I have an 1812 problem

So as I have said in an earlier post sometimes my work life and my GTRG life sort of come together. I work in history and one of the ways things over lap is the War of 1812.

As I was cleaning my desk yesterday at work I found a very very full file folder in a bin. At first I was unsure what this was. Looking down I saw that the folder was in my 1812 bin. It was the a folder that had grown so large, so thick and so heavy that I had moved it over to a bin. In my hands was what I had thought would be a slim file when it all started.

So what was in the file/bin? Glad you asked. It currently holds almost every single news paper clipping about about 1812 that has come out in the past year, both history biased and event reviews. A photo copy of all the local men who took part in The Battle of York (will be writing more on that soon) and a very large very poorly photo copy of a surgeons journal. Oh and about a pound of random pages on different topics.

Some of it is highlighted, some of it I have no idea where or why I had collected it, and most of it has some sort of sticky note jammed on the front, with notes that mostly say “neat” and “you liked this” on them. A few of the clippings have my father’s writing near the header with his all caps letters reading “1812 FUN” or “MORE FOR YOU TO READ”.

So I put this out to you fellow GTRG’s, what do you think should be done with all of this? Sort? Scan? Keep and write up something? What would you do with a big old pile of info?

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Fabricland, Sales and Cosplay

So this evening myself and Lady Jen took a trip to Fabricland. As the name would indicate this is a large store full of fabric. Once we had gotten there the most wonderful surprise found us…a sale. Moving though the store we chatted and picked up the odd bolt to get cut, and I looked for something just right. I was looking for something for a skirt for a costume and also something that I could use to make a pelisse. Something I think I need to work on is that I don’t really know that much about fabric. I mean I know what is cotton and what vinyl is like but it’s all the shades of in between. It’s also that I have a very little idea of what things should cost. To top it all off as I am just learning to sew so my concept of what is easy to work with is also a bit wonky. Slowly and with a handful of trips like this I am learning.

As I said above I was looking for something to make a skirt out of, the one I want to make is in the pic below.

This is what I am going for

For those of you who have read my earlier posts you know two things about me

1) That I love the BioShock games and dig the Elizabeth character (see above)
2) That if life was a video game I am currently a lvl 2 hand sewer

Now you may ask well what dose this have to do with you and being a GTRG? Glad you asked.

Costumes have always been something I have loved. Up to this point many of my costumes (out side of my regency gear) have been made from a mix of found clothing and molded foam floor mats. Many of these costumes are based on folks from sci-fi and video games. Today with the help of Lady Jen I am hoping to work on a video game costume that is more fabric then hot glue. The idea of getting into a costume is what brought me into the world of Regency to start with. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I got to dress up I never would have gone to my first ball, never found that I loved dancing…and above all else never would have meet my fellow GTRG’s.

Nothing in the world is quite like putting on something you have made yourself. Regardless if it is space armor or a ball gown. I hope that with the help of Lady Jen (and goodness knows I will need it) I can bring my skills one step closer to constructing more Regency clothing for myself. The goal is to learn some more and the make a pelisse mostly on my own.

As we got to the check out the woman behind the counter asked us what we were working on. Lady Jen began to talk about the new set of stays. The sales woman suddenly became very excited. She then launched into a story about making a corset for a Steampunk outfit. As it turns out she will be attending the same event I hope to debut my Elizabeth outfit at. While all of us are working on a different type of project it’s nice to be able to be part of such a broad community of creative costume-y folks, and to gain a skill set I may not have gotten had I never become a GTRG.

The 200th Anniversary for the Battle of Crysler’s Farm

So I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to approach my review of my weekend at Crysler’s Farm and my experience as a camp follower. Let me give you some background – I grew up in Eastern Ontario, I have been to Upper Canada Village more times than I can even count. In fact when I was 12 I wanted to LIVE at Upper Canada Village. So when emails started coming up about the 200th anniversary reenactment, I was intrigued if for no other reason then I would be able to walk around Upper Canada Village in period attire. In case you haven’t figured out already, I’m a little bit of a history nerd.

