Tuesday, October 25, 2016

DIY Hair Powder Shaker, or, DIY Powdered Sugar Shaker (depending on your Pinterest Mood)

Hello Lovelies!

Abby here  -

Today, I wish to speak with you about Arts & Crafts, while attempting to teach ya'll something that will make Pinterest go crazy with excitement!


I guess it depends on 1 of 2 things.

1. You're really into 18th century hairdressing (like me) & you want/need a way to get the hair powder on your head.

2. You really like powdered sugar on everything.

3. All of the Above.

(Note: If you're 3. Welcome to the club. Powda-Sugaaaa!! <-- 10 pts to whomever can guess which "Bad Lip-Reading" Video I just referenced)

Anyways - what I'm about to show you is a very easy, fast, and relatively cheap way to make yourself a powder shaker that can be sealed securely & wont cost you $20 at Williams & Sonoma (please don't ask how I know how much they cost - it was a dark & desperate moment in my life.)

Here's the history deal - Women & Men pomaded & powdered their hair in the 18th century for a variety of reason (too many for me to go into at the moment). It is not something that is necessarily relegated to social class or strictly vanity (though social beauty norms are a thing & hair is a part of that). It was just a normal part of hygiene in the 18th century - just like washing our hair with Shampoo & Conditioner is a normal part of our hygiene in the 21st century (though this is starting to change - hooray - cause S&C is bad for your scalp/hair - fyi).

When looking for ways to apply powder to your hair there are a few different options. The one we are all probably the most familiar with is the bellows & mask that we see in prints like this one here.

The Englishman in Paris, 1770, James Caldwell via PBS 

La Toiette d'un Clerc de Procuruer, Carle Vernet (1758-1836) Here (Note: The hairdresser is using what is either a silk or wool puff with the hair powder in that drawstring bag instead of bellows. This is also extrememly common and often recommended in hairdressing manuals. You can buy new swansdown puffs on Amazon for about $50 a piece - expensive but worth it. If you're a die-hard you can try and find vintage ones in antique malls/ebay/etc but be away the quality of the feathers is going to be varied due to age.) 

But here's the deal - this is not the easiest or the only way to get that powder on your head. The powder puff is great for finishing your hair style on your own (like with that final application of powder after your hair has been dressed), but when it comes to trying to powder your hair or wig in the back, etc, it's not all that easy to use a puff. Personally, in my opinion, using a shaker is the easiest way to apply powder to your whole head. (Also - I'm biased because I came up with this idea on my own, only to later have it validated by primary sources *hair flip of accomplishment*.)

Lady Drudger going to Ranelagh, 1772, Lewis Walpole Digital Collection

The Lovely Sacarissa dressing for the Pantheon, 1773,  British Museum 
So yeah, these are variations of the same image, that's normal in the 18th century - but aren't they fabulous?! 

Now, here's the deal - the historically correct option for a hair powder shaker is going to be made out of tin, with a handle and a fine mesh sieve for the top (this is to help ensure that only the finest powder comes out - you don't want it clumpy - the powder needs to be "fine as snow"). So when it comes to buying a powdered sugar shaker to use for your 18th century hair powder, the ones with the holes are easiest to find, but obviously they're not going to prevent clumping as easily as a mesh shaker. I have bought my shakers up until this point...but when we were going to Rufflecon this past weekend, I realized that I didn't have my very expensive shaker from Williams & Sonoma with me in Reno (I was so desperate - it was ungodly expensive. Don't make my mistakes). 

When a shopping trip to all the big box stores gave me nada - I decided to get crafty & make my own. It was so quick, cheap & easy, that now I want to share with ya'll how I did it - Here we go!

NOTE: The use of a Mason/Bell jar is NOT - I repeat - NOT historically accurate. If you wish to use/make one for hairdressing do NOT use it in front of the public. This is NOT an interpretation tool. It is for private use in your bathroom. Kapeesh?! Cool.

