I just finished the biography of Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser, wife of Harold Pinter. Fraser is well-known for her amazingly in-depth research, and the book did not disappoint. If only there could have been more to the story! But with a life cut short at 37 by the French Revolution, the biography could only go on for so long. Nonetheless, I was inspired to create another 'Marie' figure based on the incredible couture from the period.
As Queen of France, Marie was a patron of all of the arts, including music, ballet, theatre and of course, fashion. She was not as interested in the great painters, but instead constructed a little theatre, the Petit Trianon, where she put on plays with family and friends. Often her own dress or hair were theatres themselves, with elaborate scenes constructed within.
My glass-bottom 'bird cage' skirt features a scene with vintage millinery and jewelry bits. The skirt hoop and train are constructed from the wire form from an old hat as well as brocade, tulle and velvet leaves and ribbon. This 'bird cage couture,' as coined by the lovely and talented Sandra Evertson http://sandraevertson.blogspot.com/ was made even more perfect for me by the markings on the jar I found just today in an antiques shop.
The bodice or corset is a 7" wire mesh corset form from Stampington and Co. http://www.stampington.com/. I cut the bottom off and used it to form the wire skirt on another Marie I made here http://bly-me.blogspot.com/2008/05/art-and-blythe-come-together.html. It is shown in the middle pictures above also. For the glass-bottom Marie, I placed a vintage doily in the corset top and trimmed the edges with sequins.
After I realized I could get two, two, two Maries in one, I decided to get even more thrifty and used the Stampington two-piece small mannequin with hoop form http://www.stampington.com/html/wire_forms.html for four different projects: 1) the Last Beautiful Dress Castle in the Meadow project I blogged about below here http://lillysoflondonish.blogspot.com/2008/06/last-beautiful-dress-at-castle-in.html, using the top of the dress form, 2) a yet-to-be-done-hopefully-tomorrow papier mache bust into which I stuck the feet from the Stampington form, and 3) two Marie 8 x 8 book pages for The Faerie Zine, http://faerieenchantment.blogspot.com/, which I made by cutting the skirt piece in half at the sides. Those pages are here http://lillysoflondonish.blogspot.com/2008/04/queen-has-spoken-and-she-said-tres-bien.html and here http://lillysoflondonish.blogspot.com/2008/04/if-idle-hands-are-bad-im-looking-good.html.
Oh, and just in case you think I might be sick of all things Marie, I also made the 18" figure shown at the very top as a gift. It is a papier mache form covered with French text, handmade papers, feathers, beads and many vintage trims. I think I might have been good at passenmenterie, the French art of adornment, such as with tassels, brocade trims and such that we might think of as upholstery trims. C'est la vie.