Monday, May 4, 2015

Clothing the Renaissance Child: It Takes a Guild...

I feel like I need to apologize because I have had so little time to sew, craft and create historical stuff. What I can do is profusely thank all the wonderful people in my life who are making it possible for me to continue reenacting and participating in Living History as a family.

A few weeks ago Stephen, Percy and I went out to Ft Wayne, Indiana to a “Pike & Shot era” LH event. It roughly covers the 1500s through 1600, maybe a bit beyond. There are so few of us who do this time that we travel long distances to get a group of any size. This was my third year are the event (read about 2013 here) but the first year with Percy. We’ve been doing this long enough that Stephen and I have a fairly well established kit (i.e. our clothes, eating gear, bedding, personal items) but Percy had grown out of the stuff he wore at faire this past fall, and now needs toys and solid food, and shoes… he needs his own kit! I never would have had the energy to assemble a full (if very small) kit for another person, but lucky we have a guild full of friends who all chipped in without us even asking.

Some of the clothes made by my guild mates for little Landsknecht

Tom and Amanda have a daughter who is about 4 years old now, who has been participating with us since she was born. Amanda made all the clothes for her daughter Lilly, and has since passed them down to us so Percy can wear them. Once Percy has grown out of them, we’ll pass them along to the next baby in our group. Tom and Amanda also gave us a lovely baby shower gift of a wooden box full of historical tidbits: a horn bowl and spoon, hand hemmed linen cloths for baby messes, a bag of marbles for when he is older, cloth covered pacifiers for when he is tired. Such a thoughtful gift, I am still discovering all the useful things packed into that box.

Along with the hand-me-down clothes was a fleece hood that Brittney made for Lilly. There was also a pair of little shoes that Brittney had gotten, slashed up the toes, and added little puffs of fabric to make baby-sized kumal shoes! Brittney and Marc had also given us a lovely little bowl they bought on their honeymoon in England.

Percy is rich in eating gear. Rhiannon, a newer member of our group, had gone to a paint-your-own pottery place and done up a lovely little bowl with historic motifs. We all think it is amazing but she was not as happy with the design, so she gave it to Percy; if he bangs it up or breaks it she does not mind. He was given a wooden spoon by my mother, and he was given a lovely reproduction pewter one (lead-free of course) that our friend Julie bought. She ordered the spoon hoping it would be one she could use, only it turned out to be a miniature spoon, way too small for an adult, but perfect for Percy! Rhiannon and Julie also helped out by allowing me to make repairs to my shirt during a recent sewing session: they amused Percy while I stitched furiously, and when he needed mommy time they picked up my shirt and finished the seams while I bounced or fed him.

Bowls and spoons, toys for tots.
My main concern for the weekend was toys to keep him amused. Amanda had given him some wooden beads to teeth on, and all the bowls and spoons are great fun, but he likes rattles. There are quite a few rattles in renaissance portraits, even one surviving silver one! I cannot afford to get Percy a silver rattle, but I did go out and buy little silver bells. I went to a hardware store and got a turned wood stair baluster that Stephen chopped down. Then I attached the bells to it using jump rings and staples. I was really pleased with the way it turned out, until I went to Pier One and found a red painted wand of bells that was much nicer than the one I had created. Ah well, now he has options.

I added a few other things to his kit, a wooden ball, a linen sling to carry him around, a wool blanket to wrap him up, a little ceramic pot of diaper cream. Plus all his modern diapers, bottles, wipes etc.. I packed it all in a pack basket that mom had given me many years ago, so I could sling it on my shoulder and carry it around the fort; if he needed a toy or a change I would have it all with me whether I was in our room, the yard, or the infirmary.

Percy did great all weekend long. The folks at the event were super welcoming, and all my guild folks took turns playing with Percy when I needed to run around for a bit. He played with the other baby in attendance, and smiled at everyone who came to visit. He napped through the firing of guns, but woke when the drum called everyone to muster. I am really lucky with my healthy, happy baby, and I am so thankful for my generous, helpful guildmates.
Percy makes friends at Fort Wayne
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