The Corset Work

If you would like any hi-res images of these photos, or if you have any questions or
comments, please feel free to contact me:
tamarstone@pipeline.com

Images Copyright © 2014 by Tamar Stone. All Rights Reserved.
No images may be reproduced without the expressed written permission of the artist.

Box covered with Dover Book cloth, linen finish

Closed Outside Edge Length: 13”

Closed Outside Edge Width: 12”

Height Outside Edge: 3”

Caution & Counsel  © 2012-14

This piece is made up of 3 individual “books” (each inside their own titled corset vest) instructing girls on their deportment as their lives’ are shaped by their corsets, and conflicting opinions.

Volume 1, “The Figure Educator” (the title based on the name of a corset for girls ages 10-13), instructs girls to “Be Yielding and Pleasant” and to “cultivate a love for physical perfections.” They are told that,  “It is thought which directs action, and our actions shape our bodies.”

In the 2nd volume “Charm of Form… and Construction” a young lady comments about her corset, “I suffered sometimes perfect torture from my stays, especially after dinner, not that I ate heartily, for that I found impossible, even if we had been allowed to do so by our schoolmistress, who considered it unladylike...”


The response her complaints, are echoed by writers who told young women,

I can easily understand that a girl who is full grown, or nearly so,

and who has been unaccustomed to wear tight stays,

should find it difficult and painful to lace in her waist  to a fashionable size;

but if the corset be worn at an early age and the figure gradually moulded by it,

I know of no terrible consequences that need be apprehended.

The 3rd volume, “Grammar of Ornament” shows girls with their sisters. All the images in this piece are more ornamental in their views, whether it is the details in the clothing, or props that are posed with the girls. The internal book titled, “Love of Display Artistic Dress”, instructs, “The most artistic dress is worse than lost on a figure lacking poise.  As no amount of ornament can atone for bad construction.”


However, the girls are also being told, “No, a girl cannot do without ornaments anymore than a rose-bush can do without roses, or a column without a capital. It is every girl’s duty to look as well as she can, and to  make as much beauty as she can.”


The stories told in this piece are from Victorian magazine advice columns, historical books on manners and deportment, advertising text from corset trade publications, corset patents, and Abba Gould-Woolson’s Dress Reform lectures, who so boldly declared at the time, “…hasten the day when woman shall be more than her dress...”

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Click here: C&C TxtSpcBibl050814.pdf
to download the complete text and specs

Interior box covered with Bertini paper

Interior Length: 26”

Interior Width: 12 1/4”

Interior Height: 2 1/2”

Outside Cover Vest: Antique off-white ribbed jersey child undershirt waist with 4 celluloid buttons for front closures, 7 celluloid buttons for attaching to stockings/pantaloons, embroidered text.

Height w/shoulder straps: 11”

Width closed: 10”

Outside Cover Vest: Width opened: 22”

Inside Cover Vest Lining: Ink jet printed, vintage cotton, linings with embroidered text.

3 Interior Vest Books: Antique white cotton child/doll waists/vests, buttoned and folded together.

3 Interior Vest Books: Front covers. Books attached with individual vest buttons to loops sewn into Outside Cover Vest.

Book 1: A Figure Educator. Antique white corded cotton sateen doll/child vest with 3 front closure plastic buttons,
10 hand sewn eyelet holes in back with cording laces, neck and arm hole lace trim.

Height: 6 1/2”

Width closed: 7 1/2”

Book 2: Charm of Form... and Construction. Antique off-white cotton Ideal Child Vest, size 0 Child with 4 front closure celluloid buttons, 3 wait buttons for attaching to stockings/pantaloons, lace neck trim.

Height: 7 1/2”

Width closed: 10”

Book 3: Grammar of Ornament. Antique off-white cotton child vest with 3 front closure plastic buttons with eyelet lace neck trim.

Height: 8”

Width closed: 10”

Book 1: A Figure Educator. Interior cover vest lining. Cotton sateen fabric with ink jet printed image. 

Width opened: 13 - 14”

Interior Book 1 Cover. “Girl of the Future.” Cotton sateen fabric with embroidered text on ink jet printed image. Looped/buttoned binding attached to corset vest.

Page Height: 4 1/2”

Page Width: 4 3/4”

Interior Book 1: Front cover inside back, page 1 front

5 Interior book pages: vintage cotton with ink jet printed images

Page Height: 4 1/2”

Page Width: 4 3/4”

Interior Book 1: page 3 back, page 4 front

Interior Book 1: page 5 back, page 6 front (outside back cover)

Interior Book 1 Back Cover: “From Youth to Age.” Cotton sateen fabric with embroidered text on ink jet printed image. Looped/buttoned binding attached to corset vest.

Book 2: Charm of Form... and Construction. Interior cover vest lining. Vintage cotton fabric with ink jet printed images. 

Width opened: 20”

Interior Book 2 Cover. “Youthful Ease of Person.” Vintage cotton fabric with embroidered text on ink jet printed image. Looped/buttoned binding attached to corset vest.

Page Height: 4 1/2”

Page Width: 6 1/2”

Interior Book 2: Front cover inside back, page 1 front

5 Interior book pages: vintage cotton with ink jet printed images

Page Height: 4 1/2”

Page Width: 6 1/2”

Interior Book 2: page 3 back, page 4 front

Interior Book 2: page 5 back, page 6 front (outside back cover)

Interior Book 2 Back Cover: “The Figure Trust.” Vintage cotton fabric with embroidered text on ink jet printed image. Looped/buttoned binding attached to corset vest.

Book 3: Grammar of Ornament. Interior cover vest lining. Vintage cotton fabric with ink jet printed images. 

Width opened: 19”

Interior Book 3 Cover. “Love of Display Artistic Dress.” Vintage cotton fabric with embroidered text on ink jet printed image. Looped/buttoned binding attached to corset vest.

Page Height: 5 1/4”

Page Width: 6 1/2”

Interior Book 3: Front cover inside back, page 1 front

5 Interior book pages: vintage cotton with ink jet printed images

Page Height: 5 1/4”

Page Width: 6 1/2”

Interior Book 3: page 3 back, page 4 front

Interior Book 3: page 5 back, page 6 front (outside back cover)

Interior Book 3 Back Cover: “Use No Ornamentation to Excess.” Vintage cotton fabric with embroidered text on ink jet printed image. Looped/buttoned binding attached to corset vest.

Inside Cover Vest: Embroidered copyright signature on twill tape sewn to Outside Cover Vest with 3 Interior vest books detached from loops.

Caution & Counsel in video https://vimeo.com/95470538
https://vimeo.com/95470538https://vimeo.com/95470538https://vimeo.com/95470538shapeimage_10_link_0

Box label, detail

Machine embroidered label on inkjet printed cotton

Length: 4 1/2”

Width: 4”

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