Wednesday, October 14, 2009

been a long time since I've rock and rolled

But I'm working on a couple of projects for my baronial arts & sciences event, and thought I'd drop in to say hello (HELLO!) and point out that I've taken some of my favorite Chinese historical costuming patterns and posted them to my flickr.


These are here for those of you that have asked me many times to share, and I've just been too busy to even think about, I'm sorry! I am a sharing kind of girl, really!

So, please, enjoy them, use them, and then send me links or pics of your successes! (or failures...we can all learn from one anothers mistakes!)



Friday, August 08, 2008

A necessary break

Work, life, relationship, moving, travel, and so much more.

There have been many things keeping me from my lovely blog. BUT, I am back, feeling refreshed and ready to think, share, and type.

I've accomplished quite a few things in the past months. I'll highlight my favorite here.

I was inspired and challenged to recreate a Han dynasty article of clothing called a shen-yi. It is a crossover dress that wraps around the body numerous times. It has beautiful lines, and was a NIGHTMARE to draft patterns of.

note: while i like to link to wiki - my resources for the history and construction of this garment include MANY books and websites including:

Smith, Bradley and Weng, Wan-go. China: A History in Art. Doubleday & Company, 1976.

Vainker, Shelagh. Chinese Silk: A Cultural History. New Brunswick: The British Museum Press, 2004.

Xun, Zhao and Chunming, Gao. 5000 Years of Chinese Costumes. San Francisco: China Books & Periodicals, 1987.

Yingchun, Zang. Chinese Traditional Costumes and Ornaments. China Intercontinental Press, 2003

So, I started with the patterning. I had been given a digital pattern for the garment a long time ago. It was found posted on a Hanfu forum website. It was a good pattern, with one huge problem: all the annotation was in Chinese. I spent months and months doodling on it, turning it in different directions, trying to understand the cuts, the grainlines, and how the pieces went together to make the form.

then one day it came to me. truly. it just clicked. I doodled in my notebook, re-checked my measurements, pulled out my drafting paper, and it was ON!

han wrap pattern

I did all this work, then pulled my fabric. I cut, did a loose fitting, then had to re-cut. For some reason a couple of areas were just really loose or baggy or didn't fit quite right. I thought I had it down, so I started serging pieces together. I had the whole thing together (with edges unfinished) and tried it on. It fit weird. The neckline was HUGE and the angle of the cross accross the chest was too much, making the whole front hang badly.

i took it apart. i cut and serged and trimmed. I cut the sleeves off the top to cut in shoulder seams - so I could take it in more and make it fit better.

Once I had it fitted well I had to decide how I was going to do all the trim. It was hundreds of inches of trim. I decided to just use the reverse of the fabric. It was done in period, and looked great. In the end, I decided that the only way to make the trim lay correctly and have the whole garment look good would be to HAND STITCH the whole trim and hem.

it hurt to do. but i did it!

han wrap march 2008

there it is laid out on my living room rug.

this garment was an intense project. In the end, there are quite a few things I'd do differently. I haven't cut up my paper pattern yet, because I want to manipulate it again so that it will be perfect. Next time, I'm making one for my man - because he doesn't have hips or boobs - those things complicated the whole process!

new Han wrap

me at March 2008 Outlands crown list.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The most difficult silk painting yet

I now have the photos organized from start to I figured it was time to share my accomplishments & woes.
It all started with the SCA finally passing a device for me to use as my personal arms. It was a nearly 3 year battle to get it to be something I would love. In the end, the blazon is a little weird, but the LOOK is perfect!
Gules, a catfish tergiant urinant and a bordure wavy Or.
catfish? oh, yeah, I kept drawing it with whiskers...and they wouldn't allow a koi in their euro heraldic rules. I offered to erase the whiskers and just call it "fish", but then mumbled that I'd just draw them back in with my own artistic license after the fact. I even argued the case for carp in euro heraldry. I think that pissed them now I have a catfish. ehh, whatever.
So, then I had to come up with a design for the banner (as I was adamant about having one before estrella). I knew from the beginning how I wanted to draw the fish, but I couldn't figure out how I could make the wavy golden border look appropriate to my asian persona. Then, my lovely man says "why don't you design it like the wave patterns in japanese floating world art? or late Ming dynasty clothing?"
So, I printed out a great wave pattern that I loved, and then began the many weeks long process of drawing scalloped wave after scalloped wave on my silk. During this time I took the time to order a few new shades of yellows, golds, and orange from Dharma. It was so tedious that my hand could only handle an hour or so of stenciling a night. But, once the border was done, I placed the fish, and then it was time for the stretching and the gutta!

