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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The price of friendship or Madame Pompadour for tea

I'm sure we all enjoy company and if you're feeling a little lonely you might perhaps be interested in these items listed on eBay at the moment.
You can have a reasonable facsimile of Madame de Pompadour and friend (doesn't look like Louis XIV to me) for company.
Call them silent companions, fire screens or dummy boards, such items have been found in many country houses and mansions. I can imagine if I was snowed in at my country retreat I might get a little stir crazy and want some companionship.
So you too can have a 'friend' but they come at a hefty price.  
Perhaps I'll just go and get my Barbie cutout from the garage and stand her up next to the china cabinet!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Need a pattern for this outfit - any suggestions?

OK yes, I am overcome with an overwhelming desire for a pattern to make this ensemble. As I have yet to make a corset this phenomena is called having 'eyes too big for your stomach' at our place. Anyway...
So any ideas? I see VenaCava designs have an early 18th century one.
Has anyone made up the Nehelenia riding outfit pattern? 
Or perhaps this one at which seems to be different to the standard Rocking Horse Farm riding pattern. 
Of all of them this is the one I favour most at the moment as it has the variation without a collar.
Any ideas?

Ironing canvas

I washed the canvas I intend using for the next attempt at a corset because I wouldn't want it warping if it got wet after I had made it up. (Not that I will be washing my corset all the time. But as I do live in a warm climate it will be necessary at some time or other.)
But oh my goodness, ironing it afterwards has given me a new appreciation for what my grandmother and earlier female relations must have done on a day to day basis with those heavy hot irons you heated on the old wood stove.  
I had to really put my shoulders into it to get the worst of the crinkles out and I'm still not happy with it. So it will be going off to the dry cleaners tomorrow to get pressed properly. 
Damn nearly killed me.

Lust worthy costume

There are some dresses that make a huge impression on me and I don't suppose I'm alone in that. Ditto with portraits, and shoes and oh all kinds of things.
So today because I could use a dose of 'oh how lovely it would be to have a dress like that' here, in no particular order are some pretty pictures of my lust-worthy favourites.

Sophie Marie Grafin Voss by Antoine Pesne  To say I love this outfit would be an understatement. Mmm here is a tamed down version worn by Judie Davis in 'Marie Antoinette'.
Then of course there are the lovely ensembles of Madame de Pompadour.

I've always had a weakness for peach blush.

And let's not ignore the lovely creations from the movies.

And throw in a few hair dos and hats along with the lovely Marisa Berenson in 'Barry Lyndon'.

 I love this wig worn by the lovely Jane as Marguerite St Just in the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Ah well that's enough eye candy for this evening.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Learning things and corsets

I learn things by doing. Not that I don't like reading, I do, I am a voracious reader but some things I really just have to dive in and do to understand properly.
You see, I have read all sorts of information about 18th century corsets, I have read books and blogs, I have pored over photos and drawings and I'm still kind of puzzled yet fascinated by them.
I have no idea if I could get one to fit my upper assets comfortably - what with the squashing issue.
And so in spite of having doubts about my ability to wear a boned corset comfortably I decided to see if:
a. I could make one
b. it would be comfortable enough to wear
c. it would not be a complete shemozzle.
Gosh I do love a challenge.
So I thought I would start off with a commercial pattern since drafting a pattern from a little picture is a bit too much of a challenge.
Oh and do feel free to shudder with horror as you read. Some of you I know are pretty awesome in the corset department but I'm not a re-enactor, so authenticity isn't important. In fact the only important thing is that I have fun making it.
So Butterick B4254 it is - mostly because it has THE LOOK and a front lacing version which I will need as I don't have a ladies maid to lace me up. Although it would have been better if it had the spiral lacing but maybe I could work that out instead of that criss cross rubbish the pattern shows which must be much more difficult to lace.
And I totally get the mock-up thing but my mock ups need to be a bit more complete than many others may need to do.  There was just no way I could measure up those pattern bits and work out if it would fit without sewing it almost to completion. 
And gee I love the bits of information pattern companies manage to leave out and the ambiguities in the patterns. Like where certain boning channels have been cut short in the front panel. Grrr.
I used the remaining material from my Quasi-18th century dress, a heavy weight calico and purchased boning in the fabric casing.
Anyway I made it up - well up to the point where I realised it would be too big, but that's Butterick all over for you. 
But the big thing was that I enjoyed it, I really did!  
I actually found it rather soothing - although I am glad I tied off the threads as I went.  And I don't regret using pretty fabric because I've found that unless a thing is appealing to my eyes I can't be bothered. As a darling friend of mine once said, "there is NO excuse for ugly".
So I am readying myself to have another bash - this time a smaller size.
This time I will also use two layers of canvas (bought from my favourite artist supplies store) and sew the channels rather than sewing on that material casing I bought the commercial boning in. 
And I've bought industrial strength cable ties to give them a go.  
And I plan... wait for it..... to sew my own eyelets!  I don't like metal ones and the cheap ones obviously would pull out so that'll keep me busy.
Totally mad. Barking!
Have a nice weekend.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Teacups and favourite china

