Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Blast from the Past: A Pleasing Silhouette

[I originally posted this on June 28, 2013. Ironically, we are having just as cool and rainy a summer, even though I am now in Western Washington, and temperatures just recently shot up! Hope your summer weather is more moderate!]

Has your summer started oddly? Ours has. Normally we are at a sunny 90 degrees F by now in Eastern Washington, but we’ve rarely topped 70 and it’s been raining! Now I’m told we’ll jump to the triple digits by Monday. That’s not really conducive to summer activities either. So what would a young lady do in the early nineteenth century to pass the time?  She might have drawn a silhouette.

There's something elegant about a silhouette, as if the person’s character shines through when details are kept simple. Creating a proper silhouette, an outline of a person’s head and perhaps shoulders, was both a pleasant evening activity for friends and family and a lucrative business for some talented artists. The very best silhouette makers could look at a person and cut directly on black paper to match features. Some silhouettes were incredibly detailed, showing curls within hairstyles and even eyelashes. 

For those more inclined to do it themselves, whether from limited funds or a spirit of adventure, silhouettes could be created at home. All that was needed was a piece of pale paper either tacked to the wall or affixed in a screen and a source of light such as a candle or fire. The subject sits between the light and the paper, and an enterprising friend or family member traces around the lines made by the shadow cast on the paper. Once the shape was cut from the paper, you could either put the white silhouette on black paper, or trace around it on black paper and put the transferred silhouette on white paper.

While silhouettes are becoming a lost art, you can still find artists at country fairs, popular shopping malls, and entertainment venues.  This silhouette is of me when I was a baby. 

This one is of my husband when he was a boy. 

This is one of our youngest son, who is obviously a silhouette, er chip off the old block. [Update for 2022--Hard to believe he’ll be getting married in July!]

May you always create a pleasing silhouette!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Regency Fabrics, Part 35

Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics.

As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like.


Today’s four samples are from the November 1809 issue of Ackermann’s Repository—a recent acquisition! The overall condition of my copy is very good: the page has been trimmed a little close on the sides and is rather darkly toned but not otherwise damaged, and all four fabric samples are present and in good condition, if a little creased in places.

Here we go!

No. 1. A fret-work striped muslin, particularly adapted for gowns, robes, and pelisses. This article is confined to no absolute order of costume, but is equally adapted to the morning, or half dress;though perhaps it more immediately belongs to the former; yet we have seen the simple French frock, buttoned or laced up the back with biassed bosom and short sleeve, formed of this material; and with ornaments of variegated gems, it forms, at once, a dress unobtrusively neat and attractive. It is sold by Messrs. Waithman and Everington, No. 104, Fleet-street, at 4s. 3d. per yard.

My comments: Well, this is interesting. Examining the fabric (a very fine, sheer muslin, definitely designed to be made up with a lining) I thought it looked rather odd—the stripes have these little blobs of thread that are rather untidy and not very attractive. Then I carefully looked at the backside of the sample, and it suddenly made more sense: the stripes are much more regular and even (not to mention attractive.) Could it be that whoever glued in the samples put this one in backward?

 

No. 2. The Arabian Jubilee silk; the most rich and beautiful article which has ever been introduced in the line of full dress. We may fairly commend the taste and invention of the manufacturer of this most splendid article, which is at once both unique and elegant. We need say little to our fair correspondents by way of recommending it to their notice; its attraction is sufficiently striking to the eye of taste, and we venture to predict, that it will be a reigning favourite with the superior order of fashionables during the winter. It is sold by Mr. D. Hodges, No. 12, Henrietta-street, Covent-garden.

My comments: Ah, merchandising; Mr. Hodges was clearly trying to take advantage of George III’s Jubilee celebrations to sell merchandise. It is lovely stuff, though the scan is not doing it full justice—very fluid and shiny (it is silk, after all) in a warm corn-gold, and would make a beautiful evening dress.

 

No. 3. An imperial green shawl print, of the most novel introduction, and which is expected to rank high on the list of winter fashions, as there are considerable quantities preparing at the different manufactories. The pattern is strikingly delicate, and the colours agreeably contrasted; the warm glow of the bright yellow being a seasonable opposition to the cooler shade of the yet lively green. For the more humble order of home costume, morning wraps, or high gowns, this animated article is particularly adapted; and, we doubt not, will be purchased with avidity by females of taste. This print is also sold by Messrs. Waithman and Everington, No. 104, Fleet-street, at 4s. per yard.

My comments: This is cheerful stuff! I like the print atop the twill-weave stripe, though I’m still trying to figure out if it’s supposed to be a floral or just an insouciant little doodle. There has been fading—the green on the reverse is much brighter and livelier. The body of the fabric is light and drape-y, but perfectly opaque.

 

No.4 is a chintz kerseymere for gentlemens’ waistcoats, and displays much appropriate taste and liveliness of invention. There is little need of remark on this article, except to point out the agreeable contrast which waistcoats of this kerseymere, will form to the dark shades of winter coats. It is sold by Messrs. Smith and Co. No. 2 Prince’s-street, Leicester-square, price 16s.

