yesterday I went to an SCA event 4 1/2 hours from my home to watch a dear friend of my receive an award I have known he was destined for since I first met him almost 8 years ago. My people call moments like that stardust. It is something special to watch someone who has given so much time, talents, and self to a group to be recognized with their highest award in that area.
I also had a bit of stardust sprinkled on my head when the Queen of Atenveldt chose my display on 16th century corsetry and accessories as her favorite of the day. On my drive home I reflected on the experience and decided to post an edited version of an article I wrote for USITT Desert Conference's news letter about my experiences with costume and stardust in the SCA. I hope it warms a few hearts out there in cyberspace even a fraction as much as mine was warmed yesterday.




A Different kind of Apprenticeship
Costuming in the Society for Creative Anachronism
Maridith Feher
                The Society for Creative Anachronism is one of the largest educational, non-profit groups in the country. I first joined this diverse group in 2007, and have maintained an active member ever since. Anyone who chooses to go to an event will first notice how ingrained costuming has become into the SCA. Individuals who arrive at events in modern clothing are jokingly called, “naked.” There is a wide range in types of clothing SCA members will study, and funding individuals can put into the clothing will vary. Another major factor in an individual’s attire is the skill levels they, or their friends, posses. My costuming through the SCA has been an amazing journey which has focused my techniques and skills in pre-17th century clothing.
Maestra Tatiana and her Husband.
In 2013, I entered into an apprenticeship with a woman called Maestra Tatiana. Within the SCA, she is recognized as my Laurel. Laurels are a group of individuals who have been recognized for their skills with arts and sciences from pre-17th century life. Our relationship is that of a student and teacher, but also an extended family I can call on when my personal life is in crisis. Unfortunately, just as I was moving into an easy travel distance Tatiana had to move out of state for work. Ten years ago this would have ended our association. With all of the tools available to us I still talk to my Laurel at least once a week and our connection keeps growing. During these chats, we discuss progress on my research projects, issues I may be having with a particular piece, and what is expected of a Laurel in the SCA.  Because of our unique geography problems I have also been adopted by a group of other Laurels who are mutual friends of Tatiana and I so I have someone local I can go to with immediate questions, go to events with, call me on being crazy, and advocate for me when necessary. Every Laurel-Apprentice relationship is a bit different. My Laurel no longer lives near me so, I have to be more self-motivated then some of my peers are.  Other Laurels will give their Apprentices projects and homework. My Laurel revels in my love of researching small details to better understand the larger picture.
One of my First SCA outfits with my Husband.
Photo at event in Phoenix, AZ. September 2008
With the burst of interest and research available within the SCA’s time line, a costuming Laurel is no longer someone who can make pretty and detailed clothing. Laurels are expected to research fabric fragments in public collections for types of weaves or fiber content. A costuming laurel should be skilled in period handwork techniques, and have other areas of interest to make them more approachable by the public.  If skill was all that was required to become a Laurel there would be droves of them within the SCA. Laurels are also expected to have a joy of learning and teaching their arts, and be a role model for others in the SCA to aspire toward. Any individual can research types of lace. A Laurel will learn the skill and then share their skills with others through teaching and making pieces to share with others. While the Laurel is teaching about that piece of lace they will also be researching and experimenting with period correct materials to find out how each fiber behaves.
Pair of Bodies made with help from Maestra Tatiana in 2012. Photo of their condition in 2015
My drive to learn is one of the reasons Tatiana and I have been drawn together. We met at a corsetry workshop she was teaching in Mesa, Arizona in 2012. She was impressed with my desire to learn and dedication to understanding the period correct techniques. I believe she was also flattered that I chose to drive 3 ½ hours to take her 4 hours class. We discussed period materials and patterning for hours, and she got my information so she could keep track of how my set turned out. I was curious about the period use of reeds as a stiffener and ordered some to experiment with. The resulting pair of bodies, based on Elizabeth I’s funeral effigy set, is comfortable, and shockingly durable for the type of wear they have been put through.  As one research project gives way to the next, my perception of clothing from this time frame has morphed in the last eight years.
Gold Florintine Gown
Worn at SCA event in Tucson, AZ
March 2015.
When Tatiana began looking for pictures of my work online she was shocked at my transformation. Several of my newer friends could not recognize the images of me in 2007. As our relationship grew I shared more research ideas and she would give me feedback. When you are not working as a group to achieve a look, I feel it is important to have someone to bounce ideas off. This may be a hangover from my time in the costume shop, but it works well for me. Not only am I making beautiful pieces of art; I am researching a piece of history and how it functioned within society.
The largest differences I have experienced between costume for the stage and the clothing worn in the SCA is the function. Stage costume is used to tell a story. The designers are sending a message with every piece of clothing an actor wears, or does not wear. Period stage costume of today rarely sees the kind of abuse a historical washerwoman would have put it through. Well researched and constructed clothing for the SCA can be used as a heraldic story board, but is usually a reflection of hours of research into a particular time frame. Theatrical costume is often built quickly; an entire cast will be clothed in a matter of weeks, and using the theatre’s budget.
Photo by Patti Jo Collum. March 2015
SCA clothing can take years to make, depending on the kinds of treatments being used. Take my Anne Boleyn portrait reconstruction as an example. I first started that dress in 2010 and it has grown and evolved with the research I have done in the last five years. The more research I did the more I realized that period techniques needed to be used and this increased the time I was spending on every aspect of the clothing.Some dresses are simply labor's of love because few could ever afford to pay an individual or group for the labor involved in any outfit. SCA members can spend over eighteen hours in their clothing doing a wide range of activity. My favorite moments in the SCA have been watching the historical research collide with theatrical pageantry.

