Monday, June 22, 2020

Bead Necklaces

A quick project that I worked on last week was some beading. I made these necklaces out of glass and natural gemstone beads, and they will be given as gifts.
These are strung on tigertail.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Giulia de' Medici - A Fascinating Life

Image and article reproduced from
Portrait of Maria Salviati de' Medici and Giulia de' Medici
Portrait of Maria Salviati de' Medici and Giulia de' Medici by Pontormo c.1539

"Pontormo (Jacopo Carucci, but known by the name of his birthplace, the town of Pontorme) was esteemed by the Medici family, rulers of Florence, for his ability to capture the individuality of his sitters, while emphasizing their aristocratic demeanor. Maria Salviati, as in other contemporary portraits of her, wears the clothes of mourning for her deceased husband, the famous military leader Giovanni delle Bande Nere de' Medici (d. 1526). The little girl holding her hand here is Giulia, a Medici relative who was raised in Maria's household after the murder of the child's father, Duke Alessandro de' Medici (1511-1537). As Alessandro was born of a liaison between a Medici cardinal and an African slave, this formal portrait is the first of a child of African ancestry in European art. Giulia grew up with all the status of a Medici and married another aristocrat. Descendents of hers are alive today.
By the nineteenth century, as the painting changed hands, the identity of the figures was lost. Toward the end of the century the painting surfaced again, identified as Vittoria Colonna, a famous Renaissance poet, widow, and friend of Michelangelo. Good portraits of the poet are known today and the widow in the Walters' painting is not her! Presumably because of Colonna's ongoing fame (and the difficulty for a potential buyer to check on such things then), the dealer thought this name would make the painting easier to sell. The problem is that Colonna had no children; so probably to make the painting consistent with its new name, the child was painted out.
Although the painting was acquired by Henry Walters in 1902, little attention was paid to it until after Walters' collection was bequeathed to the city of Baltimore in 1931 and the Walters Art Gallery was established. Then in 1937 the painting was x-rayed and cleaned, revealing the presence of a child. For years the proposed identification of the child was as Maria Salviati's only child, Cosimo de' Medici (1519-1574), who went on to become Grand Duke of Tuscany. According to this theory, Cosimo, as a young adult, commissioned this image of his mother and himself to honor her attention to his upbringing after his father's death. The problem with this solution is that the child is clearly a girl with her hair in braids and a girl's clothing.
 In the 1990s the scholar Gabrielle Langdon proposed that the child was actually Giulia. After her work came to our attention and considerable research was carried out to confirm this proposal, the identification was changed here at the Walters and the idea slowly began to take shape for a project that would eventually become the 2012 Walters' exhibtion "Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe". The accompanying publication, edited by Joaneath Spicer, is available as a free ebook" (available here:

12/31/1969 Examination examined for condition
12/31/1969 Examination examined for exhibition
12/31/1969 Treatment cleaned; x-ray
2/05/1937 Examination examined for condition
2/05/1937 Treatment cradle removed; x-ray
9/10/1940 Treatment coated; loss compensation; other
1/01/1953 Examination examined for condition
12/21/1960 Treatment other; surface cleaned
12/21/1960 Treatment cleaned; coated
1/26/1971 Treatment re-housed
3/01/1986 Treatment loss compensation; coated
12/04/1986 Examination examined for condition
12/04/1986 Treatment examined for condition; other; varnish removed or reduced
12/04/1986 Treatment cradle removed; examined for condition; inpainted; other; varnish removed or reduced
8/01/1987 Treatment cleaned; coated; loss compensation; other
8/01/1987 Treatment coated; inpainted; other; varnish removed or reduced
11/01/2000 Loan Consideration examined for loan
11/12/2000 Loan Consideration examined for loan
11/12/2000 Examination cradle removed; examined for loan
11/12/2000 Examination examined for loan
10/15/2003 Examination examined for loan
10/20/2003 Loan Consideration examined for loan
10/24/2011 Examination examined for loan

Undercover Stories in Art. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1980.

Going for Baroque. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1995-1996.

Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001.

Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's Ginevra de'Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women. National Gallery of Art, Washington. 2001-2002.

The Legacy of Michelangelo. Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit. 2002-2003.

Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. 2004-2005.

Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton. 2012-2013.

Excursions through the Collection: Portraiture, Adornment, and the Natural World. 2019-2020.

