Thursday, June 19, 2014

Jewelled Headband and Italian Hair style

I made this headband in April to go with my Italian gowns. It is meant to be worn with Italian style-hair; i.e. the rolled front swept back into a bun or hair taped or hidden in a caul. The band sits subtly behind and slightly under the rolled part of the hair.

This band was a bit of an experiment, based on Italian sixteenth century female portraits. Unfortunately, I can''t find any extant examples (they were probably broken up and elements re-used when fashions changed.) I used velveteen ribbon as the base and chose brown so that it would blend with my hair. The jewels are taken from a costume jewellery necklace I got in a sale, and the circular decorative elements came from the beading section of Spotlight but were purchased some years ago. I actually bought them to go on a Tudor under kirtle, but had to shelve that project.

The jewelled necklace was broken up. I clipped the hooks off and filed the edges flat and smooth with a tiny file.

I sewed the elements on to the ribbon after I had determined what the best length would be. I doubled the ribbon over to cover up my stitches and knots. I whip-stitched the edges together, tucking the raw end edges inside so they didn't fray.

My totally un-period but eminently practical method of securing the band? Wig clips. I love these babies. They make bobby pins (and the constant checking and adjusting that goes with them) redundant. I sewed four wig clips onto the underside of this band and it holds the band in place perfectly.

To do the style, I part my hair from ear to ear straight across my head (not down the middle as usual.) I pull the back section back into a bun or braids with hair tape. Then I move to the front section and part down the middle. Different types of hair and levels of cleanliness will affect how well the style sits and whether it needs teasing to improve the look. Bear in mind that the Italians usually didn't go to the extremes of Elizabethan hair do-s (of course, I am not including fabulous Venetian hair horns in that statement!) Reviewing Italian portraiture shows quite thin twists or rolls at the front, ranging to fatter, rounder ones in the second half of the sixteenth century. I prefer my hair curled or slightly teased for this style. It holds together better and is easier to do. Curling mouse etc. applied to the hair when damp and then styled and left overnight also makes the style easier to do on my hair, but it is a personal thing and you will have to experiment to find what works for you. I would recommend that you experiment well prior to a big event too. Something always seems to go wrong for me at the last minute, and preparation and experience can help you be ready with disaster minimisation strategies!

The next step is pinning the band evenly on your hair, near the line where you parted from ear to ear. Again, you will have to experiment as to just where suits you best and where is most comfortable. Make sure the band is sitting evenly on your head with the same amount of ribbon on either side. You may also find that your hair is thicker on one side than the other. Practising the style can help you to overcome this by teasing one side up more or using smaller curls etc.

Take the front piece of hair on one side and start rolling, gradually adding more hair in as you go along. You should end up with a little roll or sausage of hair that you can pin back into your bun or braids and which sits over the ends of the jewelled band. Do the same with the other side, trying to keep the placement of the rolls even. You can then add jewelled hair pins, bows, or even fresh flowers that were popular in the Renaissance (like pinks.)

This Portrait of a Lady by A Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi was an inspiration for the hairstyle-
 File:Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi Portrait of a Lady.jpg
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I am going to make several more of these bands. They add a bit of sparkle and I enjoy the gratification of these quick and easy projects. Bring on the bling!

Portrait of the Artist's Sisters Playing Chess by Sonofisba Anguissola 
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