Monday, October 28, 2013

Silver Hands

A slight change of pace today.  As the name itself implies, The Girl Without Hands features a main character who looses her hands (through a foolish deal with the Devil that her father made).  A little later on she receives silver hands to wear... eventually getting real, human hands again thanks to her goodness and the kindness of an angel.  I'm thinking of turning the angel into a female scientist in my rendition of the tale, but that's really by the by.  What really matters right now is that I'm planning on creating silver hands as part of the overall costuming.

I've spent some time looking at 19th century prosthetics, as well as metalwork from the 18th and 19th centuries plus some pieces of contemporary haute couture which thematically works.

I love this utterly creepy Victorian prosthetic arm.  I don't believe I want to make on myself that is articulated, but I still am fascinated by this piece.

At the moment I'm looking at a couple different techniques for making the hands, although it'll probably be a little while until I can get into the metals studio and try them out.  I'm interesting in trying both electroplating and electrotyping to create metal hands based upon life-molds taken from the model (whoever that turns out to be).

Electroplating permanently bonds a coating of metal to whatever it is you've properly treated and immersed in the chemical bath, while electrotyping adheres to the agent itself and creates a copy from a mold.  Since I want to create metal hands that are essentially wearable in glove-like fashion, whatever it is I make will have to be hollow.  Electrotyping seems like it would be an ideal solution in this instance, although the technique was maining popular during the Victorian era.  To create something like that through electroplating, I believe I would have to create a cast of the model's hand and arm out of wax, which I could then coat in metal using the electroplating after which I would melt the wax out.

I have no idea yet which techinque might be more appropriate or yield better results... if I want to do raised relief decoration on the silver hands (which I would like to do), it seems as if doing that on a wax cast would be the easiest way.  But I think I won't know until I get in the studio and actually try it all out.

Or I could do a combination of metalwork and stitchery... like these killer shoes by Alexander McQueen.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oberbayern Tracht from the 1810s and 1820s

I found some really wonderful prints yesterday when digging around on the internet on the website of the Trachten Informationszentrum, which apparently is an institution not terribly far from Munich which specializes in fashion and folk costume from the Oberbayern (Upper Bavarian) region.  Their website contains a very small selection of their entire collection, which is comprised of over 4,000 items of clothing, 20,000 images, and an extensive library.

I think I need to go there.  According the website they are open to the public every Thursday, but are very open to setting up private appointments on other days to look at things. Hopefully I'll be able to take a trip sometime in the next month.

The first two prints are from 1813 and are by Ludwig Emil Grimm... and yes, that is Grimm, as in Ludwig was the younger brother of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.  Very, very cool.

1813 - Baierische Bäuerinnen vom Schliersee
I love almost everything that these two are wearing... the strange little pantaloon type things (also worn by the men in the print below), the decorated back of the bodice, the almost gauntlet-like sleeve things, the overall silhouette... I have a feeling I'll be drawing heavily from this sort of style in my designing.

1813 - Baierische Baueren vom Schliersee

1817 - Eine Bäuerin von Holzkirchen

 1818 - Ein Bauer von Flintspach

1825 - Bauern-Bursche & Bauern-Mädchen von Brannenburg

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making for the men- an 1825 dress coat

When it comes to constructing costumes for the 1820s (and really, for the majority of all time periods) I'm far more familiar with women's clothing than with men's.  To start to gain that familiarity with the shape and inner structure of men's clothing, I'm putting together a muslin of the 1825 Dress Coat from the book Cut of Men's Clothes.  I'm not sizing it in any way, just scaling up and making a mock-up in the original size.  The idea is to be able to understand the garment so that when I get around to making the actual pieces for my project, I'll know how and where I want to deviate.  The coat is actually really small; it might even be a decent size for me!

I scaled the pattern up by hand, which was super easy to do once my tutor told me a little trick... since the measure at the side of the page isn't a nice and neat 1/8 to an inch, draw a grid (or partial grid) over the pattern and then cut the scale off the side of the page to use as a sort of mini-ruler.  Such a common sense solution.  I couldn't believe I'd never thought of that before...

The muslin is currently all cut out and partially constructed, and I should hopefully finish putting together tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Royalty and Riches - journal entry from 27 Sep, 2013

So what were German nobility wearing at this time period (1819-25)?  It varies a little bit, but for the most part it seems as though they were following the same fashions trends found in France and England with only very slight differences.  I love the crazy amount of glorious silver or/and gold embroidery on a lot of these...

Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, Queen of Bavaria, by Joseph Stieler

1823 - Worn by Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg for their wedding in Munich
Could anything possibly look more fairytale than this ensemble?  I kind of doubt it.

1819 German Court Dress

 1823 - Princess Augusta Amalia of Bavaria

 1820s German Court Dress

 1825 Queen Pauline of Württemberg

1825 Ludwig I of Bavaria

 1825 King Ludwig I of Bavaria again... this time all decked out in his regalia.  Check out those shoes!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Determining the palette

One of the best ways to achieve consistency in either a single painting or in designing an entire show, is to decide on a palette of colors to utilize, and then to stick to that palette.

I'll be doing the actual costume renderings (illustrations) in graphite and oil paint, so it made sense to use oils now when simply playing around with color.  And this way I'll know exactly what colors to mix with and restrict myself to when I actually do the renderings.  I could probably limit my initial palette even more, but I shouldn't get too crazy using these: Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Venitian Red, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, and Cerulean Blue... I like to mix my own black using equal parts Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue.

My main visual inspiration for overall color themes was a photo of part of the ceiling and a chandelier in Versailles.  I printed the photo out, pasted it to a sheet of paper canvas, and painted swatches around it.  Some of the swatches I painted over several times, and I'm still not %100 sure the palette here is final, but this the general direction I want to take it.  (adding, of course, metallic gold and silver... lots and lots of gold and silver)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Field Trip? journal entry from 24 Sep, 2013

Met with one of my course directors today to discuss current research, ideas, etc.  He suggested several artists and films to look at which have ties to my theme... reeinterpretations and contemporary tellings of fairytales, as well as suggesting I look at German museums for researching Tracht.

I had visited the websites of several German museums, and though there are several museums which seem to have decent collections of historic clothing and folk costume, none of them have complete or even partial online collections.  It seems that if I really want to study Tracht in-depth, I will have to go to Germany.

In no particular order, I would love to visit:

First- the Germanische Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg. 

Photo of part of the Germanische Nationalmuseum's costume collection.

Also- the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in M

And- the Modemuseum at Schloss Ludwigsburg.

All three museums are within a less than two hour train ride of each other, which would actually make a research trip quite feasible within a fairly short trip.  I first need to email the museums though to see if it would be possible to look at objects in their collections not on display, and then see if I have the funds for such a venture.  It might really be worth it to go, as there's really not much by way of German tradional clothing in museums here in the UK.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tracht - journal entry from 23 Sep, 2013

Nearly my entire morning and early afternoon has been pleasantly spent searching the internet for images of German Tracht (traditional folk costume).  One website in particular has been wonderful for images of mid to late 19th cen traditional costume, containing scans of a huge number of 19th and early 20th century postcards. In looking for images from the early 19th century however, I've mostly relied on google and pinterest searches; searching for 1819 Tracht, 1820 Tracht, etc... fortunately there's not a lot of overlap in search results, and there are several very interesting prints from nearly every year which pop up.  Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a single site where images of early 19th cen Tracht are conveniently compiled... perhaps that's something I should consider doing myself...

Some of the highlights from today's search:

Town woman and farm girl from Augsburg - 1820

Trachten aus Kammern und Kallwang, Aquarell um 1820 Matthäus Loder
Traditional clothing from Kammern and Kallwang in 1820

Bayerische national Trachten - Nürnberg, Renner, und Schuster um 1820
Bavarian national clothing in 1820

It's really interesting how even though this print is dated to 1820, the clothing is very strongly 18th century in style.  In the mens' clothing the short waistcoats and standing collars on the coats are indicitive of the early 19th century, but cocked hats and knee breeches had fallen out of fashion years prior.  The woman's outfit is obviously Tracht instead of 'fashionable' wear, but the cut of her jacket is also rather reminiscent of the 18th century.

Later images show a more fossilized and highly regionalized fashion:

Bayerische Volkstrachten - Unterfranken und Aschaffenburg, Uettingen
Bavarian folk costume

Hessische Trachten, Mädchengruppe, Sonntagskleider
Hessian traditional clothing, group of girls in Sunday dresses

 Niedersächsische Braut, Kleid mit Perlenhut
Bride from Lower Saxony, dress with beaded/pearled hat

Volkstracht aus dem Elzthal
Folk costume from Elzthal

This last one is super interesting, as the woman on the left is wearing a dress which is obviously modelled on 18th century clothing, as is the straw hat which the woman on the right is wearing.  Since this is an early 20th cen postcard featuring Bayerische Volkstrachten (Bavarian Folk Costume), I can't help but wonder if it is presenting the tradional clothing from two different eras... just shown side by side. 

