Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

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Images copyright Hillary Waters Fayle. For more information please visit Hillary’s WEBSITE
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Embroidering with fish scales

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Embroidering with fish scales

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Fish scale embroidery is a technique that was popular in nineteenth century Britain. The fish scales usually came from carp, goldfish or perch, as their scales were regarded as the most iridescent. Fish scale embroidery was worked on silk, satin or velvet ground cloth and the scales were used to imitate flower petals, bird feathers and butterfly wings.
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The scales were prepared by scraping them from the fish, steeping them in cold water until they were soft and pliable, and then two small holes were pierced with a needle near the base of each scale.
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The scales were sometimes coloured with a mixture of varnish and powdered colour. Once ready the scales were arranged in an overlapping pattern and then sewn down. Stems, veins, tendrils and other fine details were worked in stem stitch using a fine chenille thread, gold thread or a filoselle. The centre of the flowers was often filled with French knots worked in silk or with beads, pearls or spangles. This type of embroidery was only suitable for places where it would not come into contact with friction.
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A PROJECT

Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, April 1886 have instructions on how to make a fish scale embroidered  NEEDLEWORK BOOK
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Materials — A strip of perforated cardboard, nine inches long and four and a half inches wide; a piece of red silk ribbon of the same dimensions; two and a half yards of red ribbon, half an inch wide; red sewing-silk; white flannel; fish-scales.
Instructions: This needle-book is composed of two stars, covered with small fish-scales and bound round with a quilling of ribbon. Fig. 1 shows the pattern in full size. Each star is cut out of a piece of perforated card-board 4 ½ inches square, over which a circle is traced measuring 4 ¼ inches across.
Now divide the circle into eight notches ¾ inches deep, and cut them out; cover both the star-shaped pieces with fish-scales, which should previously have been well washed in hot salt water and carefully wiped and dried.
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Victorian crafts The needle, threaded with red silk, is inserted in the lower part of the scales to fasten them on to the cardboard as seen in Fig. 2, which gives a part of the pattern during the process of working. The indented edge of the scales should be placed upwards, and they should overlap each other. Cover in this way the eight notches first, and then the rest of the stars, arranging the scales in regular circles, and only leave a small space in the center, in which place a rosette of red ribbon.
Next line both the pieces of cardboard with the red ribbon 4 ½ inches wide, and on the side of the lining sew on a quilling of the narrow ribbon so as to let it show a little beyond the edge on the right side.
Place two pieces of fine white flannel inside the pieces of cardboard for holding the needles; cut them out of the same shape, but rather small. Join both sides of the cover by sewing a small piece of ribbon over one notch of each star, forming a sort of hinge; then sew a piece of ribbon, six inches long, to two notches on the opposite side, which serve to fasten the needle-book by a bow.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

And the bride wore .....

And the bride wore ….

It is August bank holiday next weekend in the United Kindgom, one of the most popular weekends of the year to get married. Most brides will wear a beautiful white wedding gown made specially for that day which will be lovingly packed away after the wedding, to be brought out and sighed over from time to time but never worn by her again.
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Initially wedding dresses were designed to be worn again by the bride maybe on special occasions or Sundays when the family went together to church dressed in their best. In the early decades of the twentieth century wedding dresses began to be modelled on evening gowns with shimmering sequins, faux pearls, festoons of gauze and, later, shimmering bias cut satin. Wedding dresses began to move away from the current fashion and instead started to follow their own style.
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Perhaps the most stunning wedding dress of this period was that worn by high society beauty Margaret Whigham, later Duchess of Argyll, for her wedding to Charles Sweeney on the 21st of February 1933.
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This dreamy confection by the then young and up and coming designer Norman Hartnell, has a Medieval air with its flowing bell sleeves, bias cut and high neckline.
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The wedding dress took a team of 30 seamstresses six weeks to make, and the bride thought it shockingly expensive at £52.
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The silk satin gown and train are studded with pearl-embroidered, transparent and appliqued stars.
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The ‘angel’ sleeves are trimmed with tulle, the frothy nature of which provides a dramatic contrast to the slinky sheen of the satin.image
The train embroidered with the traditional orange flowers and trimmed with tulle is a masterpiece that was designed by Hartnell to make the maximum impact in the aisle of Brompton Oratory, a Roman Catholic Church in South Kensington, just next to the Victoria &Albert Museum. Such had been the publicity surrounding her Norman Hartnell wedding dress, that the traffic in Knightsbridge was blocked for three hours. For the rest of her life, she was associated with glamour and elegance, being a firm client of both Hartnell and Victor Stiebel in London before and after the war.
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Hartnell became one of the Royal family’s favourite designers. He designed Princess Elizabeth’s wedding and coronation gowns. Such commissions confirmed his position as London’s leading couturier

imageMargaret Whigham was the only child of Helen Mann Hannay and George Hay Whigham, a Scottish millionaire who was chairman of the Celanese Corporation of England, North America, and Canada. After being educated privately in New York City, where she moved one week after her birth and lived until the age of 14, and making her debut in London in 1930, she announced her engagement to Charles Guy Fulke Greville, 7th Earl of Warwick.
This wedding did not take place as she had fallen for Charles Sweeny, an American amateur golfer, and decided she was not sufficiently in love with Lord Warwick. Margaret and Charles Sweeny divorced in 1947, and in 1951, she became the notorious Duchess of Argyll, third wife of the 11th Duke of Argyll.
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Within a few years, the marriage was falling apart. The Duke suspected his wife of infidelity; and, while she was in New York, he employed a locksmith to break open a cupboard. The evidence discovered resulted in the infamous 1963 divorce case, in which the Duke of Argyll accused his wife of infidelity. There was a set of Polaroid photographs of the Duchess nude, save for her signature three-strand pearl necklace and a headless man. The Duchess never revealed the identity of the “headless man”.
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In the following decades her fortune diminished due to her extravagant lifestyle and ill-considered investments. In 1978, debts forced Margaret to move from her Belgravia house and relocate with her maid to a suite at the Grosvenor Hotel. In 1990, unable to pay her hotel bills, she was evicted, and with the support of friends and her first husband moved to an apartment. Margaret died in penury in 1993 and was buried alongside her first husband, Charles Sweeny.
Photographs of the wedding gowns are copyright Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
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Bronze Age Textiles

