Monday, March 19, 2018

Colonial Williamsburg Trend & Tradition

     Katharine McEnery Pittman as Martha Washington in Colonial Williamsburg.  She is wearing a pair of earrings from my shop!  So honored and appreciative that she chose to wear them.  You can find this style in my Etsy Shop.  These are the "La Bella" style that span many centuries of wear, and they are made with a blue moonstone glass cabochon.  Perfect for everyday wear or your historical costuming/living history needs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Double Drop and Single Drop Paste Earrings

Maryland Gazette July 1772

     Just love how Benjamin Rogers was selling paste "ear-rings" in Baltimore, Maryland in 1772!  

     I mentioned in my prior post on Georgian Girandoles that I had two additional style earrings, and I do!  These are lovely double drop (not to be confused with the two-stone) and single drop paste earrings that are also a collaboration with Duchessa.  Once these arrived, a photo shoot was planned to show them off in a state of dress and undress!  

     (Please note as of this writing - there is only one double drop left in the oxidized silver style.)

The Double Drop in gold - put them on before I put on my gown - Wow!
(Photo by Jim McGaughey)

     The double drop style can be seen in the 17th centuries up to today.  I often think of pearls most particularly in the 17th, with these being seen more in extant examples in the mid-18th and all through the 19th.  But, because I haven't seen everything (gasp!) it is not surprising that my writing is in general terms.  The settings in this case are reproductions as you see in the 18th and 19th centuries.  They are so lovely and are very lightweight.  They are also, as in the girandole reproductions, a clip-on style, very comfortable, and measure 1-1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide.

     Remember, your earring should not hang at an angle below your ear to get a really proper look.

Double Drop Earrings sold on Ruby Lane were a part of the Albion Art Collection.
Note the earwire on this is above the top piece AND the bottom detaches.  So the top could be worn without the bottom possibly for day wear

     By the 1830's, long earrings reaching almost to the shoulders became extremely popular in various styles to counterbalance the side expansion of the elaborate hairstyles.  You see some of that also in the 1780's with the wide hedgehog wig, but in many cases, portraiture does not show earrings at all with that style with a focus more on the hair/cap/hats.  That doesn't mean they didn't wear them or have them on.  The double drop emulates the longer style very nicely (there are even longer styles in the pendant, pendeloque and iberian earrings of the time and variations inbetween).  This is also subjective to the size of the lady as we are all different!

These are also clip on style - and gorgeous.

     "Paste - glass has been used to imitate gemstones from the earliest days of adornment, but paste is one of the great joys of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  Pastes were not seen as faux gems made solely to copy, but as exciting jewels in their own right.  The care and workmanship that went into the best pieces produced glorious jewelry that would have shone at the greatest occasions... Unlike diamonds - where size matters - the stones could be cut into any shape required which meant that the setting (usually of silver) could be almost invisible.  The stones would also be foiled to add extra brilliance and further catch and reflect light."  ~ Georgian Jewellery by Ginny Reddington Dawes

Queen Alexandra, 1883

     Today's paste are rhinestones, very affordable, and can be purchased foiled or unfoiled.  I often use the foiled version in my jewelry creations.  In my other collaboration on riviere collet necklaces - they are unfoiled.  You can read about that also here on my blog - at this link.

Single Paste drop - are earwires - the perfect size for those who do not like dangle earrings

     The single drop earring is also still very popular, and hung down just a bit from the ear or was right up on the ear as if they had a wire on the back like the post style we know today.  The post style did not get patented until the early 20th century.

Original 8ct Georgian Paste Earrings
(Laurelle Antique Jewelry)

     You can see an original example above, and notice the settings are very similar to the reproductions I'm offering, but you can also see that this pair would be close to the ear as the wire is on the back of the setting and does not look to have been modified.  It is always best to not wear an earring that hangs at an angle below the ear - as it doesn't look quite right.  These hang perfectly based upon the weight and style.

Available in Oxidized Silver and Gold-Plate Earwires

In my gorgeous green silk gown made by The Silly Sisters - the paste single drop earrings sit beautifully in the ear and are not heavy

Monday, March 5, 2018

Georgian Girandoles

"Ladies, are the principal objects of a Jeweller's Art, who mainly devotes his work to them..."  Augustin Duflos, Discours Preliminere, Recueil des Dessins, 1744

     I have coordinated yet again with Duchessa to offer some lovely reproduction jewelry - this time in the form of three styles of earrings!  This post is about one of those styles - the paste Girandole.

Oh yeah.  My precious.

     This post is about the lovely pair of paste (rhinestone) girandole that I now have available in my Etsy shop.  