If anyone has recommendations for good books or websites on the subject, please let me know!  I'm only just starting to study this particular area, and am still trying to figure out the best sources of information.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Girl Without Hands - Mädchen ohne Hände

 Beautiful illustration by Winona Nelson

When thinking about what I wanted to do for my master's project, it made the most sense to follow through on the themes I've been more or less obsessed with for the last few years: dark fairytales, Germany, and the early 19th century.

The university library fortunately had facsimile versions of the orignal publications by the Brothers Grimm; both the first editions published in 1812 and 1815 (the latter being a follow-up of 'new' and different stories), and the last and most famous edition from 1857.  The first couple editions apparently weren't wildly successful, but after the third edition (which included all the tales from the first two) was published in 1819, the book started to garner a following and eventually became as well-known as it is today.

Title page of the first edition of Grimms' Fairytales or more properly, Kinder und Hausmärchen.

After reading through the original text, I eventually decided to design for the tale, The Girl Without Hands.  This story is not nearly as well known as other Grimm tales, perhaps because in spite of a happy ending, it is at it's core rather gruesome and phsycologically horrific.  It also was the only story to spark a strong visceral reaction when I was reading... that is, when I was reading it in German.  The next day I read a few English translations which were unbearably formal and stiff, perhaps providing another reason for it's lack of fame.

Regarding the costume design, I have decided to set the story in an alternate version of Germany shortly after the release of the compiled third edition of Kinder und Hausmärchen in 1819.  I'm looking at a lot of 19th century traditional German costume (or Tracht, as it's officially called) plus court dress and everyday wear of German royalty and nobility during the early 1820s.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Calling Card and the Start of New Things

'Calling Card' created for my Design Methods in Context course.
The drawing illustrates the costuming themes I'm currently obsessed with, alongside a brief summary of my recent work/education experiences.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have recently moved to Scotland, and am in fact attending the University of Edinburgh College of Art doing a two year MFA program in Performance Costume.  Moving overseas was definitely kind of stressful... and it was really hard paring down my books and fabric stash and general possessions prior to moving.  I now own less that I ever have since I was a teenager before college, which feels super strange.  However, I am now settled in Edinburgh for the immediate future, and am really looking forward to seeing where the next couple years take me.

So what does this all mean for the blog?  Well, as it so happens, keeping a reflective journal of my research and current work is one of the key elements of my course.  I initially started a new, private blog where I began to write about and record my project, but on reflection I think it would make more sense to just integrate the journal into this blog.  For the next two years, the majority of my costuming and artwork will revolve heavily around my masters work, and I'm afraid if I don't include that work here, this blog will just sort of languish... a very undesirable fate!

The next few posts will contain journal entries from the last couple weeks, but in a day or two should transition into 'real time'.  My program is almost entirely self-directed, so it'll be great to interact with people and get feedback about my project here as well as in real life.

across the ocean and what came before: House of Grey

There have been some pretty epic changes in my life since I last wrote anything, and some of that change will definitely be flowing into the blog.  The very, very short version is that I am now living in Scotland and am studying for my MFA in Performance Costume.

But before all of that, my last post from the end of May sort of left things hanging, and it's high time to let you all know what was up!  During the summer, my friend Nicole and I started up a little steampunk venture, making ladies hats and accessories.  We wanted to create unique items that didn't look like anything else currently available, and used a lot of of antique and vintage trims and fabrics when making these pieces. 

We called our shop House of Grey, and our etsy store is up and running! 

Here are some of the items which I made for the shop, and Nicole posted some of her work a little while ago on her blog as well.

Fully functioning headphones of cast bronze and plastic with fabric covered cushions and inset stones.  I made these a few years ago during a metals course in university, but they fit very well with the aesthetics of the shop.

And of course, hats!  They're all built on buckrum and wire bases, and I developed a new pattern for each one... no repeats!


And of course there are handbags as well, like this one made of and lined with silk taffeta on an antique accordian clasp.

And while moving overseas certainly changes some things, I don't intend to let my now being in Scotland prevent me from making more pieces for House of Grey.  Obviously I'll have to fit things around my masters work, but I'll still make and add things whenever I'm able.