Thursday, November 6, 2008


This is one of my old costumes which I made about 8 years ago... the gown's silk brocade with silk/metal thread braid around the neckline, cuffs and hems; that's been beaded with glass beads, freshwater pearls, and cultured pearls (see inset). The gown has side lacing and a fairly full skirt.

With the gown goes a headpiece and veil, done 'Eastern-style' (i.e. the veil is black and beaded, and the headpiece is a circlet raised at the front, taken from a contemporary Armenian Ms pic). The veil is very fine silk, embroidered with silver thread (which has tarnished a little) and black glass beads, the headpiece is a silver circlet backed with stiffened black linen and embroidered with pearls, turquoise, garnet and glass beads, and silver filigree flowers. It weighs a bloody ton and I'm relieved to get it off at the end of the day... There's a lovely story I read (quite!) a while back, involving a wealthy young woman who suffered incurable headaches who went to seek the help of a doctor/abbot/wise man (I can't remember the details, dammit!); they tried all sorts of lotions and potions and praying to saints and nothing worked until one day (having grown to know the lady quite well) he asked her to remove her veil and head dress so that he might examine her head - and mirabile dictu, the headache disappeared! LOL I guess she slept and bathed in the bloody thing too...

The pouch is pigskin, dyed a dark red (maroon or burgundy, as you please), and one of the hardest things I've ever had to put a needle through - it seems to grip onto even the finest beading needle! The design is taken from the Maciejowski Psalter, and it's decorated with brass filigree flowers, brass rondels, and coral and blue glass beads.

Off the belt hangs a number of goodies (keeping in mind that clothing of the period didn't have pockets, hence the need also for the pouch): a comb (cow horn, the first one I made and fairly coarse, but it works and is smoth enough not to snag hair), some keys (some for decoration some are actually to a couple of my trunks), and an early sort of a chatelaine - a needlecase, a pair of snips in a sheath, a sharpening stone, and a small jar of grease for my perpetually chapped lips - why do they always hold medieval events on dry windy days?!

The one thing I seem to be missing (and now I'll have to make a new one...) is a utility knife...

Oh yeah, when it's all together it looks sort of like this (the walking stick is hand-carved with a whale's-tooth head, and I have it because my sciatica was playing up):

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