Tiffany Apan's Blog: My Haven on This Desolate Terrain
Official Blog of Musician/Dark Fiction Author/Blogger/Actress/Award-winning Producer and Writer, Tiffany Apan
The blog is updated 1-2 times per week. And as I always say when researching history and other subjects, keep an open mind and take anything you read (including what's posted on this blog) with a grain of salt. :)
Formal Website: http://tiffanyapan.com
“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” — Edgar Allan Poe
Here is the continuation of making my 18th century fire bucket in Glunn Klass. When I left off, I had just pounded the mould into the sewn leather that will be my bucket. And now here are the next steps...
1.) Trim the edges that are around the mould.
2.) Mark where the stitching on the edges will be.
3.) Take your best Thor hammer and pound the hell out of that mould until it's out from the bucket.
4.) Mark and drill the holes around what will be the bottom of the bucket.
5.) Glue a strip of leather around the interior of the bottom edge.
6.) Once the glue is dry, take a drill and put it through the original holes and into the inner strip.
7.) Using a saddle stitch, stitch in what will be the bottom of the bucket.
8.) Trim off the edges and you are on your way to the next step...which I will show you at another time. :)
So on my neverending historical studies, I joined Gunn Klass, a class that is presented by a couple board members at the museum. It focuses on skills like making flint locks, leather sewing, blacksmithing, and more. For the first project of the Fall semester, we are making fire buckets! This has been a fun and challenging project so far and here are the beginnings of it. :)
1.) We started with a slab of leather that is to eventually be the bucket. It is marked on the side where the holes will be punctured.
2.) Next, we punctured the holes so the sides could be stitched using a saddle stitch to make the seam.
3.) Right before the stitching started, Paul (one of the class instructors) predicted that some of us would break the needles while stitching (by pulling too hard with a pair of pliers). And...I ended up breaking a needle right away.
4.) But I was able to start again with another needle, and this time successfully completed my stitching.
5.) After stitching what would be the side seam, the leather had to soak for a while...
6.) Then it was taken out and put into a mould that would shape it into its bucket shape (I had to hammer in the mould with a heavy "Thor" hammer, which was loads of fun).
That's it for now, folks. I will return with more progress on the bucket and another real blogpost. Also some news...
During this very busy week, I was able to post my newest music video for my song, "A Prayer." The video was directed by my filmmaker friend, Matt Jefferson and also starred Jason English, Jason Fuller, and Eric Prestley. The song is a fan favorite, so enjoy!
And check out a little behind the scenes action from when we were shooting it! :)
And stay tuned for some more footage from shows, including a forthcoming 18th century tavern night performance with the Wayward Companions. I will also be posting photos of an 18th century fire bucket that I'll be making, and of course I will be back to blogging about topics I love.
Summer is almost over and Fall is just around the corner. And Autumn is my favorite time of the year. :)
There has also been a lot going on over here. First, I am happy to announce that my novel Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) is part of a special edition subscription book box this coming October. This year, Author Ashley Nestler started up the Go Indie Now! Subscription Book Box as a way of helping to promote independent authors (authors that are either self-published or on a smaller indie press) to new readers. My book Descent will be part of their special editionCeltic Lore - Myths & Legends Box.I am also honored to be helping curate this box (along with the Shadows that Linger October themed box) with items from my forthcoming scent line, Antiquity & Illusion, which will be released later this month.
Antiquity & Illusion will feature potpourri, candles, aroma beads, wax tarts, and more made with very high quality essential oils, beeswax and soy wax. I have had wonderful experiences with "previewing" my product line by donating some of the items to be raffled off at a couple charity events. Now, I am thrilled to be officially releasing them this October through my online store and the book box. There should be still time to subscribe to both the Celtic Lore and Shadows Linger boxes. Both will be going out in October and are featuring either my literature or/and items from my Antiquity & Illusion product line:
Speaking of books (mine, as well as the books of others), this passed April, I participated as an author in the Brain 2 Books Cyber Con. Because I was relatively new to something like this, my participation was minimal, meaning I had my own virtual booth and entered my novel Descent in a raffle. In next year's con, I will be participating on a greater level, including hosting blog tours at my blog. This won't be taking place until April of 2017, so I will be posting news as further developments for the event are made. But in the meantime, check out the website:
On the music front, I am now officially involved with two historical music acts (in addition to my own musical projects). I recently performed with the Pittsburgh Historical Music Society at the Depreciation Lands Museum's Ice Cream Social back in July. Here are a couple videos from that performance:
I will be making more appearances with the orchestra in their future concert dates (which will also be posted on the Shows & Events page of my website). I have also been invited to join the Wayward Companions (a sort of 'off-shoot' from the orchestra). My first performance with them will be at the Depreciation Lands Museum's Tavern Night, taking place in Allison Park, PA this Saturday evening (September 10). In addition to my Wayward Companions performance at Tavern Night, I will also be entertaining patrons with stories and other songs of the 18th century taverns (or 'ordinaries').
