Monday, 29 December 2014

Some research into "Blue on White" Ceramics

 Figure 1: The Blue Willow Pattern first popularized by Minton (1)  in 1780, and readily available at your local Woolworths.

This research project was initiated as a response questions from Master Crispin regarding blue on white ceramics at Fields of Gold 2014. I knew the basics such as the significant influence of Chinese (Ming)ware on the European market but I didn't know if this was a stylistic influence or something else. (turns out it's practical, higher firing temperature creates stronger ceramics and cobalt is stable at these temperatures). Given that 'Blue on White' is a wide topic I started as I usually do, hitting up my favourite museum collections for some extant samples. I've stored these on pinterest, tried to assemble a small collection of representative pieces and a timeline. I've also collected quotes from various sources that relate to the pieces above them. For some reason vases seemed to be a thing and it's interesting to see the motifs and shapes changing over time and cultures. This is a HUGE topic which I only touch on but I feel this research essay is sufficient generalist background as I conduct additional research for each project as well. Where possible I've utilized primary sources (extant objects) but have referenced a number of secondary or tertiary sources as well. Additional reference material is provided at the end and I've put this one behind a cut because it's a massive post and reasonably picture heavy.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Greylead - totes legit!

A London delft claret bottle
dated 1645
of slight pear shape with a small plain footrim, the slender strap handle with a simple pointed lower terminal, inscribed in blue 'CLARET 1645' above a curlicue, 16.2cm., (some wear to the glaze on the rim and foot, minor glaze hairlines)

Footnotes: The label on this bottle shows two fine, parallel lines drawn in grey as a guide to the painter"

Sold by Bonhams on 1/10/2003, lot 29

Friday, 26 December 2014

Schoodie / Squoodie

Schoodie - a combination scarf / hoodie
Squoodie - a combination scarf / hoodie with a squid theme

So, I didn't know schoodies were a thing until I went to Tobin's November Stitch and Bitch day. Apparently they are and my favorite Youtube channel, Threadbanger, has even done a short instructional video on how to make one out of an old sweatshirt (jumper) here. Tobin kindly lent me his pattern which he seems to have printed off the internets. I'm not sure where he got it but this seems like a rather simple three piece pattern which I may make next time. You can also get a ton of free patterns for knit or crochet patterns for scoodies simply by googling it.

I made the schoodies in November as a gift for my man who's currently contracted out to work in the sandbox. As it's winter over there (a cold Christmas - what a barbaric idea!), I thought I'd make him something to keep him warm. I scheduled this to auto-post after Christmas so as not to ruin the surprise!

To make - follow these helpful instructions on Indie Tutes OR:

(pattern shown here is schoodie (with ears) not Squoodie)

1. Cut out your fabric.
Make sure you have 2x outer-shell, 2x inner-shell, 2x outer pocket pieces, 2x inner-pocket pieces cut in opposite directions.
When cutting the fabric be aware of the grain. Like fur, my bumpy fabric for the liner has a grain so I had to ensure that the pattern was cut to ensure the grain went down the tentacle. This means I needed 1.2m of liner fabric but only about 0.7m of outer shell.

I elongated the outer-shell of the hoodie to create the hood shape. I left the inner-shell according to pattern to ensure the hood wouldn't slip over my mans face.

2. Pin the pockets rightside to right side and sew along top.
I decided to use the non-fluffy side of my fleece as the good or right side of the fabric so I pinned the non-fluffy side of the purple fabric to the fluffy side of the cream.

3. Turn over the pockets and pin along top to hold in place (if using cottons, you can iron the seam to hold it flat)

4. Pin pocket pieces in.
Pin in such a way that you can't see the colour difference (when you're done sewing this results in colour matching the pockets to the tentacles)

5. Start pinning squoodie together from the center front seam (right sides together)
Use ALOT of pins! I used pins ever inch or so. Fabric with nap like fur tends to slide on the fabric and will stretch and bunch if you're not careful. If you have one (which I don't) a walking foot may help

6. Sew
Sew from the center back along one tentacle.
At this point I decided I wanted to have a slight taper before the pockets to create more of a tentacle shape. I drew it in with water erasable fabric marker and sewed along the line
Keep sewing until you reach almost to the back again. Leave a hand sized gap.

7. Pull through and flatten.
DO NOT freak out if you end up with one pocket on the inside and one on the outside, simply pop the point back through and move the pocket to the side you want (your hood is actually fully reversible yay!)

