Saturday, October 1, 2022

Unicorn Companions

For the sake of awesomeness that needs to be shared amongst friends. I am going to tell you about the website, Gift of Mercury. It’s a group of overseas artisans that make magical playable fully pose-able stuffed animals. Keep in mind these are not stock they send out they are made to order, so each one is unique and has small variances.

I fell in love with a piece of art this depicted a mythical beast, a cross between a cat and a peacock. I always wondered what an animal would be like in real life. Also would be neat to have more than just a 2d rendering of this whimsical art. Well the folks at Gift of Mercury must have read my mind. 

Peacocat
Then a few years later online, I ran a crossed their Peacocat made by Gift is Mercury. Looked just like the art but a really nice custom stuffed animal. Plus their site seemed to have many more interesting real and mythical beasts.  So I ordered a green version of the Peacocat and she is just like the pictures on their site. My feathered friend hangs out with my Folkmanis peacock puppets on a high shelf. Safely away from my felines who love feathers. High inaccessible shelves are the perfect thing for the felines who like to chew, even on faux fur. Plus anything organic like real fur or feathers, ever the hunters. Certain felines might think this is a rival for cuteness and would want to fight or play with it. s|So safer away with the peacock puppets.

So I was planning on seeing what other wondrous creatures they would create. Lo and behold their third iteration of a unicorn just dropped a few months later. Pleased with my prior purchase, I ordered a custom unicorn this time in beige colors with a silver horn, like a medieval unicorn. She is just done and just loves her. So stinking cute! I sent a picture from one of the Cluny Tapestries of the unicorn in captivity. Basically to show that I was looking for a Medieval-style unicorn instead of something more modern. The only part is a tuft on the chin, which was not included in the sculpture, plus not sure how well the fur attached would stay for an extended period of time. So just left it as is, since everything else is correct.

That was while I was working on the Sun and Moon doll project. Figured these are more dressed like the ladies from the unicorn tapestries and should have companion animals. So I decided to also order a dark unicorn but with gold accents. So these should really elevate the pictures for my dolls. Also, it’s great we have some cool friends for Sun-Aurora and Moon-Luna. Haven’t come up with names for the unicorns yet but have time. The black one is in progress and will be sent photos when done. 

Both unicorns are shipping together, saving the chance that one might get lost. Plus I don’t mind being patient. Will be difficult to not play with the dolls and their new friends when they arrive in the mail. Aren’t we all just children at heart after all? 

Although not sponsored, I would recommend a look at www.giftofmercury.com site as they have some amazing artistry. This time, since not ordering a stock piece. The creative team was in regular communication to get my opinion on my custom creature. You can customize and creature but depending on the changes will depend on if you pay for a small, medium, or large change. Each level of customization has its respective fee. The website explains the process pretty well. Rare few low reviews, you can tell the team really tries to make their customers happy. 

I would say these are meant for play but for older children over the age of 10. Not for rough play but would be a good travel buddy as long as not exposed to the elements. Or left in a vehicle in heat or cold would be rough on most toys. Hoping the cats will have the sense to leave them alone. We shall see, Star my cat decides she wanted to bathe a stuffed animal bunny rabbit, anything is possible. Cat nor the plush bunny was harmed by the bathing but were relocated to a higher spot for safety.

Hoping things are well for you, hanging in here the best I can.

Maureen 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Life’s Twists and Turns

 

It was nice to see the memorial monument was finally delivered to my parents final resting place. My Dad took his time designing the look of the stone. Since they are 8 plots associated with this area, there is room for children and grand children if needed. 

The pictures on the monument are of my parents at a formal dance that they attended in college. They look fantastic! My parents are American history enthusiasts, so there is a Sons of American Revolution medallion on their part of the stone. It’s fitting beautiful place with Bald Eagle Mountain in the background. 

It’s with deep sadness that I deliver this recent news.  We are having another funeral, as my youngest sister passed away last week unexpectedly. I am not going into the details as the obituary composed explains who my sister was as a person. This is a difficult time and wishing for privacy.