     These style earrings, first seen in the middle of the 17th century, were very popular in the 18th as well.  The 18th century style consisted of a surmount, usually a bow motif, with three pear-shaped drops, the larger one at the center, suspended from a hook.  The hook allowed the drops to be detached, so that the surmount could be worn on its own when occasion required it.   This style had many reasons for being popular, one of which had to do with the fashion in clothes and hair, the others in the type of stones that were becoming available and the techniques in cutting them.  By the second half of the 18th century, there are a few slight changes in that they were also set with colored gemstones, diamonds, and develop a more vertical outline with an elongated central drop.
Engraved designs by j.D. Saint, for three girandoles and two pendeloque earrings, 1759
(Taken from Earrings from Antiquity to the Present 
by Daniela Mascetti and Amanda Triossi)
These make you feel gorgeous as you get into your best gown

     One of the things I love to do is offer specialty items for our living history and costuming needs.  But, wouldn't these look amazing for a wedding, prom, or special event?  YAAASSSSS!!!  Check out the ladies wearing the same style seen throughout the 18th century around the world.  I have accumulated many portraits and prints also on my Pinterest pages - so check them out as well.

Princess Marie Christine 1765 by Martin van Meytens

Princess Marie Christine de Borbon, 1770

Unknown woman, Mexican School, 1790s, Museo de América, Madrid

     These are CLIP-ON with a paddle back style and cushion.  Why?  The main reason is so that they will sit properly on your ear without falling forward or being uncomfortable.  Most earrings of this style in the time would possibly have had a wire that went through the BACK of your ear into the front.  Then it closed.  The closure often times connected to the front area and sometimes included a "wig loop." which allowed the earring to also be connected to the wig to take some of the pressure off of the ear due to their weight.  We do also see them in an earwire style with the earwire mounted fairly low on the back of the piece.  In this case, the clip-on style was the best choice when these were made to not only emulate that style but also to ensure they stayed on without pulling your earlobe.  These are surprisingly lightweight for their size - at 2 inches long by 2 inches wide.  They will also come with extra cushion pads in case one falls out and you lose it.  Stuff happens...  I will consider modifying a pair for an earwire if that is what someone really wants - but the item would not be able to be returned.

Georgian Gorgeous!  Also can be worn for Victorian Revival or Goth!

     They would look SO amazing with your best ball gown or just for an evening dinner because you FEEL like wearing them.  They come in two metal colors, gold and an oxidized silver plate.  The rhinestones are set and they sparkle in any light.  

Georgian Jewelry by Ginny Redington Dawes, page 106

Decisions Decisions!  Which one to wear.

     I am petite, and these did not overwhelm.  I found that higher hair - an updo or higher wig/hair versus wide looks the best when wearing them.  

Photos of me by Jim McGaughey

Monday, February 26, 2018

"Dressing 18th century" at the Paca House and Gardens, Historic Annapolis


     When Historic Annapolis asked me to give a presentation to the docents on how to dress in 18th century style clothing, I jumped at the chance.  I volunteer there in varying roles, one of them as an organizer of a group of about 25 living historians that come together a few times a year to bring the Paca House and Gardens alive.  Yeah - it is like herding cats - but wonderfully dressed cats.

     The site has a variety of different things going on in town, one of them includes docents explaining various trades that were prevalent during the 18th century in the Hogshead building on Pinkney Street, and they also give tours in the Paca House.  Some of them dress up in period style clothing. 

     The living historians that I organize (doesn't include the docents) portrays anything from a below or above stairs servant, to a coffee house owner, to the governor of Maryland and anything in between.  So, working with Lisa Holly Robbins, VP of Education and Interpretation, and Janet Perkins Hall, Volunteer Coordinator, we were asked to put together a basic program for the audience (which was opened up to the public as well) on dressing 18th century style.  This included what they needed to do to look right, what to wear, etc., in order to create the illusion that would ensure a good representation of the period was being done in town.

     Historic Annapolis has upped their game for interpretation, and has some of the very finest living historians in the country volunteer there.  I am very proud to assist with brining in accurately dressed people and create programs with them.  The site is always looking for volunteers!  

Just some of the Cast of Characters in the Paca House and Gardens
for a program in December 2016 (I am on the far left)

    I needed help in this endeavor to do this true justice.  No one wants to just sit in a room with someone talking AT them.  Enlisting the help of two amazing living historians and my friends, Kerry McClure and Nicole Foronda, allowed a unique perspective to be brought in.  We combined our experience, education, and individual focus of what we love of the time period into a presentation that I think WOW'd the stockings off of the ladies in the audience.

Just BEFORE the program - messing around with back lacing stays
L-R - Nicole, Kerry, and me

     We decided to focus on the years 1765 to 1775.  This was a time that the Paca family would have known - with me as someone dressing in the lower sorts, Nicole dressing in front of the group as the middling class and showed the ladies how to put on stays (many do not wear them), and Kerry as Gentry undressing for the group to show them the difference underneath a lady's clothing.

