Thursday, April 25, 2013

Regency Weekend Part 2: Merry Adventures

I think, after almost two weeks, I am recovered from the Regency Weekend...and I've finally finished going through the pictures, so that I can share our other adventures!

When it came down to making sewing decisions I decided that it was more important to me to make a new day dress to wear on Sunday and Monday, and finish the bonnet I started way back in December, than to make a new ballgown for Sunday night. I LOVE my new dress, which is from the same pattern (drafted based on one from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion with a lot of changes) as my pink ballgown, but with fit adjustments, a waistband, and long sleeves. The fabric is white/sheer vertical stripes, but it's hard to see with such bright sun. The bonnet I am not as happy with...although I was pleased some plaid made it into the outfit! I think the brim shape eats my face, so I will try a different brim for the next one. Even so, I was very glad to have both the bonnet and my plum velvet spencer from the fall--it was really cold! Being right on the water brought a lot of chilly wind, and I was quite grateful for the wool lining.

In my new bonnet and long-sleeved dress at Pioneer Village
Dancing hardly needs explanation on this blog anymore, but the rest of our shenanigans deserve a bit of background. Our non-dancing Sunday afternoon (before the evening Grand Ball and reception) was an outing to Pioneer Village for games, picnicking, and archery lessons. Pioneer Village is a super charming recreation 1630s village built in the 1930s in honor of Salem's 300th anniversary. This means that while it is all historical and fabulous (and a quaint place to walk as a Regency era tourist), everything is modern--and therefore can be touched. This adds a whole new level of wonderful, as when it gets cold (as it did on Sunday!) a fire can be built in the huge (17th century, remember!) fireplace in the Governor's house and everyone can gather around it.
If you're ever in Salem, this is a wonderful "off-the-beaten-path" site to visit!

Of course, I was way too busy keeping warm with archery lessons to sit inside. As it was the era of the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars, we practiced our archery by aiming at Napoleon. It was tons of fun, and we had a wonderful teacher--I even managed a solid chest shot!

braving the cold

it was especially nice to see everyone socializing--after all of the classes, we knew each other well enough to relax, which was really wonderful. Hooray new friends!

Our archery instructor demonstrating proper technique

our crowd of eager archers learns proper safety

shooting Napoleon!

I love the contrast of fabulous dresses and dangerous weapons

and we all did really well!

the gentlemen shot too--some even trading in more modern weaponry to give the bow a go

Napoleons, thoroughly were the "trees" they were hiding behind
shooting in a bonnet was was tough to decide between subjecting my eyes to the bright sun or the brim getting in the way. Both made it vastly difficult to aim!

Antonia shoots without a bonnet to much better effect

It was such a lovely day, we had to take some pretty pictures!

Quinn is a perfect fashion plate

candid in-between-poses shot! 

I've decided I like this bonnet much better off my head

The weekend of the event was Patriots' Day (observed) weekend as well, which meant that Monday was a holiday. We stayed in Salem on Monday to have one last Regency adventure--flying kites! Quinn did some research and made absolutely beautiful silk kites (I helped a very tiny bit!), which we took to Derby Wharf on Monday to fly.
It was quite gusty on the water, but we were unable to really get the kites to stay in the air. hmm. This will require some more research and a second round. In the meantime, this was a wonderful way to end the weekend, and we had a ball even if the kits didn't fly very well. Plus, with the magic of photography, we look quite successful in the pictures (or at least the ones I'm going to share)!

showing off Quinn's wonderful kites!

this is the best explanation of how much fun this was


Antonia by far had the best luck with her kite

although mine did make it into the air...

both at the same time!

the ship to Quinn's left is the USS Friendship,  replica of a 1797 ship captured by the British during the War of 1812
I can't wait to try again!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Regency Hair and the Greek Revival

I haven't done a research post in a while, and it struck me when I was writing the first Intensive Weekend post that I wanted to share some of the fabulous things that were just so Regency.

A personal one I was quite proud of was my hair for the balls! Both nights, but Sunday especially, I rocked the curly Grecian look that was quite popular, along with curls about the face.
piled/cascading curls with gold ribbon...and a dumb statue pose...

not a great picture of me (grumpy face...), but an excellent example of doing Regency-does-Grecian hair!

face curls and gold ribbon, 1813
more gold ribbon and face curls
the Grecian look with cascading curls, 1802
more cascading/piled curls, 1799
one last pile of Greek Revival curls
My hair both nights was done using a bun rat--this one is synthetic, and super cheap (I bought it at CVS). My hair is naturally curly, so I mostly shoved it and attempted to pin it in an artful way. You could get the same look by curling straight hair, or making a pile of braids with a few curled pieces, too. The circlet of pearls is actually a choker (from Claire's I think?) turned upside-down and pinned in place just in front of the padded bun.

One thing I'm realizing is that the more reference images I have in my head, the easier it is to take stock when it's time to do my hair and get something fabulous out of it. Well, that and a whole lot of practice!

Almack's Assembly Rooms: full of cascading, bouncy curls! (and hey--their band is on a balcony too!)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thank You!

As I'm sure most of you watch the news, you've already heard about the lockdown in the Cambridge/Boston area. I live and work in Cambridge, so I'm unexpectedly working from home today. 

Recently Emily at My Vintage Visions awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award, and I wanted to say thank you!

In order to accept the award, I must:
     - thank the person who nominated you;
     - add the "One Lovely Blog Award" image to your post;
     - share seven things about yourself;
     - pass the award on to seven nominees;
     - include this set of rules; and
     - inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

The seven blogs I would like to nominate in turn (and I encourage you to go check them out!) are:
3. Julia P. at Not So Geek, Not So Chic
5. Augustintyar at Before the Automobile
6. Audrey at Visually Stunning
7. Jamie at Suitcase Words

But I'm going to forgo talking about myself, and instead continue my Love Letter to New England. So instead of seven things about me, here are my seven favorite parts of no particular order.