8. Hand sew gap closed (or machine if you've got time restrictions and don't mind a weird seam at the back)

I elongated the original hood to make a squid look. By sewing in a tight angle at the center back of the hood between the lining and the outer-shell I pinched the fabric in such a way that pulled the hood down to rest in an appropriate manner.

I considered sewing squid-eyes onto the hood but I didn't want to make it too cutesy.

If you can't find bumpy fabric like mine, consider appliqueing suckers onto the inner-shell tentacles.

If you're using fleece, you could add a quarter circle of fleece to drape out of the back of the hood. The fleece won't fray and you can slice it into tentacle shapes. Make sure this is sewn in so the stretch direction is down along the tentacles. Pull the tentacles to make them curl along the edges a little to hide the rawness.

It'd be entirely possible to elongate the hood to an extreme lire-pipe length for a pixie look.

Ears can be hand-sewn separately onto the hood, rounded ones for bears or pointy ones for a fox/dog.

Paw prints could be added to the outside of the pockets prior to sewing them in.

Monday, 22 December 2014

I found a set of wonderful sari/saree wrapping videos on youtube.

This one, showing a Kerala sari, and this one showing how to drape a sari in under two minutes are pretty much the basic drape I've taught in all of my classes. It's still my favourite drape and I find it works best with softer fabrics or a heavy brocade. The image above is me attempting this drape with a light cotton, my orange blockprint. As you can see it's not really falling right and I look a little frumpy. Still, one of the easiest drapes to look graceful in I feel.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

UFO update

The list so far:

Blue tartan bustle kilt
Red tartan bustle kilt
Blue lace tartan kilt
Brown block print sari    (21/12/2014)
Green Ikat Sari   (21/12/2014)

Apricot sari
White & gold sari
Blackwork wall hanging
Fancy Pants blue t-tunic
Snakes and Ladders Quilt
Cream 1860's dress

Additional items:
Purple/Black Sari
-2x seams

Mumluk Dishtowl
-Complete embroidery

Cream woolen dress
-2x hem sleeves
-Handsew bottom hem
-Red/gold embroidered detail?

Layla's tutu
-Handsew in 13 ribbon loops for ribbon belt

Monday, 15 December 2014

Push A Laurel Song

I'm am not very good at singing, but I do enjoy the Boars Head Tavern at Rowany Festival. One song I heard at Rowany 2013 was the push a laurel song. I'm listing it here so I don't forget some of the verses that I wrote down that evening. I suggest singing the chorus ever two or three verses otherwise it just drags and drags.

You shouldnt push a laurel off a bridge,
You shouldnt push a laurel off a bridge,
You shouldnt push a laurel,
For that would not be moral,
You shouldnt push a laurel off a bridge.

You can push a pelican off a bridge,
You can push a pelican off a bridge,
You can push a pelican,
And then push em off again,
You can push a pelican off a bridge.


You can push a fencing don,
We wont even notice that they're gone,

Ye can push the reigning Crown,
Hear them scream on the way down,

Ye can push the King and Queen
Thought it might seem mean

Ye can push a duke or duchess
Have no fear, they won’t make a mess.
Have no fear, they won’t be missed

You can push a belted knight off
And be sure he’s a write off

Push a local reeve
But the mess might make you heave

You can push a cocky herald
Just make sure his life’s imperilled

You can push a martyr or virgin
And we’re sure ye won’t need urgin’

Ye can push St Crispins College
No one will miss their knowlesge

You can push Andronicans off
Do it right, you have their pants off

You can’t push the Rocket Herald
Or he’ll change your name to Gerald

Never push Cruz Australis
Or your lifespan will be far less

No, you can't throw Master Drakey,
He's thrown himself off by mistake-y,

Pushing Master Vandal off is fine -
Laurels please form a line!

You can't push a filk-song-writer
It'll come back hard to bite yer
Ye can push a costume nazi
If yer style’s artsy-fartsy,

Monday, 8 December 2014

Unfinished Project (UFO) list..

