Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Research Post: Regency Shoe Roses

"...the very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy." --Pride and Prejudice

I started compiling shoe and shoe-rose research few months back when working on ball clothes, but didn't have time to post it. So now, without further ado: early nineteenth century shoes with rosettes and bows.  Unless otherwise labelled, they're from the Victoria and Albert Museum (click date under the picture for full listings).






c, 1810-1829, from The Met
c. 1815-1820, from The Met
1812, from The Met

Observations: All of the shoes appear to be made on straight lasts (no obvious right and left); excepting the earliest pair with its low heels, the shoes are all flats.  Most have open tops, similar to a "ballet flat"; the earliest two pairs from the V & A (and all three from The Met) have shallow pointed or rounded toes; the four later V & A pairs have square toe boxes.  Excepting the earliest (patterned) example, the shoes tend to be solid colored. From the descriptions, these are primarily silk uppers, with leather soles and linen linings.

The "roses" take different shapes: bows, coiled 'rosettes', layered fabric 'petals', and what appears to be a fringe rosette around a button.  For the most part, the decorations tend to be the same color as the shoe itself; of the three with contrasting decorations, two have white bows on colored shoes.  Where used, the laces/ribbons also match the shoe color, save for the 1812 pair in which the ribbons match the contrasting rosette. 

So, to imitate a Regency or Georgian dancing slipper with modern shoes, I'd look for a plain, solid-colored, fabric upper with an open top; no heel; rounded (1800-1820s) or square (1820s+) toes; and minimal right-left emphasis.  The "look" can be further enhanced by adding color-coordinated rosettes or bows, and possibly ribbon laces.  In an ideal world, of course, I'd have snagged a pair of Robert Land's regency slippers before he retired.  Now, I'm thinking I'll just have to learn how to make shoes.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

HFF #26: Working-Class Dinner

FINAL CHALLENGE COMPLETE!

The Challenge: Make a dish of the common folk.

The Receipt: Irish Stew from A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes by Charles Elme Francatelli

No. 117. Irish Stew.
Inferior parts of any kind of meat make a good Irish stew. Let the meat be cut in pieces the size of an egg, well rubbed all over with pepper and salt, and placed in a good-sized pot or saucepan; add peeled onions in the proportion of six to the pound of meat, and enough water just to cover in the whole. Next, set the stew on the fire to boil very gently for an hour and a-half, then add such quantity of peeled and split potatoes as you may think will suffice for the number of persons about to dine off the stew, and put the whole back on the fire to boil briskly until the potatoes are thoroughly done soft; the Irish stew will then be ready to eat.
Date/Region: 1852, London

How did you make it: Procured 1/2 lb of the cheapest chicken available, cut it into egg-sized chunks, rolled in salt & ground pepper, and placed in the pot.  Sliced 2 large yellow onions (should have been three, but it was a lot of onion with just the two) and added it to the chicken, along with water enough to cover (est. 2-3 cups).  Set on medium heat for 90 minutes.  Peeled and cut 3 medium russet potatoes, and added to the stew (along with another 1.5-2 cups of water, so that the potatoes were mostly covered).  Continued heating for another half hour, until the potatoes were also soft.

Time:  10 minutes prep, 2 hours cooking

Cost: $2.50 for the meat, vegetables were on hand

How successful was it? Simple, but tasty: it's hard to go wrong with onions, salt, and pepper. I was surprised at how much the onions cooked down--even coarsely sliced, they had basically vanished.

How accurate was it? Slightly reduced number of onions (noted above), and the extra water added with the potatoes.  I expect "cheap cut of meat" also changes it's definition when one is slaughtering one's own animals, or at least procuring it from a real butcher (ie, not Trader Joe's).

Meat & onions, after 1 1/2 hours stewing
Irish Stew

Friday, May 15, 2015

Plaid Work Petticoat


Finished just in time for Fort Nisqually's fashion show!  The patterned work petticoat (possibly made-over from an old dress) helps protect one's dress during dirty chores.  I'll be using it in the fashion show tomorrow to demonstrate how accessories can change an outfit.

In both cases, I'll be wearing my green shirting-plaid dress.  To "dress it down":
  • Neck-kerchief at the throat 
  • Sleeves rolled up
  • Skirt pinned up over the plaid petticoat 
  • Print apron with bib
  • Sunbonnet
Note that all of the accessories or modifications serve to keep the dress clean in some way: shielding it from grime (sleeves, apron, petticoat), sweat (kerchief), or sun discoloration (bonnet).
To "dress it up":
  • Collar and brooch at throat
  • White cuffs on sleeves
  • White petticoats for fashionable loft (not seen)
  • Belt
  • Gloves
  • Fashionable white crepe bonnet

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

HFF #25: Orange You Glad...

