Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Much Ado About Blogging

Yesterday marked my one month of blogging to the day!

Sheesh, I can't really believe it's been a month already! And I feel like I haven't even touched the proverbial tip of the iceberg-- there's just so much I want to write about. I have to be frank in that I didn't think I'd last this long with writing a blog, but hey! That's what I love about the future, you never know how it'll turn out-- and what's more is I've managed to comfortably find my style niche; I consider my style mostly victorian,  a touch of steampunk, a dash of burlesque and a whole lot of romanticism. All it took was for me to just keep writing and doing what I do best to really make it that much more obvious to me.
Preparing to write this post!

So onto hopes for the future of this blog!

  • I would really love to be able to do a 100 increment reader giveaways, but that currently is a little far from its goal-- it could easily change!
  • I have plans to do a trick & treat giveaway every Halloween; you see I love Halloween, but to me it isn't just about the spookyness or awesome batty and skull goodness... it's about the joy of giving! People look forward every year to dress up, decorate and give candy. So I have taken it upon myself to see Halloween as my own gift giving holiday... so this upcoming Halloween expect some awesome treats! And if by fortune this converges paths with the first, it'll definitely be a huge prize.
  • I may add my adventures in make up land, depending on the chances of me investing into a better cosmetic collection. I have been dying to try brands like Sugar Pill and Urban Decay.
  • I may add a sort of 'question corner', whereas readers send me their crafty or gothy fashion dilemmas and I can either divvy out what I know, or try it myself and post progress and completions.
  • At one point or another I must try or make one of those blog challenges.
That's about all the prospects I can think of currently.
In more news:

I was recently tagged by Karoliina Kalma of Bones & Lillies blog for another Liebster Award.

Since I was first awarded this back in late July I will revert to the 11 facts about me: here .

To answer her questions:

1. If you could be any fairytale character, who/what would you be?
That's hard to say, I haven't read many story books. I've always loved how the evil queens have been portrayed aesthetically, but I've felt that I could identify best with Helena from Midsummer Nights Dream.

2. What's your favourite dish to prepare?
This changes depending on my flavor of the month. Last month it was my own recipe of fried chicken coupled with grilled asparagus in a balsamic and honey glaze. This month, my hubby has me intent on fajitas. I guess the one thing that is constant in these two months is that I am cooking chicken-- but that may very well change in the next month.

3. Do you play games? If yes, what are your three favourite games and why?
I am a gamer at heart, though my hubby and our little circle of friends like to joke that I am a fairweather gamer... that might be true, but I have played games as much as I have crafted. My favorites are quite simple, as they are the only games I find have good replay value regardless of age. Cooking Mama series, Legend of Zelda, and Tomb Raider... and that is just three that I can recall I have played several times in the past.
I'm looking forward to playing the early release of Guild Wars 2 this weekend and seeing how it pans out as an MMO. After playing WoW for 7 years and playing the much hyped release of ToR and other MMO's I have expectations that can't be helped as a consumer.

4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? (And for how long?)
Germany! I've had this image of Germany in my head for as long as I can remember-- being the homeland of my favorite band, it's always been like this special place in my head. Being older I have realistic expectations now, but the desire to visit hasn't changed, and if it did turn out that I loved it as much as I did in my mind then I'd definitely consider moving permanently.

5. What are the best qualities in the area you live in?
Rock formations can be beautiful...

6. What's your favourite piece of clothing?
Currently it is my Louise Black Corset-- but it changes... a few months ago it was my lace victorian boots.

7. How long have you blogged?
Yesterday was actually my one month anniversary!

8. Who do you feel you write your blog for? What do you imagine your typical reader to be like?
It's a combination of myself and the reader; I've never considered myself knowledgeable in much, but fashion and crafts is something I feel that I can state some claim into since I devote my life and career aspirations to it.I try not to make it too much about me and my home life so much as where my inspiration lies or the process I go through to complete or put something together. I imagine my regular reader to be someone with relatively the same inclinations aesthetically speaking.