I am a better costume technician as a result of my time within the SCA. I have been given a safe playground to experiment without the stress, usually, of needing a pieced on stage as soon as possible. If the experiment does not work, it is a learning experience I can build on to better understand how clothing was constructed at the time. I like to think of myself as a costume detective, on the hunt to understand and construct clothing Christina of Denmark or Cosimo de Medici would recognize. With every passing year I believe I get a step closer to my goal. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Late 16th Century Belt

Tintoretto Portrait of a Lady
Over the last several months I have been haunting the jewelry sections at my local craft stores and beading shops. My goal has been to find supplies to make a new belt. There are plenty a beautiful pieces on the market right now,  just not what I was looking for. Being picky with my design also gave me time to research pieces.

The two principal styles of belts worn by middle to upper class Venetian woman  between 1550 and 1600 could be thought of as jewelry more than accessories as we see them today. The first style wraps around the waist and has a tail dangling down the center front of wearers' skirts. Style number two also wraps around the wearer's body, but does not extend down. It appears that wealthier women would have a large "belt buckle" while the middle class would simply hook the two ends together. I already have 3 belts with dangling pieces, so I decided to try the second style.
Cross from the late 16th century.
Gold with Enamel work, emeralds, and pearls.
Royal Collection RCIN 9051
the next big decision was materials.

The idea of emeralds is appealing because of my role in the SCA as an apprentice. Hazel Forsyth discusses the use of emeralds in 16th and 17th century jewelry in her book The Cheepside Hoard: London's Lost Jewels. Emeralds at the time were coming from the New World.  During the conquest,  Spain established mines I. Columbia to pull out precious ore and emerald. The emeralds were  then sent back to the court of the king of Spain and were traded across Europe, specifically to Venice (FORSYTH 134-135). Emeralds are a soft gemstone and at this time were not cut with many facets.

Gold Pendant of a Centar.
Met Museum of Art, New York.
1982.60.381
Pearls and gold are two of the most widely used materials in jewelry from this time frame. Royal inventories, wills, and art are filled with these precious materials. Many Venetian brides are seen wearing pearl necklaces. Pearls are sewn into the clothing and embroideries of the day. There are even accounts of fake pearls being made in Venice from beads and fish scales.  My research on pearls lead to this astounding portrait of Elizabeth I's favorite, Lord Robert Dudley. His necklace here is made of what I am going to call pearl cages. This treatment became one of the focal points of my belt design because it is an easy technique for me to reproduce without skills in casting or metal work. It did not take me too long to realize casting gold pieces and insetting real emeralds into them was not going to happen with this project. I chose to do something I could safely do in apartment without spending our life savings on materials or equipment. Someday I will return to research metal work in more detail I hope. I originally played with threading beads onto eye pins, but I did not like the extra work of crimping off each set of pearls.
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. 1560-1565
Painting attributed to Steven van der Meulen
Now Resides in Wallace Collection, Image from Wikipedia 
Construction of the Belt

