In the morning, Seanie and I went to the Asian Art Museum to check out the Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam & Burma exhibit. The show concentrates on pieces from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and most of the art came from the museum's collection. Most of it had been badly damaged in a flood, or deteriorated with age, so the exhibition focused not just on the pieces displayed, but on the vast restoration process necessary to make each piece presentable. I thought this was by far the most interesting part of the show. In one room they had a video running of the different curators working on restoration - which I think would be a seriously kickass day job - and it was just amazing to see the different techniques used to adhere flaking paint to old cloth images and that sort of thing.
We had gone to the museum because I needed to write an extra credit paper about it for my color & design class, notsomuch for the content of the show. I mean, the art was nice. Pretty. Sparkly - lots of gold and mirrors and colored glass. Bird motifs all over the place. But eh. It's pretty, it's nice, but the pieces just don't resonate with me.
But the museum was not the main attraction of the day. That was our next event, The Dickens Fair!
The Dickens Fair takes place at the Cow Palace in Daly City every year. Last year we went with Rhi and Terry (and I thought I wrote about it last year but I can't find it in my archive so maybe not) and had planned to do so again this year, but my work schedule got changed and suddenly the only weekend day I had off was this Sunday! So off we went. I wore the same coat I wore last year, because
A/ It's awesome
B/ It's REALLY AWESOME
but I made the mistake of wearing a hobble skirt (because my favorite black skirt still has a huge rip in it that I need to repair), which meant that I had a lot of difficulty going up stairs and moving quickly. I'll have to keep that in mind next year.
ANYWAY. So when you walk in the doors of the Cow Palace, you see rows of little streets and shops that have been decked out to look like 19th century London, but without the human excrement and hooker-killing Rippers. It's pretty dark, and as long as you don't look up at the ceiling with the huge metal rafters crisscrossing all over the place, you can pretend you're in a Dickens novel. Sprinkled amongst the shops are tons of stages, where people sing and dance and perform, and little salons in which cast members give informative lectures, or act our scenes from history or Dickens' books, so there's always something to do.
Oh, and right when you walk in the very first thing you see is a pub, so you can get your liquor tab running. Very smart of the Fair organizers. I started off with a cup of eggnog and Seanie got mulled cider, I think.
On one of the stages people were doing folk dances, I think:
It was very noisy so it was hard to hear what the leader was saying at the start and end of each dance.
In one of the little salons, called the Adventurers' Club, they were talking about military dress so Seanie and I popped in for a listen:
It was quite interesting! In fashion history courses, they completely gloss over military dress (and men's clothing in general, unfortunately) so there was a lot of new information to geek out over.
One of the 'street' performers...
I don't know what kind of instrument that is, but it's cool looking! It sounded like a guitar and a bagpipe made a baby.
We kept walking past carts selling roasted chestnuts and almonds, and they smelled so good! Finally I had to get Seanie to buy me some. The almonds weren't warm, as I'd expected they would be, but they were covered in cinnamon and sugar and I could have eaten them for days. So good!
On the main stage, there was an hour-long version of Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado:
We didn't stay for all of it, because we couldn't hear the singers at all over the people sitting around us.
After the show, we decided to get some good ol' fashioned tea at Cuthbert's Tea Shop:
It was really busy, but we were lucky enough to get a walk-in seat even though reservations for the entire day were already filled up. As we waited, we watched the waiters zip about. One of them looked suspiciously like the hypnotist from the Renaissance Faire.
One of the waitresses took a photo of Seanie and I:
Since I got a 'full tea' I had tarts, sandwiches, and scones. The really cool thing was they also gave me a teapot to take home! That was pretty rad. It has the shop's logo on one side.
Dark Gardens (a corsetry shop) always has live models in the windows, so it's fun to walk by again and again and see what has changed.
Each model has to stay in the window for an hour, holding a pose without moving. I could never do it! It sure would be fun to try, though.
But the most fun shopping came from trying on hats.
Arrr, Seanie's a pirate!
Or a musketeer.
I really want a tri-corner hat like this:
Or a proper lady's bonnet:
I always see these 'living statue' street performers up in San Francisco:
Apparently they were in London as well! That kid was just fascinated. He could not look away because he knew that if he did the statue would move.
More hat modeling:
Seanie had a lot of fun figuring out how to wear this sleep-time cap/sailor's hat.
(Really? Sailor wear these?)
One of the people working at Primrose Alley claimed to recognize me from the Renaissance Faire, which I thought was pretty funny. Maybe he uses that line with all his customers :-p But he sold floral garlands and crowns at the Renn. Faire, and we did buy those towards the beginning of the day. At any rate, he was fun to talk to.
There was a little birdcage at the front of the store filled with little fake birds:
The peacock one was pretty and sparkly, and I suddenly decided I wanted a little bird for myself.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but what's a bird in the hair worth?
I ended up buying the little yellow one in my hand. It'll look really cute on my floral crown from the Renn. Faire. Maybe I'll wear them together next year and see if the guy claims to recognize me again!
Trying on some crazy feathery things:
Another crazy one:
So I found this hat that I totally loved and ended up buying. I don't have a good picture of it, but it was very fluffy and fun and looked GREAT with my coat.
In another shop, we were looking at mens' clothing (they had these great wool capes that would look great, except at $200+ Seanie couldn't afford 'em, no way no how) and a chimney sweep came wandering by:
When I posted the photo on Facebook, the chimney sweeper and one of the shopkeepers found it and commented. Go and take a look, their comments are HILARIOUS!
A Punch & Judy Puppet show:
Random people watching the puppet show:
(Although they aren't so random anymore, since thanks to the magic of Facebook they've all been tagged and named.)
Another (unfortunately blurry) Dark Gardens window:
In a corner there was a shop selling harps and harp lessons. Seanie decided to give the instrument a go, and quickly figured out how to play the Star Wars theme:
He totally wants a harp now.
No shopping experience is complete without a trip to a bookstore!
It all comes back to liquor in the end...
For even more photos, just wander over to Facebook.