petrus christus hat, part one

Petrus_Christus_004_detail_OBNP2009-Y01567 bigSo, this is the hat I want to make to go with my red velvet frock – I am attracted by the wierd bubbled-headedness of it (in contrast to the conventional flowerpot shaped henin) and the strange bits over the ears, as well as the opportunity to slap some gold brocaded tablet weaving on there. Oh, and the bling – shiny!!!

THis is the felt hat I’m using as foundation – dull, isn’t it? Please excuse the foreshortening – my arms really aren’t that porky.

pet hat 1

It was a little too big for me as I got it, so as you can see I treid it on and trimmed it.

pet hat2

Then I covered it with yellow silk velvet. It was quite difficult to pleat it in around the crown of the hat, especially since the velvet is quite thick and uncooperative. I’m not sure if the portrait one is meant to be velvet, it might be silk covered, but this velvet is about spot on, colourwise. Btw, the polly head is smaller than my own, so on me it sits further up like the one in the painting.

pet hat 3

Next I bound the edge with 1cm black linen tape.

pethat 4

Then I sewed down more black tape to approximate he gold brocaded weaving. I haven’t even started the weaving for this hat yet (I’m weaving a gown belt for at least the next week, but that’s another post entirely) because I wanted to cover the hat and put this tape down first – this will allow me to do a reasonably precise measurement of now much gold brocaded weave I need to do. Gold brocade is a slow business, so I don’t want to make more than I need. Not that more than a handful of people will even realise it’s handmade, most will think I used machine made crap cos they can’t tell the difference or don’t care, but I care, and I’ll know.

And I will of course, feel gosh darned smug about it.

I haven’t quite decided what to make the loopy ear bits out of yet, not least because if you look very very closely at the original there seems to be a diagonal wire traversing her ear which is not covered with tablet weave. I think for general inconpicousness, strength, and general not turning my whole ear greeness, that central wire at least may well have to be silver.

pethat 5

Then I did the pearls. I’m not sure if the squares might have been better one pearl smaller (they’re big squares in the painting) but then again they might look smaller once the rest is done. The pattern doesnt quite match up back to front due to the difficulty of getting squares to fit onto circles. I lost count of how many strings of the small pearls I used (I have a small chest full in the attic, because many years ago I ordered 50 strings of cheap freshwaters for £2 a string from my wholesaler, but when I went to pick them up they’d lost them. I don’t think the woman knew what she was doing cos she picked these up, which were the £10 per string ones, and told me they were £1 a string, so obviously I bought the entire bundle of 100 strings before she changed her mind).

The big pearls I know I used exactly one string of, and I rather liked them. They’re freshwater button pearls, which I’ve never used before, and they’re domed on one side and flat on the back. I found them excellent for embroidery because often when you sew down a larger pearl it just doesn’t sit right and rolls around, then of course because it sits too far up it catches on things and gets pulled off. These are great, they nestle right down into the fabric and sit beautifully – I’m definitely going to buy them again.

It does look quite unfinished at the moment though, sort of naked without the gold.

This afternoon I might get started on the gold twist to edge the pearls (not sure if I will or not, I need to finish soldering the foundation of my new necklace so I can get it gilded, but that’s another post), then it will need the garnets and pearls inside the squares, then I’ll have to do the tablet weave at some point. Oh, and I suppose I’d better check my stash to see if I have anything suitable for the viel.

But in the meantime here are some roses that are trying to take over the world – or the back of my house at least.


“No”, he said, “Don’t get rambling rector, that will completely cover your house and you’ll have to hack it back with a machete every time you want to put the bins out” he said.

So we got this one instead. I think It’s called shropshire lad. and I have to hack it back with a machete when I want to put the bins out…

It does smell nice though. And it flowers continously for about nine months of the year.

~ by opusanglicanum on June 22, 2013.

20 Responses to “petrus christus hat, part one”

  1. This is going to be gorgeous! I do hope you’ll show it on when it’s done.

  2. That rose obviously likes it where you put it!
    You will have every reason to feel smug when you’ve done the gold tablet weave trim as well as everything else!

    • I’m so close to the sea that my garden soil is pretty much sand, so it must like sand.

      I feel like I have so many things up in the air with this c15th outfit right now that it would just be nice to finish one

  3. I could write an essay in responce to this post 🙂 Which topic shall I try to stick too? The tablet weaving – I don’t think that could spot the difference between hand made and machine made. If ever we meet up (which would be great) maybe you could show me what to look for.

    I did an embroidery of Japanese stitched cords and when I spoke to someone about tjem, she said “Oh!, I thought that you had couched cords onto the fabric!” Yes, I felt a little smug.

    The hat is lovely already and I look forward to seeing it (on you) when it is finsihed.

    • tablet weave had a very distinctive weave structure that machine made stuff can’t even approximate, so its actually not that hard to tell once you know. also, I’m a picky cow

      I think a lot of people dont realy look at things very well though

  4. That’s an amazing hat! To my – admittedly untutored – eyes, the thing around the ear looks like a ribbon coming from the top of the crown, perhaps left loose lower down the hat, and then bending back to (presumably) tie behind the head. Her poor ear looks a bit squashed as a result. Perhaps the thing over the ear is there to take the strain off the ear and give a good sharp corner to the ribbon where it bends, or is it just a crease in the ear? I wonder if it is just a medieval-trendy way of wearing what is really a tie-under-the-chin ribbon?

