Monday, June 29, 2009

Costume History

As a costume designer, details make me so happy, and I especially love the 19th century. I am addicted to BBC dramatizations of my favorite novels and am glad that they are churning out a tenth adaptation of Persuasion and Jane Eyre.

I started making these widgets last year and looked for images in my costume history books and from digital image sellers so I could make my own graphics. Often the images consist of an amazing amount of layers; item itself (say, a corset), a background layer, maybe some period handwriting, lace, a fabric pattern, type, and added color. They are very time-consuming to make and afterward have to be reduced for the tiny domino tile, yet be readable. Fortunately, I have Photoshop, and have learned by doing, which has worked out nicely for me so far, though I'd love to take classes in advanced techniques someday.

The images are then printed out on heavy paper and attached to the tiles, then sealed. I run brass wire that I have oxidized through the tiles, add bead caps if I want a more period look, and then add the embellishments that I think will complement the subject.

They are rather labor-intensive but are fun to make. I hope to add more costume pieces from other periods - I'm currently moving into the 18th century and slowly but surely intend to go backward as far as costume history allows.

I made a bracelet using a medieval illumination that I found, and it's one of my favorite pieces.

Good Night, Sweet Redeemed Villain

Rest in Peace, Guy of Gisborne. What a fantastic journey it's been to watch your magnificent self these past three years. Thanks to the miracle of bittorrent, I was able to watch the show with the United Kingdom as you redeemed yourself after three years of being such a gorgeous badass. I will miss you and your shades of dark textured and tormented leather, your hair, your big sword, and above all, your amazing face and eyes. To Richard Armitage, thank you for being so gloriously over the top (ahem) as you created an unforgettable character that I almost hated to love. Or loved to hate...same thing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

King of Style

Here's an interesting article written by Booth Moore about Michael Jackson's costumes and a bit about the two designers who helped create his iconic style, L.A. based Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins. They were working on his costumes for the tour that will now never happen, as originally intended. Swarovski provided jewels for his encrusted jackets and who knows what else. What a sight that would have been! The costumes must be almost finished by now as the tour was to start in mid-July - I wonder if we will ever see them? So much work and expense - I'm sure that AEG will try to make use of their investment, and I hope it's tastefully done. Gulp.

I like this observation by Mr. Moore:

"It was his face, though, that seemed to hold the most fascination for the public. The never-ending speculation about his rhinoplasties fueled a cultural obsession with plastic surgery as Jackson pursued an ideal of beauty that for him was always just out of reach."

Here's a fashion blog that has a lovely retrospective of his looks through the years and its influence on current fashion.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gone Too Soon

I grew up listening to The Jackson Five, dancing and singing in my bedroom to "I'll Be There" and "ABC". Even though Michael Jackson has become a figure of ridicule and even hatred in the last few years, and the idea of his early death wasn't entirely unexpected, it was a shock to me this evening. I was quite skeptical that he would actually follow through with his concerts in London this summer - he couldn't possibly have been strong enough for all of that, I thought.

I've been watching YouTube videos for awhile this evening, and am saddened by posts from people who dismiss him merely as a pathetic child molester who was once something else, rather than an icon of American Pop Music; he danced and sang with such grace and purity and revolutionized the art of performance. He was atrociously parented, put to work as a small child, abused for being gay as soon as his preference was evident and permanently damaged as a result; a drug addict, physically and mentally ill, driven by demons to change everything about his appearance until he finally became unrecognizable. He made bad choices and hurt people, and got away with outrageous behavior for many years, which is enough to turn many a mind against him, perhaps rightfully so. He had a great and terrible life, and I hope that he's at peace now. I had many hours of pleasure listening to and watching him - I never saw him perform live, but in my room as a girl, listening to 45s and LPs, and later as an adult over the years, he was truly the King of Pop.

Phedre in New York City

Production photos by Catherine Ashmore, from the National Theatre's website.

I was reading an article in the New York Times about London Theatre today, and realized that if I didn't act fast, I might miss out on a live simulcast from the National Theatre of Racine's Phedre at various movie theatres around the country. What is noteworthy is that it's starring Helen Mirren, Margaret Tyzack and Dominic Cooper, and directed by Nicholas Hytner. They're using a version by Ted Hughes this time, and it's designed by Bob Crowley, whose work I am always eager to see.

I started at this link, Broadwayworld, and though performances are sold out at The Film Society at Lincoln Center, I managed to snag a ticket at City Cinemas on the East Side for next week. Theatremania has a link to the venues here.

