Building a Mask . . . Part One

I’m still frantic editing Paperweights (again), so I’m leaving my blog in the very capable hands a long-distance friend of mine who is going to be helping me run the Masked Ball.  She is a former costumier


and is now a gifted miniature book artist, what we here in Australia call a Master.  I have a feeling that all those with the remotest interest in historical fiction, will find her words enticing.

May I introduce my friend  . . .

‘I’ve been thinking of the virtual masked ball that’s coming up all too soon. Not only do I need to come up with a mask, but a gown, an escort, and a backstory. I’ll share my planning with the other readers of Mesmered, as I guest blog here at Prue’s kind invitation.

I’m Pat Sweet, a maker of miniature books, maps, tiny boxes and pocket globes. (  Prue and I met on the internet and after I read her first book, The Stumpwork Robe, the world she created inspired me to use her images and ideas in my own work.

I can’t decide on my mask until I know who I am. I’m going to use my own person and persona (58 and stout, bookish and comfortably circumstanced) and add, not an escort, but an escortee. I will be duenna to a young niece with a story of her own. I shall be, with a nod to Mr. Trollope, one Signora Neroni, duenna and companion to my sister’s oldest child Vittoria.

My character is conservative and decorous in her dress, but determined to compare favorably with her pretty young niece.  Although competition with a younger woman may not be possible in terms of face and figure, a mature and mindful choice of clothing is a powerful means of communicating a wealth of information to those with eyes to see it. My appearance should imply to the closest possible measurement both of  who I am, and who I wish to seem.

The first layer is the foundation: a corset that creates a fashionable line within the limitations of my body’s shape, and yet is supple enough to allow me to dance as though I’m not wearing a corset at all.

Pat's corset.

No-one but my maid will see it, but a corset of leaf-green silk satin trimmed with cream colored ribbon and red and tan embroidery, with red laces, will give me the subconscious lift of a pretty secret. The gown itself should be somber and rich, yet with a lightness of spirit in its cut suitable to the fantastic nature of the occasion – a metaphor that will use the elements of my character and turn them into a costume.

Having got this far, I’m off to do some research.