Saturday, 5 November 2011
Millinery Irons aka Flower Irons
Information courtesy Serena Dyer http://www.dressing-history.co.uk/ and Carole & Larry Meeker who kindly gave me permission to use their pictures - visit them below.
Miniature flower Irons
I have been unable to discover an earliest date for the use of these irons; those I shal depict are, I believe, mid 19th century but considering the complexity of flowers on bonnets in the Long Regency and the flowers that decorated the dresses, especially after 1815, I would not be surprised to find they are from at least the Regency period. Larry Meeker, who has a well respected antique business is of the opinion that they may not have been long following ordinary sad irons. The pictures below will show how prevalent was the need for artificial flowers. Jane Austen records in her letters to her sister Cassandra that she paid 3/- for a sprig of artificial flowers for her bonnet in 1799 remarking that ‘flowers are much worn and fruit is still more the thing’ Jane Austen's Letters
-Jane Austen’s letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye. I assume the fruit was made of wax
Some floral bonnets from January 1817, Ackermann’s Repository
Ball gown December 1815, Ackermann’s Repository
Godey’s ladies’ book 1846 [thanks Serena] gives a method of making flowers; here are the basic requirements.
The materials should all be kept ready prepared for use. They consist of white and colored cambrics, prepared thread stiffened and dyed green gauze, green raw silk, very fine yellow mohair, wires of different thicknesses, green and brown tissue paper, cotton wool, green cotton, gum water, flour, semolina, dyeing balls or saucers, vermilion, carmine, ultramarine, and indigo in powder. The requisite tools are a pair of pincers A; a lead weight to hold the reels of silk, B;half a dozen goeffoirs, or cupping instruments, C, of various sizes, from the dimensions of the head of a pin to that of a small apple; the veining tool, D; and a large cushion stuffed with bran: also a stretching frame for straining the cambrics. The muslin to be used is fine cambric, or clear Scotch cambric; let it be as fine and even as possible.
Godey’s goes on to explain how to make petals to mount after starching the fabric will without the use of the very specialist irons that were available. With the specialist irons however the shapes of the leaves and flowers can be readily pressed into coloured or white starched muslin that may have extra colour added by hand, and be cut out around the shape, the starch holding it from fraying as well as helping to hold the shape in place. Getting the iron to exactly the right heat to shape them without burning must have been quite a feat.
More leaf irons