The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, August 29, 2011

A tea-related contest put on by Oregon Chai.

Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
This post has been sponsored by Oregon Chai.

There is a new Facebook contest happening, called Chai-brary, which highlights reading and enjoying chai as the "ideal Me Time moment."

One lucky entry will receive $1,000 to buy whatever is needed to make their reading more enjoyable. We’re also giving 1,000 runners up a $5 Amazon gift card, and all entrants will receive $1 toward any Oregon Chai product just for entering. 

also ...

Additionally, one tweet will be selected every week during the sweepstakes to receive a free Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate. Please feel free to tweet often from August 25 to Tuesday, September 6 at 5 p.m. CT for your chance to win!"  Tweet #Chaibrary to @OregonChai
 to participate. 

Sounds like an interesting contest, with some fun prizes.  Let us know if you win! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A picnic with the Pre-Raphaelites.

Pre-Raphaelite Tea Picnic table.
Photo: Elizabeth and Virginia Urbach
The South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild enjoyed almost perfect weather and surroundings at the Pre-Raphaelite Tea Picnic and Artistic Salon.  The popular Japanese Friendship Garden was full of families -- and even a wedding party taking photos -- but the Guild was fortunate in securing a shady picnic table near the back entrance to the garden (and more importantly, near the restrooms!).
another view of the table.
Photo: Elizabeth and Virginia Urbach

The table was set with a green cloth, with a bunch of roses for a centerpiece, and fresh rose petals scattered around.  Plain white plates and clear glasses, along with a few colorful platters, were the serving and eating utensils, with the addition of fly-proof food covers!  Five lovely ladies attended in colorful summer dress, three of them in costume appropriate to the theme and occasion.  The artistic and literary world was represented by two antique books -- one full of poetry and quotations -- as well as period fashion illustrations and a book about traditions and customs from the past that should be brought back into style.  This is the menu:

Pomegranite tea punch
The ladies in attendance. 
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Blueberry scones
Homemade Meyer lemon curd
Homemade fig jam
Imported Devon cream

Pear-cardamom chutney and water crackers
Cucumber sandwiches with fresh mint and rose petals
Chicken salad sandwiches with garden tomatoes
Pastry bunches filled with spinach and cheese

Brown sugar spice cookies
Sugared raspberries and cream

It was a relaxing afternoon tea in the garden, a perfect way to spend a late-summer day! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Displaying my grandma's wedding dress.

The dress on display at History Park. 
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
I was allowed to put my grandma's wedding dress on display this weekend for a special event at the museum where I work.  In preparation for the event, I had to design the exhibit, arrange for items like a dress form and other display props,  and do my own set up and take down.  I also discovered that the gown and veil needed some TLC. before it would survive the display!  Even though they were only made in 1945 (and there are many things from the '40s that are in such good condition they can still be used), the gown and veil were literally falling apart in places.  I researched what it would take to restore them and found that I had neither the tools nor the money to do so properly ($80 per yard museum-quality silk crepeline for a support lining, anyone?).  The rayon satin of the gown, and the nylon (or rayon?) net of the veil were badly ripped in places, and the gown fabric was literally breaking off into bits at the edges of the torn areas.  The best I could do was to baste strips of well-washed cotton muslin from seam to seam across the torn areas, to take pressure off of the fabric, and then baste the edges of the tears to the muslin.
Ca. 1945 wedding cake topper made of icing sugar.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Re-creating Pre-Raphaelite costume.

"Miranda: The Tempest"
by Waterhouse
According to Consuelo Rockliff-Stein, one of the founders of The Ladies’ Tea and Rhetoric Society, “Artistic gowns ... were never intended to be exact replicas of the clothing worn by models in Pre-Raphaelite paintings, nor were they intended to replicate clothing of the classical and medieval eras. These gowns borrowed design elements from all these sources, but were distinctly Victorian in overall effect.”  This led to vaguely historic-looking clothing, mixing elements from totally different periods in the same garment.  “Medieval”
"Venetian Ladies Listen To The Seranade"
by Frank C. Cowper
sleeves, “Elizabethan” ruffs and “Grecian” drapery could be found on the same dress.  The Watteau-back dress, a princess-line dress that had a fitted bodicein front, but a large section of loosely-pleated fabric from the shoulders to the floor in back, was inspired by 18th century French sacques, and was one way that Pre-Raphaelite ideas were absorbed into mainstream fashion.  It became a favorite look for the “tea gown”, which became popular in the 1880s as informal daytime social dress. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pre-Raphaelite dress as pseudo-historic costume

"Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May"
by Waterhouse.  Wikiped
If the Pre-Raphaelite woman chose a historically-inspired style, there were two main time periods and cultures that were popular choices: classical Greece/Rome, and 15th century Medieval Europe.  The Pre-Raphaelite "standard" of female beauty was an amalgamation of the various Classical Greek and Roman goddesses and nymphs, especially the Venus de Milo.  Since their ideal of beauty wore draperies without corset, hoop, bustle or petticoats underneath, the Pre-Raphaelites reasoned, so should the modern woman!
"Sapphires" by Art Moore.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pre-Raphaelite dress as modified Reform Dress.

Morris and Burne-Jones families. ca. 1874.
Pre-Raphaelite dress generally took two forms: modified contemporary fashion, or historically-inspired styles.  If choosing modified contemporary fashion, gowns would be styled according to the dictates of Reform Dress or "Rational Costume," which advocated comfort and freedom of movement, fabric breathability, and natural fibers and colors in an effort to promote greater health. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic Dress: the background

Amelia Bloomer ca. 1850s.  Wikipedia.
During the 19th century there were many and varied reform movements that involved women.  Women supported and led those movements that dealt with things that were important to their everyday lives, like food, clothing, and education, which connected them to the larger Woman’s Suffrage reform movement, as well as the trend towards national and international religious, political and economic reform.  There was also a growing sense of distaste with the quality and style of things produced by the Industrial Revolution factory system, and the un-healthy living conditions it created. 

When the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848, the dress reform movement was just beginning, with Amelia Bloomer and other women daringly adopting Turkish trousers and shorter (ankle- to calf-length) skirts.  Many of their innovative designs and ideas were lost on the public who, with the help of the media, spent more time staring at and lampooning them than listening to them.  Early designs were almost all condemned as being not only ugly, but indecent because they involved masculine trousers.  The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood secured a nominally higher level of respect from the public for their designs, because they first appeared in romantic and dramatic pieces of art.  When the women who were part of the movement began to wear similar styles at home and in public, they attracted stares and comments, but escaped the kind of insults that earlier dress reformers received, because of their status as “eccentric artists” and their prominence in the art circles.  The famous artist William Morris said, “no dress can be beautiful that is stiff; drapery is essential,” and the Pre-Raphaelites took that statement to heart. 

To be continued ...
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)