Friday, January 30, 2015


   I have made good progress on my flat top casket~ I have the entire inside finished and am ready to start the embroidery! WOO HOO!  I have a few things to tidy up paperwork and such boring things....but soon, beads will be flying! This is the inside tray covered in hand marbled paper. Pink and gold are my inside lining colors and I love how they go together! Little box in the back will have a pincushion on top of it, the one to the front will be partially lined in velvet with slots for rings
   Silk lining now in place, and the bottom secret drawer finished. I lined the bottle cavities in velvet
  Pin cushion is covered in  pink silk taffeta on the sides, with velvet cushion on the top.  I had the perfect weensie antique gold metal lace for around the edge. Inside is stuffed with a mix of goat hair and sheep's wool to keep any pins nestled within from rusting.
 I like how its come together so far~ I made three separate secret compartments within the lid~ the two doors will be covered with embroidery. I patterned it after one of my favorite caskets at the Fitzwilliam Museum. I just cant say how excited I am to work on it~ but I hope it shows and I hope all my readers making up one will get really jazzed about theirs and post their progress!! There is nothing better than seeing a friends progress to get the creative juices flowing~ thats why stitch along's are so much fun...and so productive! Speaking of productive.....
 Just look at the progress Raewyn has made on her padded mirror case! She is having loads of fun working on it, which makes me so happy too and even more excited to start up my beadwork again!  You can follow her progress on her blog ~ how exciting to know I have padded mirror cases all around the world~ it makes my heart smile!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Finishing the inside of my Flat Top Casket

 I have always loved music boxes~ especially the huge disk boxes....have ALWAYS wanted one. A good music box is extremely hard to find~ the only ones that I 'like' , as in have beautiful musical arrangements and sound quality, are antique ones, and cost zillions of dollars. A few years ago I ran across a GREAT website on the internet . There is no way I would ever buy a music box, old or new, without being able to HEAR it first...I mean, it makes sense doesn't it? wanting to actually HEAR what something sounds like...when the whole purpose of the thing is to make sound?????  Yet....I could find no one on the internet that sold boxes who had videos or actual sound samples!!!!  That is, until I came across Rick, Steve & Roger at BMB. They have sound samples of all of the movements they sell~ and hey, if they dont have the tune your looking for, they'll make it for you!  They prefer to talk on the phone~ which to me, is a sign they are honest, and committed to their work. The customer matters to them, and they bend over backwards for them. Ill never buy another movement from anyone else, that's for sure!  So last year, I ordered a 72 note Sankyo movement of the Moldau . Oh My Goodness! The arrangement is even better than the 12 minute original!!!!  And even better, its going in the bottom of my flat top casket!!

 Had to make some modifications and add a sounding board to the bottom of the casket first, with a resonant channel going thru the center. Before I glued in the sound board, I got the gold leaf out and gilded the edges

 The movement is heavy, and I didn't want to have to flip the box in all directions to paper it afterwards, so fully papered the outside~ put a wonderful pink hand marbled paper from Dear friend Vito Vernotico on the bottom. Here its all drilled for movement installation and bun feet
 The movement is shipped with a protective plastic cover, which I kept on while working to protect it. Here I have cut 4 mirrors to line the inside of the cavity~ it REALLY makes the inside look huge and wonderful...but too new out come the mirrors  to be antiqued....
 To antique the mirrors, I have to carefully strip off the back paint to get to the silvering, which I then have to treat with while all of this is going on, between steps I whittled four corner brackets from some scrap pine.
  These got a layer of 22k gold leaf and will be placed in the corners to hold up the cover glass, which is needed to protect the movement and keep it dust free
 Aged mirrors installed, I can now measure and cut the cover glass
  After cutting the glass to size, I edged it in gold foil Dresden paper trim in a pretty seashell pattern, and then stitched two pull tabs from the silk I am using for my lining. I used the salvedge edge out, which has a wonderful lush 1/4" of fringing. PERFECT!
After removing the plastic cover and installing the clover glass, the inside of my flat top base is finished! I used a 1620 title page from Livre de Fleurs for the bottom plate~ do watch the video and listen to this gorgeous box, its so fabulous!  If  you decide to go for a movement yourself, (or one of their beautiful boxed movements) be sure and tell them Rachael sent ya!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wm Cooper, a Queen Anne Gentleman

