Monday, January 31, 2011

Silhouette-iquette.

Did you know that we have the ancient Greeks to thank for the mud flap girl? Yep. According to wikipedia, the Greeks invented the art of silhouette....

Only it wasn't called silhouette then. In fact, the term silhouette is attributed to the French finance minister in the 1750's who was forced to make austere financial impositions - especially on the wealthy - due to economic troubles of the time. It was said that he also enjoyed the art of cutting traced images onto black cardboard. Thus, art form came to be known as a silhouette. It was also a slight on the finance minister because this art form was known as being very cheap...and so was he.

Before the invention of the camera, silhouettes were the most popular art form in the United States in the 1800's. It was the cheapest and fastest way to commemorate someone and artists would often travel from town to town offering silhouette services so the art form was very accessible to a lot of people.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/67100426/victorian-silhouette-necklace-steampunk

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A few facts about V.D.

That's Valentine's Day. What else would V.D. stand for?...OH, right. That V.D
Well, here's a few facts about Valentine's Day...I can not help you with the other V.D.

1. Teachers receive the most valentines annually.
2. Mailed valentines became very popular in the 1800's following a drop in postal rates. This also allowed for people to be anonymous so they would send rather racy valentines with impunity from the Victorian morals of the time.
3.Valentines day SUPPOSEDLY stemmed from an edict by Emperor Claudius in Rome stating that all young men must stay single because he believed unmarried men made better soldiers. Bishop Valentine defied these orders and married people anyway.
4. Brazil celebrates Valentine's Day on June 12, because February 14 is too close to Carnival and it is thought that the celebration and debauchery would overshadow Valentine's Day.
5. It is theorized that the one of the origins of the heart shape is that it is a symbol of a woman's buttocks... think about it; turn a heart upside down and you get, to put it bluntly, butt cheeks.
6. Vinegar Valentines were also popular in the Victorian era. These were "valentines" that had insults printed on them instead of flowery sonnets. Seems like a dick move to mail out an insult valentine, but the Victorians didn't have reality TV to keep themselves occupied, so I guess they had to channel douche bag behavior somehow.
7. The Captain and Tenille were married on Valentine's Day. Love WILL keep them together.
8. In Medieval times, young men and women would draw names of available people from a hat, then pin that name on their sleeve and wear it around for a week. That's where we get the expression "wear your heart on your sleeve."
8. 15% of single women send flowers to themselves on Valentine's Day. 10% of those women are named Cathy (OK,I made up that last statistic because I thought of the comic strip Cathy, but the 15% is true).
9. Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine's day in the 1800's
10. The earliest versions of the Necco Sweetheart conversation hearts were invented in 1866. While the recipe is secret, I suspect they are made of cardboard and Pepto Bismol.
11. *bonus fact* It's Valentine's Day with an "N." Not ValenTIMES Day. Seriously, get it right.

Need a Valentine's Day gift? Here you go: http://www.etsy.com/listing/65758136/victorian-valentine-necklace-steampunk


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Knock, Knock

Growing up, my next door neighbor had a parrot named Jacques. Jacques was awesome. He would greet me with a crackly "Hello, Kelly" every time I came over to visit. He also told knock, knock jokes. Well, not complete knock, knock jokes; he only knew "knock, knock" and "who's there," no punchlines....but still he was funnier and a lot more original than a lot of famous comedians (I'm looking at you Jeff Dunham and Dane Cook). But I digress. Here's a little bit about parrots:

Parrots range in size from the 8 cm Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot:

Cuteness!
And can get as big as the 3ft Hyacinth Macaw:

