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Moving house...

Sep. 27th, 2013 | 04:54 pm

Hey, everyone. I'm consolidating all my geekery in one place, and am retiring this journal (not that I post much to it at all) and moving future costuming and 16th c. thoughts to:


See you over there!

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Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Accounts online

Mar. 29th, 2011 | 03:47 pm

Hey everyone,

I finally, after lots of work and effort and liberal amounts of procrastination, have MS Egerton 2806 online.

For those 99.5% of you who don't know what that is, it's a manuscript detailing everything Queen Elizabeth's artificers made between the years of 1568 and 1585.



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(no subject)

May. 14th, 2009 | 08:39 am

The wedding dress is coming along.

When I sketched it out and drafted and draped the pattern, I knew it was going to be a girly dress.

Now, with the pink satin form-fitting cotehardie complete and the frothy sheer silk habotai overgown mostly together, there is no doubt about it. Poofy sleeves with fluttery angel wings; long billowy train in the back; full circle draped skirt rippling down from a front center opening to a long back skirt. SQUEE!

Srsly, I love wedding gowns. Especially wedding gowns for SCAdians, who are much more open to historical influences walking down the aisle with them.I can't even count the number of historic costume motifs I have raped and pillaged in the design of this dress.

For a historical costumer, wedding dresses are the ultimate "Free your mind" sewing experience: Start with one cotehardie, throw in an overlayer of giornea crossed with sack-backed gown and preraphaelite pseudo-medieval sleeves, and: shazam! You have the most ZOMG girly foofy disney princess wedding gown EVAR. Bring on the metallic silver lace!

The only thing that would make it perfect would be a) minions to do rolled hems on the miles and miles and MILES of circle skirt and angel wing sleeve hems, or b) a deadline later than this weekend...

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(no subject)

Jan. 22nd, 2009 | 08:34 pm

I went up to Kingdom Twelfth night this weekend.

It was minus fscking degrees outside friday night when Me, stanci and the Man all packed up our cars and drove up to Chicago. We managed to avoid certain doom in Chicago traffic--though narrowly--and carved out parking in the frigid and jam-packed hotel parking lot. Took us 3 trips to haul all of our stuff up to the room.

It says a lot about the SCA that the amount of stuff I packed for a one-day event was more than double the amount of stuff I pack for an entire week in St. Louis for work...

the event was in an old building that belonged to some Irish society. I'd brought my dulcimer and hung out in the musician's room, playing with a bunch of recorders, a guitar, a hurdy gurdy and a bass viol--alas, not for long, due to the various peer-type meetings that drug the musicians and me away.

I hit the merchants and loaded up on hand-made pins and a fabulous t-shirt for The Man. It was bright orange and had a lovely biohazard symbol in celtic knot work, with "Danger: Biological hazard" and "Protective clothing required" inscribed in latin on the front.

I then ended up down in the bar. (Given that the building belonged to an Irish Society, they had a splendid huge bar with draft Guinness and Harp on Tap and 3 cute bartenders). Most of the event had migrated down there by the end of the afternoon, so I did too. I sat with Francesca and Helewyse and others. A few minutes after I got there, a tall guy in his 20s (quite good looking) came up and gave me a hug. And no, it wasn't because he was a few too many sheets to the wind: it was Will, the son of an old SCA friend of mine. Who I'd last seen when he was 15, pimply and completely unpreposessing.

I couldn't help myself--the first words out of my mouth when I realized who this guy was was "Well, fuck me sideways! WILL??" Not really what he was expecting. Yeah, I blame the guinness.

Court was long, due to the hugeness of the event. But let me tell you, a couple of Guinneses make court go a lot more smoothly. Arrienne got put on vigil--long overdue!--And we all had fun giving hugs.

For dinner, the Man and I went back to the hotel, where poor Stanci, who had woken up feeling like crap, had spent the day. We had dinner and then I drove back to the event alone for the evening dancing.

I have spent the last three weeks, balls to the wall, working on a full-out Inigo jones masque costume. Complete with headdress and veil and greek shoes. My main motivation for the outfit was that I had thought I was teaching a class on masque dress at this event--heck, that was my main motivation for driving 5 hours to go to the thing in the first place--but I found out a couple of days ago that, due to some miscommunication, I never got scheduled on the class roster and wasn't teaching after all.