When I first embarked on the venture of Living History, I looked forward to not only bringing history to life for others, but also getting into some deeper historical research for my own writing. It ended up becoming much more than that.
I've been doing this for probably a little over a year now (close to a year and a half), and in addition to getting an even better grasp on history than before (which really fuels the history lover in me), opportunities in music, acting, and writing opened up. I've also gained even richer insights to my already pretty nuanced views of history.
Speaking of my nuanced view of history, one thing I always make a point of doing in studying any era is to try and acquire a complete picture of all that was taking place in a given time, including the statutes of the day, the political climate, what happened previously that might have been the cause of such a political climate, and any other pesky nuances that might contribute to connecting with the past on a deeper level. This is in opposition to the more basic 'on the surface' view that many seem to have. In the midst of it all, I found myself wanting to tell these more nuanced views of history and therefore try and quell the many preconceived notions that seems to cloud our vision of the distant past. Yes, studying history can be overwhelming and perhaps that is at least part of why many tend to take that basic surface only approach that also feeds many historical myths. When asked where to start, I usually tell people to begin with Mary Miley Theobald's book Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked along with her accompanying website. Of course, I don't necessarily agree with everything she says (you'll have that with anyone, though) but it is a great place to be opened up to seeing which historical events might need a little further investigation in order to have a more well-rounded outlook on bygone times.
As a subscriber to Jas. Townsend's newsletter and YouTube Channel, I find much of his insights extremely valuable (Jas. Townsend & Son is a great source, particularly great if you are looking to get into Living History), not only as a reenactor, but also as someone that considers herself a lifelong student of history. There was one issue of his newsletter that especially jumped out at me and if I may, here is a passages from it:
"It also doesn’t matter what your race or ethnicity is [when it comes to being a reenactor]. Eighteenth-century North America was made up of a rich and diverse mix of cultures and ethnicities. Society wasn’t as stereotypical as you think.
A more obvious example may be for Americans of African descent. We’ve had a number of people tell us that they do not want to portray a slave, believing that a slave persona is their only option. But the truth is there were many free blacks in 18th-century North America. There was even a black regiment that fought on the colonial side of the war. There are so many stories that are begging to be told, otherwise they could be lost and forgotten forever.
If you are concerned that reenacting and living history is only for men (admittedly, some groups and time periods of reenactors might have more of a reputation for being only men), the flintlock era is for everyone. The opportunities are amazing. Many of the military units accept women into their ranks. There are so many things women did in the 18th century that were important, and those stories need to be told. Women of this time period were not hidden away."
Now, I highlighted three sentences in bold-faced print for a reason, but the one out of all of them that is - in my opinion - of most importance is the statement of the many stories begging to be told, lest they be lost and forgotten. It is also these stories that can give a person - regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender - pride in who they are and where they came from (and I mean real pride, not the fabricated kind the media sells us as a way of dividing us). We can learn so much from these stories, both the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, but that can never happen if these stories are going ignored. Not to mention that while I'm sure that many who come to historical sites do so with an interest in learning more of the portrayed time period, a good number of these individuals seem to come in with preconceived notions. This is especially so when it comes to the women of the time. Even just from observing what many often say online, it seems to be widely believed that women were "hidden away" and "put in their place", lest they be burned as a witch for "stepping out of line." While there being more pronounced gender roles, more defined meanings of "women's work" versus "men's work", and a strong push toward all women marrying when of age isn't false, many early settlers were more worried about surviving in the new world than they were concerning themselves with 'John Smith's' wife helping run her husband's business instead of being confined to the hearth "where she belongs". In fact, 'John Smith down the road' having his wife help him run his tavern was not all that unusual, as - for many at that time - the home was the center of the economy, not only for that household, but the entire community. Many businesses were conducted from inside a family's home and often, the entire family contributed in one form or another (children as young as four were considered active members of the family, meaning they also did their share). But many today don't seem to consider that.
