Friday, August 26, 2016

Pre-Orders are now being taken for the Cluster Ring inspired by Martha Washington!

     Please go to my Etsy shop as pre-orders are now being taken, until September 6th, for the cluster rings inspired by Martha Washington's wedding ring.  I decided to have them made in a polished brass - which will not turn colors - and sterling silver to make them affordable (and for those who may have metal allergies).

     The advantage of making a pre-order is that you can get your size right when they come in versus having to wait 4-5 weeks - which is how long these take to make IF I do not have your size in stock.  

     These can be ordered in sizes 4-11 including half sizes!

Reproduction in polished brass with all clear crystals

Reproduction side view in polished brass and all clear crystals

Reproduction in Sterling silver with pearls and a ruby center

Reproduction in Sterling silver with ruby center

 Martha Washington's Wedding Ring from Daniel Parke Custis

Original cluster ring with turquoise and a ruby center owned by me

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Martha Washington Wedding Ring Reproduction

     I am proud to announce that I have been able to reproduce, from an original in my own collection, a reproduction ring similar to one that Martha Washington wore.  Pre-orders will be taken soon for one of these awesome rings.

My original cluster ring in gold with turquoise and ruby center
(Photo courtesy of K. Walters at the Sign of the Gray Horse)

Martha Washington's wedding ring
(Photo Courtesy of Wedding Rings

Gray Horse reproduction in polished brass with clear crystals
It is crisp and clear with appropriate setting just like the original

Gray Horse reproduction in polished brass with clear crystals (full side view)

     It was also decided to offer these with other stones in order to have a variety!  So, I had two additional samples made, one with pearls and one with clear crystals and a ruby center. 

Sterling Silver ring with pearls and a ruby center

Sterling Silver with clear crystals and a ruby center

Sterling Silver with clear crystals and a ruby center (side view)

     These will be available in a variety of sizes!  Other colors will be a special order and can take 3-4 weeks to have ready. More details will be posted within my Etsy shop soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Taking tea at Patrick Henry's Scotchtown, Virginia

     I will be cooking at Patrick Henry's Scotchtown on 2 October in their hearth kitchen with the 1st Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line. If you are in the area, stop on by to see us serve Mrs. Mary Cary Ambler (portrayed by Ms. Kerry McClure) in the house.  The year will be 1780.

     We will be using my book, A Book of Cookery by a Lady. I have enlisted Gema Gonzalez once again to assist me with this endeavor!

     Within my book, chapter 8 entitled, "How to Take Tea" will be used as our guide. Tea in the 18th century was a social time with it being oversaw by the lady of the house, and was her time to shine. There may have been several people there gossiping, playing cards or other games, or even dancing. Tea was not necessarily done at a specific time as in the 19th century. Tea also became a popular breakfast drink (they also drank beer or spirits) later in the century.  They may have had bread and butter, sometimes cakes, meats, cheeses, fish, etc. offered to eat.

Photo by Paul A. McClintock of From Common Hands Studio

     When doing my research, I am going to use a couple of passages from Jamison Borek's Patriot's & Poisons where she describes tea taken by her characters. Since tea after a certain period within the colonies was hard to come by due to the protests, the Boston Gazette in 1768 recommended using old-fashioned herbs as infusions to use instead of tea. It was recommended:

"Tea made from a plant or shrub grown in Pearsontown was served to a circle of ladies and gentlemen in Newbury Port who pronounced it nearly, if not quite, its equal in flavor to genuine Bohea. So important a discovery claims attention,
especially at this crisis. if we have the plant, nothing is wanted but the process of curing it into 'tea' of our own manufacture."
(Taken from A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew & Bruce Richardson)

     Using parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, sage, sweet fern, spicebush, ambrosia, leaves of raspberry and strawberry, lemon balm, verbena, and wintergreen were among favorites.  The article in the Boston Gazette was referring to a plant grown in Portland, Maine, called Ceanothus Americanus or what we call "New Jersey Tea."

Tea and koekjes at Gunston Hall for a video for Donna Thorland's book, The Dutch Girl

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Costume College 2016

     While I was not able to make it to Costume College this year - have actually never attended - some of my friends/clients did!  A couple of them presented and gave workshops. Photos are still coming out from those who attended.

     I wanted to highlight two of them in this post showing jewelry that they wore from my shop.  

     You may have seen Lauren Stowell of American Duchess in some of my other posts wearing her red coral set.  Here she is highlighting the necklace and bracelets.

     Then there is Maggie Roberts of Undressing the Historical Lady wearing an olivine reverse intaglio cameo parure that she wore perfectly.  One of my favorite pieces is the diadem that I handmade. 

Photo by Lauren Stowell

Photo by Nicole Rudolph 

Photo by Nicole Rudolph

Maggie is wearing my gold bow and pearl earrings for this shot
Photo by Lauren Stowell

Check out my shop!!!!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Red Coral and Lapis Lazuli Regency Hair Combs

     They are finally in!  The combs are available in my Etsy shop.  I only have two of each, so get them while you can.  An Exclusive from my shop.  These were made in collaboration with Lia Terni.

Original Comb - Source Unknown

Original demi-parure with comb, earrings, and necklace

Portrait of a Lady, by Charles Pierre Cior,  ca.1810

Miniature Brooch of a Lady in Tiara, France c.1790-1810
(these may be paste in the comb, but represents that they did wear blue!)

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 (it is now discontinued but is named ROSMARIE) 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!