Medici Collections; Riccardo Romolo Riccardi, Palazzo Gualfonda, Florence, prior to 1612 [inventory of 1612, Florence, Archivio di Stato, Carte Riccardi, fil. 258, c.21r-23r, as "un quadro di br.a uno e mezzo della Sig.ra D. Maria Medici con una puttina per mano di Jacopa da Pontormo"] until after 1814 [Florence, Archivio di Stato, Carte Riccardi, fil. 278, as "no 147 un quadro rappresenta un ritratto di donna con una bambina"] [mode of acquisition unknown]; Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome, prior to 1881 [mode of acquisition unknown] [1881 catalogue: no. 79; 1897 catalogue: no. 381, as Sebastiano del Piombo]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.

Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

UFOs and Making Cauls

As you probably know, I have been trying to work through my UnFinished Objects pile(s) while I am in isolation. I have been trying not to start anything new unless it is vital. The last few weeks I have been feeling like my crafting mojo is starting to come back and I have been getting a few things finished. Well, this week I was going through my storage tubs looking for some scarves as it is getting quite cold here. My berets and scarves are in modular tubs under the tubs I keep tie on-sleeves, partlets and girdles in. Rearranging the pile of clear tubs, something caught my eye. I opened the tub and saw these caul pieces. I remembered I had taught a mini-class on caul construction at an A&S night in 2018, and I had obviously put the tub away after the class with the pieces still in it - and totally forgot all about it.
I had to laugh; I just can't seem to escape the UFO pile! Hopefully I can get these finished over the next few weeks and they can be put in the caul tub completed. Also, I suspect that the universe might be reminding me that I need to do a big spring clean and re-organise everything. Hmmm, might wait til it is actually Spring!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Hem Finishing - Brown Dress

I have been working on the final stages of a brown tourney dress that I made early last year. I didn't finish it at the time I made it because I made an error with my Frixion marker that stained the bodice and I have been trying to find a way to fix it. The dress needed hemming, trim and tucks at the hem and some internal finishing and sleeve ties.

                                                                Sewing the seams flat
The hem tucks are tacked and then stitched down by hand
Applying trim at the hem
This is a project that I am working on amongst other things. I would like to add some shoulder puffs too, if I can find the leftover scraps from cutting out the bodice.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

White Partlet (Complete)

Here is another project from my UnFinished Object (UFO) pile that I recently finished. It is a partlet made from a fabric that has square holes finished with machine embroidery. It reminded me of a close netting style. It is cut in the collarless Italian style that I like to wear with my 1530's-1550's gowns.
I cut the fabric out to my standard partlet pattern. I did a small zigzag stitch by machine along all the raw piece edges and then sewed the shoulder and side seams with a straight stitch on the machine. Then I turned all the edges under and sewed them down with tiny stitches by hand.
The next step was to do a hem by hand on all the raw edges. It was a lot more  tedious than my normal partlet hemming because the fabric wanted to distort where the holes were, especially if any of the edges of the hole itself were exposed.
Not my best hemming work, but acceptable. One part that I am considering re-doing is the bit that sits near my collar bone. The hem size is consistent, but because of the way the holes are positioned, the hem sticks out a bit from under the holes. I'm not sure if it will be noticeable while wearing it or not. 
I have two re-working options; unpick and re-sew, or add lace. I do have some lace that I purchased specifically for this partlet, but I am not sure it needs it. When it is time to finally get garbed up again, I will try it on with an Italian gown and decide then. Until that time, I will keep pottering along, trying to finish things, and keep trying to resist the urge to start new projects.
This meme popped up on my social media feed this week, and was too relatable!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Heraldic Seahorse Napkin

I got the opportunity to take part in a couple of excellent online classes yesterday, and was able to practice my double running stitch. I finished embroidering my device on a napkin during the classes.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Partlet with Blue Knotted Embroidery (Complete)

I managed to get the blue knotwork partlet finished this week. This is another project which was postponed because I was not happy with how it was working out. I originally hoped that I would be able to use it as part of my suite of projects for my Heraldic Challenge work (details below) but the frettes were not as prominent as I had hoped. I also used this project as an opportunity to practice my double running stitch (Holbein stitch) and it did not turn out as smoothly as I would have liked. More practice needed!

This pattern was taken from Giovanni Ostaus' 1567 "La Vera Perfettione del Disegno" at
Cleaned image from: 
As always, I am indebted to Baroness Praxilla at Modelbuch Muse. Her page makes finding patterns so easy!
I think I will do some more patterns from this modelbuch in the future.