The beginning when we were talking about FABRICS!

Kerry talking to the audience while Nicki laces her stays, and I standby 
with the next item for her to put on - pockets!

     Putting together a good basic overview is very important.  What do you concentrate on without going down the proverbial rabbit hole on certain topics?  An entire program could be created on fabrics alone, not to mention the types of garments they wore, or jewelry (my personal fav besides food.  LOL).

Showing the proper way to put on a hat - an outer garment

     My idea was to focus on the basics of what they wore, and how they dressed per "class."  In order to do that, we had to also show portraits and prints of the three basic levels of society in order to differentiate these lines - and we were dressed in those classes to cement the visual for them.  That isn't easy since it wasn't cut and dried then, and it isn't now.  Kerry put it plainly in that "those in the time period would have known their place based upon who they were, what they wore, and where they lived."  They did not travel as much or move around as we did, so they would have known who was in town, what their role in town was, who their families were, if they had money just by their mannerisms, if they did not, if someone had fallen on hard times, you get the point.  This is important when researching a person from that time.  SO many variables.  Just because we see them in a portrait in a silk gown does not mean they were of the upper classes.

Forgot garters in this slide

      Included in our talk was a basic checklist of items needed if someone wanted to dress as we do in living history for all three classes.  Many in our audience were docents or tour guides in the city, and if they wanted to move beyond or tweak what they are currently wearing, we gave them the options.  We did have a "what to avoid" slide that I am sure many related to (i.e., the "French bodice, mop cap worn down almost to the eyes, etc.), and I hope if they were wearing some of those things that they would be changed.

Kerry and I at a program about tea in 2017 - I as servant, she as a Gentry lady 
coming for tea with Mrs. Paca

     The other point was to be the example when we walked in the room, not "those people" who shamed others because they may not have progressed past a certain place in their dress for whatever reason.  Often a docent is reliant on a site's clothing, or a person does not dress up enough to invest the money into all of the elements they need.  Whatever the reason, we gave them ideas to think on, options, and enthusiasm to possibly volunteer or dress more in 18th century style clothing.

     The exercise of pulling all of this together gave us the appreciation and conclusion that all of the classes had the same basic garments - but with more as you moved up in a class.  That meant your fabric may have gotten more fine, more colorful, you had more accessories, better shoes, and/or more or finer jewelry. 

     There is so much we do not know, but Dressing 18th Century is all about talking about and showing people how to create the illusion of what they wore in the past.  This collaboration could not have happened without all three of our combined experiences coming together.

Kerry showing the amount of fabric in her gown and how adjustable it was based upon
a woman's possible fluctuation in weight for pregnancy or eating too much cake!  :-)

     If your site would like a presentation, please contact me at to see what we can do for you.  A small fee to cover any travel costs will be required.  I also have a presentation on jewelry that spans the years 1725-1825 available.

Garters!  Woo Hoo!



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Annual Meeting of the British Brigade and Continental Line Reenactment Organizations

     I am late in posting this by a week or so!  I've already started some museum gift shop orders for delivery, and had a few minutes on a sunny, yet cold, Sunday to write this up.  Krista Jasillio assisted me with sales again this year of which she was invaluable!

Okay - this was last year's photo of my tables as no photos were taken this year!

     The annual meeting of the British Brigade and Continental Line reenactment organizations took place on 6 January, and they allow a handful of sutlers to sell in the lobby of the hotel.  This meeting takes place every year in January, and was again at the Crown Plaza in King of Prussia, PA.  The nice thing about the meeting is that if you stay overnight, you can visit Valley Forge the next day.  A nice weekend of meeting friends and visiting a key site from the Revolutionary war.

     Dinner, yet again, took place for us at The General Warren Inne.  It is a wonderful tavern, and a great time was had by all - I'll let the photos do the talking!

L-R - Karen Morgan, Me, Jim McGaughey, Krista Jasillio, Robin Matty 

Jim McGaughey and I

My ensemble - Jacket made by The Silly Sisters, Petticoat by Allures d'Antan

My original watch chain and watch

Karen Morgan wearing red coral grape cluster earrings and matching necklace 
from my shop

Krista Jasillio wearing a Duchessa/Gray Horse collet necklace and lovely teardrop earrings from my shop

Christopher Treichel and Jennifer Higgins of Chadds Ford Floorcloth and other amazing art fame - collet necklace, earrings, and  stomacher brooch all from my shop.

I think this should be a movie promo!

Robin Matty out back of the Inne


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Open House, Paca House and Gardens, Historic Annapolis

Parlor fireplace detail
Photo by Ken Tom

     For the past several years, I have had the pleasure to participate in the Christmas Open House in the Paca House and Gardens in Historic Annapolis.  This year it was on 16 December.  This is one of my favorite events.  The group that I organize, and am a part of, fill the house in our 18th century attire.  

