Monday, August 24, 2009

Lost treasure

Has anyone seen "Sweet Home Alabama" with Reese Witherspoon? Remember her veil at the end of the movie? It is called a birdcage. It is reminiscent of the 20s. I took one of the rare white ostrich plumes from Namibia and made a birdcage veil in white Russian netting. It is so feminine and so perfect for wearing with a suit of linen or alpaca/merino/silk blend or a sheath of satin. The tatted star is the memory ribbon, of which our veils have as a signature, to attach all those neat things a bride wants near her as she takes her vows. This veil also has a silk rose over the left ear with a blush center, ideal color for the attendants so as not to overshadow the bride.
My niece, Monica, (a sister now)brought me some imported tea this weekend and am very content. Have you had a cup of tea today?
I went to the thrift shop and found a wedding dress that someone had left there. I am always looking for discarded treasures It is beautiful lace and pearls. I bought it for $25. It had a veil and a detachable train. Now who would have let such a treasure leave their possession? Maybe it was not so happy a remembrance, but I shall take it apart and make a beautiful mantilla from it for a bride who appreciates the art of the fabric. It is the most beautiful I have seen. We will go into the studio and form a bandeau of white alpaca felt and encrust it with pearls to make the veil so that it will be built up above the bride's forehead. I can hardly wait for you to see it. i was also sent a piece of Alencon lace that I can hardly take my eyes from its intricacies. This will also become a mantilla. So much creative gushes going on! Let me know if you have a special someone whom would like to have a specially custom made veil from Southern Sisters. Would make a lovely "gift from the Auntie".
Here in the South,the magnolias are blooming like this one at Carodel Farm, It is last before the chilly time sets in, and the harvesting of our crops. Even though the season does not officially change until the first dove shoot, we mark September 21, as the autumnal equinox. At "shift change", this is the perfect opportunity to check with all things important to you and make your "adjustments". I love check-points, keeps me on focus and not wrapped up in melee as life can sometimes get.

A cup of tea!

"'A cup of tea!' Is there a phrase in our language more eloquently significant of physical and mental refreshment......?" (Francis H.Leggett & Co, Tea Leaves ,1900). This is a part of a quote from a calendar my nieces gave my mother for her to keep track of this year's events and appointments. Aren't nieces the best thing that God created? Next to daughters, of course!
Someone can say just a few words and you can envision such refreshing thoughts. That is the way I am when offered a cup of tea. It is so hospitable, reminiscent of quiet times, yet those filled with nostalgia and hope.
To our study of the veil. I have one last Vermeer, which is my favorite. Does anyone remember the movie this portrait was the focal point? Again enjoy the light, the fabric, the lips and the pearl earring. It is as if she was right next to you.
The veil in the 17th century was loosely woven and without much form until crinoline, horsehair, wire, or felt was discovered. Then the veils took on more shape and were then called hats. Part of the habit of sisters in the Roman church still wear "veils" in some orders. Prior to their "change of order" in the early 70s, the head pieces would sometimes have heavy starch to keep the wings of the hat up, reminding them of One greater over them. The wedding veil as I have come to understand is a reminder of that time of life of innocence. The rite of passage into womanhood is unveiled at her wedding. Such depth of meaning can accompany this delicate piece of fabric if one will let themselves focus on this rather than totally on the dress and the party.
Now, talk about a veil! This is the cover of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, a 2009 issue of a genre 1343 B.C. Pharaoh of Egypt, known as King Tutankhamen. There is cobra and a vulture at the head band and gold, with lapis lazuli and turquoise on the sarcophagus. It is to depict the dress of that era. One would have to have some strong neck muscles to handle this masterpiece of a veil. We have come quite a way with form and function. The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, shaped like a pyramid, has a replica of the tomb that was discovered in the early 1920s. Quite educational exhibit along with a Valley of the Kings I-max movie. A lot more than the travelling exhibit has had. I believe the treasures now will stay in Egypt.
Today has been one of checking the alpaca herd, looking for cria movement in anticipation of birthing season to begin late September. Did a bit of making of another flower bed by my sweet husband. The weather was like fall today so I am beginning to look up and not run for shade each time the sun peeks out and beams at me. Hope your day was blessed, too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fascinator and the Edge