Here is an anecdote to hopefully demonstrate my point:
Two weeks ago, I was at the museum working with the blacksmith and of course, we get families that come to visit and explore the museum and the area's covered history. When I mentioned that, yes, there were women taking on the position of blacksmith and other trades back then (meaning the 18th century and Revolutionary War), each and every guest seemed surprised.
I've read of such accounts from other historical sites as well, when the tourist seems to think that women were merely subservient housewives (one reason why - according to Jas. Townsend and other sources - women are also hesitant when exploring the idea of being involved with Living History) and are often shocked when they learn of women working in a place like a printing press or blacksmith shop. Usually the tourist in question assumes that the museum is fulfilling some sort of 'equal opportunity clause' when in reality what they are seeing is historical accuracy. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say things along the lines of "wow, that's the opposite of what you normally hear!" While I am always happy to clear those details up for them, it is troubling to see just how skewed a lot of it is.
Colonial Williamsburg's website has some excellent articles on the contributions of women throughout history and how, oftentimes, seeing a woman working at a printing press, owning a tavern, etc, really was not considered all that unusual for many in Colonial society:
According to the article, "Gentlewomen of the Press":
"Though creative research has produced evidence of women working at male-dominated occupations in the eighteenth century and before, there is undoubtedly more documentation out there, in newspapers, diaries, legal proceedings, and prints. What is more compelling is the lack of documentation that women were not allowed to work. Although religious practices and social norms might have restricted certain activities in some parts of the world, there were no laws prohibiting women from working a trade.
"Yet sometimes scholars and guests have a hard time accepting the notion that women did just that. Schumann says that "the greatest obstacle for the visitor is in accepting [Clementina] Rind as an eighteenth-century woman, and not a 'born-before-her-time' women's libber. She was in debt and had four young children. Fortunately, she was well suited to the task." A modern woman might choose to be a mechanic as an occupation, but an eighteenth-century woman might have had to pick up a hammer or work a press to make ends meet. Perhaps the notion of "choice" is where women's roles have changed in the workforce, but no matter what century it is, women have always done what is necessary to provide for themselves and their families."
It gives me great pleasure to bring the stories of these individuals to life through reenacting and storytelling and few things irritate me more than seeing someone take a rather holier than thou approach to how they view our predecessors. That is why I find it very rewarding to tell someone of Elizabeth Glover, who in 1638 founded the first printing press in America. Or share the amazing story of the partnership between Harriet Tubman and John Brown as they fought to free slaves, which ended in Brown being executed (something that Tubman is said to have agonized over). Or how about Elizabeth Thorn, who ran her family's grave digging business while her husband fought in the Civil War? I find it rewarding to see that person's face shift to an expression of being pleasantly surprised and then want to know more. I am also happy that historical sites like Colonial Williamsburg, that are even more prominent than the one that I do work for, can do the same.
As I always say, I think that there is more in history that can bring us all together than divide us. There were many incidents where women, men, and people of different races and ethnicities came together to fight adversity. There were many that did great things that can and should bring pride to all of us today. There were also terrible things that happened, incidents that we can learn from so not to repeat it. But it was also during those terrible times that people did come together to create a certain unity. And - as it is today - it was the media along with some in power that fought to rip that unity at the seams and put people against each other, which sadly many fell for, though many also did not. By Living History, I hope to tell of these individual's whose stories are on the verge of being lost forever only to be replaced by a simplified, altered version that does nothing but divide, conquer, and shame.
I will close by giving the last words to Jas. Townsend.
Til next time.
My first performance with the Pittsburgh Historical Music Society Orchestra took place at the Depreciation Lands Museum Ice Cream Social in Allison Park, PA on July 17, 2016. For this gig, this was the only way to really position the camera without it getting in everybody's way, so hopefully next gig will bring a better view of us and our fabulous 18th century clothes! Enjoy and more will be coming!