Oh well, I thought. At least there will be a masqued ball in the evening. I can dress up and hang out with all the other masqued up people.

So I return to the event, slither into lots of shiny glittery silks in the bathroom (using a twist-tie as a bodkin, as i'd forgotten mine) and managed to get everything into place, and headed down to the ball.

The ball? 20 dancers in a room.

Two of whom were wearing leather masks.

For dancing which lasted an hour, tops, before the event ended.

Yeah. Total overkill. Talk about negative ROI. I was a bit bummed, but hung out in the bar for a bit with Francesca, Lucia and Red-Winged Lion and did some hootchie-cootch to a local Irish band playing a celticized "Zombie Jamboree" before driving back to the hotel.

Sunday was fab, though. I headed over to Vogue fabrics with a much improved Stanci and the Man and Helewyse and also Mordak and Xanetia. Between the four of us we cleaned them out of several bolts of $5.99 clearance wools. I got a lovely red wool medium-weight twill, 10 yards of a deep forest green lightweight wool, 5 yards of a really nice napped wool blend (felt like cashmere), and wool voile--veil weight wool. Exquisite stuff. And 5 yards of persian lamb for this tailor's livery gown I'm planning. Cleaned myself out, but was good and did not get any of the lovely voided velvets or tapestry fabrics they had. I did see the most dreamy madder-red broken twill wool, but it was $20 a yard and I just couldn't justify it.

Then me, Helewyse, Mordak and Xanetia went to this little diner around the corner. It too was a most lovely surprise. The decor was early kitsch: chandeliers made of colanders and crystal drops; balls of aluminum foil glued to the ceiling; and an astonishing range of decorations, from a pirahna mobile made of flattened cans and kitchen utensils, to a "Lobster Boy" carnie poster on the wall, to eight framed pieces of decoupage composed of photographs of basketball players cut out of magazines. It was something else.

The food there was amazing. I had a caribbean pumpkin soup, with plantains in it, and then had a chicken tandoori salad with apricot chutney and a side of sweet potato fries. For dessert we all shared a fantabulous bananas foster. And had chai. MMmmmmmmmmm.......

I dropped Helewyse back at fighter practice at the University of Chicago and headed out to St. Louis. About the time night fell I ran into a snowstorm heading east. Pro: Driving through snow is like piloting an interstellar spacecraft. All the flakes flying by look like stars. Con: attempting to make out where the lines on the road are. It's rather freeing, not having lines on the road; you can drive anywhere on the road you want. Very adventurous.

But I made it through, and am now at the good old Comfort Suites in St. Louis. Ready for work tomorrow. Yay...

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Jan. 12th, 2009 | 02:06 pm

There's a 16th c. Roman Masque event coming up in Chicago this weekend. Like any self-respecting costumer, I took this as an opportunity to go, "ooh! I need to make *cough*another*cough* authentic late sixteenth century masque costume!"

And then proceed to browse through every online source of silks, spangles and shiny fabrics that I could find.

And then decide what I wanted to go as, based on the colors of the prettiest silks out there. And on pictures of lots of purty masquers as envisaged by Inigo.

And really, what a fabulous name. Inigo. Has any theatrical costumer not looked at his designs and thought "Hello. My name is Inigo Jones. You kill my design concept. Prepare to die."

So anyway, yours truly is going as Aurora, goddess of Dawn. I actually found a 17th century description of what Aurora should be dressed in, including the appropriate colors. So take note: anyone at this Chicago event will be seeing me in more pink than you ever will again.

It's nice, working on a "costume" for a change, rather than authentic period clothing. I've done my one "ultra-period" masque costume by hand, so now I have no compunction using my sewing machine within an inch of its life on this outfit. Which is good, because even though I thought I budgeted enough time for this sucker, the event's a week away and I still have the headdress and buskins to go. Aagh!

The underskirt is a white silk number, embroidered with metallic gold & sequins. Over that is a short smocky thing in a coral pink color, with short poofed sleeves and five different types of gold trim on it, including 6-inch-long fringe. It has gold taffeta undersleeves decorated with gold braid. The sleeves are Kind of like these.

Over this goes a gold shot-silk corslet, with curled acanthus leaves in gold and storm-cloud blue shot taffeta dangling down from the hips. (Kind of like these)It's edged in orange taffeta, and has applique'd stylized sunbeams on it, made of the same.

