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Archive for February, 2014

With the exception of Arisia, and my personal trip to London, this winter has been a bit on the slow side.

That’s not entirely a bad thing, because it’s giving me time to build stock for my next show, Anime Boston (March 21 – 23 at the Hynes Convention Center), and it’s motivated me to explore some new ideas for spreading the word about my business.

For the most part, I’ve relied heavily on social media to keep people informed of my new products and show schedule, but that approach works only so well. Facebook, which has been my go-to promotional avenue for the last few years, hasn’t been as reliable thanks to this mythical “algorithm” that dictates how many people will actually see my posts, so I’ve been looking into new ways to keep in touch with my fans.

ImageThis week, I’m launching a weekly e-newsletter to spotlight new merchandise and upcoming shows, and you can go sign up for that right now using this link.

We’re also taking some steps to boost the website’s presence. As my husband put it, my Etsy shop – which delivers the bulk of my online sales – is one department in a department store, while my website is a department inside a department store inside a mall that’s surrounded by a hundred other malls, so we’re working with Yellow Pages.com to do a little search engine optimization work to make it easier for people to find us.

I’m treating these as experiments, because there’s of course no guarantee that they’ll have any effect, but I’m hopeful they’ll pay off. I also hope everyone reading this does me the best favor they can do for me, and that’s to tell your friends about my website and my Etsy shop. Positive word of mouth is always the best form of advertising!

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Princess Mary Tudor, by Master John

Several years ago, before Storied Threads was even a proper business, I found myself inspired to re-create the gown worn by Princess Mary Tudor (later Queen Mary) in this 1544 portrait by Master John.

It was by far the most ambitious project I had taken on, and I spent about six months researching the style and the period, reading blogs by other people who’d made Tudor gowns, and making mock-up after mock-up until I got it right.  The bodice alone went through at least four trial versions before I settled on a pattern that seemed to work.

I hunted down materials — an orange silk brocade that was almost too perfect to be believed, faux jewels, red velvet.  I even had the centerpiece of her necklace re-created for me by Parrish Relics, as I couldn’t find anything that I felt worked as a substitute.

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The finished Mary Tudor gown. Photo by Michael Bailey, taken at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire.

The end result was well worth the effort.  It’s not a gown I get to wear very often, as you can imagine — but when the opportunity arises, as it did at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire this fall, I like to take advantage of it.

(It did make vending out of my small 12′ x 12′ tent a bit of a trick, I’ll confess.  The big skirt made me less maneuverable, and the sleeves made it nearly impossible to write receipts.  Mike wound up largely in charge of anything resembling actual WORK that day, while I stood outside and talked to customers and simply drew attention our way.)

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At the National Portrait Gallery, standing next to Master John’s original 1544 portrait of Mary Tudor.

Last week, I was in London for vacation. It was the first time I’d ever been to London, and it was amazing!

One of the most wonderful things, though, was going to the National Portrait Gallery. And seeing there, hanging on the wall, the original Master John painting from 1544. Not a reproduction, not a copy — his actual painting. An inch from my nose. Seeing all the little detail that a photograph can never capture, no matter how well done it is. It was humbling, and awe-inspiring, and yet at the same time made me feel that much closer to history, and to Mary. I’ve spent so much time staring at this painting in photographs and online — it amazes me to think that 470 years ago, she stood in a room, and stared at this exact same piece of canvas, an inch from her nose.

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