Wednesday 31 October 2012

Porta Coeli and other things

As I mentioned in the previous post, I visited Porta Coeli recently. What is Porta Coeli, you wonder?

It's a monastery founded in the 13th century, in Předklášteří, which is sitting just next to Tišnov, which is near where Lomnice is. Tišnov's really the centre of the area, though. I'll show you pictures of Tišnov later, hopefully.

Porta Coeli is a beautiful women's monastery built in the so-called Burgundy style, which has nothing to do with the colour and, as far as I know, everything with the country. Anyway, the point is, it's an architectonic style that combines features of the Romance style and the Gothic style and makes for a very, very pleasant whole.
Of course, there are later features added; e.g. the altar in the church is Baroque.
But the church in question has a beautiful portal; famous, too, at least in the Czech Republic. You hear it mentioned all the time, when Gothic architecture is discussed.
It's very much reminiscent of the church portals I've seen in France; rightly so, as it's a French style.

It was raining rather heavily on Saturday when we visited, so I could not take any photos from the outside, and photography's not allowed on the inside. So no photos from me, just that postcard.

There's also a museum, with an exhibition that explains some of the history of the monastery and an old collection of minerals and fossils upstairs, situated in a narrow corridor, so it looks a lot like some kind of slightly neglected school, and houses fascinating specimens from all over Europe and maybe further. We nearly missed our train back.

The entrance fee is hilariously low. With my ISIC student's pass, both entrance fees plus the postcard cost me only 42 CZK. That's about... a loaf of bread and a cup of rather dismall coffee from a vending machine, to give you an idea.

Or just a little bit more than a small kettle of honey-sweetened tea and a sweet treat in a shop in Tišnov.

And to end on that light note... This is a fun photo from their photogallery: "Sister with brother snowman"

* * *

As I also mentioned in the previous post, I'm reading Emma for school. Emma was one of the books by Austen I had not read yet. (My naming my sewing machine Ema had nothing to do with it. No irony.)

Emma's enjoyable. Though I think I would not have enjoyed it so much earlier, without having read some other things first.

* * *

I'm still, shame on me, working on the blue-grey medieval dress. It got set back by the unpleasant discovery that, for some reasons, the sleeves I spent so much time perfecting are actually a tad too tight when made up. Now, anyway.
I'll have to do something about that. It just lay around somewhere for a long time, a little disappointment, pushed away by other projects.

Now it's in the work again, a portable (if somewhat bulky) handsewing project; but I'm working on the eyelets.
I love that I can make such neat eyelets, and I love my little triangular/arrowhead tacks. My first time making them. It's fairly intuitive.

It's why that TARDIS blue box I mentioned in the last post is lying around.

Monday 29 October 2012

The Doctor Who Blog Party!

I am almost too late for this; I lost track of time, what with visiting Porta Coeli and reading Emma for school... (yay!) But here it is, anyway!

Doctor Who Blog Party - October 22nd

1) If you decided to name your first born child after any Doctor Who character, male or female, who would it be?

Well, there is that little problem of the companions being British and me being Czech… I’ll go with Mickey. I love the name Michael, and I like Mickey Smith. He grows from the bumbler he is in Rose, through the “tin dog“ stage (sorry, Mickey), into a hero.

2) What is your favourite colour of the Doctor's shoes?

Not very surprisingly, I love the red ones; they clash so wonderfully with the rest of his outfit.
Though I’m also rather fond of Eleven’s non-descriptive ones. Given how he came by his outfit, they make a lot of sense...

3) Look around yourself and name the one thing that is TARDIS blue in your house!

Right now, in my sight, a plastic box that formerly held ice cream and now houses some of my sewing supplies. It would be nice if it were bigger on the inside, come to think of it...

4) If you could pick who plays the Twelfth Doctor which actor would you choose and why?

