1812 and Table Top Gaming

So who is ready for Halloween? My self and his Lordship will be setting up the window display ether tonight or tommorw and we are also in a deep deep talks about what this years punkin should look like. With all this spookiness in the air I have been reading some scarey stories.

While he is not a Regency writer one of my faves of the horror tale is H.P. Lovecraft. A master of creeping you right out and the fellow who brought us things like the Necronomicon and the dark one Cthulhu.

I got to thinking what if I ran a table top game that was Cthulhu based but set during the War of 1812.? Personally I think that it could be super cool.

Going on a hunch I am going to guess that many of you have played some sort of table top game that involves story telling, dice and a ton of Mountain Dew. I say this because when I first started going to Regency dance events I was shocked at how many folks in the room had played Dungeons and Dragons. The more I thought about it the more it made sense, here was a group of people who liked to get dressed up and imagine they are back in time. Not a far leap to table top at all.

As part of a table top group it’s going to be my time soon to run the story or “DM” (Dungeon Master). When we have a game going, we tend to meet maybe twice a month have some pizza and play. The last few times have been in a modern setting and using the monsters and mystery of the Lovecraft stories.

My idea is that I am going to per-create some characters for the players to pick from. Normally you would build your own, but I want to make sure that particular types show up during the game play. Players will get to pick from: A British Officer, Young Wealthy Politician or His Wife, a Common Solder, Dressmaker, a Settler, a Minister or Female Missionary.

It would open as all good Regency stories start…with a ball of course! However something would be very very wrong and a handful of the guests would have to work out just what lurks in the dark. I was going to write more but I don’t wish to give to much away. I will however if we run this story, post more should you folks be interested.

So I leave you with some questions – would you be up for a Regency table top game? How would you run something like this? Would it be more war tactics? Or maybe something about snagging a rich husband? Let us know in the comments below.

Oh and Happy Halloween!

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The Monk – Thoughts on a book

I know that the post you all want to read is about me and Lady Jen’s adventure at the ball at the Forks, trust me readers we are working on that. We had such a good time we want you give you the best possible review of the event.

In the mean time it’s October, and time for things to get spooky. So I thought I would share my thoughts on what I feel is one of the most whacked out creepy books ever written. It’s The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis in 1796.

Had this book been written today….forget that I am not sure out side of a self published e-book this thing would have ever seen the light of day.

Many of you know I am a fan of Gothic Lit. Not just from the regency era but also spanning into the Victorian is it a ghost or is it a killer in the attic sort of books. So it comes as no surprise that I would pick up The Monk and give it a read.

What did surprise me was just how dark, sexy, and off the wall nuts this book would be. FYI this may have some very light spoilers, so feel free to stop here. I promise though nothing I can write can fully share what a nutty wack job this book really is. Also this is not really much of a review but more of my own thoughts on this crazy book.

It starts with beautiful woman going to church. The town is taken with a young Monk who is everything a man of the cloth should be. We learn that he has been destined for such a life and folks flock to hear him speak. Things are going alright for this Monk until a mysteouse new Brother joins the order.

Things go down hill for everyone all at once at this point. Dark arts, ghosts, evil nuns, angry mobs, killers in a German forest and ghosts all show up. Some of this when I look back at it seems to be in the book for no reason. Like at all. At one point my mind was so blown I has to put the book down and look at the wall for a few moments.

Oh and once the end bit gets going the action and madness just gets kicked up. In bed one night his Lordship was confused as I looked up from the book muttering ” Well that escalated quickly…”

It’s one of those books that once you start it like or not you have to keep going. Also it’s something that once read can’t be unseen in the depths of your imagination. Personally I don’t know even now how I feel about it. Though I am glad I read it and if your up for something wicked and twisted you will be also. Lady Jen will attest that I bring up and promote this book every chance I get. Not sure what that says about me….

Oh and it’s free on Protect Gutenberg so super easy to pick up as an e-read.

So there you have it, The Monk my pick for an October read….if you dare.

Dolls and Dress making

Fun fact it’s only been in the past year I have learned to read a pattern. You would think that after years of doing costuming stuff, both for theatre and for cosplay this would be something I would have learned a long time ago. I have only just learned to sew so patterns are newish to me. Up until now I have managed to get around both these things when working with fabric.