This is the look I love. Everybody looks good in this style. Southern Sisters LLC is working on a prototype of this style in felted alpaca. Black is our universal fashion color, so naturally, literally, Ruth has her first R & D challenge. So far it is looking good. We have another one in white felted alpaca with a white ostrich plume that I will add the netting to look like a birdcage veil to wear with a wedding suit. More on that one next post.
What we shall cover in this post is the term "fascinator". The fascinator is the focal point of the hat. All creations should have a fascinator or it is just a plain thing. It can be made of feathers, jewels, metal made into a cluster, woven band, or the like that would draw your attention to that point. Usually the base of the fascinator is smaller than a barrette, but occupies a lot of air space,
Some designers are making singleton hats of only the fascinator and they are usually called cocktail hats. This is fashionable after 5 PM when normally hats are not usually worn. What is magic about this particular hat that was created for Princess Diana, is the rare and exotic ostrich plume. There appears to be some pheasant plumage at the upper end of the fascinator making this a perfect head covering to mix with tweed, wool or fall wardrobe selections.
Let me share a thought with you. I read in a review of a book that said, " if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space". I have been trying to digest that comment and evaluate my own life. Many times I think my mind says "I'm done" (The only time we should say that is when we are a tot and it is shouted from the bathroom.).
Many times thoughts of ours say that we have achieved!, or arrived! and really more effort would be just that, more effort.
Summary: Life never gets too occupied, deserted, lonely, chaotic or contented that we should not try to be up on our current game. It does not have to result in putting oneself into the Forbes 500, would be nice, but at least you are like the fascinator on a hat, you are looking at the focal point or you are the focal point. You are the only one who can help yourself. Try not to take up too much space, leave some room for another to get closer to you!
The fascinator in the side photo is called "Royal Molt-( $30), a collection of peacock feathers,mounted on a black velvet covered alpaca felt ,attached to a three inch hair comb. It can be worn singularly in an up-do hair style or clipped onto a felt hat, or simply on a head bandeaux.
Today is the day we finished picking the figs bushes on the farm, (have Brown Turkey and Kadota this year,) and preserve them for holiday gifts and later use. My mother used to get a whole batch and it would wear her out to put up dozens of jars at once. I take it in small bits, by covering about 50 figs with 2 cups of sugar and a thinly sliced lemon, sit overnight and the natural juices in the figs dissolve the sugar. Cook it til it is right and it makes about 4 jars, .....yum yum on whole wheat pancakes!
(Good sign that fall is around the corner: we harvested out first pumpkin our of the flower bed.)
Welcome to all who follow this post. Will try to have something uplifting for you each time while sharing the "Veil in our Lives"......CMx

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

.....carpe diem

Seize the day! another great "c' word. I arose with a multi-pronged thought and that was to be bold with what was thrown at me that day, create one new bridal veil and bathe my Boykin Spaniel. I really got my plate full when I said "carpe diem" to my morning.
The great news is that by evening, my patient and gentle mannered husband calmed by ranting soul when he helped me to name the bridal veil composition that I was working on. For a touch of history that led to this design was that many brides want to come down the aisle in a mysterious veiled persona, to be revealed at the appropriate moment, be pronounced a new being with another person, trek back up that aisle with veil in tow; then to shed all that airy mass to get down and party! So how do you transform this bridal look to a party look yet still look like a bride?
Solution: Designs by Caroline : a) the fascinator, b)the mane veil that has a secret escape threading which is shed and c) the "encore" veil. As we process through the design phases, it will be revealed what each of these components means and how each bride can be individual yet quite regal with any choice.
One component I like to build in is the veil bracelet; sort of a bustle piece of jewelry; either an antique from childhood or a gift from the groom. This is looped through the mobius segment of the longest veil (chapel or cathedral length) and worn on the wrist to keep the veil out of the way of the bride's feet or a cameraman's. One of the most horrid shots I have ever seen was on a morning television program with their 2009 bride of the summer feature. As she was going into the Plaza Hotel in New York City, a camerman or someone, stepped on her veil and ripped that sucker right out of her tendril laden bun. She did a quick whiplash of the head and you never saw that whispy mass ever again. Who knows, it might have flown half way to New Jersey! I vowed to let that never happen to one of our creations.
The veil in this post is very formal. It has Swarovski cyrstals and pearls and bottom of blusher veil and is tea length in white tulle on pearl barette fascinator.
More about the veil composition later.
Yes, the afternoon appointment left me a challenge of the wills between me and a 20 something receptionist who had to be right, but was wrong!
Must not waste your gentle spirit on those unwilling to accept the truth!
And, bath time for Chartres was perfectly messy but fun, sort of. One pointer, always have everything you need when you start your project for stopping and retrieivng when the subject is in the "quickstart, jump as high as you can position", you may have a bigger mess than anticipated.
Oh by the way, I knew you would love to see this compositon by Raphael. He was about 150 years younger than Vermeer, but look at the veil; the light, the fabric, so real.
Did you wear a hat today? Try it you might like what it does for you......
BTW: one of our most beautiful alpaca crias born here was named Carpe Diem, lovely creature.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Showing Respect

Portrait of a Young Woman by Vermeer , in my thoughts, this young girl ,who favors my niece, Victoria Giles, may be in her "best" veil and coverings for going out. Here again appreciate the use of light and the "feel" of the fabric.
It has been a practice for centuries that a woman should cover her head while in an holy place. Out of respect, my friend Jane Hemmer and I covered our heads with a scarf almost all the time we were in Israel. So many holy places! This symbolism is to remind you that there is one greater "above you". This practice has been in place for centuries by "girls raised in the south". My mother always wore a hat to church until hairspray and the rat tail comb took over. Women , in the USA, would ultimately trade in their hats in for a "fixed do", and I mean fixed.l That sucker of a hairstyle was not going anywhere. It could be gale force winds and the spray held all in place. Jackie Kennedy was our fashion model at that time. We could hardly wait to see what her outfit would be at the next public outing. Then there was Princess Diana. I do love to try to replicate that image. Such positive feelings; makes you want to be royalty. As a young girl, in the 60s, my mother made me wear a hat, but I loved them. I especially liked the pillbox and the "wispy veil" . Does anyone remember those? Just netting and a satin bow on top. Held to the hair by a comb or a bobby pin. Am I hitting some nostalgia here? Had one to match every Sunday outfit. I know I am not dreaming this up, but cannot find anyone who remembers them. Maybe it was a Montgomery, Alabama thing. Did you all have teas at graduation? Wear a hatand gloves? I am tickled to watch the Kentucky Derby each year now; the hats are works of art.
WISPY VEIL......... Southern Sisters LLC, has our version of the "wispy veil". This one is of black Russoan netting, black ostrich feather and porcupine quills. ( $ 225)
I love to scavenge the deserts of Namibia and pick up items for the hats and the fascinators. You will find me picking up feathers every where I go!. Try wearing a hat next time you go out into the sun, to an holy place or cocktail party and see how different it makes you feel. The word regal comes to mind.
(BTW: Pray for Laura)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Art and Veils; the Chrysalis

For historical information, I started with finding the definition for "veil". This immediately took me to the Old Testament of the Bible and the veil references are few, none really admitting to a wedding ceremony. Rebekah did cover herself when she saw Isaac approaching (Genesis); respect and practice of customs of the times. I would have to look further for the validity of incorporating this element to the wedding attire. I think that the custom of the time dictates the use of the veil more than its original intended use as protection from the wind, or the elements of the desert.
In fact, is was in accounts of the history and art of Europe and the Middle East where one finds reference. On of my favorite painters was Vermeer. The veils he painted on women looked so much like fabric that you would think you could feel and touch it. The veil in this genre was to cover the hair to protect against musty houses, housework that required beating of rugs, sweeping of stone floors and maybe to cover the hair for polite company. I have read two accounts of this that the hair of a maiden is very alluring to a man, thus keep covered only for her husband to see. But, then again I read that accessibility to washing the hair was not as often as we do today. Running water, much less hot water ,was scarce and the hair was washed until it became absolutely necessary; the veil covered a myriad of issues.

Today I finished "'New Beginnings". This veil has a butterfly headpiece that is covered with crystals. It has a blusher veil and the length is fingertip. I have incorporated small baby blush pink ribbons to hold items for the bride: the old, the new, the borrowed or the something blue. These "memory ribbons" are my touch for her secrets. I will sew a locket on one of the alpaca felt hearts on the ribbons with the groom's picture in it; just to keep him close to her cheek. (Or Richard Gere!)
You know I just love "c" words. My farm name starts with a "c" and we have named most of the crias born here with names that begin with a "c". For over 100 crias, that is some feat. (Cria is the name for a newborn alpaca.) I named one Chrysalis. She was the blending of two super alpaca gene pools and the beginning of a new lineage and she deserved the name. So it is with a bride and groom; a new beginning. As you can tell the butterfly has a very deep meaning in this veil.
Received a bouquet of delicate cerise rimmed ivory roses of Zambia from my loving husband for my birthday, a sewing machine from my daughter and son-in-law and greetings from around the world including a musical card from one of the "sisters" and her husband Judy and George Dick. Miracles do happen! Hugs to Pinkie!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Bridal Shoppe

