måndag 31 juli 2017

The Princess and the Pea

This summer I tried my first hardcore reenactment event for the late 15th Century, and my biggest struggle was to find a proper bedding solution. As the organizers proclaimed that they were not able to provide straw for beds I had to find some kind of mattress that could travel easily in a car and still support my rather old and aching body. So yes, I had to cheat a bit.

I simply sewed covers for a modern foam mattress in hemp fabric so that it would at least not shine modern that much. And the covers can later on work as a cover for a straw mattress when that opportunity comes.

I also dreamed of making a pair of the very typical blue checkered pillows that we can see in so very many illuminations, but I haven´t been able to find the right fabric for them. But I did have red-checkered handwoven linen in my stash, originally curtains in my parents-in-laws library. And I did manage to find a few illuminations showing red-checkered pillows. The fabric was just enough for two ordinary sized pillows and I had two nice feather pillows that would do nicely.

My biggest fear was being cold, so I decided that just woolen blankets wouldn´t do and hence sewed a duvet cover out of unbleached linen table cloths from a charity shop, washed numerous times and hence very smooth. And then a modern fibrefilled duvet. And to top it all I got my handwoven woolen blankets, big, thick and very warm. With just my head sticking out, I decided that my striped woolen cap a la Albrecht Dürer would do nicely as a night cap.

And yes, I slept like a princess. Never cold even though the nights were very damp and freezing.

onsdag 5 juli 2017

Amber kirtle

I have for quite a while yearned for a very plain kirtle for working, with a higher neckline than I usually do and a wider sleeve so that I can easily get them up and out of the way for cleaning dishes and the like. I gathered a number of images on what I was aiming for and then suddenly I bought The fabric on an impulse early this spring, a thin wool in a twill weave and a lovely amber colour.

Some of my main inspirations are mainly three paintings. In all of them you can clearly see a front opening, the two latter ones also show a higher neckline and they are also very plain in model, no details like open sleeves, visible decorations or anything.
Detail from the Paumgartner Altar. The front opening here seems to be slightly bulging, an interesting effect that I tried to accomplish with mine as well.

Detail from the Schottenaltar

Lots escape by Albrecht Dürer

My version of this kirtle is not lined other than two small strips of linen along the front opening, to serve as a support for the hooks and eyes. They are placed evenly and with at most two centimetres apart along the front making it a steady fastening.
Detail showing hook and eye-closing in an Italian painting
My version of the closing, I choose a simple inserted piece of lining instead of lining the entire bodice.

The skirt is simple and fabricsaving, a twopieced front and a straight back with some small pleats towards the waist. And I made the bodice loose so that I can easily fit an extra kirtle under it should the weather be colder. The sleeves are a simple S-curve with a small inserted gore towards the shoulderseam.
And here is the result.

söndag 11 juni 2017

I might need to make a new dress for this shift

As many may know, I am a huge fan of the art of Nüremberg artist Albrecht Dürer. One of my absolute favourite pieces is his portrait of the Young fürlegerin with her hair in braids. I have looked at this so many times and I still find new details in it. Now I want to look specifically on her shift, or hemd as it is called in German.
It is a lovely hemd, with an embroidered smocked front and black lining along the neckline. But as one looks at many different portraits and paintings from the same time and region, I noticed something about that neckline. The back seems to be drawn down towards the front so that the back neckline also covers the entire shoulder. I will try and illustrate what I mean with some more pictures.

Wolf Traut, Portrait of a woman, Nüremberg 1510

Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of a woman

Detail of a painting, showing the Young woman in green in a similar hemd
The back seems to be a rounded line, not indicating a seam or anything other than over the front shoulder where it meets the front.

I found this a bit intriguing so I had to experiment a bit with a simple version af a hemd, where the back is wider than the front, thus curving down over the shoulder and forming that seamless line down the front.

So my version is a plain shift in two pieces, two sidegores and sleeves and in order to clearly illustrate the slanted backpiece/shoulder, I put in a small lining of the neckline in black silk. Here it is:
The shoulder part hanging down in the front

The hemd when done

Construction with sidegore sewn directly to the sleeve

Worn with my blue Hausbook dress over it

And clearly I have nothing to wear on top of it, since all my dresses are fairly high in the neck and doesn´t show anything of the shoulders.

söndag 15 januari 2017

Going down the famous rabbit hole

As active within the SCA you choose a persona and a name to use within the society. I changed my name somewhat some years ago as I had trouble documenting the name I formerly used and I also strived for something more fitting for my favourite period and region. Hence the Tucher as my surname. It was easily documented and it tied me to some of my favourite female portraits from late 15th Century Nuremberg, the ones of Felicitas and Elisabeth Tucher, both painted by Albrecht Dürer during the final decades of the 15th Century.