Here's the National Theatre's Page for US venues. That's a lotta links, but maybe you want to read up a bit on what the fuss is all about.

I never made it to any of the Metropolitan Opera House simulcasts last year, so I damned well made sure I have a ticket to this one, if nothing huge comes up that prevents my actually going.

I last read Phedre in college, when I was on a tear to read as many of the great plays as possible in case I had to design one. There was a legendary production of this play by Philip Prowse, starring Glenda Jackson in the 70's that I wish I'd seen - totally different in look from this production. I remember poring over the pictures in a theatrical magazine - I used to buy theatre and opera magazines from the Drama Book Shop of international productions to keep up with design sensibilities around the world.

Check out the NT's link to see if this production will be available near you!

Monday, June 22, 2009

1999 and counting...

1 more and I will have earned 2000 hearts on Etsy! :)

Wickedly Chic

Liz Nonnenmacher emailed me this morning to let me know that my Batman Earrings have been featured on her shopping blog, Wickedly Chic, under Daily Ditties. I'm thrilled to know that these cute earrings are a Monday necessity...Mondays can be trying, and these earrings can definitely warn antagonists that you are in no mood for any funny business. These little bats are DC Comics charms with sterling silver findings. These and my Superman/Superwoman/Supermom earrings are my most popular shop items this summer.

Wickedly Chic is a friendly blog magazine all about indie shopping. There's a newsletter that you can sign up for to keep current with the newest trends and Liz's finds.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Storque Feature

I finally made it into the Storque again yesterday with a feature about Scams To Be Aware Of. My handcuff earrings were among the items chosen to "illustrate" the pitfalls of internet scamming. Apparently, the "Nigerian scammers" have invaded Etsy as well as our inboxes. I get a few of these a week, and whenever I advertise my joolz on Craigslist, they come in droves.
The upside is that it did result in some sales, for which I am grateful. We all have to be so careful not to click on those suspicious phishing emails, especially from Paypal, which look so much like the real thing!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've Been Invaded....

I watched the INVASION
mega-broadcast on Chiller TV last week and am officially a crazed fan of this series, canceled after only one season. It originally aired in 2005, but ran into unfortunate real-life conflict with Hurricane Katrina and its plot line; scheduling mayhem by ABC also interrupted its momentum. I remember watching and loving it, but lost track of the show mid-season, only to come back at the end.

The story takes place in Homestead, Florida, in the Everglades, as a hurricane hits. Homestead looks to be a small town, and the action centers on a “blended” family – a former couple, their new spouses, a brother between jobs who’s staying with one of the couples, and children from their combined families. It’s a great idea to show American families this way, and it’s also a metaphor for what is to come in the drama.

The hurricane brings wind, rain and devastation, and strange orange lights that both emerge from and drop into the water – these lights represent creatures that become a menace to the people living there. The proximity of the water to homes and civilization plays a crucial role in the drama.

I’m not sure how much I want to spoil here – when people go into the water after the hurricane passes through, they come out “different”. Think “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” meets “The X-Files”. I love these kinds of shows, and this one is just so well done.

I’ve lived in Florida, and this series captures so well the sense of never-ending dampness, humidity, heat and nature underfoot. People are constantly sweaty, bugs are everywhere, aging due to weather conditions is wonderfully present in the settings and all of the women run around in tank tops, so you know it’s hot. I wouldn’t be able to function in that climate so I am in awe of all of the running around and action accomplished in that heat.

The show is very well written, acted, photographed, scored and designed, and looks as if it cost a bundle in special effects and CGI (though some of the CGI is quite obviously CGI). There was an outcry when it was cancelled, as the ending was a Very Big Cliffhanger that cries out for resolution. I hope that one day there will be a movie or continuation, but it’s unlikely now, 4 years later.

William Fichtner (who I am crushing on madly) plays the town sheriff, Tom Underlay. He’s married to Mariel, played by Kari Matchett, doctor and chief of staff at the local hospital. She was once married to Russell Varon, a Park Ranger, played by Eddie Cibrian, and they have two children, a teenage boy, Jesse, and grade-school daughter, Rose. Russell is remarried to Larkin Groves, a TV news reporter, played by Lisa Sheridan, who is expecting their first child. Russel and Mariel share their children, who live at both of their homes equally, though I think their main residence is with Tom and Mariel, who are much better off financially and have a sleek and modern-looking fortress of a house; Russell’s is quite rustic and ramshackle, it doesn’t look as if there is air-conditioning (!) and seems to always need repair. Tom has a teenage daughter from his first marriage (he’s a widower), Kira, who lives with him and Mariel. Larkin’s brother, Dave Groves, well played by Tyler Labine, is between jobs, and is staying with her at their house, in a barn next door.

