I hope everyone had a good holiday, and that it wasn't too stressful! it can be such a mad time of year that I often end up feeling quite exhausted when it's all over. This year, however, has been lovely. No mad running around, and plenty of time to recharge the batteries. Of course, a week back and it's now just a vague memory...!
I spent alot of time working on buttons (what a surprise!). I have been trying to put together a complete range of samples, and of course getting sidetracked by trying to work out other buttons. One in particular, a photo of which can be found in one of the V&A Fashion in Detail books was really a challenge. I still don't think I've got it quite right - its difficult to see the detail even in such a clear photo, but I was still pleased wth the result.
I also worked a little bit on my 'make-do' gimp machine. Try as I might, I can't find a supplier of silk gimp. I have found a great source for rayon gimp (Texere yarns) and to be honest, it looks so much like silk that it will be a very good substitute. But, there are many people who would prefer 'authentic' which means that I need to be able to make my own. Basically, the core thread needs to be spun whilst the silk is wrapped around it. But, the twist in the core thread has to be 'taken out' at the other end, so a swivel needs to be set up. I have previously used a weird set-up, utilising my sewing machine, but to be honest the speed was such that I couldn't easily keep the gimp tidy. So I have instead set up something with a hand drill. This of course limits the lengths that I can produce, as I need to work the hand drill whilst wrapping, and it also takes a bit longer, but it does result in nicer gimp.
Making the pieces of experimental gimp led me on to using them (my first use for the gimp is knots on tassels - found particularly on medieval purse tassels), and so, inspired again by the fantastic V&A fashion in detail books, created this little item of passementerie. Not a replica, more an interpretation, and I think this will eventually grace a contemporary handbag.
I have also spent a great deal of time weaving a very fine 15c silk girdle. It has been very satisfying, as it is going so well. (touch wood - it isn't finished yet!). It's a lovely slate blue coloured silk, using very fine threads. There are 88 tablets and the design is a checkerboard pattern running the length of the girdle. It took an incredible amount of time to warp up - although only one colour, because of the technique I am using I decided to use my warp-weighted tw loom; so, each tablet needs to be warped individually in order to hang weights from them (bags of pennies in this case). Despite the very long time in warping, it was worth it. The tension has remained consistent despite so many tablets and such fine thread, and its been a real pleasure to weave. I'll post an image of work-in-progess soon.
I also had a chance to actually sit down and read. Its been quite a while since I read a good piece of fiction, such as research tends to be these days. As I mentioned before the holidays, I read Outdoors, by Bailey Ferry. Excellent! Very quirky - its a futuristic story but not at all what you'd expect (no-one out in space!). It made me laugh in quite a few places and I really didn't expect part of the ending... and the mad outfit worn by one character, with chevron braids and monkey fist knots really surprised me! :-). He's a new author - this is his debut novel - and I'd really recommend it. (Its nice knowing people [we share the same web server] so that I get wind of these things!)
I'll be updating my site over the next few days with pictures of some of the buttons I've been working on, so do have a look through the gallery.