Sunday, March 4, 2018

My thoughts on education

So I just spent three amazing days full of learning, relaxing, (too much) shopping, and fun. I left early to ensure a safe home arrival as Michigan can be a harsh mistress. As I drove, I received the news about The Civilian Symposium at Gettysburg, and nearly stopped my car in the middle of the turnpike (bad idea).

I am very annoyed that I left early. A bit of chaos in my mind, as I am still a baby in all this. A thirty year old baby with a big event to plan, but near infant compared to the experienced veterans of the reenacting community. Change scares me still.

Let me address here and now my great opinion, my modus operandi, the spokes of the wheel that keep my life turning perpetually. I'm all serious now, if you've not guessed. I do that on occasion.

Education is that great movement, the spirit that keeps moving us forward. We need it to sustain us, to illuminate the darkness of ignorance with a single fact. As a high school teacher, I spend nearly every day trying to engage teenagers in thoughtful learning. Sometimes it's harder than nailing Jello to a wall.

But then it happens. A spark of interest, fingers skimming the pages of an interesting book.

I've felt that at The Civilian Symposium more times than I can count. I'm incredibly sad to see it change. It feels a bit like a friend moving away.

It's a reminder that we should cherish our opportunities to learn and grow! To inspire ourselves and others and rise together as a community of learners. I am incredibly grateful for the two years I was able to attend. I didn't just learn beadwork or drink whiskey or look at textiles. No, I learned to function with new ideas, formulate thoughts with the proper language, see history from a different perspective.

So friends...

Make the eight hour drive

Take the workshop

Donate to the organization

Sponsor a scholarship

Volunteer your time

Support youth in their historical endeavors

Research that difficult topic

Share your learning 

Say goodbye and be thankful

And before I get too mopey, there is still a class schedule available, so that friend will come to visit and enrich our lives as before. I'm looking into that Berlin Woolwork class(click here to learn more).

So consider this a special thank you to all those who have worked to make the Symposium possible, even the people that put out the cookies. Because food is probably the second more important thing in my life...


I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.  
~Eartha Kitt

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bead and Bugle Work: Flowers

I am just now realizing the how little I've posted in the past few months. Between conference preparation, a nasty virus (that took about two months to lose), and general family stuff, the blog has been put on the back burner.

But I'm back with a project!

These little lovelies were easy to complete. Surprisingly, the directions were well-written (unlike MANY of the projects I've encountered...). They are adorable, fidgety things meant for ¨the decoration of ball-dresses or for wearing in the hair.¨

They are a little early for our time period, though I've found other primary sources that suggest beadwork with bugles could be found later than the 1850s. That blog post is slowly coming together. For now, I give you pictures and instructions!

Godey's Lady's Book, September, 1854: BEAD AND BUGLE WORK

VERY pretty flowers or sprays may be made of bugles for the decoration of ball-dresses, or for wearing in the hair. Black, white, gray green, purple, and pink bugles, well adapted for this purpose, may be obtained at any of the bead and bugle-makers, or rather retailers; for the greater part of those we use are imported from abroad. For flowers we use two sizes, the one about an eighth of an inch in length, or rather better, and the other one-third of an inch long. A bright, even-looking bugle, large in the tube, should be chosen—an ounce of each kind will make a fair-sized spray. Besides, we shall require beads rather larger than a mustard-seed—this size is usually solid, and sold in bunches; a bunch will be sufficient. The solid or grainlikebeads are preferable to the hollow, pearl-like bead for these sprays, not being so fragile, and the new style of canvas work in beads has created a supply of the size and sort needed. The other requisites are wire and floss-silk, the wire, as before said, being chosen to match the color of the bugles. These covered wires are to be obtained at artificial flower-makers, and are sold on reels; the green can be bought in knots at wax-flower makers. The floss-silk at any Berlin wool repository. The leaves are made of small bugles. About nine leaves will make a small spray. There are, however, various patterns of bugle leaves, many of which will suggest themselves to any one practising the work. We will, however, give a cut of another by way of illustration.

