This post is for Alexis from Electra designs corsetry. She asked on facebook to see some of my corsets and I am terribly pleased, and although I am in America at the moment and have only 4 corsets with me and no dress form, I decided to go for the cushion option: Get a big cushion, and tie your corset around it and you get a reasonable, not great, but reasonable approach to how it looks.

So I have been working on making corsets. I am still working on utter perfection though.

So here is my first corset. I’ve been wearing it a lot, and I still like it. I have already worn out one corset lace on this one.
I made it from a pattern, which was published in a dutch magazine, La Gracieuse in 1880, and ”adapted to the modern figure”. Which is where it goes wrong, because I don’t think I have the modern figure. Anyway, while making it I already adapted it a bit, so it’s not exactly following the pattern after all.
It is made of denim (!) not coutil, fused onto the curtain fabric which is the outer layer. It hasn’t stretched yet. It has a wide busk and spring steel bones. Because I happened to have them hanging around.
I still wear it quite often because it is a great corset and makes me a lot more comfortable when I have my moon-time. I think it cuts down on my painkillers by about 50%!
The spring steels make it a bit heavy, but it’s greatest drawback is that it doesn’t allow enough space for my hips and my bum, after a few hours that starts to irritate me.
After making this corset I was hooked and kept dreaming of more.

So then I started experimenting a bit. This is my #3 corset, made of coutil inside and Boutonniere Broche on the outside. So two layers of proper corset material. I have been abusing wearing this corset a lot!
Oh, yes, and I completely forgot to put in a waist tape…
The idea behind this corset is to have more space for my hips and bum (btw, it was not enough) an hourglass waist, and lots of space for my ribs, (actually too much), so I can have full use of my lungs while cycling. Because while you normally don’t notice anything, if you are, for example cycling up against one of these very steep bridges in Amsterdam, you notice you are restricted by a corset.

This corset is made with single 7mm boning which is a bit too light. (#2 was made with single 11mm) One time I was bored and tried my hand at a bit of flossing. All bones are flossed on this corset.

#4 corset turned out to be incredibly wasp waisted, a bit too much really, I don’t waist train. It is more of a waspie, I used a smaller busk, with swarovski crystals in the little nobs, really pretty and very sturdy. It is also the first corset where I made the bias tape myself from the same fabric.

I then made two corsets, at the same time, I call both of them #5, with the same (altered again) pattern. I needed to get rid of that extreme wasp waist. One is at home, made of lovely velvet and coutil, and this one, made of a vintage fabric I have had since I was in high school and never dared to use for anything because I love it! now an underbust corset doesn’t take a lot of fabric so this is the first time I used some of it. I had a busk with gilded hooks and knobs, very pretty, and spring steels next to it for stiffness. The other bones are 11 mm spiral steels. The inside is of white coutil.
I added even more space for hips and bum, and it’s getting to be enough, just a little bit more…

Showing the back to show the nice creme rivets (in a steel lacing bone). And the ribbon, This is the only corset I close with a ribbon instead of a lace, or my favorite: a good looking black nicely woven thin rope from the hardware store.

#6, Black coutil inside and the black boutonniere broche on the outside. this one is supposed to be for comfort, with finally enough hip and bum space (at last!) Double boned with 11mm spring steel, which I think is overdoing it a bit. next time I will use the 7mm spring steel boning. Very nice black powder coated busk, which I again paired with spring steel bones. Forgot the waist tape again! We’ll see how that works out in this very heavily boned corset.

The black busk. I will abuse this one a lot to find out how sturdy that powder coating actually is!

#7. The last one up to date. Back to square one. I took the commercial pattern, and added the needed space for hips and bum. (perfect). It is now a bit too wide in the chest at the back. I do make mock ups, but you only really notice the irritating details after a hours, or even days, of wearing
The fashion fabric was pretty but nasty to work with, very thin, frayed a lot, and as you see it’s rippling! Which makes this corset unacceptable. I might make another one, because I love the fabric (it’s inside out btw, because I liked that even better) and fuse it. I had prepared the strips of fabric to make bias tape, but I wanted it for my trip so made do with commercial bias tape. I always like a black border anyway.
Now this is very nice, very comfortable, but I can’t seem to get rid of the hourglass waist when I really want to make a good fit. I am going to try one more time, to have a fitting Perfect Pattern, with slightly less hourglass effect.,

The back, laced with my favorite lacing: the rope from my hardware store. Dead cheap, and it doesn’t slip when lacing up, and pretty! A bit too short, so I didn’t lace the last rivet. These are burnished brown.

Dior is a good friend, and so is dr Roxs, his private attendant, trainer, and stable boy.
Dior has a very elegant head, and carries it beautifully, he is also very dependable and very kind. It was a pure joy painting this sympathetic horse.

I started off with a beautiful canvas, very good quality solid wood, covered with the best quality linen. The linen is stretched the ”wrong way around”, so the beautiful greyish green natural linen is up front.

This is real quality, this will last!
Now, before you can paint on linen you need to size it, with gesso or acrylic. Of course this means you loose the linen color, and some of the texture. To keep the linen as it is, while still be able to paint on it I sized it with Lascaux imprègne.

To get a start I did a quick line drawing in acrylic. The drawback on this style is that I can’t really make a mistake because I can never get rid of it.

When I am satisfied with the line drawing, and confident it will be a good likeness, with all Dior’s proportions and personality.

Then I put on some basic color, very ”meager” quite thin. This is one type of painting where I want to keep the paint thin, showing lots of handwriting. Again, if I mess up I cannot scrape it off and start afresh. Basically I do give up the advantages of oilpaint.