The headdress, yet to be made, will be a stylized sunrise, lots of pearls and poofs of taffeta, fake silk hair, and a long, iridescent silk carnation veil.
The buskins: blue-shot silk with a gold brocade pattern, fastened onto gold sandals.

I got the smock & corselet all finished this weekend. Whew! Never thought I'd get so far along. At least I have a fighting chance of getting it all done by Friday now.

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The power of PDF

Jan. 1st, 2009 | 05:53 pm
mood: Happy-y-y-y-y!

Earlier this week, I popped into our xerox room to copy a costume article for a friend of mine. As I was copying my pages, my eyes fell on the "Scan" button; about 10 minutes of button-pushing later, I managed to figure out how to scan in a document, save it as a pdf, and send it to myself. All in the amount of time it took to xerox the same article.

Now, this may be old news to a lot of y'all, but to me? My reaction can be scored up in one word:


Oh, and also:

*HAPPY BOOK DANCE* (which fortunately wasn't seen by anyone, because there were all of two people at work Tuesday).

I immediately set to xeroxing the majority of the book I'd brought with me. The next day I started hauling in my Textile History issues, Dyes in History & Archaeology issues, Journal of Costume issues, old Waffen & Kostumekunde articles, and scanning them all into PDFs.

Then yesterday, I discovered how one can OCR the said scanned document in Acrobat....so instead of plain-old images, you get an image that can be highlighted or searched like text. The OCR isn't perfect, but enough to be able to do pretty comprehensive text searches.

And THEN I figured out that you can copy the entire text of an Italian ocr'ed pdf'ed article, and run the entire thing through babelfish for a (very) rudimentary english translation.


And today I discovered how to create a batch OCR job in Acrobat. WHEE! One's running right now, OCRing and indexing over 60 different scanned articles on costume and textiles.

Which means that the next time I say "I know I saw a reference to a sixteenth century red linen petticoat somewhere...or was it fustian?" and prepare to dump an entire two shelves of periodicals onto the floor and flip through them for an hour before getting distracted by a discovery of a long-forgotten article on fifteenth century guild liveries, I can instead sit down at my laptop and do a quick search of them all.


So tomorrow, which we have off from work, I'll be back here at the office with yet more articles & pamphlets. Who knows, I may even be able to box some of these periodicals up and make room on my limited shelves for the massive influx of books from Italy and Christmas...

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This week:

Dec. 6th, 2008 | 12:06 am

Work is sending yours truly to Denver the week after next. That friday, I'm flying up to Oregon to visit my folks, and flying back the following Monday--so I'll have two days before christmas to finish stuff up! Yay!

This means I need to get the following done in the next 8 days:

finish buying all gifts
wrap all gifts
get all gifts sent off in the mail or given to recipients
get my hair cut & colored
bake the yearly batch of springerle cookies and get them wrapped and sent off
Select, transport, set up and decorate a christmas tree
decorate the house, including putting up lights
go to Ernie's uncle's birthday and work's christmas party
go to get-together of ex-radian employees
bake spice cake & give it away
help out with orientation of two new people at work
the volunteer work for the Michael's House child welfare thing that I agreed to do in a fit of insanity
Pack for Denver and Oregon

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Books are here!

Nov. 29th, 2008 | 09:52 am

My first box of books & stuff shipped from Germany is here!

I scored some really cool, obscure stuff in museum bookstores. Here is a list of books that others may also find of interest:

Die Gräber der Moscevaja Balka: Frühmittelarterliche Funde an der Nordkaukasischen Seidenstrasse
(The Graves of the Moscevaja Balka: Early Medieval Finds from the North caucasian Silk Road.)
by Anna A. Ierusalimskaja.
Pub. Editito Maris, D-81735 München Tel: 089 49000274
ISBN 3925801227
In German, about the textile and clothing in the Hermitage, has excellent pictures and captions showing and describing tunics, hose, several hats and numerous fragments of brocaded silk textiles. Picked this one up from the Bavarian Nationalmuseum.

I Gioielli dei Medici: dal vero e in ritratto
(The Jewels of the Medici: in reality and portraits)
by Maria Sframeli
ISBN 8883471970
In Italian. Has many pictures or 16th and 17th century jewelry. Also has inventories from the Medici archives of jewels and precious things. Got this at the Pitti Palace in Florence.