Materials:
6 -7inch strands of freshwater pearls roughly 4mm
18-20  Green Czech glass "gems" roughly 1 inch long.
Gold Plated or Filled spacer beads and cap beads
1 jewelry hook
Large Pendant
Crimp beads
Nylon Coated beading Wire
Pliers

Step 1- Measure around your waist and down the point of the gown the belt will be worn with. Take this measurement and add 12 inches. This will be the length of your belt. To use fewer crimp beads you can make pieces double the length for step 2. I made a belt with 3 strands. If you make one with 4 strands of pearls expect to use 3 more strands of pearls.

Step 2- Wrap wire around a piece of open work on one side your pendant. Once lengths are all uniform again, you can crimp the wires again to secure them from sliding out using your pliers.

Step 3- Create your pattern. On my belt I used 2 gold spacer beads, one gold cap bead, green glass bead, gold cap bead and gold spacer bead to run all of my wires through. This will create an anchor point of your floating strands of pearls. Bead 5 pearls onto each strand of wire separately. Start original pattern again and slide all wires through your anchor pattern. When you pull the wires tight through your anchor pattern it will create "cages" of pearls.

Step 4- Repeat your beading pattern until piece makes your desired length.

Step 5- Finishing your piece. I prefer my belt look symmetrical. End pattern on  a repeat that will mirror  your beginning of the piece. Slide on a crimp bead and then your jewelry hook. Put your wires through the crimp bead and your spacer beads. Pull wires taught and crimp bead down. Hide wires in your beading pattern and trim excess.
Finished Belt

Wolf Hall on PBS Masterpieces!

Anne Boleyn from Wolf Hall. Photo from bbc.com
After months of waiting, Tudor history fans in the USA finally got access to the series Wolf Hall. Many costume bloggers have been gushing or ranting about the costumes since the first press release photos hit the internet last year.
Personally, I was skeptical the drama would live up to the dream many of us have of a period correct drama for this time period. Now that I have taken the time to watch the first episode on pbs.org I am hooked. No huge farthingales in the 1520's. All the ladies and gentlemen are wearing hats. One of the details I was most impressed with was the period correct table manners during a banquet scene. Notice what Cromwell and other are doing with their napkins and how large they are compared to modern napkins.
The entire production team's work, love, and research shows in each frame. I hope all of you will take advantage of this airing for free on PBS. If you are like me and can not always commit to being in one place every week, you can stream each episode for a limited time through pbs.org. Below are links to more information about Wolf Hall's release here in the states.

PBS Programs: Wolf Hall Streaming Episodes

PBS Wolf Hall Page


Monday, March 30, 2015

Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge 4 Wrap Up



Yesterday was the closing date for Anabelle Wake's Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge 5. Part of me wishes I had signed up, but the practical side of my mind reassures me that life is a bit too busy to join the fun and games this year. Maybe next year. I also realized that I failed to share my final product of the IRCC4 here. I am honored to say I won 2nd place in the competition and received the designation "Best Handwork." My progress reports have been archived by Anabelle and the link below will take you to the archive.

What I learned!