Along with ravens, crows, and jays, parrots one of the most intelligent species of birds. Their brain to body size ratio puts them up there with primates and their intelligence has been compared to chimpanzees as well as dolphins. While parrots are most known for being able to mimic human speech, there have been studies with the African Grey that indicate that they are able to count, distinguish the meanings of words, and put together simple sentences. The most famous example of this is Alex the parrot (pictured below)
Alex, his name an acronym for Avian Learning EXperiment, was the pet of animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg. Through her research and training, Pepperberg found that Alex achieved the intelligence of a 5 year old human. Alex didn't mimic human speech; he actually had conversations, solved simple word and math problems, and was able to communicate when, what and where he wanted to be fed. Alex is the subject of a book - Alex and Me- which will most likely be the next book I purchase on my Kindle:)
Anyway, that was a long way to get to the "necklace-hyping" portion of the blog, but as you can see, there is a little parrot in this necklace:
Want to buy it? Go to   http://www.etsy.com/listing/66594579/pin-up-necklace-parrot-retro-rockabilly
And don't forget to enter coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your entire purchase.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blood, Bathory & Beyond

Way before Dracula, Lestat, Edward, Bill or Eric Northman, there was Vlad the Impaler- the legendary Transylvanian despot who was the main basis for most modern vampire myths. But most of us know about him.

There was also Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian countess in the late 1500's-early 1600's, who is now famed as being the most prolific female serial killer in history. She was accused of murdering between 50-650 people. She is also notorious as the "Blood Countess" due to the rumor that she would bath in her victims blood in order to stay young.Yikes!

However, concrete evidence of her crimes is very scant and her guilt is debatable. The testimony of her crimes were based largely in hearsay. In fact there is more evidence that she was the victim of historical conspiracies that were politically and financially motivated. One of the main arguments is that the King of Hungary was the one who ordered the investigation of Bathory....he also owed her husband a huge amount of money. Hmmm. It is also thought that Bathory's reputation might have been one of mass hysteria, similar to the Salem witch trials.

What is not debatable is Bathory's effect on the modern vampire and monster myth. True Blood would be nothing without her....
Buy the necklace at: http://www.etsy.com/listing/66593059/countess-bathory-necklace-blood-vampire *Use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off*



Monday, January 24, 2011

The Jersey Lily

No, I'm not going to talk about Snooki. And I'm not talking about New Jersey, I'm talking about Old Jersey... as in Great Britain.

Born Emilie Charlotte Le Bretonon on the island of Jersey, the later named Lillie Langtry was a British actress, socialite, and temptress of the Victorian era. She was known for her incredible wit and beauty; which would gain her the nickname The Jersey Lily.

She was also a lady who, shall we say, "got around."

When she was 20 years old, she married Irish landowner, Edward Langtry. He moved her from Jersey to a London, where she became introduced to the arts community. While out one evening, she caught the eye of painter Frank Miles who begged her to sit for a portrait. She did so. Later the painting would catch the eye of the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward.
Prince Albert Edward invited Langtry to a dinner party where he arranged to sit next to her while her husband sat at the other end of the table. Pretty sneaky. The prince proceeded to dote upon and flirt with Lillie. Oh, and his wife was there at the same table. Classy.
Lillie and the Prince began an affair. He even bought her a house where they could have some "alone time." The affair dwindled, however, when the actress Sandra Bernhardt came on the scene, Prince-y pulled a Brangelina and dumped Lillie. Out with the old, in with the new.
Undaunted, Lillie moved on to another prince- Prince Louis of Battenburg. At the same time, however, she began a love affair with an old friend, Arthur Clearance Jones. In June of 1880, she became pregnant. Safe to say, the baby was not her husband Edward's...remember Edward? Although, she was pretty sure the baby was Arthur Jones', she extorted money from Prince Louis and fled to Paris to shack up with Jones. Atta girl.

In 1881, she gave birth to her daughter, Jeanne Marie.

After the birth of her baby, Lillie began an acting career herself, based on the encouragement of her good friend Oscar Wilde. See, every woman needs a good gay BFF:) Her career began to take off and she soon embarked on a theatre tour of the U.S. Langtry also used her high profile to become one of the first ever example of celebrity endorsement. She became the face of Pears soap.

From 1882-189, Lillie developed a relationship with American millionaire and race horse enthusiast, Frederic Gebhard. In 1897 she applied for U.S. citizenship and divorced her husband Edward...remember Edward?

Next, she moved on to wine making and bought a winery in Lake County, California. A few months later, Edward died. She would later write to a friend: "I too have lost a husband, but alas, it was no great loss." Poor Edward.

