Tuesday, August 5, 2014

OSV Clothing AAR

The Rebels & Redcoats Event at Old Sturbridge Village and Battle Road have become my bellwether on where we stand on our pursuit of greater accuracy of impression.  OSV is always interesting since the standards are "suggested" rather than actually enforced by inspection and there are groups in attendance for which Battle Road standards would be a real stretch, though some of these units have made real progress.


I am pleased to report that the ladies pretty much aced it!  Lots of gowns, stays, good fabrics, appropriate hats, bonnets and caps and the vast majority had good repro shoes.  Now, that's not to say there weren't the usual offenders -- the sleeveless bodices, cabbage rose petticoats, Simplicity gowns worn without stays, but I am happy to say that the numbers were fewer and were overshadowed by the good impressions.  Ladies - I couldn't be prouder - you rock!  And your humble beeness was busting with pride every time one of you introduced a newbie and asked when the next Hive was because your friend was eager to start work on her first pair of stays.  Yes, leading by example works -- it takes time, but our Hivettes are making a difference.  Oh, and by the way, thank you for putting forth the effort to make your daughters look good too.  That was the icing on the cake.

However…..what is up with you men????? Some of you look like you were dressed to attend a "Colonial Bum Convention".  And this applies to the militia types AND men in uniform on both sides.  Grading on a curve, I give you a C-. The major problem was sloppiness of impression.  Franky, neither George would have been pleased with the appearance of their armies.  This is not to say that there weren't great impressions, there were, and we'll always cut some slack for the newbie in the loaner clothes.  However, the overall attention to detail, or lack thereof, brought down the level of accuracy of the entire event.  And reason this writer has her stay cord in a knot about this, is that these are issues that are relatively easy to fix and ones that we have addressed at the Hive on numerous occasions.

Here are some of the major issues……

1. Ill-fitting clothing was the biggest problem.  So many pairs of breeches looked more like bloomers and countless coats just hung like rags on their wearers' bodies.  No doubt they are pretty comfy, but not period correct.  Bad fit looks slovenly and extremely un-18th century.  And this wasn't just the case of the newbie in borrowed clothes - people who have been in the hobby since the beginning of time were some of the worst offenders here.  We've run clinics on clothing fit multiple times at the Hive -- there is help available, you just have to show up.  Oh yeah, and some of you still don't seem to own a sleeved outer garment.  And please explain how a certain CL unit shows up to battle with nary a coat on one of the mildest days this summer?

2.  Shoes!  Ok, I get it, repro shoes aren't cheap.  Oh, I know, you have bad feet.  Leather soles are slippery on the battlefield.  But black sneakers? Really?  When did black Nikes become de rigeur for reenacting? And if you insist on forgoing a decent pair of repro shoes, how about you at least cover up those clodhoppers with a pair of gaiters that fit and are appropriate for your impression.  Gaiters that flop around over your modern shoes just bring more attention to the fact that your shoes look really bad.  And I just love the photo posted on Facebook that shows a kneeling solider. What is front and center -- a great view of the waffle sole of his modern hiking boot.  Don't let anyone kid you -- people notice your shoes!

Detail from "The Recruiting Sergeant" 1769

3. Proper Neckwear.  One of the easiest things - but so few get it right.  Neck cloths, bandanos, neck stocks --get that neck covered and close up those top buttons of your shirt.  In addition, if you are wearing neck covering, make sure that it is actually covering your neck.  Almost every group had a problem with this - and many of them were people whose kits are otherwise pretty good.  We did a program on neckwear at the last Hive -- I'll share parts of that presentation on this blog in the near future.  Easy fix, low cost.  There is tons of artwork out there showing how neckwear of all varieties is worn. Take a stroll through the Lewis Walpole library website sometime, you'll be enlightened. 

Note: I'm going to stay out of the facial hair wars.  It's an issue that only peer pressure or enforcement of standards will fix.  So boys - that's your battle and you need to keep waging it!

4. Finally, here's one that doesn't cost a sou to fix -- POSTURE! It was most obvious when I watched the men march off to battle. For heaven sake, stand up straight, you look like a pack of Neanderthals rather than the a formidable 18th century fighting force.  In the 18th century, posture said almost as much about you as did your clothing. How you moved, how you stood, was hugely important.  Just refer to your manual of arms - it starts off by telling you how to stand.  No cost, no sewing skills needed, no purchase required -- work on your posture.  It's such a little thing that makes a huge impact.

From Von Steuben's Manual of Arms

He is to stand straight

And firm upon his legs

With the head turned to the right

So far as to bring the left eye

Over the waistcoat buttons;
The heels two inches part;
The toes turned out;
The belly drawn in a little,
But without constraint;
The breast a little projected;
The shoulders square to the front, and kept back;
And the hands hanging down the sides,
With the palms close to the thighs.

So gentlemen, get yourselves to the Hive this winter.  We're planning a whole lot of things just for you.  Yeah, you can stay home and surf the Internet but you will learn so much more by showing up in person, learning from others and being part of a community.

