As some of you know, my degree (I have a masters, touch me!) is in Costume and Set Design. This meant spending a LOT of time researching chitons, bliods and drum farthingales (oh my!)

When I look at paintings, I see the things others miss – the hats, the way a garment falls, the wrinkles denoting non-knitted hosen worn by dozens of peasants in all those Breugel fêtes.

So when I leapt into reasearch for History on Two Needles (HoTN) I already had a certain number of favorite paintings and sculptures I wanted to use. But how to go about getting permission to use them?

I’m trying a few different routes; First, I wrote or faxed to the museums which house some of my most desired paintings. I’ve heard back from several, all very positive (my coup was permission from the National Portrait Gallery in London to use a painting of Anne Boelyn – love that neckline!) but I haven’t heard back from the mother-lode of historic costuming artwork, the Metropolitan in NYC.

Then, as I was Googling a few paintings, I ran across the Wikimedia Commons,

Welcome to Wikimedia Commons
A database of 3,820,606 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.

Oh, baby! If I’m understanding this correctly, just about any image that’s listed as Public Domain on Wikimedia is fair game – am I correct in my assumption?

Obviously, I’m still researching this, but if that’s the case it makes my research that much easier – I have a larger pool of artwork to choose from and don’t have to satisfy myself with something that isn’t quite right. Any image copyright experts out there have an opinion on using a snapshot of The Black Prince’s tomb in my book?

Back to my research! I have some ideas of items I’d like to knit, so I’m looking for historic garments that lend themselves to these pre-concieved ideas. But for the most part the ideas for the knitted garments are pretty much coming right from the artwork. I’m hoping for a nice variety of silhouettes and tailoring styles.

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