The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tutorial: Steampunk-friendly millinery flowers

Japanese hana kanzashi flowers turned into
Steampunk-friendly millinery flowers!
I've taken a bit of a detour from my Victorian and 1912 day dresses and started to flesh out an idea I had for a Steampunk hat trim.  I usually don't make my own hat trims -- heck, I have trouble using pre-made trim and silk flowers on my hats -- because I just don't have the right kind of imagination to come up with something that looks good.  A few years ago I was at Costume Academy -- a one-day costume conference put on by the Greater Bay Area Costumer's Guild -- and ended up taking a class on hana kanzashi, or the delicate, elaborate flower-bedecked hairpins and headdresses that Japanese geishas wear. Making them involves doing origami with tweezers and 1/2 inch squares of hand-painted China silk ribbon to make the individual flower petals, and is very time-consuming and fiddly.  I didn't really know how I would ever use the information, but because I was getting ready to help with the costumes for a production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado, I thought it might come in handy for making headdresses for the women in the cast.  While I didn't end up making any headdresses at that time, I did start thinking about how to alter the design and production for theater costume purposes.  I ended up with cool Steampunk propeller-flowers for my hat (which I don't have yet, but that's another story)!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Golden Gate National Cemetery, So. San Francisco, CA.

While the main conflicts of the Civil War occurred far away from San Jose, California did participate in the fighting, with local skirmishes between Union and Confederate sympathizers.  California was split between North and South in its sympathies, with more Confederate sympathy in southern California, and more Union sympathy in the North.  Since the gold fields were in Northern California, the Union received large donations of California gold, which greatly supported the war effort.  California’s brand-new state legislature also sent multiple companies of men to serve in the Union army, most ending up replacing more experienced soldiers stationed at army forts in the Midwest, but several seeing action on the front lines by joining up with Massachusetts and other Northern states’ militias.  The conflict split the nation in more ways than one, and the scars from those wounds are still sore in some areas of the U.S.!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Titanic Survivors' Reunion Picnic and Commemoration

"Wild Blue Yonder" rose
We had a lovely time at the Rose Garden on Saturday.  A small group of us gathered at a shady picnic table and enjoyed a menu inspired by the "Last Dinner on the Titanic" menu, as well as some recipes from Mrs. Rorer's cookbook from 1912.  Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the table or the food, but you can imagine from the menu:

Ginger Ale and Tea Punch
Iced Black Tea

Cucumber, Mint and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
view of the Rose Garden
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
Creole Sandwiches (cream cheese, cheddar, tomato, and sweet pepper)
Stone-ground Wheat Crackers (standing in for the Cabin Biscuits from the Titanic menu)

Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Cherries
Coconut Cake
Coconut Lemon Sandwich Cookies

I wore my partially-restored antique lingerie blouse, with my walking skirt made from Sense & Sensibility's Beatrix Potter pattern.  It actually has a higher waistline, more in line with 1912 fashions, but because of the drape of the blouse, and the fact that my ribbon belt slid down to my natural waist, you can't tell from the photos.  I'll have to put it on again and take better photos of the line of the skirt.
"Europeana" roses

My friend Sara also wore a vintage dress; she actually took a vintage nightgown, made a slip out of vintage fabric to wear underneath, and wore it as a summer day dress with a vintage hat and parasol!  When I get the photos from the other ladies who were present, I'll post them.

It was extra fun because Saturday was Senior Prom for the local high schools, and there were a bunch of young ladies and gentlemen in evening dress, taking photos in the garden!  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Another Titanic event to attend!

View of the Rose Garden from June 2004.
Although the majority of Titanic commemorative events happened last month, on or around the actual anniversary of the sinking, there are still a few here and there, providing more opportunities for wearing the costumes that everyone worked so diligently to complete.  The next one on the calendar for the San Jose area is the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild's Titanic Survivor's Reunion Picnic.  Here are the details:

Titanic Survivors’ Reunion Tea: Imagine yourself as someone who might have been a passenger on the Titanic, and survived the tragic sinking.  We'll get together for a picnic to celebrate our survival and remember those who were lost.  Gentlemen and older children welcome!
Date: Saturday, May 12, 2012.
Location: San Jose Municipal Rose Garden (near the Rosicrucian Museum)
Cost: $25 per person
Suggested Costume: day or dressy afternoon dress, 1900 through 1915, all classes.

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)