Friday, March 1, 2019

Dressing 18th Century - An Encore Presentation at Historic Annapolis

     We were asked again by Historic Annapolis to present on 18th century clothing for their Winter Lecture Series.  This year, our focus was the same as we wanted to help those who dress up with tips, tricks, and techniques.  We also showed everyone how they dressed in the time for the lower sorts, middling, and gentry ladies and gentlemen.  So many similarities and yet also very different between the social classes.

From Left to Right - Kerry McClure, Gema Gonzalez, Nicole Foronda, and myself

     This year we had a few extra besides Kerry McClure and Nicole Foronda.  We added Gema Gonzalez and Jane Pease to our years of expertise into the mix.

     The first up were the men.  Jane provided a presentation on clothing in the colonies - Mid-Atlantic area was the focus - from the early 18th century up into the 1790's.  The difference was surely noticeable!  We were fortunate to have Mr. Paca welcome the guests into his home.

Left to Right - Chuck Aldridge, Matt West (Mr. Paca), Jane Pease, Dan McMahon, Bob, and Shane Kippenhan

     Then it was time for the ladies.  I was first up with going through clothing, fabric, the social classes, and the basics of dress.  Then I provided the audience - up to 43 signed up for our presentation - with the lower sorts basic clothing.  I showed off my half-boned jumps as an undergarment to give me structure and warmth, and I showed everyone how to properly put on their hat (over the cap).  My jumps were made by The Silly Sisters (actually my entire outfit including cap was made by Sarah Haynes Cowan).

Here I am talking about jackets and riding habits or travelling clothes

Showing off how to put on a hat properly

     We then had Nicole and Gema present on the middling sort from the lowest to those aspiring, and the range of dress that we see in portraits and prints of that social class.

Nicole talking about the middling class - we are all enthralled!

     We then dressed Gema in her upper middling clothing from stays, panniers (pocket hoops), to finished jacket and petticoat!

Nicole helping Gema dress

     Then it was time for Gentry!  Kerry provided a wonderful example of a Gentry lady in all of her finery.  She also spoke about age and dress - even in the time we would not have put "mutton in lambs clothing" which essentially means that those of us who age tend to stick with clothing that we feel is age appropriate.  Her example was Mrs. Martha Washington shown in portraits of the time in clothing that doesn't tend to go past a certain point - she was not wearing the latest clothing past the turn of the century as an example.

Kerry and I

Kerry discussing her gown - you can see her original etui and
 watch chain hanging from her petticoat.  Her earrings are available in my shop.

     Overall, we were told the presentation was excellent. The audience feedback was that they absolutely loved it!

     If you are interested in a presentation like this, please let me know.  

Sunday, February 17, 2019

New Exclusive Pocket Watch - Something for your 18th and 19th Century Impressions

     I spent quite a bit of time on the development of this next watch.  It has been a process, especially working with a manufacturer who makes for those in the 21st century.  Those of us today want lightweight, small, and thin watches - but those of us who reenact well, we want heavy, big, and thick pocket watches!  My first version was heavy, this one not so much.

Concept Drawing

     With that in mind, I did a compromise for my second watch.  These are just as large as my last one (which is sold out by the way), but they are a little thinner and lightweight.  I did this on purpose - it will serve both living historians and reenactors who want a watch to wear for two time periods - 18th and 19th century...  


     These watches are about 2 inches wide, and have a unique face that is after an original I found on-line.  I wanted the very same look, and I was not disappointed in what was developed for me.  



     This watch does not have a second hand.  This version has special hands made just for my shop, and emulate originals of the time.  I decided not to go with the same hands on the original watch in order to do something a little more fancy.  It can be worn for both centuries - I would suggest from the 1770's on up into the late 19th century.  Ladies of the Regency and Federalist eras can wear these at their waist with ease as they are lightweight, gentleman who do not want the heaviness in their fob (pocket) have no fears.  I have articles that I have written here and here on how to wear your watch properly.  I also have a Pinterest board with portraits and prints with watches, and I highly suggest the book How the Watch Was Worn: A Fashion for 500 Years by Genevieve Cummings to get just the right look.  I have this book (among others) so if you need any information, just let me know.