My goal in making this dress was to create a dress patterned off of Elenora di Toledo's funeral dress as described by Janet Arnold in Patterns of Fashion. As a result I did lots of research into women's clothing from 1540-1560. One of the biggest changes this research yielded what the average silk fabric used in Europe usually around 20-22inches wide. I cut the dress with this in mind and used more period piecing techniques that I had previously. The result was a dress that was fitting closer to the way Bronzino's paintings depict, and I used 3 yards less fabric than I had originally planned. I even added a modest train to the gown because of the fabric surplus. I highly recommend all interested parties to examine the side gores used in the gown's skirt. I believe this is where I was able to save the most fabric. 
Another interesting detail I found while researching was the idea of padding my hem with felt. Because of the extremely light weight fabric I chose to avoid heat issues, this technique became a must. I have to say that I love my padded hems for a few reasons. 
  1. My hems stand out from my body. With light weight dresses it can be hard to get the volume depicted in art from the period. Padding your hems with felt will help give that fullness without more bulky underskirts.
  2. Skirts hang straight. Particularly with light weight silk, fabric has a tendency to crumple. These padded hems add just a bit of weight to help light weight fabrics hang straight. It has also reinforced my train so it does not deteriorate quickly . 
  3. Skirt hooks. I have started using skirt hooks to keep my trains up (more posts on skirt hooks to follow). The padding from the felt give my skirt hooks another layer to grip without damaging the delicate gold silk. 
Slashing was another technique I wanted to experiment with  for this outfit. The first thing i learned is there is more than one way to get the cuts you want. I originally my research made me want to try using chisels and a mallet to make my cuts. I quickly learned not all chisels are sharp enough to cut even delicate silk. My cut work was achieved using a mixture of rotary cutters and craft knives with lots of chalk marks on the wrong side of the fabric.

What would I do differently?

When I initially finished the dress for the competition last year my shoulder straps were about 1 inch too long for me. This created the wrinkles seen in the images for the competition. This problem has since been adjusted, but some weight redistribution can still cause wrinkles from time to time. These wrinkles may well be the nature of having a gown made of such light weight summer fabrics.Wearing the dress with a pair of bodies does smooth out most of the wrinkles. I did not put boning into the bodice it self because it was not detailed in the construction of the funeral dress. The funeral dress was worn with a velvet pair of bodies which may have smoothed the natural lines of the body.

After I completed the gold couching on my partlet I learned about starching before stitching. The silk chiffon I couched all of the handmade gold braid to was a monster to work with. If I had starched the chiffon first it would have held its shape better while I stitched away. Lesson for next time. Many of the paintings by Bronzino show a textured, sheer layer underneath the gold lattice patterns. It makes since to have fabric under the gold lattice because the it protects the gold threads from the bodies' oils and acids. Wearing the metal threads against the skin is also very uncomfortable. The wire filaments will scratch your skin throughout the day. 
While gold braiding will seamlessly disappear under the neckline of the bodice, 9mm fresh water pearls will not. I removed several fresh water pearls from lower intersections because they created bumps under the bodice.
After I finished this project I purchased a better bead reamer. Natural pearls are not always drilled with uniform holes. This is one reason they can be harder to work with. A bead reamer allows you to make the holes more uniform. In some cases it can take longer, but I feel having the natural glow of these pearls is worth the extra effort.

Sleeve attachments. This is mostly a matter of personal preference. My cut work (slashed) sleeves attach to the gown using loops of ribbon that go around the jewels on my shoulder straps. Now that I have worn this style quite a bit I prefer the look of small bows around those jewels, even if I have to get assistance to put on the sleeves. When i eventually replace the loops for laces, I plan to make aglets from brass sheeting to dress up the edges of the laces.

Conclusions...
Enjoying my dress with some costume jewelry sourced from Charming Charlie's.
Linen partlet was hand sewing on the way to Pennsic in 2013. 
I love this dress. In the last 6 months it has become a "go to" outfit for my reenacting wardrobe. The side-back lacing can be done on my own because of the spiral lacing, but almost anyone can assist with me getting dressed. The most complex part of wearing this ensemble is creating the correct hair styles. Usually I wear this with basic hair taping, but more complicated styles have been fun to experiment with. Because of the long lived popularity of this cut in Florence there is an abundance of accessories to create different looks for the same dress. This was also a time of prosperity in Tuscany, which makes finding source material on the style's variations easy.

I am extremely thankful to Melissa Jones for the late night pep talks and Anabelle Wake for giving me a playground to create in when my personal life did not allow me to create in the way I was used to.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Embroidery for Others.