In 1899, she married the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe, another millionaire, horse-racing enthusiast. She then sold the winery and moved to Monaco with him. She lived in a house a few blocks away from her husband's house. She would invite him over for social functions once in a while, but that was pretty much all she wanted from him. Lillie died in Monaco in 1929 after a long and very busy life.

And here's a necklace feature the fabulous, scandalous Lillie:
(you can buy it at: http://www.etsy.com/listing/66593721/lillie-langtry-necklace-retro-steampunk )


Friday, January 21, 2011

Much ado about Munch

Um, so I was goth for about 2 weeks in high school. During that time, I pretty much bought the goth starter kit: Sisters of Mercy T-shirt, oxblood docs, LOTS of black eyeliner, and a print of The Scream by Edvard Munch. I, of course, didn't know anything about Munch, - like the fact that he had paintings other than The Scream- I just knew that The Scream looked cool...in a dark, depressed, melancholy way.

Munch was a Norwegian symbolist painter and an early influence and forerunner of Expressionism. He pretty much had the typical checklist for an artist:
-unhappy childhood
-over-bearing, disapproving parent
-social/behavioral issues
-alcohol addiction
-tendancy toward bar room brawls
-broke most of the time
-jacked up relationships with women
-feelings of isolationism/being misunderstood
-mental breakdown
And, of couse he was the source of constant controversy amongst art critics and purveyors. His paintings straddled the impressionist and expressionist movement, so he had a hard time finding his place in the art world. His topics were often controversial (i.e. the Madonna, subject of the necklace), portraying melancholy, anger, fear, anxiety, and sexual frustration. Critics and the general population had no idea what to make of his work. At first, he sold very few paintings, but actually made more money off the admission he charged to get into his exhibits to view his "controversal" work. He eventually gained some noteriety and strong support, however, and DIDN'T die in relative obscurity, like most artists.
An example of one of his more contorversal pieces is the Madonna, which is supposed to depict the Virgin Mary in a moment that is, ahem, not so virginal. This was also one of the paintings that was stolen, along with The Scream, during a 2004 art heist. Well, you don't have to heist a painting, you can just buy this necklace off of my etsy:) And, if you've made it this far- enter coupon code BLOG15 to recieve 15% off of your total purchase. Yay.  http://www.etsy.com/listing/66160678/edvard-munch-necklace-madonna-mary-retro

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just "Skull"king about

So it seams that everytime I post a new blog, I learn something embarrassingly new...like something that I really should have known WAY before adulthood. Here's the latest fact that I JUST learned:

A skull consists of 2 parts: the top part which is the cranium and the "detachable" jaw part called the mandible.  A skull without the mandible is just a cranium.

OK, I know that seems obvious, but I sort of thought that cranium was just another fancy schmancy technical term for skull and that the two words were interchangeable... like horndog and Charlie Sheen. But the cranium is part of the skull, so it's more like herpes and Charlie Sheen . I'm joking, of course. Nobody cares about Charlie Sheen.

Enough about my stupidity. Here's some more skull facts:

1. The human skull is normally made up of 22 bones that are fused together, with the exception of the mandible.
2. The word skull comes from the old Norse word "skulle."
3. The primary function of the human skull is to protect the brain.
4. Early New England tombstones were adorned with carved skulls to serve as a reminder of mortality.
5. Many cultures use the skull as a symbol of death or warning- such as momento mori, Day of the Dead celebrations, the Jolly Roger flag, or the skull and crossbones that appear on warning labels.



Buy the necklace at: http://www.etsy.com/listing/65757803/siamese-skulls-necklace-rockabilly-vlv

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Absinthe Minded

Of absinthe, one early temperance critic wrote:
"Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country."

