Where have the days gone? It seems like only yesterday that my husband, David and I were on a short cruise to north Queensland. We visited Cairns and Port Douglas and the Great Barrier reef then returned home. I immediately set about finishing Kate and Charlotte and shipped them to their new home in the USA. Then it was full steam ahead to ready the house for Christmas.
I mustn’t complain, however, I know there are many, many people who would swap with me in a flash and I almost feel guilty that we are so fortunate when you hear about and see all the atrocities around the world. We do our bit, but it is the merest scratching on the top a crumb in the scheme of things.
On the cruise, one of the things that made me smile was the wash towel figures prepared by the lass who looked after our room. The elephant here, particularly caught my eye!
However, although it was good to see new sights, in truth we were glad to get home.
As I mentioned above, once home, I finished Kate in her coronation robes, which included her cape and her ‘inside’ gown and sash so her new owner will be able to change her appearance as she wishes.
Charlotte was also completed. This was a little more of a challenge because I had to ensure the proportions were correct.
I used the diagramme opposite to get the measurements of the body before working on the clothes.
Once this was ready, I spent quite a lot of time on the intricate embroidery on Charlotte’s dress – a detail not immediately obvious until you start examining the outfit under a microscope.
I was also able to obtain a repilca of the Order of Victoria from which I recreated Kate’s decoration that is the centrepiece of her cloak. That was fun!
Eventually, all was ready and then I had to package them in separate boxes to go on their journey to the USA. Fortunately, as they are fabric and smaller than my porcelain dolls the postage was much more reasonable!
I have included some photos taken before I started packing:
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I have started thinking about creating a medieval doll. And I had been considering the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine.
However, the more I thought about it in my spare time on our cruise, the more I felt drawn to costume from the 14th and 15th centuries rather than Eleanor’s 12th century.
In the 14th century fabrics were frequently embroidered, the headgear more extravagant and the fabric displayed a range of light and bright colours. The weight of the costume mandated a formal, dignified movement with the back held rigid to support the mantle. Skirts were always cut longer than the wearer - they had to be lifted when walking.
In the 15th century, designs enabled a lyrical and graceful movement, not dissimilar to the 14th century but fabrics had become heavier and more substantial and women were wearing a tight belt that forced the breasts up and the stomach out.
Later in the 15th century women were wearing soft, rich materials including velvet, and while colours varied from deep and rich to light, muted shades, black had now become very fashionable. The costume had a low and wide neckline with a deep V at the front and back. The neckline revealed shoulders and breasts and a high waistline features a wide, stiffened belt. Skirts are cut circular to develop into a train at the back.
So who to choose? I am thinking about Elizabeth Woodville – a central figure in the Wars of the Roses.
Later known as Dame Elizabeth Grey, she lived through this violent and eventful period which witnessed a series of battles for the English throne between the houses of York and Lancaster, both of which descended from Edward III. She was Queen of England from her marriage to King Edward IV in 1464 until he was deposed in 1470, and again from Edward's resumption of the throne in 1471 until his death in 1483.
A woman of great beauty, she was already a widow with two sons when Edward IV married her. However the marriage threatened the ruling House of York because she was a daughter of the Lancastrians, the traditional enemies of the Yorkists. Worse, she was also not of royal rank. Her procurement of high offices and titles for her relatives also added to her widespread unpopularity.
Despite producing two surviving sons and five daughters, immediately after the death of Edward IV, Richard challenged and defeated the Yorkists, seizing the throne from the 12-year-old Edward V. Soon both sons disappeared, possibly murdered (the Princes in the Tower) although recent research indicates that they may have survived and led subsequent revolts only to be defeated.
A woman of substance and consequence, then!
Other candidates are Margaret of Anjou and Anne of Bohemia.
Richard II married Anne of Bohemia in 1382 when they were both 15 years’ old. Her father was the most powerful monarch in Europe at the time, ruling over about half of Europe but Anne brought no dowry and little political benefit so the marriage was not popular with the English aristocracy and parliament.
The "two wispy teenagers" soon fell in love and over the years the king proved truly devoted to his new wife. They were married for 12 years, but had no children and then, disaster. Anne died of the plague in 1394. Richard was so grief-stricken that he demolished Sheen Manor, where she had died and historians have speculated that his unwise conduct in the years after Anne's death came about because she no longer advised him and this lost him his throne.
Margaret of Anjou (1429 – 1482) was the queen consort of Henry VI and a leader of the Lancastrian side in the Wars of the Roses. Her marriage to the ineffectual, mentally unbalanced Henry VI was arranged as part of a truce in the Hundred Years’ War between France and England over the rightful heir to the French throne. Margaret appears many times in William Shakespeare's history plays.
I’ll keep thinking on it while I finish Marie Antoinette.. Any ideas from you, my readers, as always are very welcome.
Have yourself a wonderful Christmas. May it bring peace, joy and happiness. And when the new year arrives, I wish you health, more happiness and prosperity.