Monday, October 12, 2020

UPDATE! Martha Washington's Reproduction Garnet Earrings - Martha's Style

      I wanted to share a quick note to show you the progress of the Martha Washington's garnet earrings!  I wrote a post a month or so ago when I shared the visit to measure and hold the originals.  You can read about that - here.

     The samples arrived early last week from my design instructions - and WOW!  They turned out beautifully.  They will be in the shop in the coming weeks, just in time for the holidays.  For those who want to make a pre-order, just contact me through Etsy and I will open a listing before they arrive.  

     Make sure that you sign up for my newsletter!  I just recently sent out a note with some updates.  

Original Rosette Forget Me Not Earrings with both pendants.  The teardrop on the right was converted into a screw back earring at some point in its history.  Screw backs were introduced in the very late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Holding the original

Holding the reproduction

Option to wear just the rosette for day wear or everyday as Martha did!


I will eventually make the teardrop into a pendant - right now it is a separate earring with an earwire on the back.  Available in the shop!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Fall 2020

      This year has certainly been odd, and had its challenges.  In-person events have been cancelled, and gatherings have been restricted to very limited numbers.  As therapeutics are coming out to help people, and a vaccine imminent for those who will take it, I am praying that we will start to see things to back to normal.  

     I have been busy over the past couple of months.  Mount Vernon held their Market Fair in September!  The weather was great, and the show very successful.  Thank you to everyone who came out and visited my shop.  

Looking at the mansion house on Saturday during the show - jacket by Verdanta

Traditional photo with His Excellency General Washington!

With Krista Jasillo - taking a break

My new riding habit by Beau Robbins - turned out spectacular!  I hope to wear it
again very soon


     I also visited Colonial Williamsburg a week or so ago.  It is always nice to get down to the city and visit.  The hospitality is always lovely.

Showing off my new handmade custom 18th century boots by Kevin Garlick.  I walked about in these for 6 hours and they were absolutely perfectly comfortable!

Showing off the detail of my riding habit by Sycamore Spring Clothier - Shirt buckle available in my shop in multiple colors!

Full length photo of my outfit - a copy from the print "Shooting Pony" dated about 1780 (below) - I do need to find a fabric that has the embroidery on it for the petticoat!  Hat by Erik and Eliza Lichack of Early American Music and Arts

Shooting Pony" dated about 1780

Had to get a few minutes of horse time while there!

They always know a horse person!  :-)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Interview with ShoutoutHTX of VoyageHouston

      I was recommended for an interview by Jennifer McKay Higgins Art and Floorcloths with ShoutoutHTX of VoyageHouston.  They focus and highlight on small business.  The nice thing was it was an on-line interview which allowed me to think about the answers to the questions.

     You can read the interview at this ShoutoutHTX Link, and please leave feedback or share it on your social media so more will know about me and the horses.  The article will give you an idea of how and why I started my business - all about love, dignity, respect for a horse.

     The photos included in the article are to highlight a couple of products that I make/offer, and those wearing it.  There is even a photo of me and my horse, Docs Painted Cotton (Haddy) outside of historic reproduction clothing.

     The photos include Laura Pulecio taken by Cody Jefferies, Krista Jasillo, Mylene Palisse of Allures D'Antan, and Eliza Vincz-Lichack of the Early American Music and Arts.

Photo taken by Robin Matty at Cliveden House in Phildelphia.  Gown, cap, hat, kerchief, and apron made by Sarah Haynes Cowan, jewery by me, shoes are American Duchess Kensington with my Charlotte shoe buckles.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Historic Annapolis on the 4th of July 2020

     I always look forward to going to Annapolis.  The city has a certain feel to it, the historic buildings can give you a sense of walking back in time.  This was the fifth year for the group that I organize to interpret for the 4th of July.  We only had three, and we were in the gardens as the house was closed due to a Maryland State mandate for COVID-19.

I made the mask to match my gown, and the umbrella was used 
to keep sun off of me was made by Barrington Brolly

     We were able to interpret without a modern mask and ensured we were safe with visitors and employees of the site by holding up a fan or the historic mask to our faces.  This was in-line with how they did things in the 18th century.  It was 1776 after all!  Mr. Paca, while in Phildelphia, was gracious enough to allow us to enjoy his gardens while he was away.

Kerry and I on the terrance.  Photo by Robin Matty.