Maybe plan a day to inspect everyone in your regiment and address some of these issues.  Just because your kit was great ten years ago, doesn't mean that it's up to snuff now.  Everyone's impression can use a fine tuning every now and then. And the meantime, listen to your mother, "Stand up straight!"

P.S. Ladies keep up the good work.







Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The March Hive
Sunday, March 2, 2014 -- 11am - 3:30pm

Minuteman Technical High School, Rte 2A Lexington, MA

Sponsored by the Lincoln Minutemen


11-12 The Buzz – Come and share a cup of coffee with friends and catch up before the season starts

12-12:20 – Goal for the Season – Documenting One Thing – Take a look at how others are taking on the challenge of documenting one item of their kit!

12:30– 1:30 Hair for Men & Women – Looking at the time period between 1765 – 1788, we’ll explore how hairdos evolved for both men and ladies

1:45 – 2:30 Creamware – Your hair can be perfect, your clothes divine, but your props? Not so much... Inaccurate accouterments can ruin the whole effect.  Sharon Burnston will be sharing her knowledge of creamware.  A closer look at the things used for serving and eating off of.

The Macaroni Courtship 1772
Lewis Walpole Library

 2:45 – 3:30 Breakout Sessions

Bring this Not That – Continue the discussion about ceramic ware.  Bring a piece and let the group help you decide if you should bring it or leave it home

Hair Tips – How do I make my hair look like the one in the portrait – Some tips and traps about wearing wigs.

Shoe Buckles – Didn’t get a chance to get those shoe buckles on last time?  Bring your shoes and get your buckles on once and for all!

Creamware Dishes

Minuteman Technical High School is located on 2A in Lexington, MA.  Use the main entrance, stay straight and follow the signs for Community Education and park at the West Entrance.  Signs inside will direct you to the Hive.
Any questions email hiveworkhops@gmail.com




Monday, February 3, 2014

February's Hive - Sunday Feb 9th - More on the Line-up

Museum of London

Accurate Stockings -- The holy grail!  Until someone finds a working stocking frame, figures out how to use it, and starts cranking out period style stockings, the perfect stocking will probably a remain a fantasy.

So given that perfect reproduction stocking will continue to elude us, what are our alternatives? Join us at The Hive this Sunday, February 9th for a panel discussion that will include stocking expert Carol Kocian (who actually has operated a stocking frame), "Fitting and Proper" author Sharon Burnston and knitting maven Colleen Humphreys.   They will show us examples of 18th century stockings and talk about how they were made as well as what makes for a decent repro stocking-- the good the bad and the ugly.  Following their presentation,  you can join them for a breakout session to continue the discussion.


Additional Breakout Session -- Attaching Your Shoe Buckle

For those of you who have been stumped as to how to get those buckles properly installed on your shoes, leather worker Steven Taskovics will teach you how.  Bring your shoes and buckles and get them on your shoes once and for all!

For more information of Sunday's Hive visit our website www.thehiveoneline.org or email us at hiveworkshops@gmail.com






February Hive - Sunday Feb 9th - Accessories

February Hive -- Sunday Feb 9th - Accessories!

Sponsored by His Majesty's 10th Regiment of Foot


11am - 12pm -- The Buzz -- Grab a cup of coffee and catch up with friends

Lectures:

12 pm - 12:30 pm  -- It's All in the Details (For men & women) - We'll take a closer look at accessories like neck clothes, hats, aprons and handkerchiefs.  Sometimes how you wear things is as important as what you actually wear.

12:30 pm - 1:15 pm -- Knapsacks and Gaiters -- Henry Cooke will discuss two rather ubiquitous accessories that we think we know, but don't often get right.

1:30 pm  - 2:30 pm --Stocking up! : Good, Better, Best  A panel discussion with Sharon Burnston, Carol Kocian & Colleen Humphreys.  Ok, so we don't have the perfect "best" stocking yet, but we do have repros that we can categorize as  "good" or "better".  And then there are some to just "walk away from"!

We'll look at some originals, discuss the characteristics of 18th century stockings and compare them against what is commercially available today.

Breakout Sessions 2:30 - 3:30

Stockings -- Continue the stocking discussion.  Bring you own stockings for review. Take a closer look at originals.

Sleeve Ruffles & Bosom Ruffles -- The GW Ball is coming up!  Perhaps you'd like to doll up your shirt or shift a bit with some ruffles.  Learn how to hem, gather and attach linen ruffles.  Not difficult to do, but there are a few tricks.  We will have kits available that will include fine linen, thread and instructions.  For Gentlemen - Bosom & Sleeve Ruffle for your shirft ($10), For Ladies Ruffle for your shift sleeve ($5).  If you'd prefer to use your own fine linen, bring it along.

Sewing Circle -- Stuck on a sewing project you are working on?  Just want to learn a few pointers?  Henry and Steph will answer your questions, and hopefully get you over that trouble spot that's preventing you from finishing up your latest project.

Shoe Buckles: Can't tell a lachet from a tine?  Are you baffled as to how to attach those buckles to your shoes? Bring your shoes and buckles and leather worker Steven Taskovics will help you attach those buckles!!!

