Why all this sorting

I’m partly in distraction mode, but I really do need all my sources carefully sorted so that I can finally start cropping images for my thesis. I’m calling it this to help my focus, and how to present it all.

thesis is an idea or theory that is expressed as a statement and is discussed in a logical way.
thesis is a long piece of writing based on your own ideas and research that you do as part of a university degree, especially a higher degree such as a PhD.


I’m using dissertations as well as using them for formatting.

But I’ve now got a really good way to explain the engineering evolution which also helps explain why the language is so difficult to unpick.

There is a solid 50 year gap in almost every artform and every archive that covers my thesis. So that is why I’m being extra careful about applying that a few documents/images suggest.

And there is also caution when using transcriptions that formalise spelling- it has already led me stray several times.

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My hair is doing A Thing that I don’t understand but am having fun playing with right now. I’m able to replicate the “Pheasant” do which appears in a number of manuscripts and tapestries of the early 16thC Lowlands. It’s very cute.

That was from before my hair fell out due to chemo (low dose but permanent, not many people know about how that works) but my hair is long enough to do a single pass each side (this was done where I crossed the braids at the back of my head.) So I’ve dyed my hair to a vibrant burgundy/pink again so I can play with my crimping iron (oh yes) to see if I can really reproduce some styles before enough hair falls out again to cut my hair short and use my braid for supplementary pieces.

I want to try the Hapsburg Puffs which have bit of an interesting evolutionary history.

I suspect the Titian portrait is wrong. I KNOW! But all the rest suggest hair wrapping from the back of the head to the front. It makes it easier, tbf. I tried both ways and that works best. I want to get crimping to really be able to sculpt my hair.

But my manuscript research is paying off dividends! A lot is French rather than Lowlands but I found a donor portrait in an Mss commissioned (calligraphy) in Cologne, miniatures from Bruges, but the two figures are in readily identified NR dress.

It’s taken a log time to find this single image that most readily follows the art style of stained glass.

But my hat research really has taken a wonderful turn 🙂

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so exciting

Yesterday I braved my own writing files. My Will The Real Stickelchen Please Stand up paper is already extremely well cited. All my image placeholders look good too. It’s 35 pages so far! I keep winding up expanding it even more as it is very important to know the rest of the context.

So I’m back in the manuscript folders as I’m starting to recognise the work of different illuminators. Robinet Testard is probably my favourite. And I’m quite keen to practice his style.

It’s so modern in many ways, but so very much an expression of the time and place.

Also, this instrument could be possible now that my nerves seem to be repairing. I couldn’t play other strings instruments but it’s possible my hands could do this, and my memory could retain how to do so.

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a thousand words

I know I’m mostly writing about writing rather than writing, but I finally found an image that opened up the information gap I have but in a way that’s going to let me actually search records. And fortunately works with my current organising of information by type. So if something winds up in a mumeum, or in an archive, or in a library is the difference.

There is cross over. But it’s helping me as different art forms use different techniques and that includes just what is included such as seam lines. The same is true for hats. I’m using hat as a catchall for a lot of disparate items and that’s part of the problem. I don’t want to put the wrong terms out there while trying to get a more accurate term.

Because it’s not just a word.

A bathing cap is made of different materials and techniques to a knitted and felted flat hat, each also has a centuries long evolution. Who taught whom, and how, and under what regulations all plays a part.

I want to do justice to the past and help us right now.

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my focus

I feel vindicated! For many reasons but they basically come back to my “focus” on frocks giving me a vantage few art historians have let alone regular historians.

It’s not just that I can recognise a frock, but when it’s painted/drawn by someone unfamiliar with the style. Or includes details that artists of the region ignore as they are the imperfections of wear rather than intended consequences. Locals know what is meant so tend to capture that over flaws.

Or I can recognise the effects of a local set of sumptuary laws designed to promote local business in the entire process of manufacture from raw materials in some cases (gold and silver mines.)

I was starting to feel that maybe this was all a bit OTT to prove what a hat was made of. But no!

In sorting my files I found a fabulous dissertation that feels very much like it started out as finding a near complete set of court records of a decade and they made each chapter and sub chapter in a way that was like mine (in part because I have read a lot of dissertations from Germany so I have tried to follow that format.)

So yes, it’s all important context if I’m arguing that you can spot all of these in a portrait.

I’ve found myself disagreeing with a lot of attributions including the reversal of some recently, because if there is one thing artists cannot change, no matter where they travel to work to and learn from? It’s faces.

A lot of how we learn to draw faces has got to be from a mirror. We ask a lot of our family or friends to get them to sit for several hours practice. And you need that time to develop your hand to make accurate sweeps with different materials and surfaces.

By the time an artist is a master they have learned that as muscle memory and is used for the most rapid ink lines to the finished project.

This is always inspired by the art and people around you so this is also why it tends to be pretty easy to spot 15thC art even by non art historians.

So I’ve been trying to get my hand back, while fitting in with the art of the time in part because it helps spot not just an artistic movement and artist but also the fakes or the wrong names.

I got a bit mixed up recently and it lead to me having to group siblings together, which breaks up my naming convention of files, but it’s lead to a really nifty discovery and if I’m lucky I may even find out why- I might be able to find out that only the fabric existed and it was used for multiple portraits.

I might find out those garments did exist which would be both remarkable and limit the possible dating of portraits, but not as limited as I expected based on the ages of the sitters.

I’m still going to have to find the highest resolution of the most natural depiction and use that as a frame of reference.

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tired but inspired

I have an adorable set of notebooks with a lama lying flat out on the bottom with those words above. Today I finally truly feel that.

I actually feel tired rather than fatigued and it’s actual bliss. I have missed this feeling because fatigue is more like my mind is running faster and faster but not getting anywhere and my body feels dragged along.

