Jun. 25th, 2006

labricoleuse: (shakespearean alan cumming)
This project overview is the first in the category of "Haberdashery," a term whose meaning varies widely--in the US, it typically refers to men's accessories, whereas in the UK it's synonymous with notions and trimmings.

In this context, i'm using it as a catchall craftwork term for items that don't neatly fit into other project categories (Footwear, Headwear, Dyeing/Ageing, etc); to wit, the unusually-structured brightly-colored ruffs made for the American Repertory Theatre's 2001 production of Shakespeare's Richard II.

2 photographs )

I was given the embroidered organza in the color the designer wanted, but every other material used had to be dyed to match--heavy nylon crinoline, cotton-wrapped millinery wire, bias tape, twill tape, a thin nylon horsehair-braid, and a cotton/acetate-blend brocade. I used a range of different dyestuffs, primarily Aljo's line of nylon/acetate and cotton/rayon dyes, and Rit. There were five ruffs--the two wine/burgundy ones pictured, as well as a rust-colored one and two fuchsia ones (these two were cut from the final production).

The research photos provided were of the large fluted ruff that the vampire-bride Lucy Westenra wears in Bram Stoker's Dracula. In order to create the ruffs themselves in this style, i stitched tiny channels in a radial formation and made "bones" from heavy-gauge millinery wire. Along the outer edge, narrow horsehair was sewn beneath the densest part of the embroidery to make the ends retain the springy half-moon curve. For the ruffs that needed to sit up just beneath the actors' chins, i created the underpropper foundation structure you see in the first photo up there--essentially, a stiff "posture collar", flared at the top to support the ruff. For the yoke-like ruff that was directly based on the Westenra research, i used the same material (heavy nylon crin, reinforced with Rigilene) but made a sort of taco-shaped "plate" as the base. The fluted, boned embroidered organza ruffs were then tacked to the support structures, and any potentially-visible nylon was covered with a layer of brocade. The ruffs have a central back zipper, and 1-2 untacked flutes that snap into place over the join.

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