My comments: I’m not entirely sure where the “chintz” in the description comes in; this fabric is like a thick twill (hard to see in the image, but it’s definitely a twill) that has been brushed to a felt-like consistency, not polished and glazed like a twill. It is definitely suitable for a toasty-warm winter-season waistcoat, being quite sturdy and impervious to chill winds.

What do you think of this month’s fabrics? I wouldn't mind one in the Jubilee silk, myself...

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Romancing the Rogue

I’m having such fun delving back into my Fortune’s Brides world, and so are readers! This week, the third book in Fortune’s Brides: The Wedding Vow, launches, with a heroine who is young, but I hope, delightful. Here's a little about Never Romance a Rogue:

No one has ever refused a request from Lady Belle Dryden. Her pretty face and winsome nature almost guarantee it, and the fact that she’s the youngest daughter of the Duke of Wey doesn’t hurt. So she’s certain when she plays matchmaker between her dearest friend, Miss Petunia Bateman, and the charming, mysterious Owen Canady, both will be only too happy to fall in love. After all, Belle feels herself falling for Owen already. A shame a duke’s daughter must marry someone more impressive.

Owen Canady is a gentleman by birth, a pauper by circumstance, and a con man by necessity. Life has taught him he can rely only on his wits and a fast horse to get by. But when he is blackmailed into ferreting out the secrets of the Duke of Wey at a house party at the duke’s lavish estate, he finds his resolve crumbling. Belle is everything that is right and good in the world. He cannot betray her.

As her father’s enemies grow more daring, Belle and Owen must work together to protect all they hold dear. When his own secrets are revealed, can Owen convince the lady who’s never heard no to say yes to him?

Hott Book Reviews gave it an A+. “Wow! I loved Never Romance a Rogue. I can’t wait until the next one!”

You can find it in print and ebook at fine online retailers:

Smashwords 

Amazon 

Barnes and Noble 

Kobo  

Apple Books 

Book Depository (free shipping worldwide) 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand…Insults?


The Ladies of Almack’s are back again with a sojourn into the art world with The Cursed Canvases.

In this installment, the Lady Patronesses are trying to discover who is vandalizing the pictures at this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, in the process uncovering a scandalous personal vendetta dating back nearly twenty years. Meanwhile, Annabel gains a very eligible suitor in Lord Glenrick, brother of one of her fellow Lady Patronesses and son and heir of the Duke of Carrick—but she’s not quite sure he’s the suitor she’d prefer.

Researching this story was a lot of fun. Ackermann’s Repository always devoted many pages to reviews of several of the works in each year’s exhibition, and at times they could only be described as exquisitely supercilious (or, dare I say it, downright bitchy.) But this gave me a good handle for the type of subjects that were painted and how pictures were named, and I’m rather pleased with the result. Also, the relationship between Annabel and Lord Quinceton is beginning to reach an interesting place…

The Cursed Canvases can be purchased directly from the publisher, Book View Café, in both EPUB and MOBI formats as well as from all the usual online bookstore outlets. Print versions can be found at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Book View Cafe

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Kobo

Smashwords

Apple


Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Guest Post: Ballooning and the Lunardi Craze, by Shelley Adina

Nineteen Teen is delighted to welcome back Shelley Adina, author extraordinaire and Regina's co-author on the Regent's Devices series, for a discussion of ... balloon fashion. Yes, really!

Balloon flight at once intrigues and terrifies me. I’ve been up in a Zeppelin airship, but that was much more exciting than frightening. The technology probably gave me a false sense of security, with its cockpit, two pilots, and propellers galore. Going up in a balloon with only a fire to heat the air and a wicker basket between me and death makes me want to adhere most positively to the ground!

Balloon flight was not invented during the Regency, but in France by the Montgolfier brothers. They had been experimenting with ascents for some time, but achieved the first free-floating manned flight in 1783. As little as a year later, a positive craze for hot-air ballooning had spread to England, where in London “the daredevil aeronaut,” Vincenzo Lunardi, went aloft with a dog, a cat, and a pigeon in a cage. (It is not clear what purpose these companions were to serve.)

As often happens, novelty and massive, fascinated crowds combined to inspire a fashion craze. Balloons might become part of one’s gown, one image showing them on the sides like external panniers, in place of the usual drawn-up outer gown. The caption in French reads, “The coquettish physicist.” And the hats! In the coquettish physicist’s hair is fixed a base that looks like a fairground, the balloon floating up out of it.  

These mad embellishments were not restricted to women—-men wore clothes with decorative homages to the new fad. One drawing of a man wearing rigging similar to that on the top of a balloon says in French, “The man of balloons, or, the folly of the day,”  A creative woman might embroider her gown’s fabric with balloons, or paint its cotton panels.


Like many fads, something that was meant to be highly visible but not very comfortable didn’t last long. The hat lasted the longest, but not the kind with actual balloons ascending from it. The Lunardi bonnet is seen in a painting dated 1782. This style lasted well into the Regency, and is fetchingly worn by Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood and Gemma Jones as Mrs Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995). Want your own Lunardi bonnet? A very nice version is available on Etsy!

Resources:

https://www.janeausten.co.uk/british-ballooning/

http://ultimatehistoryproject.com/flying-fashion.html

https://nineteenteen.blogspot.com/search?q=balloon