Counterpoint:
"Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder." - Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde - 1, stuffy critic - 0

Absinthe is mistakenly labeled as a liqueur, it is not distilled with added sugar which makes it a spirit. It gets its typical green color from the chlorophyll from the various plants and herbs - including wormwood, the vilified, so called "hallucinagenic" plant- that are used in the distillation process. Although the exact origins of absinthe are a little hazy, it is commonly attributed to a French doctor living in Switzerland named Dr. Pierre Ordinaire. He originally promoted it as a cure for stomach ailments. The wormwood recipe eventually went through various hands, through various generations until it ended up in with Henry-Louis Pernod, who eventually opened the first absinthe distillery.
Absinthe's popularity grew in the late 1800's; so much so that in french cafes and bistros, 5pm was known as l'heure verte or "the green hour." Aficionados of the drink included, Vincent Van Gogh, Édouard Manet, Arthur Rimbaud, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Later artists and writers would enjoy it as well, including Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde, and Ernest Hemingway. Aleister Crowley

However, in the early 1900-1920's absinthe began to be associated with violent behavior and addiction...a fact that had little to do with the wormwood content in absinthe, but more with the alcohol content when not distilled properly with water. Spurred by the temperance movement, absinthe was banned in most countries.

After almost 80 years of being banned, absinthe made a resurgence in the 1990's as European countries lifted the ban as it became apparent that little to no evidence was linked to the drink being hallucinogenic or dangerous. In 2007, the United States lifted the ban as well. USA! USA!
 Still concerned about the effects of absinthe? Buy this necklace instead. http://www.etsy.com/listing/63884030/absinthe-retro-resin-heart-necklace-by



Friday, January 14, 2011

Splash! and the Fiji Mermaid

When I was little, I wanted to be named Madison. Why? Oh, because of a little movie called Splash! I really, really, really wanted to be just like Daryl Hannah's mermaid character in Splash. I even tried to swim with my legs in unison like a mermaid; but I was never successful because I wasn't what you would call a strong swimmer....

The Fiji Mermaid (or Feegee, Feejee, Fegee, Fejee, etc.) is something quite different than Daryl Hannah's aquatic portrayal, but I'm intrigued by it nonetheless.

We can basically thank P.T. Barnum for the Fiji Mermaid hoax. The "mermaid" came to Barnum from a gentleman named Moses Kimball who leased it to Barnum for $12.50 a week. Barnum named the artifact the "Feejee Mermaid" and told audiences it was caught in 1842 by Dr. J. Griffin (completely fictional). While many believed his claims, the artifact was actually a baby monkey head sewn to the torso and tail of a fish and covered in papier mache. Ew.

Of course, Barnum made tons of money off the whole hoax and it sparked several imitations. Hmmm. Well, as Barnum said, "There's a sucker born everyminute."

Want your own Fiji/Feejee Mermaid? Astound your friends! Amaze your family! Impress the opposite/same gender with this one of a kind, unusual belt buckle. Step right up! Only $24: http://www.etsy.com/listing/63960146/fejee-fiji-mermaid-resin-belt-buckle-by


Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Like to Ride My Bicycle, I Like to Ride My Bike

Whenever I look at this necklace, I automatically think of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons as well as get  the Queen song "Bicycle" in my head....


This type of bike is called a Penny-Farthing. It is called this because the wheels resemble the British penny and farthing placed side by side:


To me, this design seems silly, not to mention dangerous. But, it turns out it does have it's merits: First off, the larger wheel actually allows for greater speed than its same-sized predecessor; at least for Victorian standards. Second, the large front wheel provided for more stability on uneven surfaces, say a cobble stone road...which was the majority of roads in the late 1890's.
Despite these "advantages," the Penny-Farthing was also very dangerous, notoriously known for its riders taking "headers" when stopping suddenly or going down a hill. Thus, the Penny-Farthing's popularity was relatively short-lived.
I still like the image of the bike, though. I also enjoy picturing Montgomery Burns riding the bike, while a Queen soundtrack plays in my head:)
Want a very safe Penny-Farthing? Buy the necklace: http://www.etsy.com/listing/65757229/victorian-steampunk-penny-farthing

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Charlotte's Web

Here's something I didn't know: Spiderwebs are webs that are currently occupied by a spider. Cobwebs are abandoned spiderwebs. Seriously, how is it that I've lived almost 34 years without knowing that? Public education has failed me once again.

