In a post not so long ago, Christine mentioned a revised punishment ironing regimen that David has to endure from time to time. A number left comments asking for details. The details are below:
Christine’s ironing punishment
I promised some time ago to inform regular readers of my greatly ‘improved’ disciplinary ironing regime, and following a recent reminder, I am pleased to detail my new approach. When we met, David was fascinated by Victorian era disciplinary regimes, so I thought he would really appreciate it if I created a Victorian ironing experience for him. I suspect his enthusiasm for the Victorian era is waning with each new experience I develop, especially since my liniment! What actually prompted me down this track was advice and ideas from other contributors to your Blog.
After some searching, I found a set of three ‘sad irons’ in an antique shop. These are from the early Victorian era and each weighs about 11 lbs (5 kg). They used to be heated on a roaring coal stove. We simulate this by using an electric hot plate, on which is placed a large cast iron pan. This can be easily set up in the laundry. He turns the stove onto high and the irons are placed on the pan. The Victorians typically had two irons heating, while a third iron was in use. This meant there was no ‘downtime’, as once the iron in use cooled, the next in line could be employed, and one could continuously iron.
Ironing was a very hot and unpleasant affair in those days, due to the need for the roasting fire nearby. So, since we don’t have a coal fire in the laundry, to replicate the era for David, he has to turn the laundry heater on to its highest setting and switch on a room humidifier. (This is only for when he does disciplinary or punishment ironing.) This warms up the room and the high humidity makes for a most unpleasant work environment, just as would have been ‘enjoyed’ by many a Victorian scullery maid.
He also has a separate uniform for disciplinary/ punishment ironing. He replaces his nylon stockings with 110 dernier woollen stockings. They are very thick, very itchy and most unpleasant to wear. His legs get very hot in them. He changes his corset for a stiff whalebone model that is very much tighter laced. Then, instead of his usual maid’s attire, he wears an ankle-length, rather heavy, coarse woollen skirt with a cotton Victorian style blouse. The blouse has a high collar, which he is required to keep well-starched, making it ‘a little’ uncomfortable. The sleeves are puffed out from the shoulder to the elbow, leading to tiny pintucking on the lower sleeves of the blouse, which are formed tight against his forearms. Beautiful cotton clunky lace adorns the front of the blouse. He also wears a pair of three-inch-high heels! A mop cap completes his look.
This makes the disciplinary ironing experience very much more ‘authentic’, not to mention tedious, challenging and unpleasant; and greatly more exhausting and painful. I might also clarify here what the difference is between a punishment ironing session and a disciplinary ironing session. A punishment ironing session is awarded when he has been naughty and is being punished. A disciplinary ironing session is awarded simply to give him ‘something to do’.
I am pleased to advise it is far more time consuming and challenging than when he used his modern, top of the range, steam iron. It used to take about 3-hours for him to iron all the contents of one of his laundry bags. Now it takes well over 4-hours! It’s also very much more physically demanding due to the heavy weight of the irons, the physical challenges of using them and the fierce heat in the laundry. I find it too hot just standing in the doorway!
His ironing board is set up about 5 m from where the irons are heated. Each iron loses its heat within 5-minutes, so he has to walk over to the heating element and change irons at least once every 5-minutes, in his heels!
It’s hot, exceedingly arduous work, and he is soon sweating profusely. He looks ready to drop long before he has finished ironing one of his laundry bags. At the end, his clothes are so soaked in sweat they have to be taken off in the laundry before he heads for a shower. He is allowed to drink as much water as he can whenever he needs to.
He suffers greatly from the dreariness and strenuousness of the chore and every muscle in his body is soon smarting distressingly. On camera he can be seen wincing as he moves stiffly around. He advises me his calves start to ache first, due to wearing heels. It is then not long before his shoulders and arms are throbbing from the weight of the irons, and then his neck and back start to ache. On top of all that, he is sweltering hot and sticky, his legs are itching and feel like they are roasting, his breathing is constricted by the corset and his neck gets itchy from the high, stiff collar of his blouse.
He uses a cloth, which he soaks in a water and white vinegar mix, to wet the fabrics and help him get perfect creases. He also has to keep his irons immaculately clean, sand-papered and polished. They need regular but light greasing to avoid rusting. He uses beeswax to prevent the irons sticking to the cloth. The beeswax ‘advice’ came from Victorian periodicals I sourced. It is applied very lightly to the iron. This is done only after he has finished the day’s ironing, and then every couple of weeks for ‘maintenance’, if they are not being used. This keeps them well-cared for and free of rust. Prior to actually using the iron, he gives the base a polish to clean it of any residues. Caring for the irons is a weekly chore now, part of his laundry duties.
If the irons get too hot, he risks scorching the clothes, so he has to carefully check the temperature of the irons, by splashing water on them! He has been warned, that if he scorches any items, not only will he be very soundly caned, but each damaged item, will be replaced with five similar items! To date, I have only set him sessions with a single laundry bag of ironing, but I have guaranteed him, there will come a day when he gets to do all three bags. I laugh at his look of sheer dread when I mention this, and rhetorically enquire as to the state he’ll be in after 14 or more hours of Victorian ironing!
Lots of fun
By the way Scarlet, I loved your comment on providing plenty of rules. I do this too. He even has spreadsheets set with KPIs. etc!