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Changing Seasons

We have left summer behind in Australia and are tearing into Autumn just as the opposite is happening in the Northern hemisphere. On the Gold Coast we are blessed many times over; Autumn , Winter & Spring are perhaps the best seasons with no humidity, endless blue skies, temperatures in the mid-20 degrees centigrade during the day and mid-teens at night.

I am continually stimulated by the beautiful, colourful flora and fauna, the broad, ranging beaches on our doorstep and the crashing waves of the Pacific.

Australia continues to manage COVID well. We hardly notice the impact on the Gold Coast, unlike other parts of the world, and the economy as a result is managing fine. I contrast this with stories I hear from my friends/customers in places like Holland, Canada, France and England where COVID restrictions are severe, the economy and weather unpredictable. I count my blessings daily.


Czarina Alexandria

I keep happily working away in my wee studio. Currently the major task is to prepare for a farewell to Czarina Alexandria who will soon be on her travels to her new home in Holland - at least she will be joining some old (doll) friends and a loving owner!

As I do with all my porcelain dolls, who can all be fully dressed and undressed, I go back to the basics and make sure everything is just right. Maybe I need to replace a piece of jewellery, maybe the wig needs to be spruced up, whatever it takes to make her 'presentable' in her or his new home.

As you can see, the Czarina is being dressed again, having undergone a refresh. I am waiting on new shipping boxes to arrive which I had to order as I had run out of my stock. Once they are here she will be on her antipodean journey.

I'll really miss her. As dusk falls and the half-light envelops the studio, at times she almost comes alive.


Porcelain Marie Antoinette I am also completely re-working porcelain Marie Antoinette's gown. My husband, David, shakes his head at what he sees as needless extra work, but I just wasn't totally happy with her previous gown and have decided to start again. This is where I am right now:

There is a lot more to do, I am re-working jewellery and I have a lot of decorative work to undertake on the gown, but it is taking shape. Along with Mary, Queen of Scots, the Czarina and perhaps Princess Diana (although of course Diana never actually became Queen), Marie Antoinette is one of the tragic queens of history. She was put into a situation from which it was probably impossible to escape. She was married off to the Dauphin of France at the age of 14 in furtherance of a political alliance in 1774 and when the Dauphin became Louis XVI, she became queen. However, her Austrian links were always a source of distrust and as the French Revolution took hold her remoteness from the everyday person compounded the feelings of the populace against her. Richard Covington wrote in the Smithsonian magazine; "With the possible exception of the Corsican-born Napoleon, another outsider who overstayed his welcome, no one haunts French history like the Hapsburg princess. The frivolous, high-spirited tomboy who arrived at Versailles at age 14 was quickly embraced by her subjects. Yet by the time of her execution 23 years later, she was reviled". Despite having a reputation among the general population to the contrary, she was actually rather prudish and history shows that she deeply loved—probably with Louis' tacit approval, according to a confidante—only one man: Swedish military attaché Count Axel Fersen. However she eventually developed a genuine fondness for Louis and Louis was completely devoted to her. He never took a mistress, something virtually unheard of in an 18th-century French king. She had her faults; famously extravagant she was unable to understand the thirst of the everyday man and woman for democracy. But she did not respond to news that starving Parisians had no bread by saying: "Let them eat cake". This quotation was first credited to Maria Theresa, the Spanish princess who married Louis XIV more than a century earlier. Many have debated whether Marie Antoinette brought on her fate or whether she was a victim of circumstance. Yes, she advocated the then accepted doctrine of absolute royal power but her many acts of compassion included caring for a peasant gored by a stag and taking in a poor orphan boy and overseeing his education. "She was so happy at doing good and hated to miss any opportunity of doing so" wrote Madame Campan, the First Lady of the Bedchamber. As I work with her day by day it's hard not to feel a certain sadness for the 14-year old thrust into the maelstrom of 18th Century politics. ...


New Projects

I still haven't completely finished my fabric Elizabeth I whom you can see in the background of the photo above of the Czarina. I really must step up to the plate and get her onto the web site. The embroidery on the gown alone is a joy and I have had several compliments from visitors for which I am, of course, very grateful.

A couple of years ago I created some fabric medieval queens after having seen photos of ancient paintings. Their headgear alone was a challenge. I am thinking about resurrecting them - perhaps Eleanor of Castille or Joan Beaufort (Scotland's King James I's queen), unusually a true love match.

Here's a photo from my files. Your thoughts are welcome.

As always, keep safe, stay well. Victoria, Lady of Finavon


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