Over the last several months members of the SCA have approached me and asked for help working on various embroidery projects. First I volunteered to embroider a stylized heart for a friend's elevation to the Order of the Laurel. The heart is worked in silk and sterling silver purl.
The fleur was filled with silver plated tube beads replicating bullion. The ground fabric of the design is on white linen. A band of hearts like these were appliqued along the hem of my friend's dress. Each heart was made by someone who touched her heart and assisted on the path she took in some way.

The next piece I worked on are for the Queen of Atenveldt's dress. I completed 4 1/2 suns in splendor used along the hem of her dress. This embroidery was done using DMC cotton floss on linen. Her Majesty wore this dress at grand court of Estrella War 2015 and at other important occasions. These suns were incorporated into a larger design by the Elizabethan Sweatshop in Phoenix, AZ.


The final piece completed this week was a roundel for my friend Rytchard's elevation to the Order of the Laurel. The design is of one of his service awards, the Gilded Heart of Ered Sul.  I was asked to embroider this motif in particular because of the amount of time I spent serving and living with that group in college. I worked on silk using silk thread. The design was transferred to the ground fabric using water soluble transfer film. This motif, and others like it, will be appliqued onto a gold Turkish coat.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Day with Da Vinci

The Tudor Project was invited to provide ambiance for two current exhibits at the Phoenix Art Museum on February 14-15, 2015. Everyone involved in The Tudor Project is honored and grateful that we have been invited to enhance the experience of museum goers in Phoenix, Arizona.


We wandered through the exhibition of Da Vinci's Leicester Codex listening to talks about the observations on pages of the famous notebook by local academics. Many of the observations in this codex are devoted to how Da Vinci thought water worked. I highly encourage everyone to go to the museum and see this exhibit. The codex is on loan from Bill Gates and will be here for a limited time. Remember there is no photography allowed in this exhibit! 

Mary Magdalene by Master of Astorga ca. 1500-1525.
Tempera and gilt on wooden panel.
We then wandered through the Mysteries from Europe exhibition which is filled with beautiful art from unidentified artists. The collection is filled with religious works and some secular. There is a wide time range on the works as well. Some of these sketches on display are reminiscent of works from the Tudor court. 

Myself dressed as Anne Bolyen
kneeling before a late 15th century
German saint.
Our final stop of the afternoon was the western are exhibits upstairs. I have been to this museum 3 times and never found my way into these galleries before. This should be seen as a compliment to the exhibits the Phoenix Art Museum has traveling through and the wonderfully fascinating galleries down stairs. Upstairs I found beautiful alter pieces, a carved saint, and more than a few allegories.

We will be returning to the museum on March 14-15, 2015. Please join us and be inspired by the beauty inside the Phoenix Art Museum. For more information on the exhibits, museum hours, and ticket information please visit Phoenix Art Museum Current Exhibits

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Care and feeding of your Dressing Pins

Dull dressing pins needing some TLC. 
I have been raving to anyone who would listen about the dressing pins made by Irene Davis of The Treasury. After a few years of steady use my brass pins were getting dull. The Tudor focused group I play with called F.I.R.E. was starting to bend pins while dressing me and other ladies. I took this problem to to Irene, as the maker and asked about the card and feeding of my pins.

Problem 1- My pins are dull. what is the best way to sharpen them?
Answer- Don't use a metal file use sand paper. I tried a few different weights and a regular nail file for the bluntest pins. For sharper pins wet or dry sand paper of 400 grit works well. I just sharpened 32 pins this way in less than 2 hours. The technique will take time to get down.

Sharpening pin on sand paper strip.



Problem 2- My pin heads are coming loose.
Answer- Put down a piece of wood or an acrylic board used for leather tooling and smash the heads a few times. This should secure the pin heads in place again. Fix pinheads before sharpening pins for safety.

Problem 3- How to I make my pins shiny?
Answer- The two easiest ways to keep your pins shiny are polishing with either a jewelry cloth or with a few quick swipes of the 400 grit wet-dry sandpaper.

Problem 4- How do I store pins.
Answer- This is something I worked out for myself. Pin books made of wool felt are a convent way to keep your pins safe while you are not using them. Other people I know use pin cushions or small boxes for their pins too.