Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

It's Christmas! For me, it's the beginning of the holiday season that will last for four weeks. First, it's a traditional Christmas with my boyfriend's family. Then, a fun Russian New Year's celebration with my family. Then back for Russian Christmas, which is celebrated on January 7. And finally, Old New Year on January 13, which is the beginning of the year according to the Julian calendar. Old New Year is not an official holiday, but people like to celebrate it with a hint of irony.

Christmas also means a lot of my favorite things:

Great TV & Christmas movies

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Agatha Christie's Poirot

Miss Fisher's Murders Mysteries

And wonderful music

Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney - Ella Fitzgerald

Run Rudolph Run - Chuck Berry

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt

Have a great one, everyone! 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

How to Make Dorothy's Ruby Slippers

So you want to be dress up as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz? That's easy! All you need is a white blouse, a blue dress and Toto. But what about the ruby slippers? If sparkly shoes are not in this season, you can make a pair yourself with just a little patience and a lot of glitter.

The original ruby slippers made for Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz (1939) were dyed red and then covered with organza, decorated with burgundy sequins, and then two bejeweled red leather bows were added.

The original ruby slippers via Smithsonian National Museum        
Since sewing sequin is pretty time consuming, simple glitter would do the trick. 

You will need:
- a pair of pumps or ballet flats (if they are red, that's a plus)
- loose glitter
- craft glue or Mod Podge
- glitter glue
- a few paint brushes you're not too attached to
- hairspray
- disposable cups
- a stiff red ribbon
- a glue gun
- scissors
- red rhinestones in different sizes
- needle and thread

Clear a working space for yourself and make sure to cover it with cooking parchment or some disposable paper. Glitter has a tendency to get everywhere. I made these shoes a week ago and there's still bits of glitter I find in my bedroom and on my balcony.

Fill one disposable cup with a bit of glue and the other one with loose glitter. I don't usually like to use anything disposable, but this method will help you avoid contaminating your glue with glitter and will let you collect any loose bits of glitter afterwards.

Using a paint brush, cover a section of your shoe with a thick layer of craft glue.Sprinkle loose glitter over that section. Shake it off. I have seen some tutorials where people mixed the glitter and the glue and then covered the shoe with the mixture, but it didn't work for me. The glitter got too lumpy and wouldn't spread.       

Repeat this process over the entire outer area on both shoes. Avoid the inside of the shoe (you don't want to feel glitter between your toes) and the heel. Leave to dry over night.

See if your shoes still need some coverage in places. Cover those sparsely glittered areas with more glue and glitter. Now with a paint brush cover the heels of the shoes with glitter glue. I prefer this to covering them with glitter as glitter glue gives a smoother shinier finish and you can avoid sending bits of glitter flying everywhere when you click your heels together. Leave to dry overnight.

Cover the entire outer area of the shoes with glitter glue. This will help keep any loose glitter in place. Give the heels another layer of glitter glue. Leave to dry.

In the meantime, make the bows. Cut your ribbons into two strips, approximately 6cm each. Using needle and thread make them into bows. With the glue gun, attach smaller rhinestones all over the bows. Aim for as much coverage as you can get gluing the rhinestones close to each other and making sure to put some in every nook and cranny. Attach a larger rhinestone to the middle of the bow with the glue gun.

I took these pictures after a full night of partying, so some of the rhinestones were lost on the dance floor 

Once the glue on your shoes is completely dry, give them a nice even spritz with the hair spray. I had a real problem with loose glitter, so I had to spray them four times before I was confident that I would not leave a glitter trail behind me as I walk.

Once your shoes are completely dry and no loose glitter is left behind when you shake them, attach the bows to the front of the shoes with the glue gun.

Now put on a pair of bobby socks and you're ready to follow the yellow brick road!   

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dracula's Daughter Review

"Thank you, I never drink... wine."
- Countess Marya Zaleska, Dracula's Daughter 

It's officially Halloween season! Which means I will be writing about all things ghoulish and frightful.  

There are some disagreements as to who is the most iconic mistress of darkness out there. Morticia Addams, Vampira, Elvira and Lily Munster are all fan favorites. But my heart belongs to Countess Marya Zaleska, Dracula's Daughter.

Played by Gloria Holden in the 1936 Dracula's Daughter, she is equal parts mysterious, deadly and vulnerable. The film has it share of cheese and the human characters are somewhat on the bland side, but Countess Zaleska is mesmerizing.    
Plot (with spoilers): Being a squeal, the film picks up from where Dracula (1931) left off. Countess Zaleska and her manservant Sandor steal Dracula's body and burn it. The Countess hopes that this would rid her of vampirism. But it does not work and she gives in to the blood lust. She meats Dr. Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger), a psychologist and one of Von Helsing's foremer pupils, and after a conversation with him becomes hopeful that he could help her overcome her urges through psychoanalysis. But when she encounters a beautiful model Lili (Nan Grey), she cannot resist and drinks her blood. Countess Zaleska gives up any hope of becoming human again and lures Dr. Garth to Transylvania. Her attempts to make him her undead companion fail and she is destroyed by her manservant. 

I think this film and the character are often, sadly, overlooked when people think of the Universal Studios monster line up. The film has very striking visuals and atmosphere. Its treatment of vampirism is also somewhat different from what we are used to today. The lust for blood is framed not as physiological need, but as a psychological affliction. There is no indication that Countess Zaleska needs to drink blood to survive. She drinks blood becasue she cannot help herself. And she expresses remorse and disgust at what she does. Consequently, the suggested cure is not a blood transfusion or any other antidote one could take, but rather psychoanalysis. Gloria Holden is superb as Countess Zaleska, equal parts poised, commanding and tragic. Her line delivery is always on point and she possess that magnetism that makes her dominate every scene.  






