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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Civil War Spoon Bonnet

Here is the finished straw bonnet. This depicts the 1850-1860's era. It is called a spoon bonnet, and has the slanted profile.

The earlier bonnet that I showed had a less sloping brim. This was created with vintage millinery straw over a buckram base.

It is lined in reproduction cotton fabric in a green and cream colorway.

The trimmings are all antique and vintage-polished cotton ribbon, silk satin ribbons, and several velvet and silk millinery pieces.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tutorial-how to stretch your own canvas Part 1

Have you ever wanted to stretch your own canvas, but don't know where to begin? I can tell you from personal experience that it is a gratifying process...but I tend to enjoy the behind the scenes of painting as much as the painting! This will be one part of my process towards a painting from start to finish. I am going to chronicle my next painting, so keep watching for updates.
Tools!! I love them, you just can't have enough. I got a table saw for Christmas one year, and it has been the gift that keeps giving. To begin proper canvas stretching, you will need the following assortment of tools-
canvas pliers (mine are from Art supply warehouse Item #: 602202 on sale through today for 19.99) do NOT bother with the cheaper ones, they tear your canvas.

tack hammer-home depot Husky brand-magnetized on one end to pick up tacks

stapler-love the JT-21-small and strong-home depot
canvas-I am using Fredrix "Kent"
stretcher bars
right angle or t-square tool-home depot
tack remover-home depot
tacks-I am using copper coated from Fredrix, but they are hard to find, Charvin makes them through ASW, but mucho $$ You can use #3 or #6 carpet tacks from home depot as well.
pencil, scissors
braces-home depot

I assemble my stretcher bars, the rounded side should face the back of the canvas. There are different weights, I am using medium duty for this 20x40 painting. My rule of thumb is 18x24 or less can use light duty (fredrix is common brand) Medium duty works about an 18x24 size. I have not worked larger than 30x40, but would probably use heavy duty beyond that size. For your first stretch, try a smaller range-12x16-18x24.

I check for squareness with my right angle tool, and then screw in the braces on each corner.

Place the bar set-up on top of canvas, I like to use one of the red thread edges for keeping straight of grain. Check that you have enough over lap to cover about half of the bar when stretched around.

Mark with pencil around the bar. I use the good side for this, so I can see the pencil. Cut around the pencil, leaving the extra 2-4" on all sides to account for the overlap.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tiny Claus

Here is a little tiny painting I did in class the other day. Our model dressed up in his own Santa outfit and modeled for class. We were doing gesture painting in the portrait class last week. This is a 4x6 oil on board painted wet-into-wet in one session. He is going into my etsy shop. I hope to put some studies in my shop from time to time.

We had a lot of fun, as Fred the model dressed up as a wizard as well.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dicken's Fair Bonnet

Here is a bonnet I have just completed. This is my first Civil War era bonnet. I have created it for the Dicken's Fair which starts this weekend and goes for four weeks. The Dicken's Fair is an event held in San Francisco to celebrate the Holiday season with a Charles Dickens theme. Folks get dressed in Civil war era attire and attend this event. It is set between 1840 and 1863. My bonnet represents the early part of that era. It is made from a buckram base, covered in wool, and finished with antique materials. I used antique silk from the 1800's in brown and black stripes, antique silk picot edged ribbon,and antique mesh ribbon trim.

The inside is lined in black silk taffeta.

This was a hard hat to make, as it has a bowl-shaped back piece made from buckram.

This has to be wired and attached to the crown, and is very fidgety to attach. I have a later spoon bonnet I am working on, and will post a photo of that when I finish it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vintage Circus part 2

Here is the circus set-up for my still life class. We are doing this for two weeks. I try to create small scenes within a larger scene. Students tend to gravitate towards certain objects, and these vignettes help pare down the big scene. In a still life there are usually organic and inorganic objects. I look at organic items like flowers, fruit, and vegetables as having a bit of leeway in their design. Man-made objects like vases, cups, and various containers are more strict in their design. This can create a good balance overall in a painting. If your teacup has a wobbly ellipse, it draws the eye to it in a bad way. A piece of fruit with a little irregularity can be pleasing to the eye. This particular scene involves a stricter drawing phase, there are a lot of objects with perspective involved in their placement.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vintage Circus

