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When my aesthetics meets historical accuracy

I’ve managed to delaminate my velvet from the support fabric for my vibrant red and black Cleves gown, and from there also carefully pressed it over baking paper to stretch each piece back to shape. Two stages with a day in between of rest. It turns out I probably have enough velvet to redo all pieces so I’ve taken a paper pattern from my skirt panels to create all new templates for the <<liste>> and <<bortgin>> just in case.

But.

I really want to use a technique used from the 16thC to lay the velvet to the support but… it goes against everything I normally do and ARGHHHHH!

So we have two garments that are well documented for laying guards to a ground fabric. Both use twists of silk to hide the raw edges as the guarding it left raw, rather than folded under, and in both cases there are regular little loops/scrolls of the twist onto the guards alternating with loops/scrolls on the main fabric.

I’m sorry, but that’s too much of a coincidence, and what artwork supports this frequency? I’ve spent so much time trying to find them, but can’t so what do I do? (What was she meant to do? Sorry not sorry about this obvious Six reference.)

It makes so much sense when you think in terms of a high output, many hands workshop. Of course it’s going to save money in terms of investment in the fabric, and of course it’s going to be labour intensive but with best predictable bang for buck.

I’m about ready to accept this is what I need to do- even if I use a machine to zig zag and even if I say No Way to the loops (Get Down with all the Six puns because they’re Not Going Away.).

But what I’m struggling with is the joins.

Oh yes.

It looks like joins in fabric are butted and not seamed.

Now this one is where my brain insists this is poor engineering just to save what? overall 10cm of fabric? In Cloth of gold that’s probably worth it. In velvet… okay that’s many times the amount of silk versus plain silk and it’s only a couple of hours of work to do some supporting stitches.

And this is why every project takes so long:

-I’m a Master Tailor without a workshop.

I pay for the fabric rather than passing the costs to a client. I’m drafter, draper, stitcher, cutter, historian, archivist, purchaser with no bargaining power. So while I know what 16thC practices were used and why? I’m not in a position to direct other people to to the work I shouldn’t be doing.

A disadvantage for my own output, but a fairly unique vantage to better understand the difference between 16thC and modern expectations.

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tidying

Whoops. I have had to sort and categorise all my North Rhine research because I finally found a very small but very important stream of information in the form of both artwork and archives. One of the problems with both is being sure that what I’m seeing is indeed from the time.

One archive record I reread used a modern modern translation- both spelling and meaning- and I was about to put it in my stash of modernised records when I saw there was a scan, that while modernised it was not summarised so I was able to find the word in the scan. And yep. Modern translation and spelling but in a really easy to understand way so it means I now have a handful of matching modern records that I can use.

The second stream is potentially a record of four or five noble women that also confirm this. So another dissertation and journal on the way.

But all this tidying made it to my image files and I have now made 228 folders for individual paintings, and that doesn’t count the printed works and images of noble women. But it really has taken 15 years of repeated searches and not just in images and archives. I had to learn the dialect of the time to make sense. Interestingly one of the earliest articles I was sent (not OCR so I had to limit how much I hand typed from the 30 pages) confirms exactly what I have been reading.

But all of this needs to be presented as so many books are out of print, and I have had to back track a single repeated statement. I needed to do that as it’s become fact when it is really not at all.

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semi success

I decided to try and overdye my velveteen (to extend my skirt panels for my red gown) one more time to get it to move from warm to cool red. It has not entirely worked but I think, I think it’s shifted it just enough for me to use it. So I have ordered some more magenta and also fuchsia Procion and some more soda ash.

I can at least now cut the velveteen to shape, overlock the edges and actually start to get my beloved dress wearable again as it has not been worn since 2006.

Even if I have to tint the original velveteen to match, I do have a really gorgeous rich red still. So time to get my skirt panels out to work on them.