This partlet is a wide-fronted collarless partlet which was popular in Italy in the sixteenth century. Here are some progress photos on the development of the project:
All visible seams handssewn. I edge my fabric pieces with the machine before hand hemming to provide a bit of extra strength, especially as I usually machine wash my underpinnings.
I use a relatively wide hem, about 6 or 7mm.

The border edging of the embroidery on this chemise (held in the Museo del Tessuto, Prato), inspired the decorative edging at the centre front hem. Image from via Pinterest
 Similar decorative edging can be seen on this English coif c. 1610, held in the Glasgow museum. It is linen base fabric, embroidered in silk and gilt. Number 29.130
I was unsure as to which lace to use. In the end I chose a silver lace that I had overdyed with a blue-black dye to tone down the shade of gilt.
The base fabric on this one is cotton. Linen would be a better alternative but is expensive and hard to find where I live, whereas cotton is readily available and more affordable. Linen is MUCH nicer to embroider and sew though! Similarly, thread is cotton DMC embroidery floss; a more affordable alternative to the much nicer silk thread that I would prefer to use.

Heraldic Display Pentathlon Challenge CHALLENGE 2019-2020
Participants are challenged to create 5 (or more) items from the list below. Challenge runs from now until the 1st May 2020 (or the closest available garbed event.) Displays will be set up throughout the year to showcase the work of participants. At the end of the Challenge, the populace will vote for their favourite items and tokens will be awarded. Heraldry can be your own, or you can make something for a friend, or Guild etc. Be creative and enrich our game with your displays.
1. Banners, flags, pennants, standards and gonfalon etc.
2. Encampment equipment, furniture, tent screens etc.
3. Personal Adornment such as jewellery, favours, tabbards and clothing etc.
4. Equipment such as needlecases, napkins, crockery, water bottles etc.
5. Items for the Barony: any item(s) decorated with the Innilgard device to be donated to the Barony
This Challenge has been extended because face-to-face Lochac events have been suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

UFOs - Sleeve Pile

One of my current challenges is to go through my UnFinished Object pile and prioritise everything,  and to start working through tasks. I still have a large pile of sleeves cut out and waiting to be sewn, so this is something I will be working on over the next several months.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Complete - Heraldic Seahorse Embroidered Partlet

I finally got my heraldic seahorse partlet finished, after leaving it sitting in the Naughty Corner for quite some time. I have not been happy with how the pale lilac thread looked, and I really struggled to see it. I think the below average quality of the embroidery reflects this.
When the split and running stitch embroidery was finally complete, I was disappointed with how it all looked. I added a line of split stitch along the hemline, but it didn't look complete. I added some pale gold cotton bobbin style lace and then added a line of matching gold thread to tie in the new colour.

The seahorses actually look paler than in the photo, and I felt they needed an extra motif in gold thread to tie in the bobbin lace colour and to fill in the negative space. I added the little 'sun/seed' motif found so often in Elizabethan pattern books like Shorleyker's 'A Scholehouse For The Needle'.
I am pleased with the extra motifs and the partlet turned out better than I thought it would. I'm not sure that I will ever love it, but it was a good exercise in perseverance.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Linen Partlet with Purple Flowers

Going through my piles of unfinished projects recently, I came upon this unfinished partlet in the Italian style. The embroidery has been started, but hasn't progressed far. It is worked in shades of purple and grey.
I will keep you posted!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Partlet Decorated With Holly Design

I finally managed to get the hems sewn on the holly partlet, and it is ready to wear. I am pleased with how it turned out, and I would like to do another in different colours in the future.
(It is sitting a little askew on the mannikin here.)

Friday, April 24, 2020

ANZAC Day 2020

On 25th April (here in Australia) we commemorate the service and sacrifice of our armed services personnel. This year due to Covid-19 restrictions, there will be no public gatherings, but we will still remember them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Recipes for Candied Orange Peel

Image from:

"A goodlye secret for to condite or confite Orenges, citrons, and all other fruites in sirrop", a recipe from Thomas Dawson, THE SECOND PART OF THE GOOD HUS-WIVES JEWELL, 1597.