Very punny, Betsy & Melissa.  Also, the 100th post on this blog!

The Challenge: Orange-flavored, orange-colored... anything "orange."

The Receipt:  Orange Custard from The Cook's Own Book and Housekeeper's Register by Mrs.  N. K. M. Lee

ORANGE CUSTARD. Having boiled the rind of a Seville orange very tender, beat it in a mortar to a fine paste; put to it the juice of a Seville orange, a spoonful of the best brandy, four ounces of loaf sugar, and the yolks of four eggs; beat them all well together ten minutes, then pour in by degrees a pint of boiling cream; keep beating it till cold; put it into custard glasses. Set them in an earthen dish of hot water; let them stand till they are set, then stick preserved orange, or orange chips, on the top.  It may be served hot or cold.

Year/Region: 1842, American (Boston)

How Did You Make It: Boiled the rind of 1 navel orange (change from original receipt) for c. 30 min, topping off the water as needed.  Ground the peel into a paste with the mortar & pestle, then mixed it up with the juice of the orange, 1 Tbsp brandy, just under 4 oz of granulated sugar, and 4 egg yolks.  Continued beating with the mixer while bringing 1 pint of cream to boil, and continued mixing while adding the cream, and allowing the mixture to cool.  Poured into glasses and place in a pan of warm water to set.

(It didn't actually set during the first hour, so I moved one of the cups into the refrigerator; none have set as of 7 hours later--usually, this means I didn't boil something long enough).

Time to Complete: About half an hour to soften the peel, and a little under another half hour to mix up the ingredients.  Setting time unknown, as it didn't actually set.

Total Cost: $4.50-ish, with sugar and brandy on hand.

How Successful Was It?: Tasted fine--a light orange flavor, rich with cream and rather sweet (but not overwhelmingly so).  The only problem was that it's still liquid rather than custard.  Might try freezing it.

How Accurate Is It?: I used granulated sugar for loaf sugar, as usual.  More pertinently, Seville oranges apparently aren't in season at the moment, so I used a navel orange instead.  According to the internet, Seville oranges are notably tart--even to the point of being compared to lemons--so I skimped slightly on the 4 oz of sugar to make up for the sweeter orange.  Not having custard glasses (which seem to be stemmed glasses with handles), I substituted breakfast glasses and champagne coupes.

Step 1 went all right: juicing an orange and mashing the peel.
Custard tasted yummy, but didn't reach the desired consistency.




Monday, May 11, 2015

Lincoln Funeral 150th Anniversary

Trip picture time! This was my first time travelling for an event, and my mom's first event ever. While there were some frustrating logistic issues, the other reenactors were delightful; the coordinators for the Ursuline Hill (progressive civilian) section were particularly praiseworthy.  Springfield was very nice, too.  I'm now horribly jealous of the Edwards House (has provenance for a ton of its furniture, and got to reproduce its actual wallpaper in the restoration), am ready to move into Lincoln's neighborhood.

Springfield was a ridiculously lovely little town to visit. The residents were uniformly polite and welcoming, even when beset on all sides by strangely attired visitors. And they really dove into things: not only were the historic houses draped in crepe, but even modern business in downtown, and private houses along the procession got involved.

Sites definitely worth visiting:

The Abraham Lincoln PresidentialLibrary and Museum. The museum is much more tourist-friendly of the two, and has some very impressive technology going into its theatrical presentations. The most amusing exhibit, in my opinion, was the modern network news treatment of the 1860 Presidential Election—and definitely read the crawl script.

The Lincoln House is gorgeous. Some of the furnishings are original; the front rooms are decorated to match the engravings made of them for Frank Leslie's in 1860 (a reprint of which, incidentally, is available in the gift shop).

Lincoln House, draped in mourning, April 2015
The neighborhood around the house, for one block in each direction, has been restored to its c. 1860 appearance. Two of the houses are open to visitors, with displays on the rehabilitation project. The surviving buildings all have modern interiors, and restored historic facades (excepting one house which is still in progress) with explanatory placards noting the 1860s residents and their relationship to the Lincolns.
8th Street, looking north
8th Street, south of Jackson
The Old State Capitol was also quite lovely; it has a rebuilt interior c. 1860 (originally in use 1839-1876), and guides to walk you through it.
The Old Statehouse in Springfield
Second floor stairs
The Representatives' Chamber
Right across the street, stands one of Abraham Lincoln's legal premises (unfortunately not open at present).
There's a neat statue of Abe, Mary, and the younger boys just outside
Edwards Place, once of the home of Benjamin Stephenson Edwards (Mary Todd Lincoln's sister Elizabeth was married to Ben's brother Ninian), houses the Springfield Art Association. The ground floor has been restored to its mid nineteenth-century appearance, including reproduced wallpaper (printed from surviving scraps), appropriate china and glassware based on excavated shards, some original furniture, and supplemental period-appropriate pieces from other Springfield homes. There's also a modern gallery attached.
Reconstructed pitcher (from shards found in privy)
1840's (?) sofa and loud carpet
Original and reproduced wallpaper
Oak Ridge Cemetery, of course, contains the Lincoln family's very impressive tomb. The original entrance and receiving vault were restored for the 150th anniversary exercises.
Restored historic entrance
Lincoln Tomb
Sculpture Details