You see my Mother sews but mostly only straight lines. She also can’t read a pattern and when working on a project in the past we have a simple solution…and her name up to this point had been Barbie.

When ever I had wanted a costume that was fabric based, we would dig though the bin of Barbie clothing find an outfit that looked right and then flip the tiny clothing inside out. From here it would be a matter of using the outfit as a guid line with my Mother just cutting and pinning the fabric down on me until it fit. Yes it really was that easy. Or it was before I decided I wanted to go to a local Regency event.

You can’t seem to find a Regency Barbie. Trust me I tried. So we got a pattern and struggled though it. Though since most of the costume stuff me and my Mother have done is more theatrical then historical….annnnd I didn’t know at the time how into this I was going to be getting….we put Velcro in the back of the dress.

Yes Velcro, I will let all those with an eye for historic detail shutter. So yes I have a very lovely green dress that if I was to be in need of a quick change I could slip out fast. To be fair you can’t really tell unless you look close and with a spencer on top the dress looks fine. I wear it all the time still.

Up until recently I had called it “the Velcro dress”. That was about to change. With a doll who was very very far from Barbie.

This past weekend myself and Lady Jen were away to a reenactment and ball. (A full review will be coming very soon) GTRG friend Lady Kathy had asked us over and share some pleasant conversation. It was then that I related my story about dress making and Barbies. Lady Kathy thought that was very interesting and brought into the room her daughters American Girl doll. Who had a wonderful Regency set of outfits. Her suggestion was that next time me and my Mother should look into using this line of dolls in our costume creation.

These dolls are far bigger then a Barbie and are based on moments in history. They also come with a whole back story. If you in fact did wish to make a dress based off of doll clothing I would say look at this line. This was the first time I had seen one up close and her outfit very impressive, also with a larger size I would bet easier then the Barbie clothes to work with.

As Lady Jen picked up the doll and flipped it over she burst out laughing. Sure enough there in the back of the dress was a big strip of….yes….Velcro. After explaining what was so funny to Lady Kathy my Velcro dress was dubbed the “American Girl Dress”

I have a feeling that this name will be sticking.

2D to 3D 2 on me

2D to 3D 2 on me

I wrote a post a while back about starting work on a costume from a video game. When I wrote that I posted a picture of the character and had been very pleased at the fabric I had selected. The next thing was to make the costume. Enlisting the help of Lady Jen for the skirt we managed to get it all done inside of two sewing sessions.

In the past while never a fabric based costume (I tend to work in foam) I do have experience working off of video games and cartoons. Projects like this tend not to have a set pattern, these articles of clothing are right from someone’s mind to the page. The other problem is that they have been drawn/painted/digitized on. The body in the outfit was drawn to wear it.

Alright this is the part where I link this all back to something historical.

While many folks who work on regency garments work from patterns – some like to work off of fashion plates, paintings or perhaps just can’t find a pattern that works. After working off many 2D images I have a few thoughts for anyone looking to work off a flat picture.

1) Draw out the outfit. No matter even if you are just someone who doodles. This will help you work out the flow and feel that the artist was going for.

2) Take a picture with you when you go for fabric and be willing to compromise. Sometimes the fabric in your 2D doesn’t exist.

3) See if you have a pattern that is close enough and work out way early what you will have to mod. With regency outfit you should be able to make this work. For us with the skirt we mashed a skirt patten and a petticoat pattern together, but made note of fabric we would need for the pleats. You may even want to make a mock up out of cheeper fabric. Please note that this is by no means how you draft a pattern but if you are open to experimenting has worked for me in the past.

4) Pick a spot on you that will be your point of reference. As I said before the person you are taking inspiration from was drawn to wear that outfit. Artist wanted the skirt longer maybe they just drew longer legs. More detail in the bust area, it’s not a problem if they make the torso a bit bigger. While the figure you are looking at may not seem out of proportion when you get that outfit on you it may look all kinds of wrong. The way I have always dealt with this is by picking a spot where what I am looking at will 100% sit in the right place on me. With me I always pick my waist.

5) Ask for help and rip it out. With something like this the best thing you can do it have a second set of eyes. Even if it is as simple of having them look at you in your mock up and saying if it looks alright. Note as well if something looks odd not just to you but them as well, get ready to rip out and try again.

