Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Marat Project: Tail End

Stuffing chicken breast and spinach salad into my face at the mo'; not as healthy as you might expect given the gallons of dressing.

And so.

The last update was close to a month ago and if this thing was close to being finished then, it's even closer now.

Let's start from the bottom!

 Shoes were required for this and I wasn't content to modify a pair scrounged at the thrift store. Like the breeches, it's hard to find artistic suggestions of what Marat might have worn for footwear so I elected to go with a soft shoe made entirely out of leather. Enough to get around in but definitely not the fancy heely stuff you see on other chaps from the time period. I made these as "turn-shoes," a method used throughout the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance until you get heels turning up in the early 16th century. (If you're interested in the genesis of heels, take a squint here). It's quite probable that the lower classes were wearing something like this if they didn't have access to a cobbler. Clogs were also an option but... no. Just.... no.

The basic idea of a "turn-shoe" is to sew it inside out and then "turn" it the right way out so here we go sewing the upper around the sole. This is a great pdf for learning the proper stitch technique.

All done! Six hours and four bleeding fingers later.


Do it once more for the second one and then you're ready to turn them. They turned? Good! But wait! What's THIS....

The heel on the right is perfect but the heel on the left is all pinched and horrid.

How to fix? IS EASY! But I didn't learn this until the second shoe. 
Secret Hint: Make sure you awl the same number of holes into your sole as you do into your upper. And mark the placement of your upper on the sole before you do the awling. I took the stitches out of the heel and redid it later.


There we go. Ready for the strap, the laces, and the dye! The strap, which sits beneath the tongue, keeps them snugged up around my ankles. It was a basic strap/buckle set-up like this:

Add some antiquing gel to dye them and they're ready to go!

Sexy and suitably ghetto for Marat. 

The shirt, as you saw it in its last form, was far too clean so into a vat of boiling tea it went.

Tea-staining is a terrific way to make white stuff look old - paper, shirts, etc. Add to that failed ventures with pen-and-ink plus a couple dozen chicken wings (you BET I wore that to the pub), you've got just the right amount of filth. Behold.

The neckerchief is 100% linen and a bit of an homage to Marat's description in A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, who has him pulling "once at the red kerchief wrapped around his neck" prior to an evil-sounding speech at the Convention.* Linen wrinkles better than tin-foil so all I had to do was wet it, knot it, and wear it around for a morning for it to get that worn look.

On the topic of fabrics and the way they hang, I ended up redoing the tricoleur sash. The cotton broadcloth of the initial sash was simply too bulky so a visit to the bargain section at the fabric store yielded some lighter finds. Let's do a compare-and-contrast:

 Cotton on the left and mystery cheap fabric on the right. Sort of hard to tell but it generally sits nicer around the waist. Have trimmed the end and gone for a walk around the neighbourhood** with it trailing in some puddles to make it look like it's been... ahem... around the block.

One more thing before we pack it in for the night. This:

A pistol was mandatory and after a lot of dithering, I took the plunge and ordered the British Light Dragoon pistol from British, yes, but Marat could have legitimately had this during the Revolution. He lived in England between 1765 and 1774 so he could have picked it up then. Or it could have made its way over to the continent by the 1790s. Either way, there aren't many quality French pistols available and if I drill the touch-hole out on this one (and add a flint, duh), I'll be able to fire it. Beats the pants off the feeble nickle alloy reproductions anyways. Now let's see if I can get it into a Con.... (At least getting arrested suits the costume...)

It has settled in nicely. 

And so - on that very stupid note - I've wasted most of the evening writing this. The last couple of weeks have seen some intensive work on Korra's costume from Legend of Korra Season 2 but that's a post or two for later.

We leave for Seattle and Emerald City Comic Con a week today. There's a chance I might do a quick photoshoot with Marat this weekend and I do promise photos if that's the case.

Stay virtuous, citizens.

*It was gratifying to see a whole shelf of Mantel's work at the bookshop last night (due to her winning the Man Booker Prize twice now) but seeing PoGS there put me into a bit of a jealous pique that this terrific book about the lads should be so widely available to the witless masses....

**My corner of the city is becoming very yuppy, very quickly. Chez nous is easily the most derelict on the street, seconded by one further up inhabited by a senior Polish lady who covers the hood of her car every night during the winter with a Spiderman blanket. I wave to her when I drive past her on the street and she always says something that reads like "F*ck you" but I keep waving because that will be me in fifty years.

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