Well, we made it back from our first Mid-Century Living History Event in Perryville, KY with little more than a few bug bites and a bad case of exhaustion. We couldn't get the camera out much, because of the very strict "no modern stuff showing" rule. So, this is the only real picture I could sneak in of the two of us (my husband couldn't go because he was a volunteer at this year's Ichthus Festival.)
No, that's not our tent... we aren't THAT good yet. And...erm....actually, those aren't our gowns either...so, yeah, we TOTALLY felt like the new kids in town. Jane's gown was loaned to us by one of the reenactors, and as we were leaving the event, the very kind lady that loaned it out to us told us that we could keep it. I'm not sure if that was because she is very kind, or if it was because the hem was 4 inches deep in mud and there were lemonade stains down the front.... I'm guessing it was a little of both. As I said in my last post, Beverly Simpson graciously loaned me the gown I got to wear. It wasn't as hot as I thought it would be. All of those layers were natural fibers like cotton and linen...so it breathed nicely, especially with the hoop underneath. I had to do quite a lot of fitting to get the dress to fit me though. Beverly is a tall lady, and I am, well, not. I had to hem the bottom of the skirt about 4 inches, and tuck in the top of the skirt about 2 inches. Then, I had to create several tucks along the bodice and at the shoulders in order to get a good fit. Over-all, I think I wore it nicely.
Jane and I got our picture taken in the exact same way that a person of the mid-1800's would have. Most people know of these photos as "Tin Types," but the official term would be "Ferrotype" photography. The image came out a bit light, so it is hard to see in the picture above. What do you think? Could we pass as an antique??? It makes me think of one of my favorite 19th century photographers, Julia Margeret Cameron. I positively love her photographs.
Ok...so maybe not as good as Julia Margeret Cameron's...but, anyway...
The photographer and I were a bit worried about capturing Jane on film. The exposure time on an antique Ferrotype camera is anywhere from 4 to 6 seconds...this isn't your modern day digital, mind you. And any movement made while the lens is open causes a blurred image. She's quite the squirmy one. And we didn't want her to end up with 2 heads. But, I was the proudest mama ever, because all the photographer had to say was if she stood very, very still, see might get to see the rabbit that lives inside the camera box.
She didn't move a muscle...poor gullible thing...
I wanted to show you how I did my hair. It was BEAUTIFUL at the beginning of the day. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before the event, so what you are seeing now is the wilted, exhausted after effect...so sorry. I used rats (similar to my friend Natalie's tutorial here) to make the sides stick out a bit. But my favorite part of the hairstyle was the braided bun at the back.
I bet you are wondering if I liked Living History...right?...yeah, I know you are, soooo, here goes my long winded rant.
Did I like it? The answer is Yes.
Would I do it again? Not until I have my own equipment and my own gown.
You see, not only did I feel like the new kid in town, but I also felt a bit homeless and alone. The other reenactors were VERY nice. They let us sit down with them, eat with them, talk with them, etc...but we didn't have any place to call our own, and I'm sure you guys and gals can relate to needing your own space carved out somewhere in which to go and relax, take a nap, read a good book, get some piece and quiet. Right? Am I the only one that feels this way?
Reenacting equipment is quite elaborate, and expensive. I mean, these people didn't just have a simple canvas tent and sleeping bag, they had the tents, canopies, REAL antique beds, tables, chairs, dishes, lamps, cooking equipment, blankets, boxes, food, etc., etc... They set up little homes. Everything was historically accurate. All that to say, it might be a while before I can afford to have all of that collected.
Until then, I might go for a day trip somewhere, once I get my own gown made. Even though I was grateful to be lent a very pretty gown, I've never liked wearing hand-me-downs. My husband can go into a Goodwill or second hand store and come out with an arm-load of clothes. I cringe at the thought of entering one of those places.... don't get me wrong, I'm not looking down on people that do shop there. I certainly could benefit from saving some money at a second hand store. It's just one of those strange, idiosyncrasies I have...I don't like wearing other people's clothing. (sorry...back to the point of this post now.)
One other thing about Living History that I think I might need to work on...no, scratch that, I KNOW I need to work on this... is making a first person impression. Basically, that means I have to come up with a 'story' about who I am as a person in the 1860's, and then when I'm at the event, I have to 'act' like I really am that person living 150 years ago. Sheesh... I really am bad at improv. I thought I had it all down in my head, and then when another reenactor would strike up a conversation with me, I would just freeze! It was so hard for me to think about a response that was period appropriate.
For example: One of the gentlemen there asked me if I had family there looking to buy horses(it was a horse trading/buying reenactment..so this is a purely fictitious question he is asking me.) I sputtered and ummed and stumbled over my words, because my brain was thinking: "No...why would I need a horse. And does it look like I have family here?" But, no, that is not what I was supposed to say. What I should have said was "No sir. I've recently come from the city to visit a dear friend, who happens to be here buying horses." So...what did I do....I said nothing, and turned about 5 shades of red, and angelic Beverly came to my rescue. Wow, I'm awkward!
I know I'm not making this sound like I enjoyed myself, but truly, I did. I met several very nice families while I was there, and when I left I wished there had been more time to meet more of them. My daughter had a blast playing with all of the other children there. I absolutely adored dressing up. I loved the history behind it. I was fascinated by the camps and homes set up amongst the trees and fields. I enjoyed watching people carry on life as they would have in the 19th century.
God willing, Living History will be something I do again. As tired as I was at the end of the day, and as much as I embarrassed myself, I liked it very much. One day I will look back on my first event as a reenactor and laugh. I will eventually learn how to be comfortable in my own skin, it's just going to take a little time...