Wednesday, July 24, 2013
This year is the bi-centennial of the first white crossing of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales in 1813. The mountain range had been a real obstacle to the expansion of white Australian settlement in New South Wales until Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson and several convicts finally found a way down from the steep cliffs to the grassy plains below on the western side. My client was referred to me following some clothing I made for guides at Old Government House Parramatta. Outfits for 7 or 8 convict men were required for a play about the convict workers on the road over the mountains. As usual a small budget and tight deadline had to be worked around, you'd think I'd be used to that by now wouldn't you? So by early April, as well as fitting in family wedding preparations for May, I had a line full of convict shirts, pants and punishment pants with buttoned sides drying in the sun. I stencilled the government broad arrow on sparingly in several places as my reference drawing showed. We used the Augustus Earle drawing of convicts at Parramatta this time. Some handspun wool rough caps were also knitted for me by Kurrajong Crafts Inc. thanks to a friend who recommended their help. This job also led to another recent order for an Overseer of Convicts for Hyde Park Barracks. I made an 1820's shirt with stock and cravat, a burgandy wool double breasted vest and frock coat, grey knee breeches and purchased long white hose, a black top hat and braces to complete the outfit. Some ladies day caps and aprons will also follow. Hope to have the time to make myself a new 1880's gown for September when I'm giving an after-dinner talk at a national conference for one of my Guilds, fingers crossed.