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Monday, November 26, 2012

'The Borgias' lush costuming

Well I finally watched 'The Borgias' which gets the thumbs up from me.  
Starring the always incredible Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander Sixus, (Rodrigo Borgia) this series is full of lush Roman/Italian costume of the late 1400s and early 1500s.  
This is not an era I know much about, so aside from some glaring things like playing Zadok the Priest (written by Handel for the coronation of George II in 1727) during the papal enthronement I could happily enjoy the show without getting too antsy about historical inaccuracies. 
And it is a lush feast of eye candy.  The Pope's son Cardinal Cesare (Ches-aray) Borgia played by Francois Arnaud (left) is easy on the orbs. 
The real Cesare didn't look half as good from portraits and was not nearly as sympathetic a character as in the show. 
He was from all I have read, a nasty piece of work, happy to slaughter anyone who got in his way and is reported to have been the basis for Machiavelli's 'The Prince'!  He was the ultimate pragmatist.
The lovely Holliday Grainger makes an angelic Lucrezia Borgia - the Pope's daughter who has been seen historically as a master poisoner although in recent scholarship there is a move away from that view to one of her being more of a pawn of her family. 
She was married very unhappily into the powerful Sforza family. A marriage which was later annulled (laughably because it was not consummated in spite of her being pregnant at the time). In the show she is repeatedly brutally raped by her husband but has a child to a very attractive, gentle groom. Whether this is accurate I don't know but it makes for a good story.
Brother Juan was another nasty piece of work and didn't quibble at killing, maiming, raping or being generally unpleasant.
Whichever way you looked at it they were a family to be avoided for health's sake. 
But thoroughly enjoyable to watch with enough skullduggery and lush costume for anyone.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crikey! A Liebster Award

How lovely.  The delightful Olympe Comtesse de la Tour D'Auvergne of 
Amphorae and Letters from the Enlightenment blogs
has awarded me a Liebster Blog Award (Liebster translates from German as 'favourite'). Which is pretty happy making.
So thankyou Madame Comtesse.
This is of course on top of the lovely people who follow me and whom I think of as lovely awards in themselves since each and every one of you have elected to follow me which is pretty cool. 
The Liebster recognises blogs with 200 followers or less and I now must pass it along to five other blogs to help spread the word about relatively unknown bloggers. Which is a pretty neat idea but easier said than done since there are sooooo many fabo blogs out there and not all of them have counters so it's hard to know what size following some of them have.

So here are my Liebster's in no particular order.

Lelo's blog at is a feast for the eyes.  His wild creativity and lovely shots of his home in Italy are joyous eye candy.

Loren at The Costumers Closet for inspiring me with her awesome outfits.

Anne Elizabeth and Adam at Munich Rococo for their projects, lovely adventures and pics.

Annabelle at Genteel Musings cos she wants to take her pretty shoes to bed with her just like me! 

And last but certainly not least for interesting insights - particularly the research and the 'what went wrong' bits which I really appreciate!

I'd have given Cassidy at A Most Beguiling Accomplishment one too because she is living the life I wanted to live and Sanna K at Rococo Atelier for her gorgeous creations and fabulous progress photos but both already have the award.

I love reading these blogs and many, many others. I am so glad I started blogging. It's great to be able to read what you are all doing and share information!
Happy blogging!