This one is made exactly on the same principle as the other, but the larger bugles and beads are employed in it. Thus in the top loop or point of the leaf, we thread a long bugle, a bead , a long bugle, a bead , a long bugle, a bead , and then another long bugle, and bringing them to the centre of the wire, twist it immediately below them for a quarter of an inch. The two next loops are made each on their separate wire in like manner, and then the two wires are again twisted together for a third of an inch. The second pair of loops, or base of the leaf, are made by threading first a long bugle, and then a bead , then three bugles, and a bead twice, and then a long bugle on each wire, and fixing the loops by a twist to each, and then twisting the two wires together as a stem. When complete, each leaf will require putting into shape.

The bugle flowers are of two kinds, double and single, and are composed of bugles of both sizes, and beads , and look all the handsomer if finished off with a larger bead , one the size of a pea in the centre.

Take about three-quarters of a yard of wire, thread on it a bead , a long bugle, seven short bugles, and a long bugle; push these to within two inches of one end of the wire, and then pass the longer end of the wire again through the bead from the outside, inwards, or towards the bugles; draw it up gently and closely, and the first loop or petal of the flower is formed. Thirteen loops are required, and each one is made in the same way, the wire being always put a second time through the bead , entering it from the side of the loop last made, and being drawn closely up. These loops or petals stand up, and overlay each other; when all are completed, the two ends of the wire are twisted together to form the stem, and the circular, cup-shape of the flower is thus finished up.

When the flower is to be double, a second cup, or circle of up-standing loops must be made; but this inner portion contains eleven instead of thirteen petals, and there are but five small bugles instead of seven in each; in all other respects it is exactly similar. The stem is passed down through the centre of the outer cup, and a large bead being threaded on a couple of inches of wire, and maintained in its place by a twist of the ends of the wire, is passed through the centre of the two cups, and the three twisted wires are wound together into one neat stem with floss-silk.

Single flowers look best small; therefore the inner cup, with the central large bead , should be used for them. Various fantastic groupings of beads and bugles may be combined to form other flowers, or to simulate buds. We give a cut of one of them, which is made of long bugles, short bugles, andbeads , threaded on four wires, and arranged in diamonds. About four flowers, two single and two double, a couple of buds, and nine or ten leaves, make a very pretty spray if tastefully grouped and neatly bound together with floss-silk. The size we make them of course depends upon the purpose for which they are required; for looping a dress, five leaves, a bud, and two flowers will be sufficient.

For mourning, black, white, or gray bugles make up very prettily. Green bugles, too, have a very brilliant effect, and elegant sets of sprays or wreaths may be made by following our directions, at a merely nominal price compared with the cost of them if we were to order them to be made. Besides, the work itself is a graceful and pretty employment for the fingers, and calls for a certain degree of taste and imagination, and is very suggestive. We therefore recommend it to our readers in full confidence that it will amuse and interest them.



Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Very Krampus Christmas

When I'm not immersing myself in ridiculous amounts of research, jewelry making, or conference directing, I take a quick visit to my other job. And by other, I mean my 40+ hours per week time spent as a high school English/Spanish teacher. I pretty much roll out of bed at 4:30 roll in at about 11 every night. As Grandma Dolly would say; "a mover and shaker!"

But this story is not about me. It's about my students and their wonderful sense of humor.

You see, throughout the year we have doorway decorating contests. The teachers love to design adorable seasonal delights, using stickers and glitter and goodness. Needless to say, I skip the "cute" doorways with adorable little paper cutouts or dangling hearts. Around November 1st I usually bust out my Dia de los Muertos kit, complete with skulls and beckoning skeletons. Christmas is difficult. How do you make a holiday about giving and cheer "uncute?"

Amid the dainty drawn reindeer and designer wrapped presents, my students had one answer: Krampus. And boy did they run with it...
What's that you say?
What's a Krampus?
Oh, I see!
I spy a giving St. Nicholas. What happens if you're naughty?
Why yes when you open the door, Krampus licks the crying children...
He even tops the Christmas tree!
Inspiration for Gene Simmons?