Materials: 1. Mason/Bell Jar in the "Jam" size (I got blue cause I'm festive) 2. Wire Mesh (This came from one of those sink drain strainers in the kitchen section, you could also use window screen mesh from the hardware store, or whatever tickles your fancy so long as it's a wire mesh.) 3. Wire cutters 4. Sharpie.

Use the lid of the jar as your pattern. Lay it on top of the wire mesh and trace the pattern using a medium/large felt tip marker. It will be a bit hard to see so it's ok to make the mark thick. 

Look at me being economical in my patterning & cutting. *high five*

Using the wire cutter - carefully nip the wire around the outside edge of the mark. Don't worry if it's not exact, but try and follow the line as best as you can. The mesh can be a bit wiggly so don't worry if it stretches or compresses. 


Now it's time to add it to the screw-top-ring-thing part of the jar (what is that part called?)

Just pop it into place and push the edges into the top of the ring. If the mesh came out a bit big - you will see that you can just push the mesh up and it will create a dome shape. See? No problems. 

Double Boom.

Now you can add your powder and go crazy. POWDER ALL THE THINGS!!!! (Is it weird that I'm now craving French Toast?)

But wait! There's more! Don't forget the seal lid. Pop that sucker on.

And then add the ring back on top & guess what?

You got damn better security for storage/traveling than you do with those dinky plastic "lids" of the overpriced powder sugar shakers you buy at the store.

And that my friends - is how to save some $$ and feel accomplished in your craftiness in about 10 minutes. :)

Real Quick - The hair powder in my jar is my own, that I make. It's made mostly out of wheat starch (btw - wheat starch is not flour) which was the most common way that hair powder was made in the 18th century. If you want to do a super fast DIY & you don't want to drop money on wheat starch (cause it's hard to find & expensive) Corn/Potato/Rice starch will do fine - they have a similar feel to them (I've experimented a lot...) but unless you're doing a specific impression where you know flour was used - don't use it. Ok? It's too coarse & unrefined (name that Disney Tune!), and it will not behave the same way that a starch would. 

<3 <3

Monday, October 17, 2016

Spotlight: New "Londoner" Edwardian Oxfords

Lauren here -

This month we're celebrating the new Fall/Winter styles we've opened for pre-order all at once. Each week we're taking a closer look at each style, the inspiration and research behind it, and how we made our version.

This week the focus is on the "Londoner" oxfords. I'll just say right now that I'm madly in love with these (you may think I say this about all our shoes, but truly, these oxfords hold a special place in my heart). And for the first time for our regular product range, we've done some really interesting colors.

For the past several years, we've been wanting to do an Edwardian oxford. This is a style that I've been asked for by many people many times, so there was no better time to get it going than for this Fall and Winter season.

Londoner Oxfords in Cherry (left) and Tan (right)
The Londoners are based on a great many early 20th century women's oxfords. *A great many.* Women's fashion for this period is heavily influenced by menswear, with tailor mades and work clothes, sharp details and clean lines, paper collars, neckties, and the footwear to complement. Ladies' oxford shoes featured stacked leather heels, pointed toes, and broguing, and were worn by all social classes. We have several pairs of women's oxfords in our study archive, and museum collections are also full of them.

An original pair of women's Edwardian oxfords. Click through to see how these looked when they came to us....
In designing our version, I wanted to use the Gibson last and heel shape for comfort and stability, and the broguing was a must. I spec'd the design for ivory and black, and these were the first prototypes:

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz - the first prototypes for the Londoner in ivory and black. Uninspiring.
Hrm. How boring. What was in my head wasn't quite translating, so it was time to try something different.

What was it about the original oxfords that made them so cool? The design with all that broguing was pretty cool, but perhaps just as important was the patina. The antique oxfords were dimensional and came in all kinds of interesting colors, like deep dark red and burled tan.

