From 2-D creative mess to completed 3-D shoes
The translation of the wording on the image from Galerie des Modes says the following: “Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Autrieche, Queen of France, in a court dress, adorned with pearls, garlands and acorns, with a royal purple coat, decorated with golden lily flowers. Hairstyle with pearls, flowers, egrets (heron plumes) and diamond pins”. So, from my box of glaze test pieces I chose to use Purple Cosmos at the back of the shoe to reflect the deep colour of the coat.
The picture of a Fleur de Lys in my sketch book is an image from which I carved a very small version in plaster to use as an impressed pattern within the purple. The main body of the dress and therefore the shoe will be Satin Pink and Marshmallow glazes. From my box of low relief mouldings, I selected a shape to use as the tongue of the shoe along with a garland of flowers. These flowers will probably be picked out in more detail with underglaze colours when I get to the decoration of the shoe. The braid I’ve chosen, which will edge the shoes is similar in style to the band that crosses the top of the white section of the dress. Then I used the blank ‘canvas’ of the plain last and sketched out where all the components of this particular shoe would be so that the curves were elegant and the decorations all aligned each other and each had the correct amount of space on the uppers according to my aesthetics. Once this was all planned out, I then made my paper patterns to help position all the elements for hand-building the shoes in clay. The patterns also included exactly where any impressed decoration would be placed. All of this took, in this particular case, 6 hours of work. Then I took all my patterns and carved stamps and plaster moulds to the studio and two days later I have Marie Antoinette’s very, very ornate third pair of shoes finished to the appropriately named 'leather-hard' stage. Actually these were extremely hard to put together now that there are so many more elements in this Rococo style - at one point it was touch & go as to whether the shoes would get made or end up on the scrap heap. Fortunately I am getting better and better at rescuing disaster clay situations.