...Oh do get to the point!
A very good friend of mine is the Big Cheese at a museum, and they want to do a Santa's Grotto that will blow the minds of the world in its fabulousness. It's all about visitor experience people! No red velour, nasty white fur and cotton wool beard for this Santa. Oh no, he is going to be a real Dickensian Santa.
And, I am responsible for making his fantastic costume. No pressure.
I mean, I couldn't say no - it's such a fantastically fun project!!
Now I am sure that you all know Santa was stolen by Coca Cola early in the 20th C - prior to that he could be seen wearing not just red, but green, purple, burgundy, midnight blue - usually a long hooded robe trimmed in fur and often a wreath of holly. Here are some inspiration pictures - including The Ghost of Christmas Present from Dicken's A Christmas Carol.
This last image really took our fancy over a phone call accompanied by links to images sent back and forth. Imagine a greeen Santa with Arctic Fox fur trims!!!
And so, I got sampling and dyeing. I really love this stage of the process, arguably more than the construction, as it is where the artistry comes in.
I was over the moon to find a beautiful, almost entirely natural fibre based brocade, that just needed over dyeing. And a fabulous light brocade to go with it:
But the Staff pointed out to their Cheese that the iddy diddy kiddies would not realise the Green Guy was Santa. Red won. I am in awe of the Staff as I rarely win an argument with the Cheese. He is very hard to say no to. Lovely smile...
I love red and was more than willing to go with the decision, but finding a red fabric to match the beautiousness of the green was not so easy. I tried overdyeing the greyish original brocade in red and I love it, but I suspect any Santa wearing it would have looked like he had chainsawed the reindeer and all the elves while wearing it. SO not the look we want, in the context. I may yet make myself something out of it however...
And that IS the trouble with red. It is not a benign colour. Get it wrong and it is scary, get it too right and it is plastic. Lesigh.
Enter the Rayon Velvet. Very small poly content, a great sheen with a rough surface so lots of texture. Very drapey and heavy. The most delicious strawberry jam, Renaissance red. I loved it soo much, I realised it too needed overdyeing, lest it look a bit orange or pink to those not as red-sensitive as me.
We also had to swap the idea of Arctic Fox with a white rabbit fur - dirty not white thank you - It came from The Shop of Which We Do Not Speak, and was twice the price as the fab faux fox, but its dirty beigy white is just right. And in spite of being yukky acrylic, it feels incredible. Everything has to feel nice so kids sitting on Santa's knee only feel soft textures.
And that is where I leave the story for today. More soon... :)