Karen Marie Benfer Obituary

If you don’t see posts on here for while, it is because of the busyness with the recent changes in my family. I will post when I can. 

With sadness,

Maureen

Sunday, September 11, 2022

9/11 Never Forget

 


Local Small Fabric Shops Haul



On my mission to buy local and not from big box stores.  Well I found two awesome fabric at two local fabric shops while online. Both are Mennonite run businesses in the next town over but outside in the countryside. Granted, that happens in Amish country. Have to say, the ladies had the most I interesting patterned fabric for their dresses. That would happen if you own a fabric shop no doubt. Still made in the simple style but nicely decorated with printed pattern. 

So the first place was Verna’s Fabrics which I found silk, linen, and linen cotton drapery fabric.  It’s not the typical things she carries. Normally lots of quilting cotton but they are thicker than what you find at big box stores. I can tell she is picky on what is carried in the shop. Happy to see a small selection of linen, bought out all the silk she had, and the drapery fabric. I know I can special order if needed. Looking forward to going back the cottons are just beautiful.

From Verna, I out there was a doll maker close to where I live who passed away some years back. Looking up that person, she was part of a doll club. Although after  but not finding anything online about it. Would be nice to have a club of like minded miniature and doll enthusiasts together. Will have to see if something can be organized. 

This weekend went to Hoover’s Bernina shop. Besides the modern machines they sell, they provide classes and sell fabric and notions. Also lots of quilting cotton too at good quality as well. Although they have faux fur. If found the perfect faux fur trim to go with the Henrician Tudor doll gown that I am making from the brocades at Vernas fabrics. This doll will have an English hood, she is a blonde haired Sun doll.

 I found a dark grey cotton that is definitely in a Renaissance motif, includes some metallic sheen in the fabric. This will also be a Henrician Tudor gown but in the French style. Which I also have trim to match. With a blackwork embroidered shift black velvet and fabrics to complete for another doll. This dolls will have a French hood, she is a dark haired Moon doll. 

Looking forward these two forces of nature, expressed in color ways for their respective celestial bodies. So excited to have a doll project to sew in miniature. Best things on small packages, especially when it comes to sewing.

Working on the Sun Doll now and found the moon doll online and she just shipped. Should be arriving by the time so am almost done with the current doll. 

We shall see how they turn out. 

Maureen 

Friday, September 2, 2022

Six Down Zero to Go

Well after months of this 6-doll series fashion doll project. We are finally at an end. I completed the German-style 16th-century doll. I made sure to include typical colors, fabric textures, and some shiny trim to set off and not clash against all the other festooned dolls in the series. The colors of this current doll outfit are black white, gold, and orange.The wulsthaube head-covering really worked out well with the padded doughnut underneath giving it structure. Its padding is just not needed in the skirts with such thick velvet and precise pleating of cartridge pleats doing their work. The padded hair cover is the same as is recreated by many Saxon renaissance re-creators in the SCA. Really was able to use some reference images as well as tutorials online through blog entries to get this look just right.

I did add a silk organza Medici collar to the Elizabethan doll even though it’s later like the style of the skirt. It goes very well with the doll and I think sets off the look quite nicely.  I will include a picture here for that change. The rest of the dolls are all the same as previously photographed here on the blog. Very pleased to see them and their distinctive style for each region represented.

The dolls are housed in 5 solid walnut cases, 4 stacked on top of one another. The other is on the nearby short curio that contains other dolls.  I stacked the sturdy walnut cases next to a bookshelf in my room for stability. I am creating a YouTube for next month on showing the dolls in their cases and how it looks in the room with the bookshelves. Really tickled pink to be at the end of this project and to have each doll turn out so well individually. 

