Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pearl Parure after Caroline Murat Bonaparte by Elisabeth vigee LeBrun, 1807

     A client requested a special custom order to go with a gown she was making - the pearl parure shown in the painting of Caroline Murat Bonaparte by LeBrun.  To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about making it.  How in the world would I put it together?  I decided to take the challenge, and thought about the design and construction for quite some time.  

Portrait of Caroline Murat Bonaparte by Elisabeth vigee LeBrun, 1807
(Wikimedia Commons)

Detail of the Portrait of Caroline Murat Bonaparte by Elisabeth vigee LeBrun, 1807 
(Wikimedia Commons) 

     Realizing that the tiara being worn by Caroline was possibly a headband of some type that wrapped towards the back of her head, I wondered at how it could stay on without many many pins - which is how she must have worn it.  Deciding I wanted something a bit easier to put in the hair and that would last for my client, I put it on a tiara base instead.

Tiara - the beauty of this design is that it can be worn up front or in the back of an up-do

Full parure - tiara, belt/sash, necklace, bracelets, and earrings

 Belt/Sash - hooks added to the back of the cameo, and at the ends to her gown so as not to put any pressure on the piece and give the illusion of a full belt

Earrings - sterling silver earwires with a white cultured pearl button cabochon and a vintage glass dimpled pearl teardrop 

Bracelet clasp detail

Monday, February 6, 2017

Darnall's Chance House Museum, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

     In 2016, Darnall's Chance House Museum purchased some items to resell in their museum shop. At that time, we discussed the jewelry for their displays.  The ladies represented are Mrs. Luke (Elizabeth) Marbury and Miss Margaret Lee. 

     The ladies are dressed for a party.  They are in the room with Mr. Colomores Bean and Mr. George Lee.  The history of the house can be seen on their website at this link.  

The Ladies before

     Since the house is interpreted for the mid 18th century, I started doing research using portraits that included opening up my copy of Painters and Paintings of the Early American South by Carolyn Weekley published in 2013 as well as looking through my files which I have amassed quite a few on Pinterest

     In collaboration with the site director, Susan Reidy as well as with my friend Philippe Halbert, a doctoral student at Yale University, we came up with a look at that representative of the social status of the ladies, as well as what was somewhat common to that time period.

     My inspiration came from Mrs. Matthew (Mary Orange) Rothery by John Durand dated 1773, Colonial Williamsburg; Elizabeth Moffat Sherburne by John Greenwood, circa 1750, Yale University Art Gallery; and, "Heads of Beauties" painted by Thomas Frye circa 1760.

Elizabeth Moffat Sherburne by John Greenwood, circa 1750, Yale University Art Gallery

A Fashionable Lady with her Right hand on her Left Wrist by Thomas Frye circa 1760

The ladies in the house were given a refresh over the past month and the jewelry was added!  The items that we chose turned out to truly represent the jewelry fashion of their time and look amazing.

 Swarovski Crystal pearl bib necklace with ruby Swarovski Crystal girandole earrings

We decided to use a ruby crystal in the earrings to pull out the reds and pinks in the gown

Miss Lee

Black velvet choker, garnet necklace with Swarovski Crystal hair decoration, and 1950's repurposed pearl cluster earrings

On Mrs. Marbury - we decided to change the pearl cluster earrings to a garnet and pearl drop

Mrs. Marbury

The finished ladies!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, PA

     In a collaboration with Henry Cooke, two of my watch chains, seals, and keys will be on the displays at the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, PA.  Mr. Cooke is a well known tailor in the reenactor community as well as for museum sites.  He also made the clothing for the George Washington displays at George Washington's Mount Vernon here in Virginia (of which I have seen many times).

     It is an honor to have my items in the new displays, and hope to do more collaborations in the future.  I should have clearer photos once the displays are complete for the opening on 19 April 2017.

"Brawl at Cambridge Camp," January 1776 - George Washington breaks up a fight between Glovers Marblehead soldiers and Morgan's Virginia Riflemen with African American sailor pummeling another rifleman

Close-up of General Washington (no naughty thoughts!) 

"Bittersweet Reunion" in December 1776 with Lt. Charles Wilson Peale placing his greatcoat on the shouldres of his brother Ens. James Peale of the Maryland Line with a soldier of the First Maryland, campfollower, and child

Detail of Lt. Charles Wilson Peale

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Boston Tea Party Ships Museum

Love this photo of Rachael MacAskill, who portrays Sarah Watts Bradlee of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, wearing a pair of the Gray Horse glass pearl drop earrings.  

