Friday, February 27, 2009

Hat Fetish

I LOVE hats. I used to make them, collect them, and still wear them all the time. I have what I call "a hat face", a term I give to actors I meet and work with who can carry a hat successfully. Not everyone can, and not every actor wishes to wear a hat, as it can ruin one's hair when at some point the hat has to come off onscreen or onstage.

I have been hearting some lovely hats that I've come across lately, and before it gets too HOT to wear them, offer some to celebrate Friday on my blog, that I've been neglecting. A hat can pull a coat and scarf together, and it can make a short person look taller - there's a reason alone to add one!

I came across this hat by BonniesKnitting recently and adore both the vintage plaid as well as the fetching red buckle on the side. Check out her other adorable hats made from vintage materials!

I just yesterday discovered PsycoHatress, and submit for your appraisal this amazing, attention-grabbing hat. I'm a sucker for checkerboards and love the contrast of the bubblegum pink and black & white. This is NOT a child's hat, although it looks as if it should be. Would you wear it? I would!

I love this swirlyhat from, oddly enough, swirlyhats. How adorable would your little munchkin look wearing this? Hey, how adorable would YOU look - it's for both kids and adults. Swirlyhats has this in different colors, so you can choose your favorite hue. I loved the plum hat, which isn't available just now, but there's this fabulous red one, and a great kelly green one available, for the green fans out there. This is the hat I'd make if I were still doing my line today.

I'm a mentor to new shops, and was recently contacted by Cathy Von Eschen, who has opened a sweet shop on Etsy called Wire & Wool. I love her upcycled patchwork hats, especially this one, which would be great for a boy - so rare. Cathy makes jewelry and stuffed fruit out of soft wools - it's an eclectic shop that works and is also a cheery place to visit.

I came across BlueMoonRose and just adore this craftastic hat on this sweet little model! What a wonderful blend of colors and textures - re-purposed from wool scraps. It's angora and cashmere - how soft it must feel on. There are so many wonderful and clever hats in her shop, for both kids and go! What are you waiting for?

Here's witchy hat that I'd wear in a heartbeat. THINK about how much taller you'd appear in this "TWISTED" crocheted creation. It's chic and textured, but soft and approachable, and not at all scary. It comes in colors, and there are other styles to choose from as well. It's from StrawberryCrochet. You can also have a hat & neck warmer for more textured goodness!

I'm as in love with this baby as I am with this elfin hat, available at LittleLids on Etsy. I think that this should be The Official Baby Christmas Hat, as it doesn't get much cuter than this. This is a perfectly styled product photo...I love how his clothing matches! Slap a red or green onesie on your babe, and you'll have an instant costume with this hat - perfect for your family holiday card. There are other adorable knitted hats at Little Lids, so if you have hatless babies and toddlers...hie thee hence!

This may be my favorite hat, ever. It's OOAK, felted and very expensive...ah, well. I just love looking at the colors and imagine how much effort went into creating this fabric. It's from Feltasy (great name), where there are other unusual items. I love the cozy claws too - great for Halloween or just general scaring around.

I just discovered KatarinaCouture, a newish shop on Etsy that's also local to NYC. Her hats remind me of pretty 1920s-1930s hats that I love in old movies like "Grand Hotel". It was hard to choose just one for this blog post but this one is sensational, and can nicely transition from winter and spring. There's a black one there that I covet, but for the greater good I chose a color. She also makes beautiful roses - HUGE roses, that would look great pinned to a coat lapel, that instantly prettify whatever you're wearing.

That's all for today, kiddies, but I'll be back with more hats from other sellers another time. This may be a weekly event at this blog - a spotlight on items that I've discovered on my travels.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Red Love

I have plenty of red left over from Valentine's Day in the shop, but when I saw these vintage filigree lucite pendants from The Original Bead, I had to buy some and make something. I just love the ornate, vaguely Spanish-feeling scroll design and its rich cherry-cranberry color, plus the fact that it's lightweight and doesn't make you crazy from the heaviness while wearing it. (I will also list one in olive soon) I had to use the nailhead beads from Mary Tafoya's shop that I blogged about a few weeks ago, that look like candy, or specifically, the Luden's cough drops that I practically lived on as a kid when I seemed to have bronchitis every few months. The wire-wrapping of the chain is what the cost of this piece is all about; a number of artists on Etsy have purchased these lovely pendants to make creations with, so if someone is interested in a really simple version, they're out there for the searching. I haven't seen any like mine; and it's fun to look around and see how people are using the same component differently. My friend Bek of Clevergirl makes hers with sterling silver. It's incredible how many components Bek and I have in common, considering that she's in Florida and I'm in NYC. We do totally different things with them, mainly because she's a metalsmith and I'm not.