With the decision made to attend Crysler’s Farm, I spent the next couple of weeks scrambling to finish some outfits, including my shortgown (which I never ended up wearing because it was dark purple and by Friday afternoon I wanted nothing to do with anything that attracted the sun) and my stays.

I arrived Thursday afternoon, as I was riding up with Dave (who owns Coughlin and Upton. You should check out the website, it is pretty awesome.) There were several other people from our group already their so we went to work setting up our tents in the encampment. Surprisingly, wedge tents are not that hard to assemble, especially when the ground is so soft that you can basically push the pegs into the ground with your bare feet. Last week we got some pretty torrential rains and unfortunately CF was not spared. The ground was soaked, in fact at some points I was standing in the grass with an inch of water over my feet (thankfully my tent was not in this puddle), but it dried up as the weekend went by and it all added to the charm. In fact walking in wet grass was actually really nice when I was sweltering in my dress!

Thursday night was a challenge. I’m not going to lie. It was damp and cold and I spent most of the night tossing and turning on my cot, with my sleeping bag, my cloak and all four of my gowns on top of me. Needless to say by 4:30am I was wide awake and currently rethinking the entire endeavour. Since no one was awake, I headed over to the port-a-pottys and then went on a walk up to the monument.

I sat on the stone wall and watched the sunrise and it was one of the most pleasant experiences. It was so quiet and still, and it made me think of the original battle 200 years ago, and of all the villages and buildings that had been flooded when they expanded the St. Lawrence river. So there I was, going on only a few hours of sleep, cold, damp and crying over flooded buildings. This was really not going well at all, but I was determined not to let it get to me.

Friday proved to be a lot of fun, I went to the village with Steve and Lenore, and we had a great time touring the buildings! I also experienced being constantly photographed by tourists. At first it was very odd and slightly off putting, especially for someone who doesn’t really like to have their picture taken, but as the weekend progressed I got more and more used to it.

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After the your we went back to camp where more people had begun to arrive! Our camp was looking pretty great by Friday night! Which brings me to Port NIght. This is apparently an IMUC tradition and it was a lot of fun to be a part of. I got to try some really great Port, including a homemade chocolate port. I’m pretty sure I was in heaven when I tried that. It was so delicious! I was however still freezing on Friday night, but it was not as bad as Thursday night.

Saturday there was so much to see and do, and don’t forget the heat! I spent time perusing the wares of Sutlers Row, and found some lovely items including a very light weight wool shawl, a walking stick (for the most fashionable of ladies), cotton stockings, and a new ink well and pen.

In the afternoon I met up with my fellow GTRG Devon and we watched the afternoon battle. It was great (especially because we were in the shade), and it was very thrilling to see everyone in action though I know it was very hot for the people out on the field!

Saturday evening the group I was with, the Glengarry Light Infantry, had a potluck dinner – including roast beef cooked on an open spit and in a reflector oven! The food was absolutely delicious and the company even better!

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After dinner we walked over to the Village, where there was an ‘impromptu’ pistol duel followed by the night time battle. Playing an adulterous wife and having a duel fought over you is hard work, so I gave up my Regency ball ticket to someone else as I was just too exhausted by Saturday night, and Devon’s got an excellent review of the ball just below this one. I did however have enough energy to go back to camp and play a thoroughly enjoyable game of bid euchre where Andrew and I kicked ass! The score was 44-11, but apparently that’s debatable considering the game only goes to 42…

Sunday was much quieter and relaxed in the morning, we took our time going for breakfast and Kate and I spent a good deal of time sitting on the edge of the fountain cooling off our legs. In hindsight we should have started doing that on Friday!

