Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 OSV Clothing AAR

OK gang, let's talk!  Clothing standards love 'em or hate 'em -- for a truly first rate event they are absolutely necessary.  I'm not talking guidelines either,  I'm talking enforceable standards where there are consequences for non-compliance.  Sounds a bit harsh I know, but standards are like puppy training, you have to stay with it, be persistent, and reward good behavior to achieve long term results.

Truth be told, I love attending the OSV event.  The staff there is so accommodating and friendly, the site beautiful, the visitors are curious and engaged.  Best of all I get to visit with friends and meet new people and spread the Hive message.  And I do see improvements in clothing, sometimes where you would least expect it.  To those who tried to make upgrades to their kits - great job keep up the good work!  On the other hand, do rags were back, bodices never left, and coats were far and few between.  It's clear our message isn't reaching a certain segment of the reenacting population.

So that brings me back to standards and another thorny issue -- legacy events. Imposing standards on legacy events is incredibly difficult. There are ways of doing it, however there are consequences.  It takes time, lots of work, patience and perseverance.  On one end of the spectrum is the Battle Road model.  Create standards, phase them in along with education, inspections and a little peer pressure.   That worked for Battle Road 2000, but two years later when the pressure was off, things slipped backwards.  That's when we started the Hive to address the slippage and to keep moving the ball forward.  It works, but the time and effort that goes into just maintaining the standards is immeasurable.  And, all in all, compliance is less than you might expect.

L'Hermione 2015
Then there is the Fort Ti approach, who used the "here are the standards, like it or not" technique.  This methodology relies heavily on the loyalty of those who already comply plus you have to brace yourself for the onslaught of the reenactors with the torches and pitchforks.  These are the folks who go on a rampage because they've been going to the event forever, and no one can tell them they can't have their beards and wear sneakers to reenact an actual event at a historical site/museum.  After the dust settles, this method works too and is much faster and less work than the Battle Road system but I'm guessing that ultimately compliance is about the same.

Muster Day MMNHP
So here's where I have landed when it comes to events like OSV's Redcoats to Rebels and other legacy events.  No matter how many blog posts I write, workshops we conduct, Hives we run, etc., that woman who comes out to play once a year with her town militia husband, is not going to swap her sleeveless bodice for stays and a gown no sooner than her husband is going to shave his beard, buy a pair of repro shoes and put on a well fitting coat.  It's not what they are about.  On the other end you have the event organizers who risk a PR nightmare if they uninvite groups who don't meet standards. So you do the best you can.  You go, have a good time, but don't have high expectations when it comes to authenticity.

L'Hermione 2015
To those of us who care about creating accurate impressions, it's time to create new events. I'm taking juried events, where one has to bring their documentation to participate. Yes, they will be small events, and people will throw stones and whine about how we're being elitist and exclusive.  That's okay, there are plenty of events for them to attend why should they care about what we do.  If you want to take it to the next level, enforceable standards, events where we are reenacting a specific date and place, and doing lots of good research beforehand -- that's the next frontier.  Not everyone will be aboard. Though when they are done complaining about what we are doing and they take look over the fence that they, in fact, have built, they'll see we are having fun and may just want to join in.  The gate's always open -- you just have to be willing to play by the rules of this new, really cool playground.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Gown Workshop - June 20 & 21, 2015!

Looking to make a new gown to wear on the wharf on July 11th?

In preparation for the arrival of the Hermione, we are pleased to be offering a gown workshop on the weekend of June 20 & 21 in Waltham, MA. You have the choice of making either our English gown (stomacher front/en fourreau back) or the new Larkin & Smith "Fashionable Gown" (referred to as a zone front).

If you do your pre-workshop homework as well as your homework after day one of the workshop, your gown should be at least 90% complete by the end of the weekend.

The cost of the workshop is $165 and includes your pattern, fabric for your fitting muslin, as well as your lining fabric. If you have any question or would like to sign up or email us at hiveworkshops@gmail.com

Friday, May 29, 2015

Creating Civilian

Creating Civilian Events that is!

Here in Hiveland we were a little surprised with the reaction to the clothing standards put forth by the organizers of the east coast Hermoine events.  For those of you who aren't aware, this summer the recreated ship that brought Lafayette to the colonies in 1780 is arriving at various ports along the eastern seaboard.  At each port events are being organized to have the ship greeted by accurately costumed reenactors.

Courtesy of l'hermione.com
Personally I think there are several reasons that these standards have ladies' stays in a twist.  Reenactors don't like to be told what to do, especially when it comes to what they wear.  Many are not used to detailed clothing standards.  But I believe the biggest reason this has caused such a kerfuffle is that there are so few civilian events out there and people are afraid of being excluded.

Other than the occasional ball, a ladies tea organized by the host unit at a military encampment or a stroll down sutler's row, there are not a lot of opportunities to put on the finer clothes and do something other than laundry or tending some hunk of meat on the fire.

Market Faire MMNHP

As a friend said to me once, "Guys need a cast of hundreds to pull off a good event (military that is), you ladies can have a great event with just two of you".   What he meant was you don't need a lot of organizing and a huge complement of people to pull off a good civilian event.  We do them around here quite a bit and I encourage others to do the same.

Golden Ball Tavern Holiday Open House
Want an excuse to wear a French Fashion Plate?  Attend a Mozart opera or concert in kit (be sure to contact the artist director and get permission before you do).  A couple years ago, a group of us attended a showing of Dangerous Liaisons and purchased box seats.  The audience thought we were part of the show and we actually received a standing ovation from the cast!