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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.

https://www.hampel-auctions.com/a/Conrad-Faber-Faber-von-Creuznach.html?a=80&s=193&id=80756&acl=770796
Conrad Faber, “Faber von Creuznach”
PORTRAIT EINER JUNGEN FRAU
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.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hans_Burgkmair_d._%C5%BD._-_Barbara_and_Hans_Schellenberger_-_WGA03702.jpg
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:

http://www.hdbg.de/portraitgalerie/gemaelde-18-zoom.php
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.

https://www.artuk.org/discover/artworks/anne-of-cleves-15151557-queen-consort-to-henry-viii-134673

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 Hat 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.)

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the cleves hat

After years and years of searching I agree, yes, stickelchen does refer to headgear. It’s been harder to confirm than might be thought, however dictionaries of the region during the time frame that the term was used are rare. But one has been found. A copy and a transcription.

*faints*

“sticksel” seems to be the original term. But it still may refer to the band at the front, not the bulk of it.

Why is is so difficult?

A “stuck” is a piece and “stick” can refer to a pointed stick, literally, or embroidery.

And “chen” is a diminuitive. Also “gin.”

So little embroidery just doesn’t seem correct for a rather large hat.

And at the time “perlen” was most frequently used to describe pearled pieces.

Many of the headpieces were pearled, or made from gold fabric, or covered in netted work. Rarely do they seem to be embroidered in a general sense.

The front piece more regularly is decorated in pearls or jewels.

 

Clothing is also tough. There are lots of garments, but very little in the way of definition. Rock might be a gown or it may be a skirt alone. And the lovely huge inventory I have is full of spanish styles!

I’ll just have to take time to read the full texts not just skim! 😉

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busy busy

While putting some more latex on Ahsoka and wetforming the knee cops I got a call to do a photoshoot today. Was able to put it off til tomorrow 🙂 It’s for the Herald article that I did a short interview for 🙂 So I’ve tidied up most of the issues with my frock, just need to whizz the chemise under a sewing machine. Or I can sew by hand for when I do eventually hand finish it. Hmmm…..

I’ve been watching Elementary today to do so and been able to do some back stretches again! Physio for my rib was pretty much to loosen all the muscles that tightened during all the flinching and flu while the break was healing.

I’ve obviously also been very wary of stretching and especially using props due to how I injured my rib in the first place. I’m a bit concerned about bone density as it has been treated before, and has everything to do with medication and disuease full stop.

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What next?

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by health and trying to finish any project at all right now. I have a few projects I feel I should finish before starting anything new. But the reality is I have stalled on them for the same reason: health.

This doesn’t make it easier, it feels like more pressure. More pressure to do something really great before I can’t at all. More pressure for each event I miss because I fear I’ll still miss the next. This isn’t FOMO like we know it, this is real, this is genuinely not seeing people I care about due to predicatbly unpredictable health issues.

So what would that be. Do I want that to be a project I have been working on for 10 years or start something new that might be easier or more fulfilling.

I have most of my projects in one place, but I also have the clay and plastic and paint stuff out of sight as it’s winter and my workroom is not fun in winter. Especially not mow!

So Maleficent? Ahsoka? Sunburst? Spanish silver ensemble? The Mina? Elissa… Elissa could work. I finally bought another 10m of netting for the support. Just have to figure out where to put it! Probably another layer of short ruffles. I think that makes it 40m of net in total! And then Maleficent horns. Then it’ll be warm enough to go out and work on Ahsoka. I need to wait until my rib heals before even thinking of The Mina as It really feels like the end of the bone of the rib is exposed.

Do I want a break?

I do want to get my Cleves perfect so I am about to sit up in bed and get warm and watch Netflix. I need to clip fabric from the haube as it’s too bulky and I want to also line the neckline jewels properly. SO happy with how beautifully I finished the gown and sleeves 🙂 Might just do some tidying of the shirt sleeves though.

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Cleves approaches

I was going to do a lot of machine sewing to get her ready for Coronation so I instead took the time I had to sew by hand. Some of it went really welll, some like the haube is fiddly because the accessories are just not the way we are used to. I need to make my haube tie and also make sure all the gathers are near the crown. I may wind up pleating on my head form instead.

There may even be time to get pearls on the partlet. What is weird is I have a very long neck so I can wear my collar and show the full band of gold.

