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Monday, June 02, 2008

Brunhilda's Breastplate Bra





We had to do a piece for class inspired by one of a selection of pieces from the Embroidery Guild. I chose the embroidered teatowel above, which is mid-60s to mid-70s depending on which source I check. It is a printed tea towel embroidered and framed, and titled 'Ancient Britons' even though it is clearly meant to be Vikings, who were not Ancient Britons!!

This is what I wrote about it for my submission:

The 'Ancient Britons' (actually Viking Warriors) in the embroidered tea towel look so well-dressed, with their beaded shields and fur boots. I imagined that they were in ceremonial clothes - not real battle clothes - surely battle would make the fur on those boots mat and look ugly? Wouldn't all that gold braid tarnish and those beads fall off if they scored a direct hit.

And so the idea of ceremonial battle dress was born. And if the male warriors could have it, why could not Viking women also get dressed up in ceremonial finery?

Hence Brunhilda's Breastplate Bra. It is clearly ceremonial - knitted fabric having no protective function other than against the cold! The crocheted wire bra cups would certainly provide some practical support while still looking lacey and attractive. It is discreetly decorated with a spiderweb rose and beading, and held together at the neckline by two Runic brooches. These runes betoken health, fertility and happiness, most appropriate for a party outfit!

Hand-painted wool, Procion dyed stranded cotton, nickel jumprings, glass beads, nymo thread, air-drying clay, acrylic paint,
nickel brooch backs.

While I was trying to come up with inspiration for this piece, an article appeared in The Age newspaper about a dig in Birka near Stockholm, which provided conclusive proof that Viking women wore metal bras. That gave me the push I needed to come up with the breastplate bra. It is obviously not life sized as we had size dimensions to work within.
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2 comments:

BABY BEAR said...

my mummuy could become a pro at making wire bras
:)
very disturbing for visitors to listen to though

KarenSHa! said...

Ha!! Christine D & I have recently been swapping stories and comparisons of manufacturers of bra's with decent cup sizes, ie F, FF & G. Do you remember Berlei bras from the 60s?? Got their inspiration from Boeing nosecones. I STILL have never seen anyone with conical breasts, but Berlei sold a lot of bras, LOL.
No wonder The Ancestors were a hardy lot - imagine putting on the metal bra on a below freezing morning. Or maybe they put them in their bed too, along with the rest of the family, and small animals.