Despite torrential rains, excitement was high at the first meeting of The Domestic Arts and Honorable Trades Society on February 21. Sixteen folks from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York (five of them men) gathered in the Clinton Library to discuss working together to better our civilian impressions.
The group decided that what we want to hold workshops, living history events, meetings/study sessions, museum visits and chances to "show and tell" about the 19th century. We're not going to have attendance requirements, dues, officers or any military component. Military reenactors who want to work on their civilian impressions are welcome, and at this point a third of the group are men. Most living history events will be simply free and open to anyone who is interested. Specific workshops may have fees or limited space, and require advance registration -- if they do, this will be clearly stated ahead of time. We want to learn about 19th century civilian life and share what we're learning with each other -- if you'd like to learn with us, you're warmly welcome!
First Event: April 12-13, Clinton Mill Museum, Clinton, New Jersey
Our first living history will be at the Clinton Mill Museum, in Clinton, New Jersey http://www.clintonnj.com/Pointsofinterest.htm on April 12-13 for their Civil War Weekend. The annual kick-off for the museum's season, we will be only part of the festivities, which also include a memorial parade to the grave of General George W. Taylor. General Taylor was the Brigadier General of the First New Jersey Brigade. He was killed leading the brigade at the battle of 2nd Bull Run.
Quilting Bee: Five experienced quilters came to the first meeting -- so we decided on April 12-13 we will be teaching and demonstrating quilting. Two volunteers will piece a simple soldier's quilt top of authentic reproduction fabric and bring it to the Museum, where we will quilt it on a 19th century quilting frame. Proceeds from the eventual sale of the finished quilt will be going to the Museum. We will also teach how to piece and put a quilt top together, and let people pull up a chair to the quilting frame to get some practice. If you've wanted to know more about quilting, or would like to just have a good time dressed out early in the season, please come. We'll be talking, and reading aloud from Uncle Tom's Cabin and Harper's Weekly.
Bellows Mending, Coopering, Playing Checkers, and Listening to Period Banjo at the Store: The museum's blacksmith's bellows needs to be repaired. DAHTS members will be making the repairs with period tools. Rumor has it that there might be a bit of period blacksmithing as well. Once this is done, they're planning to go hang round the general store, play some cards or checkers, listen to some banjo (we've got a musician in our midst) and have a generally low-key good time.
Next Meeting: Our next meeting will be at the North Hunterdon County Library, Clinton, New Jersey http://www.hunterdon.lib.nj.us/events/ncbcon2.htm at 1 PM on March 29. We'll be discussing when to schedule the workshops on broiderie anglais (the President of the Embroiders Guild of America has agreed to teach us), three classes to learn how to make chemise, drawers and petticoat (taught by Robin Stokes), a 19th century hair workshop (taught by Zee Entrabartolo, who is a professional hairdresser who has researched styling techniques of period hairstyles). Interest was also express by several people who want to have a workshop on Spencerican penmanship and "how to write a letter."
We also want to schedule some more living history events at the Mill. On the list are a Whitewashing Bee at the Clinton Museum. One of their buildings needs a coat of paint and we're going to do it dressed out. A mid 19th-century fishing and picnic day on the banks of the mill pond. Laundry day including both the actual washing, starching and ironing of clothing and the coopering of laundry tubs.
Come help us set the dates for all of this, bring your ideas and meet a great bunch of folks. March 29, 1 PM, Hunterdon County Library, North Branch http://www.hunterdon.lib.nj.us/events/ncbcon2.htm.