Tea with the Derby's
Have a small dance at a local historic house.  Most historic properties welcome the participation of volunteers.

Want to wear those 1780's confections? - plan a post-war/celebrate the victory/end of war event.
Reenactor play date
Schedule a "renenactor play date" at a local historic site.  Bring your sewing projects and spend the day getting something done.  At the same time you can educate the public on clothing of the period and how that relates to commerce, class, etc.

Do yourself a favor and plan a civilian event this summer.  I think you will find they are fun, low-pressure, and very rewarding!

Next: What does 1780 in New England look like?  Preparing for the Hermoine.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Vive le Roi!

On July 11, 2015, the recreated sailing ship L'Hermoine will be arriving in Boston.  There is an event being organized for the citizens of 1780 Boston (aka living history types) to greet the ship in a grand manner.  We at the Hive are looking forward to the ship's arrival and, in preparation, will be discussing appropriate impressions for 1780's New England.  In the meantime, I offer you news of the ship's arrival as described in the Massachusetts Spy on May 11, 1780

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Problem with Pinterest

It’s so simple, a pin here, a screen shot there, save image as, just copy and paste.  Easy, isn’t it?  Sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumbler, etc., are great ways to bookmark your journey through the interweb and are a simple method for sharing what you find. However, when it comes to research, these sites are a blessing and a curse.

How can having all this information at one’s fingertips be a bad thing? ... Because of the rampant failure to cite sources, attribute research and recognize other’s work.

Recently we called out vendor for violating the copyright on a Larkin and Smith pattern.  When challenged to cite their source, they claimed that the object in question was inspired by an original.  The object, in fact, turned out to be an original – A Hallie Larkin original!  

But where did this all go wrong?  Simple – it’s easy to pin. It’s harder to take the time to cite your sources.  In this case, not only did the museum that housed this supposed “original” not get any credit, but the primary source was actually a secondary source.  A good one based on a primary sources mind you – but ultimately the vendor was inadvertently selling a copy of someone else’s work.

Here’s how Hivesters can make a difference!

If you are using sites like Pinterest – note where the pin originated.  Posting something on Facebook?  Cite the museum, date, artist, etc.  Quoting from a book, article, website – cite your sources.  

Good research is built on a framework constructed by others.  The reason we’ve come so far is because of people like Linda Baumgarten, Janet Arnold, Sally Queen, Sharon Burnston, Florence Montgomery, Claudia Kidwell, Edward Maeder, Beth Gilgun, and Henry Cooke, among others. 

Cite your sources. Give credit to those whose research you are using, respect intellectual property.  For you it might be a hobby and doesn’t really matter.  For the rest of us, it’s our hard work, and it does matter. 

For more about citations see:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March Hive -- Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Buzz at the Hive
10:30-12:00 -- Kit Tune Up -- Don't wait till the last minute to make sure your kit is in good shape for the season.  Take this time to reattach those buttons, fix blown out seams,  replace the collar on that shirt -- all those tasks that lots of us leave to the night before an event.  


12:00 -- 1:00  Textile Tutorial -- Cloth in Pre-War New England
We'll be looking at common fabrics advertised for sale, mentioned in runaway ads, in probate inventories, and in period literature.  What are they? What do they look like? What were they used for?  And what we can still get today? We'll also look at some originals so you can see first hand what some of these fabrics look like.  Join Hallie Larkin, Steph Smith and Henry Cooke for this textile-o-rama!

Break out Sessions

1:30 - 3:30  
(pick two -- each session will run one hour and will be run twice)

"Touch This"
Sometimes what seems like a great buy turns out be a disaster to sew, especially when one shops on-line. You will learn the hallmarks of a good fabric by touch and feel. You'll quickly learn how to avoid the clunkers that don't turn out to be the bargains you thought they were.
"It's the first thousand"! Besides practice, there are some secrets to creating great buttonholes. In this session, you'll learn the basics as well as some of the tricks of the trade.
Stroke Gathers
A seemingly easy technique that requires a little skill and a lot of patience. Used to attach sleeve heads to the body of a shirt or shift, as well as attaching a cuff to a sleeve, a well done stroke gather is a thing of beauty. 
Basic Stitchery
You might know the basics but may not know the techniques to create secure and consistent stitching. In this session we'll cover: running stitch, combination stitch, back stitch (several variations), underhand hem stitch. You'll also experiment with different size needles to find the right tool for the job. Bring your sewing kit.

Location: Minuteman Technical High School on rte 2A in Lexington, MA.  Follow the signs for the the Community/West Entrance.
The Hive is free for members of the living history community and those who are interested in volunteering at Minute Man NHP.

Coffee and Tea are available, snacks to share are always welcome!
For more information visit our website or email us at hiveworkshops@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What's Up Your Sleeve Workshops: Sleeve Ruffles

Join us this Saturday, January 17th, at the Golden Ball in Weston for a day of sleeves!  The second half of the day will be spent making a pair of simple muslin sleeve ruffles.

Ingenious in their construction and simple in their beauty -- This project will also give you a chance to perfect teeny-tiny hems and work on mastering your fine hand sewing skills, which will come in handy next time you make a cap or shift.

The fee for the course is $45 and includes all the materials you will need to create a lovely pair of sleeve ruffles.

To sign up, email us a hiveworkshops@gmail.com
for more info: http://www.thehiveonline.org/current-workshops.htm