"(1) Take Cytrons and cut them in peeces, taking out of them the iuice or substance, (2) then boyle them in freshe water halfe an hower untill they be tender, and when you take them out, (3) cast them into cold water, leave them there a good while, (4) then set them on the fire againe in other freshe water, (5) doo but heate it a little with a small fire, for it not seeth, but let it simper a little (6) continue thus eight daies together heating them every day inn hot water: (7) some heat the watre but one day, to the end that the citron be not too tender, but change the freshe water at night to take out the bitternesse of the pilles, the which being taken away, (8) you must take suger or Hony clarified, wherein you must the citrons put, (9) having first wel dried them from the water, & in winter you must keep them from the frost, (10) & in the Sommer you shal leave them there all night, and a day and a night in Honie, (11) then boile the Honie or Sugar by it selfe without the orenges or Citrons by the space of halfe an hower or lesse with a little fire, (12) and being colde set it againe to the fire with the Citrons, (13) continuing so two mornings: if you wil put Honnie in water and not suger, you must clarifie it two times, and straine it through a strayner: having thus warmed and clarified it you shall straine and (14) sett it againe to the fire, with Citrons onely, making them to boyle with a soft fire the space of a quarter of an houre, (15) then take it from the fire & let it rest at every time you do it, a day & a night: (16) the next morning you shall boyle it again together the space of half an hower, and (17) doo so two morninges, to the end that the Honie or Suger may be well incorporated with the Citrons. All the cumuing (sic) consisteth in the boyling of this sirrope together with the Citrons, and also the Sirrope by it selfe,and heerein heede must be takken that it take not the smoke, so that it savour not of the fire: In this manner may be drest the Peaches, or lemmons Orenges, Apples, green Malnuts, and (18) other liste being boile more or lesse, according to the nature of the fruits."
Reproduced at:
A transcription of the 1596 edition of The Good Huswifes Jewell can be found here:

This recipe comes from Le Ménagier de Paris, originally written circa 1393 and reproduced at :
"To Make Candied Orange Peel, cut the peel of an orange into five pieces and scrape away the loose skin inside with a knife, then set them to soak in good fresh water for nine days and change the water daily; then boil them, letting them come once to the boil only, in fresh water, and this done, spread them on a cloth and let them dry thoroughly, then put them in a pot of honey until they be quite covered therewith, and boil on a slow fire and skim.  And when you think that the honey is cooked (to try if it be cooked, have some water in a spoon, and pour a drop of the honey into the water and if it spreads it is not done, and if the drop of honey remains in the water without spreading, then it is done), then you must take out your pieces of orange peel and set out a layer in order and sprinkle powered ginger thereon, then another layer and sprinkle, etc., usque in infinitum; and leave them for a month or more and then eat them."

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Productivity In The Time of Covid

We are living in strange and frightening times. For the last fortnight I have been in isolation except for essential medical appointments because I am especially vulnerable to infection. I am regularly house-bound because of illness, but this is something different. Usually I suffer terribly from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) because I am isolated and sick and everyone else is out having fun. All Lochac face-to-face SCA activities have been suspended, so all my friends are now missing out too. Everyone is feeling sad and anxious. Anticipatory grief is a real thing.
My doctors are also playing around with my medication which is affecting my mood, pain levels and blood pressure. Plus a family friend died unexpectedly this week, which was a horrible shock.

I have been feeling low as well as guilty because I feel like I should be counting my blessings and making the most of this time, and I really haven't managed to get anything much done. So many talented people posting tutorials and pictures of completed items online and I am struggling to get the basic stuff like dishes and washing done.

An SCA friend sent me a meme today that really helped. It said something to the effect of "It's OK to NOT be at your most productive during a global pandemic!" Obvious stuff, when it is put like that, but I was so caught up in feeling bad about wasting time that I hadn't thought about it logically.
So if you are feeling the same, please be kind to yourself. It's only natural to be anxious and feel uncertain during a pandemic! Follow health guidelines, stay safe, and do whatever you need to do to get through this time.

With thanks to Violet for the right meme at the right time
And thanks to Cathy for the supportive words and the great title.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Embroidery Designs - Acorns

I hope all of you are well and taking care of yourselves. Enjoy these acorn designs.
From The Needle's Excellency (Boler) - 1634 held at the British Museum  available at Modelbuch Muse

From The Trevellyon Miscellany (1608) available on Pinterest. More information can be found here:

From A Scholehouse for the Needle (1632),  individual pages reproduced on Pinterest

From A Scholehouse for the Needle (1632),  individual pages reproduced on Pinterest

From A Scholehouse for the Needle (1632),  individual pages reproduced on Pinterest

From Lotz 106 by Jean Le Maistre (1564) at 

Pattern from _Lucidario di Recami_ by Iseppo Foresto, published by Jeronimo Calepino, dated 1564. reproduced at Modelbuch Muse