Monday, July 11, 2011

The 2011 Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove, Louisville

Jenni Miller, on right, and myself.
Image courtesy Sarah Jane Meister.
Behatted, begrimed, and behappy, I was writing this still in my Morning ensemble, straight after getting home yesterday. Curte called to say he had the boys at Spindletop swimming, and gave me the evening off, sweet man! I had expected to come straight home and step right in to dinner and bedtime chores. It was such a good trip that I couldn't help writing immediately. It was the first night away on my own with friends in several years; what fun!

As always, please click on the pictures to see larger views.

Jenni and Carson Miller.
This year's Jane Austen Festival was the best yet. Well organized, good events to attend; even if insurance cancelled the archery contest and side-saddle riding demonstration, we could still witness a duel and learn how these things went off and why, watch Nora make fine lace -- and I mean reseau-based net lace with over 150 pins and goodness knows how many bobbins going at once -- enjoy an excellent afternoon tea, well made, with pots of five different kinds of properly brewed tea going round continually, wander the gardens, listen to lectures and shows, talk costume shop -- and best of all, meet friends old and new.

How nice to finally hug Sarah Jane, with whom I've corresponded and whose blog I've read for what, three or four years now, and to meet part of her family into the bargain.  To Sharon, Julie R. Deanna, Hannah, Maria, Kathy, and Nora, to Capt. and Mrs. May and the Doctor and Miss Waterman, to the kind JASNA volunteers with whom I worked Sunday afternoon and promptly forgot your names because I didn't want to forget how to handle a credit card, and to everyone whose name I leave off unfortunately through bad memory and I hope you'll forgive me for it, thank you. What a very nice time.

I only wish I had more pictures of you all as mementos. The camera was buried in my sewing bag,  and so bulky and modern it was hard to pull out with so many visitors watching. Besides, the darn flash was off, and the pictures I took were very poor quality, so poor it's hard to make out faces. So most images in this post are courtesy Sarah Jane Meister and Jenni Miller.

A domestic moment. Sarah Jane Meister with her son, Malachi,
and Jenni.

A weekend of gallantry and wit. Jenni accepts a bow from her husband. Carson has a gentle sense of humor.

An Unfortunate Incident That Ends Well

Jenni displays her fan, self-painted, to Maria Clemmons and me.
Saturday afternoon brought brutal heat. While Locust Grove itself is placed in a both beautiful  and practical position at the crest of a series of tiny rumpled rises and hills so that it catches available breezes and is shaded by a true park, Louisville as a whole is spread flat like the Ohio River mud that most likely underlies it, and summer heat lays down an uncomfortable and unhealthy blanket right on top. The little hilltop wasn't enough to escape yesterday's blanket, and even beneath the trees, we braised underneath it until overdone.

Polly and I, with Locust Grove in the background.
Polly is wearing her block
Print open robe ensemble
and her new bonnet, prettily
At one point, feeling faint under an unbearably hot tent, I wandered over to a blanket where some picnickers were lounging and, recognizing several of them by sight, we made introductions; you may recognize Miss Waterman, Capt. May and his wife from Miss Waterman's blog, which is such fun to read. We were just getting started when, had there been no blanket and an excuse to sit, I'd have slid, bump, into a dead faint, a minute or two later. I am very grateful for their help and care, for had I fully gone under that awful black wave that starts at the top of your head and travels downward, blocking light and life like drowning, but upside down, it it would've have been a message to Curte and homeward bound for me.

Captain and Mrs. May picnic. Both were saviors.
Image courtesy Jenni Miller.

Did you know that a cold drink placed on the carotid artery on the side of your neck will cool your blood, and that a wetted handkerchief on the back of your neck is wonderfully cooling and comforting, and that the effect lasts so long as there is water to evaporate in it? Important things to remember, wherever you are in the heat.

What on earth do I smell? Or is it pride?
I am prejudiced against this photo,
but find it funny and apt. Image courtesy sarah Jane Meister. 

Anyhow, the Doctor and Capt. May escorted me to a cooler spot, and after about a half an hour, I was well enough to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Thank you again; you all of you were very kind and a pleasure to get to know. So sorry to hear too that you, Miss Waterman, and your mother too, were next to fall prey to the heat. What an afternoon!

A Second Unfortunate Series of Incidents, Also Well Ended...What a Ball!

Miss Waterman looks on
from a gallery. Her kindness,
along with her fan, had
saved me from fainting
earlier in the day.
Image courtesy Jenni Miller.
The gods weren't through with us yet. I had booked two friends, Polly and Sharon, and I a suite at a local B&B --  it was to be a special treat.  It won't do to go into details, but our arrival was so unpleasant and the room not as advertised, that none of the three of us felt safe and we left. I've never had such an experience before and hope not to again; thinking about it is upsetting.

But wait, there's more. The B&B incident cost us over two hours of time before the ball -- time to find new lodging and multiple lengthy phone calls with the credit card company to contest the charge -- and on the way to the ball Polly and I got lost in a largely deserted and iffy part of Louisville, before finding the ballroom, 45 minutes before it ended. And immediately relost ourselves going home afterwards.

Once again, I am grateful for friends, for dinner with Polly and Sharon was delightful and relaxing, and the ball, if short for us and undanceable for me -- too, too tight shoes, ouch! -- was so pretty to watch and to listen to, that it all was worth it.
This image of the ball is too bright. It was far more
softly lit.