I did a little digging too to find some of the history of our horned friend. The Smithsonian did not fail! Click here to learn more:

In fact, Krampus’ roots have nothing to do with Christmas. Instead, they date back to pre-Germanic paganism in the region. His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel. During the 12th century, the Catholic Church attempted to banish Krampus celebrations because of his resemblance to the devil. More eradication attempts followed in 1934 at the hands of Austria’s conservative Christian Social Party. But none of it held, and Krampus emerged as a much-feared and beloved holiday force.
I kept finding Christmas cards with the monstrously delightful creature either beating or eating children. My only hope is that our door inspired good behavior in my students! Regardless, I enjoyed talking about different holiday traditions with them. They read stories, looked at primary sources, and compared/contrasted them with out own culture today. I am slowly creating a world of researchers, I promise.

Also, we horrified  educated the teachers who chose to do snowflakes or adorable reindeer. 'Tis the season! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and just enjoy your life for the rest of 2017!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Domestic Skills Symposium 2018

What another awesome year! It was quite unfortunate that I found myself sniffling, coughing, and even losing my voice. For those of you who have been within 10 feet of me, you know I love to certainly made me more observant of my surroundings. A quiet Kristen can be quite dangerous!

After a quick shortcut through Canada (why are all male Canadian border agents so good-looking? Is there something in the syrup?) we found ourselves in a snowy but beautiful community. Rochester NY appears fantastically like Michigan, so we fit right in!

My first workshop was paper marbling. The woman who taught the class was an amazing teacher, and I would definitely take a class with her again. I did an amazing job throwing stuff onto water and then putting paper onto the stuff on the water. Very descriptive, right? It looked a bit like a Rorschach test, which was fine. I know a handsome doctor who would put it up in his office one day....
My favorite piece that I did myself!

On Saturday we sat down to listen to the main speakers. This site does it right-the research, the questions, the primary source imagery. Also, food. They do food very well. By the end of it all I realized how much I love pickled vegetables and Dutch anything. Also, calico dances were a thing, an interesting thing, a very DON'T DO IT UNLESS YOU DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST sort of thing. But certainly fascinating! There wasn't a single moment that I was bored, though my busy hands cranked out a few butterflies/dragonflies.
I ate too much. Surprised?

On our last day Jennifer and I look a cheese basket class. NO, it was not underwater, but yes water is necessary for the process. I sort of understand that expression now. It was a little complicated, but again our teacher was an expert. She was so patient! And we certainly had a lot of questions. In the end I found myself with a finished basket and the skills to do more. I'm feeling some Christmas presents...

This conference gets me so psyched for our own in March! I draw inspiration from everything-the table placement, the AV equipment, even the vendor space. I've learned that learning is a 24/7 activity if you just open your eyes.

Genesee Country Village & Museum is an excellent host! Apart from my annoying cold, I enjoyed every bit of my trip. Please support these wonderful people and this educational opportunity.


Friday, November 17, 2017

85+ MORE Gift Ideas for the History Lover

It's that time of year again! My wish list for the history lover. The history lover being me, specifically. There's a mix of all time periods, things that I might ask for this year, or things you might want.

I do my best to support the small businesses in the reenacting communities. I'm also trying to publish earlier this year so you can hit any sales, as well as leave plenty of time for shipping.

These are separated by price. I totally understand if your budget is tight this year, or if you're look for small gifts for friends. Prices do not include shipping, as those can vary based on the entire order.

*Note: I've included some men's items this year. If I were a guy, I would want this stuff!

*Note: If you don't see something you like, check out the whole shop suggested in the link. I just realized how much Abraham Lincoln items that are in here. Those shops offer other presidents as well!

*Note: This list includes different time periods, and does not necessarily reflect progressive or period accurate items (ahem-please don't use the Jane Austen mug for Regency reenacting!). Also, the selection of the items from shops does not mean every item in that shop is appropriate for reenacting in your time period. Take care to do your research before making a purchase!

(Hey, the heart wants what it wants...)

Ghost Stories $15.50
$50 and under



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