Pair of Shoes, 1910-1914, Victorian and Albert Museum
Oxford, 1900-1919, Shoe Icons Museum
Oxford, 1914-19, Pierre Yantorny, The Met Museum
Shoe, 1910-14, Victorian and Albert Museum
Pair of Shoes, c. 1900, Victorian and Albert Museum
Shoe, 1910-14, Victorian and Albert Museum
This brought to mind some beautiful finishes I'd been seeing on men's classic oxfords lately, so we decided to give something like this a try. The result was a deep "cherry" cordovan finished in black, and a burled "whiskey" tan deepening to a darker brown, both with stacked leather heels and good sturdy leather soles.

"Londoner" Edwardian Oxfords in Cherry (left) and Tan (right) with two-tone ombre effects on the toes, heels, and broguing. Each of these is hand-finished and polished.
SO much better than the plain black and ivory, and I'm glad to see you gals feel the same. So far in the pre-order the "Londoner" in cherry has been the most popular, followed closely by the tan colorway. I know you are going to love them when they arrive!

Pre-Order for "Londoner" and all the new Fall/Winter styles is open through November 1st for $20 off per pair, plus nice combo deals on accessories and shoe care products. USA orders over $165 get free shipping as well. :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

New York, New York!

Today we are in New York City!


Although Abby has been here three times, Lauren has never been, so it's quite the experience. We're not at loose ends, though. Our three days are busy with all manner of fun thing, from seeing the dapper Dandy Wellington perform live jazz, to having a little pop-up shoe-showing party (do come if you're in the area!), to meeting The Vintage Voyageur, to perusing The Met, to checking out Slapback and other vintage shops, to seeing Dangerous Liaisons on Broadway (omg!), we are busy busy busy!

We just wanted to drop in an say hello before pulling on our spectator shoes and touring The Big Apple. We'll have lots of photos and fun to share with you here and on our Facebook page. For now, wish us luck (especially Lauren) in our NYC adventures.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rufflecon 2016!!!

Hello lovelies!

Lauren and I are currently off on a new adventure together - first was China & now we're off to Stamford, Connecticut for Rufflecon! (this is the part where I do that echo thing that people always do - "con..con...con...")

That's right ---- Lauren and I are travelling again. 1 month after China. We're just now starting to get over our China jet lag, and we're jetting off to NYC for a week.

We might have lost our minds. They're probably somewhere over Nebraska right now (Hi, Nicole!)

But hey, we're here, we're moving & a shakin' and we're excited to see what Rufflecon has in store for us. Neither one of us has ever been, but we're quite looking forward to the experience!

So here are the classes we're teaching -

Basic 18th century draping - I'll be demo-ing how to cut a bodice shape on Lauren for the class & taking questions from the audience.

How Not to Drape.

Outlander Hacks - Lauren will be presenting the same lecture she did for Costume College for the Rufflecon Crowd. The Ruffle-cap of Doom will probably be making an appearance. (Bahahah - it's punny - get it?)
All the Outlander. All the time.
Miss Fisher's Wardrobe - Again a repeat of Lauren's from Costume College & something that she blogged about right here.

All that Miss Fisher Goodness right here kids.

And finally, a new one for Lauren & I -

1780 vs 1880 aka "The Strip Off" - I'll be wearing my 1780 Levite gown & Lauren will be in her 1880s gown and we'll be picking off our layers bit by bit and discussing the differences & similarities between the pieces until we get down to our underwear. Thus - thanks to the randomness that are our Facebook Livestreams, we have dubbed this class the Strip Off. It'll probably be making it's way to a Facebook Livestream near you. Soon - ish..

You're welcome, Jaime. 

So on top of the 4 classes, we're also participating in a Fashion Show & "Couture Showcase" which will give Lauren a chance to talk about her design process for the shoes & how they're created, etc. I'll probably just be there for comedic relief.

It's going to be a hell of a weekend - that's for sure!

After the Con of Ruffles we will be spending a few days in NYC! Lauren's never been before & so we're hoping to make good use of our time in the City. Stay tuned into our Facebook & Instagram bot for Royal Vintage & American Duchess for regular updates and pics from our trip! We'll also blog about all of it once we're back & recovered. Again. :)

Alright - Till next time lovelies!

<3 <3