Spalding University has just the ballroom for a Regency Assembly:  very high ceilings, springy wood floor, multiple chandeliers with a soft yellow glow, and best of all, banks of enormous windows on one wall with a city view and second-floor galleries (!) on two sides with candle-lit tables (!) from which to watch several hundred (!) dancers below, and some of my favorite, lyrical dance tunes in the world, live! The JASNA volunteers had taken full advantage of the opportunity, and it was decorated with magnolia -- oh, the scent! So what if the air was a little warm? It was really, really neat.

Jenni and Carson, ready for the ball.
Image courtesy Sarah Jane Meister.
Here, at the very end, a lone, lorn image of a very tired woman and her fresher friend, or fresher looking, anyhow. Later I heard she had suffered a terrible headache. This is the only image available, so far, of my ball ensemble. It was almost 10:30, and the day's events had done their work to a 47-year-old face, but let's ignore the tired stare and deeply carven eyes, for there is the ball ensemble on which bits and tads of evenings and tips and tots of other moments have been spent.

The almost-ghost and her friend.
Image courtesy Sarah Jane Meister.

The gown is last year's creation, with the addition of that lace, and a fresh silk and cotton voile petticoat, which I embroidered in goldwork and paste (vintage chaton rose rhinestones) sprigs, and bullion fringe, also vintage.

It is worn with a self fabric belt with an Edwardian-era buckle studded with cut steel and a full headdress consisting of a spangled chiffonet, now known as a wrap, to match, closed with a vintage pearl and steel brooch and two ostrich feathers, one of which is in the process of falling off. At the neck, the requisite large beads. On the hands, faux silk white gloves. In the hands, the day's spangled reticule, and a new fan, which I painted in gold in an Adamesque design. The shoes? Nice leather with very high toes and low heels..sadly not Louis style, and painfully tight. Well, they were free.

Next time, details on the ensembles and how they were achieved.


MrsC said...

Well from one (almost) 47 year old to another, I think you looked great, and I love your petticoat. What a day! But all that white silk makes a gal look fresh as a daisy :)
Isn't dressing up just the peach! I am so pleased I've discovered it, albeit a bit later than most :)

Kleidung um 1800 said...

I thouroughly enjoyed your photos - thank you soooo much for taking us with you on an armchair travel through the continents and times!!!
You all looked stunning (...and I've already admired various photos from the event circulating on the net)!
I'm so happy for you that you've had such a wonderful and also inspiring weekend! Hopefully new costume adventures are in the planning;)
Can't wait to read further details!

ZipZip said...

Dear Mrs. C. and Sabine,

Fresh as a daisy? Well, that's appreciated, and no mistake. Hooray for 47. It's a good year.

What would be most magnificent is all of us getting together. Meeting everyone else, I missed you all.

Plans? Oh yes, inspiration aplenty. Next project, for fall-winter, a 1794 peplumed jacket with a gathered front: Julie Rockhold made and wore a mockup and we talked about my making something along similar lines. I am going to experiment with Abby's nifty all-in-one stitch she saw in England to sew it. See Stay-ing Alive for that.



MrsSM said...

I found myself here from the Sense and Sensibility board--I thoroughly enjoyed the details of your weekend and am looking forward to even more:)!

I know that I and (most) of my family would enjoy an event like this--it is really a lot of fun to see how it's done in Louisville!

Thank you so much!


ZipZip said...

Dear Krista,
Glad you enjoyed your visit to the blog! If you have a JASNA chapter nearish to you, perhaps you all might put an event on; they are a great deal of fun and there is much to learn.
Very best, and see you on S&S,

E. Waterman said...

My Dearest Natalie;

It was the pleasure of my weekend to make your acquaintance and to converse with you; when I could of course for I am sure you well understand I was pulled in approximately 400 different directions at any given time! I sincerely hope that our conversations may continue as often as they can, and our general acquaintance may blossom into a sincere friendship.

With Warmest Affections,
Miss Waterman

ZipZip said...

Dear Miss Waterman,
Indeed, your kind words I reciprocate entirely and will enjoy any opportunity to speak with and to write to you. It will be a great pleasure -- oh dear, both boys have exclaimed Bullseye! -- indoors -- and I fear what that may mean. So I close in haste,

Also with warmest affection,
Mrs. Natalie Ferguson

An Historical Lady said...

I so enjoyed reading of your weekend adventure, and seeing your beautiful photos. I too have been at many a period reenactment in beastly heat, (once 104 deagrees, in stays and wool---not a pretty combination!)
I also have had one instance of almost-fainting from the stifling heat and having to be led off Boston Common into a cool Starbucks!

You look amazing, and perfection itself! It sounds like a wonderful weekend, despite the snafu's!

ZipZip said...

Dear Mary,
Stays and wool? Ooph, that sounds like a perfect fainting ensemble, given the right weather. Glad we've all weathered these episodes.

Thank you for the kind notes,

Very best,

Anonymous said...

My dearest Natalie,

What an event! What an ensemble! I do wish there were more photos, but it looks and sounds to have been quite lovely (fainting spells and horrid B&Bs aside.)

How fun to a be a part of something like this. It was sweet of Mr. Curte to give you some decompression time at the end.


ZipZip said...

Dear Julie,
Yes, Mr. Curte is as kind as they come:}
There are a few more photos on Romantic History's blog 9 and Living with Jane's blog ( and The Doctor in Mourning ( If you haven't seen them yet, enjoy!

Very best,