Peter Wingfield. I’d rather like seeing an older actor tackle the job... (again...) And I have a major crush on Peter Wingfield. I love his looks, and I love his voice.
(Plus he’d played old characters with complicated history before.)

I first saw him as Colonel Stryker’s sergeant in X-Men 2, a cameo role at best, and I thought, “What is such a handsome man doing there being a minion?” As I said, major crush.

5) The Doctor is going back in time again, which historical era should he visit?

I started with the vague idea that a lot of important things happened in the decade of 1305-1315. Sure enough, they did. William Wallace, William Tell... look up the rest.

My Nr.1 vote for that decade is for the Doctor to go to Moravia in 1306, namely Olomouc, and find out who it was that murdered Wenceslas III, the last Přemyslide Czech king. It remains a mystery to this day. Historical murder mystery! Just the thing for the Doctor.

My Nr.2 vote for the era is the whole Swiss history tied to William Tell.

6) Would you REALLY go with the Doctor in the TARDIS?

I’d peek in. As to going in the TARDIS somewhere else... well, that would depend. On lots of things, like my other current plans, my mood, the place he’d want to take me... whether he’d really want to take me...

7) Who's your favorite Doctor and why?

Ten. Rather obviously, again. Everyone loves Ten, right? He’s got the hair, he’s got the eyes, he’s got the smile, he’s got the coat... the shoes... the fun and the sad...

8) Would you be afraid to spend Christmas in London?

No. Well, not because of aliens, anyway. I prefer to spend Christmas in my own small hometown, though; it’s calmer and nicer on the whole. (Though I would like to visit London one day.)

9) Do you look at an ordinary screwdriver and think 'this could be a bit more sonic?'

I used not to, but recently I was cleaning my sewing machine, screwing away the feed dogs cover (or whateveritscalled), and sure enough, I looked at my little screwdriver and saw how fiddly it was, even what with being a better screwdriver than the one that came with Ema originally, and thought it would be so much easier with a sonic specimen.

10) Angel statues, plastic mannequins, Christmas trees - what ordinary everyday object would you love to make an object of terror to Whovians were you Steven Moffat?

And television sets... and GPS driving thingummys...

Vending machines. Those things are rather evil already. Namely the tickets vending machine at the train station in my hometown. It ate my money several times. Without giving out a ticket, I mean.

11) The TARDIS lands in your garden and the Doctor steps out. What is the first thing you say to him?

I’d probably just stare.
Or rush out with a camera (ha, ha).

Maybe something like “Hey, this is our garden! Go crush somebody else’s mint!”
Not very companion-worthy, eh? I’m rather partial to the mint. I bought the plant myself.

12) Who is your favourite actor who has played the Doctor so far and why?

Again, obviously, David Tennant (though I’ve only seen the last three Doctors so far). It’s definitely also because he played the Doctor for so long, so we really got to know him... but he got to play the Doctor for so long because he was so good at it! He gives him heart, and a depth, and he’s a lot of fun to watch! And I like his voice, too, the way he says things.

13) Have you seen any Classic Doctor Who? If so, which Doctor/episode(s) is your favorite?

Not yet. Want to!

14) Which are the creepiest, scariest and all-out meanest baddies in all the Who-niverse?

I have to agree with Natasha, the Silence are creepy... and after all they can do to you, you cannot even remember them. Eeek!
Though Cybermen scare me a lot, see below.

15) Who is/are your favorite Companion(s) and why?

Donna Noble. Very narrowly, I have to say; I like all of them, I think. I mostly like Donna because her and the Doctor are so much fun (that miming scene when they meet again was totally hilarious). And she rocks that 1920s dress, with a decidedly non-1920s figure, giving all non-planky women the hope of being able to do the same if we want to. :D (Hey, this is a Dress Diaries.) And because she really comes into her own with the Doctor; what happened to her – not being able to remain who she has become, not being able to retain any of it – was really terrible.

16) Did you cry more watching Doomsday or The Angels Take Manhattan?