Gold and silver versions

     Pre-orders are now open in my shop, and this run of watches will be limited to 100 in dark gold and 100 in silver.  Get them while you can, as they will not be made with this face again (just as my first watches will not be made again).  Development of my next watch will start soon as I anticipate these to go fast.  You can never have too many watches.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

     I am working on finalizing my new book, Tea in 18th Century America!

     Here is a sneak peak of the front cover. So grateful to Pamela Patrick White of White Historic Art for use of her painting on the front cover, and to Lucinda Brant Books for writing the Foreword inside. So very excited!

Cover Art by Jera Publishing

     The book will be hardbound and I may eventually have paperback. I am not going to do an e-publication at this time. This is a book best held in your hands in paper.

     Once published in the next few months, it will be available in my shop (wholesale and retail) as well as via Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Jewelry, Hair, and Make-up in the time of Mrs. Mary Chew Paca

     I was honored to be asked to speak by Janet Perkins Hall, the Volunteer Coordinator in Historic Annapolis on jewelry in the Paca House and Gardens.  It was the home of Mrs. William (Mary Chew) Paca.  The event was scheduled for 26 January 2019 during their Winter Talk Series.  That led me to think what I wanted to talk about.  I thought it would be interesting to incorporate hair and make-up into the mix.  They seemed to go hand in hand in my mind.

Eliza and I
Photo by Robin Matty

     There was no question I would ask Eliza Leigh Vincz of Silk & Sass to bring her expertise into the mix.  I was so glad she said yes and was available!  She also performs in the Ministers of Apollo Early American Music and Arts with her fiance, Erik Lichack.  She has given presentations on dressing her and others hair using the techniques of the 18th century with products that she makes.  A perfect match as I make my own jewelry!  At this talk, the plan was for her to make-up my hair.  I personally tend to not take the time with my hair for events as I use hair pieces and my caps to best advantage - that can be called lazy but also practical in the situations I find myself in - or events I find myself going to.

     I started out the presentation with a history of Mary - as how can you NOT start out a presentation without understanding who she was?  I had to set the focus of the talk.  She lived in the house from 1763 to 1774, married in her late 20's, and passed away in her late 30's.  The portrait above is of her sister, Margaret (who I actually portray during events at the site).  There is no existing portrait of Mary that  we know of; however, I would like to think there is one out there that has yet to be identified.  Otherwise, why would these two exist and the other is lost?  Oh wait, I didn't also tell you that Henrietta Maria's portrait is also out there?  Mary, where are you?  So we can at least hope that Mary looked similar to Margaret.  I am told that the curator of collections will be offering a tour that focuses on Annapolis and Colonial Painters in the coming months - something I want to attend.  

Me talking about Mary Chew Paca - a fact of me starting living history is due to
researching my own family history
Photo by Robin Matty

     I have done my research as usual.  I'm somewhat meticulous, and knowing that those in the audience may descend from the Paca family - I needed to be on point.  This included tying in orders from Annapolis merchants to businesses in London, identifing some of the jewelers and silversmiths in Annapolis in the time that Mary was living, and pointing out that Mary may have read the latest ads in the Maryland Gazette to find out what was available to her.  I included some local watch makers (including Charles Willson Peale), silversmiths, and goldsmiths.  Did she make an appointment to order items she may have wanted or needed?  If only the letters or order books that I know of had that detail.  I had some of my research materials (books) with me as well as original 18th century items to show their construction and awesomeness.  The senior historian in Annapolis was very impressed with my research and sources.  That in itself made the presentation!