    • I think it’s definitly wired under the braid – otherwise it wouldn’t hold its shape. I only noticed the diagonal wire this week, its a bit hard to see, but it does sort of make sense to stabilise the corner. I’m sort of hoping it does squash and conceal the upper part of my ear cos I’m a bit self concious about it – I have a small benign growth there which the plastic surgeon refused to remove bacause he was worried about keloid scarring(I’ts norammly covered by my hair).

      one of the problems with this kind of hat is they do tend to slide themselve crooked,, so I’m hopinh the ear wires help to keep it centred during wear

  5. Yep. I reckon that ribbony bit is wired to keep it on and in place. Looks amazing. Looking forward to seeing it finished.

  6. Wondering if the netty bit (technical terms here!) is attached to it too. Then it would cover and hide your ear a bit???

    • the viel, you mean? hopefully it will cover my ear, wind permitting.

      Actually I’ve been wodnering if those lines in the viel are meant to be wired (the creases that run from forehead to crown) the flowerpot henin are often wired in such a way(at least in reconstructed versions).

      Art history teaches that drapery is foten exagerated in such a way as to be physically impossible in real life (the nike of samothrace is the one that springs most readily to mind), so would the artist necessarily have shown the wires holding the viel (esp as if done well they do sort of disappear below the viel – if you closely bind them with white linen and make sure they’re thin they sort of becoome the crease) or would he have chosen to simply show the effect?

      then again, he has shown that wierd diagonal wire over the ear, so I’m confused.

  7. Looks pretty damned good so far. As ever, I am in awe of your bling. 😛

    Personally, I’d always thought that this painting showed some weird sort of headdress similar to the effigy of Emma Pollard. I guess I just saw the shape of the veil and assumed the hat underneath followed the same shape… However, your interpretation makes a lot more sense than mine.

    I wonder if you could get the veil shape simply with starch? The V is not as enormous as is some “butterfly veils”, so perhaps wires would be unnecessary, particularly if very fine linen was used instead of silk. (Of course, getting such linen nowadays is quite another matter!)

    As for the ear loop, wiring it certainly is one option. However, I wonder if the braid is all one piece with the part going across the forehead, in a kind of reverse-St. Birgitta’s coif sort of way… Otherwise, you have to wonder why the horizontal bit across the forehead is not flush with the edge of the hat throughout the whole width. Another interpretation is that there is a matching underhat or fillet peeking out at the centre of the forehead.

    • I see the briad as a sort of fgiure of 8 that goes over the forehead, crosses at the back, loops round the ears and then goes over the top in one continous length – I’m not sure how that relate to the birgitta cap, which if memory serves me, has a braid that goes twice around the head, but not over the crown. I think It’s fixed as gold brocade doesn’t like being messed around and tied in knots – its too stiff (not easy to pin through either)

      I did do a henin with the viel unwired and pinned into place many years ago, and yes, it is do-able, but its not great. I was always a little unsatisfied with it – I have considered it as an option for this, but I’m veering more towards thinking wire will give a better result and mess up the embroidery a lot less than having to constantly re-pin stuff into it – not to mention the constant loss of expensive handmade pins that resulted from the unwired viel I had before

      • I was seeing the braid as a long, continuous loop that is permenantly attached to the hat from ear to ear across the forehead, but perhaps not elsewhere.

        It would run from the centre of the forehead along the forehead, past the temple, down behind the top of the ear then loops up behind the ear and around, passes up along the length of the hat and then loops near the tip of the hat, or a little to the front of it, to continue back down the other side of the hat in a mirror image of the first side.

        In this case, it would be (to stretch the comparison to near-breaking point) a little like the band on the St. Birgitta cap as:
        1) it is attached to the hat permanently from ear to ear along the forehead, but the rest is a loose loop
        2) the loose loop twists back on itself, then up towards the crown

        The major difference being that the loop here twists over the ears, not crossing at the nape. Also, the final section of the loop is tensioned against the tip of the hat, not against the gathered hair at the base of the neck.

        It’s not a great analogy…

        (And I totally understand where you’re coming from with the veil. I guess part of the problem is that we often reenact in wet, windy fields whereas the big formal headdresses perhaps were more confined to indoor locations, either at formal meals or court?)

      • I have a major problem with directional instructions, so all I get from this is that my head hurts – sorry(if its left right up down I’m unlikely to get it, its why i never read books about tablet weaving) I do gather that you think part of the band might be looose, but I can’t figure out why if would need to be, since it can’t give any tension anywhere.

        I tend to put my hair in a topknot under such things, rahter than at the nape, I find it itchy and annoying when gathered at the nape as it starts poking out

        I’ve been told categorically in the past that certain headgear was only worn indoors, but to be honest I think it depends upon how you pin things – I had more trouble with the unwired viel than I’ve ever had with a wired one, but largely due to the difficulty of getting the viel to pin in the right place in the frist palce, I just found it troublesome to arrange effectively

        do you go to the IMC?

  8. Random thoughts: 1. Who’d of thought they were thinking about telephones attached to ears all the way back then? I think it is the first version of a covered wire that attaches something to the ear. Back then a hat, now a telephone. Now we have plastic covered wires but back then it was probably tablet woven covered thick wire to hold it in place. 2. I’m looking forward to the brocade. I love tablet woven brocade. 3. I like your writing. It makes me laugh and is a wonderful thing to read early in the morning. 4. Good roses. I want some.

  9. […] decor plate assignment | ink. paint. paper * I bought myself a birthday present | opusanglicanum * petrus christus hat, part one | opusanglicanum * Hand made sketchbooks | Amanda Hillier * On press… | work in progress * […]

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