The Regency Wardrobe Collection - research & making - Eating Bees & Suspended Beauty, the Ridicules

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To carry coins, or scent, or her handkerchief a Regency lady would use a reticule.


"reticule

(ˈrɛtɪˌkjuːl)

n

1. (Clothing & Fashion) (in the 18th and 19th centuries) a woman's small bag or purse, usually in the form of a pouch with a drawstring and made of net, beading, brocade, etc...

[C18: from French réticule, from Latin rēticulum reticle]"

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/reticule

Some people argue that ‘ridicule’ is the only proper Regency term for a ladies purse. In fact it's probable that the terms were used interchangeably. Both come from the French word for a small handbag, réticule, which in turn came from the Latin rēticulum for a small meshwork bag. It is possible that Ridicule was a pun on the French word.


A Reticule for The Regency Wardrobe collection


I planned to make two, but have ended up working on a third. My thinking was that the first reticule I would make would reflect the meshwork style referred to in the original definition of the word réticule; so I began (for the first time since a child) to crochet. I taught myself how to chain stitch and how then to move around in a circle with my crochet hook and then...I just kept going, around and around and around. From the beginning of the period of researching and making The Regency Wardrobe (at the end of 2019) until early 2020 I took this piece of crochet to every appointment I had that might keep me waiting a few minutes. Instead of reading a book I would add a few more stitches and so the piece started to grow.


The crocheted part was whole by March 2020, it was the shape of a very small bag and it was to be, I thought, the primary component of a planned bag which I'd named in my head the Blue Tit reticule. In that image in my head this small bag had a shaped paper base, like those below, with illustrations of blue tits on it and blue, yellow and white tassels. During the period of crocheting I'd also been experimenting with the possible shape of a base, and doing the drawing of the birds. I'd been trying out different paper types for the layer beneath the mesh and I'd been experimenting with tassels. None of it was working well or coming together coherently however so I thought several times I would surely have to abandon the piece. Then in the summer of 2020, after the exhibition of the collection had been delayed in May, I went ahead and ordered a perspex case of the shape I'd intended the piece to be shown within. It had a clear rod affixed up inside, because the bag had always been meant to be shown suspended (flying).


Because the crochet form was certainly not giving me the appearance I wanted I decided to begin instead a piece of quilling for the base of the frame and to make a cardboard base for the bag that reflected the shape and colours of this quilling (instead of the blues and yellows of a blue tit). By then I'd looked at many bird illustrations from the Regency period and had found many others that more suitably corresponded with the colours I was now quilling with. I found a new sort of paper, that I thought might work for the draw string top part of the reticule. The quilling was made to echo the design of a rug in the downstairs drawing room of Firle Place, I was having fun with the idea that fabrics get moth eaten and so was including the images of moths into my design, also with the idea that it is carpets that are meant to fly and yet it would be the bag that I would suspend above. It was all coming together and thereby Suspended Beauty was born (please see below for pictures of it as a work in progress). This then was bag one but I was left with my original bit of crochet unused.


Another style from the time that I liked the look of involved a gathered round shape with a flat front. From this inspiration came a pair of pieces, a reticle and a fan that together I have named Eating Bees. This likewise is detailed below.


Research for the Reticles

This is a pretty impressive example of a bag from the late eighteenth century that shows a drawstring effect and metal work. Please see: https://www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr/en/work/bag-1794

In the Regency bag shapes as a rule became slightly simpler than they had been during the reign of George III. Often made of silk, after 1810 they started to be made of velvet and leather also.

http://agreeabletyrant.dar.org/gallery/accessories/purses/


The drawsting top remained very popular however as did variously shaped bases made of thick paper that were covered with fabric and trim or embroidered or painted upon. This model was replaced around 1807 with elongated fabric bags with drawstrings.

Apparently owned by Jane Austen (?)

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/401031541816340641/


Reticle, anonymous, c 1787 - c. 1807 - https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/BK-NM-5596

"Silk, l 24.0cm × w 25.0cm × h 9.0cm - similar bag from Paris was described in the German fashion magazine Journal des Luxus und der Moden of 1788 as ‘an elegant English lady’s work bag … mostly made of taffeta decorated with flowers’. Fashionable ladies carried their needlework in this type of drawstring purse, which was fitted with a thick paper box as the base."


So it seems that such bags might also have have been assigned a single purpose, such as holding a ladies needlework.


see also:

https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio/1904302--lorrana/collections/accessories?ii=0&p=0

https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio/1092875--muschje/collections/tassen?ii=0&p=0

© Museum of London


This reticle is held by the mannequin displaying the pelisse you can see I used as a reference for Loops, Buttons and Trim, one of the walking dress in The Regency Wardrobe collection.



The images above show reticules held by: The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The McCord Museum The Museum of Fine Ars Boston, Lacma and shown on: Threading through Time



The specific research for Eating Bees



And here is a pattern showing ladies how to make a bag of this style for themselves.

Please see: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/462604192949452763/



As I refer to above it was also not uncommon for a reticule in the first quarter of the 19th century to be formed as a gathered or pleated outer circle surrounding a decorated inner circle with an opening that was gathered together to close. In The American girl’s book: or, Occupation for play hours by Eliza Leslie (1787-1858) instructions to make one of these can be found: https://www.loc.gov/resource/dcmsiabooks.americangirlsboo00lesl_0/?sp=282 (see image 282, page 274)




The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York holds a lovely white example of this style with small whitework flowers embroidered inside the central circle. Painted scenes and beadwork were also often applied as decoration. Click here for another example of one from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston





And here is a similar design but with a more hexagonal shape

https://augusta-auction.com/auction?view=lot&id=18938&auction_file_id=52


The decoration on my own round second reticule would be in part inspired by these ei