Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Steam themed Halloween

Steampunk has been dominating the fantasy, gaming and larping communities at epic speed. I've always eyed the steampunk style, with victorian being my style foundation for nearly everything I make. I generally steered away from it, because I thought there was too much competition with the steampunk jewelry already being created. I wanted something unique, and there aren't a lot of steam variations you can do with jewelry.
But this year for Halloween I dove into my steampunk research. It all started with an ity-bity bomber jacket.
We fretted over what to dress our son as for his first Halloween, not having a lot of extra cash to splurge on a costume. Sure, it's cute to dress the little ones up before they have any say in what they want to be, but he's not actively trick-or-treating, he can only wear it once at the rate he grows, and nobody will see it but family. So spending a lot of cash was out.
Fortunately, last summer I had picked up the MOST adorable bomber jacket at a mom-2-mom sale for $2.50. It was too big then, I was just hoping it would fit him for the winter. It hit me one day, that the aviator look has a large influence on the steampunk style, and my husband and I could easily dress to match. I have a lot of victorian style clothing, and my dad has a lot of early 19th century costumes because he frequents the local reenactments.
So it was decided we'd go steampunk. Not that we have a lot to do on halloween this year, but there was a family party and there's a costume contest at a gaming store on Saturday. We've been working on accessorizing our rather plain costumes, and I hope to have pictures next week.
The jacket that started it all......
Just because I was researching...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

For the love of books

I haven't blogged in a while, and I thought I'd get back in gear by sharing a few of my favorite books from my antique book collection.
When I was a teenager I collected old books from yard sales and thrift shops. I'd always loved old things, vintage jewelry, antique furniture, vintage styles. But my love of old books started with the finding of this first book.
I can't recall my exact age, but I found this book in my grandfather's garage while the family and I were cleaning it out. My grandfather was what you might call a 'collector' or some might have referred to him as a 'hoarder'. It's all how you look at it.
This book, called 'The Lady's Book of Flowers and Poetry' first caught my attention with it's gorgeous gold inlay in black leather. Upon further inspection, the book became more and more marvelous.
The book was published in 1841 in New York.

Throughout the book there are hand painted flowers, with tissue paper insirted into the book's binding, I'm assuming, for the paint's preservation.

This book is somewhat of a family treasure. I'm actually a little surprised my mother trusted me with it's keeping, as young as I was. But I always had a respect for antiques, and I'm sure she knew I'd treasure it.

This next book was a very interesting find for me at the local salvation army thrift store. It's in german, so I can't even tell you the title. Within the first page, the name Dr. Martin Luther is mentioned, so it can be assumed that it's a bible adeptation, or Luther's teachings.

But I can tell you that it was published in St. Louis, MO in 1905. The embossed leather on this particular book is stunning.

The real treasure of this book was tucked safely within it's pages. The first, a frail and yellowed envelope addressed to Mrs. Anna Notting, Grandville, Michigan. The post mark for this letter was April 3, 1931. Inside is a lovely little Easter greeting card, signed simply, Jimmy.
Farther down the pages of the book, is another yellowed envelope. From the Zeeland Record Company in Zeeland, Michigan. Inside is a remittance form addressed to J. Bohl Sr. who lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It also has the date it was sent, Jan 1, 1932.
I have had this book for years, well over a decade, and I never even knew this next treasure was there. A n envelope in pretty rough shape, sent to Mr. John Bohl Sr in Grandville, Michigan on Jan 19th, 1925. Inside is a delicate little letter written on lined paper in faint pencil. I was able to read most of it.

"Dear father I will write

you a few lines we are

well and hope the same of

you Harold is going to

school every day he has not

missed a day yet

Enclosed you will find tax

receipt and check for 10.66

From y our son

John Bohl Jr"

He didn't use any punctuation in his writing, but instead used spaces where periods should be. I corrected a few spelling errors from the original.
The next book is a little on the newer side of the vintage books I tended to collect. Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender's Guide is a fascinating little book none the less. The first printing was in 1935 and the final printing for this book was 1941. In this guide is an alphabetical list of drinks, with the recipe.There were two sections of the book with full color pictures. At the end of the book was a fascinating guide to the various glasses used to mix the cocktails.
Another of my favorites is Agnes of Braunsberg. It's a daintly little book with a ragged fabric cover. It was published in New York, but unfortunately there's no date anywhere in the book.
But there is a faint little dedication in the front that reads

"Mathilda Ludwig
Perfect Attendance

4th Grade"

The handwriting is faint, but it's gorgeous! I envy the curvy scrollwork of penmanship of times long gone, when things like handwriting were appreciated.
This book has a lovely cross embossed in the cover, but again I can only assume it's a bible, because it's in German. It was published in Berlin in 1875. It has an unfortunate binding, what little of it is left.

