Jones: A Parasol for Regalia
It’s the height
of summer... the sun is beating down on you and making you squint to see
the action. What do you do? In 16th century Italy, if you were a person
of means, you might grab your parasol and head out to face the world. Or
have your servants grab it and hold it for you. ;)
This parasol was
commissioned by the crown of Atenveldt for regalia. Here in Atenveldt,
land of the glorious sun, it can get quite hot and it is always bright.
Retinue often carries a Chinese paper parasol over the Queen as she’s
watching the list, or going about her duties. The problem with this is
that you have a difficult time shading the Queen while trying to avoid
getting in her personal space, braining her with the handle, or poking
her in the eye with the shade. Most undignified! One event, the
Queen’s parasol was misplaced. I had packed two of my parasol styles,
one of which is a processional style parasol. I lent it to their
majesties and that’s when it was decided that one of these would be
quite useful for regalia.
|I have found
two main parasol construction methods for the pre-16th century
conical canopy styled parasols. One is a ribs and stretchers style
which looks a lot like what we think of now when we think of a
parasol or umbrella. There is a central slider that goes up and
down the center pole, ribs that run along the seams of the panels,
and a receptacle to hold the ribs and center pole at the top.
style is made with a wooden hoop running along the bottom edge with
a pole inserted at the center top. Kind of like a hoop skirt on a
stick. :) In portraits you will often see this style being carried
by retainers behind a person of wealth with the long pole going back
at an angle while the canopy remains almost parallel to the ground.
I have found that when the parasol is extended over someone like
this, it causes the fabric to pull on one side so that the parasol
is a little tighter looking on one side than the other and the base
is not quite parallel to the ground. You can see this happening in
the portraits as well, like Giovanna going to the mine by Jacapo
Zucchi in 1572 (left).
|I decided to
make the design an interpretation of the Atenveldt heraldry. The
top is the glorious Atenveldt sun shining down with the rays
reaching towards the edge of the parasol on a blue ground. Around
the perimeter is a wreath of laurel leaves done in silver; the
heraldic white. To adorn the top of the parasol is a crown. To
finish it off, some decorative skirting with a little bit of
beaded bling along the edge.
The canopy of the parasol
is made from silk twill that has been dyed to Atenveldt colors.
Originally the silver leaves were going to be gilded leather
leaves, but the decorative beaded fringe on the skirting ended up
adding a lot more weight than anticipated so I switched to
painting them on to try and save additional weight and take pity
on the retinue that would have to hold it.
||The finial of the parasol is a crown made of leather for lighter weight and less risk of damage when being tossed about. It is decorated with leather paint, pearls, and bracelet findings. I made a special velvet padded box to hold the crown so that it does not jostle around in its box and risk damage. I have also made a backup parasol topper that is simply the wooden base that the leather crown is attached to. This slides into the pocket of the bag that is with the parasol so that incase the box that holds the crown is misplaced they can still assemble the parasol.
pole has been painted gold and has a decorative glass drawer pull
for the handle. It is a cobalt blue glass with bronze metal accents
that look like a sun on the bottom and a solid cap to help protect
the glass on the top. A copper coupling is applied around the base
of the pole at the handle to help strengthen this area. The hardware
to assemble the parasol both for inserting the decorative drawer
pull handle and the bits to join the topper to the pole is found in
the hardware section of my hardware store. There is a receptacle
screw that is basically a tube with wood screw threads on the
outside and machine screw threads on the inside. You simply
pre-drill a hole for this to go into and screw it into place. Then
take one of the two sided screws that are half machine screw and
half wood screw (that match the same size as the machine screw
portion of the receptacle screw) and insert that into the top of
your pole. You can now fully disassemble your parasol for easier
packing and travel.
|In the 16th
century, a wooden hoop or hardened leather ring would have been
used for the frame portion around the base of the parasol. As a
modern “twist”, I used plastic coated hoop wire instead. This
allows the canopy to be twisted up like a car shade and easily
stored in a travel bag.
If you are curious to
read more about my parasol research and construction methods, as
well as to see the other styles out there, please see my