Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A sticky problem, partly solved.

As you probably know by now, I almost always have to compromise on the authenticity of the sticks on my fans. Sometimes though, I manage to find materials (and inspiration) to make my sticks almost as pretty and period correct as my fan leaves.
Inspired by the design on the Chinoiserie fan below, I couldn't help but try to make something similar after purchasing a couple of the plain black wooden sticks from Nehelenia Patterns...

A fan from my small collection (from 1780 or so, according to the Ebay seller), made of paper and lacquered wood. It has a rather odd shape since it hardly even measures a quarter of a circle when fully opened. I guess that has to do with the fact that the leaf was glued over with silk on both sides in the 19th century.

And here is the result... not  too bad, in my opinion. It didn't take that many hours to paint, either.

This design on the guardstick was copied (well, almost) from the antique fan above.
 But not perfect. Because unfortunately, the shape at the bottom of these modern sticks always have the annoing extra 2 cms of stick below the central pivot, as you can see here:

I might, just might, bother to replace the modern loophole rivet with something fancier and  more period-looking.

Oh well.
As for chinoiserie designs on fan leaves, I don't really feel tempted to copy a traditional "exotic" Chinese leaf for this fan, it would remind too much of those cheap, modern Chinese things that most reenactors tend to use... But I'm sure it would look lovely with a green or red leaf with flowers and urns/birds in vignettes and sequins... preferably a silk leaf. Unless anyone out there with a better idea feels like ordering a custom fan? ;-)


  1. I recently took one of my junky paper and bamboo fans to try and practice making an 18th century-style fan. The first thing I did to improve the look of the sticks was to get the hacksaw out, cut down the bottom and then sand it until rounded. I'm intermittently shaping my fansticks, they'll never be perfect, but they're definitely better than they were in their original state. The initial cutting and sanding took less than an hour.

    1. Did you use unpainted/natural or coloured sticks? I mean, if they were coloured you would have to repaint them afterwards, and I suppose the colour would make the sticks stick together at the bottom if one paints them when the sticks are "assembled", so to speak.
      I actually did cut and sand the bottom on one of my fans once and the result was pretty nice. But I removed the pivot and took the whole thing apart to paint it afterwards... putting it together again was a real puzzle, since every single stick had different lengths...

    2. Yes, just the regular, run-of-the-mill, naked bamboo ones. I intend to paint them at some point. This is my practice fan to trash and learn from. Number the sticks!

    3. Hehe, yes I suppose numbering is a good idea... :-) I'm afraid it would make my fans too expensive if I would alter the bottom on all of them... so much work! But it could surely be done on a few of them.