     The event was sold out with a packed room.  There was a mixture of docents as well as interested public in attendance!  We had men and women in the audience, and we were able to talk to what influenced William and Mary, and those they would have known and associated themselves with.  Their taste in jewelry may have been in general terms or specific things that they inherited.  We do not know as it was not written down anywhere.  

     We then moved on to the hair and make-up portion of our presentation.  Eliza stepped in without missing a beat - a great team.  We wanted to show how Mary would have had her hair dressed for an evening at dinner using hair pearls from my shop.  Now, many out there think that the colonies were not fashion conscious this early on, yet in my research we know that William Eddis wrote in 1771 in his “Letters from America” that 

           “Annapolis reproduced the life of an English
             town of the day and that the changes of fashion
             in London found their way to Maryland more 
             quickly than they were adopted by many 
             persons of wealth in London itself…in short 
             very little difference is in reality observable in
             manners of the wealthy colonist and the 
             wealthy Briton.”

     Now to start the hair!  Eliza is very happy to take my very long hair and start to shape it into an 18th century style.

Oh goodness - we have started!

Pomatum and Hair Powder

In progress...

Now to the details

Things are taking shape!


Now for the rouge, lip color, and painting on the eyebrows!

A portrait in the Parlor

A close up of the back of my hair

Shenanigans in the Parlor!  Too bad it wasn't real punch.  Ha 

A selfie with Robin Matty, our photographer for the day and the curator of collections
at Historic Annapolis.

So honored that they had my book available for sale and refreshments for those who attended.  Janet is the hostess with the mostest!  My book can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Researching 18th Century Jewelry

     Taking time during the winter snow storm here in Virginia to do jewelry research!  What else?  Well, I did make up a lot of new jewelry pieces that will be going into my Etsy shop soon.  Some of them new offerings.

     I have come across an amazing book, in French, that shows us as early as 1769 that birthstones were a thing!  They also include Zodiac signs with their symbols.  I have taken this time to translate this small portion - with the help of my friend Philippe Halbert.

     What is your birth month and sign?  In the time it was associated with different stones compared to now.  Check it out.

     The book also has a chronology and table of the history of the founders by country, the year founded, and main orders or badges.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019 Calendar of Reenactment and Living History Events

     I wanted to post a listing of reenactments that are up and coming for 2019.  Thanks to Michael Grenier, Commander of the 64th Regiment of Foot and former Brigadier of the British Brigade, for compiling it as he does every year.  It is nice to have a single list to refer to.  

     If your unit is attending one of these, or if you are looking to participate, just do a search as most of these actually have websites!  

2019 Calendar of Reenactment and 
Living History Events

5-6 British Brigade & Continental Line Meeting (Saturday 6th)
January 12-13 Battle of Cowpens, SC
January 19-20 
January 26-27 


2-3 American Heritage Festival, Lake City, SC
February 9-10 
February 16-17 Snow Shoe Patrol & Battle at Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown, NY (Saturday only)
**Also ** Siege of Charleston, SC
**Also ** Cornwallis Occupation, Hillsborough, NC (Saturday only)
**Also ** Fort Ward, Alexandria, VA (Sunday only)
February 23-24 


2-3 Boston Massacre Reenactment
**Also ** CL-MAD School of the Officer and NCO, Washington Crossing Historic Park, PA
March 9-10 
March 16-17 Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Greensboro, NC
**Also ** Military Through the Ages at Jamestown Settlement, VA
March 23-24 8th Annual American Revolution conference, Colonial Williamsburg
March 30-31 


April 13-14 Battle Road, Lexington, MA (13th), Patriots' Day- Lexington, MA (15th) 
**Also ** Battle of Bound Brook, Middlebrook, NJ
**Also ** British Occupation of Halifax, invitation only
April 20-21 Easter Sunday weekend 
April 27-28 Battle of Musgrove Mill, Clinton, SC
**Also ** Patriot’s Day Weekend, Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown, NY.  
**Also ** Battle at Osborne’s Landing, Henricus Park, Chester VA
**Also ** The siege of San Juan, Puerto Rico (1797)?
**Also ** BAR School of Instruction, East Jersey Old Town, Piscataway, NJ.


