Thursday, November 15, 2012

Curling My Hair

Have I mentioned that I’ll do almost anything for history? This month I’ve done something that I never thought I’d do. I curled my hair. I know most American females try this at some point, but I never had. I’ve seen a curling iron, my grandmother owned curlers… ya.

Strawbery Banke has a special program during the month of November for schools that might not have enough money for normal field trips, and for schools particularly learning about harvest holidays. For this program I have taken on almost all the available roles, including a new-to-me role in the parlor of the Governor’s Mansion. Way back when I started at Strawbery Banke in the ‘90s I also worked the Thanksgiving program, and I also got a new role. I played Lizzie Sullivan, the Irish maid stationed in the kitchen helping groups of school kids learn about Mottoes and put together charity baskets. This year Lizzie is going to make another appearance, but not until December (so stay tuned!)

The new role is a front-of-the-house role, I am playing Susan Goodwin Dewey, the youngest child of Governor Ichabod Goodwin and Sarah Parker Rice Goodwin. Susan is recently married to a naval officer and living at home with her father the former governor, her mother, a few other sisters, some nephews and nieces, and the 4 servants. When given the new role I knew I would not have time to do justice to a full formal Victorian outfit, so I asked for a museum owned outfit, and luckily they had a lovely one that mostly fit me. The day I tried it on I was discussing accessories with the head of Role-Players and she said that I should curl my hair. Curl. My. Hair.

I looked through my Victorian costume books and photo books, I looked at fashion plates and decided that yes, it would be better if I curled my hair. My hair has a little wave to it, but only a bit of a curl if my hair is short. My hair is not short at the moment, it is fairly long, and heavy, it is not at all curly at this length. My first step in figuring out how to curl my hair was to put a desperate call out on Facebook. I have awesome friends who suggested sleeping in paper curls or rag curls. So first I tried to wet down my hair and sleep with little strips of paper in my hair. I wore a knitted hat over top and it was not too bad, but I did not part my hair beforehand, and they turned out more frizzy than curly. The next time I tried it I used scraps of rags and a spray bottle that was half water and half setting lotion. When I took the rags out the next morning I had long loose curls that I looped around a bun. Not too bad for my second try!

Half rags half curls
Spikey paper curls
Then came the Monday I was to appear as Mrs. Dewey. I put in the rag curls the night before, put them all under a 1940s style turban I’d made so I could sleep without worrying about them. Monday morning I borrowed My niece’s hairdryer since they were still wet, and tried to heat set the curls. Got into all the dress layers (we are required to dress at home before driving to work) and had a fairly uncomfortable drive to work. I was blasting the heat to try to dry the curls some more, and taking out a few of the rags while cruising down the highway, all while stuffed in a corset bustle skirts in my driver’s seat. Really not my favorite way to drive. I appeared at our morning meeting with the front of my head still in rags, but the back all curls. I’m afraid I might have distracted most of my fellow museum workers as I took out the rest of the rags, but I did have a fairly presentable hairdo by the time the kids showed up to talk Thanksgiving with Mrs. Dewey!
Me as Mrs. Dewey, with really curly hair.

1 comment:

  1. Lookin' good! I've never tried rags and have always wondered if they really work...and they do! HUZZAH!
    I had curly hair when a baby, but it didn't last. dagnabit. I absolutely LOVE it! And so I'm no stranger to curlers. And perms. Curling irons never worked on my hair, tho, for some reason. Alas, a few years back, I grew tired of it all. Same for hair dyes. So am back to my "normal" self, with very fine, straight-as-can-be, and now dark with a few greys, hair. **sigh**