Through this process I had changed my mind about the waves that I wanted to crash up towards the fish. On the left side you'll notice an additional wave...I 86'd that. LOL. I decided that it wasn't necessary after seeing it on one side.

My next step was to start the gutta. I knew the fish would be easy to do, and that it would be best for me to start in the middle anyway.

My original fish design had much smaller fins. But, as it evolved, it became more and more of a butterfly koi - which are my favorite, and I had forgotten that.

Now, the penciling of the waves sucked, but the gutta sucked EQUALLY (if not more).

I let the gutta dry overnight. and rested my sore hands and back from doing all that shtuff. My next step was to start coloring, and everything I've ever read about silk painting says to to the light colors first, and finish with dark colors. So, I started with the fish and outer border, doing all the yellows. Then went back with my gold, and finished with an orange to put accents in the fins and face of the fish. OH! and I bought one container of a brilliant blue - just to give my fish blue eyes - I was very proud of myself.

I was very excited about the results of this phase. I really wanted to give the whole thing a beautiful asian look, as well as more depth and movement than many other banners I've seen.

NOW - for the hard part. The red. I had some challenges with the last 2 banners I did for D and for the pavilion. I always end up with brushmarks when I get to my darkest color. It makes me insane. So, I had an idea that I would do swirled strokes, so that the resulting full color areas might look marbelized, or like they have intentional cloud patterns.
So, while still wet, it looked great. BUT, after going through it's first event that included TONS of rain and sun and such...some of my swirl marks came out:

Those spots really bummed me out. I'm seriously considering re-dieing the red just to somehow reduce the impact of the spots.
But, everything else turned out just how I wanted. My SCA sister in Scottsdale allowed me to use her serger to finish all my edges and cut out my tabs along the bottom. I sewed ribbon to both sides of it so that I would have options for displaying it - more japanese style as it is hung above, or with just a horizontal pole through the top, or with just a vertical pole tied to one side. I like options.
Overall, this was a great project. I really enjoyed doing it. And, again, I learned a TON more about this medium than I previously did.
Now, if I can get the boys to decided on a rough design, maybe I'll make them their fighting banner!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

oh dear, how the time has passed

i had such good intentions with this blog...and I am not a quitter!

I have made quite a few crafting accomplishments over the past year, and I may go back and document a few of them, but mostly I'll move forward from here to establish what I'm currently doing.

Mostly, in the past few months, I've been getting acclimated to my new home - Albuquerque, NM. But in my new job I've been able to do some fun stuff:

This is a tablescape I did for an event at work on Halloween. I had so much fun with it.

I've also been cooking and baking up a storm. I was inspired by Alton Brown in one of the many food network holiday shows in December and cooked up these little devils:

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies. Absolutely decadent.

I'm in full force preparations for the annual SCA Estrella war. This means, a few new outfits, some fixing of old outfits, and a new banner for ME this time! We moved into a new place in downtown Albuquerque 2 days before Christmas, and the day we moved in I got my letter from the Atenveldt heralds that my device was passed - after over two years of trials, tribulations, and resubmissions. This is quite a relief! and I LOVE my device. I am truly pleased with the outcome.