4-5 Mount Vernon, VA Encampment & Skirmish (paid)
May 11-12 Mother's Day weekend  
**Also** Raid at Martin's Station, Ewing, VA 
May 18-19 BAR at Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers, MA
May 25-26 Memorial Day Weekend
**Also** Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada

June 1-2 

"British Invasion, 1781", Monticello, Charlottesville, VA?
June 8-9 Battle of Newbury Spencer Peirce Little Farm Newbury MA
June 15-16 Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto, Ontario?
June 22-23 Battle of Monmouth, NJ
**Also** Waters Farm, Sutton, Mass
**Also** BAR 240th Battle of Springfield, Springfield, NJ.
June 29-30 4th of July Celebration at the National Constitution Center (July 2-4, Tues.-Thurs.)
**Also** Starks Muster Fort 4, Charlestown, NH


6-7 Battle of Hubbardton, VT
**Also** Fort Niagara, Youngstown, NY (F&I)
**Also** Battles of Green Spring and Spencer's Ordinary, Chippokes State Park, Surry County, VA
July 13-14 Battle of Huck's Defeat, Brattonsville, SC?
**also** Fort Roberdeau Rev War Weekend, Altoona, PA?
**also** Encampment at Marblehead, MA
**also** BAR at the 240th Anniv. Assault on Stony Point, NY
July 20-21 Castine, Maine
July 27-28 


3-4 Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA
August 10-11 Old Fort Niagara (Youngstown NY) "Soldiers of the Revolution"
August 17-18 BAR 240th Battle of Paulus Hook, NJ, New Bridge Landing, River Edge, NJ (Sat. only)
August 24-25 240th Anniv. Battle of Newtown, Elmira, NY
**also** Newport, R.I. (CL Only)
August 31-Sept 1 Labor Day weekend 
**also** Latta Plantation, Charlotte NC


September 14-15 Brown's Raid, Fort Ticonderoga, NY
**also** Mount Vernon Colonial Market and Fair
September 21-22 Garrison at Fort #4, Charlestown, NH
**Also** Market Fair, Endview Plantation, Newport News, VA
September 28-29 Fort #4, Charlestown, NH
**also** Before the Siege: The British Army at Yorktown, VA


5-6 Battle of Germantown Chew House, Philadelphia, PA (Saturday)
**also** Daniels Farm, Blackstone MA
**also** Historic Brattonsville Tactical, McConnells, SC
October 12-13 Mount Harmon Plantation, Earleville, MD (BB & CL National Event)
October 19-20 Chase Farm Lincoln RI 
**also** Battle of Red Bank, Ft.. Mercer, Woodbury, NJ (Sunday)
October 26-27 


2-3 Whitemarsh Encampment, Hope Lodge, PA
**also** Battle of Camden, SC
November 9-10 Siege of Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, PA
November 16-17 
November 23-24 Thanksgiving weekend
**also** BAR Retreat Fort Lee - Ft. Lee Historic Park, Fort Lee, NJ (Sat. only)
November 30- Dec 1 Battle of Great Bridge, Chesapeake, VA


7-8 Castle by Candlelight, Ft Niagara, Youngstown, NY (Saturday only)
December 14-15 Castle by Candlelight, Ft Niagara, Youngstown, NY (Saturday only)
**also** Battle of Cedar Bridge, NJ (Sunday only)?
December 21-22 Weekend before Christmas
December 25 Crossing the Delaware, Washington Crossing Historic Park, PA
December 28-29 Battle of Trenton, NJ (invitation only, contact site for details)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Martha Washington Dove Brooch

     I was asked by a special client that portrays Martha Washington across the country to recreate the Martha Washington Dove brooch. The original was seed pearls set on a mother of pearl backing and was supposedly purchased in 1787.  The Dove of Peace can be worn anywhere and anytime.  It can be seen at the George Washington's Mount Vernon website.