Sunday was also the day of the actual re-creation for the Battle of Crysler’s Farm. Kate and I found a shady spot on the hill overlooking the battle and stayed until about the end, then headed back towards camp before the crowd dispersed.

The rest of the day was spent packing up, taking down tents, packing cars and then finally the long journey back home.

All in all I couldn’t have asked for anything better when it came to my first true reenactment – it was an amazing experience and I am definitely looking forward to the next one! (And next time I promise to take more pictures – the pictures in this post were taken by Steve Ball, to who I am very grateful!)

Crysler’s Farm

So last weekend me and the family headed out to Crysler’s farm area to take in the sites and the battles. That’s right this GTRG packed up her parents and the Hubby for a weekend of history. So here you have it folks my write up on one of the biggest 1812 – 1813 events of the season.

To start with I would like to be honest with you all I don’t camp. That isn’t to say I have never tried it. I have and it just didn’t stick. So we all booked in at a hotel and made a family mini vacay out of it. I have to give big big BIGGGGGG props to Lady Jen who toughed it out in a wedge tent. I point this all out because my weekend will seem vastly different to her recap.

So on the Friday night after work me and the Hubby tossed the duffel bag of stuff into the car. I should note that this time I was not just packing a costume for myself but also for Hubby. He has a vest from when he deiced he wanted to dress like the guys in madmen, was opposed to the short pants, and I had found a jacket that would do at a Goodwill. The only thing missing was a cravat. With the left over linen from my shift. “Great” I thought “I will tidy it up with a hem will be wonderful”. Well I sew by hand and manged to get just enough done to need to do the whole thing. Alright…I can do this in the car….and it was going alright until it got dark. After the ump-tenth time jabbing my finger Hubby suggested I put it down and talk him though the dances.

Lap sewing on a night time car ride...don't do it

Lap sewing on a night time car ride…don’t do it

The next morning after breakfast we made the short drive to Upper Canada Village. The place was packed! There was a ton of families which is great as it means that a whole new generation of Canadians are getting an intro into history.

After pulling in I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to find Lady Jen. After all the place was packed. No sooner then I had said this then I spotted a bonnet I knew all to well. I called across and after the pleasantry’s were exchanged we made our way over to the battle field to get a shady spot. Lady Jen joined us and seemed very happy to be in a cool spot. My Mother was very excited to get a good look at her reticule and they chatted for a while about it. (Side note to Lady Jen you really should get a pic of it up as it is very cute) Then with a BAM of canon fire the battle started.

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It was a good one but I have to say as someone who has worked in costume in bad heat I was really feeling for those Redcoats.

After we walked back to camp with Lady Jen and chatted with friends both old and new. Then we tok a walk around the folks selling there wares. Again me and my Mother looking at all the reticule’s. Keep an eye out for a post soon about me and my Mother making them…I can feel this coming.

Then we cheated and we went back to the hotel for dinner and to change. Coming back we headed into the Village in time to see both the dueling demo, (this time Lady Jen got to play the part of wife!) and the evening battle. Then it was time for the ball.

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You can see the dress I had been working on and as for the Hubby? At some point he stopped just being that and started really being his “Lordship”. From that point on he did not want to take the jacket off even with the heat. Not sure when he came up with a persona but told me if he was asked he had deiced he was a well to do lawyer, have a feeling this has to do with our love of Downton Abby. I know it’s the wrong era but hey he was getting into being dressed up and going to a ball. We both also got a big kick in a tourist asking to take a picture of us and then saying “Pesky battles getting in the way of you towns folks having a night out”

As for the ball, it was wonderful. The dances seemed to flow one into the next and the band was great. Me and his Lordship did cause a bit of a scandal as we danced every dance together! I know shocking right? Well that is why I am a Good Time Regency Girl and not a well behaved one. Also not sure if anyone knows but what would be the ruling on that for folks who are married?

We came back and let my Mother take a few more pictures of us before going back to our room. Apparently she had spent the night on her iPhone looking up pictures of reticule’s. In the morning and with the last bars of the Duke of Kent’s waltz in my head we came back home.

