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Archive for the 'Living History' Category

Oh Dry Up

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
By Twistie

Hey guys!

Remember way back in October when I started musing on towels and how to achieve them at home?

Well, I then promptly got distracted by numerous shiny things of great glory… such as Project Runway All Stars, and trying out needle felting, and abusing my Simmies, and, well, you know how it goes.

Still, the question has remained simmering in the back of my mind ever since. And then it poured rain in Biblical torrents this week and I found myself thinking about the subject again, more in a foreground kind of way.

And then I found an article (available in PDF form, no less, for free on your computer) at Textile Reproductions on the proper method of making 18th century linen towels.

If you’re not already familiar with Textile Reproductions and you have any interest at all in an 18th century way of life or living history projects for the period, you’re in for a treat when you visit their online store. From period-sized pillow cases to vegetable dyed embroidery threads, to pockets to wear under your skirts, they’ve got an amazing range of great products.

Oh, and I’m absolutely downloading and using those instructions for making towels. I could use some more hand towels and kitchen towels.

The Village Blacksmith

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
By Twistie

If you live near Williamsburg, VA or are planning a visit to the area soon, it may interest you to know that James Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and Public Armory will have its ribbon cutting ceremony on March 31. That’s this saturday, for those of you without handy calendars.

The armory will include demonstrations of: blacksmithing, coopering/basket making, carpentry, brick making and masonry, and more.

I only wish I could be there, too.

How To Save a ‘Dying’ Craft

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via Stuart King)

Mention bobbin lace, and chances are if the listener knows anything at all about it, this is what they think of: an old woman in antique clothing doing something they can’t for the life of them figure out.

A hundred years ago, that’s exactly what bobbin lace looked like, too. It was something nobody needed to do for themselves anymore, so they didn’t learn it. It was something only very poor people did, and most of them had been run out of the market by the machine laces that were so much faster and cheaper to make.

By the time I took up the craft in 1990, most people I saw at demonstrations thought it was tatting and would pontificate that it was a ‘lost art.’

In reply, I would hold up a tatting shuttle to show them the difference, and explain that bobbin lace isn’t lost at all. I found it just fine.


What’s Up, Williamsburg?

Thursday, January 6th, 2011
By Twistie

I visited Williamsburg, VA as a child of nine. I have, sadly, never managed to get back there. Still, it remains indelibly etched on my memory. It was the first place I ever went where living history was practiced, including crafts of the period. I was entranced. Funnily enough, my single strongest memory of the time I spent there (probably two or three days, all told) is of a silversmith with an amazingly long pinkie fingernail. I was in awe of that nail. I think of it every time I clip mine.


When not fetishizing fingernails, I was quite taken with the clothing, the way the cooking was done, and dozens of other everyday details of life in the eighteenth century. My brother the medieval historian was somewhat obsessed with the stocks and pillories while my brother the alpaca rancher would tell explain to everyone in great detail how, for instance, paper was marbled or glass was blown. He has an analytical mind and a passion for detail. He would watch a single artisan for a couple hours and then move on to the next one that caught his eye.

It’s those details of everyday life – and particularly everyday dress – that continue to captivate me. So imagine my delight when I went by the official website today and found that the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum has just announced an exhibit of costume accessories dating up to 1840!

If you check out the video here, you’ll get to see glimpses of all manner of fabulous goodies of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: handkerchiefs, jewelry, leather pocketbooks, hats, gloves, stockings, and even ladies’ pockets (in the eighteenth century, women wore separate pockets under their skirts to carry things like purses and hankies). Whatever your crafting interest, you’re sure to see something to admire or inspire.

And if you get the chance to go and see the show, please tell me all about it.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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