Venice Carnivale: When the Muse Commissions

You should treat a muse like a fairy. Paulo Coelho
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/muse_2.html

                                               " You should treat a muse like a fairy"...
                                                                                      ~ Paulo Coelho

Two furies for a muse

A few months back I got a ping from a friend, a very talented artist who has been successfully running her own business of creating corsets and other fabulously acclaimed couture for, well, let's just say for a while now.  She showed me an 19th century print of two furies and asked if I could make a set for her; they would be the "epaulets" for a costume to be worn in Venice at Carnival this year.   I couldn't reveal the project till they were worn, so now I'm very happy to show them off and yammer about them a bit. Maybe a lot.

my original cartoon. pieces on transfer paper to figure wing positions
When some one who daily is creating awesome art  for others to wear asks you to make them something, well, you ask when is the best time to make a measurement.

The Making of Two Furies

After consultation and measurements, I jotted down a few roughs, and asked about location on body, weight as a factor, and materials. The furies had a purpose, to hold tight madame's corset strings, and of course whisper mischief to all around.
laser cutting out all the pieces for templating

wings were made out of craft foam, covered in gold and brass leaf, then antiqued

Once I had the right shapes and sizes approved with a fitting, using all wood laser cut templates,
I went to work figuring out how to make the actuals, and parsed out what materials would be both strong and light, plus take a bit of a beating from wear and tear and crowds.  I stuck with birch ply for the body and masks, and used craft foam for the wings and the corsets. Gold leaf was a must, and aside from detail bits like pearls and gemstones, the rest would be painted with a 17th century flair. 
The ladies getting a 23k pedicure.

Sometimes the gold gets into your tea. Drank it all up!
As the wearer would be wearing red, erm, I had the furies do the same. I laser cut out glitter foam and then used gold thread to create stitches for the back. I really used a lot of my skills, and enjoyed the challenges. Reminded me when I was making props for big stores like FAO Swarchz back in the day. Many of these skills also apply to table top miniatures gaming, of course.
many skill sets went into the making of the furies

 Design Challenges

I'd like to say that these things were a snap to make,and all fell into place- but some interesting challenges arose. Mainly the gold leaf looked dreadfully flat and dull as it faithfully conformed to the spongy surface of the foam. Normally gold leaf is applied to a very smooth surface or on a "bole" a clay like paint that presses down a bit when the gold is burnished allowing that amazing shine to come through. I had gone through about $50 of gold, double leafing I stopped cursing and switched to brass leaf. Much cheaper, and less archival, due to it's thickness it held it's shine a bit better. afterwards I went back into the gold and painted in areas with gold paint and burnt sienna, creating some shading and form. I even put a bit of gold glitter on the edges just for fun.

The fact that I had all the pieces templated was a huge plus, because I could cut them quickly out of different materials and know that fitting would not be as much as an issue. Yay for planning!

One piece I did not pre-plan was the feather bloomers.Totally forgot about them, really. So, off to the drawing board and, after trying foam and wood, I ended up using layers of good rag paper, painted to get a nice feather layered look. Very strong and light. 

Materials and Time

I put together a list of materials that went into the furies just to see what all I used:

  • Birch plywood
  • Craft foam, various flavors
  • Gold leaf
  • Brass leaf
  • Silk ribbon
  • Pearls
  • Rhinestones
  • Gold embroidery thread
  • 100% rag paper
  • Paint
  • Glues, various
  • Florest wire (to give the wings form) 
I loosely catalogued time spent, which came to 40 hours give or take. In gaming terms, think of that as getting two full napoleonic regiments painted and based. 

On the Runway

More pics of the finished pieces in a studio style shoot. They are a bit burlesque, but what would you expect. It was a fun back and forth dialogue with each fury, thinking on how to make each have their own personality while keeping to form.
Furies on their epaulets bases, which will be covered in material and stitched to the costume

I let the red of the foam come through the wings to create antiquing

View of how think they became. about 20mm with wing spread
our fury in black, inspired by Hugin and Munin

Piece de Resistance

The night of wearing I received a quick message with this image. This was the first I had seen the furies full realized with the costume.  Smashing!

Ah, Venice. The muse is amused

I've not gotten a report on how the evening went, but  I am hoping that mischief was managed. Mind you, this was only one of several Amazing costumes worn by my client over the Carnival festivities.  I was very happy to play a small part in the performance.

If you would like to see more of Madamme Adamme's corsetry, you would do well to check out her wonderful store, Dark Garden Corsetry and Couture

You should treat a muse like a fairy. Paulo Coelho
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/muse_2.html
You should treat a muse like a fairy. Paulo Coelho
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/muse_2.html

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