For those of you who are wondering I have added a pic of me in the final outfit below. Character image I used was mostly the one I put up a few post back. However I also used game play footage to get a feel of movement and flow.

On my way to the Con!

On my way to the Con!

Have you ever worked from a 2D image? If you did what would you make?

The Long and the Short of it

So sometimes as we all know Real Life can take over and you can not seem to have a moment to get a breath. Most of August was like that for me as things picked up very fast at work. However I have been able to take some time off and have been re-charging. Also there have been a few odds and ends I have needed to take care of, one of them is a very much needed hair cut.

I have always been a bit funny about my hair. It was never something I learned to do anything with. Attempts were made off and on in middle school to very very little success. In high school I was involved with theater and hair was something you handed over to someone else. For the most part I have kept my hair a little longer then shoulder length. Though by the end of this summer it had grown midway down my back. This was as Lady Jen pointed out, a wonderful thing, as it would give me more then enough hair to put up for Balls and 1812 events. Over the past year it has done me very well for these types of outings. I even managed to learn how to pull it back into a bun! Over the summer I think I looked up more pictures of Regency hair then anything else. All of them for long hair many of them with steps on how to achieve the look. Booked marked and filed away for events in the fall.

It did however hit a point that as lovely as it was for events, it was getting to long. The final straw came when one night when this long mane was fanned out over the bed. His Lordship asleep rolled over on to it…then I rolled over. Needless to say it woke me up and I knew something had to be done. So on the first day I had off I drove over to the salon and had counted on getting a trim. Despite talking a big game about going short I had a very strong feeling that it would be nothing more then a trim, after all I still had all those events this fall.

For what ever reason as I sat down I told her to cut it short. In fact it it now the shortest I have ever had it. In side of 45 minutes it went from down my back to about an inch above my shirt collar. Happy and much lighter I set out to grab a coffee. Feeling great until I gave a bit of thought to all the Regency events coming up. As it stands right now I can barely get it pulled back let alone get it in a bun. Not a huge fan of dancing in a turban. What is a Lady to do?

I have been looking at pictures of Lady Caroline Lamb. Many of us know that she is the post girl for short hair during this time. After looking at pictures of her what I can’t work out is just how short her hair was un-curled. Could I just curl it all and push it forward? As for historic ways to do this is there a difference with paper curls vs rag curls other then the maternal used? Dose it even matter and should I just suck it up and turban it all?

So readers I ask you if you have any tips tricks or thoughts on this. I have a little under a month until the next big event and hope that it’s not a hair raising one.

Time Travelling on the weekends

This year I have been very lucky to get away for the weekend more then normal. I have always been someone that love to travel but more often then not they are much larger trips that require careful planing and coin in the bank. Something has changed this year and I find I am on smaller trip more and more.

Myself and His Lordship like to get in the car and take trips. As I write this we have just gotten back from an over night at a friends cottage. We drove up late and when we stepped out of the car both of us stopped to look at the stars. The day was spent swimming and reading by the lake. Lunch was a large communal affair with everyone pitching in. (well almost I was told to move a little out of the way, though to be fair you don’t want to eat my cooking…but I helped clear up after) and we sat down together. Sure we had a modern touches, but as for the motions themselves? It’s easy to think of the settlers in a free moment going for a dip. A city Lady up for the air reading her book, and all of them looking at the stars one clear night. As for lunch I think that’s an easy one to imagine folks doing. Something sort of wild to be able to drive out of the city and step into the past even if it is just the view.

As we drove home its was very easy to look back and see how full this summer has been! I have to say that Red Coats A Regency Wonderland, has been a great deal of help. Take a look, (they are on our blog roll) they offer info on all sorts of historic events. I hope they keep up the good work. They make time travel easy.

If you have been following us you may have read the re-caps of some of the fun Spencerville and Crysler’s Farm have both been blogged about. However I go back and read them and it always feels like I have left so much out. Maybe we just know how to really pack a full trip. Sooooo many full trips this year.

I would like to put a question out to folks reading this:

Did you go away and tap in with the past?

It could be something big like reenactment or something small like reading an old book. Post below and let us know if you time traveled this summer.