Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pelisse/Robe Update

I've progressed a little more on my "Marianne" Pelisse.

The bodice is nearly finished.  So sorry for the loose, wrinkled appearance.  I didn't bother straightening everything since I'm not finished with it.  I'm not completely satisfied with the pleats in the front.  I made four on each side, so I could "get a good snug fit" to the bodice, but now, I don't know, I just think they look weird.  I'm hoping that maybe, once I get the skirt attached to the bodice, the weight of the fabric will pull down on the bodice, eliminating the strange, "puckered" look at the ends of the pleats.  Any advice on this is appreciated.  Also, I'm debating on putting in a band or not around the waist.  What would be more historically appropriate?....what would be more aesthetically pleasing?....attach the skirt straight onto the bodice, or create a one or two inch band to place between the two?

Here's a close-up of the hand done pick-stitching on the lapel and collar.  So far, about 50% of the coat is hand stitched.

Here's the back.  I'm happy with the fit, since it is a coat, I want it to be a bit loose, but I'm not pleased with the bunching at the base of the collar.  I might try to rework this, but, again, I'm not sure how to fix the problem.

Here's a close-up of the back-stitching done by hand on the seams.  This was done AFTER the seams were constructed, more as a decoration than anything.

Next up, the sleeves.... 

 Did I say I wanted this finished by the time my Birthday came around?....It's next Wednesday....Do you think I'll make it?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Ladies Picnic at Ashland

This afternoon, some of the ladies from the Jane Austen Sewing Society had a picnic on the lovely grounds of Ashland, the estate of Henry Clay.

The weather was perfect.... mild, with a slight breeze.  We found this gorgeous old tree, with it's dappled shadows dancing around and decide on its shade as our outdoor dining room.

The Ashland staff loaned us a table and set of four chairs, and we began the task of setting out our table.

We enjoyed the cool shade, hot tea....

...refreshing home made lemonade, salad...

...cheese pie, and flummeries.

We read early 19th century poetry, talked of society, and enjoyed the company of "interesting" friends.

After a while, our feast got the better of us, and we decided to walk the grounds....not a hard task when there are gardens like this to stroll through.

Natalie looks the perfect image of the Georgian lady.

Polly looks lovely in her new bonnet.

I had a lovely time, but I think it's about time for a new gown...don't you?  I'm getting sick of seeing myself in the same old thing.

Don't they look like they stepped right out of a painting or a novel?  The Ashland grounds were the perfect setting for our day.

We were approached by some of the Ashland estate directors.  They were very interested in our little group, and asked if we might like to join with them and possibly hold an event on the grounds in the near future.  There might be a spring event in the works!  Exciting stuff!

There is nothing so perfect as a day spent with like-minded friends.

Leach and Flummery

No, I'm not swearing in some ancient British dialect.  A leach, or "leche" and flummery are a sort of jellied dessert eaten in times past, especially by the wealthy in England.  I found a recipe for leach and flummery, here, on the same site that I got my "cheesecake" recipe, and was fascinated by the sculptural aspect of this dessert.

So, of course, I had to try it.  I love the challenge of antiquated craft.

One thing different that I did, was used Gelatin instead of "harts antlers" or Isinglasse...I wasn't about to kill a deer with my bare hands.  Also, since I didn't have my own cow to milk, I used whole cream.

The texture of these desserts are interesting.  It is firm, like Jell-o, but the taste is hard to describe.  It's almost a warm, milk, or tapioca flavor, without the beads.  But, then add in the Rose Water and you have a flavor, that I can only hope is an acquired taste....it's a bit like eating perfume. 

 In the pink glasses, I've made the original leach or flummery, using Rose water.  But in the little white jewels, covered with gold leaf, I used a little almond oil instead of the Rose Water, to satisfy our more modern pallets.

Why would I go to all of the trouble, you ask?  Well, I'm attending a picnic today with the Jane Austen Sewing Society.....and....well, everything must be historically accurate, of course.  More on this later.....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Trip to Cincinatti

Cincinnati, Ohio is only about a 2 hour drive from where I live.  I tend to make a trip to this river city four or five times a year for various reasons. 

This weekend I traveled to Cincinnati to shop at the Ikea store, and to visit one of my favorite places in the area, The Cincinnati Art Museum. 

What I love about Cincinnati is that it's a very modern, rockin' sort of place....

...but it's juxtaposed with Victorian homes...

....and buildings, like the Cincinnati Music Hall...

...and interspersed with tons of Art Deco and Arts and Craft style architecture.

Our first stop was Ikea.  Who doesn't love, stylish, inexpensive, Swedish style furniture and home goods?  I know I do. 
Moment of confession...I've never owned a "real" teapot!  Shocker! I know!  So, today, at Ikea, I finally bought one....

....and, a matching cream pitcher and sugar bowl.  All for under $15.  That was all I bought for myself, but I did manage to get a little bit of early Christmas shopping done as well.  However, I can't post pictures of those items, because it would spoil the surprise for some people.

When we were finished shopping, we drove over to The Cincinnati Art Museum.  I always get giddy going to this place.  It's free, for one...but more importantly, I get to see some quality art. 

The architecture of the museum is a work of art in and of itself.  Check out the grand staircase at the center of the museum,  The museum was opened in 1886, and wings were added on over the next 100 years, creating sort of a time capsule of architecture.  There is a great deal of Art Deco and Arts and Crafts influence in the place....which satisfies me immensely.  Let me give you a brief tour of a few of my favorite places in the museum and favorite works of art.

