Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mini Update

It's Halloween season. This means that my spare time gets eaten up by sideshow gigs, and I have little to no time to spend on commissions. However, the busk I ordered arrived (yay!), so I can get going on that after the chaos of sideshow gigs is over.

I ordered a Miao hairpin on eBay in September, and it never arrived. I opened a case with the seller, and contacted a wonderful bellydancer  who also happens to sell Miao jewelry. Unfortunately, she didn't have anything to suit my particular needs. So, what to do?

My (awesome, intelligent, genius) friend, Melissa, suggested checking Cost Plus World Market for something appropriate. Lo and Behold, she was right on the money. Have I mentioned how ingenious Melissa is? I came away with a necklace and a pair of wood chopsticks.

With a triangular file and some wire from my jewelry stash, I ground some grooves into the chopsticks and restrung the spokes of the necklace and prepared to attach them to said eating implements. A kink in the plans! The dang spokes were too floppy. The solution? Sandwich the danged things in between two Afghani coins I had laying around from my belly dancing days. With some somewhat haphazard wiring, the boyfriend and I lashed the heavy sucker to the chopsticks, and Voila! A hair ornament that will be seen from a good ways away. It's not particularly Chinese-looking (I play up my hapa heritage for sideshow), but it will do.

Have I mentioned how heavy this sucker is? Those silver coins from Afghanistan don't fool around. Good thing I only wear it for a few hours a night!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Beginnings of Mario Sforza and the Russian Court Dress.

The Russian court gown is coming along sloooowly. Most of this is because clothing from the Romanov era requires the proper underpinnings - specifically, a proper corset.

I started out with a pattern from Ageless Patterns. If you're curious to try using something from this company, you will need a good background in period clothing construction: There are NO instructions. If you have never made a corset before, I would recommend starting off with another company, like Laughing Moon Mercantile. Ageless Patterns is not for the faint of heart. 

 I found the size closest to the customer's waist measurement and proceeded to make a mockup. Now, here's the thing about Victorian corsetry: The more Rubenesque you are, the closer you will come to achieving that lovely wasp-waisted figure that was so popular during the turn of the century. The customer who commissioned this costume is willowy enough that the extremely pinched look can't happen without adding so much padding that it would look unnatural. So, some sort of happy medium will need to be achieved.

I ended up removing the bust gores and two of the hip gores, to achieve a better fit. Also, the dress form is doing a horrible job at filling out the garment, as per usual. So far, the body of the corset is together, and I'm waiting on a busk to come in the mail, before I can continue working on this piece.

In the meantime, I have begun drafting patterns for the Mario Sforza costume. I have the doublet done, and am hoping to complete his slops and sleeves while I await the arrival of the busk. I have no pictures to prove any of this, though, so you'll just have to believe me. Or not.

To make up for lack of photographic documentation, here's a picture of Zita, hiding in my sleeve:

Upcoming Projects

I've got a number of commissions/projects coming up, but since most of them are in the planning stages, I don't have much to write about just yet. But I CAN share images of the inspiration/basis for what I'll be working on.

The boyfriend is in dire need of a new suit, and wants a copy of the burial clothes of Don Garzia de' Medici, which resides in the costume collection at the Pitti Palace, in Florence. I've set him to work on all the gold couching, so this costume is waiting until he's done. In my version, his calze will have 26 panes in total. I believe he has 11 done, so far.

My current project is a Russian Court Gown. This isn't actually the image we're using for reference, but I honestly just couldn't remember where to locate the other one on the interwebz. Right now, the corset is in the middle of construction, and we're waiting on a busk and boning. More on this in future entries (possibly).

Also on the list of to-dos is this portrait, by Sofonisba Anguissola. It will be made for a teenager portraying one of the Medici Boys (Giovanni) at Southern Faire. In all likelihood, this one will be done before the Garzia.

Other costumes in the works include clothing for a retired captain of the Bande Nere, Mario Sforza, a Florentine physician, and a new dress for me. However, I do not have any photo references for these, yet. Stay tuned for more adventures in costuming!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Completely Unrelated Shameless Self-Promotion

First day of my blog, and I'm already breaking my own rules. Sort of.

No, this is pretty much completely unrelated to costuming.

Remember how I said that I'm in an all-girl sideshow troupe? Well, it's Halloween season, which means this is when the bulk of our gigs happens. A number of our shows take place at private events, BUT here's one you can come see: Boo at the Los Angeles Zoo! We'll be performing five shows on Saturday, October 26th. Want to see daring damsels in distressing situations? Because this is your chance! For more info, check out the LA Zoo page at www.lazoo.org/boo/
And for more info on our sideshow troupe, be sure to visit www.facebook.com/sideshowsirens

And just to pretend to tie this all back into costuming, I'll mention that I am the costume consultant for the group and that I made/altered/spiffed up most of my current costume. I intend to make an entry about that costume as well, at some point. But I make no promises.

New Side Project

In between a few different commissions, working on a number of dance costumes, and the Halloween season (sideshow gigs), I've decided to start a new side project. I got re-addicted to cross stitch, and am in the planning stages of developing a new pattern: Francesco de' Medici's coat of arms. If all goes according to plan (read: I don't hate the project before I finish it), this will be displayed in either San Lorenzo's guild yard or safely at home. So far, I've got a black and white copy that I've filled in with color, to get an idea of what I want to do.
I was undecided whether or not the figures (seraphim?) should have blue or green tunics, and gold or burgundy tassels hanging from the Maltese crosses. After coloring everything, I think I'll be going with the light green tunics to tie in with the garlands, and the burgundy tassels, to add weight to the bottom.

Since the original image gets pixelated at even the size of a quarter page, I went ahead and freehanded an approximation of the original image.
It's not perfect, but it's close enough for cross stitch. Also: Yay, tracing paper for creating symmetry!

The image, so far, is roughly 14"x14". The next step will be to get the drawing on a light table, under some graph paper, and fill out the 1/16" squares with color. It's a tedious way to map out a cross stitch pattern, but I don't have a program that will do it for me, and this method will give me the results I want. I also don't have a light table, which means I'll be improvising with a glass-top table that's been sitting in my mom's barn. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

About Me

About Me:

My name is Tamara. I am a costumer, a sideshow performer, a bellydancer, an avid reader, and a tea snob.

 I studied at FIDM, and earned an AA in both Fashion Design and Costume Design for Film and TV. I've worked on a few short films and a handful of theatre productions, but most of my time has recently been spent working on private commissions and costumes for competitive dance.

Did I mention that I also work as a sideshow performer? Cause I do. I perform dangerous and often painful stunts with a a group of beautiful, wonderful, girls. If you're ever in the Los Angeles area, you should check us out - I promise you won't regret it. You can find out more about our fearless feats at www.sideshowsirens.com

I am also a performer at the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire. I've worked there since 2000, and have been a boothie, part of a stage act, and an actor (I'm horrible at the acting part). I am part of the Guild of San Lorenzo, the Florentine embassy from the court of Cosimo de' Medici; with them, I am a street actor and the resident Costume Director.

 This blog will be a place for me to share and keep diaries of my progress on various costume pieces. The content will likely be predominantly Renaissance in period, with healthy smatterings of other time periods/realities.

 Welcome to my blog - I hope you enjoy the ride!