June 5, 2019

Summer & Season Number Six

Welcome back to another blog post and, as the title suggests, the start of a long-awaited summer vacation!  Yes, the Spring semester is finally over, and I speak the truth when I say that I have never draped, patterned, painted, woven, and sewn as much as I have in the past few months...art school is no joke, folks, and I am incredibly grateful to my professors, studio-mates, friends, family, and, you, faithful readers, for supporting my studies.

Livingston Gardens, Summer of 2019
(Photograph by Judy J.)

So far, summer break has brought the chance to check off another life goal from the bucket list through a trip to Greenfield Village for their Civil War Remembrance weekend.  (Much more on this to follow in the next blog post!)  A new dress was made, and already photographed, twice - once by Maria, sister and photographer, and then again, thanks to Judy, the partner-n-crime, on my first village visit for the 2019 museum season.


In my short, five years as a costume intern, historic interpreter and interpretation office assistant, and now at the beginning of season number six, there's still nothing like the opening to a new season at the Genesee Country Village & Museum.  I have missed our "museum family," so many friends both in the office and across the historical interpretation staff.  It takes a village - dedicated cooks, carpenters, craftspeople, and clothiers, as well as the behind-the-scenes content creators - to run a museum, and they've no doubt been busy during the off-season to ready the village for a much-anticipated return:

Dorthy serves up tea & cake in the Livingston-Backus House

Spring Pole Lathe in the Wagonmaker & Wheelwright Shop

Weaving continues at the Humphrey House

Jim at work in the Boot & Shomaker's Shop

Per tradition, on my first day back, Judy, the partner-n-crime, and I plan for what has become almost an event - the official opening day, year four, photo!  Due to college, it may not exactly take place on opening day anymore, but the reunion is nonetheless special and welcome.  In fact, this year, on our fourth observance and my sixth season (her seventh), we were happily joined by our good friend, Richard:

The trio - Judy, Richard & Me
(Photograph courtesy of Samantha B.)

The official opening day, year four, photo!
(Photograph courtesy of Richard D.)

A little silliness is always expected!
(Candid shot thanks to Judy J.)

Afterwards, Judy and I took a stroll through the Livingston Gardens, one of my favorite locations in the village, and she graciously played photographer (and host as we caught up that evening): 

A stroll through the Livingston Gardens
(Photograph by Judy J.)

I thought this one rather painterly ;)
(Photograph by Judy J.)

The sun set on my first day back, which will also be the last for a while...for those who do not already know, I have decided to focus on my weaving through a unique summer opportunity, and will only be working limited hours this season upon returning in July through the beginning of August.  Perhaps you'll find me substituting in any of the dozen buildings I've staffed in the past, assisting in the interpretation office, or even in the gallery (for a super secret project!) - but for now, I turn to the next great adventure...Weaving: Picture and Pattern, through the Kent Blossom Art Intensive summer workshop series, featuring visiting artists, Samantha Bittman and Chinami Ricketts, and our resident professor and head of the Textiles department, Janice Lessman-Moss.  It's going to be a great summer!  

Wishing everyone at the Genesee Country Village & Museum 
a most happy and successful 2019 season! 

(Photograph courtesy of Richard D.)

March 16, 2019

The Citizen's Forum: 2018 Conference

The 2019 Citizen's Forum - an annual, weekend conference focusing on Civil War Era topics for reenactors and living history enthusiasts - is a week from today, and the excitement here is sky high!  I had such a memorable experience last year with all of the inspiring seminars, workshops, shopping and socializing opportunities, I just can't wait for all that's in store next weekend.

In eager anticipation, I thought I'd spend some time reminiscing on the highlights from the 2018 Citizen's Forum.  No post on the subject would be complete without Kristen's official recap, here: The Citizen's Forum of the 1860s 2018, and her most recent Conference Preparations for 2019.

This way to the Citizen's Forum!
Visit the official website: The Citizen's Forum of the 1860s
& Facebook page, also The Citizen's Forum of the 1860s

And now for my recap - the 2018 Citizen's Forum took place on March 23rd through the 25th in Monroe, Michigan.



Friday, March 23rd

Immediately after class, I traveled up to meet Amber, a new friend and roommate for the weekend, and quickly dressed for the evening festivities.  When we arrived at the Sawyer House, which is a beautiful, Italianate-style home and the historic site for the evening soiree, Kristen, the director of the conference, welcomed us and made introductions.  With the mansion tour, new friends and conversations, not to mention the delicious spread and photo opportunities, a delightful evening was had by all!  

