the blog

Elsa photo by Little Noise || Mina photo by Little Noise || Femshep photo by Little Noise

wig work, make up, body art, armour, dance-wear, formal gowns, historic dress, embroidery, and finally large scale prosthetic work.

Costume maker and performance artist since 1999. Diploma of Performing Arts, 1997 Mistress of the Order of the laurel (Society of Creative Anachronism)2007 Head coordinator and judge for New Zealand’s largest media costume competition from 2007-2014.


a bon fine- not anne of cleves motto

I think in Anglo-centric writings and art history there has been a lot of context missing when interpreting the clothing depicted in the portraits of Anne of Cleves.

I have also been looking through modelbuchs at embroidery and found some patterns that seem to be used in art (if not in entirely there are deer/hart that look to be worked in a similar fashion.

I was not able to find any pattern for the scrolling embroidery/weave of the fabric of Anna’s haube which reads “abon fine.”

This phrase has been interpreted to be her personal motto. However this same pattern is found on the clothing of other women across the Germanic states.


Conrad Faber, “Faber von Creuznach”
Tempera/ Öl auf Holz.
53,5 x 38,5 cm.

Conrad Faber was active in Frankfort, which is to the South and East of North Rhine.


The motto also appears on the brusttuch of Barbara Schellenberger in a portrait by Hans Burkmair.


Barbara and Hans Schellenberger
Date Barbara: 1507, Hans: 1505
Current location
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, room 11

Burkmair was active in Augsburg and this portrait is of an Augsburg citizen.

Here the phrase is “a bon fino” In all cases “a bon” is contracted to read as “ABON.”

And on one of my favourite gowns of one of my favourite women in fashion history:


Bildnisdiptychon -Rechte Tafel: Bildnis der Maria Jacobaea von Baden, Herzogin von Bayern
Maler: Hans Wertinger
Datiert: 1526
Bild: Öl auf Holz, 69 x 45 – Inv.-Nr. 18

Of special interest is that his appears to be worked in pearls while the previous seem to be woven or embroidered in dark silk on gold, or may even be gold work.

Anne of Cleves has this motto in a similar pattern (capitalised on a geometric scroll effect outline, worked in alternating diagonal directions on a wide band.

Holbein’s portrait quite clearly show the design worked in red on gold. This may be woven as are most bands on hauben from this region. Most commonly they are purely geometric designs but of a similar scale.

Bruyn in particular captures the gold threads of woven patterns of women of Cologne.

St John’s copy of the Bruyn portrait (note the portrait I believe to be the original has a flat pearled baret masking the view of her haube. I believe the copies to not include the hat are copies as they do not perfectly represent the Stickelsche as it appears in work direct from Cologne. )

The design is worked upside down in comparison to all others (and this is repeated in other copies.) It is also worked in a pale colour, in the small digital copies it appears white or off white.

So this leads me to the most recently discovered potential portrait of Anna.



This portrait certainly matches facial features quite closely, and the haube looks the same as those in other Bruyn copies.

However after a decade or more of looking at North Rhine paintings what sticks out to me is that this is absolutely not the clothing of Nobility of Cleves, Julich, and Berg. This is absolutely perfect for middle class clothing of Cologne. Very wealthy but very clearly of someone affected by sumputary laws.

Red velvet sleeves and busttuchs are found repeatedly in inventories/documents of burgersfrau of Cologne.

The pendant is absolutely of a common shape, the girdle of a common type, the single wide chain necklance. Even the black on black fabric of her goller (kleyr) and gown.

The partlet under her gown is likewise of a type that puts her firmly in the city of Cologne.

It is also quite late in style. I would put this at 1550s. But this stage the Stickelsche (Sticklenchen) starts to look like a wing nut with a flat top and not just width at the upper side but lower side and is quite flat in regards to depth.

Commemorative paintings are not unusual, what is unusual is to lower the apparent status of the subject. Gold brocade trim on the gown at the very least would mark the subject as of nobility.