It’s back to spinning for now till the next inspiration hits. Although I don’t have more room in the doll cases. I liked the formula of porcelain doll head and hands to them assemble the body and creat the 16th century garb. Considering a Holland style doll possibly. Although will fill up my near b my shelf with dolls if I keep making them 14” or taller. Such a predicament, considering brining my gaggle of well dressed doll friends to Fabric, Fiber, and Fighting. 

Will see later in the year if it’s feasible. For now I love them all, I made them all, and I have them all, my 7 year old self is impressed. 

Looking forward to eventing eventually, 

Maureen 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Promotion

Photo Credit by John Lester
Well since it’s official, best tell you about something that has occurred on my mundane career. Mundane meaning everyday society expectations of adult life, (ie adult responsibilities, household requirements, spousal commitments, career expectations) and not SCA life. 

 I have been promoted at my employer in the insurance industry to a leadership role for a team of 8. Just went through the training and start my new shift on Monday. My goals is to better assist my team to be amazing at their jobs and handle the tough situations that come up. Lead by doing and this role so very much on that spirit. Which means it will be challenged everyday, which I can say has been needed for some while in my realm.

It’s easy to be comfortable in an expected task for a career especially when you have been in the role for years. Although the comfort zone is not where one grows and learns. Learning to handle change and the  discomfort of growing pains is part of this new role too. So I have had time to learn the expectations and not it’s time to get on to the doing the tasks. Excited and going to give it my best effort. Time management and organization of myself to better assist others. Here is to hoping I can grasp it all and hit the ground running. 

In SCA life, I do still plan on attending SCA events and will have weekends off for that if desired. Am still keeping my distance from crowded places and not going to thrift shop as much. Rarely leave the house except for groceries and to help at the comic shop. Also trying to avoid too many new places to avoid illness. I do want to go to two events for certain; Fall Aethelmearc Academy and Fabric Fiber Fighting (FF&F). We shall see what is possible, all dependent on what is happening closer to that time. 


Lead by Teaching,

Maureen

 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Five Down One to Go


This gown is meant to be more Spanish in style for this particular doll. Also we have some representation as this doll is silver haired, compared to the blonde, brunette and redhead openings. To achieve a more Spanish style,  I added a high neck pattern piece with this gown as compared to the past ones. I wasn’t sure if the addition she was going to turn out. Luckily it turned out just right filled in the neckline. Then I could rearrange the gold laurel-like trim to fit the new bodice pattern. 

This gown is in a lovely jewel tone green velvet gown with gold details.  The main part of the finishing process is sewing a lot of trim on the outer skirt. It’s not the sheer amount I used for the Elizabethan style doll finished earlier. Although I am glad to be able to use all the training of this trim, it’s lovely to work with. I found the gold Laurel trim at Joann fabrics. I am very pleased with how it turned out and was able to incorporate three different type of gold trim into this doll’s outfit. 

I had a lot of luck with the velvet and lace trim because of using fray check liquid on smaller exposed seams that could pull free from the seam. PVC glue could be used in the same but is much slower drying, takes about 24 hours. Hyde glue that would be boiled down from animal skins, also take about 24 hours to dry fully. The making of hyde glue is a very smelly process from scratch.  

I have to also work on necklaces for this doll too. The necklace day will have to happen on some weekend soon. So the necklace can drape on the front of the gown. Plan on making at least 4 so far. I have what I need for a good chain for the German gown for the final doll in this series. Here is how the room looks like with rearranging the sewing case to the other side near the dresser and then stacking the walnut doll cases. They look impressive but cluttered on the dresser, this way the dolls are better protected.

 I do not have a walnut case for the German 1560 Cranach style doll, that I plan on making soon. So will have to see what I can do with either exchanging out dolls every so often or find a different case. Will see what I come up with eventually, no rush. Spent one part of my weekend collecting tools from my Dads estate. Making a list putting them in tool chests so they can be appraised. Lots of memories and will have even better tools for making some awesome things, thanks Dad.