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum looks to be an awesome place to learn about our country's love and hate of tea.  They describe their museum as " entirely new kind of museum, where you’ll not only view artifacts of historical importance, you’ll also have an all-encompassing, multi-sensory experience. At the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, our museum experience will transport you on an incredible journey back in time as you take part in the famous event that forever changed the course of American History!" I do hope to visit one day, but in the meantime can learn more about it on their webpage.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Alyssa Mary's Book Cover

Alyssa is wearing the Gray Horse jewelry on her birthday "book cover" by Daniel Shippey of Breed's Hill Institute. Alyssa is wearing the Gray Horse earrings and pendant in this photo

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

British Brigade Annual Dinner at the General Warren Inne

Krista Jasillo with some select items in the shop

     I spent an agreeable evening at The General Warren Inne in Malvern, PA at the British Brigade annual dinner after selling at the business meeting this past weekend.  It was a very long day, and I am very appreciative of all of those who purchased from me.  Could not have done it without Krista Jasillo!  Her help was invaluable.  

     For those who purchased - your support to me and the horses is amazing and we thank you!  Looking forward to the seeing many of you again in the future.  

     Here are a few photos taken of us at the dinner.

Ready for Dinner!

The assembled Red Coats and Ladies 

Krista Jasillo and Karen Morgan

Malcolm McWilliams and Jim McGaughey

Krista Jasillo, Karen Morgan, Jim McGaughey, and me 

Krista Jasillo, Karen Morgan, and I 

Shoes!  Two pair with Charlotte shoe buckles

 Karen Morgan looking lovely!

Oh naughty Matthew West with the ladies!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Amelia's Dream by Jami Borek

      I just received my copy of Amelia's Dream, by Jami Borek of Shrewsbury Press.  It is the sequel to Amanda's Secret.  Both can be purchased on  I can't wait to start reading this one!  I'm a bit behind on my reading as she has had this book out for a few months now (and actually just started her new book Secrets Worth Killing For).

     Jami is a very good friend of mine. She and her husband, Ted, participate in living history events at historic sites that I also attend.  They have been doing reenacting/living history for a lot longer than I have, and their advice and assistance is invaluable.  Ted also gives us the gift of music with his fiddle, and in many ways completes the ambiance and feel of the event (depending on the setting of course).  Jami has also assisted me with editing my own book, A Book of Cookery by a Lady.

     If you have not read these books, targeted towards young girls - I'd recommend them for "older" girls too!  She writes her stories as if you are there with them with the 18th century vernacular - which isn't easy to do!  


     I'm honored that Jami has mentioned me in the Acknowledgements of her book for providing jewelry that were Amelia's.  She had taken photos of me at Chestertown a few years ago as I was to be Amanda's Mom in her first book. So cool!  

Amanda and Amelia in the Paca House and Gardens, Historic Annapolis

     I wrote a post some months back about another book Patriots & Poisons which takes place in Philadelphia, and is a murder mystery.  I read that book and decided to hearth cook the party scene within it.  You can see that post by clicking here.

     Now to finish one book to start this one!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Paca House and Gardens Christmas Open House 2016

     I had the distinct privilege to participate in a Christmas program at the Paca House and Gardens on 17 December.  There were 11 living historians that were able to attend, and made the house come alive with holiday magic.  

L-R (Back) - Ted Borek, Harry Aycock, Earl Schibe, and Jim McGaughey
L-R (Front) - Kimberly Walters, Jami Borek, Gema Gonzalez, Matthew West, Nicki Foronda, and Kerry McClure

     The year was 1772, Mr. and Mrs. Paca had invited a few friends and acquaintances to their home to share in their prosperity for that year.  It was a wonderful event, at an amazing house in Historic Annapolis.

     Here are just a few photos of the event of our time there. It is with many thanks that I give to Historic Annapolis to allow us to recreate the people of the town as well as the Pacas. There is a mixture of those of us who make our clothing, and those who have tailors and mantua makers. Much of the jewelry is from my shop which was so nice to see!  The photos were taken by Kenneth Tom.

 Mrs. Paca arriving after visiting with a sick cousin - greeting Mrs. Dulany

Mrs. Paca going above stairs to see her sister, Mrs. Bordley

Mrs. Bordley finalizing her toilet before the party while waiting for her sister, Mrs. Paca
(My gown was made by The Silly Sisters)

 Nan Snead (Carolyn Murphy) making delicacies for the party
(She made her gown)

Mrs. Chase looking pensive - hoping her husband will arrive soon
(She made her gown)

Mrs. Bordley serving Mrs. Chase a bit of punch

His Excellency Governor Eden and Mr. Paca 

Mr. Paca reading the news of the day

His Excellency Governor Eden, Mrs. Bordley, with Mrs. and Mrs. Dulany 

Amanda and Amelia also make a visit to the party.
You can read more about them at Shrewsbury Press!

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Paca

Mrs. Ogle, Mrs. Bordley, and Mrs. Paca 

The Paca House at night - both haunting and welcoming all at the same time.