Monday, 4 February 2013

Two Special Ladies, And The Worst Baker In London!

I know I've mentioned her before a few times, but as she's an ongoing project between me and the wonderful Linda of Dragon's Wire - I thought I'd get around to showing you all a few proper photos of my Elizabeth I.

I was approached by Linda with the kindest offer, completely out of the blue, offering to make me any accessories that I may want for my dolls from her stunning crochet wire and beads. As soon as I saw her work the doll I'd been dreaming of making for years came to mind.
I've always wanted to make Elizabeth. Even though she's not my usual style, as I find her fascinating. And with the immense amount of information, some factual and some if it myth, about her available, and the perfect fit of Linda's amazingly delicate wire work with the era that she lived I found myself thanking Lovely Linda and mentioning that when I finally got around to making my Beth I'd be in touch with her to talk of what we could do together.

We both got so into the idea of making Beth that before I knew it we were planning out clothing, researching different ideas and making up samples. It all came so naturally and it's been such a joy working with another artist. Especially the new friend I've found in Linda.
She's always been so friendly and approachable, explaining her end of things so that I can understand more the ways in which she can construct tiny tiny jewelled items. And then me trying my best to explain to her how I'll construct and support the heavy silk brocade we chose to use for her gown and the different shapes I've learnt to make for her ruff. We seem to think very much alike, and it's all gone to prove to me that even though you may have never met someone face to face it doesn't stop them becoming a special part of your life.
The only problems we've encountered have all been to do with the fact that I'm here in Wales and she is miles across the ocean in Florida. And of course how difficult it's been with delays caused by the time difference, distance and postal services.
Sending samples back and fore has had to be thought about closely. Linda sent me the most amazing box of samples and gifts, including a stunning witch called Hazel that has pride of place on my book shelf. And I've sent her a box of goodies that I'm still waiting to arrive with her. There have been A Lot of photos send back and fore to each other, with the odd pic of one of our cats to share too :)

Right now we're about half way through and as you can see, Beth is sitting pretty waiting for her next stage which will be when I get the first layers of finished wire lace from Linda. She looks pretty much finished I know, but no where near as dazzling and detailed as a queen needs to be. By the time we're finished with her Beth's gown will be scattered with tiny motifs and bead work, all embroidered onto the fabric by hand (this bit scares me as I've not done much embroidery in years and her skirts are huge!), with a dramatic ruff and sparkling supportase, dripping necklaces and pearls, with her own tiny detailed fan and cross, and a stunning crown.
I could never come to a final cost for Beth due to the massive amount of silk fabric that I've used, the tiny details involved, and the massive amount of work being provided by Linda. So as you can imagine this very special lady with her bright burgundy red hair is all for me :)
I don't keep many dolls for myself, but this one is so special I couldn't dream of ever parting with her.

The doll you can see here with my Beth is Cerridwen, and she's Linda's doll. In the traditional way of trading skills as Linda works to provide me with exquisite wire lace for Beth, I'm working to create her her own doll.
I can't go into a lot of detail about Cerrid as Linda herself doesn't even know who she is yet and I don't want her finding out as it's part of the surprise :) If your interested I'm sure you can find some details on the internet, but she has a lot of legends surrounding her and I'm working on just one as it's my favourite. She knows that she's a very important Welsh lady from many years past, dressed in a medieval style that fits her time in history, and she's seen the photos I'm now showing you too. But the final details, who Cerridwen actually is and all of the final finishing touches she'll be getting to complete her and make her who she really is I'm keeping to myself for now until she's done :)
Linda only asked that I use the same fabrics as I used for Beth, and she's chosen a silver grey streaked hair colour for her. Linda's first plans to make a beaded tourmaline Juliet cap for her which I know will look just stunning.

I've been a busy girl as always and between stitching for Beth and Cerridwen I've been making a new doll for the shop - Mrs Margery Lovett.
Sweeney Todd is one of my favourite stories (I have tones for favourites I know, but am totally addicted to books), and Mrs Lovett is a strange and mysterious character.
Can you ever imagine being depraved enough to consider cutting up and baking another human being. And then having the nerve to go and sell her revolting pies to her unwitting customers.
Was it some sort of twisted depraved love for Mr Todd that convinced her to do it, or was she as I suspect her to be - just totally out of her tree!
The story itself is a mix of legend and fact all blurred together and mixed around until it's hard to tell which bits are true. But there are accounts in Britain and in Europe of people using human remains as a replacement for hard to come by legitimate Meat.

My Mrs Lovett here is dressed so far in a plain but attractive (I think) stripped cotton dress over a few layers of plain petticoats. As a working woman supporting herself I didn't think that she would have had the time to make or the money to buy expensive ruffled petticoats (like the one I first made her and dismissed :S) or a set of expensive and impractical hoops or a crinoline. And I found this lovely stripped fabric, that's the nicest softest cotton, on Etsy.
She's also always struck me as a vain woman in many ways, always trying to show herself off as better off than she is. Dressing herself up in trimmings and lace when she can find them cheap enough and ending up looking gaudy and overdone like one of the renowned Fleet Street prostitutes.
I'll be using the burgundy red silk you can see here with Mrs Lovett, and a quantity of black lace, to trim out her simple plain dress and "dress her up" with bits of finery. And I can't wait to get started on her hat.
I've already added to her sleeves and bodice and tonight am planning to work of some pleating and back details for her skirts.
I'm going to have to make sure to make her some pies too. But as a Vegetarian myself I think they'll be strictly for show only :)

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