Friday, June 27, 2014

4th OF JULY or BASTLLE DAY? The French COCARDES (Cockades)

Something strange happened to me lately.
More France is collapsing, being in the "deconfiture" would be the right word, it has something comical, while "collapsing" is not really funny.
Not that I find funny the fact that France is collapsing, it is actually pretty sad, but the way they are doing it is kind of comical and ridiculous. What is still very sad.

Anyway, this is not my point, so more France is collapsing, more the vision of a huge French flag, the blue, white and red colors become an urge to me.
I became obsessed with the French "COCARDE", which was the sign of recognition used by the revolutionaries in 1789 and later, but in the same time, the fleur de lys comes in the mix in my mind, a beautiful totally contradictory symbol. Marie Antoinette has never been so "now". 
Wish we wouldn't end up like her!

And while I was frenetically doing my researches about the antique "cocardes", how where they done, what were their materials, their colors, their look, tail or no tail? Flounces or not? Gold or no Gold? Fabric or Paper? Solid colors or printed fabrics? What was fancy in 1789?
I fount a few amazing documents, photos of original "cocardes", some of them in rather bad shape, but I also stumbled on pages, photos, blogs about 4th of July, and suddenly I realized that the "cocarde" concept was not only existing in France and that the French colors are very close to the American ones, and basically the same of the United Kingdom ones, which, as its name shows it, is a monarchy.

On the left : Cocardes révolutionnaires, Revolutionary Cockades.
On the right : Vendeuse de cocardes, Woman selling Cockades 
Jean-Baptiste Lesueur (1749-1826), around 1790
Musée Carnavalet, Paris, Carnavalet Museum, Paris

In 1776, as in 1789, the phone, the TV and Internet didn't exist yet, nevertheless, fashion was spreading all over the world. We find similarities between the French, American and English looks.

In 2014, French people are still watching their far American cousins and do a pale or sometimes a better imitation of the stuff these far cousins are doing.
They should work together, because I know, from my own experience, that they are complimentary. Add to the mix the English sense of humor and elegance, and then, we would have a true treasure.

But for now, I will show you how I made my own "Cocardes" so far, my intention being to explore more other possibilities in the future.

As you can see, I create kind of a small fan with some crepe paper, and I staple the bottom to keep it in shape. I go little by little, in small areas, because it is impossible to do it in one piece. I staple the portions together as I go further.

Here, I almost finished the pale blue part,

 Once the whole circle is done, I put some dabs of glue between the different portions to hold them well in place together. I use my glue gun for that. Be careful not to burn yourself, I burn myself all the time, and it really hurts! :-) But glue guns are so convenient and quick!

I start by the same way with the pink part.

But instead of attaching the small portions to each other with staples, I glue them little by little at the back of the blue circle, with my glue gun.

As you can see here: 

And I will continue like this until it is completely done.
It is also useful to add some dabs of glue between the different pink portions.

It doesn't need to be perfect, I eyeball where the pink is supposed to go, but there may be a few differences here and there, that is what makes the charm of this thing: the hand-made aspect. But if you want it perfect, you can measure everything. It is up to you.

Then, I added a brown piece of cardboard coming from a crackers box, to reinforce the whole thing. I could have started with that, and staple the pink part to it, but I found easier to do it that way. 

I covered the blue center with a small piece of crepe paper to hide the visible staples. I actually glued two pieces of them, because one is rather transparent. I didn't use here the glue gun, that would have been a guaranteed burnt session for my fingers. I just used a regular glue like Elmer's but any glue of this type will be fine, use what you have, no need to buy something else.

I did the same at the back on the pink paper, to hide the cardboard.

As this Cocarde was pretty big, I decided to add a round shape of fabric at the center. It is a dark blue with white tiny polka dots fabric, which makes me think of the France liberation in 1944-1945, the polka dots were very fancy in the 40's and even 50's in France and maybe also in Europe and USA.

  I added here something that I made before: I painted, with acrylics and gouaches on a piece of drawing paper, a cocarde. I, then, glued it on a piece of cardboard to make it more sturdy and straight. I added some Glossy Accent to give it a shinier look. Glossy Accent needs to dry at least 24 hours.
Once dry, I could glue this round thing with my glue gun on the center of this cocarde. It gives it another dimension and a more one-of-a-kind look. 

At the back, still with my glue gun, I added the pin part, so this cocarde can be attached anywhere. 
You can find these pins in any arts and crafts supplies store.

Look how beautiful this Cocarde looks on my cat! I precise I didn't attached it on my cat, poor cat! :-), it gives you an idea of the size of this thing, and my cat is pretty big. He doesn't seem to appreciate it, he hates being a model!

Soon, I will explore more possibilities. After all, we can wear these things whenever we want! No need to wait for July.

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