Monday, July 18, 2016

The 4th of July and my gown made from IKEA fabric

I spent the 4th of July at the Paca House and Gardens in Historic Annapolis.  I love this town and the house museum. Such a wonderful time surrounded by excellent living historians who just so happened to all be men!  We had a steady stream of visitors who came in after the naturalization ceremony.

Sitting at my reproduction antique table in the Paca House and Garden's Parlor

     It was a wonderful day to wear my compiere front blue floral gown and matching petticoat made by Sarah Haynes Cowan of The Silly Sisters.  This masterpiece was made with IKEA blue and white floral cotton fabric (the name of the fabric is not known) and fabric covered buttons down the front - which is not false by the way - it is a working front with button holes.  

Trying on the gown for fit

Back of the gown - I am wearing a very small hip roll with this gown

     This cotton gown is so versatile, but excellent for the hotter summer months.  For the 4th, I decided to wear jewelry that I sell in my shop.  To start I have on sapphire paste and south sea shell pearl teardrop earrings, a white glass choker to match, an appropriate watch chain with 18th century original watch, and had pinned over my heart a miniature of my first Gray Horse, Southern Belle.  The rings on my fingers also matched - of course! 

     I paired it with a lovely cap made with antique dotted Swiss fabric (also by Sarah) that is a replica of a lace cap worn by Martha Washington.  If you look at my shoes, I'm wearing the original "Charlotte" Shoe Buckles.

Original "Charlotte" Shoe Buckles on a pair of Burnley & Trowbridge Ladies 18th century walking shoes

With Matt West as Mr. William Paca

The three gentlemen - Jim McGaughey, Matt West, and Earl Shibe

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Regency Diadem Collaboration with Lia Terni

     A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to make appropriate head ornaments that simulated what I was seeing in originals from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I started to specifically look for them in portraits and prints as well as on museum sites - my Pinterest page became full of these images.  I was also on the lookout for someone to help me make these correctly.  They needed to be safe to wear (no sharp edges) and looked like the originals.  I am all for wearing something that looks close - but I also like to do as many true reproductions as I can. 

Portrait of a young Lady by Martin Drolling

     Then I needed to know what I was making.  What did they call them in the time period?  Do you know of other names? If so, just e-mail me at  I will be going into the fashion prints of the time to look at the descriptions as they can also be very informative!

     In the meantime, the dictionary by John Ash of 1775 defines the following:

"Comb - divide and adjust the hair..."

"Coronet - ...a kind of head dress..."

"Crown - to invest with a royal diadem, to cover as with a crown, to dignify, to adorn..."

"Diadem - the crown of a sovereign prince; the tiara, the ensign of royalty about the head of an eastern prince."

"Headband - a sillet for the head, a topknot..."

"Headdress - the dress of a woman's head, that which resembles a headdress."

"Ornament - to embellish, to decorate."

"Strip - a narrow piece, a narrow shred."

"Tiara - a headdress..."

     I also read an excellent article on the Jane Austen website entitled, "The Bandeau: Hairbands, Regency Style" by Laura Boyle that also described the fashions of the time.  It states that "by 1812, fashion magazines were still touting bandeau, both cloth or jeweled, as a hair wrap of choice."

Original 19th Century Pearl Regency Comb

     The definitions didn't really tell me much.  Originals are a great way to see how things were made (or altered), and portraits/prints show how they were worn.  The fashion magazine descriptions are also a good way to find out the variety of this type of decoration for the hair.  So, trying to find someone to recreate those delicate and lovely hair ornaments was not going to be easy, but I was determined to do so.  So, how to find the right way to make these?  

     I had some hit and misses in design and samples come to me, all not meeting my criteria.  I kept promising my customers that  I would offer something soon, and now that has finally been realized!

          I am very proud to have been in collaboration with Lia Terni.  She is a world renowned expert in making tiaras, headbands, and modern jewelry.  She studied in Brazil and London and agreed to help me with my dream to offer these to you.  It is such an honor to work with her.  Our project results are shown in the following images along with inspiration portraits so you can see the possibilities of how they should be worn.

Lia Terni

Jean-Pierre Granger, Portrait of Charlotte Bonaparte, 1808

Our reproduction Pearl comb with red coral and clear crystals

Our reproduction Pearl comb with lapis lazuli and clear crystals
Portrait of a Woman by Louis Leopold Boilly circa 19th century
(I also make the earrings, pearl necklace, and chain necklace)

     We have also come up with some additional headbands like those in portraits and prints to be worn as is or decorated with your favorite crystals and pearls.

Shell and Flower

Johanna Roberts-Osborn, as a Child Royal Institution of Cornwall

Marie Louise by jean Baptiste Isabey, circa 1810
(Yeah, I also make these earrings and the necklace is a specialty of mine!)

Anne-Louis Girodet, Hortense de Beauharnais, 1808

     I also have a red coral comb like the one below its way to me!  It will also be available with lapis lazuli.  

Original 19th Century Red Coral Comb
(Source unknown)

More to follow soon!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The CHARLOTTE 18th Century Shoe Buckles Exclusive

     I'm really excited to announce my first pair of reproduction 18th Century Shoe Buckles designed and created in collaboration with American Duchess Historical Footwear.  These lovely buckles are an exact replica of ones in my personal collection.  They will be available starting 11 July - but you can pre-order them now! 

Reproduction Charlotte buckles on my American Duchess shoes called the "Dunmore."

Original Buckles owned by me

Original buckle on the left, reproduction on the right

     The buckles measure 3 inches long, 2-1/2 inches wide, and will accommodate a strap (latchet) width of 1-3/4 inches. They are easily attached and removed to accommodate all different brand of shoes.

