Jesse Mathes

Elizabethan Ruff
insulated copper wire
3 x 12 x 3 in.

Although there are many examples of women throughout history using dramatic clothing to establish power in a situation, by far the most famous is Queen Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth I used prodigious costumes to announce her authority by making her the most visually dominant person in the room, thus establishing her as a powerful figure during an era when women were considered insipid and weak. This inspired me to create a line of adornment based on her clothing. I have chosen insulated copper wire as the medium because of its reflective quality, but also because it allows one to make fabric-like garments out of metal. Crochet is used to create the pieces because it is traditionally a women’s technique, and because it forms the wire into patterns that mimic chain mail and therefore makes the garments look somewhat like armor. Although many of the pieces are on a much smaller scale, I hope that they communicate some of the drama, elegance, and empowerment conveyed in Elizabethan pageantry.

© Jesse Mathes