This will be Man the Capstan‘s first New Year, and as it is for many people out there, this holiday tends to be a period of reflection. This is very true for those of us at Admiralty House as well. Man the Capstan, the blog, launched in late July. In fact, you can read our first post here. It isn’t much, just a quick introduction. The site didn’t have a lot of information either—that would, of course, come with time. July 24th was not the magical date that this project began, though; the idea started months before, in the early spring months of 2008, when Johanna and I thought it would be a neat idea to create a Royal Navy uniform. It certainly did not end there—we had no idea that four additional costumes would follow!
Very quickly, as the “tentative discussion” evolved into “ordering patterns and supplies”, enthusiasm blossomed, and it was contagious. Johanna very quickly began drafting plans for a gown, the Passage to India, a Royal Marine uniform for Steve, and as Shara and Tim expressed interest, a third uniform and gown was added to the list. Soon the entire family was on board with the project, and the uniforms and gowns slowly began to take shape. As July rolled around, and as the blog was launched, we already had the first uniform sewed (though unadorned with lace), and the Passage to India was nearly complete, though also unadorned with accessories.
Naturally, we here at Man the Capstan thought that what we were doing was really cool. I wanted to document our progress, and at a very early stage began taking dozens of photos with our old Canon Powershot A75. We had nowhere to put these pictures, and the idea to create a blog through WordPress was quickly acted upon. Since then, Man the Capstan has nearly completed all of the projects—the Royal Marine uniform, the two Royal Navy uniforms, and the two Lady’s gowns—with more ideas and more projects on the horizon. This blog’s future is also a matter of discussion. What else can we do with the platform we’ve created here?
One exciting new development, of course, has been our movement into YouTube, and the publishing of video blogs. Having visited Shara and Tim for a lovely roast (in their brand new Christmas crock pot), I took the opportunity to get some footage of Tim’s sword for a new Exhibit Insight.
Long-time readers will recognize the music at the end (which will appear on all of our video updates) in this post, a lovely shanty Rolling Home, sung by Tom Lewis.
On Christmas day, the military men of the Capstan crew took to the neighbourhood in costume. I took with me, of course, the new Kodak Zi6, and captured it on film as an event! We had with us a misdelivered Christmas letter from Canada Post; having donned the uniforms to test our new accessories and weaponry, the idea to deliver the letter in costume seemed quite appropriate. We also took with us some Christmas cards for the neighbours, and the trip was quite enjoyable. You can watch it here!
You might notice some changes to the blog as well. We’ve added a new page to the right, Merchandise, which is still under construction. The little bit of writing there explains it well enough. We’ve no intention of evolving this project into a capital endeavour—Man the Capstan has never been about making money, it’s been about creating these lovely reproductions and wearing them! We’ve discovered, however, that in the process of doing so we’ve acquired some extra materials and accessories. Extra yardage of cloth, extra necklace sets, unused lace, a sword that has since been replaced, so on and so forth. We’ve also realized that we have only so many members on this project, and our tailor has no intention of stopping. A great deal of pride and enjoyment can be derived from doing this, and there is a possibility that future productions—such as gowns, uniforms or other minor items—may be available in the future to purchase from our merchandise section. There is still a great deal of discussion involved before we proceed on this.
Another new addition to our sidebar is the distinctive Paypal Donate button. Donations and patronage is not something we ever considered pursuing—it’s not an activity that we feel is necessary here at Man the Capstan. This project has never been about money, nor will it ever be. With that said, however, the suggestion was made to add it to the site, and after some discussion we’ve decided to do so. Through our development of the Merchandise section, we’ve created and set up a Paypal account, and adding a donate button was relatively quick and painless. We doubt that it will attract any attention, but for those of you who appreciate the historical and artistic content here at Man the Capstan and wish to donate, you will receive a quality print of the Capstan crew, in full regalia, posing in the beautiful red salon at the Blomidon Inn (pictured here); the print will also be signed by members of the Crew.
Speaking of photographs, Man the Capstan has also redesigned and re-uploaded all of our photos on our Flickr account. We just finished labelling, tagging and describing the lot of them (over 120, I believe). Check it out! We split up the photos into three sets; the Uniforms, the Gowns and the various Capstan Events.
That’s the latest here at Man the Capstan! We have a number of new updates to post that are on the list, including some Behind the Uniform updates for our Marine and Navy 2.0 uniforms, as well as some historical entries from other authors of the Crew. If any of you have any questions, queries, comments or criticisms, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment here on the blog, or e-mail us!