Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jolly Jane's Gypsy-O!

Jolly Jane in Gypsy-O!
For as long as I can remember, I've been enchanted by the idea of gypsies.  The caravan.  The campfires.  The whirlwind of colorful skirts and scarves spinning to the sound of the jingle and bang of the tambourine!

My first encounters with the world of gypsies came on heels of two wonderful Hollywood films.  One would have been The Wizard of Oz, where in the land of black and white Kansas, the wizard, with his crystal ball, asks Dorothy to enter his fabulous caravan and have her future told.  The other, and most prominent, would be The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara, as Esmeralda, the Gypsy Girl.  Watching her dance among the throngs in the town square, she captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, but especially Quasimodo and his adoptive father, Archdeacon Claude Frollo.

Frances Tipton Hunter's Illustration
Such a sad, yet wonderful tale by Victor Hugo, published in 1831. The story is set Paris during the late middle ages, during the reign of Louis XI (1461-1483).  The original story ends tragically with both the hanging of Esmeralda, and Quasimodo dying of starvation, exiled.  Yet, Hollywood, being what it is, has Esmeralda saved in the end, and her savior, Quasimodo, wondering why he had to born ugly.

Stepping through time to the 1970's, who wasn't delighted with the cover of Heart's second album, Little Queen?  The cover shows the lovely sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson, with their band, dressed in gypsy attire in a camp setting with a wonderfully ornate caravan in the background.  Probably last item, of note, was the book Gypsy Folk Tales by Diane Tong, which was released in 1989.  I bought a copy and sat down to read the stories, cover to cover.  Incredible!

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda
So when given the decision on whether next to make Jolly Jane's "cheerful cherryland kimono, O-hi-o! (that's Japanese for Good Day), or the Gypsy-O costume, there was no contest.  Well, maybe a little.  Just a little.  And, the reason being that Gypsy-O was going to be extremely tedious and difficult to make.  When do I shy from a challenge anyway?!

I actually began with the tough stuff first.  The accessories.  If I couldn't pull off the scarf, head wrap, it wasn't going to happen at all.  After closely studying this illustration for several months, I chose bead pearls and large gold sequins to make the adornments.  I bought a bag of mid-sized, flat gold sequins, and some hole punches, and began making each sequin by hand.  The large sequins are half inch pieces punched out of the larger sequins.  A tiny 1/16" hole was then punched into the piece at the top center.  The tougher pieces were the "earring-type" adornments.  With these I took the full sized sequin and punched a half inch hole off set from the center, followed by a pin hole at top made with a pair of pliers and a needle, for stitching onto the scarf.

The "donut" shaped sequins were then pierced with a needle in eleven equally spaced holes around the edge to which the pearl beads were then sewn on.  These sat for a few months while I worked on other things.  I guess the process was a bit intimidating, and I did have a few other projects on the plate.  Talk about procrastination!  Well, after Edie's outfits were done, I started afresh.  With the sequin embellishments ready at hand, I could begin.  But, I didn't start there.  I began with the waist wrap.

The waist wrap is made from a cotton sateen and was decorated with silk ribbons to emulate the stripes in the illustration.  Two rows of tiny silk embroidery thread tassel fringe was made on each end.  Careful study of the illustration did not give me the idea that this fringe needed to be all around the long waist wrap.  If it had, I'd still be making the fringe.  Which isn't an excuse, I promise!  If I've said it once, I'll say it again.  Illustrators have wonderful artistic license!  Not everything we see is what it would actually be.  Next I tackled the head wrap.

I used my buckram base start.  Much as I did for Daisy's bathing hat scarf.  Ooooo!  So long ago.  If you just cut a piece of fabric and tied it around the doll's head, it would never look like the illustration.  And, you'd have to fuss with it again and again each time you dressed the doll.  Best to make it into a little "turban".  This, again, was made with the same cotton sateen as the waist wrap.  Added into the head wrap was a piece of delicately flowered cotton batiste.  I'm guessing this "scarf piece" would have tied the red scarf to the head, then the red scarf would have been tied around it.  I sewed on a row of pearl beads between the two circular pearled adornments, then sewed the little sequins above it.

Next I tackled the neck scarf.  This is a cotton silk square that's been edged, like a quilt?, with red silk.  This took a little puzzling out since the corners needed to be mitered.  It worked, but after considering the folding of the square into a triangle to tie around her neck, I decided, rather than turn the edges of red under and hand stitch them, I'd do something different.  I folded the square over to a triangle and sewed the edges together.  Then I turned it inside out and pressed it into a tiny shawl shape. With a few rolls from the wide end, I got the look I wanted when tied around her neck.

To me, the three toughies were done, so I went on to designing the jewelry.  She has two long necklace wrapped twice around her head for the doubled drape affect.  I strung gold and aqua beads on this beading thread called Stretch Magic.  Its the clear elastic beading thread that makes stretchy necklaces and bracelets.  This way I didn't have to use clasps and the doll's hair would not be in harm's way.  I also made her three gold bracelets this way.  Only I used rectangular old gold beads.  The idea of a solid gold bangle was out of the question.  It would never fit over those fingers on the doll's hand (without breaking a finger or two!)

The blouse came next and this was made of that pretty cotton silk I enjoy using.  The pattern was drawn with a wide center in front for gathering to achieve a rather peasant blouse look.  Normal peasant blouses have puffed sleeves, either long or short, but Francis Tipton Hunter drew hers like a blouse a little child might pull from her closet in 1923.  So I followed suit.

The skirt is made from a yellow silk.  It might be a Shantung silk, but I don't remember.  I've had this piece in my fabric collection for quite awhile.  The fun thing about this skirt is that while deciding what kind of waistband to put on it, I did a rather "Kathy O'Malley" move, and gave it a gold silk waistband.  This almost gives it the effect of a belt.  Since the waistband cannot be seen in the illustration, I took some artistic license myself.  It closes in the back with a thread loop and yellow button.

Finally I tackled the black velveteen vest.  The vest is lined in black silk dupioni and has shiny gold soutache, or braid, edging the armholes and edges.

What a lot of work!  I was lucky to find another gypsy costume set by Magic Attic that had the tambourine in it.  Magic Attic was a Tonner produced fantasy doll from the early 90's.  Four little girls would go up to Grandma's attic and find a costume in the trunk to dress up and play in.  They'd step through a magic mirror and be transported to a time, in costume, to live through a life lesson experience.  Yes, I have Megan, and also her gypsy costume.  So Jolly Jane has a perfect little tambourine for the show.

This was fun.  Challenging, yes, but fun.  I love working with costuming, and have my sights on Halloween.  This early?  Why of course.  It does take time to make these costumes.  I don't know if I'll do another right away, but Katy Curls may want one from Frances Tipton Hunter's The Children's Party Book.  (Remember the George Washington Party?)

So I'll end on that note. 

" A GYPSY-O!  That's what Jolly Jane chooses to be at the children's dress-up and make-believe party -- Ringle-Jingle-tingle-toe!" - Frances Tipton Hunter

Miss E Mouse


Ringle-Jingle-tingle-toe!  Jolly Jane is Gypsy-O!

No comments:

Post a Comment