My still life class is going to be painting a vintage circus theme for the next two weeks. There will be no clowns in this set-up-they are just too creepy. The exception is pierrot clowns from the 1920s. Gerome did this wonderful painting of a dual masquerade, and it had a pierrot type clown in it. I have been obsessing over this painting, and hope to make a pierrot costume one day for the costume class. Where am I going with this? I don't even have a pierrot toy for this set-up...but was thinking of the mood and inspiration for the vintage circus still-life. There is a Ukrainian artist that paints weird dream-like paintings of his child-hood circus memories. His name is Vachagan Narazya

I have seen his paintings from time to time in art magazines and have always liked their weird dreamy themes. Vintage circus toys are very collectible, and very expensive. I needed to make my own, or find cheap substitutes. I got a toy horse from Etsy for starters. Erik took one look at it and proclaimed it "lame," but hey, what do you want for $5.00?

I also found an antique tin toy carousel-only $2,000-did not buy that, but liked the flag on top for inspiration.

Next were some awesome circus tents made by toy train companies. No lie-these are $3,600.00!!!

More inspiration there! I bought some vintage striped polished cotton, and remembered I had one of those pop-up tents for covering your food at a picnic. I thought I could use that as a base for the tent.

After ripping off the cheesy net lace cover, I used it as a template for my striped fabric. I cut it a bit wider to make the tent shape less domed and more straight-sided. Fabric was added to all sides and a front door was propped open with buttons. The top has a flag made from buckram and painted. It is mounted to some thick foam covered in green paper for stability. The horse got a red felt make-over, and some red feather trim. Yes, it's all a bit garish and cheesy, but we shall see how well everyone paints this scene when you add a little imagination. I have some other props to add to the set-up. The next post will show the scene assembled for the class.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Regency Bonnet Commission part 5-final

At last, the finish and decorative touches for the Regency bonnet. I have chosen some vintage and antique trims for the finish. A spray of emerald green 1920s feathers, antique gold lace, vintage velvet bud spray, vintage metal ribbon, silk satin sash ties, and a large ribbon work piece from various silks. I made the ribbon work piece in materials to coordinate and tie in all the colors.

The top of the bonnet is finished with a button and antique gold lace. I made tassels from antique metal bullion trim. These antique metal trims are hard to find, but were once all the rage in clothing and home decorations. When one finds them now, they have a great old patina to them, a fine deep bronze coloration. I have been collecting all these antique bits and pieces for the last few years hoping to find use for them. Millinery is perfect for these fragments from the past.

I am also showing the other hat my client purchased. This hat is made from a dark brown cellulose straw with that same gold bullion thread woven throughout. I had only enough of the braid to make one hat! It is hand-sewn to a buckram base. I used antique silk satin from the Victorian era to line and decorate this bonnet. I tried to find an antique or vintage lily flower trim, but could not. I made one from the same silk. I cut petal pieces out, sewed them together, and added wires inside each petal. This allows the petals to be shaped any which way. Glass beads and vintage millinery stamens complete this stargazer lily. Green silk was cut into leaves and wired in the same manner as the petals and attached to a silk stem. I hope to make more of these types of flowers down the road. Both hats were shipped off together, and my client expressed her happiness in two new bonnets when they arrived.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Regency Bonnet Commission part 4

Next comes the dark green banding around the pleated crown. I am using a piece of antique silk velvet in a rich forest green. I have to make the cinched top and then attach the velvet to all of the layers.

I flip the hat over and pleat a different silk to the underside of the brim. Now I can add binding all around and cover the padded and wired edge with this silk. The original fashion plate had a puffy edge to the brim, and although I do not know what it was padded with I used a cotton batting.

Finally, I can add the inside lining and seal all the guts of the inside! I don't like looking at the seams and stray threads, and this is one of the more enjoyable parts of the construction process. I added a wire frame to the rough side of the lining. This will help keep the cinched crown from settling down into the crown too much. stay tuned for the final finish....

Regency Bonnet Commission part 3

It is time to build the crown of the hat...this is the top part of the hat, verses the brim which circles around the head. I am using buckram and millinery wire for the base of this. After building the crown, it is time to put the fabric around the outside. I usually build a solid top for the crown, but with this style, I wanted to make an open crown with silk cinched into a small open circle. The fabric for the crown is pleated using a Clotilde perfect pleater board. You insert the fabric into the louver slots and then iron them. After they cool off, you pull out the fabric from the board, and it is equally pleated. It's a great tool.