As elevating and inspiring as #dmmh was, reality is always around the corner, as predictable as a cast-iron frying pan in a Katzenjammer Kids cartoon. So on Tuesday, Mr S and I went to IKEA to re-vamp the Young Mr’s bedroom.
I know: this isn’t Martha Stewart, so what gives?
The Young Mr turns 16 on Saturday, and we wanted to mark the day in a memorable way. We had originally planned to go to Liberty Hall in NJ, where we would present the kid with his own Charleville and a Wegman’s white cake. Reality intervened in the form of AP European History, which led to dropping the swim team, which has their first meet on Sunday. We dropped Liberty Hall, expecting to be swimming, but we’ve had to drop swimming to manage AP Euro.
So this has been a Very Tough Week chez Calash, and last Tuesday, the Young Mr slipped into the kind of Serious Funk that only teenagers can have. Reader, it was so bad, I asked him if he wanted to see his therapist and he said, “Yeah, OK. I guess.”
So, appointment on the horizon, we cast about the house looking for places in which one could do homework. Reader, there were few, and mostly they were places where I already sew or write. Something had to be done!
IKEA catalog at the ready, my friend and I developed a plan: we would transform the Young Mr’s room for his birthday: He would get a desk, and place to lounge whilst reading, and I would get my table back.
We still have some tweaking to do, but he has a desk, a bench, and a watercolor of the Morgan that he loves (that once was mine) and loft bed that he seems to like.
Since the photo was taken, all free space has been claimed by textbooks and Magic cards, and I suppose the underneath spaces will soon be colonized by feral socks. Still, in the interim between this moment and Sometime Thursday Afternoon, the Young Mr has a nice room that makes him, and us, and his grandmother, feel that Things Might Be OK. I hope you have a cozy corner in your home where Things Are OK for you– and if you don’t, I hope you will make one, soon.
Oh, and Hades? That’s an 1813 chair we found in James Woods’s booth at the local antique mall. He’s from here, so no big. We figure the other two are his henchmen from Hercules. The names seemed appropriate to their relative comfort levels for long-term seating.
On Wednesday, Mr S and I will mark our twentieth wedding anniversary, and due to some unfortunate timing, one of us has a medical procedure scheduled for that day, so we won’t actually celebrate on the day itself. (In sickness and in health, you know…)
Instead, we went antiquing in New Bedford on Sunday, after Mr S spent Saturday clearing brush at Minute Man National Historic Park. New Bedford was a nice change from the places we usually go in Rhode Island, and I always enjoy looking in Massachusetts, because objects there are typically free of Rhode Island connections, which means I can actually make encumbrance-free purchases.
I don’t know how encumbrance-free this purchase was…for now we are encumbered with a large hard paste porcelain tureen decorated with cranes and a federal eagle.
The platter it sits on may not be its original platter, but do I care? No. Look at that fantastic, crazy thing. The face the Young Mr made when this was unwrapped in front of him was priceless, but he has long questioned my sanity; now he will question my aesthetics.
It sits in pride of place on our mantle now, and as far as I can tell, it’s typical of the shape of tureens made for the American market ca. 1790-1810. I’ve not seen the cranes before, and I still haven’t found this pattern in a museum or auction house, though Winterthur’s tureen collection is pretty amazing.
If the thing is real (and it looks and feels like the real ones at work), its voyage has been incredible: from China to a port in Massachusetts, down through time to a shelf in an old mill building, to my mantle. Think of the person who ordered this– and the set it was likely part of– by letter, and then waited for months for the goods to arrive. Some sets were as large as 250 pieces, custom-monogrammed at the factory, and then packed into barrels and crates lined with straw and loaded onto ships bound back to the East Coast.
I’d love to know this piece’s story, but even without a provenance, the object itself is pretty astonishing, and fits into our already eclectic china (and yes, mantle business). Now, for a soup party!
I didn’t get nearly as many things made for the 2013 Historical Sew Fortnightly as I wanted to. Some of the challenges didn’t appeal to me, but mostly I just couldn’t keep up! Reenacting ate a lot of my life, especially in the late summer and fall. The Andes Candies coat and the What Cheer Day sewing, while totally gratifying, happened when I was thinking about the “Green” color challenge. But, on the positive side, because I’ve waited and played with Spencers, I have a much better pattern plus what I hope will be an entry for HSF #25, the One-Metre Challenge.
Looking ahead to 2014, I can see that July and August are going to be tough. We expect to have a lot going on at work, and the reenacting season will be in full, heavy swing. (Starting July 19th, there are five weeks in a row of events and work. We won’t be able to do everything, so there will be some figuring out to do. Also, our house will be a mess.)
Challenge #1, Make Do and Mend, will be a chance to fix things I know are awry. There’s a petticoat hem come undone, some binding that needs reattaching, buttons popped off waistcoats, and haversack straps to be shortened. That’s all without even looking: Imagine what I’ll find if I look (or maybe not, it could get ugly). I think this challenge will help me tidy up after last season, and prepare for the next. There was mending last year, too.
Challenge #2, Innovation, is a little more worrying. I’ve got a major dress project underway, and will have to adapt that to this challenge. Fortunately, I think compere fronts on sacques might count as an innovation, so that will help keep me on track.
Challenge #3, Pink! Will probably not be mine. None of the things I plan to make are even remotely pink. I thought I had some pink silk and was about to ditch the sacque for a pink Ralph Earl, but it turns out that silk is more lavender than pink. I looked at some pink silk, but then Sew 18th Century helped convince me to buy the cross-barred silk instead. And, like yellow, pink can be unfortunate on me, unless it is coral. Of course, pink can mean red if you’re making traditional hunting clothes…so this could still get interesting. And I know of a receipt for 5/8 of a yard of pink satin…which sounds to me like a waistcoat.
Challenge #4, Under it All, will probably have to be pocket hoops or other skirt supports for the sacque. I have been working on a faux quilted petticoat, with limited success (it may qualify for make do and mend…), but would need hip pads to round out the silhouette properly. Have you noticed this is a bit out of order? Yes, I need the skirt supports first, but six weeks in advance is plenty of time! Well, from this vantage point, anyway. It’ll look like madness on the other side of New Year’s.
I know I’ll miss deadlines and fall behind, I know I’ll get distracted in the summer and stop reading about all the great things people have made, but thanks to the HSF, I’ve kept more on track and become a better seamstress, than I was a year ago. Many thanks and kudos to the Dreamstress and everyone else around the world who joined in, and will join in, on this international sew-along.