Weekend companions - Amber, Ginny the doll & me!
Amber looked fabulous in her purple sheer and matching bracelets!

Sarah from Ensembles of the Past, Kristen of the Victorian Needle & Me
- all very happy to be there!

I even met Elizabeth Aldridge!
  
Yummy yummies, or the obligatory food picture 😋

More food and a Kristen!
I wish I could go back, just to eat more finger sandwiches and cookies... 

Ginny, the blog's traveling doll, enjoyed getting passed around:  

With Amber, wearing almost matching dress styles...
Amber, I still love your dress and want to steal that fabric! 

With the youngest (and cutest!) attendee 

With Kristen and Sarah

Following the soiree, Amber and I joined a small group that toured the Old Mill Museum in Dundee, which was once a working gristmill and now a museum and popular spot for ghost hunting.  Though we didn't witness any paranormal activity, our tour guide was very enthusiastic and our group had a great time.  Perhaps it was just me, but some of the mannequins in the upstairs displays seemed more frightening than any ghost, especially if encountered alone in the dark...I only kid.  The upstairs exhibits provided a history of the Dundee area and a neat series of slice-of-life vignettes:

General store display.

Parlor display.


Saturday, March 24th

The day of conferencing - speakers, socializing and shopping, unite!  Kristen and Glenna Jo, the two masterminds behind the entire event, opened the conference at eight:

Glenna Jo and Kristen delivering the opening remarks

Pretty table decorations, all handmade by Kristen.

There were four, fabulous speakers:

The two Elizabeths!

  • Elizabeth Stewart Clark (of the Sewing Academy fame) presented An Eye for Detail: Examining Original Images, Paintings and Engravings for the Details that Change Our Impression, which calls researchers not only to look in general contexts and for specific goals, but to really see what the visual texts communicate.  She also spoke on Our Latest Number: Mid-19th Century Magazines and What They Tell Us, which has opened my eyes to the many offerings in periodicals, and their use in living history events.  
  • Robert Beech spoke on period photography, his experiences and artistic practices, and even gave an outdoor demonstration in Civil War Era Photography: A Reenactor's Perspective.


  • Elizabeth Aldridge presented Removing Roadblocks in Your Research, which was the most comprehensive teaching in research practices and the overall process I've ever had, in just an hour too!  
  • Jillian Drapala chronicled a fascinating history of Female Anomalies of the Civil War, and her dedication to research and making their stories better know was clear in her own impression of Annie Etheridge.  

As well as a youth workshop, in which we discussed how we may be young, yet we are just as passionate about reenacting and honoring our history!

The next generation of living historians addressing the room!

There were plenty of opportunities for shopping in the "Vendor Area" -


Sarah of Ensembles of the Past brought a rainbow of silks!

More silks and all of the reproduction buckles! 

I treated myself to some pretty ribbons and flowers from The Dressmaker's Shop, and silks and reproduction buckles from Ensembles of the Past:


I'm envisioning a drawn bonnet in my future...

As well as a "Musuem" full of extant garments, each matched with an original image - which was literally amazing!  I believe that most, if not all of the objects were from the personal collections of Glenna Jo and Kristen: 





And last, but certainly not least, every conference needs a Board of Positivity: 



Sunday, March 24th

On the closing day, I had the opportunity to attend two workshops - both Fitting from Patterns and the "drop in" Pattern Making taught by Elizabeth Clark.

Explaining "radial projection" as a way to scale patterns in the morning workshop.

Demonstrating draping in the afternoon "drop in" workshop.

I could go on and on about these workshops, and how generous Elizabeth was with her time, knowledge and skills...but I'll leave it with this:

My beloved introduction to historical dressmaking, signed by the author!


Thank you so much to everyone involved with making the conference such a memorable experience - Kristen, Glenna Jo, the speakers, vendors and all behind-the-scenes

Poor Kristen is rightfully exhausted!

And thank you Amber, my friend and roommate for the conference, 'twas such a pleasure to get to know you and I hope to see you again this year!


Alright, who am I going to see next weekend at the 2019 Citizen's Forum?