Yes, well, you will have gathered that I have a tendency to collect things.  And nice china is something I could get serious about but will not because I'd have to build another house to live in.
Fortunately I am very fussy about teacups and so I don't buy many.  For one thing I like the handle to be big enough that I can get my index finger through it. Tidgy little handles are a nuisance and not at all safe if one is lifting a cup full of a scalding liquid up to one's face.
 I am also fussy about the shapes of the bowl and the decoration.  So yep pretty fussy about my teacups.  Sometimes I just trawl Etsy and favourite the ones that make my heart leap.  I don't want to own them, I just appreciate the beauty.
I have a lovely set of six cups by Royal Standard, two each in white, palest pink and palest green with a little floral decoration and gilt lace.  I bought them from a little junk antique place down the road and am thankful I did. I've not seen another set I like as much.  
I found this little cream jug at a thrift shop - I liked the regency style decoration and discovered it was called "Versailles" on the bottom.
Back in the 80s I used to go to the department store sales each year and buy a teacup, saucer and plate but I prefer older styles and preloved items.  They have character, they could tell stories if only we could understand them. 
I also like old silver and odds and ends of china - cake plates, compotes, sandwich plates.  
My most challenging search has been for H K Tunstall Lavender Lady series dinner and bread and butter plates. This was the dinner service we had when I was very small and the last one was sadly broken some years ago. So I decided to go looking. The pattern was used by many china companies but I was dead set on finding exactly the same one as we'd had, where the gold lace pattern behind the main design was made up of little dots.  And patience was rewarded. I found some in the past three months so now we can, once again, eat from my favouritest plates in the world.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Carving my Queen Anne doll

Yes I found the carving tools, downloaded a pattern for carving a peg wooden doll (which will give me a guide to go by) and girded my loins.

Suffice to say that my arms ache and I've only grazed a finger so far which is good for me.
 If you are going to carve any wood, do yourself the biggest favour and buy the best quality carving tools - they make it so much easier.  I already had a starter set of good tools but went and bought a couple more - one of which is by Pfeil of Switzerland which is like a hot knife through butter. I'm in love.  I wouldn't mind a couple more but will see how I go.
So this is what she looks like now. 
I am a bit bluffed of power saws so I roughed her out by hand from scratch with my little coping saw and chisels.
At the moment she is a little short waisted for my liking so I will be carving some more off those hips.
Some Queen Anne dolls don't particularly appeal to me - the ones that look downright mean. Mine will not be one of those.  I like the smiling ones.  
And mine won't have the glass eyes since 
a. I have no idea where to get said eyes and
b. I wouldn't know how to set them in the head.
So it's a given that mine will have painted eyes.
As I have the attention span of a gnat at times I'll be gung ho for a while and and then probably flit off to something else (like the other UFOs I have). 
And now that I am down to the finer details like the head I am a tad scared that I will do too much and she will be nose-less!
So here's to carving! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Foredom happiness

Happiness today is a Foredom drill!
Yes finally after many years of wanting, I have now obtained a Foredom hang-up flexible shaft machine. 
I have loved them since, oh, forever.
It's an older model but will do everything I can possibly think of doing so I'm doing the "happy happy joy joy" dance today!  
I did buy myself a Dremel sans the flexible shaft when I was in my 20s but it was hard to control.
I used a Foredom when I did goldsmithing years ago at classes. They are the biz!
Now I need to get a hanger to mount it on and enlarge my range of bits. I don't have the ones in the photo - but I have a range of bits I can use with it.
I plan to use it for my craft - drilling holes in things, carving things, and anything else I can think of. 
I had bought a box of micro drill bits a while back at a craft show and when I got home realised I had no way of using them since the shafts were way too small for any of my existing drills.
Foredom have a cool micro chuck that will let me use them without having to change the handpiece collet! YAYAYAYAY The world is full of possibilities!
What do you use your Foredom drill for?