Where would we be with out the light bulb?

I think that without the light bulb we would be in the dark!  Ok, so I’m not a commedian!

I was thinking about a movie I saw with Spencer Tracy in the lead.  It was called Edison the Man and it was from 1940.  I love the old films…especially when they are trying to interpret long gone days.  The movie is about Edison as an old man looking back on his life and the things he has invented.  There are some big inventions that are still part of our lives today or are the grandfather to the things we use today.  He made the phonograph which later became the record player which became the CD which became the MP3.  He invented motion picture cameras which gave us movies.  Who doesn’t watch movies?  The cameras have upgraded but the practice of going to the movies started with Edison’s machine.  He made other things like a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, and a battery for an electric car.

The light bulb is still a big deal.  Edison didn’t invent the light bulb but he made the first practical bulb that could be mass-produced.  Other bulbs from other inventors didn’t last long, or were too expensive to make in large quantities, or used far too much electricity.   He had his ready to go in 1879.

Now the reason I was thinking about this movie and the light bulb specifically was at work we were doing a regular program for our seniors.  It is call Wierd Science.  My co-worker dresses up as Dr Wierd and I dress up as his bumbling assistant Igor and we do science experiments.

Igor! Don't eat that!

If truth were told, our seniors like it best when the experiments sink like the Titanic!  But, I had one experiment that worked wonderfully!  It was to build my own light bulb.  (the experiment came from the internet.)

I bound 6 batteries together with electrical tape.  I taped 2 alligator clips with wires to a toilet paper tube.  Then I was supposed to clamp a refill for a mechanical pencil between the two alligator clips.  I had decided this was going to be one of those Titanic experiments when the refill broke the first 9 million attempts.  Then I finally got the thing hooked up and I put a mason jar over this set up and attached the batteries.

My light bulb all set up and threatening to fail me.

The first two attempts produced a “POOF” noise and lots of smoke.  That was when I thought “I better not try this experiment in front of the seniors because if the fire alarms go off I’ll get fired!”  My co-worker talked me into it so I reset the thing up and we presented it to the seniors.

Igor was shrieking like a little girl! It works! It works!

Maybe that is how Edison felt!

I’m getting to the bottom of my cabinet card stash….

I have only two more cards left to show you.  Good thing I got on to eBay and ordered 7 more for a mere song!  Hopefully, they get here before I need them!  The one I am going to show you is actually a carte de visite (to speak French all you have to do is put and e on the end of every second English word and put de in between.  Lol, my French mother would cringe if she read that!)

Now the beauty of this card is it has been colored!   Her hair and the ribbon at her throat have been colored but not the dress so one may assume the dress itself is a black or brown color.  Who did this photo?

C. Shakespeare Photographic Artist 162 King's Road Chelsea London.

According to this site, C. Shakespeare (Charles) was born in 1835.  In the 1881 census he is listed at 162 King’s Road as a photographic artist.  The census 10 years later has him listed at a different address and as a photographer.  So my card is at least 1881-1891.  I could believe the skirt part is from the 80s but those big sleeves stumped me.  Those seemed so 60s or 70s to me!  And the hair is early 70s too!

I sent out a request to watch the birdie  who has extensive resources on Victorian photographers and when and where they set up shop.  I asked her look and see if she could get some better dates for the photographer.  I got an email from her today (I must commend her on her promptness!) saying her sources put Mr. Shakespeare at that address from 1871-1886 so I’m thinking this card is in fact early 1870s….cool!

Must have Tuesday is here again.

Today we move up another 10 years to 1760 to this pretty little number.

1760 Robe a la francais from the Met.

Now, for must have Tuesdays I talk about what I would or would not change if I recreated and existing dress.  I’d keep everything about the structure of this dress but I don’t think I’d go with the yellow.  I have a hang up about wearing yellow.  It screams “look at me” and you know that I’m not comfortable with that.