The following is a list of my unfinished projects. Specifically, these are ones that I've started and put to one side due to distraction, lack of interest, lack of time or lack of materials. My friend Ceara recently posted a list of things she's achieved in the last few years on her blog with some lovely Gantt charts. She is amazingly productive and has inspired me to collate this list in order to cross things off of it. This is not a full list of unfinished projects as there are some I've done the research for and/or bought the materials but haven't dived into yet (ie the silk painted sari project). Those will be addressed some other time. I've recently completed three things from this list (I'll post about the after Christmas) so I've feeling like I can probably get quite a bit of this knocked over.

The list in no particular order:

Blue tartan bustle kilt
Overlocked to length
New edge trimmed with satin ribbon
First bustle layer complete
-Second and third tulle and tartan need to be measured and attached
-Trimming or bows or something to hide the stitche

Red tartan bustle kilt
Kilt trimmed and overlocked to length
-Add edge trim
-Sew on tulle and bustle layers
-More trim

Brown block print sari
--2x edges to hem

Apricot sari
-2x edges to hem

Blackwork wall hanging
~5 hours in
-about 9/10ths left to do

White & gold sari
-2x edges to hem
-Smooth the twist out of all the gold work

Blue lace tartan kilt
Majority of damage removed
New hem replaced with cream lace
Darning of moth holes complete
50% of darning covered with silver butterfly beads
-Acquire more butterflies
-Sew on butterflies to hide darning

Fancy Pants blue t-tunic
Tunic complete
-Shorten 1x arm
-Attach silk cuffs to arm
-Handsew edge of cuff

Snakes and Ladders Quilt
(after 10 years)
Squares cut and sewn together
Majority of embroidery done
-Finish all snakes
-Finish all ladders
-Embroider random numbers where reinforcement is required
-Find / purchase batting
-Find / purchase quilt back (or double bed sheet)
-Stitch the ditch and attach pieces together
-Edge quilt

Cream 1860's dress
Majority of dress complete
-Make blue puffy sleeves
-Make cream and blue tie-sash
-Handsew down trim on bodice and reinforce pearls

Gold thread and pearls completed
-Gather and sew into headband
-Gather and work out fastening method.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Ceramic Project 37 - Dr. Seuss completed documentation

14th century ceramic plate and bowl
by Antoinette Travaillie

Figure 1: 1400's Albarello/Apothacary/Pharmacy Jars, tin glazed earthenware, Florence, Italy. Met Museum, Accession No. 46.85.11 

I found the pharmacy jar depicted in Figure 1 while trolling through someones Italian Ceramic board on Pinterest. I fell in love with it. I quite like the dark blue on white in ceramics and this fish looked so Dr. Seuss I just had to use the design elements in a project.

Figure 2: Monochrome drug jar. late 12th - early 13th century, Iran Kashan. Stonepast, lustre-painted over opaque white glaze. Met Museum, Accession Number 2013.255

"Drug jars, or albarello, contained medicines, ointments and cosmetic preparations and would have been bought at an apothecary's shop. You could either keep the pot after the contents were finished and use it as a container, or you could return it to the shop in exchange for a small sum. It would have been sealed with a parchment lid, tied on with string just under the rim." - (Museum of London, website accessed 4/12/14)
Figure 3: Drug Jar, Beauvais, France. Early 16th Century. Decoration is scratched through top coat of white slip to reveal red slip underneath, then embellished with blue and green glaze. Museum of London, ID no A4925

Albarello (or Albarelli) appear to have originated in the middle-east (Figure 2) and the tradition brought westwards over time. They have a cylindrical shape, often with a slight rim around the lip. The jars are sealed with a piece of parchment which is tied on with string. This allows the pharmicist to write the contents on the jar, and for the jar to be reused for other products later. Some jars, such as the one in Figure 3 at the Museum of London have labels written in glaze, 'VA T'EN QUITTE' (possibly meaning 'get out of here') may indicate an expensive or toxic concoction. Decorative elements seem to a simpler version of what was utilised on other ceramics at the time and display the regional style trends.

