Saturday, July 30, 2011


Howdy Strangers.

It's been a while since I've wrote. What can I say? I've had other things going on and, to be frank, I just have felt no desire whatsoever to blog. I'm going through a very angsty blog phase at the moment and I am having a really hard time even writing this. I have a recap of the Burnley and Trowbrige Gown workshop from last week too, that should be picture heavy. I'll write that, maybe, tomorrow...better be tomorrow as once Monday hits, I'll be distracted with excuses to not write on the blog.

Some of the reasons I've been absent have been explained on the blog already. I am almost always sewing. I sew, by hand, 8 hours a day on 17th century doublets (I just spent 3 days sewing button holes, for example.) Brooke is in town and since she loves me (and I love her) she's draped me a few things and is working with me on some clothing. Which I will be sharing with you when it is constructed. It's a surprise and I can promise you, you've never seen it & that it will be fabulous.

Another reason is that the past 2.5 weeks F has been visiting from Sweden. So I've, obviously, devoted all my time to him. He left last week and since then it has been working, workshoping, and working. Today has been my first day "off". I went and saw Harry Potter by myself, it was glorious.

Next time I blog, it will hopefully be happier....well it will be, because there are some hilarious pictures I'm going to post for your lol-ing pleasure.

I also hope that I'll be able to go back to blogging as normal and not go over a month without writing. I will finally have things I can blog about, and hopefully they will be drama free.

I really really hate drama.

I really really like cookies.

And inverted back pleats with stripes.

<3 <3

Next time on Stay-ing Alive: The Burnley and Trowbridge English Gown recap, with pictures! Yay! Pictures!

[Edit: Everything is resolved now. :) ]


Cynthia Griffith said...

Sorry to hear about what happened :( Honestly, I found your entries fascinating, but I would never use baleen. I like plastic cable ties! It was just interesting to see the process.

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

I read the lengthy posting discussing you anonymously. This being such a small community it was not hard to guess whom she was speaking of. I have to say I have no objection to your use of baleen. I thought you explained your position and the circumstances surrounding your acquisition with respect for the product and the original stay-makers. I really enjoyed your post and found it extremely educational. I think the other blogger may have let her feelings about the use of baleen cloud her judgement of what you were trying to do. We all know that baleen was used but now because of you I have gained a better understanding how hard and how long the process was. I will never be able to invest that much time and work using the baleen myself, but I appreciate the insight your efforts and research have given me. I think the old professions/crafts need to be practice even the distasteful ones (in small numbers). It gives a valuable understanding from a research standpoint. Thank you Abby for your time and willingness to put yourself out there to be criticized. Some of us lurkers (like me) really appreciate your work.

ColeV said...

I like cookies and inverted back pleats, too!

Lauren R said...

Well said.

Mimic of Modes said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the drama. There's something about discussing boning and stating one's own preferences that brings out the beast in most of us - and introducing questions of legality and such into the mix must make things even more fraught. It's still terribly unfair, of course, especially since your post on the ethics of baleen was so thoughtful and balanced.

I hope this doesn't put you off blogging for too long. I'm so jealous that you get to work at Colonial Williamsburg while I plead with museums to hire me, and I love reading about it!

viennabelle said...

Please know that there are lots of us who enjoy your posts--you do a wonderful job explaining material culture of clothing (like the weird running stitch thingie). I think judgmental reactions really fail to take in the whole scope-of your blog and of the situation, that, as you pointed out earlier, is a far more complicated situation. Thanks for getting us thinking about that... said...

I'm so sorry to hear about that incident! I wanted you to know that your talk at the CSA conference inspired me to start my blog. I look forward to more posts, pictures and details about your costumes. : )

Summer said...

Drama sucks, especially public drama. ugh. I hope it's done soon too :)

Glad you got to see your fella! And a friend, a sewing friend no less. I'm jealous on both counts ;)

The Choll said...

