Christmas Decoration 2015, Completed - 18th-Century Gown, DV Style

The Countessa Ephemera's evergreen gown for Christmas 2015 is completed.

Made with three different kinds of evergreen (cedar, blue spruce and yew), hydrangeas and branches. from my property. I also recycled a few decorative elements from past Christmases.

This shot was taken in the dining room, I had to move the table out of the way to get a clear shot. The wall sconces on each side and the valence drapes helps in creating an 18th century mood.

Here seen with the coordinating headdress. If the Countessa still had her head attached to her body, she would strike a very tall figure at 8 feet not counting the branches sticking out from above her flowery wig. On her feet, lovely heels such as these and in her hand a delicate fan.

The gown has been placed outside on my front veranda 
where it will stay fresh and green all winter.

Hope you enjoyed the making of the Countessa's new gown and headdress.
Wishing you all a most lovely holiday season. 

Christmas Decoration 2015, Part III - 18th-Century Gown, DV Style

Now for 'La Grande Robe'. The image above was the inspiration for the Countessa's Christmas gown. Reproducing the distinctive shape, lines and volumes of that era, all the while using my own materials, will create something new and original. The caption underneath translated to English reads: 
Young Lady of Quality Wearing Grand Dress with Elegant Headdress

Protecting my seamstress mannequin is imperative as it will spend the winter months outside. I use thick garbage bags and make sure to seel every opening. 
I then use packing tape to redefine the feminine form.

Since the d├ęcolletage will be apparent, I used prints of 18th-century paintings, cut and glued on the chest and neck.

I first wrapped the chicken wire around the mannequin, then added sleeves and rolls of chicken wire around the hips to support the volume of the skirt.

I added a finer plastic mesh to the front panel for the hydrangea stems.

I defined the edges of the front panel with blue spruce.

Here you can see that the evergreen branches can be weaved through the chicken wire, but the hydrangea stems are thin and better suited for the finer plastic mesh.
I secure the stems with a dab of hot glue.

Front panel almost done.

Detail of chest area. 

It's starting to take shape. 
Come back later.

Christmas Decoration 2015, Part II - 18th-Century Headdress, DV Style

To finish it off, I borrowed some millet from my budgies to simulate 'les boudins' on the neck and shoulders and voila.

I purchased a few things, like little birds and a birdhouse. The big magnolia flowers I recycled 
from previous years and of course, the glass head is reused every year. 
Everything else comes from my garden.

The Countessa's head sits atop my china cabinet in the dining room, waiting patiently for her dress to be created. Come back later for the making of The Countessa's New Gown.

Christmas Decoration 2015, Part I - 18th-Century Headdress, DV style

This year I will revisit, with my good friend The Countessa Papera Ephemera, the period from where she comes from, the 18th century. If you recall, she lost her head during the French Revolution, you can read about her here and see the first dress I made for her. So in this spirit I will lose my head for this holiday creation and decorate with appropriate excess and frivolity,
starting with the head dress. The image above The Flower Garden was the trigger 
for all this 'madness'.

The Queen of excess and frivolity was, of course, the legendary Marie-Antoinette, which started the whole thing rolling.

The first image The Flower Garden is a caricature, but not that far off from the reality seen above. Hight and volume is what I aim to achieve, but mostly with elements from my garden. 

Two types of hydrangea blooms, sedum, lemon grass, pine cones and branches. Although I have a huge walnut tree growing in my backyard, I did not risk collecting its fruits as the flesh is poisonous.
All these elements made from a drab palette so I used vegetable dye, mica and gold spray paint to liven it up.

I mixed the dye and micas in water then swished the hydrangea blooms around and left them to dry.
It added colour, all the while keeping the look natural. In some cases, I sprayed the blooms with gold paint and in other cases, I added a touch of gold to a dyed bloom.

The Countess' glass head has been left clear this year. Chicken wire and garden mesh was used as foundation to achieve height and volume.

The branches were cut straight so they can rest flat on the head and secured with hot glue. I made sure this stage was very secure as I did not want everything to collapse once finished.

I started building the wig with a dab of hot glue where needed.

Almost done...