Figure 4: Dish depicting a virgin and a Unicorn. Tin-glazed earthenware. Italian.1486-1489. Met Museum of Art. Accession number 46.85.30

Around the time the apothecary jars in Figure 1 were produced, Italian ceramic plates and bowls were transitioning into the majolica design style which involves an intricate use of colours (Figure 4). There were many workshops with Italy producing ceramics which were exported throughout Europe - Deruta and Faenza for example. From the 1400's to the 1500's, many new glaze colours were introduced to the Italian ceramics market. Copper and cobalt based glazes (greens and blues) were soon paired with manganese purples and browns. Later vibrant reds and yellow (antimony) also decorated earthenwares. Though no firm date is given for the extant Albarello, I believe it was produced in the early 1400's due to it's simple colours and Hispano-Moresque motifs. Similar floral background motifs can be seen in the charger in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Dish, Tin-glazed earthenware. Tuscany, Italy. Met Museum, Accession Number 46.85.1


Shape - I use commercial bisque as I do not own a kiln and do not have the skills to fashion my own clay items. As a result, the shapes I select for my work are restricted to those that are available. In some ways this is in keeping with medieval practices where earthenware objects were sometimes produced in one workshop and glazed in another. The bisque I selected for this project were as close to the shape of extant objects (Figure 4) as I could acquire. The bowl has slightly steeper sides and a deeper base than the one depicted. This has the added benefit that it can accommodate the more liquid soups or smaller portions that are often eaten at SCA events. The shape of plates produced in Italy at this time were quite varied, from wide rim (or rims) to none at all. The bisque I selected for the plate is a common shape even now and quite similar to many extant items including that depicted in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Plate with the Visconti arms. Deruta? Italy. 1480 - 1500. Tin-glazed earthenware. Met Museum, Accession Number 46.85.16

Glaze - Tin-glazed earthenware is pottery which is coated in a glaze containing tin oxide. This leaves an opaque white base upon which metallic oxides are painted. The blue on the extant Albarello is probably derived from cobalt oxide (or Persian blue).
As I wished to create items that would be food safe I needed to avoid lead or other toxic metallic oxides. As I am using commercial bisque made out of white clay, I can skip the tin-oxide all together by using underglaze to paint the design then a clear overglaze to seal the ceramic and make the white shine as if it were tin-glaze. This has the added benefit of making my work food, microwave and dishwasher safe. The underglazes I use are purchased from Glazeit, a company in Victoria who also fires my pieces. The glazes are all designed to be fired at the same temperature which means I don't have to do multiple coats or worry about one getting burnt before the other runs.

Figure 7: Original design sketch for the plate and bowl

The Process - I started by making the bowl as close to the original design elements because it was smaller and easier to handle while glazing. Originally I was going to have the same design on both items (Figure 7) and just change up the rim decoration but the curved sides of the bowl made that too difficult. As a result the bowl is very close to true-to-reference, design wise.Once I'd finished the bowl, I decided to change the design for the plate rather than have it perfectly matching. Due to the  difference in curves and size I could make it close to my original design sketch.

Each item was glazed in a staged process-
the main elements were outlined then the central background fill was completed. The main elements were then covered with a 1part glaze, 3 parts water wash. This is a new process for me which I hoped would create some shading in the glaze similar to what can be seen on the original piece. As the glaze turns opaque before firing, it is really difficult to see how much coverage the final product will have. After completing the center of the piece, I worked on the back. The whole back is glazed before the rim of the front is completed. This prevents the front design (the most important part) from rubbing off while the back is being completed. It is less important if the back of the design loses colour depth due to unintentional rubbing.

Outline of the fish - three layers of glaze to ensure strong consistent colour.

Background fill complete - one layer of glaze as delicate swirls will thicken if more is applied.
The fish were then glazed with a 1 part glaze, 3 parts water wash. I wasn't 100% sure how well this'd turn out as I hadn't tried this before but I needed some shading effects here.

The back is started before the front rim to reduce rubbing and removal of glaze as I work. Flower motif has been borrowed from the background of the Albarello.
Back rim is completed with two lines of floral pattern taken from the rim of the apothecary jar. Inner ring is the upper rim of jar, outer ring is the almost flat ring near the top of the jar. Mistake between the first flower and leaf has been scratched off to leave the white ceramic in it's place.
Front rim is completed with a similar pattern to the back and to the bowl.The piece is now ready to be fired and will darken during the process.


The fired plate and bowl!

Fired back of the plate and the bowl.