1. Farm stand ice cream: the area surrounding Boston is full of delicious, seasonal ice cream stands. And because this is MA, we wait in snow boots and winter coats to eat ice cream on opening weekend. (pictured: Kimball Farms in Westford, MA on their opening weekend this March)
2. Boston Common and the Boston Public Gardens, and beautiful, historic natural places in the heart of Boston. I love hanging out there in the summer and seeing the trees lit in the winter. In the summer, many music students from nearby Berkeley School of Music busk, so as you lounge you often hear things like the Pirates of the Caribbean theme for harmonizing violins. (Pictured: picnicking by the swan boat pond in the BPG in 2011) 
3. Fall foliage. I knew that it was pretty, but I never realized how wonderful and special it was until I moved away for college. The leaves really are just brighter here. (Pictured: Newton Historical Society performance, 2012)
4. How our history is such a part of our present--the Freedom Trail is a cobblestone/brick inlay that leads visitors (and locals!) to Revolutionary War sites throughout Boston. There are tons of ways to customize it, too--I've done both the Civil War walking tour and the Women's History tour. (Pictured: feet belonging to two of my friends, who were visiting from Europe this summer) 
5. Relatedly, we don't need a Tardis to time travel--even if you don't run around adventuring in period clothes (like I do), you'll run into someone from the 18th or 19th centuries at some point. (Pictured: reenactors--or potentially Park Service historians--in Faneuil Hall this summer)
6. The changing seasons. Even though about half-way through summer, when it's 110 and humid as all hell, and half-way through winter when I can't feel my nose, I'm ready to move on, I wouldn't want to give up any of the seasons. (Pictured: the BPG after a blizzard this December)
It was hard to stop, but finally...

7. The intellectual culture--research universities, tech companies, museums...the area is full of science, art, and music. I never get sick of going to museums and there are always talks, festivals, and discoveries. (Pictured: the triceratops at the Museum of Science, Boston from a visit at Thanksgiving)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Regency Weekend Part 1: Dancing

This weekend was the Regency Intensive, and it was more fun than I can possibly explain. It was nice to see friends and meet new ones, but it was also amazing how quickly the less experienced dancers in the class picked things up! By the end of the weekend, the collective party needed very little calling and no teaching, and we were also doing some flashy, super fun steps. I was so amazed at how well everyone did!

But really, the pictures are far more interesting than my descriptions. I didn't make very many new things for the weekend, although I have fabric for and stuff, you know. I decided that it was more important to me to get a couple of things done well and not be rushing to finish sewing at every event than to try and get everything I'd had planned done. It almost worked (I did end up sewing a little bit), but I felt much happier knowing all the sewing I did was optional--everything would have been perfectly wearable without it.

On to the pictures!

Saturday was full of class. We danced hard, and it made playing hard even better.

Dancing included technique (steps and patterns), country dances, figured waltzes, and Regency couple waltz. The last is what Antonia is teaching here.

some of the weekend attendees socializing at the Saturday night dance.

a waltz

more waltzing! I wore the tassel-trimmed white cotton dress I made this summer. Even though it has some issues, man I love that dress. The tassels are so much fun!

our gentlemen carry out the refreshments table. Bringing it in fully dressed is so dramatic! 

more dancing--they're so synchronized, I feel like this could be a shot from a movie.

One of our AMAZING musicians
Our Sunday Grand Ball was at Hamilton Hall, built in 1805. When Marquis de Lafayette came to Salem in 1824, he dined there. Hamilton Hall is gorgeous (the ballroom is known for its imported Russian mirrors), but my favorite thing was that the ballroom is located on the second floor with an adjoining supper room, and has sprung floors. This gave us a little extra cushion for dancing, and by Sunday night I needed it! 

filing champagne flutes for the reception toast--it was sparkling cider, though, so everyone could partake.
posing before the ceremony. Sabrage (the technique of opening champagne bottles with a sword) is said to have been popularized in the early 19th century by Napoleon's Hussars, who used to do it with their cavalry sabers.

Napoleon is said to have commented on champagne, "In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it." Our sparkling cider was certainly a victory drink for a weekend full of excellent dancing.

we met guests with trays of pre-poured flutes as they returned from watching the opening
socializing at the reception. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was getting to know so many people. Because we all socialized, by Sunday night the ball truly felt like attending an assembly in my town--I knew most of the people in the room by name, and we all knew the dances! It about as close to fully immersed in the period (or at least period novel) as I've ever gotten.

another special part of Hamilton Hall was having our musicians on a balcony! The acoustics were amazing, and they looked so fab!

Hamilton Hall also allows real flame--then candles looked so pretty!

Before the ball, taking a break. I was really proud of my Regency hair all weekend, but this felt especially glamorous with the pearls.

sitting by one of the Russian mirrors in the ballroom. This is the same pink dress I wore to the P&P ball in February, but I trimmed it! I was sort of intentionally going for a very temporary "Disney princess" look, but it's growing on me...
since we'd practiced in class, Quinn, the boys, and I led the Grand March
We laid out refreshments in the adjoining supper room, so that people could take a break from dancing for treats and a game of cards. It was a nice change from our typical mid-ball intermission. I was also quite pleased with our fabulously Regency spread, which included wine jellies and syllabub.
enjoying refreshments in the supper room

Sets for Sir Roger de Coverly. This is the only dance I have pictures of, because I was too busy dancing the rest of the night!
All in all, a truly magical final ball to cap off an incredible weekend of dancing.