Ok, despite evidence to the contrary, I don't like to be blinding center of attention.

 But, in spite of its color, I do like this dress.

Maybe in a more calming green color....

And here is the back.


 How about you folks…would you copy exactly, tweak a little bit or totally reno this look?

So it isn’t the bodice from hell!

I’ve had a super productive day and I’m really pleased with how my pagoda sleeve bodice is coming along!

There it is, on Trudy. It really isn't that wrinkly in front. Wierd lighting.

I’m really please with how I matched the pattern in the front.

It is just pinned in place right now but it looks like it is going to be a perfect alignment!

Even the back looks OK.

Of course it needs a better ironing. I pressed the seams and that is it!

But, it can’t be all good.

The sleeves come all the way down to my knuckles. Pretty sure that it too long!

I haven’t decided what to do about the sleeve problem.  I’d really like to not rip the sleeves out and apart for a redo.  I had thought about turning them and making a cuff.

The trick will be to turn them without the wavy lumps.

I like the chocolate-brown at the bottom of the sleeve…it picks up the chocolate at the bottom of the skirt and it will pick up the buttons I will be adding.  I just don’t know if they had cuffs on pagoda sleeves (authentically) and if I can do it without it looking bad.  And I don’t know how far up I have to turn them.  I need to look at some pictures and figure out how low those sleeves went.  (I also need to have a closer look at where the shoulder ends during this era.  I believe there was a drop shoulder…if mine is too low then I may have the answer to my long sleeve problem.  I hope not because I want to redo that even less than I want to redo the sleeve.)

I’m also having another problem.  The weight of the skirts is bending my hoops in odd ways and I may have to reinforce the top hoop with something stronger (and heavier).  Also,  the hoops, petticoat and skirt are slowly sliding down the corset on my dress form.  I don’t think it will be a problem on me as I have more flesh squishing out from under my corset than Trudy does and that should hold everything up.  But, I think I will add some hooks and eyes to my corset and hoops to help hold it all in place.  I think I will also add hooks and eyes to the bodice and skirt to keep the bodice hem down and the skirt up.  I’m thinking I’ve read this was a fairly common practice.

The other funny thing is, the weight of all the clothes is pushing the telescopic stand in and Trudy gets shorter and shorter every day!  May be that is why they wore corsets!  They would collapse under the weight of all their clothes without it!



One step forward two steps back.

I took one step forward on my bodice and bought some boning.  I had heard these work pretty good.

Yeah! One step forward!

Then I pulled out my sewing only to find I had taken two steps back!


There had been a pen laying on top of it….arg!  Luckily, I have miles of the fabric still left!  There would have been some wailing and gnashing of teeth if there hadn’t been left overs.  I was just annoyed because this would be the third time cutting this piece out!

I had to cut it the second time when I decided I needed to take it in by an inch and a half on both sides but screwed up and didn’t leave enough material for my hips!  I hope this doesn’t turn into the bodice from hell!

How I do my Gibson Girl hair for everyday wear.

Most of us costumers know we can spend hours on the hair alone.  The rats, the wigs, the hair pieces, ribbons and bows…all so it can be covered with a poke bonnet!  The more of your own hair you have to use, the nicer (and more authentic) the look and the less likely it will end up on the floor of your car before you even get to your event.  That is why I decided to grow my hair out.

As a teen, I had hair to my waist but over the years it got shorter and shorter.  At first it was to be stylish but later on it became shorter so I’d be drawing attention to my eyes and not my double chin.  Hair acts as a frame…long hair looks great on a face that is lovely top to bottom.  But, when the bottom half of your face plumps or wrinkles up it is best to focus on the eyes…or so I’ve heard.

When I decided to grow my hair long, I knew I’d have to wear it up most of the time to keep from looking older and fatter and to keep from roasting alive at work (work is kept hotter than all other places I go because the seniors living there find normal temperatures cold.)  I wanted a style that  suited my Victorian interests, gave my face hight not width and didn’t take all day to do or to maintain.  Thus the tamed down Gibson Girl was “invented”.  I posted a photo previously.  Today I will show you how to do it.