When you base your persona on such a wellknown family as the Tuchers of Nuremberg (you could compare them to the Medicis from Italy durong the same timespan) the possibilities on persona-related research are endless. As I visited Nuremberg for the first time my friends took me to see Tucher Schloss, one of many homes of the Tucher family, and there I bought a book on the family, its history, connections, impact on the arts, their trade routes, yes a lot of things to geek over.

And as I was preparing for my elevation to the Order of the Laurel my friend Elsa gave me a unique gift, that of trying to find out more about the family through the family archives still preserved in Nuremberg. This is now an ongoing project and I am soo looking forward to see the results.

But in the meantime I can do some research on my own, based on some of the many family portraits and the Family tree and other facts in the book. The Tucher family were huge patrons of the arts and commisioned portraits as well as more official art for churches. And as far as persona research goes, following the routes of their buisness is a potential goldmine.

Focusing on Felicitas and Elisabeth, married to two brothers in the younger family line of the Tuchers, and their mother in law, Ursula Tucher, here are some facts.
Ursula Tucher, second wife of Hans VI Tucher. Portrait by Michael Wolgemut.
Hans VI Tucher married his second wife, Ursula Harsdörffer, in 1481. His eldest son, Hans XI, married Felicitas Rieter the year after, 1482. His brother Nikolaus II married Elisabeth Pusch in 1491. The portrait of Ursula was painted in 1481 and it is a double portrait with her husband to be, Hans, holding the ring.

Felicitas Tucher, portrayed by Albrecht Dürer

Elisabeth Tucher, portrayed by Albrect Dürer
The portraits of the daughter in laws are clearly painted about a decade later, most likely around 1491 when Elisabeth was married to Nikolaus. Notice the ring in her hand? These two later portraits were painted by Albrecht Dürer, who was an apprentice of Michael Wolgemut who painted Ursulas portrait. Both of them lived and worked in Nürnberg and they were among the most famous artists who got commisions from the Tucher family. Dürers portraits definetly shows some influence from the italian art that he studies on his travels.

The portraits of Felicitas and Elisabeth show them wearing similar dresses with gesperrketchen. I have been wondering about the letters in the ketchen, HT in Felicitas portrait and NT in Elisabeths portrait. And as I looked into the Family tree this morning, finding them and their husbands there, it was suddenly clear. It is the initials of their husbands. Strange for our modern minds perhaps, marking your wife like that.

One has to wonder how life was for these three women, most likely living together. Living in one of the richest families and meeting with some of the finest artists of their time. Felicitas married into the family just one year after her mother-in-law, were they friends as they most likely were of similar age?

To be continued...

Socks for the ladies

When reenacting 15th century you tend to just make knee-high hose if you are a lady and long for something less warm during those hot summer events. And then came the short sock in linen, usually referred to as the Tross-frau sock. Whilja has the most thourough description of it here:
Well I could not possibly use that now, it seems to be later period? Imagine my happiness when I stumbled over these ladies feet. Look closely and you'll see that they are wearing what definetly looks like short white socks. Possibly with a black edge and a slit in the side. 

Konzil von Konstanz Prozession, Wien Austria Nationalbibliothek Cod 3044, fol 44r

Konzil von Konstanz Procession, Wien Austria Nationalbibliothek, cod 3044, fol 45r
I have looked at the different interpretations of the so-called Trossfrau sock, many based on the german extant one in linen exhibited in the Altes Rathaus in Regensburg and found that most see it as a 16th Century phenomenon. My first thought was that this must be what these ladies are wearing. But the cut does not look the same at all.
Linen sock in Regensburg, photo by Elsa Hahma

And then I remembered the naalbound sock from Uppsala, with a slit and a black edge. Doesn't this look exactly like what these ladies are wearing? And it is shaped to follow the shape of the common sidelaced 15th Century shoes. So I guess I will have to order some new footwear for the summer. Even though it's not a linen sock a short sock is still by far less warm to wear during hot summer days than kneehigh hose.
Naalbound sock from Uppsala, possibly late 15th Century