I haven’t seen The Angels Take Manhattan yet myself, either. As for Doomsday... don’t make me think about it.

17) What is your favourite quote from the show?

Probably “It’s a thing in progress. Respect the thing.” It kind of sums up my own creative processes. :D

18) Which Doctor (including all previous regenerations) would you most like to be the companion of, and why?

Even though I like watching Ten so much, I think I’d prefer Nine in real life. Eleven would go waaay over my head.

19) Which of the following are you more scared of, the Daleks, Cybermen, or the Weeping Angels?

The Angels scare me on screen... and the idea of not exactly being able to escape them and not being able to afford losing them from sight...

Though the idea of Cybermen, previously human, making humans into their kind... with the idea of bettering them by doing that... that’s actually a fairly real-world sort of creepy. *shudder* And painful, too.

20) Who are some of your favourite guest stars in the series?

Zoe Wannamaker as Cassandra. I love Zoe Wannamaker; she’s so versatile. I didn’t even realise it was her until I saw her in close-up in New Earth!

But I think I have yet to see an actor on Doctor Who whom I would not like on the show. It’s that good.

21) What was your first experience with Doctor Who and how did you hear about the series?

I think I first learned of its existence through some costuming sites; and saw some costumes from the Classic Doctor Who on some auction site. (One of them was Five’s outfit, which I love, BTW.)

Then I read about the new Doctor Who on Neil Gaiman’s blog, and was mildly intrigued. Then more intrigued. And more. It started popping up everywhere, so I think I even saw some videos on YouTube...

Then I simply started watching it. Well, simply... for some reason, I started with Season 3, so my first Companion was Martha Jones, and kind of still is, sorry, Rose-lovers. I loved the Doctor’s quirkiness, but if it weren’t for Shakespeare Code (which contains Renaissance literature and Harry Potter – I cried, too, Doctor), I may have been put off by the blood-sucking alien of Smith and Jones... The blood-sucking Miss-Marple-style-adorable old lady. *shudder*

22) The Ninth Doctor said, 'Fantastic!', Ten said, 'Allons-y', and Eleven says, 'Geronimo'; what would you like to be the signature exclamation of the Twelfth Doctor?

Phew, no idea! Half the fun of it is how they say it anyway! You know, in this setting, you can throw almost anything their way, and they'll turn it into something fabulous.

23) If you were trapped in an episode, which one would it be?

Oh, I bet it would be Don’t Blink. I like old, half-abandoned places myself... I could very much relate to Sally Sparrow in that respect; that house was awesome.

24) Which is your favourite episode with each Doctor (Nine, Ten and Eleven)?

Nine – hard to tell, there are so few of them, and each has something special about it. I guess The End of the World, though I don’t like how Rose and the Doctor spend the large part of that separated (and the Doctor does not care so much yet).

Ten – I have a soft spot for Shakespeare Code, because that’s the episode that sold me on the whole Doctor Who! It’s the episode that kind of encapsulates everything that’s fascinating about Doctor Who for me.
Though there are lots and lots of fantastic episodes with Ten, some of which I also mentioned somewhere above. I won’t try mentioning others, because there are so many of them!

Eleven – Hmm... The Doctor’s Wife, because it’s got Neil Gaiman’s sort of awesomeness in it (and, you know, watching the Doctor argue and converse with... the woman... is fantastic). And Vincent and the Doctor, because it’s got art, and another of my favourite quotes: “Is this how time normally passes? Reeaally slowlyy... in the right order.”

Oh, and I also love the fez. How can anyone not love the fez? The fez and the mop; it’s so hilariously random, and hilarious randomness is one of the best things about this Doctor!

25) After watching a certain Doctor Who episode, did you summon up the courage to try fish sticks and custard?

No. Custard did not much agree with me on its own (lemon custard, that is), so I dread to think what that combination would do to me! And ladies (and gentlemen), it’s fish fingers!

