I took off work Friday and drove up to Abilene that morning. I got there around noon, which gave me just enough time to unload all my stuff into the room then head over to pen wiper and chirography session that was from 1-5. As part of the class, we made a pen wiper. Here's mine:
Then we spent the next hour going over period handwriting examples (the class covered late 1700's through the 19th century) and letter shaping. Then we got to practice writing. Now I've dabbled in writing, but it was nice to get solid instruction. I learned quite a few things. For instance: every person writes differently, so, it stands that not everyone can write well with the same nib (the little metal piece on the bottom of a pen that holds the ink). Someone in the class, I can't remember if it was the instructor or a participant, explained that it was like Harry Potter: there's a nib for everybody!
|The nib chooses the writer, Mr. Potter!|
Good news is that I learned that the reason I was splattering ink all over my papers when I wrote was because I was not using the correct nib for my hand. Well, our lovely instructor Theresa sold me a nib that works just well for me. I also purchased a few that are reproduction of period nibs. I sort of went on a tangent after the class and bought myself (online) a late 1700's porcelain ink stand, as well as a reproduction bone pen that is the style and shape of period pens. I'll write up a new post and add pictures once they arrive. I also bought some walnut shells to make my own ink. Now I'm going to have to find myself a nice period writing desk/secretary to store all this stuff in. I'm currently hunting craigslist.
As part of the class, we practiced writing with different inks as well as nibs. We then made a few visiting cards for ourselves. I did all my practicing and stuff using my character, Mary Henrietta "Nettie" Groce Bennatt. Here are some of my samples (ignore the splatters as I was trying to figure out what nib fit me.):
Friday night, we were invited to Frontier Texas (a new museum that had just opened) and had a good time talking to everyone. Paula and I drove together and didn't stay too long, but it was nice to do a little meet and greet then go back to the hotel and rest.
All the sessions were held at the MCM Elegante in Abilene. It was SO nice not to have to travel anywhere to get to sessions. All I had to do was walk right downstairs. It made things so easy.
Saturday, I decided to dress out all day. I wore my new 1870's outfit, which was loads of fun. I realized afterwards that one of my bustle ribbons broke off, which meant I didn't have near as much of a bustle as I should, but that's okay. I fixed it when I got home and had a good time anyway.
I attended the keynote speaker as well as sessions on knowing your audience as a living historian and a class on period printed fabrics that covered the 1700's through the early 1900's. While I was listening, I worked on the day bodice of the evening dress I was to wear that evening.
Sessions ended an hour or two before dinner so I had time to get (partially) undressed and rest before getting ready for dinner. I made an 1865 dress for the occasion, modeled after one in the MET. I only decided to do this about a week and a half before the event, but I still managed to completely hand sew it without feeling stressed for time. Thank goodness for school holidays and snow days!!! The dress is going to have it's own post as soon as I finish and wear the day bodice. For now, enjoy the pictures of the evening dress:
I learned a few things from this dress: 1) Ebay is the most fantastic invention ever. Seriously, I managed to find JUST enough original Maltese lace as I needed to trim this gown in the week it took me to make this dress AND get it sewn on in time, 2) tuckers really do make the whole ensemble work together, and 3) it is MUCH harder to sit in an elliptical hoop than a normal hoop. I struggled all night. I suppose I'll have to practice before I wear one again.
I also struggled with my hair that night. I ended up doing a simple braided bun and putting a Greek Key comb (that I made) in, then sewing some leaves to some combs and putting them on either side, trying to make it look like one piece. I think it turned out okay. I would have rather had some 'poof' at the sides of my ears like in late war CDVs, but my hair was NOT cooperating.
Sunday was an easy get packed up and head home day. Next year the conference will be held in conjunction of the regional group of ALHFAM and will be at Nash Farms in Dallas. Can't wait!