Cool things to come,

Maureen 


Monday, August 8, 2022

Four Down Two to Go

I was able to complete the next doll on the series of the porcelain court style fashion dolls. This is doll number four of six. This is styled after 16th century French style gowns from the 1530-1550, the puff sleeves were quite a popular style in France that traveled to England. So a lovely French Blue velvet with light gold lace trim. Really set off nicely, a little bit to make a lace crown for fun.

I could see these dresses set off with a beautiful pair of delicate jeweled fairy wings. My whimsy is really having fun with this project if you couldn’t tell.  Although these are more to represent historical fashion gowns that Queen Elizabeth I might have had in her possession. Alternately the fashion dolls she might have had that inspired the court fashion she wore that dazzled and amazed the court. Queen Elizabeth I received many fashion dolls as tokens from fellow royals and gifts for future marriage negations. 

I wish we had the correspondence back from good Queen Bess about her thoughts on the dolls and such other details. Such extant information is just a treasure trove from the time. Glad there is some evidence even if a mention about the dolls in correspondence by other nobles and other royals. It’s just a snippet but it helps. 

On to the next one which is green. Just have to figure out trim configurations for the next doll. Very excited to be on the end of this project. Feeling a small sense of accomplishment. I still have necklaces to finish on these but that can be done as one miniature necklace day.

Miniature happiness, 

Maureen

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Future Pennsic Considerations


Pennsic is upon us! I am not going this year as usual and rarely attend all-day outdoor events. I do not attend Pennsic, except maybe every 10 years. Like a locust I suppose, on a schedule and life, circumstances dictate if I am able to attend.  For the past couple besides the Pandemic, elder care of aging parents was getting in the way. Along with having enough vacation time to go for a week. Even though it's affordable to camp compared to a hotel for a week. Granted now that my parents are gone, I am free of elder care. So less checking in, no worrying about a parent living alone. Not having the responsibilities for them even though it was the main focus of other siblings.


One of the issues I find tricking for outdoor events is in choosing to wear Tudor properly. I find most outdoor events in the summer intolerable in the Northeastern United States, climate change is making this worse. I don't want the majority of my garb to be silk, as Tudor wore wool in copious amounts(please see the Tudor Tailor series of books for more details). During the period the wearing of certain fibers was due to economic trade reasons and availability. By being true to my persona, I have to change the fibers that I would be available to and protect myself from the heat. The settlers in 16th century America had to adapt to the climate. Although if I am sticking to something representative of a person living in 16th century England.

My options are not to attend outdoor events and make the garb with the accuracy in fibers that I desire. Alternately attend outdoor events and have to keep making concessions in fibers that would not be used in the manner in which I would be using them. For example, an all linen outfit styles in the patterns for the Tudor time frame.  I have a few silk kirtles and one linen silk dress and some others I made for a Pennsic out of heavier cotton.  I will have to rethink how I want to approach this for future Pennsic practicality. As I age am more heat sensitive and that makes camping worse. Not fond of hoteling it for a week for that expense, as well as others such as trekking back to the room at the end of the day is exhausting.

By the way, adding the SCA nickname of "Marrin The Dollmaker " would be a fine. Considering what I like to do create dolls, whenever I get a chance.   

Things to Think About,

Maureen 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Drying Herbs

 This year's garden has a wider selection of herbs. For the past few years, I typically tend to potted herbs keep them to keep bugs from hanging out near the front door. So a collection of potted herbs with their essential oils are what creates the strong smells we associate with herbs for cooking and for beauty products.

It has been particularly dry for a period of time this summer, which is good. Most Herbs are part of the Mint family, Lamiaceae. Members of this plan family grow in poor soils. They do not do well when tended to in a manner not consistent with their original environment. For example, most herbs will not do well if you overwater and have rich soil, since that is not the environment that they grow in well. So potting up the herb plant, I put glass beads into potting spoil to help, the soil drains faster and keeps the root ball drier. In this case, drainage is key.  Since it has been dry I do need to water them every few days or they will begin to wilt. The selection for the Lamiaceae I have in this year's potted garden is; Peppermint, Sweet Basil, Italian Oregano, Rosemary, Catmint, Lemon Balm, Spanish Lavender, German Thyme, and Garden Sage.

