05 February 2016

Ear Cauls, Four Ways

Two years ago I made this set of red and gold ear cauls.  Last year at Gulf Wars, one got thoroughly crushed when I packed to head back home.  I decided to make a new set, and I had three goals in mind:
  1. not red and gold
  2. sturdier construction
  3. more secure way of keeping them on my head
Keeping those goals in mind, allow me to show you my new cauls:

1. Oops. 

They're totally red and gold. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just thought I'd do a new color this time. Turns out, this was the fabric that I liked the best. It's left over from the red, faux-silk sari that I used to create the trim on the red and white Habsburg gown that I made for Candlemas in 2015.   I'm rather proud of myself for using the fabric the way I did: there's far less applied decoration on these, since the fabric itself is jacqard and brocade, and there's a little decorative border between the two already.  I aligned that line vertically, so that I can flip the cauls around and wear either the red side or the gold side facing outward.  It's almost like having two sets of these!

2. Sturdier Construction

This time, rather than creating a papier-maché form, I made something more similar to plaster, with layers of buckram soaked in a mixture of white glue and water. They took about four hours to dry completely. They're a bit flexible, but extremely strong.  They're a little heavier than the papier-maché set, which will help keep them in place.  I changed the shape a bit by forming the cauls over a little glass bowl from Ikea, instead of over the wire spider that I used the last time.

Clockwise from top left: glass Ikea bowl; buckram caul
forms; scissors; sari fabric scraps; buckram trimmed from
edges of cauls

Between this stuff, the spray adhesive, and the
hot glue I used to attach the trim, I pretty much
glued myself to everything I own for three days
in a row. The other day I glued a box of baking
soda to my bathroom counter.  I have glue issues.

Last time, I attached the fabric to the forms with spray adhesive. It was quick, but that was both good and bad: it was so quick that I didn't have time to smooth out the fabric over the forms as much as I'd have liked. This time, I used a mixture of white glue and water on a paintbrush to attach the fabric...but because this glue was so much slower than the spray, and so wet that it kept softening the forms and making them mooshy, I actually had a really hard time getting the fabric to stay on the form:

A terrible idea in progress.

Just a tip: don't do what I did, with the bobby pins.  I've had good luck using them to secure delicate fabrics for sewing purposes - they hold well enough to get a piece through the sewing machine, without poking holes in the fabric.  In this case, though, they made the edges of the cauls extremely lumpy.  I had to soak this caul to soften it completely, remove the fabric, then re-form the caul over the bowl. I ended up using the spray adhesive to attach the fabric again after all.

The cauls, overall, are a bit lumpier than I'd intended, but far more smooth than the last set.  It's something to keep working on.  I think next time I do this, I'll cover the forms with something thick and soft, like felt, to smooth out any rough spots in the forms, before putting the decorative fabric onto them.

After both cauls were covered, I used hot-glue to affix a band of brown upholstery gimp to the edges, and a wee strip of gold metallic ribbon across the center line of the fabric and just inside the gimp around the edges.

3. More Secure

My last set were independently suspended from my circlet by little metal hooks, so that I could pop them on and off easily.  It was a neat idea, and they stayed in place really well as long as my hair was wrapped around them snugly, and my veil was wrapped around it all so tightly that the veil slipped around on my hair and all over my face.  It was kind of a pain in the butt.  Also, my hair isn't long enough anymore to help that whole situation out.

This time I attached each one to the ends of a linen band - which I made too short, and which slipped off my hair right away.  I replaced the band with a black, velvet ribbon, with the velvet nap facing inward so that it actually grips my hair or a snood and doesn't slide around.  My circlet sits on top of the ribbon and above the cauls, which helps to keep them in place, too.

The finished set is much more secure - and comfortable - and, I think, prettier than the last set:

Top: gold side out, and red side, with metal circlet; both with single veil
Bottom: red side with two veils; gold side; with embroidered ribbon band

My circlet got a bit of an update, too.  It was silver-colored brass with black antiquing in the detail. It was also scratched and tarnishing.  I cleaned it up (with toothpaste, because I couldn't find my actual jewelry cleaner), and then coated it with gold nail polish the same way I did the buttons on my pink cotehardie.  I really like the way it came out.  And maybe now it'll stop turning my forehead green.

Whew!  That took a few days longer than I thought it would.  I really bit off more than I could chew for Candlemas this year.  Which is ironic, really, considering that I opted out of both Candlemas A&S as well as Kingdom A&S the following weekend because I haven't had time to really do a job on something special.  So instead of taking on a new, big project, I pecked myself to death this past month with a bunch of little ones.  I need a brain transplant some days, you guys.  Oy.


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