This is the inner courtyard at the Museum, where my friend and I ate lunch.

Here's my traveling companion, and friend, Laura, getting ready to enjoy lunch at the museum's Terrace Cafe.

My delicious salad, made with summer berries, grilled chicken, feta cheese and a poppy seed dressing.  Oh, and check out the hummus and Bree cheese appetiser in the background...yummm.

There are many interesting rooms placed throughout the museum.  It's always fun to get lost in the maze of galleries.  This is the Dutch Renaissance Room.

Here's an early 19th century, American Interior Design.

A meditative sort of room featuring icons and a large medieval triptych.

A medieval room...I mean tomb.

Since I'm such a fan of Art Nouveau, I'm always drawn toward this piece called Fountain of the Water Nymph, 1913, by Clement J. Barnhorn.

I would love to have this Arts and Crafts style desk in my home.

And who wouldn't want a Corner Cupboard, 1871, by Henri L. Fry, in their dining room.

I'm always fascinated by the antiquity present in each room, like this fearsome, Roman lion sculpture.

I love the sinuous design of this medieval, Celtic influenced, fresco.

This portrait reminds me of the many iconic representations I saw when I was in Assisi, Italy several years ago.  It's a portrait of Saint Lucy, c.1449.

And this Italian Renaissance portrait, c.1549, reminds me of when I was in Venice. (The son is of the Medici Family.)

I'm not typically a fan of Still Life paintings, but the Dutch have the art mastered.  I admire them for not tidying up their still life's....it's almost as if they ate their lunch, and decided to paint was was left over.  This one's c. 1641.

A late 18th century, jovial young lady, sporting the same hair style that my and my friends have been trying to emulate.

A handsome, early 19th century, young man painted in miniature.  I would like to make my husband a frock coat like his.

A late 19th century painting, influenced at the time by the orient.

Two portraits of young ladies by Frank Duveneck, c. 1880.  I really like the large brush strokes and intense shadows present.

I'm not really a fan of the Impressionists, mostly, I think it's because EVERYONE seems to like the Impressionists.  But, I feel obliged to always give this Claude Monet landscape a nod.

This is probably my favorite painting in the entire museum.  It's a John Singer Sargent portrait.  I've seen several of his portraits in museums in Boston and other places, and I literally could stand in front of one, staring at it for hours.  There's just something about the sheer size of most of his portraits (most of them life size) and the lighting, and the loose brushstrokes that makes the characters in his paintings dance and move with life.  I feel as if his models might walk right off of the canvas.

If I could, I would fill my house with Rookwood Pottery.

Another favorite artist of mine is Georges Rouault.  He is about as modern as it gets for me when it comes to art I like.  He was at his height of creativity in the 1930's.  This painting is called Christ in Profile, c. 1930.  His paintings have almost a childish feel to them at times, but there's also something reverent, and iconic about them too.

Here's another of his, Carmencita, c. 1937.

And now for the REAL reason why we went to the Art Museum.

Beginning today, through January 2nd, the museum is hosting an exhibit entitled Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman.  It's an exhibition focused on the idea of the modern woman in Georgian England.  Gainsborough painted some of the most fashionable, and sometimes scandalous women of his time.

We were not allowed to take photographs of his paintings, so I'm sorry that these images found on the Internet will have to do.  The ones that you see here are some of the ones featured in this exhibit.  If you are fortunate enough to be in the Cincinnati area any time within the the next 4 month, you absolutely MUST stop in to see this show.

I can't even begin to describe the beauty of these portraits.  But let me just say that they were larger than life size....the skin of these ladies was flawless, like glass...their gowns of silk, lace, organza, and jewels floated and shimmered in the almost candle-like lighting. 

I found myself drooling over the ladies in the portraits high sense of fashion.  I am so full of ideas now that I'm about to burst with inspiration.

The sitters gazed at you with their intense, liquid eyes, causing you to either blush or feel like you were a part of their little secret.  I would have liked to have known these ladies and young girls.  These two young ladies are the painter's daughters.

Even though we weren't allowed to take pictures of the paintings, we were allowed to photograph the information plaques.  I've included three, for your viewing/reading pleasure.  However, these three plaques aren't about the paintings....they are about the best part of the exhibit, in my opinion...they are about the actual antique garments that were on display there. 

Dress and Petticoat, 1775-1785.

Stays, 1775-1785.

Dress and Petticoat, 1760-1770.

I only wish I could have taken pictures of the two gowns, and the underpinnings. I found myself leaning in, only a couple of inches from the petticoats and bodices, examining the minute hand stitching, the seams, the flawless rouged and pinked embellishments, the quilted edges, gathers and flounces. It was all I could do to keep myself from reaching out and touching the garments.  I was in clothing heaven.

This is not one of the gowns, but it is similar to what I was looking at.

This is an example of what the pinked edges looked like.  I couldn't believe how such an antique garment had resisted fraying over the years.

One of the gowns looked very similar to the style of this one in the back, but the gown didn't have a long train, it was pinned up in a polonaise fashion instead.

One thing that my friend Laura and I notice and commented on as we drove away from the museum was how small the gowns were.  I am not a tall girl...I barely reach 5' 5" on a good day...but the wearers of these gowns must have been only 5' if not shorter, and so petite, so tiny...like little dolls.

This was definitely an exhibit that left an impact on me.  I will cherish this little jewel of an experience for a very long time.