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I can see a little bit clearer now...

 My head hurts.  Other things hurt (including my hips - weird, and not conducive to deep sleep).  I'm tired.

I spent yesterday at home, because of the hurt, and I would have taken today, too, except for needing to do some stuff on my work computer.

The red bodies are almost done with the lacing, and now I just have to hem the two skirts, because I always make them a tad too long.  Thank you to everyone who has chimed in on the lacing discussion, and added more to it through their own posts (looking at you, heatermcca- your pictures rock, and I may be begging you for permission to use them in my article) - I am combing through my library to gather my evidence and my thoughts.

I do need to point out that this is a very specific, very small thing, it wasn't done by everyone, and I can really only speak for English and Flemish fashion. 

But that's what it's all about, amirite?  Finding small things and adding them to the general knowledge pool, not simply accepting what came before if it doesn't quite work.  In the case of my previous skirt knowledge (courtesy of J'town's costume department), it mostly worked, so I didn't question it until kass_rants asked about it, but it stands as a perfect example of why one should question everything.

I don't mind being challenged on what I say on my web site - it is a useful tool for me as well as for those who ask, because if I can't support something, then I have no business propagating the information in the first place.  My site is not about promoting memememe! (no, really, I swear), it's about getting the best information I can pull together and letting as many people know about it as possible.  If I'm wrong, God, please, let me always have the grace to admit it cheerfully and start over.  The thing I want least in the world is to become a cult of personality.  Like me for my work, my intelligence, my wacky sense of humour, my ability to balance a spoon on my nose and drop it down my cleavage - but don't turn me into some sort of demi-god who can never be challenged or deposed.  My wish is to be part of the education of the next generation of historical costumers, who hopefully will go on to even bigger and better things.  

The desire to be on top and remain on top is a sterile, useless ambition - it stifles questioning, which is vital to the growth of understanding.

Fuck, I'm sounding a bit messianic - it's the drugs.  And the glass of wine I had last night that made me totally giggly (and was very welcome after a hard day), but gave me a bit of a headache this morning.

When it comes to my own research, I feel sometimes like I'm staring through a telescope that isn't quite focused - I have a general fuzzy idea of clothing for the time, but the details only come through slowly, and after long bouts of staring at the evidence.  One picture is never enough - I have to find five, and then written references, and then oblique references, and then the political/sociological/economic/personal ramifications before I'm satisfied.  

But every time I find something that works - that really, really works, and doesn't use any modern costuming tricks or shortcuts - I feel like I'm a micron closer to the real picture.  It keeps me going, renews my energy, and unfortunately, makes me overhaul or get rid of all the things in my wardrobe/kit that don't fit.

Don't get me wrong - sometimes I do say "it's fine the way it is" and leave it.  But sometimes it isn't, and just getting that tiny bit closer is all that matters.  My standards are mine, and I don't hold anyone else to them.  My level of work is not a reflection on anyone other than me, and I never make something with the intention of making other people feel inferior.  I really feel that everyone should achieve the level they're happy with, not force themselves to do stuff they hate because of outside expectations.  Heck, we get enough of that from our families and bosses - this is a hobby.  My version of this hobby just happens to include a lot of nit-picky detail work, that's all.  I like to do this stuff.

When I started in the SCA, all I wanted was to look like a fairy princess (I still want to, mind you - just not at SCA events).  I had made costumes for years (participated in Con masquerades and everything), and thought costuming was what I wanted to do.  Unfortunately, I had some false starts and some bad falls along the way, not least because I was largely self-directed in my research.  I was told in no uncertain terms that costuming was not going to be a viable course for me, and as a result, I spent several years painting instead (eventually getting a Laurel for that, and music).

I "found" proper Elizabethan clothing about the same time I met Bob (about 16 years ago), because he took me to my first Gardiner's event; I realized that this was what I had been looking for, and fell in love instantly.  My education began anew.  I got some help, and kept my eyes and ears open for any little bits of info that came my way, but was still largely self-directed.  Luckily, I've always done better with independent learning, and in some ways, it helped, because I was never taught to accept without question any of the costuming "absolutes" I was told (and I've been told some pretty odd things over the years).

But I've spent most of my time in the SCA dissatisfied with how my things look - I want to look at an Elizabethan woman when I look in the mirror, not a person in costume.  Each time I find something new, the picture gets a little sharper.

I'm not there yet.  But my vision is slowly clearing.

Comments

attack_laurel
May. 7th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
I get all excited, like I'm about to meet someone I love whom I haven't seen for ages. It's a drug. A drug, I tell you!

(Have to go back to my Dutch books and stare more...)
heatermcca
May. 7th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
I heart my (US) National Gallery art books, I do. And my big, fat art history textbook that one could use for a safe's doorstop.

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