Things I liked:
I liked how easily the 1400's motif transitioned into a Dr. Seuss theme. That said, I think I like the front of the bowl better than the plate. The rim decoration on the plate needs to be that little bit tighter or more busy to claim the space better.
I'm also really happy with how the wash turned out. I was worried it'd be too dark and the fish scales wouldn't come through. I was also worried that the brush strokes would be too obvious 

Things I'll fix next time:
Upon close inspection the overglaze on the rim of the bowl hasn't fully run and is slightly matt in places. This is due to it not quite reaching the required temperature in the kiln which may have resulted from over crowding. While this isn't something I have control over, I can drop my items off at a different time in the week, hopefully catching a firing that's less crowded.
I'm also not entirely 100% happy with the back of the bowl. Though I deliberately made the decision to keep the sides of the bowl glaze free as I didn't think the motifs would follow the flare well, I'm not sure I like the stark nature of it. Though I won't do this design again, I think it'd probably have looked better with flowers and swirls.


I'll probably be writing up a review on blue-on-white ceramics in the near future which I'll throw up here and link to this project (and my ongoing tiles project), - stay tuned!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Gifted Napkin

I received this from Lady Aleinya Thrakesina (aka Vicky)  at Fields of Gold IV. She taught a weaving class and this was one of her demonstration pieces. It's woven on a two heddle table loom and is lovely. I still have to full it (however you do that) but I'm quite taken with it. She also made some beautifully textured ones for their Majesties on a four heddle loom but I didn't get a picture of them.
I drifted past her class multiple times during the day because the weaving process has fascinated me for a while. She gave this to me as she cut it off the loom. I've since tied knots in all the warp (?) threads. I still need to sew the stray weft threads in. The warp have a faint plaid to them as some of the linen thread has yellowed with age, but it should come good as I full it.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Ceramic Project 37 - Dr. Seuss initial documentation

On Saturday I entered the Dr. Seuss plate and bowl into the Fields of Gold Arts and Sciences competition. I made several mistakes with my entry which I knew before I presented them but did it anyway.
Mistake 1 - I spent less than half the time I spent on the project, on the documentation. I was already presenting an A&S class on Indian Garb (cholis) and spent all available time collecting resources for it and writing documentation for Stuarts Bacon entry (which was harder than I thought).
Mistake 2 - I used wikipedia as one of my references. Yes, the teacher in me cringed as I carefully removed the hyperlinks BUT it said everything I needed it to say. I knew I had the information in one of my other books, at home, and I wasn't going to be returning to my house before the event. I considered not adding the quote, however it formed a nice introduction to the extant piece I was working from.
Mistake 3 - Assumed knowledge. I did something I do far too often and assumed that because I entered the competition last year and because I've written the same explanation for my process that a much more cut down version would work.
Mistake 4 - I enclosed a list of places where you can paint and fire your own ceramics without any explanation due to mistake 3. A random list does no one any good.

So, what follows is my documentation before I've fixed it up as well as the commentary I received. I will be posting amended documentation later this week once I've hunted down my sources. I might also put a # next to sections that I'll cut and paste into future documentation.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Synthetic gemstones

In the past I've spent quite a lot of time cutting stones, mostly opal. I've also made a bunch of jewelery both modern and medieval. I wouldn't call myself a jewellery yet but I do like to dabble. One of the major restrictions I've had is finding acceptable (cheap) substitutes for expensive stones for medieval replicas, i.e emeralds and rubies. I especially want emeralds for Byzantine items.

Making synthetic emeralds out of topaz/rock crystal or gypsum- I HAVE to try thing. First step - buy some beads of each to experiment with.

Research by Dr Marjolinj Bol, Ass. Pro. of Art History, University of Amsterdam.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Ceramic Project 37: 1400's Dr Suess set

1400's Apothacary/Pharmacy Jar, Florence, Italy. Met Museum. Accession No 46.85.11

I found the above item while trolling through someones Italian Ceramic board on Pinterest. I fell in love with it. It's obvious I like the dark blue on white in ceramics, and this fish looked so Dr Seuss I just had to make it. I started by making a bowl with the original image because it was smaller and easier to handle while glazing. Originally I was going to have the same design on both items (below) and just change up the rim decoration but the curved sides of the bowl made that too difficult. As a result the bowl is very close to true-to-reference but unfortunately I didn't take a picture before dropping it off at Glazeit.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Some sari/saree terminology