Painting several more layers actually takes time. I don’t want to mess up by putting too much paint on the canvas, which is só easy to do! Neither do I want to become too fiddly, to precise, which is also much easier to do than keeping it fresh and straightforward.
It’s really difficult to explain, but it is easier to do an over painted, over detailed, over ”photographically-realistic” painting than keeping a grip on yourself and stopping before you get bogged down.
and trust your hand!

Especially the final touches have to be spot on, right color, right place, right thickness.
It’s best not to think too much about it…

The real test of course is when Diors personal attendant gets to see it…

More about that later!

So I have been commissioned to paint a lot of Pegasuses racing to get away from a thunderstorm.   Sometimes the sun smiles on an artist!

A tantalizing couple of sketches and close-ups….

The cloudy background

Hope you enjoyed!

I painted this for friends who lost their daughter.
I never met her, and only had four photo’s to use as an example.   Her mother told me about her though. I had the impression of a sun child. That’s the term I use for those rare people who seem to be able to make the sun shine even when it’s raining.

This is the ”under painting”

The finished portrait

Today is the birthday of my horse Al Tarq!

I have been spending a lot of time in Amsterdam, off and on, and have been working on this very large wall painting in the library of an 18th century canal house.
The idea is that the wall painting should have an eighteenth century connection, without it looking like we tried to ”fake” it, a modern feeling should be there as well.
As an inspiration we chose the Chinese wall paper at Nostell Priory. It is exceptionally beautiful, it was supplied by Chippendale who designed the chinoiserie furniture to go with it. It is however very ”busy”. I went for a more balanced custom design to fit the dimensions of the room. Also, the brush strokes, and my ”handwriting” will be clearly discernible.

The Chinese wall painting and Chippendale furniture at Nostell Priory.

My design for the right side of the room, with the fireplace:

The room! There are bits of wall to be painted on every wall except the windows.

The base color is finished, it is really three colors on top of each other, the last one very subtly sponged to make the color look less of a solid block.

The sketch. I paint directly on thge wall, I don’t use a magnifier which projects a drawing on the wall. This is of course more difficult, but it is also a lot more spontaneous.

The colors of the tree and the flowers. It is going to be very gay. The crane is almost finished

The bird is talking to the crane. One wonders what they are up to when the lights go out and nobody is in the room…

The painting is finished. Sort of. I am still wondering if I shouldn’t change a few bits here and there. Now the books with all their colors are in their cases, and the pretty knick-knacks are on the shelf, it looks very much integrated into the room.

To make things more difficult I want to make this corset, the patent is on line (and expired), I think it looks very interesting. And difficult. But imagine it works!

So I have drawn the design, and colored it, to understand it better.

I want to make it in black and white broche

And I kept on making plans and sketches, a birdcage corset. There are more people who play with this idea, it’s not mine. Alexis of Electra designs corsets has made one.

Mine will be made (if I get around doing it) with double white coutil, and lots of spiral bones, one under each black line which is the bone casing. The bird is a phoenix painted on the coutil

Another sidestep from BIG ART is sewing. I like to make a lot of my own clothes, and since last year I got interested into corsets. A girl from whom I used to buy haberdasheries in the market got me on to it. I brought some materials but I never got around actually making one. But last September I did. (I have been trying to make a decent photo all morning but none of them came out any good)
(so you’ll just have to deal with these rather bad photo’s)
So this is the first one, I used a commercial pattern for it, but I tweaked it around a bit.

And the strange thing is, I love wearing it! Especially if I have a bit of a belly- or back ache! I wanted to finish it for my costume at the sidesaddle competition, (it wasn’t finished in time) There is still a lot left to be desired on this corset.
Anyway, I have made three more! They are all underbusts. I have been experimenting a bit, I made one with the idea it should be usable, comfortable and simple. It is made from two layers of simple black coutil. (coutil is the special fabric you need for making a proper corset)

And then I made this one, which is supposed to be super comfortable, and not constrict breathing when cycling up one of those high bridges in Amsterdam…
It is made of a beautiful flowered Broche, lined with black coutil.

Detail with flossing

And then my super hourglass waisted evening underbust! Made of Chinese brocade, and the busk has little swarovski crystals on the knobs… But the photography wasn’t good enough to capture them.

And I have two more ready to be sewn up! I can’t wait until I am home again and can start working on them!
I am also going to start on making an overbust. :)
Who needs tv?

We had this talk on another blog, and a blogging buddy said something like, ”It is not only art which matters, but also all the things one does besides making art which defines the artist”

That is something I have always agreed with, and which at times I find very difficult to explain, especially to my mother who always thought I was wasting time when I spend a lot of time and effort in one of my ”non-high-art” projects. But I think it is an inevitable part of ones existence as an artist. I don’t think I know any fellow artist who doesn’t have one or more ”hobbies” next to making art. I think we all ”collect” stuff for example. Maybe antiques of an unusual kind, or just simply ”Objects de Virtue”, but I cannot call to mind any artist of my acquaintance who does not collect something.
I definitely am a shocking collector! I collect books, porcelain, jewelery,  antique fans, you name it, I collect it…

I also have many interests which are related to my art, yet also apart from it. I play the concert flute, I have trained as a western saddle maker, I have trained as a silversmith, (I love jewelry) I make my own clothes, I can repair my own shoes, I restore antique fans. I am always busy with some project or other.

So I have decided that for this blog to be complete, I should not just constrain it to the art I make, but also to the interests surrounding it. So I will also be posting on all the other little and big things which occupy my mind and my time.

I have made this banner for a fellow blogger!

She is riding her favorite horse up the dune.

Aafke Art on YouTube

aafke at you tube




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