The painting looks from the surface to be from Bruyn’s workshop. The curved top of the canvas, the shaded plain background, the flat table top in front of the subject. These are also seen in the other copies of the other Bruyn painting.

Without access to information about the painting itself this asks many more questions than it answers.

In all the copies the words are upside down and in pale paint on warm gold. Could this indicate they are painted by someone not familiar with the physical properties of these hauben? Could that indicate they are all copies from outside of her homeland?

If so how can the details of this portrait match so well to the garments of burgersfrau of Cologne?

If this is by Bruyn (possibly the younger) does this mean the princesses could have worn clothing not indicative of their wealth? Or is this a deliberate statement?

Or could it be simply a portrait of an unrelated woman from Cologne?

There is very little in the way of imagery of real people from Cleves, Julich, and Berg from this time to be found online or printed in books. I have been very lucky to have a copy of the inventory of Jocabe of Juelich-Kleve-Berg but it is very definitely from a time where the Spanish influence has nearly overwritten the local clothing style. I have also been lucky enough to find/be lead to collections of inventories of women of Cologne.

A future blog post will explore the artwork of the Duchy, specifically those of the Duchess Maria and her Daughters (Sibylla, Amalia, and Anna.)

pattern book

I was able to publish the first 52 pages as a pdf- it’s not complete but is of use to people who are familiar with the era at least and are able to use it as a guide.

On google-drive.

I thought I had been smart and converted files for the web before I left this weekend so to be able to quickly upload text and images to the site. But I goofed up and forgot to resample so lots of grainy images of no use.

So it will take the week.

The rest of the text is going to take a lot longer. The images as well.

Over the years I’ve tried to take my site from the old html days of extreme personalisation into an almost bland style to fit in with most social media and across most devices. Hyperlinks are now blue rather than the deep pink I love, there is high contrast between text and background, no background even in the margins. And I try to actually spellcheck.

It’s also been hampered by a huge loss of information and trying to get that back (there is some junk code from copying and pasting in old blog posts for instance.)

I may never get the thousands of images captioned here but I am aiming to do so with the book. Its not that easy, due to the nature of costuming- many terms are quite specific and meaningless out of context.

The point of the book is to present how a pattern piece looks when on a figure and when it is flat. The main aim is to be a fast reference to be able to look at a painting and find a pattern element that fits.

That said, I think  the format is familiar enough: the text describes the image and explains what is going on.

So hopefully I can use that. I’ve been trying to do this to work across many devices. I am still trying to use less informal sentence structures to make it easier on text-to-speech devices. The following link is very useful; I’ve been using extensions and other sites but this is helpful as a start.



Okay so now I need to batch convert those images and have a rest.

I absolutely burnt myself out making those images over the last month so need to pace myself now!

I have a book

The bulk of my patterns and line art is done.

I want to expand clothing items and also add in directions but I really do need to get all that created offline first.

I spent a little time making new images of the kinds of clothing the book can make.

I will debut it this weekend and share as soon as I get home. I will want a bit of a break 🙂

my pattern book is so close

I got a little ambitious and so have made sure all the sleeves work for all the bodice types. Well the scoop neck is slightly difficult as it is so close the low neck. It’s just that little bit difficult. to justify right now.

But oh, how much do I adore it all! And it will make for a great online doll game.

My hand has though really not coped. Well from elbow to finger as the deformity in my wrist means the top ends of the radius and ulnar are under different stress.

Okay. I will make myself have a rest and come back to it. I have other inflammation going on that is feeding into it.

I just need to create a pattern for a skirt with a fuller back than front and then this Austrian style bodice. And then just drag and drop into the book and save. The book be in several folios to make it actually possible to publish immediately and add the details later.

But feedback from my doodles for this section has been positive so it’s absolutely worth the time invested in converting those to line art.

Meanwhile a little comparisson of my figure next to inspiration art.

I think I need to tweak this a bit to make the guarding separate. There is so much variety of guarding that it might just make life easier to remove all of it.

Also I need to do a section on hats and a section on undergarments. Then also for weather wear (cloaks and schauben.)