I've enjoyed your blog for about a year and followed with interest your decision to use baleen in your new stays. The purpose of living history is to investigate and implement the known components and aspects of the people whose way of life you wish to understand. There is no better way to learn nor to teach others. Authenticity is important. It DOES make a difference. There are many aspects of history to make one uncomfortable. The treatment of other human beings as well as animals has endured vicissitudes of public awareness and activism over the centuries. It is hard to imagine the wholesale acceptance of human bondage that was once a defining way of life to many civilizations (for just one example) but it is an indelible part of the history of nearly every society. Many living history sites and museums feel pressure to sublimate such representations in fear of arousing anger, pain or fear in their communities. Yet it would be offensive to the lives of the people who endured enforced servitude to be "forgotten" in the name of historical gentrification. Using baleen in authentic, professional interpretive clothing is another manifestation of the desire to accurately portray life in a different time. While the lives of humans who lived and died in slavery are significantly more important than an issue of appropriate dress, the bottom line is the honest portrayal of the past. It may be unpalatable to some to face such a notion, but your intention is to respectfully present the truth and that ultimately should resolve this discussion.

Mimic of Modes said...

Also, I just wanted to add - I went back through your posts to find the original one that kicked off the discussion, and I have to say that I'm much, much more offended that someone compared the murder of Jews and other "undesirables" at Auschwitz to whale-hunting. Seriously, that comparison is so much worse than even, IMO, using illegally-obtained baleen would be. It's just ... beyond wrong.

Lauren said...

Argh..... I support you and what you have said. People can be ridiculous. Good for you for standing your ground :D

Rowenna said...

Abby--I'm so sorry. Nothing gives me a deeper, ickier pit in my stomach than realizing I'm going to have to deal with drama. Disagreement is one thing--handled properly, it leads to great discussion. But underhanded or passive-aggressive stuff....argh. Eat some cookies. They're the best cure.

Abby said...


Thank you so very much for your kindness and support. It has meant a great deal to me. I have loved all of the interesting and thought provoking comments. Also, that the goal of educating has come through. Thank you so so much, again. I can't respond to everybody, but they are all fabulous! And I agree with everyone on here. :)

Anon- Thank you specifically for coming out of lurkehood to comment! I'm glad that you are enjoying my blog and what I am trying to do.

Sew18thCentury- Ah! Thank you so much! Did we ever get a chance to meet properly??

The Choll- Thanks for commenting and well said. I don't know where you are from originally, but you touch on an interesting point about slavery and living history museums. CW once tried to present a program that was to be a slave auction, which was developed by some character interpreters who were African American. There was apparently such a massive uproar about the whole thing, that people totally missed the point that the program was supposed to emphasis how inhumane and awful it was...and nobody realized that until the program got started, they were too busy freaking out about the idea, as if CW was actually trying to *sell* people. I think it happened several years ago (maybe late 90s early 00s?), but it brings up an excellent example.

<3 <3

Katy Rose said...

I too read the other post at lj and was kinda shocked about the way her grievance was handled....I think it should have been done privately as well. I like that you have taken to understand the use of baleen in your quest for learning. i myself wouldn't use it. mainly cuz I'm to lazy(and busy chasing kids)to do all that work! LOL.... Nice job on how you responded....very mature. Keep up the blogging, I love reading your posts! Thank you!

sapphire said...

i <3 you.


ps - a note that i am still alive :)

Cherry said...

I just caught up with your blog after my vacation and I'm so sorry you had to go through all that. I completely support your decision and admire your reasoning. I hope you can move on with no hard feelings. I see you had a blast at the gown workshop, anyway.

Lady Liz said...

As a fellow baleen-boned stays crafter (Baleen Boner, if you will. Heh heh), I am very glad you shared your experience with your blog readers!
I agree with everything Choll posted above--so much learning is lost when people declare their sensibilities offended over the differences between the past and present. Healthy debate = cool. Uninformed speculative drama = not cool.
Keep up your good work!

Nuranar said...

Abby, I am so sorry. I'm on LJ, but apparently not in the right circle for that particular costumer, because I never saw the discussion or even heard about it until now. It certainly sounds like a completely wrong way to handle the difference. LJ often feels more private, so she may have felt more protected; but the costuming community is fairly small overall. I'm so sorry you've had to deal with this. Please hang in there, and I'm glad you had an excellent time at the workshop. As much as I love to read your posts, this is your blog and you don't owe me or anyone else anything. Post when you want to and don't make a chore of it. :)