Museo Stibbert: Abiti Europei (Stibbert Museum: European Costume)
by Kirstin Piacenti
Pub. Editioni Polistampa
ISBN 17239400
In Italian and English. Describes the costume holdings of the Stibbert Museum in Florence, Italy. Includes details and photographs on an embroidered leather doublet, an iron pair of bodies, chopines, several knitted mens and womens waistcoats, several 18th centuryand other clothing, 16th c. through early 19th century. This is sold at the Stibbert Museum.

Das alte Nürnberg: Einblick in vier Jahrhunderte Handwerksleben
(The old Nürnberg: A glimpse in four centuries of craftsmens' lives.)
By Margarete Wagner
Pub. Guido Pressler Verlag, Hurtgenwald
In German. Contains photos, black and white and color, depicting craftsmen from the Mendelschen Zwölfbruderstiftung and the Landaur Zwölfbrüderstiftung.

Women in Power: Caterina and Maria de' Medici.
by Clarice Innocenti
Pub. Mandragora for the Palazzo Strozzi, 2008
ISBN 9788874611232
In English. A catalog for the Women in Power exhibition in Florence, 2008. Contains numerous portraits and tapestries belonging to Catherine de Medici and Maria de Medici

Historische Textilien: Beiträge zu ihrer Erhaltung und Erforschung
(Historical textiles: Contributions to its preservation and research)
ISBN: 3926982799
Pub. Germanisches Nationalmuseum
Several articles on textile and clothing conservation, most in German, a couple in English. Of particular note is an article on the women's doublet from 1585 at the GNM describing its construction in detail (including a recreation of the inner layers) , and an article on German Headwear 15th-17th centuries by Jutta Zander-Seidel. (Both are in German). Picked up at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum

Die Gemälde des 16. Jahrhunderts
(Paintings of the 16th century)
Pub Verlag Gerd Hatje, 1997
Germanisches Nationalmuseum
ISBN: 3775706968
A catalog of all (I think all) of the 16th century paintings held by the German National Museum in Nürnberg. Big--650 pages--heavy and extremely full of interesting pics!

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11/13: Fun in Nurnberg

Nov. 26th, 2008 | 12:01 pm

I slept better last night, on my 5 mattresses, than I have in a long time. For the first time in a week I woke up on my own rather than to the electronic blare of a cell phone alarm.

We hustled in and out of the showers, somehow avoiding the partying hordes of last night, and I went up to ask reception if we could stay in the basement rather than moving into our room.

I rang the desk bell...and out came Dirk from the back room, rubbing his eyes. Apparently he works morning shift as well as night shift. Alas, he said apologetically, this was impossible. A guy was using Miyagi's Dojo as a crash pad, and though he was in Cologne for Carnival, would be coming back soon.

Dirk is adorable, in a morose, mournful, insomniac, balding sort of way.

We headed out on the hunt for coffee, and found an extraordinarily cheap stand-up cafe run by an extraordinarily chirpy and brisk woman, selling fresh pastries and sandwiches. Then we went to the post office to find out how much shipping would be--Jenn and I have acquired a good 100 lbs of schtuff betwee us, I think. It will cost to send home by post, but a bag I can lift is worth it--especially one with a broken handle.

I like Nurnberg more than Munich. It's cozier, everything very close together, with all of the house roofs inside the city walls squeezed into sharp points.

We met up with Alex and Amy and headed to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. And wow. It. Is. Vast.

I saw countless cool things, though none of the fabled 17th c. & 16th c. clothing was on display...it was all in storage. Curses. All of us had achieved photo burnout at this point; things I would have gleefully documented with a dozen pictures 3 days ago got a cursory glance. Did I already have a picture showing the back seam lines on a man's hose from the late 15th c.? Yes, I did. No photo, then.

There was a fabulous exhibit on the restoration of a tapestry. There were countless rooms of medieval carvings. The painting wing was closed--bummer. There was an entire hall of antique craftsmens tools from the medical profession and others, including 3 ell sticks! One of which I'm pretty sure is 16th century.