I recently was blipping around Pinterest searching for "Ancient Indian Sari" which as you can expect, doesn't produce anything older than the 18th century. I did see some modern designs as inspiration for my sari project and followed one link to Strands of Silk website. Not only did they have some lovely modern sari's but they also had sections of traditional styles of sari decoration. The following are small segments of their website with links to each piece, each page has a good intruduction then sections on the history, the motifs & colours, production techniques and producer communities. The sort of information that'll be invaluable starting point should I wish to visit these regions myself. I've picked a few forms of decoration, their full list is as follows:
  • Ajark printing
  • Applique
  • Banarasi brocade
  • Batik
  • Block Printing
  • Ikat
  • Kota Doria
  • Mirror Work
  • Patan Patola
  • Pipli Applique
  • Tie and Dye
  • Zardosi Embroidery

The term ‘ajrak’ derived from the Arabic word ‘azrak’ which can mean ‘indigo’ or ‘blue’. This reflects Sindh’s historic reputation as a dominant producer of indigo dye and illustrates the extensive use of the indigo shade of blue in traditional ajrak print, which is still common to this day. Traditionally, ajrak prints were donned by both men and women. To this day men continue to use ajrak printed turbans and cummerbunds, as well as draping the fabric over their shoulders. Just as before, women continue to wear ajrak printed dupattas, chadors and shawls that exquisitely complement other garments such as sarees. The Khatri community, who continue to be dominant ajrak printers in the Kutch district, have recognised contemporary markets, producing traditional ajrak prints on modern pieces such as yardages and home furnishings.
Historically - The art of block printing as a whole flourished in India in the 12th century, and motifs were heavily influenced, in the 17th century, by the reign of Mughal emperors. Ajrak printing, however, historically evolved in parallel as an intricate genre of block printing. Though ajrak printing is synonymous with the Sindh culture of Pakistan, its roots stretch to the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan due to the inhabitants of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation who, from 3300 BCE, settled along the basins of the Indus River.

Banarasi brocades are one of the finest fabrics that India has to offer. It is a specialty of Varanasi, formerly known as Banaras, from which the fabric derives its name. Throughout history, brocade was a fabric of luxury worn by nobility in various cultures, from India to Korea. Brocade is a heavy fabric similar to jacquard with a raised pattern or floral design. Traditionally the pattern was produced with gold or silver thread said to be of such superb quality that they could be woven into fabric of pure gold and silver. There is evidence of different textured brocades since the Rig Vedic period c. 1750-500 BCE, including fabric of gold known as Hiranya Vastra. Silkora, a mixture of silk and cotton, is a modern textile innovation of Banarasi brocade.
Historically - The textile industry fits into this milieu and brocade weaving with gold and silver thread, zari, has been a Banarasi specialty since the Rig Vedic period between c. 1750-500 BCE. It was during this time that the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, were composed. Banarasi brocades, or kimkhabs, woven with gold and silver thread gained widespread renown during the Mughal period of the 14th century, and with the arrival of Europeans.

The word ‘batik’ is derived from the Indonesian word ambatik, which can be translated to ‘wax writing’. Batik is a 2000 year old art form predominantly practised in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and India. Batik is an ancient form of handloom and fabric painting in which the fabric is printed with wax resist before being dyed. Batik was once considered a sign of sophistication and cultivation, owing to its striking yet delicate motifs that include flowers and birds. Batik print encompasses a three dimensional feature with depth and texture.
Historically - Early evidence of batik dating back more than 2000 years has been found across Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, South East Asia, and the Far East. The theory that the art form of batik evolved independently in each of these regions is plausible. However, historians believe it is also likely that batik spread through caravan trade routes. By the 17th century there were established trade routes between China, the Indonesian islands Java and Sumatra, Persia, which is present-day Iran, and Hindustan, which includes the North Indian Gangetic Plain and the Indus River basin in Pakistan. Batik even travelled as far as the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland in the 19th century during the Dutch East Indies colonisation. Many historians dispute the true origins of batik. Some attribute it to Egypt, while others believe it originated from India.

THIS heavily embroidered lehenga is my favourite of their outfits I think.

Front, back and the skirt

Monday, 17 November 2014

Background research

Researching metal woven stars/crosses with the following key words

woven cross
mandalla woven star
yarn star
yarn cross
gods eyes
sunrays Ojos
Ojos de Dios

Metal, jewellery gods eyes on Etsy / artfire. Standard is pretty low but then wire is more fiddlie than twine / yarn. Minimal attempts at decoration, and no evidence of more than two cross pieces. Perhaps a project for the future. Each image is linked to the Etsy / Artfire store in question. As far as workmanship is concerned, I like the copper one best even if the seller has insisted on adding "amethyst healing stones" - bah!

