Sunday, May 25, 2008

Marie Antoinette & Art: Birds of a Feather

So this is what I assigned myself this weekend: 1. Go to library and read up on Marie Antoinette. Sometimes it's just fun to look at 'real' books instead of Googling everything. Yes, 'Google' is accepted as a verb. It was added to the world's dictionary, incredibly, a few years ago. Write article. 2. Watch 'Marie Antoinette' DVD. 3. Do 15 original 5 x 5 bird pages for The Faerie Zine, hosted by Lisa Kettell of 4. Complete Blythe costume for Cyndi of for The Blythe Costume Swap, also hosted by Lisa of The Faerie Zine. 5. Finish apron for Sharrena and mail to England. This is for The Vintage Apron Swap.
I have a few more projects and book page sets after this, and if I can just get them done, I'll have my summer free to do whatever art I want, plus enjoy going to my art and Blythe events, like Castle in the Meadow, Michigan Blythe Meet, ZNE Convenzione and Art and Soul Portland, without worrying about deadlines.
Nevermind that two of said books are coming to me to be assembled, punched, bound, embellished, packaged and mailed, to as far away as Canada and Israel to name a couple. The deadline is Tuesday for pages to get to me, so I am hoping my mailbox will be overstuffed Tuesday. Otherwise, it is wait, wait, wait on everyone's part.
As for the costume and apron swaps, I have no idea what possessed me to sign up. I must have been in an art and swapping frenzy, because I don't even sew! Yep, I signed up to sew a costume for a Blythe doll, and all I can do is sew (roughly) by hand. Oh sure, I have a sewing machine. But, it cost $10.95 and was intended for sewing on paper, which I can barely do without making a mess, tangling the thread, breaking a needle, cursing, jamming the machine and quitting.
Fortunately, the art muses smiled upon me, because as it turns out, my costume partner does not even own a Blythe and apparently has no urgent plans to do so. She said she would be happy with a piece of art to display. So the 7" Marie Antoinette costume IS Blythe-sized, but it does not come off the mannequin. It was made with no sewing by me and is assembled with straight pins and other smoke and mirrors. It includes vintage velvet millinery flowers and leaves, a vintage cameo from an earring, lace, brocade, wire and more.
Same story on the apron-no sewing for me. I bought a vintage apron at 'Pieces' in Valparaiso, IN where there were gazillions from which to choose, and then I scored some vintage ball fringe trim and had my favorite repair-shop seamstress sew it on for me. This is not laziness; this is wanting the thing to turn out decently for the recipient.
The bird pages were a lot of fun, and did involve sewing by me. I attached a dozen button eyes and wings with embroidery floss. The birds are from Artgirlz, and I got them and the felt flowers at Art & Soul Hampton earlier this month. For the backgrounds, I pulled out Bernie Berlin's Artist Trading Card Workshop and used her watercolor background technique on paper towels and/or wet wipes: kinda like tie-dyeing without any tying. It was a little messy but fun. Then I found some twigs outside and wired them on under beaded felt flowers. The stamping of the word 'fly' and the stamped backs I did while watching the 'Marie Antoinette' DVD.
Although the DVD cover describes her as "history's favorite villainess," the movie emphasis is surely on the 'favorite' part as she is portrayed sympathetically and fabulously by Kirsten Dunst. The movie is not deep and ends well before the nasty imprisonment part which led, as we all know, to the guillotine.
The movie does touch on her difficult relationship with her young groom, Louis XVI, and her heartbreaks of motherhood. In fact, three of four of Marie's children died before the age of 10. Although one son did outlive her, he died mysteriously at age 10 and only one child, Marie Therese, lived on into adulthood. It was allegedly more than 30 years after her mother's execution that the daughter finally received the letter her mother had written to her from her cell.
It is no wonder the entire story remains intriquing, enchanting and even romantic some 200 years later. Marie was very well documented to have been only 14 when she was married off to the prince (before even meeting him). He was only 15 himself and terribly shy. Marie had to leave everything behind in Austria when she was transported to France for the wedding celebration. Within a few short years, she and her young husband became the country's rulers, and due to a political mess they inherited but knew nothing about, they also became the symbols for excess, tyranny and failed government. And for anyone who doesn't know the end to the story, they were both be-headed in their 30's in 1793.
But, watch the movie if you want to avoid (mostly) the doom and gloom part. The Sofia Coppola film is a tribute to the haute couture of the period, and the eye candy is titillating. It adds to the fairytale side of the story. The jarring rock music from the present doesn't even seem out of place at all, which may be the point. Marie was just a girl, maybe a material girl; but she was born into the royal life, and it didn't turn out so well for her in the end.


Kristin Hubick said...

Oh, those birdies are SOO cute!!!!!!!!!!

Lilli said...

In grade 12 history class we had to do a big project on someone and I chose Marie Antoinette. We had a whole month to work on it and coincidentally my family went to Manhattan one weekend. (I lived across from Detroit). There was an exhibition at the MET on Marie Antoinette's clothes! I was able to take pix and bring back brochures for my project. I got an "A" on it, and when Mr.Lansdale handed it back to me he said to the class "That's dedication, going all the way to New York just for research!"

I didn't know that Google was a verb in the dictionary :)

m i c h e l l e said...

Glorious art, as always, Gina. I didn't realize Marie Antoinette was only 14 when she got married!!! Whoa!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gina! I love everything Marie Antoinette! Bought the movie and never tire of the colors and style, or Kirsten Dunst's portrayal. It's all so delicious! Last week I found a hat box at a resale shop with M.A. type costumed people all around it. SUCH a find. Loved your pretty birdies and the wired costume - tres magnifique!

PS Deep in moving Mom mode here: drove down and tackled the scary garage this weekend - junk and mice nests, oh my...