Anyhow, I'm a fan of Gothic and these fill that slot nicely without being too scary.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

City Survivors

Here's a sight to make you stop short in Manhattan: Wooden houses! There are a few of these dotted around the city, and these two charming examples of 19th Century clapboard architecture can be found at 120-122 East 92nd Street. These houses were built in 1859 and 1860 and the land they sit on was once part of Waldron's Farm.

I just read a little bit of evocative history about the roads in the area from the website carnegiehillneighbors that I'll share:

"In 1811, when Carnegie Hill was still very much farmland, the city commissioners began a long-term plan to develop Manhattan above 14th Street in a rectangular grid, but streets and avenues were not cut into this area until late in the century. Until then, individual houses were scattered on lots designated on the grid plan.

At that time there were only two major thoroughfares in the upper part of the island: the Boston Post Road on the east side and the Bloomingdale Road on the west. An east-west road that would later become 86th Street connected with the two. The only traffic on Fifth Avenue was the drovers who used the old dirt road to travel down to the Bowery."

I am trying to imagine only one road on the Upper East Side....and can't.

I'd love to know how the interiors of these houses have been decorated, wouldn't you?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Spot of Color In The Deep Midwinter

I happened to visit the Treasury on Etsy a minute before it opened again...there were over 1000 people waiting and watching. A box popped up and I went for it. There are almost 1000 treasuries - far too many for any but the obsessed to look through, but I like mine, culled from my favorites and a few searches. I hope that you'll check out the amazing shops in this list!

Beijo Flor
Sandra Healey
Gaye Abandon - I own 2 of her armies!
Vermont Fairies
Jennifer Morris Beads
Miss Ruby Sue
Madlight13 (alternate)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Day at the Opera

Earlier this week, on a snowy morning/afternoon, a generous friend at the Metropolitan Opera invited me to a dress rehearsal of "Adriana Lecouvreur", by Francesco Cilea. It's not an opera that I know at all well, and I didn't have the time to do any homework before going (reading the libretto, the history, etc). Opera is an art form that I think an audience has to work a little bit for; it's unrealistic to just walk into an opera house and hope to appreciate the experience without a little work ahead of time. For one thing, it's in another language (usually) and often based on a myth, story, play or historical event/person that is easily researchable in out electronic age. Yes, there are supertitles these days that translate the dialogue as it's happening, but there's no reason not to at least know the story ahead of time and a bit about the composer and librettist. I would never think to attend the Ring Cycle without some serious reading about it - I remember sitting on my bedroom floor with a library recording and the score or libretto and following along as I learned it prior to attending. I did standing room almost daily at the Met when I was in college in my quest to learn as much as I could about opera. I assumed that I was going to be designing them over the next few years as projects and hopefully beyond - and I did, though not as much as I would have liked...hopefully, I'll get back into opera one day. When I was a child, nothing could get me out of a room faster than an opera on the radio, but when I worked on an opera ("Falstaff" by Verdi) as a costume assistant for a small local opera company in between high school and college, I was hooked.

This dress rehearsal was the final one before the prima (opening) on Friday night. Placido Domingo, Maria Guleghina, and Olga Borodina were the headlining singers. It's Domingo's 40th anniversary with the Met, and this was his debut role, in this very production, which originated at the Old Met in its original location on 39th and Broadway (now a Chase Bank...which has a mural of opera singers on its lower level, or did, the last time I was there). This "Adriana" has been refurbished and actually looks quite fresh. Adriana Lecouvreur was a real person in history - a French actress(1692-1730), though the story is fictional and quite silly. The heroine dies after smelling violets poisoned by her rival, though she is plenty able to sing before she draws her last breath.