 I keep getting asked if I still make dolls~ the answer is yes! More than ever! The majority of them are custom orders, so much so that between my stitching classes and them, there are very few that ever get on eBay. I wanted to share this fellow with you, he was a special order for Christmas this year...well, I guess last year now!  I have only ever made a hand full of male Queen Anne dolls, and I am so proud of Master William!  I love shoes~ everyone knows that, and on my dollys, their shoes always come first!
 Certain features define a male face, for me~ it is a broader nose and larger eyes than I give my girls. Men are so much more involved than women when it comes to dressing, they are terrifically difficult...but fun at the same time.  They have so many different textures to think about~ buckles everywhere...buttons everywhere...silks and linens ...coarse and fine~ they are at all wrapped up into one. Here Wm is dressed in his at home attire~ shoes, breeches, long sleeve linen shirt, kerchief and waistcoat
 He is off to work ~tricorn under his arm, with wig and coat on!  He wears a full skin wig that I styled with typical side curls~ it can be removed, combed out and washed and restyled. The back is drawn back into a que and contained in a black silk bag, popular toward the late 18th c
  Such a gentleman~ he was a gift intended as a suitor for another Queen Anne Ladye my customer had me make for them a few years ago
 I didn't want him to be a Dandy, with too many frills and frippery~ but a representation of an honest, hard working upper class gentleman
A gentleman for one of my own Ladye's is on the wish list for this year~  As for dollys for offer~ you will be meeting fresh faces soon!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The First of Many Planned 2015 Finishes!

A 17th c Style Stumpwork Embroidered Trinket Box

 I wanted to have my little box done by Christmas, but, if you have read my post on the blasted soie ovale, you will understand why! I do like how it turned out, and even more, that its FINISHED!!!!  WOO HOO!
  All sides are different~ I used it to practice and try threads and stitches I have never done before....kind of like a mini sampler, so I am pretty proud of it. The inside is tufted silk, and it sits up on 4 carved fluted bunn feet.  Emma made me the beautiful candle box it is sitting on for Christmas this year
 The roses to each side of the lion are made up of several detached needlelace petals edged in minuscule gold wire. I edged the motifs in real gold gilt threads, which makes it absolutely twinkle! I will add a video to the last of this in hopes you may appreciate it even more and perhaps want to try it for yourself!  (my padded mirror case does NOT have to be worked in beads you know!)
 Ladye leopard is sitting on a mound of silk chenille, with an iris to one side, and fringed tulip to the other~ I worked real feathers into the petal edges
 The ends are a different arrangement of the same design, the other one has my initials. All is edged in antique gold trim, quite similar to what was used in the 17th c
I love 17th c embroidered book bindings~ often found on little prayer books and such~ the lid I designed after some of my favorite motifs and popular techniques used on them. There are beads on the strawberries, little detached wings on the top butterfly, the caterpillar is done in silk wrapped purl and little snail has a wonderful spiral shell worked in trellis stitch. A wee dainty & quite girly pretty box~ daughter asked me what I will put in it now....and I told her its for all of my most precious Dreams

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Mid 19th Silk & Hair Bonnets

 Is That Real Human Hair, or Silk??
 I have been getting alot of questions as of late about hair bonnets, so thought I would share a few of the ones we have here in the collection with you to try and clear up the current internet muddleness about these bonnets~  are they really real human hair??? horse hair??? silk? How were they worn? Are they wigs?
 I will begin with sending you on a little journey here to Winterthur where you can read all about their 'mysterious' little cap. Really they aren't so mysterious, just not very common.  The cap or bonnet pictured above, 796.2014.49, dates to c1850 and is hand made of a louped and knotted silk fiber.  Most folks readily assume they are made of real human hair, but no, they are not. I will show you a real hair cap in a minute~

Many have corkscrew like curls to the sides and back, which, as they do look alot like the hair fashion of the times, lead people to believe these were meant to be some sort of hairpiece or wig. This leads to just more questions~ did the wearer pull their own hair thru the loupes? Was is supposed to fully cover the head???  Nope!  These are not wigs. Not hairpieces~ just fancy bonnets of the mid 1850s!
The crowns are woven in fancy designs ~ all with the fibers in connecting loupes~ alot like tatting actually 
 The face edges are sometimes plain, sometimes woven in fancy plaits or braids~ all made from the same louped silk fibers
Above are two different caps of the same fiber~ the one to the top, 499.2009.33 is not a fitted type like the one on the bottom~
It is open flat and resembles the type of  fall cap illustrated in the 1854 Godey's Lady's Book plate in the Winterthur article when worn, and yes, it would have been worn over the normal hair dressing of the day
 I left this photo large so you can click on it and really study the cap she is wearing~ a silk cap exactly like the ones shown above~ this c 1855 ambrotype clearly shows these were worn over the hair, and in no way, intended to act or look like a wig.
 This cap, 713.2013.31, on the other hand,  is made from horsehair, and dates c1835-40. Most likely French, it closely resembles the elaborate plaited wigs made there for dolls. I do not believe it is a wig tho, but a cap similar to the ones above, meant to be worn over the hair of its owner and to enhance it. Imagine how long it would take, to sit and have ones own hair plaited in such a fashion~ it would be much easier & quicker to just be able to strap it on!

It can be worn either way~ it has no 'wrong side', including where the ties are attached at the ends
 It also has a fancy band of loupes, but unlike the seamless unending silk fibers of the caps above, if one looks closely the ends of the hair can be seen where one piece ends and another is plaited in
 The back sits open, for wearers own hair (bun) to fit thru
 The entire piece is elaborately woven in different plaits and knots, with a smooth side, and then this loupe side facing up
Even the front band is tightly woven hair~ I love this piece, its one of my favorites in the whole collection