I did a small harvest to start drying all of my herbs.  The best method is to tie bundles and let them dry naturally over 2-4 weeks. The microwave or food dehydrator will pull out many essential oils when using this method. Unfortunately, it defeats the whole purpose of drying and keeping the oils in the leaf.

So far I have dried and mixed equal parts of Lemon Balm, Catmint, and Peppermint to make my own herbal tea.  Will have to get my tea ball out and give it a try. The other herbs will be used for other purposes and not for cooking. I will later harvest in the fall for cooking and set up a spot away from feline reach. Feel very connected to the Creator when tending to the plants and it's very calming.

Hoping Everyone is Well,

Maureen

Peacock

Peacock

Tudor Q and A

What is a Tudorosity?

A mashed combination of the words Tudor and Curiosity to create the word Tudorosity. Tudorosities is the plural form and the deffinition is as follows.

Tudorosity- an desire to learn or know anything about the Tudor dynasty associated with years 1405 through 1603.

Most people ask my why I make the Tudor garb ?

I find the clothing of this era not only beautiful but also challenging to sew. There is much more care and purpose put into making garments and wearing garments in the Tudor Era. I love the look of Tudor so much I wanted to explore the way clothes were made back then and the subtle changes in fashion and styles of time.

How did you get started in this interesting hobby?

I started with art first, I love to draw, paint, and sculpt all the traditional fine arts. So being able to draw helps me visualize the looks I want to create in my garb. History has always been a huge interest of mine and I've had a knack for sewing since I was 7 years old. It all started with doll clothes and I learned cross stitch embroidery from my grandmother when I was little. I am self taught sewer, crochet, knitting, embroidery and tatting. My methods are learned from books mainly and there is still so much more to learn.

What is my favorite outfit and why?

It would be like picking a favorite out of one of my future children, its impossible. I love all my gown creations and really like the distinct differences in all the styles clothing I make for the Tudor Era.

Do you make the whole outfit including hat, shoes, and undergarments?

I do have a goal of making a complete Tudor from the skin out. As of right now I make 90% of my gowns and accessories. The shoes and stockings, are bought online and the petticoats are a close reproduction but not made by me. .

How long does it take to make a gown?

It all depends on the type of gown. The making relies on the time period and class of the design. Generally if I work on it 8 hours a day on a sewing machine it will take 3 days to get the basics and another 5 days to do finish hand-sewing details and beading. So a week to a week and a half if working on it steady for that amount of time. I work a full-time job so it does take longer than a week to complete. I put over 40-100 hours per outfit depending on its complexity, its like its own full time job of sorts.

Do you make renaissance clothing for sale or custom orders?

No, due to new employment and changes in my lifestyle. Unfortunately, I have no time to support sewing for others. Though I recommend sewing lessons for those adventurous few. There are many fine folks who make and sell historical clothing. I suggest guidance with sew from many fine historical enthusiastic costumers out on the internet.

How long have you been making these elaborate costumes?

I have been in the Society of Creative Anachronism coming up on my 18th year. Active since 2004 working at demonstrations and volunteering when I could between working and other life's distractions. I really concentrated on Tudor sewing in 2007 and worked with patterns to learn proper fabrics, techniques, fit, and silhouette. I really enjoy the eras transition from a medieval form fitting layered cotterdie to the boned Tudor kirtle and then to structured Elizabethan clothing.

Lady Willoughby

Lady Willoughby

Tudor Rose

Tudor Rose

Peach Elizabethan Noble

Peach Elizabethan Noble

Tudor Rose

Tudor Rose

Mauve Waistcoat Elizabethan Gown

Mauve Waistcoat Elizabethan Gown

O’Kealy Heraldry

O’Kealy Heraldry