Thursday, September 29, 2011

18th Century Shoes - It's That Time Again


October draws near, and the new shipment of Devonshire leather, and Georgiana silk 18th century shoes is due in next week.

If you missed out on the pre-sale back in August, never fear, for you will be able to order your pairs starting this coming Friday, September 30th.

Quantities *are* limited.  We only ordered a few extra in each size, and size US 7 through 9 tend to go quite quickly.

This Friday, September 30th, is the day!
American-Duchess.com

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Monday, September 26, 2011

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A Day in the 1930s

This past Saturday, Oscar and Debbie Sessions, plus myself, volunteered to appear in a couple historic Reno homes, included in the Reno Historic Preservation Society's second annual "Harvest of Homes" tour.

Oscar and Debbie Session, who just bought a 1920s historic home themselves, and hope to be included in the tour next year.
Debbie and I both wore 1930s, while Oscar wore his "Nucky" suit, a la "Boardwalk Empire."

After our volunteer time was up, we toured a couple of the other beautiful homes, and at the last, the homeowner gave me a vintage 1930s hat.  GAVE it to me! How cool is that!?

This is a view of the gift hat.  It's a lovely burnt orange color.  1930s hats are hard to find out here, for some reason, so it's quite a treat to have this one.
That's all.  I still haven't been sewing.  The new 18th century shoe shipment just left The Far East today and is on its way here, so my world will be all kinds of wacko here in the next few weeks.  Until things calm down again, Adieu....

I made my dress from a pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.  There's a bolero to go with, but I haven't constructed it yet.  It's a very comfy "sport" dress.
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

SALE on Georgiana 18th C. Silk Shoes (Wide)

Hi Filles and Fops,
   It's time for a sale.

If you've been eyeballing a pair of wide-width silk Georgiana 18th century shoes, now is the perfect time to get them.

Purchase through Etsy or on the American-Duchess.com website.

The sale is for a limited time only, so don't wait.  Wide-footed ladies, this is your chance!

--Lauren R
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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Steampunk Invasion of Virginia City, 2011

Gah, I'm so knackered still from this past weekend I just wan to post a few photos.

V&T Engine, pulling into the depot in Virginia City, from Carson City.
It was the second annual Steampunk Steam Engine ride from Carson City to Virginia City and back, but the first annual Victorian Steampunk Ball, an evening of music, dancing, and cookies, at Piper's Opera House in Virginia City, put on by myself and three amazing and dedicated Steampunks all working together, like the gears in pocket watch.   .....

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

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Pretty Victorian Creatures - New Photographs, and New Old Photographs


Holy Fritatas, I've been been busy.  The Victorian Steampunk Ball is this Saturday and I kinda went off the deep end and decided to make new costume pieces for it...with two days in which to do it.  Madness.

I have some cool things to show you, though.  I purchased two Victorian images in their original frames, from Etsy, and they arrived yesterday.  Such exquisite little souls...

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Monday, September 12, 2011

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What If I Were...my Grandmother in 1945?

Lots of photography, but not much costuming lately.  I'm going through a sewing funk, but still need an outlet for history-related geekery, so photography is it.

So far in the "What If I Were" project, I've done 1850, 1900, 1920, 1930, 1940, and 1950.  I still have 1860s through 1890s to figure out, as well as the 19teens, and 1960s.  All along the way there's been and shall be much fun and education about hair and makeup, as well as photography and post processing.

Over the weekend I tried out the 1940s, which have always seemed like a very difficult decade photographically.  In looking at reference photos for this period, I saw a few things:

  • tilting of the frame, so the portrait is not straight-on
  • background elements such as drapery or columns or other architectural interest
  • predominantly light or mid-tone backgrounds, not black.
  • both black and white and color photos

I have several portraits of my Grandmama from the early 40s, so I wanted to emulate these, but also some Old Hollywood shots:
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

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What If I Were, 1930s

"What If I Were...sitting with Hurrell in 1930?"
Yesterday I received Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques in the mail, and read it cover-to-cover last night.  That meant hair adventures today, so I tried out a 30s style from the book, and despite it turning out to look quite "meh" in the back, with the step-by-step instructions I was able to make my first Successful Deep Wave.