9. Do you have one favourite band? If yes, why are they above all the rest for you?
I have one band that stands alone amongst the things I listen to: Rammstein. Mainly because their discovery is forever joined in my head as the discovery of the fashions of goth and many other fond and delightful memories. I'm not very industrial anymore, as I've changed with the lapse of time... but they remain a profound source of goodness for me.

10. What housework is your least favourite?
Dishes. Abhor it. Never willingly do them-- would prefer cleaning the bathroom to doing them.

11. Do you have a favourite blog?
Honestly? Yours Bones & Lillies. It's so well put together, and I feel that our style tastes are quite alike or really very similar.

I really would love to hear all the answers in my previous questions so I'll just ask them again here:

1. If you could live anywhere and be anything, what and where would it be?
2. Have you seen any kind of "wonder of the world" attraction, and if so which? ( ex. Grand Canyon, Northern Lights, Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge...)
3. You're a chef-- what's today's special?
4. In the past month (not "ever"), what was one limited item you wanted SO badly but ended up not buying and deeply regret that decision?
5. You just won a $500 gift card, where is it for and what will you buy there?
6. How do you resolve a conflict? "Make love not war, man" or "Let's find the happy median" or "DEMS FIGHTN WORDS!!!1!"
7. You just won backstage passes-- what show/band are they for?
8. Au naturel or Eau de toilette (no perfume or perfume)? If you chose perfume, what is your favorite scent or scent combo?
9. When you die will you be buried or cremated? And during your funeral will your casket be open or closed, and why?
10. What's your idea of a romantic or awesome day out?
11. If you could learn an ancient fighting style, from which culture would you pick?

I tag:

(missing 4 but feel free to suggest yourself).


Now comes the point in our story where we say tah tah for now!
Here's to many more months and possibly years of blogtastic blogging about gothic fashion and crafts!
Blogging the blogtastically bloggerific... blargh!

Featured self made top:

Another recent excursion into the wonders of bleach art! Freehanded onto a completely synthetic fiber content top.

Keep it spooky, readers!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Romantic Hobble Skirt-- Finito!

Well-- I finally garnered the motivation to just finish the skirt once and for all.
I probably should've stopped once I finished basting the pieces, but my urge to sew overtook me and I finished the darn thing, eheheh... it didn't take long in my frenzy-- but afterwards I felt remorse for having finished it.

As I have said in previous posts; my supplies are rather limited and projects aren't as abundant as they used to be for me. So I have to conserve, conserve, conserve!

Alas... you can't keep a crafter from crafting.

So, to recount what was used:

High quality stretch velvet in black
Venetian lace trim in black
Ruffle lace trim in black
Black satin ribbon
Pattern and design by yours truly.

Side view
Back view

My sketch book

I didn't end up using button or a zipper, as the velvet was stretchy enough so that I didn't need to use them at all.

I need to make a minor adjustment to the fit of the waist as it's too stretchy, but other than that it is peachy.

Featured self made jewelry in this post:
Worked with black art wire and a stone skull with pewter spider charms

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: The Art of Bones

The night before last night, not a mouse was stirring, but the creatures were out!

I felt so inspired by a leaf and how its veins reminded me of a spine, that I felt like drawing a spine in a frame. I tried to make it art nouveau-- not sure how much I succeeded, but I'm quite happy with it nevertheless.
I scanned it in then digitized it with filters and whatnot!
Primp and Proper!

Le original pencil

Making this into a digital piece really inspired the need to revamp a couple older artwork, and bestow new life!

I call her Darling Marie

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Fade Into Style

Ok, so I could've saved this post-- but fate looked kindly upon this project.

I've been inspired by bleach art for many years, but just didn't have the bravery to attempt it!
To be honest, the group Artisan Crafts @ was having a monthly challenge with this as its theme-- I was debating contributing, and while acquiring the bleach from a neighbor I accidentally spilled a drop onto a black shirt I was wearing. I know I know, never wear black when handling bleach!
And suddenly I had a reason to try it, hehe.

The drop landed at such an awkward spot, right near my belly button. Luckily it didn't take long to decide what I was going to do, because I wanted two designs into shirts that allowed the spot to be hidden well.