But no.

Today I woke with inspiration to turn two of my favourite OOK dolls into a ball jointed doll set.

I’ve already made a press mould of my favourite, and painted another OOK from her. So a proper silicone mould will be no trouble- especially if I’m willing to ease the glued down hair off.

But I also want to sketch our Bird of Paradise plant as the flowers go through a punk and goth stage and I’d love to capture these as they are full of texture and angles and with my set of woodless pencils I will have so much fun.

All of this is possible due to a set of circumstances that have made it possible to really think.

It’s so warm in the lounge due to the sun despite being chilly in the rest of the house. That is a kind of therapy as it means my muscles are warm and much more relaxed.

Fibro feels like it’s in my skin, so I may just have a short rest.

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backwards to move forwards

I’m currently working my way through my research folders as traditional cataloguing simply is less useful when you are looking for portraits of women. If I’m lucky I’ll find a few out of hundreds of paintings in exhibition catalogues that are useful for my work.

So I’ve started to delete extra files. There are a few thousand, still. Okay. 20K images to sort through because I got freaked by the idea of having deleted files by accident. Turns out I did so this process is needed.

But there is now a folder of 2000+ images of paintings from late 15th to late 16thCs. I am pulling out all portraits regardless of region and then will group by region.

I still need to do this same work to the tailoring and extant items files.

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21 years today- post viral disease

We were doing our preview show, I was in my dream role (Beatrice) and I was feeling great despite having cold/flu like symptoms. I’d been walking to rehearsals most days (an hour partly uphill) and I’d been stunt training for a few months- building on what I learned at drama school while also pushing myself further. Perfect to practice really throwing myself behind the scenery for the “gulling” scene.

And I really did.

I don’t know why I didn’t walk the back way to the back door when I got home but I think it had been raining so it was two sets of stairs, wide balcony and a short path all slippery at this time of year.

So as I have nice core strength I tried to climb the fence but slipped. Just a short swing into the fence, but I felt like I pulled my wrists .

I wound up waking mum up

I went to bed.

And I woke up barely able to move.

I thought- how the heck did slipping while still holding on to the fence cause my knees and feet to swell, for my jaw and elbows to swell, why could I only lie flat because it felt like I was tearing myself trying to turn over? That’s really how painful it is, but not just inside joints all the tissue that connects to bone, all of it, it was like hot forks shredding my tendons and muscles. And oh how unstable joints are even while swollen and seized up.

Most people think of Rheumatoid Arthritis as something that happens slowly over time.

This really was overnight and my life was changed forever.

I wasn’t able to pull out of the show.

I have no idea how I managed this but I either saw my GP or A&E to get a script for 40mg prednisone for the next week. We took several blood tests including Rheumatoid Factor and ESR. My ESR was so bad that we knew it was inflammatory. My Rf started at about 38- hinted at possible RA. But in another month it was 118. It was devastating.

My first lab for Immunology at University was an ELISA array of blood from RA patients. And we studied all the systemic effects of RA including on the heart and lungs. And so I knew this was for life. Some people go into spontaneous remission- I have refractive RA. Very hard to treat.

Luckily I was able to get physio, including strapping for the next two weeks as I could give that date and time to ACC. I even have Xrays of my wrists and while swollen all my bone and joint spaces looked beautiful. If we ever do get to the stage of being able to 3D print bone scaffolds and use our own pluripotent cells to truly recreate our wrists and safely? We can do that thanks to these xrays.

But I still spent most of my day in bed in pain with a high fever and absolutely reliant on the prednisone.

I have a diary entry from the time and it’s really painful to read.

No one understood what was going on, and some didn’t believe me.

For what it’s worth, an acute on set is not that uncommon, but also joint erosion tends to come after systemic damage- heart, lungs especially.

But yes, this is a post viral disorder I’ve lived with now for 22 years.

Over time it’s got more complicated, it always feels like I’m playing catch up.

I have a great team of HCW who really do care. My GP, our practice nurses, our receptionists. My Rheumatologist, our Rheum. nurses, haem. day stay, all the nurses who look after us.

And my family and friends who help so much.

I faced my mortality in those first few weeks though.

It made me determined to survive.

But so too has all of the investment we have all put into getting me here and now.

I don’t want to waste that.

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Darn. I got to the pointy end of tidying of my physical folders and a costume jumped out at me as something I have anted to make for about 15 years, and could probably make as a farewell to epoxy.

Darn. Yes I know exactly how to make it.

I’d like to keep it a surprise, but it’s the first time in ages I’ve really gotten not just excited by a project- but I have a start to finish visual of how to make it. Even over winter. Especially over winter. It will allow large oil clay sculpting as the cold will allow for crisp clean lines which will be vital.

Maybe I can take parts for another project too.

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The 1660 schnittbuch at last!

I regularly do narrow and broad searches for tailor manuals I know exist as they have been written about, but finally, FINALLY, I found an open access copy of “Das Schnittbuch aus Bregenz” By Ingeborg Petrascheck-Heim!

The link takes you directly to the first page of the article, but I’ve been putting these into a timeline of links with little previews than can be seen here:


Interestingly like a lot of these 17th/early 18thC books there are some really old cuts included.

This includes bodice cutting that looks like a tube. We are familiar with this through the Schuster book which is also a later copy of an earlier work, Petraschek-Heim refers to this in “Die Meisterstückbüeher des Schneiderhandwerks in Innsbruck.”. These also appear in Koehler’s History of Costume.

I like to be able to link to the manuscripts themselves as well as the articles written about them but it’s not always easy. So I need to check all the links of the timeline as there have been a few changes to open access in different European countries so some links may be broken or need updating.

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