Saturday 20 October 2012

Frosting, or Cake?

When Steph announced the Frosting Fortnight, my reaction was, basically, “I won’t participate because of practical obstacles.” One of those being the fact that constant travelling between home and school with a backpack is not conductive to wardrobe experiments.
But it must have been lurking in my subconsciousness, because these are the pieces I was wearing to school this week:

Well, compared to the black corduroy trousers and black wrap cardi of last week, this is definitely frosting.

Sweater – clothes exchange (the same old, same old)
Blue T-shirt underneath – thrifted
Skirt – thrifted (80% wool and velvet trimmings!)
Stockings – from a shop in Brno
Boots – thrifted
Silk scarf - thrifted

The boots and the skirt both come from a thrift shop in my hometown; it’s a small shop, full to the brim and then some. The lack of personal, or really any, space makes it very difficult to search for clothes; but all in all, the majority of my thrifted favourites come from there.
The skirt, though shorter, is a replacement of the one I’m sewing the spencer from now. It’s the skirt’s first outing; I bought it sometime this spring, but the lining had to be shortened (it kept peeking out) and then it was too warm for a thick, 80% wool skirt.
I actually pulled this together on Sunday, and wore it to an editorial board meeting of the youth magazine I volunteer for, and to church. So, technically, this is my “Sunday Best”; only I’m wearing it in the week, too.

But the idea of “Sunday Best” connected to the idea of “frosting” makes me wonder.
“Sunday Best” could be the special occasion clothes that are extremely uncomfortable and you hate wearing. Thankfully, that was never my case.
Or it could, simply, be special occasion clothes, the best you have.
There’s nothing wrong, per se, in wearing special occasion clothes to church. It’s an occasion that requires a certain level of, let’s say, respect.
But “frosting” is special occasion clothes.
“Sunday Best” is “frosting”.
Is going to Sunday service frosting?
In my opinion, and in my personal experience, it’s rather the cake that everything else in the following week should be built on. Is it?

This takes me to another thing. I’m beginning to agree with the parts of the world that begin their weeks with Sundays. You see, in the Czech Republic, Sunday is the end of the week. The end of the weekend.
In some ways, that’s a good way to do it: the weekend is really a week’s end, for one thing.
But in other ways, it’s completely wrong. It makes Sunday into an end of something instead of the new beginning it really is. And I am afraid that very often, for people in the church, Sunday is just a frosting at the end of the week, instead of the cake, the basis, the hope for the week to come. Many times, it has been so for me.
(This Sunday’s sermon was on the stone of Ezer in 1 Sam 7, the markers we make in time to make sense of it and remember the good things that have happened. And it was, clearly, another thing lurking in my subconsciousness.)
But as the calendar above proves, my church actually also prefers to ignore the Czech standard and to begin the week with Sunday.

I said (in a comment at MrsC’s blog) that I am not a cupcake girl. It’s true. It’s important.
Because while the Frosting Fortnight is being advertised with this blog button...

Frosting Fortnight

... my cake looks like this and the frosting is sweetened with honey.

This is not a critique of cupcakes and pink frosting. It’s just an attempt to explain why my frosting takes the form it does.

(Though it fails to explain why I am seized by an urge to make an 1840s evening gown for a Wild West themed January ball I learned about on Sunday. I haven’t finished my other costumes yet and I can’t even dance...)

Monday 15 October 2012

The burgundy-black 1850s dress from the Třebíč museum

Since Lisa said this one was her favourite, here's more of it. ;-)

All the images are clickable and should lead you to larger versions on the Rajče site, BTW; the same applies to the previous posts from Dačice, too.