February 26, 2019

The 31st Annual Ohio Regimental Military Ball

"And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon"

Friends dressed in the finest of frippery.
 From left to right: Laura, Amanda & me

Two weekends ago now, I had a ball at the 31st annual Ohio Regimental Military Ball - and I do mean ball in that I both enjoyed and danced all night!  Having made such fond memories at last year's event, I hopped or shall I say danced at the chance to attend again.  Before I share the few pictures that I snapped, I'd like to give a huge "thank you" to all of the organizers, and direct you to the website here: Ohio Regimental Military Ball and the Facebook group for more information and much better pictures from the weekend.


Unfortunately, the couple I joined last year were unable to make it this time; I admit that I was hesitant to go alone at first, though am so happy that I did.  I met up with several familiar friends, made many new acquaintances, did a little shopping and lots of dancing, ate, drank, and just generally enjoyed being in the moment!

In fact, as far as clothing goes, I decided to be uncharacteristically kind or perhaps realistic with myself and did not make a single thing!  I'm a senior in college, again, and my time is taken up with many projects, just none (or very little) for my historical wardrobe...So, instead of stressing over making something new, I pulled out my coral dress and some coordinating accessories.  Kristen snapped a picture of me, when I realized that I hadn't a single image of my OOTD or outfit of the day - and I call myself a blogger haha!  For comfort and convenience, especially while driving there, I ditched the hoop and wore four petticoats (three tucked and one corded) over a bum support, which did a decent job of creating that bell shaped silhouette.

My outfit of the day!
Accessories include a beribboned hairnet and bow from Timely Tresses,
silk belt with a reproduction buckle from Ensembles of the Past,
and matching, red side-lacing boots from Amazon Dry Goods.

During the day, I had signed up for two of the workshops/talks, and spent the before and after time socializing and shopping in the lobby.  There were a variety of vendors, including familiars like Kristen of The Victorian Needle (and her blog, here), Samantha of Amazon Dry Goods, Janet, who I know through the Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society, and Michael Rhodes, the photographer.  I also met Joy from the Homefront Herald Magazine, and am excited for the possibility of a future article and collaboration. 

Kristen of the Victorian Needle, quality reproduction jewelry and beaded work.
(Also pictured is a coral necklace that would eventually become mine haha!)

I really owe Kristen a "thank you" - she not only let me hide hang out behind her table, but gave me valuable advice, encouragement and styled my hair for the ball!  I'm really looking forward to seeing her again at the Citizen's Forum, which is the 1860s conference for reenactors and living historians that she organizes! 

It's always so hard to choose when one wants them all!

The always fashionable Janet of the Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society.

When I say that it took every once of strength to walk away from the very tempting shoes, readers, I mean it!  Amazon Dry Goods, the source of my favorite red side-lacers, was there again, yay!  Samantha is just lovely (and dressed to perfection!) and remembered me from last time actually, which made me smile.  I almost, almost walked away with a pair of light brown side-lacers, which I still regret not taking home...but alas, there will no doubt be more pretty shoes in the future: 

Samantha of Amazon Dry Goods & reproduction shoe heaven!

I did make two, small purchases though - a pair of clocked stockings and a coral necklace (with the matching clip on earrings to follow).  I'm on a tight budget being a college student, so I justified these as necessary for a project in the near future:

My weekend purchases, and the next project?


As for the evening festivities:  Dinner...err, at least the pretty hallway spread!  I forgot to take pictures, too busy talking with the company.  I sat with two gentleman my age - Duncan and Brandon - and found that, aside from our hobby, we had quite a bit in common :)

Yummy, yummy food

...Dancing.  I danced every dance!!  There just aren't enough opportunities in my life to don a ballgown and dance!

Amanda and David waltzing

Photograph borrowed from Facebook as proof that I was dancing
And that my hair was not falling down all night, just for the pictures haha

...And the delightful company of two, new friends, Amanda and Laura!  (You both look like 19th century princesses!)

Laura & Amanda

I would have had a few more pictures to share, but apparently my camera did not like the lighting.  So, here's another borrowed from Instagram: 


If you don't already follow Amanda @historic_adventuress, you should!  I'm kind of obsessed with her wardrobe...and speaking of clothing, I don't know what I would have done without her help putting me together - back fastening bodices and slippery hair both make for difficult times.  I sure hope to see both of them, Laura and Amanda, again at another event, soon!  

With the recap just about finished, I suppose there's only one thing left to say - that I'll be looking forward to next year's 32nd Annual Ohio Regimental Military Ball.  Mark your calendars for February 15, 2020!