I want to end this post with a thank you to all involved. The troops the camp followers everyone
who put on a good showing. To those who organized and worked behind the scenes, I hope this blog finds you and you know just how much my family enjoyed the weekend.

Elizabeth – Darcy – A review

So on Sunday afternoon myself and Lady Jen made our way to Muddy York (down town Toronto) to take in the show Elizabeth-Darcy. This production is fast becoming the must see show of the Toronto Fringe Festival. Staged in historic Campbell House Museum, the audience moved from room to room with the action. Hallie Burt and Kate Werneburg not only co-adapted Pride and Prejudice, but play all the parts. That’s right this was a two woman show.

To start I don’t think a better location could have been selected. From the moment we got in line I was all set to go back in time. Nothing like a 1822 home to get you in the mood. Once inside it was very clear this was going to be a very different theater experience. I’ve been in this home many times and was thrilled to step in and find it lit only by candles, blacked out windows as to blocking the busy modern street and a costumed stage manager (Steven Vargo) ready to greet us.

It is now that I want to talk to the wonderful work of Ms. Burt and Ms.Werneburg. As I said before they played all the parts, though when I think back to the show it really did feel like this production was done with a full cast. With such skill and confidence they flipped from one character to another and brought to life some wonderful outlandish people, while making them feel real. It must be noted that the jump from Elizabeth Bennet to Lydia Bennet by Ms Burt, and Ms. Wernburg’s shifting from Mr. Collins to Mrs. Bennet stick out. Both these moments must be seen to be believed. Fine acting though out the whole show.

Now I am told that this adaption is very close to the book and I will have to take Lady Jen’s word on that. You see I have never read P and P, and have tried many times but just could not make it past more then the first chapter. To add to this I have never been able to sit though a film adaption. So for me this was a very new story. I found myself in this wonderful setting with these wonderful actress and wishing we could see more of what the other characters were up to.

I know that it is Liz’s and Darcy’s great romance but with such a talented pair bringing all these people to life, I just wanted more! How did the romance of Jane and Charles go? How did someone like Mr. Bennet wind up with Mrs.Bennet? Oh and above all else what went down with Wickham? I would have been happy to see a full show about him and Lydia. Maybe that’s a good thing and a testament to how good the show really was. It captivated me and I walked away having seen a story I never seen before. So I can honestly recommend this production for those who have never read/don’t like the book.

All in all it wouldn’t be a big surprise if this production wins something at the end of it’s run. If you can only see one show this year at the Toronto Fringe make it Elizabeth-Darcy.

What I have learned so far as a GTRG

Hello,

I have very busy week with work and family but I thought I would write a bit of a mini post about what being a GTRG has taught me so far….

That maybe with a little help and support ball gowns can be done, also if you go to Las Vegas you come back to Lady Jen having power sewn a good chunk of it.

While dancing if one gets lost in the dance, stick your hand out and smile. This is the Lady Kenzie’s key tip!

Hand sewing take time but it so worth it

On that note don’t use a daring needled for sewing a ball gown

That the dance I was writing was a bit of a mess but it was fixable

That my hubby likes it when I work on dance stuff, as it involves no bits of fabric

Lady Jen is to short to be on the mens side while danceing the Duke of Kents waltz

Thus you have it things I have learned so far!

Mini GTRG Update!

Hello friends! So I know it’s been very quiet here on the blog but things have been busy busy busy everywhere else! While both being very involved in that thing called work, I’ve also been scrambling to get everything ready for next weekends reenactment at the Battle of Crysler’s Farm. This GTRG will be biting the musket-ball and trying her hand at camping as well as reenacting with several other camp followers. It should promise to be entertaining for everyone involved – except possibly me (especially if I cannot find a mosquito net to hang over my cot)…

Ahh….so much to do!

More updates soon 🙂