Replicate Queen Mary 1st's Dress

by McCaldin Arts in London, Greater London

Raise top-up funding to complete the re-creation of the historic dress worn by Queen Mary 1st in her coronation portrait, for Mary's Hand.

by McCaldin Arts in London, Greater London

We did it
On 30th April 2018 we successfully raised £3,000 with 52 supporters in 24 days

New stretch target

Any money raised above the stated target will cover the materials and making costs of an extra part of the costume - this is a gauze "shadow" dress which is worn by Mary at the very beginning of the show and removed to reveal the portrait dress. 

Other additional money will cover:

  • the making of three matching standards to dress the music stands of Mary's musicians who play in the show
  • protective casing to transport the costume safely to and from venues on tour
  • designing and producing programmes for the tour of Mary's Hand.


McCaldin Arts is making a new show, Mary's Hand, based on the life and reign of Queen Mary 1st. The show has a cast of one singer and three instrumentalists and is designed to tour to unusual and historic spaces.

Mary's dress is the most important object in the show, serving as costume, set and as a prop for the action. We are making a historically-accurate copy of the specific dress worn by Mary 1st in her portrait painted by Hans Eworth shortly after her coronation in October 1553. The portrait shows Mary in a sumptuous state gown and wearing historic jewels.

If you are a fan of BBC4's fantastic programme A Stitch in Time, you will know how much research goes into working out the structure of a three-dimensional dress from a two-dimensional image. Before even starting on the work of making the garment itself it's helpful to make a toile mock-up to test how the pieces of the dress fit together.

Our costume-designers and makers, Andie and Sophie, have already created the under-garments that give the finished dress its correct form and structure. They are now starting on the outer dress, which is the robe you actually see in the portrait. Painstaking study has revealed the precise brocade pattern on the fabric of the dress, built around the image of a pomegranate, which was the emblem of Katharine of Aragon, mother of Mary 1 (see below left and centre)

We've been testing a combination of stitching and painting on fabric to retain some of the artistic qualities of the portrait as well as building up some of the embroidered textures of the real-life dress. (see above, right). All this work is done by Andie and Sophie, by hand.

Andie also made a useful discovery at the Palace of Westminster.

All the parts of the costume need to be as resilient as possible - in the course of the tour the dress will be removed many times on-stage by the performer as part of the action. It might have been possible to economise, by using off-the-peg forms and printed fabrics, but the finished result would have been less visually successful and less durable - we intend to perform Mary's Hand for years to come!

We also want the costume to be historically accurate, because all the parts of it are seen during the show. Researching and re-creating the whole dress from the portrait is one part of the wider work that was undertaken to ground the creative aspects of Mary's Hand in historical fact, researching Mary's public and personal life as well as the music of her household and private chapel. 

The parts of the dress and costume that your donation will help us to complete are these:

  • outer layer of Mary's dress including embroidered skirt-panel and sleeves - construction, stitching, painting and beading;
  • Mary's shoes - re-modelling, stitching and painting a pair of modern shoes to a Tudor design;

  • jewels on the dress - modelling, casting in resin and painting of jewels to embellish the outer dress and sleeves (above far left);
  • French hood - Mary's head-covering, edged with jewels (above centre left);
  • Mary's own jewellery - in the portrait Mary is wearing three key items which need to be modelled and cast in resin before being painted and finished: the diamond cross which belonged to her mother Katharine of Aragon; the drop-pearl pendant from the collection of Katharine Parr; and, most importantly, the medieval reliquary known as the "tablet de Bourbon" (above centre right) which has been lost since the reign of Elisabeth 1 and is assumed to have been destroyed. In the portrait she is also wearing many rings, including her "espousal ring" which marries her to her Kingdom (above far right).

Background information about Mary's Hand

We know that Mary loved games of chance and in Mary's Hand, Mary plays a game of cards with the audience. The public gets to choose which card is played next, which in turn influences the order in which Mary's story is told. In this way, every performance of Mary's Hand will be different. 

The rewards we offer relate to the pack of cards used in the course of the show. The court cards, the Ace of Hearts and the Joker represent specific historical characters. On 26 April 2018 we will be trying out Mary's Hand in a private performance before an invited audience in central London. Some of the higher-value rewards include an invitation to this exclusive event.

Mary's Hand is written and directed by Di Sherlock and the music is by Martin Bussey.

Clare McCaldin plays the part of Queen Mary 1st, accompanied by cello, trumpet and oboe.

More information about the project is available at mccaldinarts.com.

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£1 or more

A Royal thank-you

If you just feel like showing your support for our work by giving us a pound, we'll send you a Royal thank-you from Queen Mary herself.

£10 or more

5 of 39 claimed

A card drawn at random from the deck

Mary loved games of chance and to thank you for your support we'll send you a card drawn at random from her unique pack of cards for every £10 you pledge.

£75 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Jack of Hearts & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Jack of Hearts symbolises a real character in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£75 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Jack of Diamonds & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Jack of Diamonds symbolises a real character in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£75 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Jack of Spades & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Jack of Spades symbolises a real character in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£75 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Jack of Clubs & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Jack of Clubs symbolises a real character in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£100 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Queen of Hearts & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Queen of Hearts symbolises a real Queen in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£100 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Queen of Diamonds & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Queen of Diamonds symbolises a real woman in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£100 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Queen of Spades & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Queen of Spades symbolises a real Queen in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£100 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Queen of Clubs & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Queen of Clubs symbolises a real Queen in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£125 or more

0 of 1 claimed

King of Hearts & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the King of Hearts symbolises a real King in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£125 or more

0 of 1 claimed

King of Diamonds & ticket for the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the King of Diamonds symbolises a real King in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£125 or more

0 of 1 claimed

King of Spades & ticket to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the King of Spades symbolises a real King in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£125 or more

0 of 1 claimed

King of Clubs & ticket for the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the King of Clubs symbolises a real King in Mary's story. Find out who your card represents by joining us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London.

£150 or more

1 of 2 claimed

The Joker & tickets to the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Joker has a special significance, representing a tricksy and unpredictable Force active during Mary's reign. To find out what the Joker represents, join us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London and bring a guest.

£250 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Ace of Hearts & tickets for the try-out

In Mary's Hand, the Ace of Hearts has particular significance. To find out what the Ace symbolises, join us at the try-out on 26th April in Central London, and bring a guest.

£500 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Mary's deck of cards & tickets for the try-out

This is the only full deck of cards. Each character in Mary's Hand is represented by a court card. To find out who is symbolised by each card, join us at the try-out in Central London on 26 April and bring three guests.


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