Idea for this surcote came from Swedish friends with whom we agreed to make our own heraldic dresses for the opening ceremonies at Pennsic. I got the blue and yellow wool from Medeltidsmode at the Turku Medieval Market, and the other colours are left-overs from my previous projects. All the fabrics are thick and felted which was nice when doing the appliqués – they didn’t fray. The thickness also proved to be a problem: the temperature at Pennsic rose to 40°C and the opening ceremonies lasted for hours in the middle of the day. On top of that, me and my friends were recruited as banner-bearers, so we couldn’t just take off when we felt like it: the long poles and flying banners hurrying away from the procession would hade caught too much attention. In the end we lasted for 2 hours, and the word “hot” is really not enough to describe my inner and outer feelings.
My first blunder was that I didn’t remember my own device correctly. Had I been smart, I could’ve taken a peak at the tablet-woven band edging the arms-eyes – Katariina Jt had woven it according my device. Or I could have read my heraldry registration papers BEFORE sewing on my device, and not after Pennsic. Anyway, I remembered the yellow water lily on my device was “proper” – yellow flower, green leaves and stem. To my surprise I found the word “argent” from the blazoning, and got to fix my first blunder: replaced the green with white.
My second blunder has to do with the sides of the dress: which side has my device, which one the kingdom’s. Already years ago I decided that if I was ever going to make a heraldic dress, I’d follow the example of the 2 period sources I had been able to find: the famous picture from the Luttrell psalter and the glass paintings in Musée de Cluny in Paris with the representatives of the Breton family of Saint-Gilles. The Saint-Gilles were immortalized in glass because they made donations to the church of Bettan. (An example of one of the windows is here.)
What these examples have in common is that the women are wearing their husband’s device on the right side, and their own device (or their father’s) on the left where the heart is. I had my device and the kingdom’s device, so naturally my device would be on the left side and the kingdom one on the right. And what did I do? Take a look at the pictures…
If doing the appliqués hadn’t been such a pain in the bu… person, I would probably have already taken them off, undone the whole dress and reversed the sides. Especially after I started searching for more pictures, in hopes of finding sources that would support my dress – and came upon Isabeau de Breinville. Zut alors, Isabeau!
But no worries: I got a hint and for a while it felt like Lady Harswick would even up the score! Until a closer look at the text going around the effigy made me realize that that particular picture is a mirror image, and lady Harswick is actually taking sides with chères madames Luttrell, Saint-Gilles and Breinville. Zut zut zut!
I haven’t taken my surcote apart – yet. I still have hopes I might be able to find an example or two showing that the sides of woman’s heraldic mi-partis were not cast in stone (although the stone effigies are a viable source…) Until then, the surcote continues to live in my wardrobe, especially now that I have publicly revealed where I went wrong.