Original Pin

     I was given a photo of a reproduction revival pin.  I am unsure of the provenance of it, I checked with an assistant curator at Mount Vernon, Amanda Issac, to see if it came from the Washington's or was made afterwards.  It wasn't verified as a Washington piece (below).

So I worked with my manufacturer to come up with a reproduction of the inspired piece.  It turned out wonderfully!  It will be offered soon in the shop.  Being the overachiever that I am, the samples I received are in a silver, antiqued silver, and gold.  I'll have all three styles, but the main style will be in the silver to emulate the original.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Holiday Open House, Historic Annapolis 2018

     As many know, I lead a group of living historians for events in the Paca House and Gardens in Historic Annapolis.  I don't claim to be that great in working in first person, but those who are in the group are most excellent.  I do like to claim that we are very authentic in what we wear to events.  I wanted to share some photos of our latest event this past weekend.

     I'm wearing my own jewelry - of course - Penny River Costuming embroidered stockings are so unique and beautiful, American Duchess white Dunmore shoes that I had dyed gold (too bad they are discontinued as they are an amazing shoe), and a silk gown purchased months ago at Colonial Williamsburg.  If you have not popped into the Mary Dickenson shop and met Robin Gander, you need to.  She is the very best and amazing at knowing what is right and what may fit you.  They offer really beautiful gowns at a somewhat affordable price, that work for what we do.  Robin allowed me to take my time trying it on, and then of course I had to have it!

     Our event was a really big success.  The site has a new VP of Education and Interpretation - Mary Angela Hardwick - who saw us all in action for the first time.  We are so grateful for them allowing us to participate in bringing in the house alive, to Kenneth Tom for the amazing photos to capture us there, and to every one in the group who volunteer their time in which to make it all happen.  

     It was 15 December 1770, and Mr. and Mrs. Paca were having a holiday party before the 12 days of Christmas started.  They had been invited to so many, they wanted to start their party first.  So many things to talk about!  Their friends and family were there, with me portraying Mrs. Paca's sister.  

     Below are photos highlighting some of the best of the best.

Mrs. Eleanor Dorsey Hall (Marie Louise Halbert) and Mrs. Caroline Eden (Krista Jasillo)

Mrs. Margaret Chew Bordley (Me), Mrs. Margaret Tilghman Carroll (Michelle Sebastian), and Charles Carroll the Barrister (Chuck Aldrich) just arriving.

Mrs. Bordley, His Excellency and Mrs. Eden

His Excellency Governor Robert Eden (Harry Aycock) and William Paca (Matthew West) 

The ladies in the Dining room 

Okay, my prototype watch on one of my original chains worn by Mrs. Caroline Eden 

My Original Watch chain and French Gold Watch 

His Excellency Governor Robert Eden, William Paca, Margaret Chew Bordley, Caroline Eden, Mrs.Eleanor Dorsey Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carroll the Barrister, and Mr. Mr. Brice Thomas Beale Worthington (Michael Halbert)  

The Gentlemen in the Parlor 

Mr. Paca and Mr. Worthington

Mrs. Mary Chew Paca (Gema Gonzalez) and Mrs. Worthington

Reproduction made by me in the museum 

Some of the Group 

Me, Mrs. Ann Tasker Ogle (Kerry McClure), and Mrs. Margaret Tilghman Carroll

The British Marines coming into the Paca House to raid the kitchen 

The ladies in the bedchamber before Mrs. Paca kicked us out!  Just Kidding. 

Standing in front of the Mr. Paca display with clothing donated that is in memory of James Goucher of which he is also wearing the "James" shoe buckles which were named after his originals and to him.  Remembering him and honoring his life. 

Cooks in the Kitchen (Robin Marchionni and Nicole Foronda) 

 Cooks in the Kitchen found Hogarth the mouse...