Monday, March 28, 2011

Hello Dolly!

Recognize the fabric on this photoframe? I did! Here's a chronicle of the sleuthing that followed.

Museum fellows, Frances, Monica, and I sometimes stumble upon mysteries in Shelburne's vast collection. While looking through a box of miscellaneous objects, I knew I had seen this fabric before.

Not only is the lovely pink silk damask worn by the woman in the photograph, it is also identical to the iconic bodice by Charles Frederick Worth from the Museum's upcoming In Fashion exhibition! My excitement could not be contained; could I, the brand new fellow, have discovered the missing link? If I was Sherlock, Museum Archivist Polly Darnell was my Watson. She determined the woman pictured to be Frances Sarah (Dolly) von Stade thanks to extensive genealogical records.


Only one obvious disparity left to be answered:

Is the bodice Dolly's wearing the same as the Worth?


Initially, I thought not because the bust and necklines are so different, but upon closer examination of the Worth bodice, and the expertise of Objects Conservator Nancie Ravenel, we determined that barring extraordinary coincidences, these bodices are one and the same! In the picture below, I'm pointing to button holes in the bust area that must have been added after the Dolly posed for the photograph. The lining in this area is much darker cream, and the button holes are smaller.

Just as in modern times, Fashion was(is) constantly changing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Any Sign Of Spring? by Jess Gallas, Shelburne Museum Gardener

Spring has sprung!..Or has it? Then why is it snowing??

Springtime is usually when we see Vermont's fifth season: Mud Season!

Besides the occasional snow squall, we do have sunnier, warmer days. The sap is flowing, and with all that snow melting it's turning everything to mud!

I found the first true sign of spring on the Museum grounds today!

The Snowdrops are about to
bloom in front of the Dutton House!

Another sign of spring is the geranium seedlings under our grow lights.
I start the seeds every year around the first of February.

These huge red beauties will be on display this season in front of the Vermont House.

And then there's the work to be done on our glass greenhouse!

Here's Chip replacing the broken glass thanks to all that snow this winter.

It should be up and running in a week!
So Happy Spring everyone!
And welcome to Mud Season, the un-official fifth season in VT!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Shelburne Museum! In honor of the holiday, we thought we would share with you some of the "Irish" objects in our collection.

Although none of the following items were actually produced in Ireland, they all share a common thread --the are ornamented with Irish crochet.

Women's Boudoir Cap, Circa 1900
Lawn and silk cap with floral springs and pink ribbon.

Irish crochet first appeared in the 1840s, during the famine years in Ireland. This unique type of intricate lace was perfected in an effort to turn pastime creations into commercial products.

During the 1930s, mass-produced Irish crochet appeared on the market from China and was used to trim dresses and undergarments.

Here are just a few of the Irish crocheted garments in our collection!

Cream Lace Jacket, 1915.
Hand made knee-length jacket with floral leaf design.


Pat Earnshaw, A Dictionary of Lace (Aylesbury, UK: Shire Publications, LTD, 1982)

Clara M. Blum, Old World Lace: Or, A Guide for the Lace Lover (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1920)

Corset Cover, 1913-1920.

Hand sewn corset cover embellished with Irish crochet.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Sappy Time of Year

A folk art model of Vermont maple sugaring.

Town Meeting Day in Vermont heralds the traditional start of the maple sugaring season.

In honor of the beginning of maple sugaring festivities, we will give you a behind-the-scenes look at all of Shelburne Museum's sugaring equipment. Keep in mind, there are much more advanced techniques for maple sugaring today.


Shelburne Museum's (Sweetened) Condensed Guide to Historic Maple Sugaring

By Fran and Monica (resident experts)

1. Sugar Maple trees need to be tapped and a sap spout inserted. We have many sap spouts in our collection, including some of metal...

...and others of wood.

2. The sap is collected in sap buckets and transferred to larger tanks or buckets. We have some pretty neat buckets in our collection.

Monica inspects some of our buckets in Dutton House.

3. You then use a yoke to transport the sap-filled buckets to an evaporator. A yoke is worn over your shoulders and helps you bear the weight of these heavy loads.

Fran holds one of our finest wooden yokes.

4. Maple sap could also be transported in hauling tanks instead of buckets.

This is a model of a hauling tank. Models like these were used a trade fairs as demonstrative tools.

5. Using an evaporator, the sap is heated and condenses into maple syrup. Evaporators can be quite large, but we have a nice model evaporator in our collection.

One of our nicest glass maple syrup bottles came from Wilmington, Vermont.

Maple syrup is truly one of Vermont's treasures. We hope you enjoy maple sugaring season!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"March, I'm gonna march you down the aisle"

I must admit that I am a huge fan of Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl." Whenever a new month rolls around I find myself singing the catchy little tune over and over.

Now that we have "start[ed] the year off fine" and have been someone's Valentine, it's time to "march [us] down the aisle" with a look at some of the unique wedding dresses in Shelburne Museum's collection.

This wedding dress was worn by Mahala Perkins to her Plainfield, Vermont wedding in 1861. Although the dress has been heavily altered over the years, the plaid silk fabric demonstrates the fabulous fashion of the Civil War Era.

This 1883 three-piece wedding dress is made of silk faille and velvet and adorned with braided cords and ball tassles.

Made in Rutland, Vermont by an Italian dressmaker, this wedding dress dates from the late 19th century. The blue cotton sateen dress is trimmed with black velvet ribbon and lace.

Who knew that wedding dresses could be so colorful?