Sunday, January 6, 2013

This time on ivory

While I'm catching up a little on projects I finished a while ago, I thought I should probably post about a portrait miniature which I painted last spring.  Aubry, a truly lovely historical costumer, had contacted me about doing a miniature of her husband in late 18th century style and clothing.  This gave me the opportunity to paint a miniature on actual ivory, something I'd not before attempted.

Painting on ivory was definitely an... experience.  As much as I thought polymer clay wasn't absorbant, ivory was even less so.  Very, very slick.  After a bit of trial and error, I found that the best way to apply the paint was in very tiny, little brush-strokes.  A sort of stippling in tiny lines instead of dots, if that makes sense.

I can totally see how one would need all the years of an apprenticeship to be able to call one's self a miniaturist!  The skill is definitely one that requires practice.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Just a little something from 1862

Sometimes my little-ish projects never manage to make it onto the blog, as was the case for a Civil War headdress which I made almost a year ago.  I used it as part of a 'ladies fashion accessories in the 1860s' display at an event at the Mariner's Museum, but, as that was the last Civil War event I've done, have never actually worn it with an outfit.

For inspiration and instruction, I used this print from the March 1862 edition of Godey's Lady's Book.  The accompanying text reads:
"This coiffure is very simple, and generally becoming.  The rosettes are formed of pieces of bias silk, about an inch and a half in width; the edges are cut out in points, and the silk box-pleated and formed into a rosette, then sewn on to stiff net; the band can be of velvet or silk, and a bow of ribbon to match the silk is often placed on one side of the band.  One or more colors can be used; rose sublime and black make a good contrast."

I used silk taffeta in rose and cream, and followed the directions as closely as possible.  Each rosette is made of a ten inch by 1.5 inch strip of silk, cut with pinking shears, and box-pleated before the threads were pulled up to create the rosette.  The rosettes were then sewn to light-weight buckrum, and then sewn onto a band of matching rose silk.  Naturally, all work was done by hand.

As I have no plans whatsover for any 1860s events in the coming year or so, I've put this headdress up for sale on etsy: here.  I figure that someone ought to put it to good use since I'm apparently not going to!