The final book is also also in German, printed in Chicago in 1878. The gold embossed leather on this book is stunning, there appears to be a dragon at the end of the cross on the cover.

There were two little surprises hidden among the pages of this book. The first is a print out of a scripture, and the second is a painting. I'm not sure where the image might have come from, it seems to be printed on something that feels like magazine paper. It's really thin and glossy.

These have been just a few of my favorite books from a book case in my childhood home that I recently looted. I'd estimate it's not quite a quarter of the collection. I have an amazing old fully illustrated copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin that was given to me by my grandmother, and a couple old pocket bibles. I didn't grab those, I hope to have the entire book case back in my posession some day. It will have to wait until we have a larger living space.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A little something winter inspired

Expect to see more pearls for the winter season!

Sidonie on Etsy

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The truth is, I haven't been me for over a year and a half now. Not the me that I spent my entire life building up to, the me that I could call myself proud to be. I used to know exactly who I was and what I wanted with my life.
My husband and I knew we wanted to have a baby, and couldn't have been more happy when we achieved that goal. I always just assumed that I could be me and just have a little one be there with me. I was mistaken.
I wouldn't trade my son for anything in the world. He makes my life worth living every day, and no matter what happened the day before, he smiles at me in the morning and bounces up and down in his crib in anticipation of me picking him up. And yesterday fades to a distant memory and it's all okay again.
Unfortunately other events, other circumstances, have changed me more than I could have ever forseen. First of all was being sick for eight months. I'm not exaggerating here, when I say I had morning sickness all day, every day, for about eight of my nine month pregnancy. I put my jewelry and my Etsy shop on hold. It was next to impossible to get motivated, much less create, anything under those circumstances.
I knew going into it that there was a possibility that I wouldn't lose the pregnancy weight. I accepted that, as I gained 55 pounds during the pregnancy. I didn't go out and spend a bunch of money on maternity clothes, but not a thing I owned pre pregnancy fit anymore. I toughed out being less than fashionable for several months until my son was born, and another several months after that. Fashion was always a large part of my personality. Boots, I really missed the boots. I lost some of the weight but there was still a lot left. Pre-pregnancy I completely under appreciated the ability to walk into a store, see something I like, and grab a small or medium and not even wonder if it would fit or not. I had no idea what size I was anymore, and trying stuff on only made me depressed.
Aside from not working on my jewelry for nine months, and not being able to wear any of the clothes I loved before I had my son, being a stay at home mom was a lot more work than I was prepared for. My husband goes to work, he goes out with his friends on his days off and partakes in his hobbies, and I stay home and be mom all day every day. As my son gets older he's harder to keep up with. He's crawling and standing, he's into everything he shouldn't be, and his basic needs are really demanding. I used to be able to squeeze in my jewelry while he played on the floor, but now I can't take my eyes off him. I can only work on my jewelry while my husband is home, and that's not often.
When I did have the rare time on my hands to work, I was getting inspiration in the wrong places. I was idolizing an artisan that inadvertantly took my work in the wrong direction. It wasn't me, it didn't represent me well. I had lost the sense of myself that made me love the jewelry I created.
So there I was. Completely lost.

But now that I know I've been lost, I can start to find my way back.
A few months ago I decided I was going to get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Since June I've lost all but the last five pounds, and I'm wearing all my old clothes again.
I'm no longer idolizing anyone or anything, and I'm looking to myself for inspiration, to create jewelry as I used to, to create the things I love, the things that represent me as an artist, as a person.
My birthday is at the end of the month and I intend to replenish my wardrobe, I haven't been shopping for clothes since I got pregnant. It's my gift to myself, for my birthday to celebrate who I am, and to celebrate having lost the baby weight.
I still don't have a lot of time to work on my jewelry, but I've come to accept it. My son comes first, and if I have to squeeze in my hobby in ten minute intervals, or only on the days my husband is home, then so be it.
Fall is my favorite time of year, and I'm taking it all in. The leaves are gorgeous, the air is crisp, and the promise of holidays and good times with family are in my heart.
Not to mention, coats and fun warm weather accessories =)