This is a veil for an afternoon or less formal wedding scenario. The bandeaux is made of alpaca! This form was made by one of the "sisters", Ruth Fuqua, of Tennessee. She is the R&D lady for Southern Sisters.
I brought the bandeaux to the studio and added Belgian lace, Russian netting and this treasure was created. We call it Afternoon Elegance.
(the mannequin has peacock feather eyes in the orbs, sort of like false eyelashes. you will see this over again and the use of the feather is coming up)
Veils lend mystique to your ensemble. Men love hats and veils on ladies. Veils have been around ever since there was a reason to cover the head. The history of the veil is in the next posts. In June of this year when my daughter was getting married, I was the appointed one to seek out the veil for her wedding ensemble. Should have known right then that this was not a high priority item since I got the duty. I was safe to do that for the bride, not too much damage could come from a few contacts by the mother of bride. And, I was of course keeping with my promise not to interfere ,
I looked in a gazillion web sites, some bridal magazines and of course, the Martha Stewart team, my ultimate source.
In one particular Atlanta boutique bridal shoppe, I saw 7 veils, all stark white and one ivory. Not anything fancy or memorable for such an event, just kinda plain and in your face there. I took it right then and there from the pricing that this was one of the more affordable parts of the bridal attire.
The one thing that really stood out was how impersonal they were.
I thought right then and there, someone needs to personalize this; I knew how to solve that and took on that challenge as you will find out in the next posts.
I mentioned to the sales clerk that her job was probably really a joyous one and such a pleasure to be around planning of an orchestrated ceremony, touching such beautiful fabrics, handling sparkly beading, polishing crystals and seeing how creative designers can fashion for all types of body silhouettes.
"Not so", she said. "Melt-downs happen daily".
I cringed. Why and who?
Turns out that the bride will love something only to be shot down by the well meaning, or jealous, bridal attendants. Not to mention an insensitive mother of the bride when asked to come look at what she found. Now, do not get me wrong, a girl should have what she wants but sometimes ideas may be unsuitable when we all know that strapless is not for all types of body frames or fabric is more like a nightgown than a bridal gown; someone needs to be honest with the bride.
But as my Daddy always told me, "it is not what you say but the way that you say it".
Tact, and diplomacy should be the stronger suits for this type of moment.

Southern Sisters,LLC is created

Alpaca fiber is incredible. This spectaular livestock has been on our farm in Georgia for the last ten years. Each year, they are shorn, around April 1 in the south. I have never really had the time to be creative with the fiber, but this year things became very different. For you see, I now have found a way to incorporate the alpaca fiber into some spectacular designs for brides. As of June 2009, I have been a director of several really awesone and neat weddings, been the mother of the bride and the wife of the father of the bride. All totally different roles and all varied positions of lips: open or closed! What I noticed was the lack of emphasis and focus on the purpose of the veil, and the blusher in the bridal attire. There is no set protocol on this so I think I shall create one! Friday 8/14/2009 is my birthday and also I celebrate the anniversary of the end of the war on Japan, thus you know my age! I feel inclined to do something different. It is never too late to let neurons fire up and challenge them to see whether they stick, or not. Brides are so focused on the dress (as the wedding shop wants you to be), but the veil is what makes the difference between a wedding dress and a party dress. This my search and study of the veil. Plus, the creation of beautiful, graceful attire for the bride's hair, her glory. At the same time I thought, "got to get that luxurious fiber in the midst", so we did! Let's see if I can combine all these worlds into true art and expressions of love for world peace. I formed a coop of some of my fellow alpaca breeders who are fiber artists to provide me with the bandeaux, the pillbox for the veils and the various heart shaped felted pieces for the fascinators. We are called Southern Sisters LLC and are carving a place in the heart of the bride-to-be and the incorporation of the alpaca smack dab in the middle of it. Thus begins the journey as I share our creations for you to see and purchase.