Early in their evolution, spiders started out weaving webs in order to protect themselves and their eggs. Later, they discovered that it was a kick-ass way to catch some dinner. It's actually quite costly, energy-wise, to spin a web, so a lot of times spiders will end up ingesting some of their web to recycle the silk protien. Reduce, recycle, reuse.

Also, spiderwebs are rich in Vitamin K, which has blood-clotting properties. In fact, early European cultures would use cobwebs (unoccupied spiderwebs, remember?) as early medical guaze.

Spiderwebs have the relative strength of steel, with greater elasticity....but I could not find anything in my research indicating that a spider could weave the words "Some Pig" into the web. I guess biologists haven't located that species of spider yet:)

OK, so this necklace isn't made of regurgitated silk protein, nor can it be used as medical guaze, but I think it's pretty astounding in it's own right.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65758368/spider-web-resin-necklace-by-whiskey


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why the long face?

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says "Why the long face?" Ha ha. Only, to be honest, I usually tell that joke using Sarah Jessica Parker instead of the horse.... Sorry, SJP. Other than jokes, I don't know much about horses. I think they're pretty (see, SJP- my joke is a COMPLIMENT to you) and I know that they are very useful, and that rich people really seem to like them. So, in light of my ignorance of horses, I looked up a few interesting facts:

1. You can tell a horses age by looking at it's teeth. Which is also where the expression "long in the tooth" came from.
2.A horse is measured in "hands." Each hand is four inches
3.Horses spend more energy lying down than standing up
4.Horses hooves are like fingernails and need to be clipped like them
5.The smallest horse ever was named Little Pumpkin and was only 14 inches tall and 20 pounds...that's the size of some cats I know. Cuteness!
6.Old Billy was the oldest horse recorded. He lived to be 62.
7.Mr. Ed was a talented animal actor, but apparently he was quite a diva too. When he was cranky, he would refuse to "act" and would just stand still and grunt instead of doing his tricks. Weird. It's almost like horses DON"T want to be forced into acting.
8.The Greek word Equus means "quickness."
9. A male horse is called a stallion, a female horse is called a mare, a baby horse is a foal, a father horse is a sire and a mother horse is a dam.
10. That whole Catherine the Great/horse rumor was completely false. She died of a stroke...not "getting acquainted" with a horse.

Now that you are armed with facts and you want to accessorize...or if you are Sarah Jessica Parker, here's a necklace for you:)
http://www.etsy.com/listing/64218198/retro-horse-resin-necklace-by-whiskey


Monday, January 10, 2011

Jackalopes!!!

It's safe to say that I adore jackalopes! In fact, I desperately want to believe that they exist in the same way an 8 year old girl wants to believe in unicorns. I even have a jackalope tattoo. And to be honest, jackalopes make a lot more sense than some of the animals that do exist. Like an okapi? Or a tapir? What the hell is that? A bunny with antlers seems entirely more plausible.

The mythology of the jackalope can be traced back to the Huichol oral tradition of an animal that was spawned from a rabbit and a deer. It is also possible that the Huichol people actually saw this animal- there was an animal epidemic in the Western United States and Mexico due to a papilloma viral infection which caused horn like tumors to grow on jack rabbits. Interesting.

The myth would come to full folklore status via Douglas Herrick for whom the town of Douglas, Wyoming was named for. Apparently, Douglas concocted this species after he accidentally placed a jack rabbit carcass by a set of antlers in a taxidermy shop. Thus, this was the first taxidermied jackalope and also the reason why Douglas, Wyoming is considered the "Home of the Jackalope" and even trademarked the name in 1965.

Now, a little bit about the habits of the jackalope: It is said that the jackalope is the hybrid of a pygmy deer and a killer rabbit. The jackalope is shy, but can be lured out of hiding by putting a flask of whiskey out at night. The jackalope will drink until intoxication (the jackalope and I have a lot in common), which makes it easier to hunt. It is also said that the jackalope can imitate human voices and is to be considered dangerous if approached.

So, there's a little about the jackalope. And if you find yourself in need of a jackalope belt buckle, no need to leave out a flask of whiskey... $24 and a trip to my etsy shop will suffice.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/63960505/jackalope-resin-belt-buckle-by-whiskey