Successful Deep Wave meant pictures, which I got into tonight, with some artificial lighting and a white backdrop.  Don't be afraid of artificial lighting!  I have two dish lights I bought at Home Depot - the kind with a metal dish and an exposed lightbulb, plus a clamp for easy placement pretty much anywhere - an an IKEA flexi-neck lamp.  Fancy equipment is not necessary.

Ironically, neither of these pictures show my Successful Deep Wave, but I did have a lot of fun taking them anyway.  If your interest is piqued by Old Hollywood style portraits, I can highly recommend Hollywood Portraits by Roger Hicks and Christopher Nisperos.  This book shows you exactly how to set up lights to reproduce the original Hollywood portraits of Joan Crawford, Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, and many other famous faces, shown in the book.

"What If I Were...Important Enough to be Photographed in 1930?"
I'm not going to do a step by step for these, because the techniques are the same as were used in the 1920s photo tutorial, which you can read here.  You *can* make these photos in Picnik.com, the free photo manipulation website.

Some tips:

  • As always, the hair and makeup is important, as is the pose.  Study 1930s portraits online, to get ideas, before doing your snaps.
  • Both natural light (from a window) and artificial lighting were used in the 30s.
  • Remember when you're shooting for black and white to wear darker lipstick and eye makeup than you would normally.
  • "Contrast is the Meaning of Life, and Shadows are your Friends."  1930s portraits tend to be moody, with high contrast and very deep shadows.
  • Two Must-Have Books: Hollywood Portraits and Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques
  • Be creative!
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

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A Dog-uerreotype, and the Purity of Plates and Film


Lol.

Of course, a Daguerreotype of a dog is completely impractical.  Avi here couldn't sit still for 10 seconds, let alone 10 minutes or 20 minutes.

I'm having so much fun with these digital recreations, trying to get them to look the part of an original photo...but while they are amusing, they're not ... real.

They're not pure.

Chris brought up the idea of doing these photos for real, which means getting hold of an antique camera, a boatload of chemicals, plates (glass or metal), and a whole lot of skill.


As exciting as it sounds, I'm absolutely petrified of taking real photos.  I shot with film cameras when I was a kid, but I certainly never had to *gasp* develop the film myself, and to be honest, I can't even remember how load film into a camera!  And winding it after each picture?  And not being able to check the shot you just took?  EEK!

I have an absolutely gorgeous mid-20th-century Zeiss Icon that Chris gave me for a gift a couple years ago.  I bought a roll of 35 mm to go in it, an just loaded it with that film last week.  It's sitting here looking at me, saying "go take some photos today, Lauren," but I don't know how!  You have to...to...estimate the distance, and set the aperture accordingly, and the shutter speed all manually, and there's no focusing through the viewfinder, and how on earth am I going to take a decent photo with this thing?

My Zeiss, my beautiful Zeiss.
It gets crazier, far crazier, with pre-film cameras.

But you see, these are lost technologies that will evaporate into the fabric of history very soon, if they haven't already.  Daguerreotypes cannot be made today because the chemicals involved are unavailable.  There is something about the idea of working with a real 8x10 or 4x5 bellows-ed camera, with a leather and wood case, that might serve to connect us to the past in the same way that creating historical gowns and wearing them has served as my portal into history.  When I think of it this way, it simply must be done....
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Monday, September 5, 2011

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What If I Were, 1850

"What If I Were in California in 1850?"

I've been wanting to try  a digital recreation of a Daguerreotype for awhile now.  They've always fascinated and creeped me out, and as I sit here on the other side of several hours of working on this photo, I can now safely say getting this look is HARD.

But first, some real Daguerreotypes, and some brief history...


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