Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Focusing the Zoom Lens: 1770-1783

The Hive blog in the next few months is going to be taking an in depth look at the styles of gowns worn during the time period of 1770-1783 from both the standpoint of fashion and social context.

A common error made by many reenactors is dressing “generically" 18th century.  If a re-enactor is wearing something that was worn sometime between 1740-1790  it is working for them. Many will read this and say why bother, it is just a hobby.  Get over it.  Why do the guys bother discussing uniform buttons for days on end and the lock of a musket or the strap on a cartridge case?  If those details are important for them, shouldn't our details as women be important to us?

 Here in the New England area, Revolutionary War reenactors participate in events that range in date from 1770 to 1783, a span of thirteen years!   That 13 year time period saw not only the Tea Party and the American Revolution, but also a revolution of style in clothing, especially for women.  It is our intention to focus as best we can on those stylistic changes over that 13 year time period.

 Up until the explosion of the internet, providing us ALL with access to newspaper archives, portrait and print collections as well as the treasures locked away in museum storage, this information was available only to a small circle.  Colonial Williamsburg with its many archives and collections, always had this advantage and has shared much of their research with symposiums, books and exhibits.  Now it is up to all of us to start doing our own work, the information is there.  Shame on us if we don't even look at it!

We are going to take a methodical look at portraits, extant garments and the social media of the day, the satires, to build a case for change over time in women's clothing among the various social strata, and how we should or should not be reflecting those changes in our dress.

Each of those areas of research has issues: portraits in the colonies reflect the upper class of society, extant garments are often undated or misdated with no provenance and the satires have pointed jokes that we often don't understand.  

We will do our best to look at all the research available and hopefully we can draw our own conclusions when presented with the data.  We will strive for frank discussions based on facts not opinions.  Please join us in our quest!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hive Event: Preserving the Harvest-- Saturday, October 22, 2011

Preserving the Harvest – Preparing for Winter

Take an active part in a living history day at Hartwell Tavern on Saturday, October 22, 2011 where we will secure the abundance of the harvest to sustain us through the winter and well into spring. Throughout the growing season, a substantial portion of each crop from field or garden has been set aside for home use. Fruits and vegetables have been dried, pickled, cellared, brined, salted or preserved in vinegar, spirits or oil. Milk has been turned into butter or cheese. As we move into mid-autumn, households are a frenzy of activity; harvesting crops, preparing them for cellaring, repairing barrels, gathering herbs, cleaning the house, airing linens, compounding herbal cures, gathering honey and nuts, preparing fresh eggs for storage, renewing the husks in mattress ticks, readying the wood supply and making the necessary repairs to house, barn or outbuildings. 
Making sausages
We will be demonstrating these activities using 18th century methods for the public or other re-enactors who want to learn and use these skills.

Interested in participating? Contact SabraWelch at dsrwel@metrocast.net with the activity you would like to demonstrate – either household chore or food preparation.  Participants are encouraged to prepare a bibliography for the documentation of their activity.  Want to participate but not sure how?  Contact Sabra, we'll find something for you to do.
Nooning will be available for volunteers in kit at $5.00 person plus a contribution of an 18th century sweet, bread or condiment to add to the fare per family and/or group.
Preparing apples for cider
Vegetables to be cellared
Fruit for drying

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sunday Hives 2012!

Announcing The Hive 2012!

Here's the schedule for the Sunday Hives at Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, MA. The Sunday sessions are free of charge to reenactors and Park Volunteers. See our website www.thehiveonline.org prior to Hive dates for exact locations and directions as well as changes/cancellations due to weather.  For questions and additional information email hiveworkshops@gmail.com

***Stay tuned for the Saturday and weekend workshop sessions, we'll be posting them later this week***
Sunday January 15, 2012
Lectures 1pm–1:45pm
18th Century Hosiery
An in-depth look at 18t century leg wear, including stockings for men and women. From production thru distribution, this very important and often overlooked accessory will be explored in great detail.  Speaker: Carol Kocian
Kit Tune-up: Men
New to the hobby or perhaps your kit just needs some tweaking; this lecture will explore the ins and outs of obtaining a good kit for Battle Road, and help you make appropriate choices and avoid expensive mistakes.
Getting Started for Women & Children
Are you new to the hobby?  This lecture will explore the basic clothing needs of women and children and help the newcomer assemble an authentic kit for themselves and their families. 
“Had on When She Ran Away”
Expanding the usefulness of garment data in runaway advertisements.  Recently published in Textile History, the author will be sharing her research and the methodology used in collecting and analyzing runaway data, with a special focus on fabrics, their frequency and use in particular garments.
Speaker: Rebecca Fifield
Clinics 2pm–4pm
Breeches Fitting
Period breeches fit snugly around the leg and feel just below the knee. Bring in your off-the-rack breeches and learn how to make them have a more period correct (and flattering) appearance.  No sewing experience necessary
Kit Tune up
New to reenacting or does you kit need a tune-up? Join our team for an overview of Battle Road clothing standards. Separate clinics for men, women and children.
Fine Tune Your Bayonet Scabbard
Make some simple changes to your scabbard will make it more period correct.
Making an Apron*
An easy beginner project and a great refresher for experienced sewers.  An apron is an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe; let’s make a new one!

