Monday, July 15, 2019

Hannah Davis Boxes

"If you lived in earlier times in America, closets were a rarity.  If you think the IRS is a pain now, early Americans were taxed on closets! Anything with a door in a wall was considered a room, rooms were taxed as part of the house. No wonder folks had so many cupboards, chests, boxes, etc. Clothes were stored in a linen press, blankets and quilts in a blanket chest, sugar in a sugar chest (with a lock!), pies in a pie safe- you get the picture! 
Back in 1784 a baby girl was born in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Her name was Hannah Davis and she didn’t have a very easy life. . . ."
This is a fascinating story about a women who took her circumstances in hand and through "Yankee ingenuity" found a craft that would sustain her life. . .

Friday, June 28, 2019

Dressing 18th Century: Caps and Hats

Accessories to you colonial costume make all the difference. They are what make the clothing and your persona come alive. Two of the first to invest in is the cap and hat.
A Quality Straw Hat Trimmed 18th Century Style
"Advertisements in the Virginia Gazetter indicate colonial merchants and milliners offered a “large and fashionable assortment” of caps, hats and bonnets for sale in their shops. Imported hats, plain or decorated with trimmings, were available for both ladies and gentlemen." (
Mob Cap and 18th Century Style Straw Hat

Women’s heads were nearly always covered, indoors and out. It has been said that a covered head was in reverence to God. The mob cap and the pinner were popular styles for decades. In spite of a name that implies that the style was worn by the masses of common people, the mobcap was adopted by gentry ladies s well. The small flat caps with lace or ruffles were called pinners, referring to the fact that they were pinned on. Occasionally lace lappets were added to these pinners and worn trailing down, pinned up or tied.
Bonnets of straw were commonly worn outdoors by the French and British women of all social ranks throughout the 18th century. Often decorated with artificial flowers and ribbons, these hats were worn on top of the ever-present white cap and were considered appropriate for all seasons of the year. Ribbons attached on the underside could be tied under the chin but were more often tied around the cap with a bow in the back. I have found that pinning the cap and the hat through the hair is best to keep everything in place.

Throughout most of the 18th century the three-cornered "cocked hat" was the prevailing style for men's headgear. (The word tricorn was not used until the 19th century.) They were also popular with the ladies, although much fancier. Plumes, feathers, ribbons, braids, and cockades might be attached to decorate the lady's cocked hat. For the most part, the more elite wore these tricorns with their riding habits, while the lesser women wore them with any clothing. Often the working class women obtained tricorns when the men discarded them.

If you are dressing in 18th century costume, don't forget to wear a cap. It is a necessary accessory. If you are dressing in French Colonial, a scarf tied around the head is also acceptable. The hat is not as essential, but it does add so much more to your costume, don't you think?
Where can you buy 18th century style hats for the ladies? At Sassafras Creek Originals  of course! I have fun decorating these hats and find that I have an excess of them. . .Every now and then, I do sell them. Kandye and I like to encourage others to dress in costume by making 18th century clothing and accessories available to everyone. Most costumes and accessories are one of a kind because everyone is unique. Stop by and see what's available. . .anytime. . .

Monday, June 24, 2019

Living Room UpDate

It's been a while since I've taken any photos inside the Heil House. . .partly because we are still working on it. . .little by little. . .and things will change with time. . .But, then I thought it might be good to continue to share as we go along, so that you can see the process. . .at least some of it. . .if I can remember to grab my camera. . .
What I do know for sure is that these 18th century repo tea boxes will definitely remain. . .They hide magazines, books, BJs toys, and other items. . .and I love them. . .In fact, the living room is full of hiding places. . .I like the look of a colonial store, with lots of barrels, wooden boxes and baskets. . .and they can be utilized as extra storage. . .
Barrel Purchased at St. Mary's Antique Mall

I like shelves of crocks and jugs. . .burlap bags filled with supplies. . .

Crock Shelves & Bag from Our Farm, Chair Purchased at Goodwill

Sofa Purchased on Ebay
Nothing will change much in the future that you see in the above photo. . .but the rest of the room has a special surprise coming in the next few months. . .Whitehouse Creations in Bernie, MO will be custom building a whole wall of primitive cabinets opposite the sitting area. . .If you've never seen their work and you love primitives, you need to grab a cup of tea and follow the link above. . .to view lots of photos of their unique style. . .
Tea Boxes Purchased at Sassafras Creek Originals
Our living room style is pretty much a simplified version of colonial and primitive. . .without too much fuss and clutter. . .
Woven Wool Rug Purchased at
And. . .the most important thing is. . .BJ has given us his two paws up approval. . .He thinks we bought the rug for him. . .We like to make him happy. . .