Needful things - completing UFOs that get in the way of costuming

This is a picture of a mirror.  Yep. Pretty straight forward.  But it wasn't really.  Because it isn't just a mirror. It's a mirror on a wall.
A mirror on a wall that didn't have any studs in it!
What am I raving on about?
Well I start a lot of projects and then get waylaid by life and they don't get finished. In particular my 18th century projects get delayed because they are not every day things which MUST happen or all hell breaks loose.
The mirror is also a project that sat and waited.
I bought it at the Salvos thrift shop months ago. It must have originally been an old dressing table mirror as it still has the side fittings on it. I like oval frames so it came home with me.  It's been sitting against my wardrobe for months because I realised it's quite heavy - doh it's a mirror Sandra!  
So I weighed said mirror which was 3 kg. Heavier than the usual things I put on the wall and the last thing I wanted was to have it fall on me or the floor with shattered bits of glass embedded in everything within cooee!
I bought some hangers from the local hardware which were rated for 5 kg but when I read the fine print on the back of the packet (when I got home) I discovered that was only if you were fitting them to a stud in the wall.  Sadly there were no convenient studs (there never are) where I was hanging the mirror so I googled 'hanging heavy mirrors' and discovered either I needed to screw a piece of wood to the wall or I needed to install 'anchor' fittings.  Anchor fittings fan out behind the hole you poke them through in the wall and stop them pulling out and are rated for 10 kg each.  They also necessitated the drilling of a large hole in the wall.  Well two large holes actually, because I figured it was better to spread the weight load across two points and also it's easier to hang things level if you have two hooks.
This meant getting out my tools, measuring the space and remeasuring to make sure I was not about to make a dog's dinner of the job.
I have to report, I have done a damned fine job.  I keep looking at it, just to make sure it's not about to fall.  But it does seem secure. 
For those of you who like to do things yourself, I also made sure I wasn't about to screw anything into a wall where there were live electrical cables.  And just in case the wall was asbestos I had a face mask and wet tissue ready to damp the dust.  But it turns out the walls are plasterboard so that was good.
So TICK that's one job completed.
Project two
While at the hardware I also picked up some outdoor furniture oil. I salvaged an old garden bench from a council cleanup several years ago and stripped back the ninety-nine layers of paint that were on it.  But I decided instead of painting it I would oil it up so I could leave it outside in the weather.  Since this is Queensland we have lots of hot sun and then big storms with rain and hail so I wanted it to be the right oil.  The first one I picked up was clear and I discovered clear was not recommended for direct sunlight which is what we have since we have no patio area.  So I went with one of the coloured oils because they have extra UV filters in them.  I chose Jarrah thinking that would be nice and warm.  Which it is, but it's also a bit um, more strongly red/orange than I thought. So it looks horrible especially where I didn't get ALL the paint off and the puttied bits but at least it will be weather proof and useable. I will not be including a picture of said bench because it looks ghastly!  It did however like it's drink of oil, really soaked it up so I will give it another dose in a couple of days time.
So TICK another item off my list of UFOs.
And because three is a nice number, I will finish off with a touch of the 18th century.  I did make progress with one of my costume items. The pool cue walking stick!  I finally drilled the hole in the end for the brass knob to be attached.  All it needs now is some ribbon and voila it's done.
So that's an ALMOST tick! Photo to come!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Peony madness month

I love November. Not only because it is spring and the weather is generally lovely albeit with some savage storms, but because it is PEONY time!
Yes it's time for me to go mad with peonies!  I love all flowers but peonies are just so ... rococco!  So here is this week's peony photo!
Peonies are generally only available here for about four to six weeks each year and they started late this year.
Today I bought pink and white ones with some boronia for good measure! 
It's extravagant but I try buy some each week to make sure I get my fill!  Frankly I'd love to buy a big zinc bucketful but I've gotta pay the bills too!
And just for good measure some photos of past peony lushness! Bliss.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My new best friend - the lightbox aka The Stays 2

I have finally begun making the stays - again.  And I have to say I was absolutely detesting transferring boning lines from the pattern to the material. 
I had tried using dressmakers carbon paper with less than pleasing results.
Then I remembered Mum has a lightbox.  And it's become my new best friend.
I'm using artist's canvas for the boning layers and time will tell if this will be a success. It's quite sturdy.
So I have decided to do all the channels and then hand sew them together.  I like hand sewing but don't have the time, eyesight or back to do all the channels by hand.
Wish me luck!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Glamourflage pinup style pampering

I love holiday resort shops and ages ago I found some lovely beauty products by Glamourflage with drop dead gorgeous vintage pinup packaging.
First I found the cute tins of lip balm and hand cream.
They were packaged in awesome little aluminium tins with gorgeous vintage vixen images on the labels. The images remind me of the Alberto Vargas pinup posters from WWII, but brighter and saucier!
The scent of the Raunchy Rosie hand cream took me straight back to my grandmother's dressing table so it came home with me. 
Glamourflage have a much larger range now and I've bought a few more items (hahaha). 
While packaging alone won't make me buy a product, it did make me pick it up and try it. Sugar Babes had some nice packaging but I didn't fall in love with their products but I love the Glamourflage hand and face cream and the freesia scented soap. I have the odd bar tucked in with my clothes so I can enjoy the scent everyday!
And that packaging in the little tins is just plain gorgeous.  I love it to bits.  Even when I've finished the creams I can use the pretty tins!  And that powder puff has gorgeous girly gold shimmer powder in it which works for me!  ; )

More Marie Antoinette shoes and dress fragments

Goodness, yet more possessions of Marie Antoinette have gone to auction in the past month, this time on 17 October 2012, the day after the anniversary of her death.

Paris auction house Drouot auctioned this pair of green, pink and white striped shoes and two more dress fragments amongst other items from the french royal family.

According to the auction house the Queen gave the slippers to one of her manservants - Alexander-Bernard Ju-Des-Retz in 1775, the year after her husband became King Louis XVI.
 The shoes were passed down in Ju-Des-Retz family and ultimately fetched a whopping 50,000 euros at the auction.  
I love these because they are GREEN and I adore those bows on the front!

Also auctioned were two dress fragments. 
One is described as of jersey cotton and said to have come from the sleeve of a dress the Queen wore while imprisoned. 
(Is that the same material as jersey cotton today???)

The other looks to be of pink patterned silk. In fact it looks a lot like a silk damask but I know very little of the era's fabrics.  A Google search will deliver a number of sites with information - mostly in french which may provide further details.  If you find out any more, please share it with us!