Location: Minuteman Technical High School, Route 2A Lexington MA. Follow the signs for Community Education Parking and use the west entrance

For more information visit www.thehiveoneline.org

For questions: hive workshops@gmail.com

As always, Sunday's Hives are free of charge.  We'll have coffee and tea available.  Snacks to share are always welcome!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Knapsack Workshop - February 8th


Just an update -- Henry's knapsack workshop will be Saturday, February 8th, not March 8th as previously posted


British and American Knapsack Workshop - Saturday, February 8, Concord, MA


This workshop will provide you with the opportunity to build either a British painted canvas knapsack based on the original British militia knapsack found 20 years ago at the Isaac Royal House in Medford, or an American single pocket, double strap linen knapsack based on the original David Uhl knapsack in the collection of Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, NY, and another similar one in a private collection, both of which were used by militiamen. Knapsack kits will include pre-cut materials, buckles, thread and instructions needed to construct the knapsack of your choice. Class limited to 12 participants. Cost of kits includes $50 workshop fee.Cost of "Isaac Royal House" pattern British Knapsack Kit - $150    Cost of "David Uhl" pattern American Knapsack Kit - $ 90

To sign up, contact Henry at hcooke4@verizon.net

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Upcoming Workshops - February & March 2014

Hive Workshops for February and March 2014



In Preparation for the Reenacting Season and to Kick off the February Accessories Hive, Henry Cooke will be offering a workshop on knapsacks on February 8th from 9:30- 3:30 at Minute Man National Historical Park. So whether you portray a militia, Continental Army or serve the King, we have a knapsack for you!


British and American Knapsack Workshop - Saturday, February 8, Concord, MA


On April 19, 1775, both British Regulars and the Provincial militia were both carrying knapsacks. This workshop will provide you with the opportunity to build either a British painted canvas knapsack based on the original British militia knapsack found 20 years ago at the Isaac Royal House in Medford, or an American single pocket, double strap linen knapsack based on the original David Uhl knapsack in the collection of Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, NY, and another similar one in a private collection, both of which were used by militiamen.Knapsack kits will include pre-cut materials, buckles, thread and instructions needed to construct the knapsack of your choice. Class limited to 12 participants. Cost of kits includes $50 workshop fee.Cost of "Isaac Royal House" pattern British Knapsack Kit - $150    Cost of "David Uhl" pattern American Knapsack Kit - $ 90

To sign up, contact Henry at hcooke4@verizon.net





English Gown -- February 8 and March 8 - Concord, MA & Natick, MA

You will be constructing a hand sewn stomacher front / en fourreau back gown based on a period example and constructed in a period manner. This gown is correct style for women reenacting a period of 1760-1780. By the end of the weekend, your gown should be substantially completed. 
Fee: $160 (includes bodice and sleeve lining and printed gown instruction book)
Instructors: Hallie Larkin & Steph Smith
To register, contact: hiveworkshops@gmail.com
Location: Minute Man National Historical Park



English Gown -- March 29 & 30 - Trenton, NJ

We will be offering another English Gown workshop March 29 & 30 at the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, NJ sponsored by the Brigade of the American Revolution. For more information and to register contact Donna Cole  dlcole10940@yahoo.com



Saturday, January 25, 2014

One Gown: Many Impressions

Larkin & Smith - English Gown Pattern
http://atthesignofthegoldenscissors.com

One of the questions we have been getting about our English Gown Pattern is, "The original is a silk gown, I portray a Rev War camp follower, will this pattern work for me?  The answer is "absolutely" and here's why...

Eighteenth century dress makers were very creative when it came making beautiful gowns. They had fabulous fabrics to work with, ones specifically woven for making gowns, as well as lovely trims and laces designed for adorning these wearable confections.  One the other hand, when it came to the actual "form" of the English Gown, the basic parts and construction were pretty much the same, whether you are making a fancy silk gown or a simple linsey-woolsy one.  Think about a gown as a line drawing - it can be simple and unadorned or you can add color, designs, and decorations.

(These three gowns were made with the same pattern but with different trimmings and fabrics)

If you are portraying a Revolutionary War camp follower, you are reenacting the years from 1775-1783, and will need a gown that works well for that time period.  The stomacher front/en fourreau back gown, not only fits well into that date range, it will also have you covered your for pre-War events like the Boston Tea Party and Battle Road.

Gown with optional cuffs

We have included a few variations in the pattern to help you adapt the gown for your impression.  The original gown is a silk tobine self trimmed with ruching and sleeve flounces.  However, if you are making a gown for a camp follower, you should opt for a simpler and more appropriate sleeve treatment and skip the trimming.  Included in the pattern is a longer sleeve for wearing without sleeve flounces and an optional cuff pattern piece, which you can use for your worsted or linen camp follower gown. However, the most important part, is to select a fabric that is appropriate for your impression and documentable to the period. Do your research, it will pay off in accuracy and confidence in your impression.

Next: The Documentation Card