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Twining Rag Rugs With A Native American Technique This Weekend

Did you know that twining (a method of weaving) has been used since ancient times? Through archeology we know that a technique of spacing out twined rows was used to make traps and fish nets. For baskets, twined rows were woven closer together. And, a floor mat required an even tighter weave.

Twining was also a method used to weave objects from cornhusks. Twined cornhusk baskets were made by many eastern Woodland Native Americans. European accounts from 17th century northern New England indicate that open-weave rectangular bags, hulling bags, and bags were woven with cornhusk. In 1650, an account describes purchasing corn from the Native Americans with wampum, the corn was often measured in sacks most likely made from husks. In later centuries, Native Americans used the same technique for their baskets, along with mats and other woven items of various materials.

But twining isn’t limited to the Native American communities of our country’s past.  It is a technique that has spanned time, filtering down to present-day. It is still a technique used for making wall hangings, baskets, rag rugs and other hand crafts.
Memories of the twining method go back to my childhood when I first saw a rag rug being woven by a dear older couple who lived behind my grandparent’s house. A few years ago, it was the memory of the Turners that inspired me to learn the technique of twining for myself, using John’s handmade looms and a lot of fabric strips. Ever since, weaving rag rugs has been a part of our historic interpretation—for the 18th, 19th, and 20thcenturies. It is a technique that is never out of date. We have taught this style of weaving at workshops, my online blogs, Arkansas State Parks, colleges and our own historic farmstead. John has shipped his looms to 45 states and 8 countries. It is quite popular on Pinterest, too. And in the 2019 Fall issue of Country Rustic Magazine, our Rag Rugs will be featured, along with the story of how the twining technique was revived at our farmstead.

This Saturday, June 22, 2019, John and I will be demonstrating the basketry technique of twining, as we weave Rag Rugs in downtown Historic Ste. Genevieve from about 10:00-Noon. You’ll be able to try your hand at it, too, if you like. It’s great fun for every age. Depending on the weather, we will be at the corner of Main and Merchant Streets (next to Sara’s Ice Cream), or inside the Welcome Center on Main and Market Streets.
We’ll have a few looms to sell, in case you decide it’s a project you can’t live without. Sassafras Creek Originals at 311 St. Mary’s Road will also be selling the looms and mini sets beginning Friday. 

Please come join us and learn an ancient technique in the 21st century. . .
You can bring the whole family. . .
So simple, even four-year-olds can do it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The French Heritage Festival--An Evening of Dance at the Felix Valle

A couple of weekends ago, on June 8, 2019, Ste. Genevieve celebrated its annual French Heritage Festival, highlighting over 300 years of French culture in North America from Quebec, Canada to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a cloud-covered day, but that didn't overshadow the excitement all over town. The festivities started off with a blessing for the festival at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, followed by a promenade down Merchant Street, including costumed and non-costumed visitors.
There was music, reenactments, storytelling, French cuisine, and an evening open air dance with Creole music at the Lion's Club Park. And of course, there was plenty of wine and beer. If you missed it, you missed an amazing day. . .But the focus of this post is the 18th and early 19th Century dance that evening at the Felix Valle State Historical Park at Merchant and Second Street by Dance Discovery.
"Dance Discovery is a performance dance troupe based in St. Louis, Missouri, that brings festivity and merriment to celebrations by researching and performing historically faithful social dances from the 1600's to the present, including those of American, English, French and Spanish origins."
 "Originally formed to participate in the celebration of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery expedition, Dance Discovery has also now focused on French and American dances from the Napoleonic era, and on the dances from the American Civil War era, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War."

With a touch of Jane Austin in the air, on Saturday evening, the candlelit home of Felix Valle was open to visitors, while on the side lawn, the Dance Discovery troupe performed examples of a few 18th-19th century dances before inviting the onlookers to try their hand. . .or maybe I should say feet. . .at a dance or two. . .I couldn't get John out of his seat, but I didn't hesitate joining in the fun. . .It's one thing to watch others dance but another when a person attempts it herself. . .But, in the end, I found myself keeping time to the music and following the steps as if I'd done it many times before. . .Besides. . .It was all in fun anyway. .
Music and dancing were an important part of the Colonial French culture. . .Thank goodness it is being preserved for this and future generations.

Thanks to all who had a hand in the evening festivities at the Felix Valle. . .
We had a 'Ball'. . .