Restored Receiving Vault
I've few pictures of the Funeral events themselves, on account of my camera being distinctly un-period-correct. There was a very well-attended symposium at U. Illinois-Springfield Thursday evening. On Friday, Mom and I took Nanci Gasiel's class on making mourning badges.

Mourning badge, based on an original
 The class was held in the lovely Brinkerhoff mansion, on the grounds of Benedictine University. The University also which also housed some of the reenactment camping, as well as the civilian-centered sutlers, including Victorian Needle, P. Palmer, and the Dressmaker's Shop. On Saturday afternoon, the proprietresses (and certain other civilians) gave half-hour lectures on their particular topics of interest—we caught all or part of talks on jewelry, straw bonnet manufacture, misconceptions about underwear, laundry, and the different styles/shapes of men's hats.
Brinkerfhoff Mansion
Saturday morning had the short procession, in which the replica coffin was removed from its special rail car, and transported to the Statehouse. The hearse was accompanied by dignitaries in carriages, military columns, and a crowd of citizens. As part of that crowd, I didn't get any pictures.

For the longer procession (Statehouse to Oak Ridge) on Sunday, however, I got some pictures from the sidelines before joining the march.
Reproduced hearse, pulled by 6 horses
Soldiers marching in the procession
Musicians in the procession

Military units precede the hearse

Thursday, May 7, 2015

HFF #24: Snacky Snackables

I'm late with this challenge, as I was actually travelling this last week (and am unsure whether that's irony or extra credit).

The Challenge: Make something meant to be consumed between meals, on the go, or late at night.

"So when your visiter is about to leave you, make all smooth and convenient for her departure. Let her be called up at an early hour, if she is to set out in the morning. Send a servant up to strap and bring down her trunks, as soon as she has announced that they are ready; and see that an early breakfast is prepared for her, and some of the family up and dressed to share it with her. Slip some cakes into her satchel for her to eat on the road, in case, by some chance, she should not reach the end of her journey at the usual hour."

From The Behavior Book (1853) by Eliza Leslie [Chapter 2, "The Visited", page 29]

As added 'insurance' for following the challenge, I opted to make Tea Cakes... since we all know that tea is ' refection, not a meal'.

The Receipt: Tea Cakes (page 140) from
Cookery, Rational, Practical and Economical; Treated in Connection with the Chemistry of Food
by Hartelaw Reid

Date/Region: Second Edition 1855, London

How did you make it: As described-- worked 4 oz butter, 8 oz flour, 5.5 oz granulated sugar, and 1 egg into a paste, then added about 1-2 tsp cinnamon.  Rolled out to 1/4" thick, cut out with a biscuit cutter, brushed with egg white, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and baked c. 8 min at 400 F.  Made approximately 2 dozen 2" 'cakes'.

Time: About half an hour.

Cost: Ingredients were all on hand.

How successful was it? Tasty and sweet, but simple.

How accurate was it? I cheated by using an electric mixer at first, but ended up working the dough by hand to incorporate everything smoothly.  The size of the cakes is a guess.  If using as actual travelling food, I should omit the powdered sugar.

Cinnamon Tea Cakes


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Red Fanchon, Spring/Summer 1865

And now, the second and final half of the fanchon-drafting adventure (started here, continued here and including the half-crown version here).


Crownless fanchon-shaped bonnet, decorated with self-fabric ruffles and ties, and trimmed with lace.


Based particularly on this original from the Met:
Full entry here
I also briefly messed around with attaching some flowers under the brim and along the crown, as per Peterson's April-May 1865 illustrations, but didn't like the effect.  I'll likely revisit this later.
Nice bonnet, but the disembodied head is creepy
Another concept which was considered.  

And here's an action shot, including the front of my bonnet as worn (thanks to Betsy, who snagged it off of C-SPAN):
The lady in purple with the straw fanchon is, of course, Miss Connolly.  Miss Middleton has the straw bonnet with the black veil thrown back, and the striped parasol.  Mama is on the far right, with the pink bonnet and black plaid dress.