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Christmas: Victorian Pinterest Fail

A Happy and Merry Christmas to you all! Here’s a dead robin!

I’ve had a mad couple of weeks of not writing, but in these mad couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about how to best serve you in the Christmas season. Since I am a Victorianist and the Victorians were responsible for CHRISTMAS AS WE KNOW IT, I decided it would be fitting to thrust some jolly Victoriana your way.

In my (brief) (google) quest to obtain some good Victorian Christmas source material, I came across this brilliant archived BBC page called ‘Make Your Own Victorian Christmas’. Hell yeah! I want to do that! I want to make my own!

So I checked out their 25 suggested activities. The majority of them are rated as ‘easy’ — lies! They are only ‘easy’ if you live next door to a Victorian Multi-Purpose Emporium Shoppe where you could pick up the obscure and outdated craft items required to complete the activity. Oh, and also 14 hours to devote to each project.

For example, this ‘easy’ marbled wrapping paper project:

Materials:

10x15x6 container for water.
6 tablespoons of Carragheen moss
3 gallons of water
ox-gall
alum

Paper: 100% cotton paper

To make paints: linseed oil and pigments (Available from most specialist art shops). We only used pigments that were available in the Victorian period.

Preparation:

The Carragheen Moss takes twelve hours to congeal, so begin by mixing the Carragheen in a large tray or bath. Add two tablespoons to every one gallon of water. To add, sprinkle the powdered Carragheen on the surface of the water and stir in. Add up to six tablespoons of moss to three gallons of water, but it is acceptable to mix less than three gallons as long as the proportions are kept the same. After sitting for twelve hours in a room with a consistent temperature to that of the room where the actual marbling will be done, the mixture should be homogeneous (a greenish slime with a milk like consistency)…

That’s as far as I got in the instructions before my mind travelled off into la la land. I mean, what? Moss? Ox-gall? Linseed oil and pigments?

No. I don’t have time for this shit.

So, instead, I took inspiration from my dissertation and I went for the one project they actually labelled as ‘hard’ (uh oh) …. make your own toy theatre!

First, I made good use of office resources and stealthily printed out the instructions and templates from the website on my work printer. Then I made my way home, shoved Jane and Edward off the coffee table, spread out my supplies, fed Jane and Edward, removed Jane and Edward from the coffee table again, and got to work!

victorian-crafting
Okay, so the instructions don’t call for doilies or twine, but you never know when those essentials might come in handy.

I began by systematically reading through the steps…

…until they were a complex whirling mass dancing before my eyeballs and I became overwhelmed.

victorian-theatre-template

Let’s see here…. step one….fold the thingy into the other thingy and… ahhhhhhhh too much!!!!!

So I added wine and olives to the ‘Things You Will Need’ list.

crafting-with-wine
That’s better.

I managed to cut out the proscenium and fix it to some cardboard. I had some more wine and didn’t feel as bad about not having a scalpel or the will to go on.

Then a made-for-TV film that I feel certain will become a new modern holiday classic came on whatever junky channel I was watching. It had a catchy title — Love at the Christmas Table — so I obviously had to devote my precious time to watching it.

love-at-the-christmas-table

The film stars Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls, Marty McFly’s mom from Back to the Future, and a cute-enough-young-guy who plays an intellectual writer character so….. sold!

Winnie might be a little odd looking as an adult, but I can’t really give an objective ruling on the matter since she was my childhood idol. She’s sort of playing this bruiser character who is always punching her love interest in the arm, but I guess that’s cute? She’s also a bespoke craftswoman who works in her father’s (Luke) shop, so that’s pretty neat. But let’s face it…. when you were once THE coolest kid ever sporting an iconic set of bangs it’s all downhill from there.

winnie-cooper
Enjoy this perfect ice skating outfit while you can because your future is filled with cheesy wrap dresses.

Anyway, the movie is about this boy and girl who only see each once a year at the ‘Christmas table’ because their parents are friends or something (the family dynamics are very confusing or maybe it was explained in the first 5 minutes when I wasn’t paying attention but I’m not confident about that).

SPOILER ALERT: after we watch 15 years worth of Christmas table scenes, the dude finally realises he’s in love with Winnie and he buys her a house and proposes to her. She says yes and they make out.

To make it even better, though, the film manages to incorporate a Miss Havisham reference that somehow becomes pivotal to the plot even though none of the female characters actually resemble Miss Havisham and it seems unlikely that Winnie intends to read the musty old copy of Great Expectations that is gifted to her.

miss-havisham
Hero.

Phewf. So that all ended happily and I remembered I was supposed to be crafting for you guys.

Jeez Louise I just want to relax, people!!!!

So I went to get more crafting fuel (wine).

Cat Crafting.JPG

Unfortunately (fortunately), when I returned from the kitchen, I caught Godzilla Edward red-pawed eating my theatre.

‘Ohhhh… noooo…. please don’t…. do that…..’ I feebly protested.

(After dangling it in Edward’s face ensuring that it was destroyed beyond recognition) I had to concede defeat to Victorian crafting and call it a night.

Ohhhhh but look! Another Christmas classic is on now — Holidaze starring Kelly from 90210! Well, how could I possibly turn my back on a pun that good!

holidaze
Daze & Weekes approved! Just kidding … I might have change my name now. This is terrible… kill me.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE!!!!!!!

xWG // #dazeandweekesandholidaze

 

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