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.


persistence pays off

In other words I am back in my own storage of research. I found another example of the technique I was after so hooray! But also found the image of half length shirts I am using as an inspiration for my own kit.

Linen now costs a heck of a lot and it’s also a heck of a lot hotter where I live. So reducing layers of gathered fabric around the body is going to have this double effect of being able to save money and reduce heat.

I also found a bundle of images of women in sleeveless linen garments that are fitted through the body. They were not my research so I want to try and find the source of them before putting them in my own. With the Lemberg finds, the chemise in Koehler and the Poysdorf finds (the one with the half length shirts) I think we can justify this sort of arrangement a lot more now than ever before. And that’s fantastic. The artwork was telling us this, but now we have enough information to back it up.

I also found photos of the cutie frog needle case again 🙂 And a pattern for a pineapple purse. Both of which I very much want to recreate.

side detour

It turns out my miracle skin powder is no longer made. It was basically talc with vitamin C (MAP) and a little anti-inflammatory and zinc oxide as a UV block. I mixed it into my moisturiser.

Given I need sunblock (hello high UV index in New Zealand) and I can’t use any of the sunblocks on the market- none, nada, I have spent too much to learn this- this was really important.

But it looks like I can get the main products separately and can make my own. I can’t get the powdered liquorice root extract but I think I at least test the liquid. 

I think it’s about 15% Vit C to talc. 

research snag

Well I did find the image that started my journey of really trying to understand the specifics of the Nordrheine clothing text and of course it is a one off. There is one image, it has no catalogue number and a day of searching the museum website brings up nothing. Nothing in books, nothing anywhere.

I really need to know the specific techniques used. I know the basics but the specifics don’t seem to translate well. though if it does, then that is remarkable too. 

I have been looking for extant items that use techniques seen in portraits to see if I can find them in texts. It does help. I’ve already started looking into river pearl production (there is an effort to restock those mussels which is exciting.)

This has also meant I am looking for the best resolution images to see these painted details to then help in “reading” lower quality images.

I spent the better part of my research “career” with low resolution images. Very low. ANd often in black and white and even the best images often hid fabric weaves (monochrome damask especially.)

What it meant for me was I learnt to look for certain tells and I got very good at it in part because I was an avid collector of patterns from the age of about 14. I had memorised Patterns of Fashion by my late teens anyway. So that meant by the time I got into the specific time and place of the renaissance North I knew how pattern shapes presented in art work taking into account fabri types.

Anyway. Now I have a fair bit of text to backup my interpretation of what is going on in artwork. But I need more. The Koelner haus inventory is fantastic, it has been transcribed twice. The 1957 one I need to get hold of as it seems to include all the spelling variances. I think the 1884 transcription has been tidied to the point that some of the text may no longer be as useful as it should.

But I can at least rest assured that my difficulties are not down to my skill, but is entirely a lack of information for the 16th century. There is a wonderful understanding right up until 1500. And then there is a big gap until the 1570s.


I finally decided to just self host my research! There are many reasons but primarily I wanted to be able to get this information actually out there, so that i can use it too!

There are ways to cite a website for scholarly research, and so I am hoping that this time credit will come back! 

I have a few clothing ordinances to upload as well as a page on guilds and what they were responsible for. Even an amazing inventory that supports a theory I have, but I need more information to put it in context- it may be a coincidence after all.

I also have uploaded the contents of two inventories:

One more day, maybe today

Until I publish the Nordrhein information. I just need to add a glossary of fabric and colours, and also tidy the information about jewelry.

I am going to have a rest though as I will not sleep if I leave this until tomorrow actually.

So to the WHo.

so close

Yesterday I created a new spreadsheet of information as I realised that the Nordrhein is indeed different to Westfalen and Oestfalen. In quite remarkable ways.

I also spent time with the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and realised that yes a pattern I saw is real. I’m still trying to use it to build an easy guide.

But today I want to get my own research into the spreadsheet as I worked out recently that yes I have a few independent resources.

I have also already copied an inventory and it’s on my site- private- until I get this big survey of information up. But my aim is the end of this week.

Up early for more research

Well actually tidying of research. But also I need an Eleanor day- a day of fun to recharge the brain. But mine will be visiting hospice shops not singing karaoke or playing arcade games.

And I am going back to the old title I had for my phase two of research It’s a good frame 🙂

Weiditz really got in my head

I recently shared the NRW images from the Christopf Weiditz “Codice de Trajes” having finally decided to trust his interpretation of the Julich-Cleves-Berg dress as everything else is so very good- clearly derived from either portraits or people.

But it got me really delving into the written texts I have. And to find more. And I have. But in order to put my new information into context I’d have to transcribe and reorganise the information that hca come before. SO that’s why I have been so quiet this week. It’s been bulk copying and editing into tables and different formats.

And I am very glad I did.

Some of what I have done has been to understand why two main sources of research divert over a few terms. It’s been a long road and with a lot of turns and loops back to where I started but I think I finally understand it. In the context of the area and the rest of dress of the region. 

And it’s quite exciting as I hope that figuring this out means being able to actually find more information. My advantage has been the digitzation of information previously locked in libraries across the world, my disadvantage is in not being able to see in person some really obvious sources of information. 

so tired

But I’ve been able to scan the entire dissertation I need for all the Nordrhein information which is somewhat different to the Westfalen information which is different to the Östfalen information!

What really came across was the ubiquity of many phrases across the entire region. There is a lingual connection right across and it matches up with what I have been reading about the languages in general. It’s all far too much to delve into in a blog post but it’s already been heavily explored so mainly I need to try and create a guide to finding information.

I also very much want to create a visual guide, as that hasn’t really been done. Definitely not combining the text with the imagery. But basically the text now reveals that those different garment treatments really do have different terms. And it’s something that is informing my choices in my own gear.

And once I have the Nordrhein sorted I will work through the Westfalen and Östfalen. Because those a text rich if not image rich.

finally making headway

I’ve been collecting all the references I can that I have seen in secondary sources so that I can look at them in context. In most cases I have found the full record and a handful of scans, and even transcriptions. It’s not always a perfect method for identification as personal records are especially prone to a kind of shorthand like this:

for wine and clothing….[amount of money]

But for long inventories and for state documents it is handy. I’ve been able to narrow a few terms down based on the order they appear in. This is true in clothing ordinances. Unfortunately I still haven’t found a clear full clothing ordinance inside the Nordrhein. The Westfalen one is fascinating, and there is a connection so it has been useful.

And I may be able to find more now that I have access to a few more guild and trade related items.

It is a lot to try and understand, and I am trying to not only find the names of items but to find out how they were made and sold. Or imported!