This is the day bodice. It features what raters in The Dreamstress's Rate the Dress consider the bane of Victorian fashion: fringe. It also features (the whole dress, actually), one of my favourite trimmings: velvet ribbons.
Three- or four-tiered sleeves, echoing the tiers in the skirt (I don't remember and cannot determine from the photos whether the upper tier is just a yoke like on the skirt, or a separate flounce).
An interesting variation on fan-front with a deep V neckline and a neckline insert (though experts on 1850s fashions may tell me it's normal, I don't know). And a strange peplum treatment on the bottom front that I cannot quite wrap my head around. More on that further on.

A blurry look at the sleeves. The bottom two tiers feature velvet trim.

The front "insert" is actually two-piece, now that I look at it: it opens/closes in the front, though I am unable to determine what kind of closure it is. Hooks and eyes?

This detail photo is blurry, but you can see how the edges overlap in the front center.

And here's a closer look at the peplum. At some point, I think, the side pieces go separate from the fan-front; the question is, is it meant to go under like this, or on the contrary, was it meant to go over? Is it interchangeable and the curator chose to display it like this, or does the construction actually prevent it from going over? Or is this whole thing just a result of it sitting on a manequin instead of going over the full skirt, and did it actually originally sit at the sides of the fan-front?
I'm puzzled.

Other blurry photos; this time, from the back. Cute little tails. :-) And trimmings enhancing the sloping shoulder cut of the bodice. The sleeves are rather rumpled from this side and the blurriness of the photos prevents further examination, but I do believe there is some gathering going on, because some of that is apparent from the front as well.

And the evening bodice. I loved the evening version. The trimming is just the right amount: not too much, not too little. The "bertha", pleated vertically like this, is lovelier than the more usual versions that are pleated horizontally, don't you think? It actually reminds me more of 1840s styles, so perhaps this is late 1840s / early 1850s.

And notice the running stitch inside the sleeve. I believe this is what attaches the trim.

From the back: it laced - spiral-laced. (The coloured spots are heads of pins holding it to the manequin.) The bodice is very clearly, visibly boned.

Side view with the sleeve.

And some detail looks at the skirt.

The attachment of the top tier.

The tiers are bias-cut and attached to the skirt in a manner / stitch I'm unable to name; each tier ends a bit higher than the other attaches, which makes it easier to determine the construction. :-) Also, the tiers are not that gathered: the fullness of the skirt comes rather from the gathering on the underskirt itself (and, obviously, some foundation underneath).

Sunday 14 October 2012

"The Secret of Chateau Wardrobes" exhibition in Dačice

The main reason we went to Dačice - the main reason for me, anyway - was an exhibition of extant clothes from the end of the 18th century through the 19th to the beginning of the 20th. Those clothes all came from chateaus and museums, or private collections, in the region.

The exhibition was fantastic: just two rooms, but packed full of awesome.

And photographing was allowed.

You can imagine what a happy little marmot I was!

You can see all the photos from the exhibition here; I'll only post some, because, seriously, 248 photos? :D Hopefully, I'll at least eventually manage to add captions to all of them...

And maybe post some more details of some clothes later. For now, I'm posting this wrap-up post so that I don't feel guilty about not having posted it earlier!

This suit (what is it called, really?) is from the end of the 18th century. It comes from the collections of the chateau in Jindřichův Hradec; it belonged to Jan Rudolf Černín z Chudenic (a count from the region; Johann Rudolf Czernin von und zu Chudenitz) and may have been made in France.

This one's another of Jan Rudolf Černín's clothes; it's from 1791, allegedly made in Paris. These two are silk.

This one's Jan Rudolf Černín's from the end of the 18th century as well, but it's woolen, and simpler, indicating a later date, or perhaps a different purpose?

It's got painted buttons. Each of the buttons has a slightly different miniature painting in it. Wow.

The wedding dress of Marie Terezie Černínová, née Orsini-Rosenberg, Vienna 1817. Muslin (obviously). Collections from Jindřichův Hradec.

