Friday, May 30, 2014

An 18th Century Hair Day

This past weekend Nat and I headed out to Vincennes, IN for our first official event as members of the Kings Own Royal Regiment, Grenadier Co. Unfortunately, we weren't able to leave Friday night as planned, but we were able to get there for most of Saturday and all of Sunday. I thought that the event would be a great chance to put some of the skills I learned in the cap/hair workshop to work!

I already had some lemon blossom pomade from LBCC ready to go (I'm working on a couple of others for me to test out this summer) but unfortunately I didn't have any hair powder. (LBCC has lavender hair powder available that is nice- but I'm just not a lavender girl. It happens.) So, after rumaging through the the Toilette de Flora, my notes from class, and talking with Alicia, I made a quick trip to the grocery store to get some make do powder materials. Talk about last minute, right?

I already have a powder puff for finishing, but I picked up a shaker to dispense the powder while I'm actually pomading/powdering. I wasn't sure how successful I was going to be doing this on myself, but no time like the present! After whipping up my make do powder, I set to work.
My hair- one lock already powdered,
one lock just pomaded.

Mostly finished, just one section left undone

All done! Very full and a little lighter than usual.

My tin of pomade after I was done... I think I need
a bigger tin! 
 It took me a bit longer to do my own hair than it did when Abby did it, but it was manageable. I slept on it Friday night so it would be ready to go. After leaving a little behind schedule and a 5+ hour drive, we arrived just in time to watch the battle tactics demonstration and then changed into our historical clothing for the evening.

I didn't really have the energy to attempt big hair for the evening, but Sunday morning it was go big or go home. I hadn't finished my workshop cap yet, but I had a cap that could accommodate modestly high hair that I brought along for just this reason. The pomade/powder made my hair very manageable when I put in my hair roller- but holy high hair volume, Batman! Between the pomade/powder and the roller, my hair was too large for my cap to fit! (Not to mention way larger than when we had practiced with the rollers in class.)

I decided that the pomade/powder must work wonders for my hair volume and maybe I could go without a roller. So, instead, I took a spare piece of wool and made a very small "roller" about as wide as a 1/2 inch dowel rod. I used that to start rolling my hair up and voila! It worked really well. My P/Ped hair without a stuffed roller was about the height my naked hair had been with a roller. A little bit of playing with my silk ribbon bow and my cap was settled onto my head, firmly secured with straight pins. 

Sunday afternoon. You can see my
"Sunday Casual Not Too Big But
Still Big" hair do underneath my cap.
My husband just had to get in on the big
hair action! =P
I did some sausage curls on the bottom back of my head but totally forgot to take pictures. I also dressed my friend Kate's hair (and rather prettily, if I do say so myself) but the pictures are on her camera. I'll have to see if she can send me one to post here. I was probably proudest of the back of her hair.

It was fun engaging the public with my hair (and I did- so many people wanted to touch it and know if it was my real hair) and I think it sparked a lot of interest and thought into the 18th century concept of hair care vs. our modern one. I can't wait to delve more into this subject as I prepare for my all 18th century hair care regimen for this summer.

I also can't wait to practice my big hair more and try out more styles on myself. This just opens up so many fun interpretive options with which I want to play and have some 18th century hair days.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

One Hairy Weekend

Recently, I was fortunate enough to find myself at the B&T cap and hair workshop and what fun! Sarah and Abby of the Margaret Hunter Shop led us through the finer details of not only 18th century cap construction and hair, but of reading and interpreting caps in prints and paintings. We were learning not just how to make a specific style/pattern of cap, but how the various pieces and treatments of a cap work together to create the final product. This would hopefully help us feel more confident in our abilities to see a cap in an image and then recreate for our heads.

I always appreciate the approach the presenters take at these workshops, teaching us skills that we can take with us and apply rather than teaching us simply how to read directions and follow a pattern. Not only did we learn about cap styles, but we learned about what has to happen underneath those caps to make them so fabulous.
So, before we could get to making our caps, we had to take care of the hair underneath. We made rollers for our hair to give it some of that height so typical to the later 18th century.

Alix and I with our rollers in and ready to measure for our caps!

Once we had our rollers done and roughly placed (for measurement's sake rather than beauty!) we could continue on to some bigger decisions: cap styles. The ladies from the shop had brought along a few styles of caps that we could try on to get an idea of how certain bands, wings, and cowls would look on ourselves. It was like playing dressup in a most grown up fashion.

Huge wings!
This cap was almost universally
After some contemplating and discussion of which features we wanted for our own caps, we set to work diligently rolling hems and whipping gathers. Saturday's homework was to get as far as we could assembling our caps and contemplate trimmings.

By Sunday morning, we had made significant progress on our caps and were able to discuss a variety of trimmings for caps, as well as get a pomatum/powder demo to illustrate potential uses of what was dubbed "the doughnut"- a gigantic doughnut like roll we'd all been curiously eyeing during the weekend. It must have also been my lucky day, because Abby decided to pomade and powder my hair for the demo.
I have to say, I really enjoyed both the process and the result! 1- It felt like I was getting a head massage as she worked the pomade through my hair. 2- My hair was hugely voluminous when she was finished. I had the most well behaved sloppy buns for a week after this. Anyhow- after prepping my hair, we got to see what the doughnut was all about.

Pulling the hair up over
 the doughnut

The back 

Finished front
It was a-maz-ing. I feel like I can never really have an excuse not to dress my hair ever again. It took about ten minutes and it's the best historical hair I've ever had! I am soooo making one of these for myself. (Maybe a few in different sizes?) Once Abby was done we took the opportunity to try on Sarah's cap from "The Morning Ramble". I felt like a fashion plate come to life.

Eventually, though, it was time to go home. The doughnut had to be returned (although I would have loved to take that hair-do through airport security!) I gave my hair a quick brushing and threw it into a bun. When I got home, instead of washing it right away, I just let it do it's thing. I brushed it in the morning and before bed and that was about it. And you know what? It was fine. My scalp felt nice, my hair wasn't greasy, and nobody really even noticed except to say that I looked a little blonde.
My hair a few days after pomade/powder treatment.

In fact, I'm really intrigued by 18th century hair care, and I think this summer I want to do a little experiment. I'd like to go 8 weeks using only 18th century hair care methods and products. I want to see what happens. What does it feel like after prolonged use? What happens to my scalp/hair? How does it do in the heat? I already don't use normal shampoo (I'm a baking soda and vinegar rinse girl) so that aspect doesn't bother me. I just need to gather some resources to pin down a typical 18th century hair care regimen, assemble the materials, and apply to my head.

I'll definitely share my findings as I go and results when I'm finished. What fun! B&T workshops always leave me inspired!