 

Okay, I now have my second lot of antibiotics 9note, not for the flu but for the secondary bacterial infection I have had since day two of the flu!)

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Cleves updates

Firstly some headgear progress 🙂 Becase my pearlwork is so dimensional I need a flat brocade front, and then am able to have a flat but slightly more texture brocade for the haub.

Then we have the brocade for the collar and neckline. Yep, pressed the brocade into a curve! Ditto for the piece above actually 🙂

I’m super happy about the collar 🙂 I keep readjusing the neckline though.

 

I have tried it all on and I think I’ll just do some judicious padding of my inner layers as I am rather not as wide across my chest.

The skirt has a flatlining, and I kind of wish I hadn’t but it would require some serious careful unpicking because I used a triple stitch. This makes the diagonal seams as strong as if I had used a backstitch- I’ve had side seams pop a few times and the weight of this hem would definitely do that!

And yes, I have been working on her distinctive partlet 🙂 Pearling is not going to be fun but what the hey?

 

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Anne of Cleves back on track :)

I finally bit the bullet and am going to have my own Fealty Chain for the SCA 🙂

I have several enameled medallions on the way to mix in with my hand wired roundels already shared.

These are going to be used to make a full set of neckline jewelery as per the Bruyn and Holbein portraits or Anna von Kleve Julich und Berg 🙂 I’ll be aiming more for the Holbein style as it is very obvious as to the solidity of the border versus the main body. That little wrinkle at her right should (our left) shows this so very well.

I’ve also cleaned brass leaves and flowers and will work on my kranz (wreath) as I should be able to replace nearly all those leaves.

I love this book. It was a very lucky find a good decade ago. It does suffer from an Anglo centric view though. Calling Anna’s clothing unfashionable and not tasteful is just not correct.

She was incredibly stylish.

She just happened to live in a region with nearly equal influence from the Burgundian courts and Saxon courts. And her dress right here? Exactly what you’d expect! The other Bruyn portrait, and less successful copies, also show pretty much what you’d expect!

This is why I love Koehler and Boehn as resources- very continental so you see the general shapes from the Italian states, from the Burgundian/French/English courts, and also Saxon. All those Cranach beauties.

But more to the point there are still assumptions that the annulment was all her fault for not being pretty enough, not being “stylish” enough, not being clever enough.

Need I say more than that she wound up an independent woman with enough money that she was able to spend poorly and still be safe politically and financially? That even though she didn’t know English she managed to survive insulting Henry (by accident but in front of lots of people)?

I suspect then as now it is much easier to understand Dutch if you are used to English and vice versa than it is to speak either. The language Anna spoke is much closer to Dutch than Deutsche then and now.

Sentence structures are so similar I can read personal documents of the region and understand them. Yes I’m looking for clothing terms but I’ve read a heck of a lot of gossip in doing so! And so I think Anna was not only much smarter than the English have made her out to be but understood what was happening right then and there. yes, she would have needed help to write her letters, but she knew the content.

Obviously she couldn’t go back home- but by staying she also had to survive conspiracies. And the court was absolutely full of very dangerous intrigue.

To survive that takes more than just luck or a yielding nature. If she was that easily manipulated she would have been so the rest of her life. And we know she was used politically. A pamphlet written as if it was her was shared on the Continent and yet she survived those too. Not many people survived one bout of politcal manipulations, let alone several attempts to get her back in the marriage game. Yes, there were people who wanted her to be queen long after. In the English court that is.

So no, I don’t think she has had fair shakes!

Okay so this is one of the roundels 🙂 It is a circular pendant with a brass flower in the center, a moonstone bead in the flower, and 6 large pearls around the outside. The laurel medallions are bout the same size so will have the same brass lowers in the centre with garnet beads in the centres. And I’m going to try and get the extra beads and flowers on my stickelsche.

Or I may wind up putting the garnets on these to make them look even less like the white rose used for another order 😉 Six petals vs five and obviously not roses, but sumptuary laws are sumptuary laws.

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