Making a Market Wallet*
Sewing 101 for men.  Learn basic hand sewing stitches as you make a practical and useful item for your kit.
Using Props as Interpretive Tools for Living History
Sometimes when talking to the public it’s hard to know where to start. We’ll look at the things you know about, like your clothing, your musket and other props as a way of breaking the ice and feeling confident in your interpreting.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Lectures 1pm–1:45pm
“Good Day”
The first part of this Hive will explore 18th century speech patterns. Since they didn’t leave us tape recordings of how they actually sounded, we will listen to examples of period writings to get a better sense of how they really talked. Each 20 minute session will be repeated three times to allow participants to enjoy all three performances.
Life’s A Stage
The Hive Players will perform a period comedy for your amusement. Our skit will  introduce you to 18th century humor as well as the use of a wide range of common expressions.
Dear Diary
Diaries can be an essential element in portraying a particular person of the 18th century. Our speakers will share their process of building their personae using original 18th century diaries and documents.
Once Upon a Time…
What better way to learn how people expressed themselves than in period literature? You will hear excerpts of favorites from our Hive instructors.
Clinics 2pm – 4pm
Develop your 18th century persona as we review how to walk, sit, stand and cross a room. Making a bow and giving a courtesy are not second nature to us, but practice does make perfect! Instructors: Elizabeth and Matthew Mees
Binding a Pocketbook*
Learn the fine points of binding an 18th century pocketbook. Master bookbinder Dave Kinghorn will show you how to make a period correct notebook to keep in your pocket.
*Indicates pre-registration necessary and materials fees

Linen Neckstock*
A gentleman’s neckstock is the 18th century equivalent of a necktie, made of pleated linen and closed with a buckle, This class will teach all the construction essentials necessary to make a neckstock for a gentleman.  Instructor: Stephanie Smith,
Trimming a Woman’s Straw Hat*
Learn some simple techniques of trimming a woman’s straw hat.  Hats and Ribbons available, Instructor: Hallie Larkin
Sunday March 11, 2012
All Things Tavern!
This entire Hive Sunday will be devoted to exploring the many facets of 18th century taverns.  This promises to be a fun and informative Hive programs, don’t miss it!
Topics will include:
Licenses & General Operation
Who could run a tavern and what made a tavern different from an inn or coffee house? How did you get a license in Massachusetts?
Potent Potables: Tea, Rum & Spirits
Learn about the beverages that are synonymous with the Revolution. Where they came from, how they were drunk, and who drank them.  Speaker: Emily Murphy
What is punch? What are the ingredients? Need a receipt? How to drink it and how to serve it!  Speaker:  Sabra Welch
Money, Money, Money
Pennies, pounds, shillings, dollars, pistoles, escudos… Colonial currency can be completely confusing! Speaker: Matthew Mees
We’ll take a look at the songs that really were sung in taverns
Learn about games of chance, lotteries and cards.
Interpreting a Tavern
When putting together the elements of a good tavern impression, what are the basic requirements?
Myth Busting
Fact or Fiction? Many of our ideas of tavern life are based on Hollywood and their interpretation.  What is the real story?
* Indicates materials cost and need to pre-register hiveworkshops@gmail.com 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here We Are! Where are we going?

Old Sturbridge Village - 2009

At a recent event, I had a chat with someone who has been away from the hobby for a few years.  She noticed something remarkable about how the women were dressed at the recent BAR event in Needham, Massachusetts.  She noted how just a few years ago there was a real bell curve when it came to accuracy in women's clothing.  A few were really bad, most fell into some middle ground of generally acceptable, but not really great either, with only a few really outstanding impressions on the other end of the spectrum.  Her current observation was that most of the middle ground have joined the ranks of the good and she noticed a larger gap between poor impressions and ones that were really well done.

Hartwell Tavern 2010

What this seems to indicate is that we, as female reenactors, have made great strides in presenting ourselves as 18th Century women.  It is especially noticeable at events at Minute Man National Historical Park where standards have been in place for several years.

Foodways Preservation Program - Hartwell Tavern 2010

The majority of women are now in stays and gowns. There is a nice diversity and selection of fabrics, very few bad cotton prints, and for the most part, women in our New England area are reflecting the recent scholarship on how people in greater Boston were dressed in the 18th Century.   This has all happened in the last 5-6 years, and not by accident.  The Internet has made the dissemination of information easier, museums are putting their collections on line, specialized yahoo groups have emerged, new clothing patterns have become available, there are more quality sutlers out there, new books published, and a community of sharing at Minute Man NHP, through the Hive Programs, have all combined into a perfect storm for reenactors to create and wear more historically accurate clothing.

 Hartwell Tavern - 2009

So what's next, now that the basics are well in hand?

Though we’re looking much better overall, if we zoom in the lens of the time machine a little closer, it becomes evident that we should focus our efforts on paying closer attention to time, place, social status, and the details of our overall look.  Over the next several months, this blog will be looking at how we, as women in New England, can fine-tune our impressions.  We will do that by examining the documentation and hopefully opening up a dialog that will bring additional findings to light and start the process of bringing our 18th century impressions to the next level! 
 Shift Race - Hartwell Tavern MMNHP

Please feel free to comment and make suggestions, a dialogue takes more than one person!

 The Hive Collective