And no longer listed on the ebays but this person seems to have made a range of lovely stars (the only one I could find!) under Ojo de Dios metal search term.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Southern Belle dress diary - part 6

Final steps:

Friday, and I flew up to Brisbane around lunchtime. This meant leaving the house at 8am in order to trek to the airport in time to ensure I got my flight. Since 9/11 airport security has theoretically been more stringent, but I managed to get my sewing kit (sans scissors) on board so I was able to work on small bits during the two hour flight.

I had thoughtfully prepared for the flight by sewing up some strips of the blue silk stuff. I didn't really have any clear concept about what I wanted to achieve with them so I bundled them, some pearls and some lace into my handbag and figured I'll work it out on the flight. Work it out I did! I decided to make some rosettes which I could then use to embellish the dress. (Go here for a quick and dirty how to). The rosettes were the last things added to the dress. Originally they were going to be placed along the blue trim helping distract from any potential lumpiness. The problem with this was that I'd have to put on the corset and the dress in order to get the placement of the 8 rosettes right. I really didn't want them on the peaks of my breasts because they stick out enough already thanks to the corset. Given they were sewed on around 1am on Saturday morning, I placed them at the base of the strips and at strategic places along the waistline. I didn't get time to make the sash I wanted so these rosettes helped tie the dark ruffle to the trim along the bodice.

On the subject of trim, this was started on Friday evening while sitting around with Tamar and Sophie. I started by carefully sewing along one edge of the trim so it sat flush with the lace. About halfway along Sophie pointed out that if I used a running stitch down the center and embellished it with pearls it'd hold the trim down, look great AND save me a bunch of time. She's so smart! So I did as she suggested and I'm quite happy with the result.

I added pearls in the center of the rosettes as well to give them more depth. The blue trim ran next to the piping which terminated in the upper sleeve zone. I decided to run the lace and the trim along the top edge of the sleeve as I wouldn't get time to sew a sleeve on and I needed to clean up the edge. Rather than running the trim down the back of the dress I decided to terminate it at the shoulder blade where the back piping started. I gathered the spare trim in and created rosettes around the final pearl. It gives it a little extra something and ties to the rosette at the bottom of the piping. As a last minute idea I'm really quite pleased with how it turned out!

To complete the outfit I wore my elbow length cream gloves, a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. I used ideas from this youtube Southern Belle hair style tutorial and put my curled up hair through a doughnut which I then covered with the strands. I then wrapped two side plaits around the bun and tied the curls off on one side with leftover blue trim. I used one of the leftover rosettes to pin a random curl on the other side and borrowed a pearl pin from Tamar to hold it down. Below is a picture taken by Leisel of Tamar and I. Tamar is also wearing a corset under her lovely card-dealers outfit.

Once I got to the party, someone mentioned there actually was a date on the newsletter we were sent - Octber 20, 1874. Well, I missed the dress date by about 15 years and the whole bell shape -> bustle thing as well. I did get the biggest compliment from Carolyn though. I've always admired her SCA garb and I know she does Victorian costuming as well. She had posted an image of her petticoat while I was wrestling with the tulle, and it was lovely! She said I looked like I was wearing my great grandmothers dress and she even knew it was 1860's! In my head - "NAILED IT!".

Things I might still do:
Remove rosettes and reposition
Make tie shaped sash
Lace along ruffle to stop it being such a solid block of colour (it's sort of lost in the gloom at my feet)
Sleeves, possibly puffed, possibly with lace or pearl trim.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Southern Belle dress diary - part 5

Today was epic! Mostly because my deadline is fast approaching and I fly out to Brisbane on Friday. As a result I pretty much spent all of today on this dress (including staying up all night) and this is going to be quite a long post.

Day dress, 1862, Met Museum - I LOVE the cutouts on the sides

I started by spending a couple of hours pinning and repinning the skirt to determine the appropriate drape. I've now collected a pretty good pinterest collection of reference images. Originally I wanted the bodice and the skirt to be separate pieces like in the image above. Then I realised that the bodice wouldn't sit right without the skirt. The weight of the skirt holds the bodice in place so it doesn't float against the silk corset when I raise my arms. So I decided to attach the skirt to the bodice. I then wanted to retain the point of the bodice as I could fasten it at the waist and let it flare naturally into two points over the bustle. I've found a number of lovely decorative approaches to bustles over the last few days - it's so great having this many extant pieces to choose from!