These two families single-handedly attempt to fight what is happening in the town since the hurricane’s impact.

The series is 22 episodes long, and it takes its time telling its story, which is full of conspiracy theories, secret government ops, a crazed mastermind, family drama, science fiction, medical drama, action and adventure. It was created by Shaun Cassidy, son of the late Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones, and half-brother of my pre-teen crush, David Cassidy.

I think that the cast are all excellent, but I have to single out William Fichtner, Kari Matchett and Tyler Labine as my favorites, along with Ivar Brogger and Elisabeth Moss in small but vivid roles. I was also happy to see one of my favorites, Veronica Cartwright, in the cast as Larkin's boss at the local TV station. I was a bit surprised to recognize James Frain in the cast, who I know from countless British dramas, usually as a villain – he appears to be living and working in the US these days.

William Fichtner, who I have seen in other dramas over the years, has the role of a lifetime as Tom Underlay, the sheriff that appears to have everything under control...but there is an undercurrent of something disturbing about his manner that keeps you undecided about him. Is he a villain or a hero? It’s a demanding role, and he’s really marvelous. Tom is always on guard, there’s always a crisis at work, at home, and he can never get the emotional support and comfort that he needs but he keeps on going. He is obsessively in love with his wife Mariel; I have never seen such looks of longing nor heard “I love you” as often from a husband to a wife in a TV show as I have here. And who can blame him? Kari Matchett is gorgeous, a cool blonde who can go from creepy to warm and empathic in a second. They are both very beautiful people with perfect bodies, photogenic faces and expressive eyes, and I found them fascinating and accomplished (TV) actors with great chemistry that I hope to see again in such meaty roles. Tyler Labine is wonderfully warm as Larkin’s conspiracy-theory obsessed brother, a believer in extra-terrestrials life. He’s overweight, drinks a lot of beer, is a bit of a slob and drifter, but is smart man who rises to the occasion at the most important time of his life, is devoted to his sister and her family as the loving uncle always ready to look after the kids, build a tree house or run over to the hospital or school. I lost count of the emergencies that these adults are interrupting their lives for, usually on a child’s account…a child who wanders off after a cat in a hurricane, is unaccounted for all of a sudden, falls in with the wrong crowd, gets into a fight at school…not to mention all of the accompanying adult crises. It’s nice to see a bunch of men so involved with their families, being such good fathers.

In case you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to spoil the story for you. I bought a used copy on Amazon very inexpensively, and if you’re a fan of this genre, I recommend it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Shopping Connection

This in from Elena Mary, who runs the Steampunk Style Market at 1000Markets: a feature at MyShoppingConnection I'm not familiar with the site, but it looks like a lovely place to find out about great stuff, and there's a lovely interview with ElenaMary on the front page - scroll down a bit.

The graphic is very cool, and you can see some of the wonderful artists at the Steampunk Style Market. I'm happy to be a member - check out the collection at 1000Markets when you h=get the chance.

Shop Spotlight - British Cream Tea

I've just discovered a fantastic shop called British Cream Tea located in Liverpool, UK, that is just the place for Anglophiles like me. I laughed out loud looking at all of the felt English food that she makes with love "and a hint of hunger". Cornettos, fish fingers, lollies, scotch eggs, Cornish pasties, Blackpool Rock...they're all here, and more. I've spent many hours watching British TV and am always planning my next trip over there to visit friends, so I felt a huge wave of nostalgia looking at her witty items. And a hint of hunger as well. They'd make a great gift for an expatriate, international foodie, or anyone in love with British culture!

Friends Who Promote!

My neighbor, Ruby, is wearing two of my (her) fish necklaces that she's so crazy about. Makes sense, since I got the fishies from her! Ruby adores color and is amazingly crafty herself - she knits, sews and has a great eye for good design. Ruby walks around with my cards when she wears my stuff and helps me to promote this new line. We love Ruby!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Escape from Blogger Hell - I am BACK!!!

Two weeks of not being able to sign into my blog...finally, someone at a blogger group helped! I was so worried that I'd have to abandon this little page, which was very upsetting to me. Hopefully I will now be motivated to post more often. A Happy Weekend to everyone - and will the rain in the Metropolitan Area never stop?