The manequin was very obviously the wrong size for it; but that meant I got to see how it closes.
I'm not sure whether the tie is just a tie, or whether it's also a drawstring. But notice there's a hook in the middle and an eye on top, alternating on one side: a neat little trick against accidental opening I've read about some time ago on some costuming site. It's proven to be period-correct now. ;-)

Also, there is a patch under the bust on the right side, which you can't really see in the photo, but it made me a very happy little marmot to see that yes, these fabrics tore. Even if you were a countess. And isn't that bodice treatment lovely?

And now my favourite garment from the whole exhibition. Not so much in colour; but the construction and overall silhouette are delicious.

An 1830s dress/wrapper from the museum in Písek. Well, they say it is a day dress. But it's a wrap dress. Silk taffetta. (BTW, they tend not to say many details about the construction in the captions, rather they tell the general history of clothing in the era. Nice for people who know nothing about it, a bit redundant for me.)

I told you. The construction is delicious. Look at that tiny piping at the hems!

Apparently, it closes with fabric-covered buttons and some sort of loops or hidden buttonholes. My guess is the former, because the fabric at the right side was slightly scrunched as if something was sewn to the wrong side - you can sort of see that in the photo.

The details end here. There's too much to post details of everything; these were the earliest, most interesting pieces. Most interesting to me, mind you. (And I even have more details of them.) If you want to see more, go to the album, as linked above, or let me know in the comments and I'll put the photos with my observations (if I have any) in another post.

From here on, I will post single photos of all the other garments.

Saturday 13 October 2012

The chateau of Dačice

So, back to Dačice! Time to see the chateau!


This building here, accompanied by another nod to the humble, world-changing sugar cube.
I'm not being stupid, telling you it is this building. The lady at the cashdesk and our tour guide told us stories of people who did not realise this was a chateau. Dačice, as I mentioned in the previous post, are a bit out of the way, and apparently, this lovely chateau does not make it to many guides to Czech chateaus (there are so many, it's not so bad, but it's a stupid overlook with this particular one!) and many people are not aware of its existence. Many people, apparently, often assume it's a school (and since many smaller manor houses have been turned into schools, it's not that surprising). The craziest remark, though, was someone calling it "a factory".

The chateau, like many aristocratic residences in this country, was rebuilt several times; the front side is very much Empire/Regency, but there's a Baroque tower on the other side (towards the park).


You actually enter the chateau from this side, even though it has such a lovely front.



 In the courtyard, there are these beautiful Renaissance arcades (I hope that's the correct term). This is where you enter for the tour. Photographing is not allowed inside (or maybe you have to pay a photographing fee, a usual practice in the Czech Republic). So I have no photos from the inside, which is a pity. The tour is rather short, but very interesting; it somehow feels as a house truly lived in. There's an array of styles of furniture as well, and you get to see both the lavishly decorated "official" rooms and a chamberlain's room, much smaller and much more humbly equipped. Also, it's stocked full with portraits. Portraits, and more portraits, from different periods; I really, really regretted not being able to take photos of those, because there were so many clothes to admire!

Not that I minded so much after all, though; I'll get there in another post.

The pleasant thing about the chateau in Dačice is not just the chateau itself, but also the park. It is, very obviously, a park from the time when romantic landscape-planning was popular; which makes for many spots perfect for photographing. Alas, the light was bad when we were in the park, so not so beautiful photos. But you'll get the idea.

The other side of the courtyard, with the Baroque tower and a Pseudo-Baroque chapel from the beginning of the 20th century. 1910, to be exact.

Closing with this door handle, the image of which they now use as their logo.

Oh, and don't forget to visit the chateau's official site, where you can see lots of other (and better) photos, also of the interiors. My favourite was the library. My sister said it was the sort of library I needed, and I heartily agree. You cannot quite see it in the photo (EDIT: In the photogallery; choose "guided tour" to see it in full), but the library has another "level", with a railing - much like Professor Higgins's library in My Fair Lady.

P.S. The Czech version of the site has this very cool feature of panoramatic "photos" of various places around thew chateau.