Sadly, though, Mr. Domingo, who looked fantastic - dashing and trim at 68(!) - did not sing at this rehearsal, as he was suffering from a cold, they told us. This isn't unusual, as singers often don't sing "out" at dress rehearsals if it's a heavy role, to rest the voice, especially in cold season, though they are in costume and "act". Met subscribers at a certain level attend these rehearsals, so there was much disappointment in the house when it was announced that he would not sing. For me, though, it was a happier development, as the cover singer was Philip Webb, a tenor with whom I have worked in regional opera. He's a good, solid tenor who stood at stage right in a suit at a music stand, and he effortlessly sang Maurizio's music. I enjoyed hearing him again and the audience seemed very appreciative - Mr. Domingo rightfully brought him out for a co-bow during his curtain call. This was Philip's big chance, as the Met is not allowing him, even as cover, a performance during the run - another tenor with greater recognition is being brought in to sing the role during the one performance that Domingo is not scheduled for, but Philip will be back later in the season.

There has been much harsh criticism leveled at this production's vocal quality, but as I am not at all familiar with it or its history, so I'm not being judgmental. I have enjoyed Placido Domingo's performances over the years and was lucky enough to have heard him in his prime when I was a babe in opera-land. I miss the singers of my extreme youth who have retired or passed on...singers today are a different kind of creature, though some are wonderful, if they don't burn out by singing too heavy a repertoire too soon. Hopefully I'll be able to tune into the broadcast so I can finally hear Maestro Domingo in this role. I have seen and heard both ladies in other works over the years to better advantage, but I was happy to experience an opera new to me. What was unusual was that I don't remember hearing much, if any, chorus singing - it's all principals, though there was a chorus onstage as guests here and there.

I took some clandestine pictures that I am happy to share.

I was seated in The Grand Tier, which is a real treat. I have some rather blurry pictures of the famous Swarovski Crystal chandeliers rising before the opera begins:

The opening of the opera - a backstage area with Adriana's dressing table at the Comedie-Francaise.

Adriana's (Guleghina) lover Maurizio appears (Domingo). You can see Philip Webb at far left (stage right - their right) standing next to the music stand. Marco Armiliato conducted - he wore a white shirt that day, and I think, but I can't swear that that's him in the pit, in the front.

After the ballet, a stage full of pretty pastels, here washed out by all of the stage lighting in my photo. Note the height of the theater! The curtain is on its way down at the end of the act.

Looking down into the house at one of the intermissions.

Maria Guleghina takes her final curtain call. She's wearing a nightgown that she died in after smelling those tainted violets!

Placido Domingo brings Philip Webb onstage for well-deserved bravos after the performance.

This production's scenic design dates back to the 1920s (I think) but had been adapted over the years. I love the old-fashioned style of painted flats rather than dimensional scenery, if it's done well. I didn't enjoy the combination of projections and this style of scenery for this latest run, which made for a very unhappy marriage of visual styles. I have no photos of this - trust me - it didn't work!

Worklights light the stage after the rehearsal. You can almost see how deep this stage is - a set that has come up on an elevator waits behind the current scenery and is moved in during intermission.

More of the famous Crystal Chandeliers over the Grand Staircase. These were refurbished last summer - Swarovski donated the necessary crystals for the job. Ouch!

It was snowing outside and this provided a rare white backdrop and some great lighting to photograph the lobby in.

The plaza's fountains are being refurbished so the view outside is less than fantastic.

Avery Fisher Hall is to the left of the Opera House.

"Il Trovatore" Banner with a nice dusting of snow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thanks, Kavali8!

My Cool Blue Moonglow bead necklace (fiber-optic beads from the 1950s-1960s) is a favorite item of Kavali8 on Etsy. She very kindly emailed today and I'm thrilled to bits ti be in such good company! If you want to treat yourself, I'm sure that you'll love her varied list of picks, from sugar scrubs to paper goods (and of course, joolz!). There's also music to groove by, and check out her cool shop, as well, for Art & Photography.

Front Page Love

Recently, Etsy Admins have been creating their own Front Page Treasuries by typing in search terms and posting the results. It's creative and gives a chance to sellers to get on the FP in a way that's more random. Maybe. It's still tough.

I don't get there often myself, but this red necklace was included. It's a pretty Treasury, anyway. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Free Shipping on RED items for Valentine's Day!!

Red is still my favorite color and there's always plenty of it in my shop. It's a cliche for Valentine's Day, but one that I embrace. Of course. I have plenty of great baubles for Valentine's Day that aren't red, and there's one here, which you can check out in this section of my shop. Free shipping through February 7 on all red items in time for Valentine's Day!