Disclaimer:  I have very thick and wavy hair.  This works for me but I wont claim it will work for any one else.

Start with the hair down and combed out.  Warning…you are about to see me hair down and no make up…yeee gads!

eeeeeek! Anyway, my hair is now past my shoulders.

The next step is to take a brush and pull the front (sides and top) up to the top of the head.

This view is not getting any better!

Hold that front hair on top of your head and push it a bit forward to that it is not tight to the scalp.

Just like that....


Put in a pretty barrette.

Then you need to…

brush the rest of the hair up for a high pony tail.

Why is it doing your hair and taking photographs will cause “goofy face syndrome”?

Once the hair is bundled up….

put an elastic on the pony tail.

The next bit is a bit tricky to explain but here goes.  Make a gap in the hair between the elastic and your head.

My thumb is coming through the hair making a hole.

Coming from underneath, push the tail back through the hole.

It is a bit hard to see but my hand is pushing the tail up through the hole I made in the hair.

The next step is to…

pull sideways on the tail to tighten the elastic and pull up to make sure the elastic is high up enough on the head.

Then you need to…

tuck the loose ends of the pony tail back through the hole to make a smooth bun. Pin the ends so they stay in and hidden.

I originally thought of cropping this photograph to remove the mirror image of myself but it was just too funny….I had to share!

We are in the home stretch now.

Slide your finger into the hair and gently tug out the parts that may have gotten to tight to the head. Go all around the face in this manner.

Next comes the finishing touches.

I check the whole effect. If the bun or barrette have moved down like they have here I need to fix it.

I wanted the top fuller so…

I pushed the barrette forward with one hand and put bobby pins in behind it to keep it from sliding back again. Now the hair has more height on top.

Sometimes if it is humid

the hair at my hair-line gets fuzzy.

To fix that I dampen the hair and wrap it around my finger to create

kiss curls.

A little hair spray and make up and you get this.

That's better!

And for the side view….

Cameras and mirrors everywhere....

For an 1890-1900s outfit, I would want much BIGGER hair but for everyday purposes this works.  And it only takes me about 3 minutes to do.

It is fur Friday

It can’t all be about my little sweetie…How about the time we took our Seniors at work to the zoo.  We went to see the lions and got a bit more than we expected!

Get a room!

Actually, it was kinda cute seeing my folks three days later telling their friends and families about the lions…. “and then Mr Lion climbed on Mrs Lion and he bit her head”.  That is a red-letter day when I can give them something they have never experienced.  It’s the new stuff that puts the spice in our lives!

You have to be weird to do my job…

I work in recreation in a nursing home.  We dream up fun things for our folks to see and do and then we have to pull them off.  To save money, we frequently borrow from our private stashes at home.  One day this week I was looking at my list of things I needed to bring to work and laughed thinking, “If I die in a car accident, what will the rescue crews think of the bags in the back of my car!”

Bare in mind that none of this stuff is being used for anything but work!

At the top right you have…..

Goofy Day supplies

a feather boa, a yellow and green jesters hat, sequence shoes and a rubber pig nose.  This is part of my costume for goofy day.  The golf balls, elastic and bath mats on the right were used for contests being held on goofy day.

And then there was my donation to the homes pet rabbit.  Looks like my lunch but it is not.

yum yum

The last bit seems really odd, and when taken in combination with the other weird stuff, would possibly prompt a police officer to “bring me in for questioning!”  It does look like something an evil predator might pack around!

Now this is just odd!

We have wire with alligator clips, electrical tape, toilet paper roll, mechanical pencil, plastic container with lid, half and half cream, whipping cream and antacid. These items were for several science projects we doing for our seniors to watch!

Yup, have to be weird to work in recreation!