Back detail of cream and blush silk dress - Met Museum, 1865

After playing around with the drape of the skirt I realised I'd have to add a twill tape for the skirt to attach to under the bodice from both sides that'd have to close somehow under the zip/button combination. At that point in the afternoon it went into the too hard basket and after my mother helped me pin and bring in the sides of the bodice I attached the skirt directly to the bodice all around. The V's ended up on my hips.

 Emile Pingat ball gown. Met Museum 1860 - I love the black sash detail!

This blue silk dress sold for $444 on ebay in 2012. The seller claims it's 1850-1860's and was donated to some museum and has the accession number: 47.168-2. I just love the stripes and the sash details.

I had draped many different styles, from the smooth bell shape, to one smooth at the front and pleated at the back, to something more gathered. In the end I fell in love with the style above because it just worked with the fabric I had. Below is an image of the skirt tacked to the bodice and experiments with lace in progress.

Once the skirt decisions were made and the bodice and skirt tacked together (with red thread no less!), I had to make some trim decisions as they may or may not need to be sewn in with the skirt and bodice. If you recall earlier in the dress diary I had pinned a blue silk front to the dress in an attempt to hide the pesky lacing loops. While looking for dress designs I had an impossible time trying to document a contrasting panel in the center of the bodice. The closest I got was the image below and I'm pretty sure that's a top wrapped over the dress. Also, due to the wonders of pinterest, I'm really not sure when that image was taken. To my untrained eye it could be 1860, but as I have no other evidence for such a thing I had to abandon the idea.

So without documentation for a full panel I had to document some sort of seam treatment or ribbons or something that'd cover the area in question. So I turned to the trusty internets and found the image below and fell in love with it. I could pretend that it's the justification for the blue-ish silk but I made that decision based on how much fabric I had and the colour rather than any extant dress. So I can use strips of silk to cover the lacing loops.

1865 day dress fringed in teal taffeta trim. Dress has a belt with a large peplum (bustle sort of bow decoration). Whitaker Auctions.

In addition to the silk bodice decoration, I really liked the tie shaped sashes on the Emile Pignat dress (and a few others). So I tried draping it with some spare fabric. The idea is to use the brocade for a majority of the sash and edge it in the blue silk. As the sash is detachable this has been put on the back burner until the dress is completed. The next challange - accomodating the hand length of space now on the base of the skirt.

Due to the move from hip to waist and the lift provided by the tulle petticoat and the hoop skirt the hem of the dress has risen about a hand's length. I've measured the base of the skirt at 6m (the waist measurement pre-gathering is 4m). For fabric I have two choices. I have two, 2m pieces of brocade or 12m of very light (artificial?) silk stuff. I could just extend the hem however I can't document same colour, non-ruffled trim (counter-colour is a thing though). I can, however, document a trim at the base of the skirt in a dark contrasting colour (below) AND tie shaped sash things edged with the same colour.

So I experimented. On the left - wide gathered blue trim with upper ruffle and lace, centre - thin gathered blue trim on smooth brocade with small blue ruffle and lace at join and finally - smooth brocade extension panel. I decided to go with a wide blue silk trim and gathered 12 meters to my six. This took me most of the wee hours of the morning as I was so tired I kept screwing up the gathering ratios. My usual method for gathering is to determine the ends of the panel and pin them. Then I pin the middle of the gather and the middle of the panel together. I then sort of squish or expand the gather until it fits. I pin the hell out of it and then sew it down smoothing the gathering as I go. I was rather happy that I didn't do my usual trick of accidentally sewing the base of the trim into the top of the trim. As this took so long I didn't end up attaching the lace - this will be a dress near completion step.

Silk dress, 1864, Met Museum - Very short sleeves with darling lace, simple ruffled trim on skirt and flat waist. I'd feel beautiful wearing thins.

Finally I looked at the possibility of adding ruffles to the neckline as can be seen below. The idea was to make something like the silk dress above and use the ruffles to create the illusion of a broader neckline without having to alter it. Given how high the next was at the bottom and my rather generous chest I decided that adding additional bulk in that region probably wasn't a good idea. Once that decision was made I felt I could sew the bodice, trim and skirt together and complete the final touches on the plane and at Tamar's place.

Things still to do:
Hand sew in front panel
Belt / sash and peplum