Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vintage... with a Modern Twist

My bead work is always rooted in the past, sometimes it's the technique or the colors or the design, but usually with a modern twist. I recently completed several new pieces for my annual trunk show at Grand Hotel.

The first is a choker and bracelet:

The design is definitely Victorian inspired, but the technique is completely modern.

Here's a beaded hairpin:

It emulates a period "trembler" but giant sized - over four inches across! It would be perfect in a modern updo.

All three of these pieces would be perfect for all the upcoming holiday parties, for either the modern fashionista or the lady who lets the past influence her personal style - exactly the juxtaposition I strive to create.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

They Both Fall From the Sky

Rain and leaves that is, and lately we've been experiencing plenty of both.

The various shapes and colors of the leaves themselves form endless patterns, but the addition of water is another dimension entirely, especially when that water is a mix of solid and liquid - an ever changing kaleidoscope of nature.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

After the Storm

It's been raining nearly nonstop, but yesterday afternoon there was a brief break resulting in a classic rainbow arching over the Island - just lovely!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Red Riding Hood

Our recent Refugee March required making a new style of head covering for me, as a fashion bonnet seemed both inappropriate to the scenario and the temperature - it was cold out that weekend!

I chose to use a design by the ubiquitous Mrs. Jane Weaver, "The Red Riding Hood" from Peterson's Magazine.

Here are the original instructions:

"This hood is the novelty of the season, and while it is both pretty and becoming, it is very simple and easily made. Take three-quarters of a yard of scarlet sack flannel, the finest and most brilliant color that can be procured. Cut off one side to make it perfectly square; round one corner, as seen in the diagram; then have it pinked all round in small scallops, which you will find, will produce a very beautiful effect.

From B to B at about two inches from the edge, sew a casing of narrow ribbon on the underside, also one diagonally from A to a. Run a narrow ribbon in the casings, drawing the one from B to B to fit the face. Fasten it. The one from A to A is to be drawn to suit the head.

If preferred, the hood may be lined with silk so far as the line AA. The point which represents the cape is better not lined"

As is the norm for me, I needed to complete this project with items from my stash, as the nearest fabric store is a two and a half hour drive after a ferry trip.

I tried this hood in scrap fabric to start, not really expecting it to work without some extensive modifications, but I was quite happily surprised - it fit perfectly!

I had some lovely fulled red wool and plaid silk taffeta, which I quilted to another layer of thin wool for the lining. I used cotton twill tape in the casings and stitched them in place once properly adjusted. The ribbon ties are the same silk taffeta as the lining, cut on the bias and the edges finished with red ribbon.

My biggest problem was the pinking - I don't have a period pinking punch. I chose to use my modern pinking shears, as the fuzziness of the wool disguises the modern look to a certain extent.

I am quite pleased with the resulting hood, it fits nicely and was warm without being overwhelming. I ended up removing the trimming bow at the top of the hood, I just didn't care for the way it looked.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


"Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the leaves"
Faith Baldwin

The fall color has arrived a bit later than usual this year, but it's finally here in all it's glory!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pouche Pompadour

We are just back from a living history event - a Refugee March!

We portrayed Southern civilians, forced to vacate our homes and traveling in the rear of the Confederate forces as the Union forces harass and attempt to prevent our movement. I was assigned the portrayal of an upper middle class lady, genteel, kind, patriotic but inclined to try buy special treatment.

Preparing to be a refugee has been keeping me busy, as I needed to assemble several items to aid my portrayal. One needed item was a traveling bag, I chose the "Pouche Pompador" from the December 1864 edition of Godey's.

It is described thus, "This elegant travelling-bag is especially suitable for a lady. It is made in the shape of a very large purse, and is of violet rep embroidered in white. These colors, may, of course, be changed according to taste. Two and a half yards of rep or other woolen material, twenty-seven inches in breadth, are required, and the same quantity of white calico for lining; two and a quarter yards of silk fringe, and five skeins of white embroidery silk for the trimming; two ivory rings and some pearl buttons. The pattern is not worked twice on the same side of the purse, but on one side at one end and on the opposite side at the other, so that both patterns may show when the bag hangs over the arm. The bag is entirely lined, a pocket is formed on each side, and a slit is made in the centre of the bag exactly in the same way as in a purse; two rings are slipped over, and the slit is further fastened by pearl buttons and silk loops. Each pocket is edged with silk fringe up to the slit in the middle. These pockets are very convenient to hold the numberless small articles which a lady always wishes to have by her during a journey. The embroidery is worked in satin stitch, the inner part of the pine pattern being filled up with colored silk. The material should be stretched over a frame in order to be worked neatly. The bag is very easy to make up, being, in fact, nothing but a purse of very large dimensions. The embroidery can be easily dispensed with, and a useful bag made of plain materials. One of the advantages that this bag possess over the ordinary kind is that it really has a graceful appearance when properly carried, which can scarcely be said of many travelling pouches."

For my version, I used a heavy grey wool, embroidered with purple chain stitch and black beads, accented as well with purple fringe. No pattern was given, so I used a dinner plate as a template for the bottom of the bag and drew out a miser bag shape. Brass bangle bracelets made lovely slide rings. I chose not to add buttons and loops and after carrying the bag for a number of miles, they really don't seem necessary.

The bag worked quite nicely, held quite a number of small items and I expect will be much used next summer.

I completed several other items for this event, including a hood and gourd canteens - details to follow!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Color on the Forest Floor - Part Two

Our typical fall explosion of color is late this year, but there are signs it will be arriving soon. So for now, enjoy these more subtle seasonal beauties!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hitching Up

Horse hitching posts are a common sight, but this one is especially lovely with great patina and the plantings in the background add so much - the grasses seen particularly appropriate!