Saturday, December 29, 2012

Georgian Makeup Tips & Tricks for Modern Lady

It is no secret that make-up has had a bad rap up until well into the 20th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, when make-up was commonly used by both men and women, it was not only being bashed by moralists but was also very likely to kill you. It contained such unsavory substances as lead, belladonna, arsenic and many more. Maria Coventry, Countess of Coventry, for instance, paid a heavy price for her makeup addiction. She died at the age of 27 from lead poisoning.

Maria Coventry, Countess of Coventry (1733 – 1760)
By the end of the 18th century, the cult of the natural began to take hold. Women donned simpler style of dress, and makeup became even more despised. But that did not stop people from using beauty products to improve their looks and complexion. In a hilarious scene from Jane Austen's Persuasion, the vain and silly Sir Walter Elliot advises his daughter to use Gowland's Lotion to improve her looks. This advice would have been pretty dangerous since Gowland Lotion contained, among other things, mercuric chloride. A substance you should keep away from your face.

An ad for Gowland's Lotion which was a chemical peel  
But while many cosmetics of the past were downright lethal and incompatible with our modern aesthetic, we can still learn a few things from our foremothers.

La toilette by Lucio Rossi (1846-1913) 
The 18th century was not a very great time for bathing. Ladies avoided baths and hair would not be washed for months, especially when the high puffy styles came into fashion around the middle of the century. These elaborate updos took a long time to construct and no lady would willingly ruin it by washing. The hair was built up and kept in place with a generous helping of powder. What we modern ladies can take from this is that powder is a wonderful degreaser.

Hairdresser powdering a lady's hair.  Galerie des Modes, 12e Cahier, 1e Figure
While I do not recommend going without bathing for months on end, hair can be made presentable by a bit of hair or talcum powder. Just put some on your hand and run it through the hair, shake off the excess and  you are ready to go. I prefer unscented talc, but you can find powder with a variety of very pleasant scents like vanilla, jasmine and rose. Some powders have glitter if you like a little extra glitz.

Lulu Organics Hair Powder 
Lush Vanilla Puff Powder
Ageless Artifice Perfumed Powder 
Rouge has been used for ages to give cheeks a glowing healthy look and to put some color into wane lips. It has mostly been replaced by blush and lipstick in our beauty kits.

Madam de Pompadour applying rouge   
However, it is about time we bring rouge back. There is no need to run to the local pharmacy for some white lead, vermilion and alkanet root. It can be easily replaced with lip stain or lip tint. Unlike lipstick or blush that could look heavy, lip tint gives a more natural flushed effect. The other advantage is that it is a two-in-one product. You can use lip tint to rouge up both lips and cheeks. Some shades can also be applied instead of cream eye shadow for a very pretty look. Just remember to dab some powder on it to keep it from creasing.

Lush It Started With A Kiss Lip tint
Odora Candy Color Mineral Lip Stain

Ageless Artifice Red Paint for the Face

Would you like more tips on how to emulate that 18th century beauty? Katie Cannon over at Ageless Artifice has a wonderful blog about historical cosmetics and a site where you can buy many of them. Great for all you makeup and history junkies out there. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Dear all,

Hope this Holiday Season brings light and joy and happiness!

Mr Fezziwig's ball, John Leech, A Christmas Carol by Dicken
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Last Minute Christmas Decor Ideas

Christmas is always a very busy time. You have to make the presents, wrap everything and bake a million and two cookies. Sometimes you just do not have time to go all out on the Christmas decor.

For instance, we decided not to have a tree this year, so I decorate my room with a few nifty things I had at hand. Behold, the cake stand Christmas tree:

All right, I admit, it may not be all that epic, but it really makes for a fun piece, especially on a dinner table.  

You will need:
- A cake stand
- Christmas ornaments
- Some white cake doilies (if your cake stand has a very un-Christmasy pattern)

You can use tinsel, pine tree branches or a mix of everything. I had some really lovely vintage bulbs. If you have a Christmas star you could attach it to the top of the stand.

But cake stand is not the only way to decorate your room this year. You can use a jewelry stand instead.

You will need:
- A jewelry stand 
- Christmas tree ornaments

Pick a color scheme or just go all out (like I did) and put up everything you can find. This works much better if you hang the ornaments at different levels. Do not be afraid to add some tinsel or mix in some of your Christmas-looking jewelry for a more ostentatious look. I found stars, angel wings and bulb earrings, necklaces and bracelets of all kind very conductive to the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas!      

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bit of Jane Austen in your Mailbox

I must have been extra nice this year because Santa will be sending me a very special present: the Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine, No. 61

The January/February issue (No. 61) of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is in the mail and I can look forward to getting it very soon. And it will be a very special issue, too, marking the bicentenary of Pride & Prejudice.

The highlights will include:

 *A history of Jane Austen’s “darling child”: the background to Jane’s best-known book

 *Firth and foremost: Colin Firth’s love-hate relationship with Mr Darcy

 *Choose your Darcy: some of the actors who have played Jane’s hero

 *North to Pemberley: Elizabeth Bennet's journey with the Gardiners 

*Selling Pride & Prejudice: the spin-offs and the merchandising

 *Plus News, Letters, Book Reviews and information from Jane Austen Societies in the US, UK, and Australia

I am giddy with excitement! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Preparing for Ofelia Market

I have been sadly neglecting my blogging duties due to a very special event I am planning to attend. It is called Ofelia Market (yes, with an 'f'). This wonderful craft fair and flea market is organized every year for all those who love vintage, lolita, goth and burlesque style. There are workshops and performances, and it is great fun for everyone involved.

So if you happen to be in Helsinki this weekend, come by and check it out. You will not regret it, I promise.  

The reason I am so excited about Ofelia Market is because this year I will not simply haunt the stalls looking for quirky stuff to buy, I will be selling some of my own things. Yes, it is true. I am a crafter; have my own Etsy store and everything.

On account of that, I have been pretty busy making new items to sell. My room is currently a battleground of ribbons, buttons, lace and super glue stains.

My desk. No room for the laptop   

Ofelia Market has its own blog. It's in Finnish, but Google Translate can help you with it. So check it out.  
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