     Many of us in the group make our own clothing, and we strive to be as accurate as we can.  In my case, I decided to wear a silk floral jacket made by The Silly Sisters, and my petticoat was made by Kerry McClure.  I leave the sewing to those experts, and I make the jewelry!  

     To help complete my ensemble, I decided to have a pair of my white American Duchess Dunmore shoes dyed gold to match the silk jacket.  I paired it with my Charlotte reproduction shoe buckles in Citrine and Clear.  So elegant.  For those who want to know, I can spend a year or more creating an outfit with all of the right bits and pieces to get the right look that I'm going for.  

     The event started at 4 pm and lasted until 7.  We had a steady stream of visitors through the house, and were portraying the people of the town in the year 1769.  

    Not many sites portray the 60's, so I went to portraits and prints of the time to get the right style hair.  My wig was made by The Wig Dresser.  I threaded pearls through it and added red fabric roses.  The jewelry came from my shop - dark topaz teardrop earrings, my Martha ring in gold, and wrapped two 29 inch vintage necklaces around my wrist and added clasps to it.  There are also crystal sleeve buttons (or also known as cuff links) closing my shift sleeves that you cannot see.  I then put on a vintage collet stone and topaz rhinestone necklace that I purchased years ago, and added an original 18th century watch chain that held my late 18th century original clock (watch) to honor those who previously wore them.  The gold of the chain really highlighted the gold elements in my jacket.  The stones, dark and light topaz in the necklace also picked up the red/rust elements in my jacket.  I am wearing a smaller version of panniers (pocket hoops) made by The Silly Sisters.

Ready to go!  
(They did not have Christmas trees in the 18th C but we do)

     This year was significant for Historic Annapolis in that it was the 250th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone for the James Brice House, which is next door.  So to honor Mr. Brice and that date, we portrayed the people of the past of that year.  We did have Mrs. Brice, James's mother, present and at the party.

Left to Right:  Mrs. Sarah Brice (Jane Pease), Mrs. Margaret Bordley (me), Mrs. Mary Paca (Gema Gonzalez), and Mrs. Rebecca Dulany (Jami Borek) visiting in the upstairs Master Bedroom
Photo by Ken Tom

Mrs. Bordley (me) and Mrs. Ann Ogle (Kerry McClure) in the Dining Room
(Hand Fans also sold in my shop)
Photo by Ken Tom

     For those interested in why we do this, it is about the history, the clothing, and portrayal of those who came before us.  Many have different interests - some in research, some in creating the clothing, and others in all of it!  In my case, I honor the memory of my character.  Those in this group are dedicated to dressing as correctly as we can.  We all research our characters to know as much as we can about their lives, and we study the dress normally worn in the time period we are "in."  This means we dress to create the illusion of the year we are portraying. We do our very best to honor the house and respect the artifacts within.

The gorgeous dining table with Kerry and I has original silver and dishes 
from the time with faux foods to simulate a dinner - the grandfather clock in the background is amazing and was just conserved!
Photo by Ken Tom

     There were 18 of us for this event, which I believe is the most we have had participate.  The house was filled with music as the event organizers, Lisa Holly Robbins, Aliya, and Janet Perkins, had a violin player on the second floor.  This year we also had English country dancing below stairs in the house with a master, Corky Palmer.  He and his wife gave a spectacular demonstration of the minuet for our guests, and everyone also joined in - including our visitors!  So there was music downstairs as well as small cakes of varying types and spiced mulled cider.  All of the senses were engaged!  I hope this is a regular thing for us as it was amazingly fun.  You'll recognize Corky as he is the dance master at Gadsby's Tavern Museum in Alexandria, VA.

Mrs. and Mrs. George D'Argeau (Corky and Cindy Palmer) with musician Mr. Oliver Stevens (Ted Borek)
Photo by Ken Tom

His Excellency Governor Eden (Harry Aycock) and Mrs. Caroline Eden (Krista Jasillo)
Photo by Ken Tom 

Mrs. Anne Worthington (Robin Marchionni) and Mr. Brice Worthington
Photo by Ken Tom

Mr. John Hall (Earl Shibe) and Mr. William Paca (Matthew West)
Photo by Ken Tom 

Mr. William Paca, Mrs. Anne Chase (Nicki Foronda), and Mr. John Hall
Photo by Ken Tom

 Colonel Horatio Sharpe (Shane Kippenhan) and Mr. William Eddis (Dan McMahon)
Photo by Ken Tom

I can see Mr. Worthington's cards!
Photo by Ken Tom

     Many of us went out afterwards to celebrate a birthday and a successful event at Galway Bay Irish Restaurant just down on College Street.  You also see Mr. Bordley at the table (Jim McGaughey).

Photo by Shane Kippenhan