Monday, April 1, 2013

Reproduction? Or Interpretation?

This is the cap/headdress/bit of foo foo (pick your term) that I created to wear with my 2013 conference dress. I was inspired by a piece I had first spotted on an online auction site, and purely by happenstance, it was one of many original garments on display on Saturday, when I wore mine - here's the original:

And a bit closer:

The original illustrates a number of very typical period techniques:

 - The use of coordinating but not necessarily matching materials. The center square is light and airy and the surrounding lace matches it nicely in weight and color.

- The lace and ribbon have been manipulated to to minimize the need for cutting, keeping the materials in one piece as much as possible; this maximizes the potential to deconstruct the cap and reuse the trims in a new garment.

- It has been constructed completely by hand, with what many would consider large crude stitches; this is intentional, again to aid in reusing the materials.

I duplicated these techniques - all the materials are from my stash, with the center square being a real salvaged piece - it was very dark and stained, but cleaned up beautifully. The materials are heavier in weight than the original, but coordinate well in both color and texture. I used just a single round of velvet ribbon, as mine was wider than the original. I also constructed my bow a bit differently, as I had a length of of the tiny ribbon which matched perfectly. The lace and ribbon are both left in long, uncut lengths.

It is stitched entirely by hand - in the car, on the way to Pennsylvania in fact!

When I was finished, I was a bit panicked - it seemed so small! But actually, it was just right, the same size as the original.

Many people would say I had created a reproduction of the original - but did I really?

I think a better example of a "reproduction" garment would be the two replicas of Emily Dickinson's famous white dress, commissioned by the Emily Dickinson Museum, to be displayed when the original became too fragile.
A pattern was created by painstaking measurement of the original dress and a muslin sewn to check the accuracy of the pattern.

Context Weavers, an English firm, exactly duplicated the fabric by punching a custom set of cards to be used on their Jacquard loom. The embroidered insertion and edging trim was reproduced by an American company.

While finding firms able to recreate the proper materials was difficult, a larger challenge was finding the funding - $10,000 for the two replicas.

Another good example is the Plimoth jacket, and even that's not considered to be a true reproduction - it's actually based on two separate garments.

I would argue that I created an interpretation of the original; the influence can be seen, but they are certainly not identical.

And I would further argue, that's the norm - there are vary few individuals with either the skill set or the budget to create true reproductions, we're all creating interpretations!

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