Original Buckles on leather shoes

     Additionally, my buckles will also come in colors!  There is one extant example out there shown in a garnet colored paste very similar to this design; however, there are other colored paste or precious stone shoe buckles out there and shown on my Pinterest page.  

Garnet colored paste shoe buckles, photo courtesy of August Auctions

      The first offering for sale will include clear, rose, olivine green, sapphire, and garnet.  They are available in my Etsy shop now and shipping starts the week of 11 July.  The clear buckles will be $40, colors will be priced at $45.

     The Charlotte is the first in a total of four buckle styles that are being made!  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Georgian Jewelry - Post also known as Stud Earrings?

     I know I have seen at least one instance of a post or stud earring in an 18th century portrait, or was it 19th century?  I cannot find it!  When doing research I have a wonderful booked called Earrings from Antiquity to the Present by Daniela Mascetti and Amanda Triossi.  It gives a great chronology of earrings and what was popular and what was not as well as when new technologies came into being.  The first instance that I see of anything like a stud mentioned is something popular in the 1930's described as a "prong soldered at the back of the earring, which is inserted into the pierced earlobe and secured by a small, usually hexagonal, plate.”

Earrings from my personal collection showing the leverback going into the BACK of the ear and connecting in the front.  These are solid gold with an Amethyst decoration.

     My articles about runaways are a good place to start for jewelry explained on what they had on or what they may have taken with them.   I'd also suggest for campfollowers (or the lower sort/working class person) an article that I did for that as well.  

     As with anything, there is usually a caveat to everything in that depending on the prosperity of the shop or trade the working class person is associated with could mean they wear something nicer or nothing at all.

Hoops worn by Marie-Catherine de Lamoignon de Basville 1789 by Lebrun (Cropped)

          I also checked my other two "go-to" books called Jewelry in America, 1600-1900 by Martha Gandy Fales as well as Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, A Mirror to the World by Charlotte Gere and Judy Rudoe and did not see any posts/studs whatsoever into the 19th century.  That doesn't meant they didn't exist, but maybe they weren't common or popular.  Many of the designs for earrings usually showed a shepard's hook (or what we call an earwire).  

Poissard Earrings from Winterthur Museum
(Photo from Earrings from Antiquity to the Present)

     I offer a presentation which can be requested if interested!  Other styles of earrings included:

Girandole (set with diamonds and other stones, elongated central drop, with bow replaced by more complex design)

Pendeloque (marquise-shaped surmount supporting a central ribbon bow motif and elongated drop of a design similar to the surmount decorated with a swing center)

Two-Stone (also known as Double Cluster or Double Drop - have two large oval faceted gemstones or were made of metal, the larger on top with the plane joining the two embellished with various decorative motifs.)

Iberian (evolved designs showed the form of a girandole and pendeloque – long and heavy – needed special mounts to support their weight which also included wig loops)

Poissarde (hinged fitting at the back, usually in the form of a flat panel or half decorated loop decorated with enamel or with stones)

Pendant and Long Pendant (just started in favor - normally had earwires on the back and possibly a wig loop as well)

     So, should you wear posts for your impressions?  You could but...  I do sell post style earrings but they normally have a dangle drop to them and emulate those of the time periods I'm trying to focus on or have an illusion of an earwire on the back.  But, just a regular pearl post or bead post is probably no correct until we can find proof.  I never say never.  There is so much out there that I haven't seen, it could be there and I have overlooked it.

     What have you seen out there?  Please share your thoughts and send them to me at

Friday, June 24, 2016

Legends and Lies - Benjamin Franklin, Inventing America

     A client of mine, Eliza, had the opportunity to be an extra in the show, FOX's "Legends and Lies, Benjamin Franklin Inventing America" with her boyfriend, Eric (they are the two in the middle of the photo).  She is shown here wearing her pearl parure festoon necklace, bracelets, and earrings.  She is looking gorgeous!  What is really awesome is that this set was her graduation gift, and I was honored to make it.  Now it is making its debut on television that millions of viewers will see.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Jewelry on AMC's TURN, Washington's Spies - Season 2 and 3

     I have a client, Anna Gorka, ask about my jewelry worn on AMC's TURN, Washington's Spies. The Black Petticoat Society, a TURN Washington's Spies Devotee Association has highlighted my jewelry in giveaways for the entire Season 3 of the show.  I am so honored and blessed to be a member!  

     What I have not done is gone through each show yet to save photos of the jewelry the actresses are wearing to see if they are mine, but I have attempted to gather some still photos to show you. 

     I specialize in making one of a kind pieces, or finding vintage and antique jewelry that emulates the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries styles of jewelry.  So, it isn't always possible to recreate something that TURN decided to use in their show.  I have made reproductions and historically inspired pieces that can be made into quantity (as I do for the Colonial Williamsburg Mary Dickenson and William Pit Stores), so if you do see something you like in the show and want it, just find me on Facebook (K. Walters at the Sign of the Gray Horse) and private message a photo to me or e-mail me at

Peggy Shippen wearing my gold bow and champagne pearls

     TURN purchased quite a bit of jewelry for Season 2, and they do a good job with the continuity to Season 3 with many of my pieces.  I also know that they modified some of what they purchased with different techniques to achieve what they wanted for the shot or scene by using antiquing techniques, adding cabochons, taking things apart and remodeling them, etc.  All of which I was cool with them doing.

     It is really awesome and somewhat surreal to see my creations on television, but I am so grateful for their finding me and to Donna Zakowska, the Season 2 costume designer, for being so gracious and knowing exactly what she was looking for.  She gave me the highest compliments for having the eye for making reproduction pieces that were perfect.