So, I'm working on a silk painted banner that will only be approximately 22 inches wide by 34 inches tall. not huge, but big enough. The big difference is that I've ordered a few different shades of dye-na-flow colors from Dharma to really make it nice and give it more layers and depth of color. I'm VERY EXCITED. Today I spent quite a few hours perfecting the central design - a koi fish. And then decided on turning an SCA blazon of a "wavy bordure" into something more appropriate to my Chinese persona by utilizing the beauty of the Qing and Manchurian water/wave patterns as my border. It's going to be SO AWESOME.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

at least i accomplished something!

in between battling a monstrous migraine this weekend I actually managed to get something done!

I got 5 different articles of clothing cut out for D for Estrella - which only comprises 2 outfits. But, it puts me so much farther in my process!

I'm very happy about this.

One of the outfits is a shaolin monk. It includes a new white cotton underrobe, orange linen crossover & "shants", and a brown cotton overrobe. Very Zen. :)

The other is another creation from the gorgeous silks that my mistress bought for me in China. The underrobe is a basic crossover with bell sleeves made of this brown silk that has a beautiful "chinese coin" detailing in it. And the over robe is a sleeveless crossover that is beige in base, with big embroidered medallions of dragons and such.

So, my goal is to get both of these outfits sewn this week, and then next weekend I can get D's last outfit and my outfit cut out, then sewn next week!

If I actually pull this off - I will be in SUCH good shape!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

more adventures in silk painting

today I finished the outline design on the banner, and then gutta'd and filled all the border lines and color. NOW all I have to do is fill in the body of the banner in red:

As you can see - I made the banner longer than my frame - so I had to get a little ghetto and attach my needlepoint loop at the end and hold it tight while working on that section.

My challenge with the red is that I feel like it turned out really blotchy on the first one. So, I'm brainstorming on how I can get the color to look more even and less icky on this one. Oh, and the little doodle up in the right hand corner....

Sometimes I lose focus and the only way to regain my sanity is to scribble a couple of random things. Since I happened to be working with gutta at the time...well, you see the result. :)

The diamond design is actually similar to what I have tattoed behind my left ear - that I've tried to get passed as an SCA device, and been cleverly denied. motherbitches.

anywho, I'll post the result of my red filling-in tomorrow. keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

a busy little bee is me

SOOOO - the countdown to Estrella War is here, and I'm strangely calm. I've got one outfit done, another cut out, and am doing other little tasks in the interim.

First - the completed outfit. My SCA mistress did me the kindness of buying me and D countless yards of beautiful silks and actual silk brocades (as opposed to the polyester american imitations). This amazing treasure of fabric is being used to make a number of beautiful things, the first of which was a new Tang crossover for D - which he wanted before 12th Night last weekend. The result was:

D is the cute boy on the left wearing his new red & gold Tang crossover. (as an aside - 12th night was a "masked ball" and the boys felt the need to make it a little more lively, hence the lucha masks - LOL)

I still need to finish making his belt that goes with the outfit. BUT, I have to say that there was a DISTINCT and OBVIOUS difference in sewing the chinese silk vs. the american cousin. It sewed so easily and beautifully. I have adapted my sewing style to accomodate US brocades and how they twist & fray - but NOT THIS STUFF! It is heavenly. I need another friend to go to china and buy me $300 worth of fabric!

One of my other Estrella tasks is to make a banner for the top of the NEW PAVILION THAT WE BOUGHT! (SQUEEE!) The friends we bought it from gave us all of their finnials to go atop each pole, and red pennant banners for all of them. But I thought that the one on the very top should be different - more individualized.

So - again I'm silk painting golden monkeys! Being that this banner is only roughly 10 inches tall, but a very long pennant - I decided to spend $1.30 and get the largest needlepoint circle I could find. It has been MUCH easier to paint (compared to the monstrous thing I already made). I've already done the monkey - the body of the banner is red, but I'll probably do golden yellow edges. I'm very proud, and I hope it looks rockin on the pavilion.

OK, THEN my INSANE self found these fabulous beading kits on clearance at Michael's, and I've already blown through 2 of them, with one more to go...

See - I'm insane. Yet, doing all this has kept me busy, and kept my mind calm.

I have tons more to do, and will do my best to keep posting my processes and the fruits of my labor.