One was a rib cage (that I have a shirt I will do this with soon), and the other a bird skull. I opted for the bird skull since many of the examples in the Journal page of the group were showing rib cages as examples.

I used a bird skull I own as a reference-- it was all free handed from that point.

I used chalk to sketch out the initial design over the stain. I inserted a piece of cardboard and taped down the area I was to draw on, so the fabric wouldn't scrunch as much as I drew.

Then it was a simple task of pouring some bleach into a cup, and loading the brush to paint along the lines.

I used a lavender scented no name bleach from walmart so I did not have to dilute it to darken lines; if you're using a stronger bleach I suggest diluting it  so it doesn't bleach as strongly.
Loading the brush thinly so it is not dripping or soaked allowed me to produce fine and dark lines; when I soaked the brush it gave me thick and strong bright lines. Never load the brush so that it drips-- it might screw up a design with a drop, unless that is what you were intending.
Also, if you are planing on a multi-shade piece, I suggest letting the design dry before the next applications, so that you gauge how much more brightening it'll need.

Remember, more layers equals brighter color.

Another interesting thing I noted is the color synthetic blend shirts give compared to the colors 100% cotton result with.
Synthetic blends give a more redish bronze with obvious whites. Cottons give ivory with yellows.

I totally urge anyone to try this-- it's fun, easy and completely inexpensive. Useful, too, if you don't want to give that stained black shirt away, hehe.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Devil's in the Details

Good day, my fellow darklings!

Once upon a time, there was a vintage non-stretch cotton top that fit our protagonist beautifully-- she loved the cut very much!
Sadly, dear readers, it was plain, and it was boring! There was nothing that made it distinguishable and it fell between the cracks of her wardrobe into the abyss known as 'The Project Pile'...

For years our protagonist waged war on this pile, digging and pondering 'what shall I do?!'
And for many years the blouse lay there, as it did in the vintage consignment shop...

Until a night like last night, overwhelmed and not wanting to do other projects, our protagonist dove into her wardrobe, needle and thread in hand; she fought her creative block tossing venetian lace trims and antique lace collar appliques. Cutting and measuring, and pinning and poking! Oh she wanted that shirt's fit, she wanted it so badly she fought all night!

And when the dust finally cleared, and the battle ended...

Hear ye trumpets of triumph!

Our protagonist won! Oh glorious beautiful victory!
Though, dear readers, her spoils did not stop there-- oh no.

The meat of her battled waged in wanting to replicate the top into luxurious fabrics and notions!
And so the story begins again, as this one ended now...

The end... ?

So. Yeah. Didn't have that much trouble-- but calculating seam allowance, pleats, and darts was a bit of a drag.
I have this wine colored crushed taffeta that I bought with the intention of making a tie on bustle, or a capelet-- but I just may make another one of these tops with some minor but significant alterations to pieces to make it my own. The original top seemed to be handmade itself, perhaps from a basic pattern too-- it's not that fancy at all, but the various (and too many, if you ask me--total of 14) pieces hug the form so well.

Featured self-made jewelry in this post:

Monthly Homework Assignment: Purses and bags.

It's that time of the month again!

The Dancing Maenad's  assignment this month was bags and purses we own.

Currently, I have in possession 2 important ones from my collection.

The first is the most important of all my bags present here and not; rife with sentimental value:

The Rammstein Bag

I bought this in the first year I was ever considered a "baby-bat". Rammstein's music was the catalyst to eventually dressing to suit the way I viewed fashion. I wore this thing everyday for years and years, till I needed something smaller not so long ago. Many bags were bought, made, and sold, but this one stayed long and true. The straps were held down by plastic clips and when those broke I used rock-climber clips to fix them. It has so many pockets I used it for my everyday and to carry my books during school. It literally held all the trimmings I ever cared about in my life. The lower patch came in the mail along with a neat Rammstein card and wicked lighter with three settings and a compass with 'Rammstein' spelled out in it, for all long standing members of the Fanarea for christmas-- it's bloody old and I have since canceled my membership... though the member only forums were filled with so many awesome people, and every so often we got to read a blog by 'Flake' the keyboardist of the band. I have seen Rammstein live twice, and one of those times was right in the front row-- just mere feet away from the stage.

In fact it may still be one of the most expensive accessories I own, even after all these years.

The Mini Back Pack

Probably the most plain bag in my collection would be the bag that came after the Rammstein bag; my mini back pack:

There's nothing particularly fancy about it, and other than it's myriad of pockets and the things I added there is nothing else of note. I keep my make-up, phone, camera and whatever small thing I need to carry around for the day in it. In fact the most sentimental thing on this is the little flogger keychain-- which was given to me  by a very special friend whom, like me, vanished off the face of the Earth after Jr. High and can't seem to locate her to get in contact.

Other Bags that aren't with me, but back at my mother's with the rest of my things, are (with example links):

-Kit Cat skelanimal bag (I put a spike collar I made, on her)
- Panda back pack (I put some pin buttons on him)
- Satin beaded clutch purse (the link one is not exact, but mine was almost the same; mine is black, but instead of silver accenting beads they are heliotrope colored, and the rose in the middle was a 3D satin rosette with a bow-- other than that mine was the same)
- Velvet drawstring purse I made which I decorated with lace and beaded details.

I didn't intend to forget these ones, but the move was so hectic they just fell off my radar.

I have plans on making:

- Another velvet, lace and bead drawstring purse
- A fully finished with lining and all, coffin purse
- A medium sized boho bag using exquisite wine colored crushed taffeta (if I have some left over after my projects, that is), lace and black satin

Like I said, over the years I have bought, made, and sold many bags-- and I'll continue collecting and creating!

I made the bat plush and the tiny skull keychain-- I needed some cute on my bag, hehe.

He's all brand new in this picture! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Beating The Dead Horse to a Bloody Pulp; The Handmade Dilemma

A question artists and professional crafters alike face:

"Why is handmade so expensive?"

The answer is both simple and complicated.

To start, aside from the unique and curious, we offer an ideal to the consumer. And that ideal is conscientiousness and quality.
It's so easy to go into a large retail store and pay $10 for a t-shirt, and justify its low quality by saying "well I only paid X amount so who cares?"
It is you, the consumer, who ultimately suffers. Mass produced items aren't intended to last because the companies are relying on that mentality so you'll buy two or three of the same item "just in case".
Not to mention the amount of wasted raw materials and money that inevitably comes with this type of thinking.

To put the term 'handmade' into perspective, take a look at your local museum. Notice anything about the historical fashions?
It's still perfectly preserved after all these years!
These were all handcrafted and hand tailored, once upon a time. They were likely passed down from generation to generation, enduring countless wears and harsh elements (like perhaps a dusty trunk) until finding itself inside that museum, and because the artisans of old took such pride in the quality of what they did, their work transcends even their lives and perhaps our own, for all of us to admire for many years to come.

These days, companies focus on the output and revenue; how fast and how cheaply they can make the most of profits. If attention to detail was the focus, I believe that the world will see products differently-- respect and true admiration for new products would be commonplace.

So why is handmade expensive?

It really boils down to quality and self-worth of the artisan/artist's time.

Artisans are often lead to believe that their prices are "too high" by the average consumer.
The average consumer is lead to believe that all products inevitably fail and that customer service is a four letter word by large conglomerates.

Most people are hesitant to give "handmade" a chance because of what mass production has done to their thinking. When you buy handmade, you're not only ensuring yourself of quality and uniqueness, you're also ensuring that the money goes to the person whom took the time and effort to learn and create it. You're essentially thanking them for their efforts, and making sure that they can keep producing that product for as long as they can.
When you make a remark about how "expensive" it is, you are belittling those efforts and the imagination and creativity it took to produce it, putting aside the fact that high quality materials are never cheap.

If just anyone could make and imagine anything, then there would be absolutely no need for stores.
If just any company could produce high quality conscientiously sourced products, you might find that everything is "expensive".

All that said, I understand that money is naturally very tight for most, which breeds this unjustified resentment towards handmade. But please, make yourself aware of all this before remarking again about "how expensive" it is.

Stop the 'handmade' stigma. Support your local artisans and artists and show them some love and appreciation!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: The Romantic Hobble-- Step 2: Drafted and Cut


Let me start of by saying I hate having to take my time with projects.
But I've been purposely taking my time with all my projects lately because our disposable budget was blown with an abnormally high electric bill, preordering Guild Wars 2 for the both of us and some other rather expensive extras.
We predict that 3 months of austerity will bounce us back up to the "comfortable" line.
So I need my projects to keep me entertained every so often, for a little bit!

So, without further ado, I give you the second progress report on the romantic gothic hobble skirt I planned out in a former Creepy Crafty Crusades post.

Drafting panels
Today I spent my time drafting, cutting and marking.
It occurred to me while doing all this that, while it is totally possible to sew without the aid of short cut tools... I totally hate it.
I realized how much I missed having all my sewing tools during the drafting stage...
Thankfully on fabric the curves look a little more "curvy"
If I wasn't using a textile as forgiving as stretch velvet, I would shudder at the sheer blockyness of my pattern-- and with this I would personally prefer that then disproportionate hand drawn curves as they may throw me off; I miss my french curve rulers, and my quilting grid rulers...

My next step is to serge the individual pieces, and begin ruching the side panels.

A bonus complaint: I forgot to buy pins and only had three to work with while marking the pattern onto the fabric... time consumtion FTW... ??

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Skeleton Closet: Phoenix Rises

I always seem to have this issue of not feeling like I look goth during the summer months despite wearing black all over. So as often as I want to, I'll be posting up my outfits for the public to decide whether it's just black clothes or gothic summer time flair.

Last night I came back from my weekend in Phoenix. On today's hot weather goth I have for you all the highlight outfit I wore; which as I progressed further into the valley many of the key points were lost because at a staggeringly hot 110 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 45 Celsius) I just had no choice.

It started off with what you see above, and slowly I took off the shrug, the heels, the hair piece and finally the choker (which you might recognize! hehe).

It was one of a few times which I really could get my hair to straighten out a little, but with the heat it just began to frazzle up. You can get an idea of the true length of my hair from the right photo above.

The top is one I made back in Jr. High, and my best made article of clothing from that time because it was made using a pattern from an assignment in Home Economics class. I altered it in later years to include all the ruffles and the lace up details.

The skirt I bought at my previous job, as it was mandatory that we wore some article of clothing bought from the store-- I was glad that it was the fall/winter season because many places have lots of jewel tones, blacks, and laces around that time so it wasn't hard for me to shop and find something I loved. And on sale + my employee discount, the skirt cost me $4!

The shrug was purchased for me from my lovely younger brother at a shop called Sirens (which I love to shop at during fall/winter seasons because they have the gothiest of goth outfits for cheap!).

The shoes are 725 Originals from Wal-mart and are surprisingly comfortable (but then, I do have Dr. Scholls heel insoles)

They are very inexpensive and very beautiful. If you care for your shoes, as I do, then even low quality shoes will last you a long time; a previous pair of 725 Original boots were 10 years old before they finally off the sole. These heels are only 2-3 years old. Unfortunately because I was sweating more profusely than I ever had, it was awkward walking in them when the sweat made them slippery... luckily I had the foresight to bring my Dr. Scholl walking sandals which don't have this issue because of the fabric insole.

The hair piece, and necklace, of course, are all self made. The hair piece sits on top of a thin black headband and rests comfortably at the side of the head.

This piece also happens to be the first real attempt at making fascinators, and funny enough it is my most favored even against the newer ones I've produced.

It still needs work, but I was satisfied at the time
The skull is hand sculpted by yours truly, and is one of my most successful attempts at sculpting altogether. It's not one of those things I'm entirely into, but love the idea of creating most aspects of the things I produce.

Sadly, I left it inside the car, and the glue I had used melted and off the entire thing came from the headband-- luckily it is all still intact and fine-- but now I realize that I am glad I added reinforcement sewing onto the bands in later ones so that tragedies like this won't happen again.

If any of you are curious, the necklace is for sale; It will be gently cleaned before being sent out, of course. My home is kitty and incense friendly; please feel free to PM or comment below if you're interested.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm; Tattoo Ruminating

I've been wanting a tattoo for quite a while (don't have any), and there are various things I'd love to live with but just can't for the life of me decide where I'd want them so that they'd be easy to hide if I was ever placed in a corporate situation.
I'm really keen on the idea of having a large and ambitious back piece, however.
I quickly (and badly) sketched out the general idea of what I wanted to do, some time ago:
Rather poor sketch; but you get the idea.

I had to photoshop the pieces together because it was a rather large drawing to scan in; and I'm not pleased at all how it scanned, on that token. I based the wings on another drawing I saw, but since lost the document and the website was apparently shut down.

I wanted the skeletal structure of the wings anatomy to be on top, which can hardly be seen in the picture. It would tie in the bird skull inside the frame-- in my head everything would be more elaborate and realistic lol.
I wanted the piece to be really dynamic, too, like a real moving work of art. A friend has shown me the perfect example of the kind of movement I looked for:
Not sure where she obtained the photo
The tattoo itself, I did not associate with anything deep or meaningful-- but it's something I relish in the thought of growing old with. It combines every aspect of aesthetics that enraptures me, and I hope that someday before too long, I can see it to completion.

I've also been very fond of art nouveau themes, and lithograph prints of bats, death head moths and deadly botanica.
But since the above will encumber much of the good space on my body, I am faced with a tough decision on size and placement. I have this idea of having a small art nouveau stylized lithograph print of a moth on the lower left corner of my lower back.

It is likely that the moth will happen sooner than my ambitious tattoo, since I need to gauge the tolerance of pain for tattooing. In all honesty, I almost don't care with how much I would need to tend to them, because I love the idea of having them.

All this has brought to light a troublesome thought, however (somewhat on a different topic)...

Last night I had an epiphany; what is so "goth" about liking bones and vital organs. Why is liking inner physical beauty any different, and looked down on to add, than liking someones eyes, smile... or breasts?
What makes loving the features of a bare skull more morbid than liking someone's rear end?
Just because I have a deep appreciation for the beauty of our inner machinations I am considered dark and weird and cliché. Would views change if I went to study anatomy, and wore jeans and a pink t-shirt and frequented starbucks with my study group? Would it be normal then?

Just food for thought.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Simple Tatted Choker

I have to admit to talking too soon when I had previously mentioned to a commenter that tatting is easy-- it is a first, and that illustrious flip wasn't as hard to grasp as I've been led to believe.

Cocky batling ^
However, the tedium levels for tatting are progressively higher as you continue just a few steps forward. That'll teach me to be cocky! =)

Last night I was finally able to complete the most basic/beginners pattern in tatting, and turned it into a choker rather than continuing on to making it a doily, or snowflake. The work that went into a supposed "basic" pattern made me really appreciate the work of others that much more (as if I already wasn't blown away!).

Kitty mishap which resulted in fur coverage
The jewelry possibilities for this one pattern are virtually endless, but with present limited resources I opted for something quick, and easy with sufficient levels of pretty.

It's definitely elaborate enough to be able to be worn with more formal outfits, but also simplistic enough to be worn with my everyday clothing.

It'll likely change in its entirety once I get my hands on juicier supply. Perhaps if I had black findings I would've added draped chains rather than strung beads-- in fact that may be the route I take with this once I go on my monthly shop again.

I've already attempted adding beads into the knots of tatting with extremely mediocre results (No pictures because it didn't occur to me to take them before I clipped them apart). Though, to be honest I think I am getting ahead of myself, in that regard-- I've just barely finished getting the hang of connecting chains and loops, and continuing after reloading the shuttle. The beads I strung on this pattern were simply sewn in.

Do you have a tendency to get ahead of yourself when you begin learning a new craft?

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