Saturday, May 24, 2014

Heritage Ball 2014

Saturday was the Heritage Ball hosted by the Australian Costumer's Guild Adelaide. As always it was a highly entertaining evening. This year we had a nice turn out of gentlemen from the Adelaide Regiment 1862, including Nic, Paul (my father) and first timers Mark and his girlfriend Madame Von Strumpet (aka Kate). Unfortunately, due to politics between the dance groups (from the gossip that I have heard) one of the groups chose not to attend. This resulted in lower numbers that in previous years. I was also told that this would be the last year that this ball will be held. This was very sad news to hear as the organisers from the ACG put a lot of time and effort into making it a wonderful evening. Thankfully, there are still many other balls that we can attend during the winter months.

 Nic and Mark

 Mark, Nic and Paul
Kate and Myself

 Mark, Nic and Paul

Unfortunately, I became very tired by the time we had a supper and I ended up having to leave the ball early. It is taking me a lot longer than expected to get back on my feet (pardon the bad pun) since my operation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Preparing for Battle, Ironfest 2014

I starting writing this post as soon as I arrived home from Ironfest. Unfortunately, I have only just been able to complete it as I underwent a tonsillectomy on the Friday after arriving home. For those that know me well, it is an operation that I had been waiting for for a number of years now due to chronic tonsillitis and peritonsillar abscesses (also known as quinsy or quinsey). I am now almost recovered and I am very grateful for the love and support of my friends while I have been ill. 


Well it has been a few years, but this year we finally made it back to Ironfest in Lithgow. This is a huge living history event held every year at the Lithgow Showgrounds. We always attend as a part of the Allied army, representing the Black Brunswick Leib Battalion. It was even more special as we rarely ever get to catch up with our fellow Brunswicker's/members of LBA (La Belle Alliance) from Queensland as well as other reenactors from various other states. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of Napoleonic reenactors in our state and all of them are attached to different units on the east coast.

To prepare this year, I had to get my pockets, a new neckerchief and two pairs of gaiters all hand sewn. Thankfully, these turned out to be very easy projects. I was amazed that this was the easiest sewing load I have ever had before an event.

The apron was made using a woven plaid cotton I picked up at a second hand shop for 50 cents. It was made using the 1770-1850 Apron Pattern from 'Fitting and Proper'. the sides use the selvage, so I only had to hand sew the bottom hem and the waist band. The neckerchief is just a simple triangle of an unbleached cotton with grey plaid striped woven through it. I also took advantage of the selvage and rolled hemmed the other seams by hand. 

The gaiters were made by hand using black melton wool left over from Nic's uniforms. The buttons were kindly hand made from leather by Michael Wright (who organises LBA and the Brunswicker's in Australia). Nic hand made and attached the bottom leather support straps. For anyone that does encampments in wet weather, I cannot recommend a pair of wool gaiters enough. They stop mud and water from the ground from rising up your boots and then your petticoats and skirts. I plan to use my pair for Napoleonic through to my 1860s activities. Later I may make another pair for 1860s using nicer buttons for a more upper class impression, but the shape and construction are identical to ladies originals from the 1860s that I have seen in the past (except they did not have the leather buttons). 

Finally I made a pair of pockets. These have been high on my to do list for a long time now. They can carry all my equipment on camp (plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, camera, purse and phone) in one side and my handiwork activities in the other. 

 I copied a hole that was created in the top corner of the left hand pocket that was in an original pocket from 1750 in 'Fitting and Proper'. It is small enough to be unnoticeable when not in use, but very useful when knitting.

While they are not of the correct period, I was able to finish another pair of garters while at Ironfest. Please note my the stated of my wooden knitting needles. On the first night at camp Nik supplied a seaming-less endless supply of various homemade alcoholic beverages. We had an amazing night that ended with bed at around 4am. Due to the state that I was in when I went to bed I ended up sleeping with my pockets still on and full, resulting in my knitting needles ending up a lot shorter than they began.

Unfortunately for Nic, they had made my husband an NCO Korporal and he did not appreciate his wife returning to the tent at that time when they had parade at 9am. As a result poor Nic was officially court marshaled and punished for drunkenness and encouraging drunkenness in the NCO's camp follower.

A sad occurance was that a member of one of the gun crews was taken to hospital. As the crew was already short handed, I was asked if I could kindly volunteer to assist with the crew. I am sad for the reason, but very grateful for the experience. I was placed in charge of the ammunition box. It was my responsibilities to carry the box, bring the changers forward for loading and carry the powder-horn.
I now know why many of the images of working women show them with their short gowns off and flashing their shifts and working stays... it can get very warm when working hard. On the Saturday, I did try to keep my short gown on while working, but on the Sunday I only wore it between tasks.

This year we had a full schedule of events. After flag raising, breakfast and parade we had a Mass FirePower Demonstration, Drill, cannons vs. infantry battle, lunch, prep work (making blank cartridges), court marshaling and we ended the day with the big battle. Then we had a chance to rest before dinner.
 The allied forces returning from the Mass Fire Power Display
 Drill Practice
 The Allied Camp from Behind. Our tents were the A Frames on the Left. If you look closely you can see the Brunswick Pennant.
 View of the French Encampment from the entry.
 View of the Allied Encampment from the entry
 Allied Guns and Mess tent behind the officers tent.
A close up of the Allied Kitchen. 
 Allied Forces
 Morning Parade. Notice my handsome husband in his new stripes.
 Nic having a quick break
Nik and Rueben, I love these guys. They are great fun, its a shame that they live on the other side of the country.
On the Sunday, there was a ladies afternoon tea on the program. This gave me the chance to change into more upper class attire and go visiting other period encampments. This year a highlight was a group that reenacted*** Star Gate. They were a fun group to get to know over a few drinks on the Friday.
 I think someone shrunk the Tardis.
 The boys hard at work making blank cartridges.

A comparison between the harder to make period correct charge on the right and the easier/quicker phone book and glue stick version on the right. In the end they both have the same result.
Visiting the French half of LBA.

And all of the French infantry are dead. Unfortunately the Allied Infantry had more luck against the French Cannons. This did however give me a chance to sit on the box and work on my knitting using my broken needles. 
 Some of the Infantry took out the men manning one of the cannons.

I was tired after the battle on the Sunday, so I sat down to watch the men on parade, I wasn't allowed to rest for long as they made me get into line as a part of the cannon crew. I love the chipmunk impression.

Me and Nic relaxing after a long weekend.

Me visiting the French encampment. This year they had a full set up of their own, including a separate kitchen and mess area. I love how much Napoleonic reenactment has grown over the last five years, in Australia.
This year the French Encampment also had its own mini fort and wooden house inside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

175th Anniversary Fashion Parade 'Corsets to Caftans'

For the last year towns around South Australia have been celebrating their 175th birthdays. The council area that we live in is celebrating a number of birthdays this year. As a part of the celebrations there are numerous historical events. One of these events that we participated in recently was 'Corsets to Caftans' a parade of the changes in fashion from settlement to now.

I wore my 1861 wedding dress. There were a large number of people and friends present. I have not had such bad stage fright in ages as seeing and hearing people in the crowd calling out my the same time I feel honoured to have such wonderful and supportive friends. The shawl is an original from the 1860s and I was terrified in displaying it to the audience as I know it is very valuable. 

Nic was also present in his 1860s male civilian attire. in this photo he has just removed his coat. These photos were sourced from the Mount Barker Library, who were kind enough to post them on their Facebook page. If you would like to see more photos of the other volunteers who participated please follow this link to the Mount Barker Library Facebook Page.