If you want to know more about the film and its production history, check out a wonderful three part article over at Women Write About Comics or see the film, which you can sometimes find on YouTube.   

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Top 5 Vintage Shops in York

This autumn I am planning a short trip to the UK. I will be going to York again and, naturally, I'm very excited to visit my old haunts. So I decided to post these lists of my favorite places to shop for vintage in York.

Bowler Vintage 
52 Fossgate
This is by far my favorite store of the lot. Not becasue it has the best wares, but becasue how stylish it is. Every time I'm there I just feel instantly glamorous. Even if I hadn't washed my hair and I'm wearing my lazy day jean, when I step over the threshold, I become Bette Davis or Norma Shearer. There are two floors to the store, first one is dedicated to men's fashions, and the second has a collection of modern repro clothing (they've got all the usual suspects with Hell Bunny, Collectif and Dancing Days by Banned) as well as vintage pieces. And the atmosphere is lovely - the store is bright, with a lovely old display that contains accessories, wooden chairs, low hanging lampshades and bag-scarf-hat combos decorating the shelves.

Dog & Bone Vintage 
28 Castlegate
While I love Bowler Vintage for the atmosphere, I love Dog & Bone for the stuff. And, boy, do they have some nice stuff! It's also two floors of shopping delight. The ground floor has men's clothes and lifestyle things - cards, games, cups and books. You need to go into the basement to see the women's clothes, and they have plenty. The lights are low and it's a lot more crammed, but they do have some of the best vintage dresses I have ever seen from blue chiffon prom dresses (perfect for cosplaying 1950s Cinderella) to delightful novelty prints cotton frocks that seem to be from the days of rationing.

The Flax & Twine 
20 Shambles
This is what I would call a bric-à-brac store. It has an assortment of the most wonderful things from old typewriters to parasols, from hats and purses to little brushes to remove crumbs from your dining table. I cannot recommend this place enough! You can spend your whole day there looking at little treasures and once you're tired of that, you can head to the second floor and take some tea with cake in their cafe. I am still very sad that I bough nothing there since the things were either too big or too brittle to transport them back home with me.

12 Walmgate
This store was on my regular to-visit list since it was right next to the bus stop that took me to the University. They mostly have the usual rockabilly stuff, which did not strike my fancy. I did, however, feel very drawn to an assortment of sweaters, which had been made by the owner's wife based on authentic 1940s patterns.
Sue Ryder Care 
28 Goodramgate

I loved this thrift store (or as they call it in the UK - a charity shop). Unlike most other thrift stores in town that had a pretty indifferent collection of old Marks & Spencer sweaters and ugly shows from the early 2000s, Sue Ryder had a vintage section on the second floor and some of the things there were divine. I have come across some really beautiful hairbrush and mirror sets that were in good condition and cost a fraction of what you would have paid for them in the vintage stores. I bought a pair of cream colored embroidered gloves there. I would have bought a hat, but I had no way of transporting it back home.    

Hope you liked this post. In my next one, I will list my favorite York cafes.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tarot Cards Photo Shoot

Finally, the photos from our summer Tarot Cards themed photo shoot are here. It was a lot of fun and I'm very happy that I can share the photos here with you.

My first costume was The Star
It's the 17th card of the Major Arcana. It tends to show a naked woman kneeling next to a pond or a river and pouring out water from two jugs. There is usually one or more stars above the woman.

In divination, The Star signifies spirituality, hope, inspiration and serenity.

I had my own interpretation of the card and was very much inspired by the beautiful Hedy Lamarr and her star dress. More on that here. I picked a really lovely spot next to a small fountain with the bay behind me. However, the day was very windy and my hair lost most of the curl and the dress was a little hard to manage. Still, I am quite happy with how the photos turned out.

For my second costume, my friend and I went for Two of Cups

It's a card of the Minor Arcana. It usually depicts a man and a woman standing face to face and holding cups as if they are toasting each other.

Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot
In divination, The Two of Cups means relationship, attraction, unified love and bonds of friendship.

We decided to create two shield maiden characters, who are drinking from goblets at the end of a long day's fighting.

I am particularly proud of my tunic which I made from a bed sheet and then embroidered. I used my woven belt that I had bought during a Times & Epochs historical reenactment festival in Moscow a few years back. The gold medallion was something I'd found at a thrift store and the sheep skin vest was a souvenir from Greece. My friend made her tunic out of a dark blue crimped material and trimmed it with faux fur. She's wearing an old Kalevala necklace and a pair of men's boots she'd picked up at the Opera flea market.        

I still wish we had more time to work on the costumes. And the weather was a little grey and indifferent. I have learnt a valuable lesson, though, if you use body glitter, be prepared to find specks of it everywhere for the rest of your life.

Photos by Salomon Marttila 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Retro Photo Session with Shipr

My aunt gave me a wonderful birthday present - a photo session with the retro studio "ШИПР" (Pronounced shipr). These guys are amazing. It's a studio in Moscow where they take pictures using equipment from the early 20th century.

There is no photoshopping involved. Instead, you have a very old camera and a makeshift dark room. They develop the photos right in front of you, in dishes full of chemicals. You can also see them at festivals doing street photography and you can hire them to do events.
My sister took the pictures of the process. I had two outfits, one that was more 1950s and the other a very 1940s look.

Outfit notes:
Dress - Olivia Rogue 
Gloves - thrifted 
Shoes - Miss L Fire
Stockings - H&M

Outfit notes:
Blouse - Collectif
Trousers - Indiska, from a few years ago
Shoes - Keds

The photo record of the process by Maria K.

The results were delightful! I feel just like an actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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