We found that pictures of the virgin mary dying always featured a blue and white plaid pillow; that St. Catherine being beheaded was excellent for pictures of the executioner's clothing, especially of seamlines on the back and sides of his garments; that the slaughter of the innocents could be counted upon to have one nicely-dressed mother wringing her hands and showing all sorts of intriguing dress bits in her deshabille.

We also found more medieval doppelgangers of Amy. If she'd lived in 1550s Germany, she'd have been a supermodel.

Other highlights: A carved and painted leather box, a huge fabric painting of landsknechts and the silliest knitted and painted hunting hat EVAR.

We broke for lunch around 2, went back to the hostel to move our things into our new room upstairs, and then Jonna and I went to explore the Stadtsbibliothek, or state library. Our goal was to score some accession nos. from Textiler Hausrat and PoF, and then see if we could cozen our way into storage to see some of the items they had, since my earlier, email-based requests had received no response.

Along the way we encountered Waffen-und-Kostumekunde, 199 books full of all the German heraldry that exists, and a bibliography of books on hunting, 1600-1900. Damn, but that library is tempting! I must come back and spend a week there, sometime. Too bad xeroxes are 50 cents a page.

The storage campaign did not work, but the textile conservator we got on the line was very nice about it. So we went back and walked around with the rest of the group. We found 'Cafe Beer", a coze establishment that served some soups and a vast and mighty assortment of pastries, cakes, tortes, strudels, and other delights.

We stopped by the grocery store on the way back. I bought water and some "Bio-baerchen", little gummy bears, for Ernie. (they were very tasty Bio-bears, as it turned out).

We also picked up a beer for Dirk, in thanks for letting us stay in the basement. When we got back to the Hostel, he was still there--does this guy ever sleep?--so I put it on the ledge of the reception counter and said, "This is for you".

"Why?" He said, in a world-weary tone.

"Because", I replied, "You are always so mournful and nihilistic. I figured you could use a beer."

He cracked the first grin we'd seen on him. "maybe you're right", he allowed.

We then stopped by Alex and Amy's hotel so I could use the internet, catch up on email, and Skype home. Mari was able to call her man, too.

It's funny, Mari has gotten completely sucked into the Sookie Stackhouse book I lent her and whips it out to read whenever we have some downtime. Not that I'm one to talk, having sat in Barnes and Noble for 3 hours to read the latest hardcover in the series, me being too cheap to buy it...

Back to the hostel, and Jenn and I packed up a metric ton of books, fabric and passmenterie. Talk, and then bed.

Jonna, by the way, gives the most amazing foot rubs! Her husband has foot problems, and boy does she know how to work them. Amen!

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11/12: Basement Accomodations and more museums

Nov. 25th, 2008 | 04:28 pm


Tonight, your intrepid adventuresses are sleeping in the basement storeroom of the Lettem Sleep Hostel in Hurnberg. The sign on the door reads "Miyagi's Dojo", and the room has a disco ball hanging from the ceiling.

We got to the hostel at 9:20 pm, two and a half hours later than I'd scheduled for. In my experience, telling a hotel you'll be in at 7 and showing up at 9 isn't a problem, right? Well, clearly the rules are different in Germany.

Dirk, a portly, bearded redhead with a T-shirt reading "Nurnberg: Avoiding Bombs since 1945"--had given our rooms away half an hour earlier. He was irritated and apologetic, and ended up offering us space in the storage room for the night.

He unlocked the door and we found ourselves amidst wardrobes and tables and upended chairs, broken bedframes, water bottles and piles of matresses. Funky futuristic lamps and vacuum cleaners, fans, books and intriguing boxes filled with glasses and gilt frames fill the room.

We got to work and cleared enough space for one pile of double-mattresses, one cot, and one pile of twin mattresses, and got them covered with sheets and dovey covers. They were much more comfortable than our prior hostel. An upended futon frame is serving as a hanging rack for coats and purses.

It's fabulous, in a "no room at the inn", girl's sleepover kind of way.

Bavarian National MuseumCollapse )
We nabbed a quick dinner in the subterranean mall by the subway station, and had an interestintg discussion on the conscious creation of fashion by kings, queens and others, and the magical way it is used to form a connection between people. And then we all collected ourselves and our luggage and headed for the station, where we hopped the train to Nurnberg. It was a picturesque journey of small towns and trees.

I'm glad we got the basement. Apparently, there's a party to end all parties going on on the second floor.

Tomorrow: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, here we come!

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