     I am sure that you want to know more about these masks!  A friend of mine, Philippe Halbert, has done research about them.  He talks about how "protective face coverings have emerged as a potent multifaceted metaphor the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite inconsistent examples set by elected leaders and conflicting recommendations made by public health officials, unisex masks have steadily assumed a greater role in social distancing measures and become mandatory in certain settings outside the home. Options range from standard blue and white surgical masks to creative DIY improvisations and “Corona Couture.” Some museums are looking to add homemade masks to their collections as a way to document the crisis. Worn for slightly different reasons and more implicitly gendered, the masks owned by early American women and even children were no less symbolic in terms of practical use, commodification, or controversy."

The Antigua-born Penelope Royall Vassall (masked and socially distanced), 
by Joseph Blackburn, circa 1755, Massachusetts Historical 
Society taken from Philippe's article.

     "Notwithstanding their association with pre-Lenten carnival and the masquerade, early modern masks also served utilitarian, health-related purposes, namely protection against sun and windburn, and the preservation of a light or pale complexion for European women and those of European descent living in the Americas.  Believed to have originated in sixteenth-century Italy, oval masks sometimes referred as “vizards,” “visors,” and even “invisories” in early English sources were available in black, brown, green, red, and “natural” colored velvet. They appear to have changed little in overall design and materiality as they made their way across Europe and the Atlantic Ocean by the mid-seventeenth century."  To read more about this go to this - link.  

Kerry talking with visitors, our indentured servant (Carolyn) sitting behind, 
and me listening intently.  Kerry is holding up her mask to talk with them.  Photo by Ken Tom.

I was reading to Kerry from a pamphlet I had just received about coffee.  Photo by Ken Tom.

Kerry holding up her mask (fan from my shop).  She made her mask from 
leather and covered it with cotton velvet.  Photo by Ken Tom.

A closer detail of me and my mask.  You can find mask forms at 
your local craft store.  I covered mine with a cranberry felt.  Photo by Ken Tom.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Martha Washington's Garnet Earrings

     I was blessed today to be able to go to George Washington's Mount Vernon here in Virginia - what I like to call the 8th Wonder of the World - to look at the garnet earrings owned and worn (and cherished) by Martha Washington.  Martha Washington had an amazing, simple, and elegant style.

     A year or two ago, I recreated the garnet cluster teardrop that had been converted into a screw back earring in the early 20th century.  The reproductions are currently being offered in the George Washington's gift shop as well as my Etsy shop.  Mount Vernon also offers my reproduction garnet necklace and another style earrings in their shop.  (Go check it out!)

On the left is the original pendant (turned screwback earring) and the right my 
reproduction with an earwire back - Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies Association

     In 1760, George Washington recorded the receipt of an invoice dated December 26th, detailing his latest purchases from London. Therein he listed "A pair 3 dropt Garnet Earings" bought from a jeweler named J. Grymes to grace the ears of his wife, Martha. Martha Washington was no stranger to garnet jewelry, having received a necklace and hair ornament the year before. In the 18th century, "dropt" earrings referred to earrings with removable dangling pendants. Prized for their versatility and elegance, the earrings could be changed to accommodate the occasion for which they were worn.

Rosette Forget Me Not Earring and Chinese Bow drop next to the teardrop 
cluster that was once a pendant and hung from the rosette

     My point in going was to measure the rest of the earring and pendant - above left - in which to reproduce it.  It was absolutely amazing to hold the earrings that Martha Washington actually wore - and subsequent generations of owners until they ended up to be preserved for posterity.  This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am very grateful to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and Associate Curator, Amanda Isaac.  Thank you!

Garnet moon shaped brooch (converted and originally started out as a hair ornament and a future project of mine) next to the earrings



Friday, July 3, 2020

Independence Day - 4th of July

     Happy Independence Day from the Gray Horse!  I will be at the Paca House and Gardens tomorrow, and wanted to send everyone a greeting for this special day.  Those of us that do living history for this time period, which is my favorite to interpret, it will be a glorious (and probably hot) day!  Well, our country continues to be awesome because this document is what set our country in motion for the freedoms we have today.  Each generation continues to progress to get better and better that many around the world want to live here.  

(Taken from the National Archives website)

     I posted the below meme from Grunt Style - which I found hilarious.  I actually write about tea from England in my book Tea in 18th Century America and many in the colonies boycotted it due to the political issues going on in the day - today we would call it "cancelling" it.  However, many continued to still order it!  We do not know if they ever received it, and many shamed others if they had it and insisted that they dump or burn it.  You can find out more about my book on tea at this link - here.

