Thursday, January 29, 2015

Behind the Scenes of our 2014 Winter Photo Shoot

Last November Chris and I set up a photo shoot with first-time model Anna McIlwee, who was to be our Siberian Snow Princess in a beautiful winter landscape.

Trouble was, no winter landscape was to be had. Photos in the snow can be difficult to do well, and I had a strong vision for imagery we just couldn't achieve with our local landscape and uncooperative weather.  So what did we do? Well here's a behind-the-scenes look at our most conceptual photoshoot yet...

We set up a simple grey backdrop and some lights in our living room and had Anna pose with various props. I then put that Bachelor of Fine Arts to work and carefully comped her into a snowy fantasy landscape, adjusting color, contrast, and adding snowflakes.

Here you can see the grey paper backdrop, stands, and lights set up in our living room
I wasn't exactly sure how it would all come out in the end, but I am so happy with the final result, and I hope you have enjoyed the images and behind-the-scenes video as well. :-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Auditioning for the Donner Party

Just on a lark, a few of us Great Basin Costume ladies went to an audition for a Donner Party documentary filming this year. We were in costume and all got callbacks, which happened today.

I auditioned for Margaret Reed, who was 32 when she set out across the country as part of the Donner-Reed party. Here she is later in life, after surviving The Ordeal:

I'd be happy to play Margaret Reed, who kept her entire family alive without the help of her husband James, who had been banished from the wagon train earlier in the expedition. The Reeds did not resort to cannibalism, and later settled in San Jose, where I went to school and walked down Reed Street every day to get to class.

I was pretty crap at my lines, having no acting experience whatsoever. We were asked to dress in costume if we had them, so this is what I wore:

At least I looked the part! Kindof...!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Late 1860s at the P.E.O Sisterhood's Founder's Day Luncheon

This past weekend I attended a lovely event where a few members of our local costuming group, Great Basin Costume Society, were invited to dress in 1860s costume to represent the founders of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a national philanthropic organization that supports women's education.

The sisterhood was founded in 1869, but the closest I could get was my recent Purple People Eater day dress with the gored skirt. I finished the elliptical hoop and a dedicated petticoat (not shown) the night before the event, and am pleased that it's done its job, and saved me from the dreaded "lampshade hoop."

I hope you enjoy these few snaps of the whole ensemble put together - photos courtesy of my Mom <3

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Mid-to-Late 1860s Elliptical Hoop Skirt

One of the things that became obvious with my purple 1860s gown was that my underpinnings were no longer doing the job.

Due to shortage of fabric, I cut my 1860s skirt in gores, perfectly period for the second half of the 1860s, but what I didn't do was make the correct hoop skirt for the job - an elliptical hoop, rather than a basic round cage crinoline.

This lack of correct hoopage caused the skirt to drape funny, and also resulted in horrible lampshade skirt, since my round hoop didn't have a flounce at the hem, nor did my petticoat. All of these added up to one verdict: it was time to make a proper hoop.

So I fissed and fussed around on the internet for awhile, too stubborn to just order the right pattern, and came up with a plan for making my own. (ladies, just order the Laughing Moon Lady's Hoops and Bustles Pattern - 1856 - 1900 pattern and save yourself the pain). Luckily it appears to have been a success:

Elliptical hoop, needing a bit of adjustment still for a smooth silhouette

I can see where I need to adjust the hoops a bit to create that nice smooth line. And as always, the Ugly Puffer makes an appearance to help create the right shape:

Tonight's project (before tomorrow's event) will be to make a proper floor-length flounced petticoat to further fill and puff and smooth. The one here is not long or flouncy enough, though it does the job in a pinch:

A stand-in all-purpose petticoat, soon to be replaced with a full-length flounced petticoat
The final output is nice, though, and the issues appear to have been solved. I'm still not 100% sold on this particular silhouette, but at least it's looking more like it should now...

...but it all works together!