Friday, November 21, 2014

It's Official....

...yes, it's happening.  I am participating in the Vernet's 1814 Merveilleuses and Incroyables project!  I am over-the-moon thrilled to have been invited to be a part of this group...humble, and feeling a bit unworthy...but uber-excited none-the-less!  2015 is going to be a wacky costuming year.  Best of luck figuring out which outfit I will be creating!  Although posts on construction and research will be regular throughout the following year, the final outcome won't be published until December of 2015.  PLEASE share in this journey with me by following along not only here but on the group's Facebook Page.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More Embroidery: 1730's style

I've been keeping my hands busy with crewelwork embroidery for the past two months, and here are the results... early American seat cushion design from the 1730's...only I made this one into a pillow.  

I got the pattern from Alicia Paulson's book "Embroidery Companion."  I'm loving this many wonderful things to decorate!  I'm sure you will be seeing more.  Embroidery is a fantastic way to pass the time during the long, cold, winter nights.  Sign on to Netflix, start a long series, and away the needle and thread go.

Also, for fun (and because I live in a chilly Victorian beast of a house) I embroidered some hot-water bottle also from Paulson's book.  Snowflakes and fur trees...mmmm...cozy.

Two of our three furry butts approve.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

18th Century: Caraco Jacket (No more Mrs. Claus)

A few months ago I made an 18th century Caraco Jacket, but it turned out looking more like something Mrs. Claus would wear than something I would wear.  Remember this?

 Well, it took some time before I found the courage to redo it, but I finally got around to it knowing that I needed something to wear to the 18th century market fair at Locust Grove.  I stripped off all of the white trim and completely redid the green trim on the sleeves. 

Here are some pictures of me at the was a gorgeous Autumn day.  Other than needing a few extra pins in the front to keep it from wrinkling, and possibly a larger bum roll, I think it turned out rather well. 
Thank you, Laura for being my paparazzi! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly: Challenge #10: Let Them Eat Cake

I've been a Historical Food Fortnightly absentee for the past few weeks.  It has been quite a busy Autumnal season for me.  I did manage to make this decadent cake in time for the 10th challenge...but didn't have the chance to post about it until today.  

I made a Devil's Food Cake for a Gothic/Macabre/Melancholy themed tea party that I hosted at my house.  Details and pictures of my dining room set for the occasion are below.  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the participants.  We were a small group, after a series of unfortunate events caused several of us to have to back out.

Not much time left in the day, so I'll make this post short and sweet. (pun intended)

The Challenge: Let them eat cake: Devil's Food Cake

The Recipe: 
Devil's Food, The Suffrage Cook Book, by Mrs. L.O. Kleber
 Pennsylvania, 1915


Chocolate Butter Icing, Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Date?, Place?

How Did You Make It: 

Cake Ingredients
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup grated chocolate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soda
  • Instructions
    Dissolve soda in boiling water and pour over chocolate and let cool. Beat butter and sugar to a cream, add the eggs and other things. Bake in layers. 
    (I baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes in two 9" round cake pans, per THIS modern recipe.)

    Icing Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1 ounce chocolate
  • vanilla

  • Icing Instructions
    Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually, moistening with the milk and egg to make the mixture thin enough to spread. Melt the chocolate in a saucepan over hot water and pour into the icing mixture. Add the vanilla. Beat thoroughly and if more sugar or liquid is needed to make the icing thicker or thinner, add until it is of the right consistency to spread.

    Time to Complete: About 45-50 minutes.

    How Successful Was It?: It was a very pretty chocolate cake, but extremely sweet and bit on the dry side.  Not inedible, but I wouldn't make it again.

    How Accurate Is It?: I followed the recipe exactly as instructed.  The only thing modern about it was the time and temperature that I got off of a modern recipe, since the original one didn't state that part.

    “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
    Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.”

    - John Keats, Ode to Autumn

    Sunday, September 28, 2014

    Ashland 1814 Living History Days

    Yesterday, I spent a gorgeous early Fall day at a local historic estate called Ashland.  It was the home of early 1800's politician Henry Clay.  This weekend, Ashland celebrated the 200th anniversary of Henry Clay's involvement in The Treaty of Ghent.

    The current home on the Ashland estate is Victorian, but the floor plan is the original Federal style floor plan.  It is unfortunate that photographs are not allowed inside the home.  It is a truly stunning place.

    While at the event, I met some beautiful ladies that are a part of the 2nd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Militia.

    I strolled the wooded grounds and gardens of Ashland, toured the home, and listened to a first person portrayal of Henry Clay's housekeeper.  I met a group of quilting ladies who convinced me that I wasn't as bad at quilting as I thought.

    But I spent most of my time at a tea table with my friends Natalie, Jill, and Emily, watching the golden leaves of the walnut trees around us drift down in the breeze like schools of fish.  My official role during the weekend was to demonstrate embroidery.  I have been working for the past month on a 1760's seat cushion crewelwork reproduction.  Jill taught about the history of tea, and Natalie and Emily demonstrated wool spinning and weaving.  The crowd was small, but very curious and keen to learn.  

    I am always surprised and refreshed by the number of children (boys especially) that are interested in learning about sewing, embroidery, weaving and spinning!  Children truly do long for the hand crafts of our ancestors. They get so little time and experience with handmade arts these days.  It is a way of life that is disappearing, if not already gone, for much of society.  As someone who loves art and history, I feel like it's my responsibility to pass on this knowledge to the next generation.  I hope that every historical costumer/reenactor feels and does the same.  Whatever your craft might be, what you do should not be only for your vain enjoyment, but to lift up and pass on a way of life that is threatened to become extinct.

    Because of the time portrayed, 1812-1814, I finally had the chance to wear the blue velvet spencer that I made a year and a half ago.  The day was a bit warm for it, around 80*F, but it fit the era so perfectly that I couldn't resist.

    Overall, I wouldn't have changed a thing about the day except to ask for more time.  To say it was pleasant is an understatement.  

    P.s. - To see more pictures of the day (and the front of my spencer) check out THIS PAGE by a local photographer who took pictures of the event in 3D!  3D glasses are a must!