Friday, January 27, 2012

The Messy Victorian

"To be properly accomplished, young girls learned
such vital social graces as how to sit down, how to
pour tea, how to tip the maid after a country weekend,
how to put on gloves, how to write a thankyou note,
and how to receive a diamond or refuse a pearl."
                            ~Jeanine Larmouth

    I have been doing a lot of reading lately because I have had the flu (I am feeling much better now by the way - thankyou for all of your get well wishes!) and I found myself indulging in a few period romance novels. I love the language and the descriptions of social settings in Regency and Victorian stories. One afternoon I had just finished a book that I love and have read before and suddenly felt that I needed to tap into my novel's well of inspiration. I was still feverish and drippy at the time but I got out of bed anyway and cleared my vanity and began putting layer upon layer of things on it in an effort to create a "messy victorian" girl's dressing table. I thought - those Victorian girls must have had a little bit of clutter once in awhile what with all of the correspondences, party preparations, baubles and ornaments, etc that would have no doubt collected at some point on their desks and dressing tables. Certainly in upperclass households a maid might have tidied a little - but I was imagining the scene before the maid had been, just after a flurry of activity, perhaps captured in the moment after our imaginary young lady was interrupted in her activities. Flushed and short of breath I completed my little tableau and captured it with my camera before collapsing into bed for a rest before attempting to dismantle my creation and put my room back together. I hope you like the finished photos and the new drawing I have included! I think there might be a little bit of the graceful, fussy, feminine, and messy Victorian in all of us!

I am linking to these blog parties today:
What's It Wednesday
Feathered Nest Friday
Show and Tell Friday

Drawing by Jennelise


  1. I love your style and the drawing is beautiful! I came over from Cozy home scenes! Love your blog! ♥

  2. Coming to visit from Shannon's. What a wonderful blog you have! I so enjoyed this post. The vanity look every bit out of an old Victorian novel! Great photography and your drawing is fantastic! I am a new follower! :-)


  3. Jennelise, it's so good to know that your feeling much better ;)
    Your pictures are not only beautiful but so inspiring, I love your drawings, the details and colors are just beautiful,
    When I need a little beauty to feast my eyes on, I know to head on over here for a nice little dose of it....
    Love your gorgeous blog.....

    Feel better,

  4. Wow, look at the sparkle you got off the crystals in the photo posted right before your cute drawing!

    Your imagination was in high gear for an interesting, fanciful result. Love your "bits and bobs" (as Rachel Ashwell would say); whimsical idea.

    I do also love the pretty lace and doilies and other cloths you display in your photos. I noticed them also at your nana's; lovely embroidery.

    (The vintage cloths have to be laundered so delicately. When I was younger, with no common sense, I threw several into the washing machine and it shredded them. I still mourn their loss; all the beautiful, clever and intricate stitches lost. One tablecloth had sumptuous pink and pale green flowers but at least I have a photo of it on an antique side table. I felt so badly that I ruined someone else's painstakingly-completed handiwork. It's also sometimes a careful balance with how hot the iron is when you go to press them, still slightly damp. My husband's aunt also had a horrifying experience with washing a full-size antique bed quilt, which should never have been placed in a washing machine. This was in the days before washing machines had special features such as a "handwash" cycle but, even so...

    Made by my husband's great-great grandmother, an attractive china blue and white design, my mother was able to save most of this quilt's top from the washing disaster, giving it a new padding and backing, once the aunt gave it to us in a resigned and disgusted...with herself...almost-hopeless gesture. How my mother knew what to do, I have no idea.)

    I washed one cotton quilt (also for a full-size bed, quaint buttercup and pinks) from the the bathtub, but it was so difficult to hoist it out of the tub soaking-wet. We put down layers of clean and dry bed sheets on warm grass, then lay the clean quilt down upon them after gently squeezing as much water out of it as we could in layers of other clean linens. The sun was blazing, which we needed for natural, flat drying, so we covered the quilt with other light linens to protect it from sun rot...and it did dry, for the most part that afternoon, but even with our care, the handsewn seams of the quilt squares did pull away slightly, stitches from cloth. I didn't have any choice; my new puppy had peepeed on it where it lay, decorating the bed in the guest room. (After this, I learned the value of "baby gates" to section off areas of the house from pets!)

    Anyway, you probably already know this, but do be very careful with your special textiles, new and old! They must be handled with the most tender, loving care. Yours are so gorgeous. Some of mine (whites) are slightly yellowed, but bleach is too hard on old cloth. We live and learn, some of us the hard way!

    1. Hello! Thanks for your wonderful encouragement! I know how carefully you have to handle antique linens! I'm sorry about your 'washing disaster' :( I have a hard time finding beautiful linens that aren't very damaged already. Luckily my boss has given me some of my most beautiful pieces over the years as birthday and christmas presents. She knows me well :) Take care!

  5. Just beautiful Jennelise! Your photography is stunning. Everything is gorgeous and so over the top lovely. You have a great eye for display! Hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

  6. So glad you are feeling better, dear Jennelise!
    What gorgeous, romantic dreams you express through your lens and exquisite eye..I adore the shot with the letters.
    Beautiful illustration...
    Have a lovely weekend, and be well,
    - Irina

    1. Thankyou Irina! I hope that your weekend has been lovely so far too :) You are always so sweet - I wish I could figure out a way to leave comments on your blog! I visit all the time!

  7. Beautiful and imaginative, Jennelise! I hope you are feeling much better. – g

  8. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful Jannelise. I love what you do. You are an inspiration to me. So glad you were featured on Cozy Home Scenes. Loved hearing about the Victorian ladies. One of my all time fav movies is The Young Victoria.

    Glad you're feeling better. If I knew you'd needed chicken soup I would have been right there! Take care now and just enjoy your gorgeous surroundings that you created!!


  9. Beautiful Blog! I am looking forward to following you!


  10. Thankyou everyone! I am feeling much better now - thank goodness! I appreciate all of your kind words and wishes! Hello to everyone visiting for the first time! It is lovely to meet you! Shannon's feature was so lovely! What a sweet lady :) I hope I get to chat with you all in the future! Take care

  11. Hi Jennelise,

    All I can say is "WOW!" Your bedroom vanity is just gorgeous and dripping with Victorian romance & whimsy. Such beautiful treasures - I could literally sit there all day if that was my space! :) And of course your drawings are always so lovely - you my dear are very talented! Thank you also for your visit to my blog and for leaving such a kind comment on my post, I greatly appreciate it. :) Take care and enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


  12. Your little tableau looks gorgeous! Fabolous photoshoot! :) Have a wonderful day dear!

  13. Everything is so lovely as always but I love your sweet drawing the best! It's the loveliest!!! XO Christie

  14. Jennelise, you never disappoint. Whenever I don't think it can get any better, you amaze me even more. Such a gorgeous post! It totally made me feel like a Victorian lady. Thank you so much for linking to WIW, it's a pleasure having you. Hope to see you this week, too!
    Big hugs,

  15. Such a beautiful post! Thanks for linking up at Feathered Nest Friday! Hope to see you again at this weeks party!