Bite more chew

But I think, I think, that I have managed to get the better tool to keep a setting. The problem with Inkscape is that it’s absolutely not arthritis friendly. There is no way to move tools to reduce mouse movements.

You have to create a line before you can tweak the tool and that can require moving to different parts of the screen.

However yes. Once you find the correct but lengthy process it is much faster. I have 0.92 and have found answers on forums at least.

And yes, my current file might, might be easier if I can tweak the imported OMG files to be half opacity. Right bow drawing black lines on wider black lines is not helping. That’s on me!

I am loving this though. Just trying to figure out a way to ask about accessibility in the user forums. A lot of what I find frustrating is shared. There is also a developer mode which I may get later.

Also I think I have found a way to teach next weekend. We will colour in!

getting there

It’s been a really tough road getting images sorted. Mainly for the non artistic aspects. Right now I’m looking at redrawing the patterns themselves in part to get them to match in part because I am having trouble with the patterns taking up different vertical aspects of the page and then having no room to write text. But for some reason the bezier tool will not remember the shape and width I have set. It did at one stage. And I just can’t figure out what I did. I’m not sure if I can move the tools and not having a dedicated quick key to do many things without the tool selected is definitely on the list of things that would help everyone. Slightly too many clicks and long distances between parts of the UI.

Yesterday I tried to use LibreOffice to drop my images into. It made the file impossible to load. So back to Softmaker and voila! It works. I think It handles images a little differently.

I have also tried to make the text document print at a size that works for US as well as the rest of the world. I think I’m just going to have to set it to the rest of the world, and give instructions on how to print.

And in the same vein the PNGs are set to a print size but I know printer dialogues often set to “fit to page.


I need a few breaks to recharge and I just want to get all those sleeves done now! I may just leave the patterns as they are and just crop them a bit closer.

Oh so tired

Currently in bed listening to The Good Place which is my go to when I feel down or tired. It is so good.

Today I have managed to finish the artwork for all the skirts and have imported half the bodices.

I forgot how very quickly I can learn something new. But I am also itching to be finished with this so I can share the darn thing!

I also am a bit behind due to spending a morning cutting waxed paper to repair one of my precious research books. One of the best biographies of Anne of Cleves. Mr Carlo is litter phobic and well….. My book is was in the crossfire.

I’m sad because I kept it in such good condition. But now I have been able to remove the illustrated pages and scan them. I’ve seen my previous scan copied and shared so I’ll try and put out the most information.

So I also got the skirt illustrations in the book file. It’s too slow loading, so I may make the whole book into more discrete parts so as to not overload my computer.

current health

I love the Discworld. I have held off reading the last few books because I am too emotionally connected.

But I want to use a phrase often used by PTerry though [X] and out the other side.

I think this describes fatigue pretty well. It’s not like the tired you get staying up a bit late, or even after a tiring day. It’s through the other side. It’s like trying to move through honey, in the mind and body.

I’m sort of like that with pain now. It is very hard for me to answer pain scale questions. I generally try to describe other symptoms as they are the ones that tell me something is wrong.

When my kidney stone moved out, I reconised the pain as close to what I dealt with every 6-9 weeks and so did not seek help until I was vomiting uncrontrolably. By the time the ambulance arrived, my state was not dignified at all. But asked for what the pain level was? I was unable to come up with a number.

So this also contributes to my worry about surgery. Today my tendons on my upper hand are overused and they feel like rubber bands under my skin, pulling my knuckles on the inner side and letting them fall to the outside of my hand. This is essentially what they are doing. It’s what leads to the classic drift of fingers, and my surgeon will not operate to fix that.

But that’s what is causing my functional problems.

The underside of my hands are prickly and my fingers feel swollen even if they aren’t. But compared to what I know is happening on the top of my hand it feels insignificant.

It isn’t.

And thus the complexity of pain, not as perception as is usually experienced, but as complicated as the body.Every  distinct part that makes up the incredible engineering of the hand is all shouting “this is wrong” but each thing that is wrong affects the other. And there is no way to fix even half of them without harming the rest.