(Taken from Grunt Style)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Summer 2020

     We are now into the Summer of 2020, and it feels like spring here in Virginia.  The Gray Horse continues to offer good quality special jewelry and accessories for your living history needs or just to wear everyday.  With events and shows cancelled, my Etsy shop has allowed me to continue to care for my horses.  I have been restocking items, making custom pieces, and doing research as usual.  For everyone that has supported my horses (because that is what this is about), I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Horses are about spirit, low energy, and peace.  Mine also love to eat peppermints!

     I finally received the pin ball rings a few months ago that I started working on last year in design and then into reality.  They turned out wonderful, and are now in the shop!  Perfect to hang from your equipage or chatelaine.  You see these being worn in the 17th on up into the first quarter of the 19th Century.  I also offer equipage in my shop.  Hang it with other items or all on its own.

Pin Ball rings realized - offered in silver, gold, or a matte gold

     The next item that I will be working on and is in development is the Martha Washington rosette earwire (or often known as a fish hook) and hanging Chinese bow pendant set (below).  This set is unique in that the pendant will be able to come off which creates two different looks.  In the time period, earrings like this were common for the lady to wear the top portion during the day for a less formal look, and adding a pendant for a more evening or formal look.  This also was the case for collet necklaces of the time.  You will see a hook that was there for a pendant.  I have the same style in my shop with this feature - the Duchessa collet necklaces.

Martha Washington garnet earring - Courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association 

Martha Washington garnet earring - Courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association 

     I hope to also offer the teardrop pendant that was a part of the the above earring set so that it too can attach to the rosette.  For those who would like a pair of the teardrop style - you can find it in my shop at this time as earwire earrings.  The original teardrop was modified into screwback earrings, and why I offer them to you - but with earwires!  The screwback style did not come into existence until the early 20th century.  I can modify the earwire to hang from a clip-on/screwback finding for those who do not have pierced ears and have done so.

     I have seen Martha's jewelry in person, and you can read all about my visit at this link.  George Washington's Mount Vernon is also selling the teardrop style earrings so if visiting or if you would also like a necklace like Martha's - check them out.  It supports me and this amazing museum.  This collection is considered "Martha's style."  

     I have found the garnet teardrop earrings to be amazing with anything.  I do offer them in a gold or silver-plate to give a unique look.  The originals were a gold wash over silver.  They are the very same size as the pendant that Martha had.

Teardrop earrings now offered in the shop

     That's it for now, but I will be back with more research and new offerings.  Please subscribe to my newsletter - you won't see a lot of them as I do not spam, but I do occasionally offer a deal or pre-order of items coming out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Updates for Spring 2020

     It has been over a month since I wrote or posted on my blog.  Lots has been going on with the COVID-19 virus shutdown of businesses, and the cancellation of all events in the entire United States and the world.  I hear everyday that these are unprecedented times, and I agree.

 Bespoke Watch Chain

     So what has been going on?  I am ever continuing to do research, make new items for the shop, take in custom requests for jewelry (watch chain above is just one of those), care for my horses and cats, and I decided to spend some time doing things that I never have time for within my home.  So there has been a lot of painting within several rooms and other upgrades where possible.  Yes, I am doing the painting using historical paint colors!  That keeps me off of social media quite a bit, so if I do not respond or see something right away, now you know why.

One wall of my Dining Room.  The area above the chair rail is a sage green, the
bottom had a faux paint finish from the prior owners.  I used Great Barrington Green - 
a Historic Paint color by Benjamin Moore Paints below which turned out amazing.

     With the cancellation of all events, my Spring income for the horses did not come in to pay for several months board, their spring vaccines, physicals, and insurance.  I am, however, grateful for everyone who has been supporting the horses via my Etsy shop.  Without the Spring events, it makes it hard to develop or invest in new items or restock some of my current products as all monies go to pay for the horses or back into some business expenses.  Many new items are things that I have already had, so everyone will benefit from unique and lovely pieces.

     The Journal of the American Revolution wrote a great review of my book, Tea in 18th Century America and I advertised for a couple of months on their siteIf you do not have a copy, it is a wonderful book (yes, I am a bit biased).  When buying from my shop, I can send you a signed and/or personalized copy.

     Will be working on a refresher of my presentation on tea given at Historic Annapolis, hopefully will be able to sell at the Fort Loudoun Market Fair & Firelock Match from Friday, 26 June to Sunday 28 June, information on a program for the 4th of July in the Paca House and Gardens.

     Horses today.  


Nelson begging for a peppermint

Handsome Diablo

Mallory and Mindy - Thug Life

Haddy - she still has a small area on her face that is healing from a cut a few weeks ago