Thursday, April 19, 2018

Clothes Fit for a King and Queen, Morgan Bible Style

I had the honor of working on an outfit for TRM's Gareth & Juliana this past fall.  The project ate my life, and somehow I forgot to blog about it. 

I proposed the Morgan Bible outfits and both of them liked the designs so we went ahead.  All garments have extant supporting garments, though heavy modifications were made both to bring things more in line with the manuscript and due to budget constraints.  My team was excellent, and I'm very happy with the finished results.

You can read the documentation for the Morgan Bible Royal Wardrobe here.

My personal contributions were research & pattern making, cutting and machine sewing, some hand sewing on the tunic & gown, 52 little red dots with couched silver embroidery thread on Gareth's cloak, the hose,  belts and sewing the trim on their cloaks.  I also made some fingerloop braids for ties as there was a mix-up in delivery.  I love her beaded belt most, but Silvester's trim takes the cake on these outfits.

Sassain Woman's Jewelry, 600 AD

Odkatla needed an angel for one of the past rounds of the AEthelmearc Artisan's Exchange, and since my gift was done and I was sitting out the next round, I was glad to step in.  The artisan's exchange is an opportunity to learn about cultures and times I may never otherwise have known existed, and this was certainly the case with the angel gift.  It was supposed to be a Red exchange, which means over $25 in materials and documentation, with historic accuracy playing a large part.  Due to it being an angel gift, time was critical, and materials were not quite as important, so I worked with what I had on hand. 

Sometimes ideas come slowly, but in this case, idea, research and product happened so fast I barely had time to process it before the gift was out the door.  Sometimes I just know when something is right, and this was very right, even if the materials were imperfect.  I made a bead necklace and a personal pendant seal with her heraldry.

The necklace was based on one that was listed in Christie's Auction House, of graduated carnelian and bronze beads, but I used glass, bronze and stone that I had on hand.  I strung them on copper wire.  No one knows what the originals were strung on, and no one knows exactly how they were strung as most of the finds were either scattered or restrung in the 1800's to fit tastes of that time.  We can look at the sculptures to get an idea of how the original jewelry was worn.

This sculpture shows multiple necklaces, with a ring seal.  Another in the same museum shows a pendant seal on a ribbon or band.  Personal seals were incredibly common for both men and women in Sassain society.  While most were made from stone, I opted for polymer clay.  I half baked it and then finished carving it.    As it turns out, Sala collects seals, and she was delighted to have one with her own arms.   Unfortunately I was (and still am) out of silk ribbon, so the theme of plastic held fast with a polyester ribbon. 

Note: I did not note what museum this sculpture is from in the file name.  Photo is not mine and I was not able to trace it back to it's original site. 

1325 Brooch Blank

This project was a bit of a tangent for me.  I will eventually get back to the actual project, but the brooch was a test run for what I hope will be a group project.  Duke Timothy is interested in metal casting, and I am not.  I am however interested in making the clay or wax models to make the molds to cast the metal for the final objects.  Ultimately the goal is belt buckles, but they are more complex than the brooch - but similar concepts.  For this run, I used polymer clay.  It will work with some finagling, but it is not the best material for this purpose. 

The original brooch is in "Dress Accessories, 1150-1450" by Geoff Egan and Francis Pritchard, which details the finds from the London digs.  My version is not nearly so nice as the original, but I learned a lot, and I think I can achieve the goal of 'better next time.'


Occasionally a person has to do something completely silly to refill the well of creativity. 

Battle Snails were my answer to this problem.  I had been rolling along just fine for a few months, and then I got sick with the flu from hell, and even though I was back on my feet and had a gazillion things to do, I just didn't have the uumph to get going on them.  So I took a few days to go off on a complete lark and made these little manuscript marginalia characters come to life in polymer clay, acrylic paint, super glue, and some snail shells. 

The first little guy is in my first ramshorn's shell, so it's rather sentimental.  I never had a problem with ramshorns, I was able to separate them before any issues occurred, so each one lived a very long, very solitary life.  I'm glad to have given the remains of my non-affectionate pet new life in this silly sculpture. 

The second is a rabbit of war riding a battle snail, and it's just as creepy and delightful as the manuscript.  The shell is a purchased marine snail, I'm not sure what kind, but I liked the green.  It was a happy accident that the base ended up looking like a medieval shoe.  I should have made the rabbit into a pen holder.  Next time.

Pouchlet Purse and Alms Purse for Mother & Daughter

I made these bags for one of the AEthelmearc Artisan Exchanges.  This was a Red exchange, where the rules are that you make the item as historically accurate as possible and provide documentation.  I had really wanted to make this particular pouchlet purse for a while, but I don't do that era myself, and it is distinctly German/lowlands, which I also don't do.  I was fortunate that the lady I got as my recipient has a trusfrau? persona and wanted a pouchlet purse. 

The leather is vegetable tanned split elk (American, not European, but still).  It is hand sewn with waxed linen thread.  I cut the leather rosettes vs. punching them, but the punch was out of my budget.  The beads are pre-18th c. though I'm not sure how much before that or what their origins are.  The only thing I failed at here was the button: I could not figure out how it worked.  I tried several configurations and none satisfied, so I left it off.

The purse itself is distinctly a woman's purse, and was most commonly worn by midwives in German and Lowlands in the late 1400's and early 1500's. The extant inspiration purse is a leather frame purse from Flanders.  The buttons are braided leather, and that was a bit of a trick to learn those knots.  Purses in Pieces is an excellent book if you are interested in making pouches and purses.

The little bag is based on German alms purses of the same period, and I made it at the last minute for her daughter.  It is not made accurately, but was designed to pass the 10' rule and give a child a place to keep her small treasures. I think it probably passes the 2' rule, and I hope it serves her well for many years. 

Hun, it's the HUNS!

The Huns weren't big on flat writing in book or scroll form, at least not anything that is easily available online to a scribe in a hurry who doesn't know the culture or the terms. 
So what's a girl to do when her Barony is in need?

First I looked at what the Huns did make, and that was a whole lot of jewelry with a whole lot of gold and polished stones.  the gilded design below was inspired by a Hunnic crown, which probably belonged to a king.  I changed the eagle to Bob (raven mascot of Thescorre), and added in the feather design below. 

The writing format was taken from a later manuscript written by the direct descendants of the Huns.  It is 10th c. Irk Bitig book of divination of Dnhuag, Turkic mythology.  The spacing is a little close, but there was a lot to say and limited parchment to say it on. Rather than doing a faux font, I chose to slightly modify an uncial script. 

Not every scroll knocks it out of the park, and I'm not super-thrilled with the piece as a whole.  I like the individual elements, and I like the concept.  I think the recipient likes it as well. 

As a bonus, I got to look at a lot of really awesome jewelry that would not be out of place in a modern context.  I can really see their influence on the art in the areas that they invaded.

Peacocks and Paint

This is a Jewel of AEthelmearc scroll made for my friend Elisabeth, who is all things wonderful.

The manuscript this was inspired by is a Gradual (songbook) from Nuremberg Germany, made in 1507-1510, MS M.905 I, fol 212r held at the Morgan Library in NY. 

I stayed fairly close to the original, the major exception being that this is not musical notation.  My hatching is not as fine as the original either, so that is something to work on. 

This was painted on my own parchment.  Ink is Speedball red and Iron Gall ink (purchased), and the paints are watercolor & gouache.  I used flat gilding as per the original, and gilder's garlic, which I will apply in thinner layers in the future.  I painted over the gold as well, as per the original manuscript.  I think in the future, I will add some egg yolk to the water based paints to make it stay a little better, but it worked.