Living History

  Festival de Voyageur 2016                                                                      Photo credit: Photographer  Daniel Crump

  Festival de Voyageur 2016                                                                      Photo credit: Photographer Daniel Crump

How much do you think about the objects you use everyday, and your relationships to those objects? When I'm making things for living history demonstrations it causes me to think about objects differently... in ways that I often take for granted.

 

Living History - Interpreting 1810-20, with the Red River Heritage Collective

Historical sewing always feels like an indulgence. It’s something I do to relax, that feels mindless in process, but still interesting in concept. Making my art requires intense focus, but I can do this while visiting. I can pick it up and put it down again. I feel like I’ll go crazy if I go too long without making something.

Pioneer picnic at Grant's Old Mill, August 13th.

The artwork that I make, frescoes and miniatures, are both types of paintings with a lot of history, but I haven't focused on using historical production methods, because I see so many new things to explore, so much that hasn’t been done with them... more so with the frescoes. At the moment I am more interested in the ideas I’m conveying with them, than the medium’s own history.

Somehow sewing satisfies my urge to reproduce with historical methods, like bringing something back from the past, while also exploring concepts of time, and appreciating humble objects. 

I worked on piecing together squares of common utility-use fabrics, to make into a pocket, worn separately from the skirt, underneath. I've seen a few examples of such pockets, and wanted something different from the usual embroidered pocket. I'll post about it when I finish it.

I worked on piecing together squares of common utility-use fabrics, to make into a pocket, worn separately from the skirt, underneath. I've seen a few examples of such pockets, and wanted something different from the usual embroidered pocket. I'll post about it when I finish it.

I enjoy the research, and what I learn as I make things, and then I get to experience a bit of what it would have felt like to use those objects. I love tactile hands-on learning, and the way living history allows you to visualize what you read about. 

It's a fun game to play when making something, to ask: 

  • Who would have used it?
  • Where would it's owner live/ have travelled from?
  • What would be my reasons for making an object this way, if I was living in that time period?
  • What materials would I have had access to?
  • What would have influenced my preferences? Would I have seen neighbours with something similiar?
  • Is this object easy to use?
  • Will it wear well, through repeated use, being scrubbed on a washboard?
  • Will it easily catch fire when near an open flame?
  • Would I have taken a shortcut/ lived with a mistake in it's construction, if it was an object less likely to be seen? Would perfection in it's construction have served a purpose?
  • How different would I have been if I lived in another time period? (The whole nature vs. nurture question)
  • How did people think about sewing differently before the invention of the sewing machine?

I love having other people in the group who ask me these questions, who have answers based on their own research. Sometimes our research contradicts and then there are mysteries to solve...

 

I love how relaxed my kids were, exploring the park, being in nature, asking questions, and for some moments just sitting peacefully.

I love how relaxed my kids were, exploring the park, being in nature, asking questions, and for some moments just sitting peacefully.

I am 7 months pregnant beneath that apron! Luckily the lower-class clothes tended to be very adjustable, with ties and drawstrings, to allow for women's expanding figures. 

Willem looked very cute. His shirt is a shortened 1920's dress replica, that I sewed for Astra, as my way to "nest" when I was pregnant and our house sat demolished for months, waiting for building permits. His pants are a pair of capris Astra wore, that I dyed blue for him.

Willem looked very cute. His shirt is a shortened 1920's dress replica, that I sewed for Astra, as my way to "nest" when I was pregnant and our house sat demolished for months, waiting for building permits. His pants are a pair of capris Astra wore, that I dyed blue for him.

Well, there you have it. Another little glimpse into something that feels private but that I love. I started the blog as a place to post things like this!

I hope it encourages you to explore things you love too!