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Further Prick & Pounce Tests

I just finished another paper for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd the bulk of which was testing different pounce and fixatives to use with the prick and pounce technique when applied to dark fabrics... and now I'm filled with all sorts of ideas for further tests that ought to be done:

Further Pounces to Test (neither of which were really applicable to dark fabrics):

  • Lacis' blue transfer powder (what is that stuff made of?)

  • Cinnamon

Further Fixatives to Test (most of which weren't applicable to dark fabrics):

  • Clover White Marking Pen (available at Berlin Embroidery)

  • India ink

  • Ink pen

  • Mechanical pencil (not useable with current gray fabric...)

  • Medieval pigments: Lead white/ceruse (lead carbonate)

  • Medieval pigments: Bone white (calcium phosphate)

  • Medieval pigments: Chalk white (calcium carbonate)

  • Medieval pigments: Gypsum (calcium sulfate hydrate)

  • Medieval pigments: Lime white

Other Tests to Do:

  • Test Pounces on Velvet (does the adhesion of the pounce to the fabric change significantly?)

  • Test Pounces on Satin (ditto)

  • Test Fixatives+Embroidery though dry cleaning (do the watercolors blotch? Does the oil and acrylic really not bleed?)

Someday I'll actually finish another embroidery project, not just run tests for them... but I do feel closer to making the cloak for my Maciejowski outfit now that I've done this testing, and I've got the patterns for it all pricked and ready to go! :-) Just need to do the dry cleaning tests and do the further cloak analysis in the manuscript itself (and figure if there are any extant options except half circle cloaks, 'cause I really think that isn't what I'm seeing on the women... the pictures just aren't showing enough fullness...I'm actually starting to hypothesize that there are two styles of cloaks on the women: one that's just a rectangle and one that's shaped somewhat... but it's too early to say, I need more data to back up that assertion.)

Anyway, now that Thanksgiving's done and this paper's done I can get back to talking about 13th century sleeves ;-)


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 4th, 2013 01:17 pm (UTC)
'Way back in the art/painting renaissance, "pounce" for the cartoons used to transfer the designs for frescoes was powdered charcoal.

Obviously, charcoal doesn't come in blue.

According to this lady (I asked Google, "What is embroidery pattern transfer powder made of?"), embroidery pattern transfer powder was (or is) traditionally made from finely ground cuttlefish bone.


If that's so, then I'd guess the blue powder Lacis' sells is dyed cuttlefish bone, or cuttlefish bone mixed with a finely ground artists' pigment (in which case, you want to avoid inhaling the stuff: many of those are toxic), or just ground pigment, but I imagine if it is just ground pigment, it's one of the modern synthetics, some of which are also quite toxic. (Yes, I know: small quantities; frequency and duration of exposures; etc.)

I also found Lacis' descriptive catalog, but as embroidery isn't (yet?) one of my areas of endeavor, I don't know that it would be useful for some uninformed, inexperienced and unknowing individual such as myself to go through it.
But it's downloadable and it's also printable and in case you or any of your readers might find it useful, I'm including the link to it:

Someone, between my high school years and now, once said embroidery patterns were transferred by pouncing, using talc as the transferring medium. It didn't seem like a good idea.

Doesn't cinnamon contain oils? Isn't an aromatic oil what gives cinnamon its distinctive flavor and aroma? Would not that possibly stain a fine fabric? Or even a not-fine one?
Dec. 4th, 2013 02:50 pm (UTC)
I tested charcoal and cuttlefish bone and talc as part of my paper already :-)

I don't know how cinnamon will work, hence the desire to test it :-) I found a source recommending it, so... of course I found a source recommending flour too, and that was an abysmal failure.

It's a pity you can't get the descriptive catalogue without giving docstoc money. Does it really give information not on the website? The preview doesn't suggest that it does... (I'm afraid money is too tight right now to just arbitrarily see...)
Dec. 5th, 2013 06:28 am (UTC)
"I tested charcoal and cuttlefish bone and talc as part of my paper already :-)"

Ah. This, I did not know, since it wasn't part of this entry (until now.) I have no subscription to any e-zine such as "Your Wardrobe Unlock'd," but I know you understand how this goes [" (I'm afraid money is too tight right now to just arbitrarily see...)"] It's too tight, here, too: I never get to read your wonderful articles. (:-(

Your first question, under additional pounces [sic] to test, was: "Lacis' blue transfer powder (what is that stuff made of?)"
Because charcoal is such an old pattern transfer powder, and powdered cuttlefish bone is "traditional," I meant those as, ah, almost hypothetical observations; and that what seemed the most logical potential, to me, was or is that Lacis' blue embroidery pattern transfer powder is dyed, powdered cuttlefish bone, or powdered cuttlefish bone mixed with a pigment, or even the pure pigment itself.

For the record: a number of natural artists' pigments are toxic as well as quite expensive.
Dec. 9th, 2013 02:29 pm (UTC)
"For the record: a number of natural artists' pigments are toxic as well as quite expensive."

Well yes, but I think it's still worth the effort to try them to see how they compare to modern materials so you can make a more informed decision about what cheaper non-toxic method to use.

A small bit of lead white isn't going to hurt you so long as you're not eating it :) and it helps when you know an illuminator who's got the stuff already ;)
Dec. 9th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
In theory, you can even eat a small bit of white lead (or small amounts of other pigments known to be toxic) without it hurting you---if you're not ingesting, inhaling or otherwise absorbing it (through the skin, for instance) as well as that little bit of exposure incurred by eating the stuff.
And it is true that many of the mineral pigments, even non-toxic ones, can, will and do damage the lungs.

But we're in complete and total agreement that it's best to be making informed decisions.
Dec. 4th, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
Yay Science!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )