Archive of ‘fripperies’ category

Melancholics on holiday

Ah, so here we are.  Spring break.  Which is a funny and deceptive phrase in the semi-tropics where I live, because truly, by the time the spring months roll around, it is already starting to feel like mid-summer.

I like the idea of being outside and going to the beach and so on, but I try to do it before the sun has risen or just as it’s beginning to set, for as a pale skinned person who hates to sweat,  that evil day star and I are not exactly on the best of terms. Also, I like being outside in the dim and dark hours because I am super weird about people looking at me.

So how does one pack/prepare for a melancholic holiday at the seashore? I have put together an etsy treasury to get us started!

holiday

Black crocheted umbrella // Fiji Mermaid solid perfume // shibori throw // Joy Division flask
Pacific photo // lucid dream caftan // tentacle pendant // lvnea lip balm
sea Witch ring // wide brim hat // jellyfish tee // black leather sandals
sea creature stationery // fern drawstring bag // black culottes // sea anemone iPhone case

For aural inspiration, I cannot recommend “Paper Butterfly” highly enough…

A stitch of a different sort {Stitch Fix Review}

unboxed

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of these monthly subscription boxes that seem to becoming more and more popular. For a time I was even receiving one; flicker box, which is basically a monthly box of candles, but after a year I was horrified to see that I paid $350 for an insane number of candles which I more or less gave away (they were mostly too sweet or fruity and I don’t want a home space that smells like a candy factory or a punch bowl or a produce stand).  It was a nice thought, because sure, I like candles, but I really like the ones that smell more like incense and with that being the case I mostly just burn incense and light unscented candles. So I canceled that subscription.  You can bet I always had a hostess gift or a surprise birthday present that year though.

There’s Birchbox and others like it, which I believe are focused on beauty products, but I’ve pretty much embraced my inner hag and don’t need too much of that sort of thing.  There’s also one for perfume, Olfactif, and you are probably wondering why I have not signed up for that one yet and the answer to that is because I don’t want to die homeless and penniless which is exactly what will happen if I’m offered perfume selections like clockwork every month.

I recently came across Stitchfix while doing a search for a service that provides monthly clothes subscription boxes, which – I know, it sounds like a gamble, doesn’t it?  Personal style is really tough to pin down, especially through a medium like the internet, when you don’t even know the person for whom you are choosing the apparel.  And why would I even need something like that?  I work from home, I prefer to entertain at home or…someone else’s home, but basically I am a homebody.  I don’t go out to see and be seen.  I’d prefer to be invisible and ignored for the most part. And despite all my waxing poetic about runway couture and all the time I spend over on polyvore curating delightful ensembles, it might surprise you to learn that I actually sort of dress like a hobo in real life. And in looking down at my pizza stained yoga pants and oversized band tee shirts with holes around the shoulder seams where I’ve stretched out the neck to accommodate my enormous head, I realize that is an insult to the actual hobos.

I am, however, expected to show up in video conferences, or attend out of state functions for work every once in a while, and I do get invited to the occasional party or dinner date – and in surveying my wardrobe it is plain to see that it does need a bit of an update regarding such outings.  90% of what I wear is some variation of the disgusting combination described above and the other 10% are peculiar vintage items that appealed to me for some reason or another at the time of purchase and 0% of that is appropriate to wear in front of coworkers or friends who want to be seen with me in public.

In reading the following, I will admit, I was awfully intrigued.  Fill out a profile?  I love filling out profiles!  That’s part of the reason I was always so tempted to join online dating sites – just so I can fill out a profile and tick off boxes about my personality and interests, etc.  Is that odd? I can’t be the only one.  I’m not doing that now, of course – that is, filling out online dating profiles. Not recently.

Stitch Fix is the first fashion retailer to blend expert styling, proprietary technology and unique product to deliver a shopping experience that is truly personalized for you. Simply fill out the Stitch Fix Style Profile and our personal stylists will handpick a selection of five clothing items and accessories unique to your taste, budget and lifestyle. You can buy what you like and return the rest!”

And you know, much like filling out profiles for online dating sites, there’s always that thrilling thought that maybe! finally! someone will finally “get” you. I always used to put the weirdest things about me in those things (my title on AOL Personals a million years ago was “Wark! Wark!), just to see what sort of people would respond.  You don’t always get a winner, of course, but I thought it was fun to try.

So, I went through Stitchfix‘s questionnaire and gave them my sizes and the colors I preferred and selected a few outfits that I liked the looks of {“preppy“, “romantic“, “casual“, “edgy“, “bohemian“, “glamorous” and…one that looked really colorful but I don’t know what you would call it} I think I am a combination of casual with a soupçon of edgy, for what it’s worth.   In the “notes to the stylist” section I offered the following:

“I wear a lot of black and a lot of jeans& tee shirts (I work from home). I’d like to slowly start incorporating more (darker, muted, earthy) colors into my wardrobe and graduate beyond band tee shirts.  Nothing cutesy or twee. Think reformed goth for someone who never actually was a goth.  Someone who enjoys horror movies and ghost stories and Dead Can Dance and still has a tiny crush on Glen Danzig.” 

Ha!  Try to figure that out, stylists!

So how it works is once a month, or however frequently you prefer, your Stylist at Stitchfix puts together a box of five items according to the sorts of things you indicate on your profile and then they send it out to you! You pay a $20 Stylist fee per box, which is deducted from the cost of whatever you end up keeping.  Whatever doesn’t work for you, you just send it back in the postage paid envelope that they provide for you.  I think I am describing this all accurately, but there’s tons of blogs out there where ladies are reviewing their boxes and talking about how it all works.

Speaking of all these other women who use Stitchfix, I will honestly admit that in doing some research and poking around I grew a little concerned when I saw that most of them are Mommy Bloggers. Which hey, there’s room in this world for every interest out there and that’s great, but 100% across the board, Mommy Blogger style is without a doubt, absolutely, not my style.

I’m fairly certain it was only two weeks ago that I started looking into this and yet my first box arrived today.  Inside was the inventory list with prices on each item (you can choose your budget – the most expensive thing in my box was $88), a card for each item with some styling options, the return envelope, and a personalized note from my stylist, “Emily”.

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And here are the pieces…

Balboa Embroidery Detail Top

Balboa Embroidery Detail Top

Even though I liked the look of this, with the gold embroidery against the black crepe, the fit  was off.  I could barely get it over my head and though the width was okay, it was a little short. Also, I am not overly fond of sleeveless clothing. Still, I thought it was a nice pick for me.

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Ava Floral Silk Print Henley Blouse

Another sleeveless number.  But…I loved the print and the the aquamarine against the navy is so pretty and the fit was perfect.  I don’t have anything like this, and I can always wear a little cardigan over it.  A keeper!

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Humphrey Streak Print Dress

Though I actually love the colors (such as they are) and the print reminds me of creepy late night teevee static, it just hung like a potato sack on me and wasn’t exactly flattering.  I also don’t like the arms, something about the cut of the top half reminds me of a baseball jersey.

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Bianca Fringe Cardigan and Milena Moto Legging

This cardigan was so soft and cozy, and had the long, drapey shape that I like, but wearing it I felt like the Muppet version of Dolly Parton.  Wearing a Fraggle sweater.  Nope.
The leggings were really cool looking, and I loved the ribbing at the knee, but again, there was a weird fit issue. And leggings should be comfortable if not anything else, so these were also put on the return list.

SO! Despite the fact I am returning four out of five items, I am actually fairly happy with the pieces my stylist chose for me.  There was not a single thing in there that I pulled out of the box and thought “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” and the one thing I loved and decided to keep was probably the one I never would have chosen for myself.  Which is one of the reasons why people have stylists, right?  I think this was an interesting experiment and I am pleased enough with the results that I am going to keep my subscription for a few more months to see what they come up with for me.

A few tips:

1.Stitchfix is not really plus sized gal friendly.  I am between 12-14; all of the pieces sent to me were marked “large” and mostly fit quite comfortably, except for a few weird issues.  For the time being though, anyone larger than a 14 is out of luck.

2. They encourage you to keep and update a pinterest board which you can link to in your Stitchfix profile (here’s mine, please note I put my banana suit on one leg at a time, just like everyone else), and it looks like they even pay attention to the stuff you collect there.My stylist mentioned in my note that she included that dress because my pinterest board is liberally peppered with those types of dresses. Just goes to show you that I have no idea what looks good on me.

3. Checking out is super easy.  Log in, go to the check out page, select the item you want to keep, and that’s pretty much it since they already have your card on file.  The other thing about the checking out process is that they encourage feedback on the things that didn’t work, so they can do better next time.  I informed them of all the same observations I recorded here, so now they have it on record that my flabby upper arms prefer sleeves and I don’t like floppy, froofy fringe because it makes me feel like a fraggle. Also, you can include notes as to the type of thing you might like to see next time!  I had no advice in this regard, I really want to make them work at it. Heh.

Of course I managed to choose the most expensive item in the box, but with my $20 credit, it came to $68, which I guess isn’t too bad?  I don’t know.  It’s cute.  We’ll see if I get any compliments on it. Also, speaking of money, they have some sort of referral program, where you get $25 credit for each friend who signs up and orders.  Now, I am not telling you what to do or anything – because I am certainly not the boss of you – but if you are someone who has to have their clothes picked out for them, or if you are too busy to shop for yourself, or, if like me, you have an imp of the perverse sitting on your shoulder constantly encouraging you to fill out online profiles and make people work at figuring out who you truly are, then use this link to sign up.

I’d like to think that this is not typically the thing I talk about over here, but I did want to share my experiences with other ladies who are looking into this sort of subscription box.  It’s one thing to read customer testimonials, and it’s another to read un-boxing and haul posts from mommy bloggers, but it’s something else entirely and infinitely more valuable to read about it from the perspective of your yoga pants wearing, meat-lovers pizza-munching, Glen Danzig-crushing trusted friend, right?  I hope that’s how you’ll think of this.  Just some advice from one gross, barely clothed friend to another.

Do you have any experience with subscription boxes?  Are there any I should check out?  Let me know!

 

 

14 things I liked in 2014

There’s been a bit of bloodletting (painful, but cathartic) on the blog in the recent past and so I think I would prefer to wrap up 2014 on a frivolous note. Here’s a hodge podge list of things I either stumbled across or that were recommended to me, in no particular order, that I ended up being pretty thrilled with this year.

1. For some time now I have noticed my skin is acting in strange and unexpected ways. The nose and forehead that use to be an oil-slicked nightmare are now dry and tight, and the once plump, moony cheeks, well…they are still plump and moony, but they are now blotchy and flaky, as well.  Wearing any sort of makeup became impossible; no matter how I exfoliated or how much I moisturized, my visage still resembled and felt like an awful, patchy mask.  The final straw was when my sister glanced over at me, did a double take and demanded “what THE HELL is wrong with your face??”

Shortly after that, quite unprompted by me, I noticed a facebook friend waxing poetic regarding a natural line of skin care over on etsy, Naturallogic.

Truly Natural, Organic Skin Care & Body Care, handmade FRESH from original recipes based on Nutrition, Holism, Plant Medicine & Ancient Practices, using Certified Organic & Wild Harvested, Food-Grade Super Foods, Phyto Nutrients, Clinically Proven Bioactives, Botanical Extracts, Enzymes & Pure Herb, Plant & Flower Oils.

Apologies for slipping into hyperbole but this stuff is nothing short of miraculous. Within a weekend my skin had completely turned around. I was beyond ecstatic. The proprietress of the shop was super helpful and helped me put together a regimen that would work for my skin type, and thoughtfully included a few extra samples as well. Note that I am *not* getting paid to say any of these things, nor am I getting any sort of free product.  Don’t I wish! Because to be completely honest, it is not inexpensive.  But it is absolutely worth it.
I actually just placed a second order to replace all of my empty bottles – this is the first time I have ever been so happy with such things that I used them all up!  Also note: I purchased the wrong toner the second time around.  I don’t mind though, because it smells incredible.
Unfortunately, despite my skin doing much better, I am still having a hard time with makeup.
I can’t find a foundation or even a BB cream (forget about concealers or powder) that won’t eventually flake up and look awful on me a few hours after I apply it. What works for you?  Any suggestions are appreciated!

2. I don’t wear lipstick often.  Maybe four times a year.  I have a horrible fear that it will migrate to my teeth and no one will tell me and I’ll be walking around all day completely unawares, with a garish crayon-toothed smile.  I also worry that with all the lip biting I do, I actually end up eating most of my lipstick, which is pretty gross if you think too long on it.
I was intrigued though, when I saw several folks wearing Limecrime’s Velveteen lip color in ‘Salem’. (It is sold out on the site, but you can also find it at Urban Outfitters and a few other places if you poke around). It’s such a unique color and it reminds me of all of my favorite parts of the 90’s – dark floral babydoll dresses, velvet chokers, stompy boots. The formula too is really lovely; it looks like a gloss, but it goes on completely matte.


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. Last year for the holidays my beau gifted me with Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It, which is a gorgeous book with a million wonderful vegan recipes (we are not vegan, nor even vegetarian, but we do like to experiment!) and hands down, the recipe that I have made the most is her Roasted Red Pepper Mac & “Cheese”.  It is so, so good. Make it tonight. Seriously.  You don’t even have to buy the book, here is the recipe:
http://www.theppk.com/2013/10/roasted-red-pepper-mac-cheese-video/


4, 5, and 6. (Music)

Year end find: Tetrolugosi. I’ll admit, I was already in love when I read this described as Fabio Frizzi and Riz Ortolani by way of Gary Numan and Ladytron.

Previously mentioned: Dance With The Dead. These guys create the dark, 1980s sci-fi/horror soundtrack for your life that you didn’t know you needed.

The Bombay Royale: The Island of Dr. Electrico. “…from lonesome spaghetti to surf-rock, from psychedelia to spine-bending space disco, overlaid with the voices of our protagonists The Tiger and The Mysterious Lady”.  Ah!  How can you resist that description? I couldn’t.


7, 8, 9 and 10. (Cinema)

Only Lovers Left Alive.  You’d probably be hard pressed to find a year-end list that this did not make, eh? Somber, sad, wicked, clever, impossibly elegant. All of these things. A favorite for sure, and not just for now – perhaps all time.


Byzantium
.  Another brooding, elegant vampire film, but a bit of a peculiar take on familiar lore.


The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
. A lush, surreal, deliberately disorienting neo-giallo. the sooner you abandon hope of following the story or figuring out the plot in favor of allowing your eyeballs to be dizzied and dazzled, the better you’ll be.  The exquisite, labyrinthine apartment building made for a strange and wonderful character on it’s own.


Under The Skin. Moody and strange and mysterious. It’s difficult to say more about this one. Can you tell I am awful at reviews?  That’s really all I can tell you. That, and don’t read the book – it’s utter rubbish.

 

11, 12, 13, and 14. (Books and Literature)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  I read this at the very beginning of 2014 so most of the details elude me, but what I took away from it mostly is that it is a beautiful love letter to great art.  I found it an absolutely gripping, compelling read and with my attention span nowadays, that’s saying quite a bit.

Through The Woods by Emily Carroll. Beautifully designed, meticulously crafted tales of quiet, nightmarish horror.  An equally disturbing and breathtaking creation.

Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky. Bizarre, bawdy, brazen. Ridiculously good fun.

The Children of Old Leech. A Laird Barron tribute anthology full of terrifying things. whispered of in darkened forests beyond the safe comfort of firelight. Standout stories for me were “Love Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox”, “Notes For ‘Barn In The Wild'”, “Ymir”, and “Tenebrionidae”

Bonus round, television series category!  True Detective, Penny Dreadful, Les Revenants, and Mirror Black.
Extra super bonus round!  Kimchi Furikake rice seasoning.  This stuff is amazing.

What are some of your favorite discoveries in 2014?  Do share!

Hexmas wishes

hexmas

 

 

Here are a few baubles and trinkets that I would love to unwrap this holiday season!  See below for details.  What are some of your Hexmas wishes? Do tell!

1. Moonseasons calendar at Catbird NYC | 2. Kasun Vampire Stud Skull earrings at Wolf & Badger | 3. Incense Sticks by Comme des Garcons at Luckyscent | 4. Suspiria Witches tee shirt  | 5. Blood Milk Endless Night ring series, part I. & II. | 6. Deborah Lippmann nail lacquer, Dream Weaver at Net-a-Porter | 7. Eye throw pillow at TheWatsonShop | 8. Jessica deLotz Awakened Eye Necklace | 9. Othello candle by Laduree at Luckyscent

This, that, and the other thing (III)

Seems like lately everyone is jumping ship over at facebook; enter ello.  Marketed as “…a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.”, it’s shaping up to be a lovely solution. The design is simple, clean, uncluttered and though there may be a few bugs to work out (it’s still in beta) and it’s a bit quiet over there while users are figuring it out – I really can’t wait to see how it grows. Do be sure to stop by and say hello!  I am mlleghoul, of course.

 

Has the season got you longing for some genuine terror in your life?  This kickstarter project might be exactly what you need.  CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is “a magazine sized anthology of horror comics about demonology & exorcism.” with contributions from nine of independent comics’ unique creators who have come together to frighten you with something new. “CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is an attempt to use comic book storytelling to push those boundaries further still. An anthology of tales of exorcism and demonology, it’s larger and longer than a traditional comic, reminiscent of the horror magazines of the 1970s.”

 

THE DIATOMIST is a short documentary about Klaus Kemp, master of the Victorian art of diatom arrangement.

“Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.The best of these arrangements are stunning technical feats that reveal the hidden grandeur of some of the smallest organisms on Earth. Klaus Kemp has devoted his entire life to understanding and perfecting diatom arrangement and he is now acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this beautiful combination of art and science. THE DIATOMIST, by Matthew Killip showcases his incredible work. “

 

Can you imagine these glorious horrors stalking and slashing down the runway?  From Alice Auaa 2014-2015 F/W runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Japan.

More delightful sartorial oddities from Gareth Pugh’s Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear – Collection

 

Two seasonally appropriate 8tracks mixes: All of them Witches & It is something I have long known (inspired by Robert Aickman’s eerie short story “Into the Woods”.)

a longing to touch something fine

When I was very young I had the opportunity to visit an antique dollhouse exhibit while visiting my grandparents one summer. I was captivated by the minute, gorgeous, meticulously rendered details -intricate lace curtains framing the tiny windows and opulent velvet upholsteries covering the miniature settees and sofas – I longed to sneak my little finger behind the glass casing to touch these beautiful, delicate things, to feel what the little inhabitants of such a place might feel if they were to touch these things as well. The sumptuous fabrics of the gowns gracing the runway at Tadashi Shoji’s show at NYFW remind me somehow of those moments of longing to touch something very fine. Inspired by the Golden Palace of Venice, the various pieces are a glowing palette of roses and periwinkles and golds (not always my favorite thing) but the soft, simple silhouettes present such a dreamy vision that I can forgive the pastels. And capes.  Capes make everything 100 times more elegant and fancy.

See below for a few of my personal favorites. And if nothing else just play the video above for the lovely score/soundtrack (whatever you call music playing in the background during a runway show.)  It’s really very elegant and ethereal, even when it picks up the beat. If anyone can share with me who the musicians are, I would be forever grateful!

32-TS 03-TS 08-TS 11-TS

 

 

Glorious things

From Falling in Love No. 36, August 1960

Image: Falling in Love No. 36, August 1960 via comicslams.tumblr.com

 

The most glorious thing in the world! Goodness.

I have often found that the wanting of things is actually far superior to the obtaining of the things.  There is this breath-catching feeling of anticipation and hope and wonder when one ponders upon the things one desires…but when said thing actually comes into your possession, it’s sort of…depressing, isn’t it? Like “…yeah…okay…this is a nice thing. Ho hum. Next thing, please!” If only we could reconcile that dreamy, ecstasy of wanting something to the boring reality (I imagine it’s sort of like coming down from a high, but I don’t know, I’ve lived a life of deprivation) of having it.  What a world, eh?

Unlike our outerwear-obsessed young woman above, I cannot profess to get all swoony and ecstatic over the thought of a coat, but I’ll admit that fine fragrances and strange baubles cause my heart to quicken a beat.

Right now I am particularly bewitched by just about everything in Holly Bobisuthi’s wondrous shop of mystical talismans.

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Additionally, I am a bit besotted by Relique D’Amour Eau de Parfum by Oriza L. Legrand, described thusly: “The smell of an old chapel in a Cistercian abbey. Cold stone walls covered with damp moss. Waxed wood of altar and old pews ornate with carvings. Linseed oil in lamps. Incense and myrrh discernible in the air.”  How can I resist? This has me written all over it.

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What lovely bits and baubles and fripperies are causing your heart palpitations lately? Do tell!

We’re going to need a bigger boat. Er, cabinet.

perfumes copy

I seem to be outgrowing my (very sizable, I might add) perfume cabinet.  I suppose I need to either scale back on the fragrance purchases – Quelle horreur! – or look into alternate storage solutions.  And since I happen to have a few scented items already on their way to me from all over the globe, I fear the former is no longer an option.

Some recent acquisitions…

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Fille en Aiguilles from Serge Lutens reminds me of a rich, spiced fruit compote that is sweetly simmering on the stove, in a snow covered chalet on the longest, darkest night of the year. The sun has just gone down and the the door bangs open; a gust of icy wind tears through carrying the briefest scent of pine needles; guest are stamping their feet and blowing on their hands, everyone has red noses and chilled ears and they are gathering close to a hearth where a warm glow lights their faces. The sweet, spicy concoction on the stove has evaporated so there is no longer a syrupy fragrance, but instead the slightly smoky remains, the very essence of the fruit. To me Fille En Aiguilles smells of spiced fruit compote incense perfuming the close quarters and warming bodies, and light and memories of a cold night and beloved friends who warm your heart.

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Ether body butter by Naked Eye Beauty (sold through Sisters of the Black Moon); a lovely scent with bitter orange, ylang ylang, lavender and amber that, although a bit off-puttingly medicinal at first, dries down to a a subtly sweet, softly musky scent. It doesn’t sound enticing when I repeat what I told a friend – that it smells “like a stripper with a heart of gold”. But I mean that it in the nicest way.

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Various samples from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Ars Moriendi line. Grave chic cemetery scents. We are going to bring the fragrance of the dead into fashion this summer.

 

Divining with shadows and dreams, tears and blood: Revelations from otherworldly conjurer JL Schnabel of bloodmilk

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JL Schnabel. Photo credit: Christina Brown

Divining with shadows and dreams, tears and blood:
Revelations from otherworldly conjurer JL Schnabel of bloodmilk

In dreams we travel instinctively to places we’ve never seen but already know: still landscapes of dim corners,  hushed collections of shadows, overwhelming and powerful darkness.  Mysteries are slowly revealed and forgotten, and surface later as foggy instances of déjà vu. We awaken with tears drying on our cheeks and a feeling of loss for worlds the doors of which are open only for fleeting instants. Beyond these doors, filaments of memories and past lives spin idly in un-accessed portions of our brains like mechanical toys in dusty attics.  And one night when these obscure recollections and neglected reincarnations are finally unlocked and spill about us in pools of nonsense and surreal stories, we attribute them to overactive imaginations and snippets from tales told when we were young.

Thoughtful and enigmatic, and perhaps part mystic or seer, JL Schnabel travels with ease between these impossible dream worlds of shadows and half-light. From these etherous realms she conjures into existence and immortalizes dark memories and strange sorrows, the results of which are items delicate and powerful, graceful and grotesque, and exquisitely, painfully personal. These singular adornments which she refers to as “psychic armor” are the foundation of her line of hand-crafted jewelry, bloodmilk: “supernatural jewels for surrealist darlings”.

Not only a time traveler, world straddler, and collector of tears, of bone, of teeth, and words – JL Schnabel, in addition to continuously creating new baubles for bloodmilk, is also a staff writer for Hi-Fructose Magazine.  And if her creative energies were not already stretched vaporously thin, she has also just this  evening – 11.11.11 – released an immense and immensely stunning lookbook for her current collection, which can be seen in spellbinding detail here.   Despite all of this on her very full plate, she granted the following interview which parted the veil and revealed a glimpse  into the process of her conjurings and consequential creations, and guided me through the strange splendor of her own alternate worlds.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

S. Elizabeth: In the past you’ve spoken about the surrealist spirit of “objective chance”  – the ‘curious joining of objects/images that are seemingly unrelated but are in truth secretly connected’ and further note that is how the name “Blood Milk” came about “…taking two potent potions and conjoining them forever beneath the same banner.”  I find this notion of objective chance intensely fascinating.  Are there any other instances where you can cite the presence of this spirit in your life?  Is this sort of an everyday thing that you have always been aware of, or is it more prevalent now because of your work as bloodmilk?

JL Schnabel: For the surrealists, ‘objective chance’ was applied to an interest in the “marvelous encounter”. Beauty was convulsive. To react to art / writings / dreams / love & desire/ life with both repulsion and attraction, especially when experienced simultaneously, was a goal of the surrealists, the ultimate state of being.  These reactions mirrored the anxiety of the everyday, the ordinary. To see beyond what is objective by joining a word that’s quite its opposite is already an illustration of what it means.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

I think everyone’s life is freckled with these instances. It’s as abundant as synchronicity. Sometimes hard to recognize, but always there if you have the eye or spirit to really look. For me though, objective chance lives in my world of “making” while synchronicity has lately been occurring so often in my waking life that it doesn’t startle me as much anymore. These are strange times we live in.

The themes of light/darkness, horror/beauty, sacred/profane are pervasive throughout your body of work   I’d love to get a peek into your cerebral machinations– to see how you take a grotesque notion and forge it into a wondrous thing of eternal beauty.  Talk to me about your process – how a small, gnarled crow’s claw, for example, comes to be clutching a quartz crystal, and is reincarnated into“the messenger”?  Or how a boa constrictor snake rib bone is transformed into “forget me not”

I had a tarot reading recently and was told, with the forewarning of “I’m someone who would understand,” that I “have an intimate relationship with death”. When I was a kid, I had a potent brush with my mortality and since then, steadily, my feelings / visions / & reactions to death have transformed. I think this kind of spectral intimacy lends itself to seeing both the beauty and horror in life, in art, in those around me, maybe most importantly, within myself. I’m connected to my jewels, they reveal my secrets, my darkness, my lightness. I think the only way to describe how these physical objects materialize is that they represent my turbulent emotions and ideas on mourning and spirituality. They are immensely personal.

As for my process, I always carry around a palm sized hardbound sketchbook that I flood with notes and scratchy drawings. I work in a stream of consciousness style, without limiting myself with seasonal deadlines. I’m always filled with ideas for new pieces. I wish there was two of me !

I like to think that I’ve created a language with some of the objects I’ve molded and work with within this language to create new narratives. Sometimes I’ll already have an object that I’ll use as the starting point, such as bit of bone, and other times, I’ll find things at antique sales or on the street or in the woods that I think would be good to add into the collection. There is a lot of mining involved. Friends gift me bits that they think I could use. Somehow I’ve become the girl people give dead things to. It’s terrible, and really great.

Nearly everything I make incorporates an object that has already existed, whether it’s a natural one such as a pair of rattlesnake fangs or something with a history, like a skeleton key or a shard of phantom quartz. In this way, I consider most of my work to be in the spirit of surrealist assemblage. Max Ernst is one of my muses, I love his collage work and in a way, I try to emulate his seamless technique and bizarre narratives with my jewels.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

 

“Consider
 a girl who keeps slipping off, 
arms limp as old carrots, 
into the hypnotist’s trance, 
into a spirit world
speaking with the gift of tongues.”
-Anne Sexton

You have this quote currently both on your blog profile and in the “about section” of your etsy store –can you explain for us what it is about those words that speak to you, and why you would use it to describe yourself?

Anne Sexton has been an inspiration of mine since I was in high school. The way she conjures a stunningly searing image kills me. She can knock the wind out of you with one line! I even have her initials tattooed on my right wrist for good luck when writing.

This quote is extracted from ‘Briar Rose’ and is part of a longer series named ‘Transformations.’ They are her re-imagined fairy tales. I like how Anne imagines Briar Rose, not as a ‘sleeping beauty’ waiting for her prince, but as a woman who exists between worlds, with a gift of speaking the languages of both of these worlds. I like to think this quote sums up how I feel that I’m straddling different worlds in life with my work and how I feel connected to the ‘spirit world.’ I think it also speaks to how I probably live too much of my life in my inner world. I’m a hopeless dreamer, walking into traffic.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

 

The descriptions accompanying the items in your shop are always so fantastically detailed, so rife with symbolism; one almost feels as if you could be creating your own personal mythology.

Thank you for the compliments about my writing!

In theory, I’m imbuing objects that already exist / tales that have already been written, with my own emotional / spiritual history. Sometimes this is a slight inclusion and other times it takes over the narrative of the piece, as in ‘the crystal tomb’ series.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

 

Speaking of writing…I know that you also write for Hi-Fructose, covering contemporary art.  I am struck by how, between the jewels you create for bloodmilk with their emphasis on the ancient, the esoteric and arcane, and articles you write/ interviews that you conduct regarding on the latest offerings from emerging artists …you have to strike a balance between excavating the bones and relics of the past and being “on trend” and future seeking.  Either way, you are a bit of a time traveling nomad aren’t you?  Thoughts?

I suppose there is a bit of time traveling involved in what I do, but I don’t notice it. Though, a lot of the art I’m connected to deals with these same esoteric and antiquated bits, whether in imagery, medium or style.

I don’t think of being ‘on trend’ with my written reviews. I like to have intuitive reactions to art and am blessed with the opportunity to write about what I’m attracted to 98% of the time.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

Back to your writing, which, apparently through a thesis you were working on, turned to painting as a sort of research, and then to jewelry design? Among which of these mediums can we find the authentic you?  Which of these artistic avenues feels most natural to you as a means of creative expression?  Which is your dream job, and how does that translate in the work that you do with any of them?

I’ve been a writer since I was a little kid. I can not not write. Despite all my schooling, I find it’s the hardest thing for me to share. I fill journals and scraps of paper with snips of conversations, fleeting thoughts, wishes, my manic unrest etc. (though I would love to learn how to be a great recorder of my dreams as you are.)

Jewelry feels like fate to me. I didn’t feel exactly like I was making this conscious choice, it just happened. I can’t quite pin point the locus of its origin. In that same tarot reading I mentioned earlier, The Hermit card was pulled, suggesting I’m headed the right way with designing jewels and writing reviews. I like this idea, but I’m also a believer in the winds of change. I’m a bit restless.

I believe I put myself in everything I do. Sometimes I think this is my great fault because I leave very little left to protect.

A dream job would be to never have to worry about the real life and to live near the sea but still close to the city, making things that people love and feel connected to. This is really close to what I have now, I’m insanely lucky.

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Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

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“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

 

Your jewelry often references divinatory and alchemical motifs, as well as dreams and saints, etc – you are obviously well read on these subjects and are able to translate and transmute their tenets and philosophies into your work.  I would love to take a peek at your bookcase, or at least some of your favourite texts in this vein!

I went to a Christian boarding high school. We were required to be well versed in the Bible, but were never taught about the particulars of the weird and scary bits, the prophets rising bones, beastly angels, demons, the Rapture. I think, despite the vast differences between the two faiths, that this study renewed my early exposure to Catholicism. My father’s mother was intensely Catholic and would take me to church with her when I visited. I remember laying in the pews and staring at the ceiling, wishing I had wings to be able to fly to the top and touch all the angels pictured there. I remember being awed at her fevered faith. I was convinced that when she passed away, she’d become a Saint. She took me on trips to visit places that were blessed with supernatural occurrences, a church that had a crying statue, a field where the Holy Mother had materialized in a cloud. She had a pin that had a saint relic inside of it. Looking back now, it was really strange, but it marked me for life. I miss her.

 

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

With regard to all manner of esoteric knowledge and symbolism, to what do you attribute its (relatively)recent resurgence in fashion, almost to a point in which it seems “mainstream”?  I know it is not exactly a new thing to see, for example, a pentagram on a t-shirt ( I had one on a Motley crew t-shirt when I was 15! And that was…a long time ago) but in this case we are talking heavy weight designers of considerable prestige…which of course trickles down.  What is it about this sort of symbolism that lends to sartorial influence, and how does your work fit into this?

People have always been drawn to powerful symbols, even if they don’t fully understand them or why they are attracted to them. Right now occult and esoteric symbols are “popular”, and I feel part of this has to do with a sense of national, perhaps even worldwide, unrest. Our generation, the one just before us and the one coming up now, hasn’t put much faith into the government and subsequently its religion as much as past generations have. This has caused a ‘seeking’ for an otherness to fill this void. It seems natural to me to find comfort or expression in these symbols considering we have a generalized sense of fear and instability these days. The unknown is powerful in its mystery. Artists will always be the mouthpieces for such large, fantastic theories.

As for me, I’m just happy I can wear some of these symbols without people trying to burn me at the stake. In high school, we were taught, in intense detail, the horrors of Hell and how very real it could be for those of us who did not convert. This early brush with supernatural terror and people with cult like yet deep- rooted faith both repelled and fascinated me. To them, limbo, which was notion that had comforted me as a child, does not exist. You either are or aren’t going to Heaven.

 

Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

Photo credit: JL Schnabel.

And since we are on the subject of fashion, a subject on which from glancing through your tumblr I am sure you have at least some modicum of interest -who are some of your favourite designers, and what is it about their aesthetic that appeals to you?  What could we find in your own wardrobe?  What would a daily bloodmilk ensemble look like?

Like most other things, I’m attracted to fashion in an intuitive sense.  Aside from a couple of big name designers like the late Alexander McQueen, I really don’t know who is doing what. I don’t follow it, I just collect it from the vast, flawed, yet wonderful abyss that is Tumblr. I do love fashion though. How it requires a certain braveness.

As for independent designers, I love Audrey Cantwell’s work. Her most recent incarnation, Ovate, plays a large role in my lookbook. I also really admire Zana Bayne. She’s created this subversive collection of harnesses that people are going wild for. I own a few and wear them obsessively.

I like the idea of creating a personal aesthetic. My own fashion reference point is Beetlejuice. I wear a lot of witchy blacks and a lot of bold black and white striped pieces. I’m attracted to the idea of clothing and jewelry serving as psychic armor. I think I wind up looking a bit Goth as I have long dark hair but I don’t really see myself this way. To avoid this label, I often wear electric coral lipstick. I don’t think this tactic works as well as I hope it does though……

 

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

Last year you had a show, “Darker, My Love”,  resulting in a series of vignettes which questioned “if it were possible to commune between this world and the next”, and which was partially inspired by your pilgrimage to lilydale, an intensely personal experience for you, one which you are still trying to understand.  And yet, you continue to be inspired by and create from it,  as evidenced by your “seance” pieces.  I realize you are still trying to work through and process the visit, but is there anything you can tell us at all about your trip to that victorian spiritualist community?

The pilgrimage to Lily Dale was immensely inspiring. My father had been accidentally killed the early autumn of 2008 & I was left in an emotional and psychic fissure. It was the first time I encountered deep- rooted grief. It was destructive and terrifying. I wanted answers .I started to question everything I knew about the afterlife and mourning. Things I had learned in boarding school, things different members of my family thought or didn’t think about what happened after one died. I ask nearly everyone I encounter what their thoughts are of how the afterlife looks, what or who they believe is there waiting for them. I still never seem to feel comforted.

Lily Dale offers an interesting promise of proof. It’s a strange and beautiful town, filled with ghosts and hopeful people, most of them far more “normal” than I had imagined them to be. All the mediums live in these olde houses within the small town that resides near Cassadaga lake and a true haunted forest, the Leoyln woods, which has spirits and elementals beneath its stunning canopy. It also marks the only other time and place I have seen a hummingbird after my very first encounter the previous autumn in SF.

It is a gated community, fiercely protective. Sometimes there are picketers at the edges of this gate., but I don’t remember if we encountered any. You have to pay to get in and pay each day just to be there, though you can stay on the grounds. We stayed in the Maplewood hotel where a visiting medium from Erie was staying. The sound of her voice in the halls was an odd sensation, but in truth I was slight afraid of her.

During the day, if you don’t have an appointment with a medium there a various things to do, visit the healing temple, visit the small museum, walk through the woods. This is punctuated by 2 groups sessions held in the Leoyln woods. People gather near the ‘inspiration stump’ to hear various mediums give public readings to select people in the crowd. Some people break down during this, and others are clearly skeptical, giving the mediums short responses. I found this part to be the most interesting, this communal gathering of those looking to connect with the dead, and therefore, in a way, death itself. There is a braveness to this, but it is also rooted in sadness.

Though I didn’t get any messages from the other side as I had wanted, it cemented my interest in investigating how I felt about the afterlife. It’s an ongoing quest and I hope to find real peace in the future. How I deal with all this information and conflicting feelings is by making jewelry. In a sense bloodmilk was born out of this untimely tragedy, out of my grief.

Insofar as your paintings, what can we expect on that front?  Is that something you are constantly working on, that we may not be aware of…or are the paintings the sort of project that occurs when the moods strikes or an opportunity arises?

I may or may not be making secret plans with amazing artist Sienna Freeman based around our mutual love of doubles / shadow selves … 😉

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What direction do you foresee for bloodmilk?  Spending so much time ruminating upon oracles and prophecies, surely you must have become somewhat of a seer yourself…of what does that foggy crystal ball upon that gloomy grey oxidised metal speak to us?  What jeweled dreams are being currently cast / being forged in the future for all of your surrealist, supernatural darlings?

Those are bold adjectives! I wish I could see the future more clearly!

I think for now, that bloodmilk will remain as self -contained as I can keep it. In terms of exciting projects, I have a bunch of collaborations in the works with other artists and talented photographers. I also have a lookbook, ‘The Conjurer’ debuting today in honor of 11/ 11 / 11….

In December, there will be an exhibition at 309 Gallery here in Philly centered on ‘The Conjurer’. I’ll be showing my personal collection of my jewelry alongside Christina Brown’s photographs and Paul Romano’s design. I might never sleep again.

 

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

Your lookbook, ’The Conjurer’, looks to be a fantastical coming together of like-minded people with a shared vision, and is clearly a labor of love, from start to finish.  How, and why was it conceived?  How did it grow?  Tell me about the experience as a whole.

‘The Conjurer’ was born from my need to have the work photographed on a model. So many times I’ll meet someone in person and they marvel at how much bigger or smaller a piece of bloodmilk seems when they see it in real life. To remedy this, I wanted to build a sort of bridge between how these objects/ jewels appear on the internet and how they appear in real life. The resulting lookbook has far exceeded my expectations and might not truly help people realize the size and scale of the pieces, but I absolutely love it. Everyone involved in this project has helped me to conjure this sorrowful yet beautiful world for the jewels.

The images were all shot in mid August in my great friend Paul Romano’s home. He is an exceptional artist and maker of incredible paintings and objects. His massive home is a reflection of the otherworldly beauty he captures in his work, filled with curiosities and strange splendors in every nook. Also living with him is another talented artist, Jeremy Hush, who also has a sizeable collection of strange things he’s acquired from traveling the world.

Jacci, the model I choose to represent the conjurer, is stunning. Her eyes have such an intense, potent power. She has also has this quiet grace I found inspiring.

In addition, another great and talented friend, Amber Lynn, composed a series of incredible still vignettes of the work coupled with some of the objects we found in their home and others I had brought with me, such as an old stone mortar that was my father’s.

Christina Brown, another great friend whom I met when she worked for me at my now defunct gallery, started shooting the lookbook in the fourth floor attic where Jeremy lives, in the room he uses for a studio. The light had a strange quality that high up, in the eye of summer, kind of like being caught in a bell jar half shrouded in shadow. The narrative is built up around the conjurer’s slow descent into the foyer of the house, with images having been shot in the hallways and in the living room. The transitional feel of it represents a kind of psychological turbulence. At the end of the shoot there was this absence of atmosphere and objects, it’s just Jacci and the jewels and a vivid, summer light. Though you can’t tell, it’s the closet she is to the doorway than at any other time in the series. Looking on it now, I think this is symbolic of my own need / desire to be able to open the door of my grief and to be able to step outside of it. To find peace.

The resulting experience was a wonderful merging of people, ideas and objects that I believe really illuminated not only the jewelry, but my ideas and beliefs behind them.

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“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

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“The Conjurer” Photo credit: Christina Brown

 

 

Coffret de médecine

Contents of cabinet as of 7.27.11

Coffret de médecine sounds much more romantic, less utilitarian than plain old “medicine cabinet”, don’t you think?  I was inspired to clean out all the glunky and gross products that had been sitting around for much too long when I read verhext’s “coming up roses” post a few months back.  Well.  While I was inspired in March, it’s taken me until July to do anything about it!  Better late than never, I always say.

I myself have not yet reached the point where I am ready to switch to all-natural products, though there are quite a few I have been using for a while now: the arnica gel & aloe vera for bruises, soreness, aches and burns; melatonin and Bach remedies for sleep and anxiety, and tea tree, rosehip seed and jojoba oils for a skin regimen.  I suppose I should look into replacing the other items but for now they work and I’ve always belonged to the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” camp.  One thing I am particularly keen to find is a nice tinted moisturizer that’s not full of awful things.  I had been using a version from Laura Mercier that worked nicely , but $42 for such a small tube didn’t seem like the wisest investment.  I then stumbled across the Sonia Kashuk version that I liked even more and it’s a third of the price.  It’s really quite perfect (except for the ingredients), but I am certainly open to suggestions – so if you’ve got any, please send them my way!

Next I need to find a better organizational system for the rest of my cosmetics and face paint.  Coffee mugs and sake cups perched precariously on the back of the commode are not an ideal system!

 

After that I will move on to tackling the smelly portion of things.  I don’t even know where to begin with this!  I’ve got perfume samples scattered willy-nilly all over the place; hidden in nooks and crannies and underfoot and sometimes they even turn up in pockets or marking pages in books!  This will not do, of course.

Unfortunately, organization is not something that interests me in the least.  I am not someone who gets excited about lists, or calendars or even watches.  I am pretty sure I would literally die of boredom in The Container Store. This is going to be A Long, Drawn Out Production, I am sure of it.

I obviously need some painless organizational tips and tricks.  What have you got?  Feel free to show me your own cabinets and cupboards – trust me, there is no one nosier than me…I am always intensely interested in other people’s stuff!

 

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