Symposium includes undergarments, stoves of the past
By Sally Voth
Shenandoah Valley residents will get a chance to show off their underwear -- and check out others' - in a former church, no less.
This year's "Symphony of Stitches, A One-Day Symposium Celebrating Artisans in Shenandoah Valley History," will be held March 2 at St. Paul Heritage's Center, 106 S. High St., Edinburg. The snow date is March 23.
Sponsored by the Edinburg Heritage Foundation and the town of Edinburg, the proceeds will go to the Save the Mill Fund.
The first half of the day is titled "Victoria's Original Secrets: Undergarments in the Valley," and will focus on men's and women's underwear from the 1700s to the 1920s.
Juanita Leisch, who lives part-time in Edinburg and wrote "Who Wore What," will introduce the topic.
"I'm going to lay the foundation, as it were," she said in a phone interview from New York.
She said Colleen Callahan, a former costumes and textiles curator at the Valentine Richmond History Center and co-founder of Costume & Textile Specialists, will be giving the main presentation.
There is much to be learned from unmentionables, according to Leisch.
"It teaches us a lot about the lifestyles of people and their daily lives," she said. "And, it also helps us to identify and understand some of the artifacts people may have in their attics, or having been passed down through the families."
An "extraordinary" amount of historic undergarments has survived till today, particularly from the early 1800s, Leisch said.
"The items were made to withstand laundering with pretty tough detergents, so they were made to last," she said. "It's also just fun to see the styles and [see] how the styles changed through time. We're going to bring samples down and we invite the public also to bring samples in. We do a thing called show and tell."
Leisch said Callahan would help date the garments.
In the afternoon, the symposium will focus on "Iron (of) Chefs in the Valley: Iron Stoves and Cookware."
According to a flyer about the event, Rod Graves, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation president and curator/owner of the Luray Valley Museum, will speak on that topic.
There will be a show and tell for people to bring in their items, and a show and taste, in which attendees can bring a couple dozen samples of desserts made from an old valley recipe.
The symposium will close with a visit to the mill.
To register, call Sandra Armentrout at 984-9309, or email stitchesVA@GMail.com. Half-day tickets are $20, and full-day ones are $35. Lunch is $15, and must be registered for by Feb. 28.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org