30 August 2014

Stamp Acting


In looking at my posts over the last year, one might think I've gone all "Sew Early 19th Century" and abandoned my 18th century roots--which isn't true. My sewing research has explored the addicting era of early 19th century gowns, but my professional work continues to highlight all things colonial. Last week my two history worlds collided (my work life and "reenacting" life) during the Newport Stamp Act Protest, a living history event that, I would argue, was rather unique.

Nearly ten years ago my husband and I bought a reproduction "No Stamp Act" teapot on a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. I confess this was due to product placement. During a tour of the Wythe House, we saw the extant teapot exhibited and convinced ourselves we needed one for our mantle.

After moving to Newport, learning about the city's role in this 1765 event and officially turning into a costume history nerd, I wanted to do something to recognize Newport's role in the Stamp Act Riot...and use my teapot in a period appropriate manner.

Next August will mark the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act, and the relating historic incidents, making this year a good time to "warm-up" with a little protest. (I'm not a violent person, really.) Being the event organizer, I didn't get to take any photos (or even wear a period attire), but I have a few to share that my sister had taken...and I've borrowed a few from "RonaldCRI" on flickr.

Two highlights of the event, which I believe are firsts for a New England living history program, we made an effigy and "ransacked" a house museum.

 Mr. Robinson (L) and Mr. Howard (R) at the Parade.

My daughter dances down the square.
Ms. R. and Mrs. B chat.
A proclamation read by Mr. Vernon (center) and Mr. Ellery (R), 
while loyalists Mr. Robinson and Mr. Howard overhear the news.

Mr. Ellery (L) and Newport sailors admire the effigy of Mr. Howard. 
(I need to work on my effigy making skills.)

Kitty reviews the latest broadside with Mr. Vernon.

Miss C. and Mrs. B. at the ladies tea.

A panoramic view showing the heart of Colonial Newport, what is now called Washington Square. You can see the 1739 Colony House on the far left, the location of the ladies tea was at the building just to the left of center; at the far right Mr. Ellery chats with a visitor.

The afternoon events concluded in front of the Colony House.

For more on the Stamp Act Protest, click here to visit Kitty Calash's review. There are more event photos on RonaldCRI's flickr stream; for the official event photos click here and also visit RevolutionaryNewport.com.

And if you're feeling super history nerdy, I've complied a relatively comprehensive Pinterest board with Stamp Act research.

02 August 2014

Setting-up Shop at Salem's West India Goods Store

I feel like I've been trying to prepare for the Salem Maritime Festival for months. While I didn't get to create as many accessories as I had wanted to--July is a busy time for my work--I made a few new things and spent the day with good company in a great location.

Here are photos from our shop in Salem...


Milliner Kitty Calash assists our best patron Mrs. B. as they review the latest trims, several of which are lately arrived from the West Indies.

Our shop at the West India Goods Store offers a fine assortment of jewelry...
 ...trim...
 ...fans...
 ...and reticules--all in the latest Parisian fashions.
 We oft carry ready made goods for the very young.
Ms. Burnston, a frequent customer, visits our shop.
 "I paid for my bonnet in cash over a fortnight ago, though I have not received it. When will it be ready?" 
Ms. M, our bandbox maker, prepares the box for Ms. Burnton's absent bonnet. As you can see, Ms. M is astonished to learn that it is not available.
 Kitty's very fine silk bonnets, though none suit Ms. Burnston. (Which you may soon find on Etsy.)
As you can see, we offer a diverse selection of bonnet fashions--all at the best prices in Salem.
Late in the day, Mrs. B returns to share the gossip that she overheard during teatime. The cordwainer's new apprentice has runaway and it is believed he has stolen from several stores in town!

 Ms. M confronts Kitty about Ms. Burnston's missing bonnet.
Kitty explains that she had made it, and that I had trimmed it, yet the whereabouts of Ms. Burnston's bonnet remain a mystery to us all. Perhaps that new apprentice ran off with it?
With such enticing displays...
...we can understand how one would be tempted by our goods.
As my husband is at sea, my daughter, Miss A, spends many hours at my side while I work. (Image courtesy Kitty Calash.)

You can oft find her in the corner playing with wood toys... (Image courtesy Kitty Calash.)

 ...or sweeping.
 She insists that we have the cleanest shop in town.
We owe much our of our shop's success to Mrs. B's husband, a Navy officer of great fortune. He is always prompt to pay when Mrs. B purchases on credit.
Our shop's location offers an excellent view of the harbor and on occasion a fiddler and dancers perform in the courtyard. The talented Miss Quinn can be seen at the center.
As you can see, we are indeed the finest shop in Salem...
...and rival the selection you might find in Boston or even Philadelphia. So it would not be a surprise if a runaway apprentice would be tempted to take goods of quality.

My daughter and I wear new gowns---hers is a sweet frock and mine a less trimmed copy of Miss Lewis's morning dress.
I had to end the day with a Federal selfie.

13 July 2014

A completely documentable early 19th century hat for about $5, or a Cheap head dress one can wear with confidence


Mrs. C - that long title is for you. : ) 

The August 2nd Salem Maritime Festival is approaching a little too quickly and, thanks to competing commitments, I haven't trimmed as many bonnets as I'd like for the millinery shop that Kitty and I are creating. However I put together this little hat, which took less than two hours and cost about $5. Yes that's right, $5.

It's not the cutest thing in the world. But it's completely documentable for the early 19th century as you can see in the detail from this Ackerman print...

The description for this head dress reads: The hamlet hat of straw or chip, tied under the chin with white ribbon, and ornamented with two curled ostrich feathers, waving towards one side. This headdress belongs to the morning or walking costume.



My hat kind of looks like this one too!

This print comes from Fashion in the Era of Jane Austen by Jody Gayle. It's full of Ackerman prints dating from 1809-1820 and includes helpful descriptions. (Many thanks to Miss R. for this great gift!!)

I used a white plume, measuring 28 inches from end to tip, which was about $2 from a fabric store last fall...
 I ended up not using the little bow that's seen here.

...some vintage cotton/rayon grosgrain ribbon that hardly cost anything...

...and the 14 inch Ashland Straw Hat from Micheal's craft store. With a coupon, it was less than $3.

There isn't much noteworthy about its construction. I used the ribbon to hide the metal grommets.

 I tacked the feather in two places: at the tip...
...and the base.

 I tried to make sure the end of the feather dangles off the back...
...but because I only had one feather mine dangles less than the June 1811 example.

Looking at it from the front it's rather, well, fluffy. But you can see why it would be nice to wear on a breezy morning walk. Plus this meets the requirements for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #13: Something Under $10, making it the first time I can participate. Yea!