This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

My photo
HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Grand Opening of Warner Carrillo Rancho Museum

June 1, 2013
Members of our costume guild attended the SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organization) grand opening of the Warner Carrillo Rancho museum in Warner Springs, CA on this day. 

Through our contacts in Old Town San Diego, we were invited to attend the opening fund raiser there. We had a costume range of 1857-1920 so we had some room to move. Because of the predicted temperatures of high 90s many of us chose to wear something in cotton. Good decision. We heard various temperature ranges of 97-103d while we were there.
The adobe house was built in 1857 and was a huge cattle ranch and stagecoach stopover. You can see it on the right in my photo with the red roof. The old barn is on the left behind the people there. This barn survived the Great Easter Earthquake of 2010 (a 7.0) where it really knocked our socks off. The support structure built under it kept it from falling down even though the earthquake caused it to shift off its foundation.  This article by the Ramona Centennial gives a very succinct story of the rancho.
The area is high desert and as you can see, very dusty. The day we were there, the wind was blowing like a son of a gun along with all the dirt. I think the wind was the only thing that kept us all from dying from the heat. Except me, I felt faint quite a few times. But I don’t handle heat very well.
About nine of us showed up, and on arrival we moved some tables out of the direct sun under a tree and had our picnic. Then the wind started picking up. Quite a few times we had to lower our parasols and fans to protect ourselves from the dust. Alana Coons from SOHO came over to talk to us and commented that her lovely tan wasn’t really a tan but she was actually covered in dust.  I wore my 1873 gown of white w/ black polka dots, and changed out the red ribbons to all black. I really like this color better than the red. The red cherries on my hat added a spot of color to it.
The Grand Opening Ceremonies began with soldiers marching and a band playing. Then we stood out in the sun and listened to all the speeches.  At this point I started feeling the heat and had to go sit in the shade on the porch of the adobe house. But we were pleased that our costumed group was acknowledged in one of the welcoming speeches.
These were the ladies attending it with me, and if you notice the young lady in blue on the far right discovered us and has decided to join our guild and be part of the fun.
You’ll notice *I’m not in that photo*. That’s because I’d just discovered the tintype photographer was set up at the other end and I was going to get my photo taken at the carriage there.  Nick is the same photographer from Old Town San Diego that had taken the lovely one of me in my Bloomers during Twainfest last year. So I was excited at the possibility of another one. And these were a larger one with a donation going to SOHO.
It took two times for a decent one to come out because of the wind blowing my dress around. I felt like Mary Poppins about to take off with my parasol. Nick had to deal with the liquids drying out too. Sadly one of his large cameras on a tripod was blown over and damaged.  Nick has also decided he wants to join our guild to further his hobby of old timey photography.
If you notice, my dress looks white. It actually has black polka dots on it that you can’t see. So that’s fun to know when looking at old black and white tintypes. Here it is in color.
My friends Gina and Trudy also had theirs taken, and I took one of them with our cameras too. Now you can see the color of the carriage. 
I didn’t spend too much time walking inside the museum as it got crowded but this little beauty caught my eye in one of the rooms. I’m seeing more and more of these very old sewing machines and they’re so darn cute.
After about three hours, some of us headed over to the Julian Mining Company in Wynola to see what was happening with the Julian Gold Rush Days there. Not too much but we visited with some of our friends, and even the animals had their photo taken with us.
I ran into my friends Shelley Peters, who was packing up, and Paige, who was part of the Civil War encampment there.  
Then we headed into Julian and met up with the other ladies at Mom’s Apple Pies for some nice homemade pie and ice cream on top. After all the heat, it was a welcome treat.
We walked around town, did a little shopping, and many people stopped us asking why we were dressed like we were. And of course they had to take our photos.

We ended up in a shady yard at the Julian Grill to finally cool off. I think this was the prettiest spot to sit in.
These are my favorite pictures of the day with Cindy. And Randy finally got some shade.
Later that evening when I got home I put my dress into the bathtub with cold water and soap and let it soak overnight. The water was pretty dingy when I took it out to rinse it. I let most of the water drain out of the dress in the tub, then rolled it up in towels to get the excess water out, and hung it on a rod to dry for a day.  And I had a layer of dirt on me also. My shoelaces were so dirty in my boots that I pulled them out and tossed them in the wash. My white socks are no longer white. But we got a real authentic feel of what life was like in the old stagecoach days, I’ll give you that.
*My appreciation goes to Cindy P.,Gina L., and Trudy F. for the use of some of these photos.*


  1. I have to say, everyone looks quite comfortable in spite of the heat. And your lovely "white" gown doesn't show the dust/dirt in the photos! The gown looks especially stunning in the tintype. Glad to hear it wasn't ruined from the dust! Cheers, The Goose

  2. We had a wonderful time! Your blog describes it perfectly. I loved the apple pie stop in Julian and relaxing in the shaded garden. So glad we decided to wear lightweight cotton :)

  3. Thank you again for coming and showing your support, the event was far more successful than we imagined it would be, especially after all the planning fluctuations/issues.

    We see now what needed be done differently....firstly having it in June (agh!!!) was not our original idea, we wanted it in March when the grass was green and the wildflowers in bloom and the temperature mild...but were emphatically talked out of that by some residents who insisted we'd be extremely sorry and we would experience rain or snow. Should have gone with our first instinct.

    Glad you were able to go to the Julian Gold Rush Day, but I think your experience there was similar to mine last year. I got all dolled up in my period clothing, brought my little god daughters in their period dress too...drug them out there in the heat and I was immensely not impressed by the set up there in Wynola. Thought it was just a precursor to what would be going on further up the road in Julian. But it was nice to see Shelley and the girls didn't have a preconceived notion and were entertained by the animals and the 'reenactors'. Had a picnic there and headed for Julian where certainly...the real action would be taking place.

    Got to Julian to find WE were the only game in town. We took the miniature carriage ride with the pony (I must have looked ridiculous) and drew crowds so we just did princess waving and had people approach and ask us why we were dressed like that.

    Again, thank you ladies for coming out and helping us in our efforts to save our barn, hopefully in a few years we will be celebrating the barn restoration with a proper barn dance and from the wind!

  4. Dear Val,

    You'd never know you all were spray-painted with dust by the photos: you manage to look pretty fresh. Imagine if there'd been humidity. Guess they don't get that in the high desert :}

    So black spots dont's show in tintypes? For Pete's sake. I knew some colors came out oddly, but black? Huh.

    Love all the 1870s outfits. They always make me happy; they're so exuberant and pretty.

    Glad you all could support the ranch. I suspect not many have been saved, so they are a real treasure. Someday I'll get out West and see things like that. Meantime, thank you for taking us along with you on your adventures!

    Very best,



I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!