Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter Blues? Not here!

So where have I been these past several weeks?

When this blog started, back 2009, a couple of us were working together to keep Clermont's blog updated about every week.  Through staff changes, we've whittled it down to just me, and lately I haven't been quite up to snuff!

Things look quiet around Clermont in the winter.  The river is full of ice, the deer are left to themselves to forage in the fields, and the occasional dog walker braves the cold.  Although the grounds are open, the mansion is closed for tours, and we may look sleepy to an outsider.

But inside things are bustling with life.  We are thinking of our spring and summer events: booking entertainers, searching for new demonstrators, and thinking of cool new ideas.  And this year, I am administering two new winter events in partnership with other organizations.

 The first is happening on February 23rd from 2-4pm, and we are working with an historic hotel in nearby Germantown, NY to offer the Out of Time Fashion ShowCentral House Hotel has been kind enough to donate the use of their events space for us to present one of our more ambitious costumed events yet.  In order to present a reasonably complete picture of women's fashions for a period of almost 200 years, I have gathered not only every single high-quality reproduction costume that Clermont owns, but also several neighboring and distant museums, including Schuyler Mansion and Lorenzo, as well as possibly Fort Ontario six hours away!  A friend from Peter Wentz Farmstead in Pennsylvania has even committed some of her costumes to our show.

I've even squeezed in a little time to generate to some new costumes and accessories (seen at right).  I'm obsessed with the new historic fashion plates blog I just discovered: Dames a la Mode for this process.  And while I'm stuff bum rolls, I've also been checking out this little gem on Demode.

 In addition to gathering up this wide assortment of museum-quality reproductions, I've been creating the narrative that I will be reading while the ladies are showing off their stuff.  A focus on the gradual change in silhouettes will guide me--although I can't help highlighting some of the cool accessories and special touches--like the short Spencer jacket shown next to its 1811 fashion plate inspiration above.

All of this effort, in addition to providing a fun winter program, is to raise money for new costumes that will be used in our 1st person interpretation programs.  For instance, I am hungering for a pair of green 1800-era shoes to match that gown and Spencer up at right.  Filling out our existing costumes with increasingly-accurate details can only improve our future presentations--especially the Legends by Candlelight Ghost Tours!

The second winter event that's been keeping me away from my blogging duties is the Formally Invited Early 19th Century Tea Party on Saturday, March 16th from 2-4pm.  I'm working with Columbia County Historical Society who has--as luck would have it--an absolutely mouth-watering 1810s mansion in the picturesque village of Kinderhook.  The best part of this for us is that the Vanderpoel house (seen at right and above) is unfurnished, making it ideal for 50 or so well-dressed Jane Austen lovers to get together for English country dancing dancing, historically-inspired treats, and to play a round of whist.

Oh yes.  I said well dressed.  Although it's not required, if you have a Regency gown in your closet that you've just been aching for a chance to wear, this is the place, and this is the time.  If you just like to look at other people's very cool Jane Austen-inspired gowns, it's still the place and time.  You know you're curious. 

This event was inspired by both the beautiful 1824 image at left of an evening tea party and a description young Peggy Shippen's 1780s evening tea party.  Not to mention the fact that I just found out that 2013 is the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." 

So while Columbia County Historical Society is furiously researching historic food and food presentation, Clermont (me) is finding historically-appropriate gowns in which to dress staff, booking music, and finding other little details that will make this a fabulous evening. 

Tickets for this event are available to the public not, and we do encourage reservations.  Call (518) 758-9265 to get yours right away!

So there you have it.  I may look lazy on the outside, but behind Clermont's winterized front door has been a wild flurry of activity.  Don't let appearances fool you--Clermont is a hive of activity.  So if I haven't been able to update you with scintillating Livingston scandals and devastatingly-beautiful Clermont artifacts, you'll have to excuse me.  I promise I'm not slacking off.

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