life_of_glamour: (Pink Ruff)
I actually made a set of ruffs. A custom job, I'm sure you'll never guess for whom. I was asked to use this lace for a suite of ruffs:


I unfortunately neglected to place anything in the picture for scale, but it's a big chunky pattern - those fleurs are 3 inches top to bottom!. And the lace is seriously chunky too - thick, not at all like the spindly fine laces I'm accustomed to using. I finished up the construction back before my hands went hurty, and starched them last weekend. Once starched they became a total hot cold, stiff mess. Wasn't sure I could actually bring any sort of order to them, but I gave it a shot today (and I've got the blisters to prove it) and got this:


The tips of the fleurs are sticking out at odd angles like spiney little sea creature mutants, but I think that lends charm.
life_of_glamour: (Laureling Day)
I recently acquired some smalt, which is a documentably period method of tinting starch for ruffs. Having already done some tinting with cochineal, which is an extrapolated use and method based on knowing that they had purple/pink, I wanted to try out one that was definitely used for sure and true. Image heavy post! )
life_of_glamour: (Laureling Day)
Stand back, I'm doing Science!

As I mentioned last week, I set out to do some experimentin' this weekend. The question: Would starch tinted with beets wash clean out of linen? Make your wagers now! )
life_of_glamour: (Pink Ruff)
Thanks to the enraged Protestants of the 16th Century, we know that the great ruffs of that era were dyed a rainbow of colors. According to Philip Stubbes, in his lengthy (and hilarious) polemic The Anatomie of Abuses the great monstrous Ruffes were "of all colours and hewes, as White, Redde, Blewe, Purple, and the like."

When I initially contemplated adding color to my starch I was thinking blue or yellow because those were common - blue using smalt or yellow using saffron (particularly in the early 17th Century if the frothy climax of Protestant indignation over the saffron dyed ruffs peaking around 1620 is any indication). And yet every time I talked about it with people invariably the thing people wanted to see was pink or purple ruffs. Me too!

Yeah, it totally worked! )
life_of_glamour: (Ruff)
These things don't just set themselves!

Method, steps, madness, pics! )
life_of_glamour: (Ruff)
I took some pictures to show the process because this is, without a doubt, the most accurate period ruff I am capable of producing. It is all, every stitch of it, completed by hand, and it is all, every stitch of it, based upon documented extant examples and techniques. Read more... )
life_of_glamour: (Default)
I'm starching the silk for my 12th Night ruff today, after weeks of laborious experimentation into different starches. (check for tag = starching if you are curious/can't remember) The whole point is to make a new ruff similar to this one:

Incidentally, this is a painting of Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of the ninth Earl of Kildare. This makes my husband, Earl Cathyn Fitzgerald of Kildare inordinately pleased. Anyway... as I scrutinized this painting, in conjunction with my reading on ruff construction in Janet Arnold's latest how-to, I saw that the ruff she diagrammed which looked closest to the one I wanted to make was a triple-layer ruff. Three layers of fabric, plus lace at the ends. So I looked closer at Elizabeth Fitzgerald (lucky I took a really, really good picture when I was last at the National Gallery of Ireland) and saw that her ruff is clearly at least two layers. The figure-eights on the top layer are clearly NOT attached to the figure-eights on the bottom layer. The picture I took is good enough that I'm able to zoom in very close in iPhoto and see that there are, in fact, two distinct layers of figure-eights.

Cool! I've never made a two-layer ruff before!

Oh, and the silk is currently drying after a starch-bath this morning:

Which means I'll probably have to either dig out another length of silk and do the starch-bath procedure all over again, or find that I don't have any more (can't remember right now whether I have more on hand), order some, wait a week, etc. I can't recommend the starch bath method I used this morning, as it was very cumbersome, messy and resulted in a clumpy mess - it is almost impossible to smooth out the starch on that much silk and get it all even. I see now why they starched after making up the ruff, however it's pretty much impossible using modern materials. They were using gold lace made of real gold which has a very high melting point (1950°F), whereas while I may yearn to make my ruffs with real gold lace, it ain't gonna happen, even if I could find it. Were I to try making the ruff THEN setting it, I would merely melt my faux-gold lace into a polymer mess. C'est la vie - Christal tastes, Chandon budget.

I recognize that I may go through this entire process, only to find that the way I used to make them, while not an exact reproduction of period methods, will give the same result for significantly smaller investment of time. That's why I bother, I guess, to find out if the shortcuts are really producing an accurate facsimile of the real thing. If I find that this ruff is indistinguishable from the old way, then at least I know exactly what I'm trading for the time I'd be saving.
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