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Bronze Age Textiles

imageMany of us have been following the Cambridge Archaeological Unit’s facebook page as they have been documenting their finds at Must Farm near Peterborough. The Bronze Age settlement has been nicknamed the Pompeii of the Fens and has revealed a well-provisioned community that was arguably wealthy for the time.
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Artefacts discovered at the site include decorative beads made from glass, jet and amber which are thought to have been imported from the Mediterranean or as far away as the Middle East.
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Clothes made from lime tree bark and woven textiles that may have been used as rugs or wall hangings have been recovered.
Bronze Age textiles from Britain are incredibly rare and those that do tend to survive are often in very poor condition. Pieces which are found are typically small and fragmentary, usually no larger than a fingernail. One particularly large fragment was discovered that had been folded and it emerged that it was made from plant fibres, most likely from lime trees. This was especially surprising as there is a fairly common assumption that most archaeological textiles would have been made using animal fibres, such as wool.
The extreme rarity of this kind of material in such good condition from the period means that the timber platform is a site of not just national, but international importance. However, it isn’t just the actual material which is important in understanding ideas of appearance, manufacture, usage and fastening. Associated finds such as bobbins, glass beads, drapes and mats are vital clues in answering these questions.
Perfectly preserved pieces of 3,000-year-old thread – one in a ball and another wrapped around a bobbin have been discovered.
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Both roughly a centimetre across, the fragments discovered are in excellent condition despite their age and archaeologists described the find as ‘amazing’. The thread was so well-preserved because it was made from a plant fibre, likely flax or nettle and the quality and fineness of the fibres was described as “just astonishing”.
This is thread spun from plant fibre found bundled together, ready to be woven into a fabric © CAU. Photo: Dave Webb
The team now have the difficult task of painstakingly cleaning the thread and attempting to discover its original colour, as the pigment has been removed by carbonization.
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The BBC’s documentary Britain’s Pompeii: A Village Lost in Time is available on iplayer until August 27th, 2016. If you live in a country where this will not play there is a shorter video AVAILABLE.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Royal Performances

Royal Performances

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1943 Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret playing Aladdin and Princess Roxana in home-made outfits
The silk tunic and silk-satin embroidered trousers made up for the pantomime costume that the Queen wore as a teenager when she appeared as Aladdin at Windsor Castle in a wartime performance have never been displayed before.
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They are among more than 30 outfits representing key moments in the Queen’s life that are to go on show at an exhibition Fashioning a Reign held at the castle. See previous BLOG POST
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Princess Margaret’s crimson outfit as Princess Roxana in Aladdin, Princess Elizabeth’s jacket, jodhpurs and hat, made for her by the equestrian and livery tailors Bernard Weatherill in 1947, and the tunic worn by “the emperor” in the pantomime
There is a love story behind the Queen’s teenage costumes.  Prince Philip of Greece, then a young naval officer, came to see the performance of Aladdin, causing the 17 year old Elizabeth’s heart to beat a little faster.
The princess, pink cheeked with excitement, apparently  told Marion Crawford, her governess: “Who do you think is coming to see us act, Crawfie? Philip!”
“The pantomime went off very well,” Miss Crawford recorded. “I have never known Lilibet more animated. There was a sparkle about her none of us had ever seen before.”
Basil Boothroyd, the Duke of Edinburgh’s biographer, described “the young naval gentleman from Greece rolling in the aisles at the appalling jokes”.
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It is hard to imagine the Queen cross-dressing as Aladdin and Prince Charming, and belting out show tunes. However for four consecutive Christmases Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose staged a series of musical pantomimes to liven up their war-time evacuation to Windsor Castle.
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They were loosely based on traditional fairytales – Cinderella (1941), Sleeping Beauty (1942), Aladdin (1943) and Old Mother Red Riding Boots (1944).
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They grew from the Princesses’ love of dressing up and dancing and Princess Margaret’s particular gift for mimicry.” They listened avidly to radio comedies (Tommy Handley’s ITMA was a favourite) and quizzed their parents about the latest London theatre tunes and jokes.
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Budgets were carefully balanced as the shows supported the Palace Wool Fund and the sisters enjoyed “hunting for junk” around the castle with their father, King George VI. Old curtains, boards and furniture were stitched and hammered and painted to create costumes and sets, transforming the stately Waterloo Chamber into a 400 seat private theatre.
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The cast was picked from cousins, the local village school, other evacuees and officers’ children – but Castle staff was also enlisted to help backstage, with even Queen Elizabeth ready with a needle to sew repairs.
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It was Princess Margaret who first suggested a panto and school head Hubert Tannar was invited to write the script and produce the first show in December 1941.
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Cyril Woods was of similar age to the princesses and was recruited as star pupil at the school to appear with them. He took part in all four pantos, which were all written and produced by Mr Tannar who also acted in the first and last ones.
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