Saturday, December 31, 2011

The World Will Not End in 2012

Instead I hope for what has been predicted as a global shift in consciousness (for the better.) Something has to change.

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and safe NYE. And holidays, because I missed posting anything then. We were too busy crafting gifts, and still are finishing up the last homemade presents for friends and family. Pictures will be posted after the last ones are given and shipped out. The hubby and I outdid ourselves this year, making prints, jewelry, constructions and other hand made awesomeness.

Till next year, I bid you all adieu.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fumé Noir/"Dripping in Gold"/Steampunk installations

Guess who got to play dress up?

I guess it's time for me to admit it - in order to keep things interesting and honest, I really only have time to write in here once a month.

Better than once every two months, or twice a year, or those irritating bloggers that have nothing better to do than post every DAY. I can't imagine what on earth I'd be writing about in here (that would be art-related, especially) every single day. I'd start talking about work ; ( "And then this customer did this, or that, and it was so irritating!" Repeat.) And that would get boring.

Art is an extremely broad term in general, and I've always had a tendency to want to color outside the lines with my work. In college I found myself frequently turning in abstract, time-based fine art videos for my painting classes and overlapping themes from different courses. A character I developed for my first creative writing class short story, "Elysha", became a dress in my fashion show thesis project, the model starred in my video based on the short story. The video portion was only made after I had created a 6 minute conceptual soundtrack for my Sound Design class the previous semester.

On the left, a photo of my model, Holly, wearing the dress
created for the character, "Elysha." On the right, two stills
from the video featuring Holly playing the same character.

Why is this relevant? I like to consider every "creative" thing I'm involved in under the same blanket. (See; "Everything is the blanket," pg. 206378.) My paintings, my photographs, my burlesque alter-ego, my bellydance and fire performance are all my art. And therefore, all of these subjects officially belong in this blog.

Fumé Noir

This past Saturday night, I was in a fashion show for the 4th time of my life, and for the 2nd time I was not the one making the clothes. My dear friends and dance partners Michelle and Jexi collaborated on a line of clothes and accessories called Fumé Noir, a mashup of burlesque/burner/bellydancer/tribal/ethereal/post-apocalyptic fashion for both sexes. Eleven (or so) of us participated in a performance runway spectacle that reminded me of my past work. The performances by each person complimented their skills and characters, and each piece from the line boasted impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail. Some of the outfits were a bit more mainstream, for those of us accustomed to seeing playa/burner wear at parties and festivals, but in a good way. Attractive, coveted styling, marketable to the right crowd. The majority were pure Shelly/Jexi-fusion genius, infusing daring accessories, unusual cuts, and impeccable detail, right down to the hardware. (I spent an evening a few weeks ago helping them out by punching grommets into one of the guy's pants, and this is how I know this.) My circus burlesque-inspired bloomers and halter top were both extremely comfortable, and I couldn't help but reconcile that it would be perfect for both performing (bellydance and/or burlesque) and comfortable enough for all-day/night festival or Playa-gear. Anyone who finds themselves frequently in similar activities as these knows how important it is for your sexy clothes to be just as comfortable.

So November 26th, Saturday night, we all spent a good 3-5 hours prepping ourselves at the DoubleTree Hotel in Center City for the monthly steampunk-themed event thrown by Dorian's Parlor. As usual, I do my own makeup (and then help anyone else, which is usually needed.) I had little time to practice with my prop - the icing on the cute little burlesque cupcake was my single feather fan. A smaller version of the red ones I have for Penny Treats, this one was delicately and precisely crafted by Jexi using an array of muted natural colored feathers - gorgeous light and deep browns, creams, and tans, with hints of subtle green and red undertones. It matched my hair, which was styled by the fabulous Shari Sigafoos and looked MORE AWESOME THAN IT HAS EVER LOOKED BEFORE. Ever.

Photo of me onstage by Pix|elation Photography.

Here are some more pictures and video (the video I've included is just part 1, here is the link to see part 2, which features the second half of the show including my husband, Alex, who was a surprisingly fierce and professional model on the runway, complete with Mohawk-weave-ponytail hair and just the right amount of makeup. And a whip as his prop.

Video for the Fumé Noir fashion show (part 1) at Dorian's Parlor,
held at the Doubletree Hotel in Center City, Philadelphia.

I know I can walk like a model and I know I can perform, but it was interestingly difficult to try and mix the two together for this show. Based on my pictures, I knew I had a few good poses, but as soon as the show was over I wondered to myself if I couldn't have done better. (This is normal. Even if I might feel good about how the performance went, until you see it on video you always wonder how the hell you looked. Then, once you watch it you pick apart all the little tiny details of your mistakes even though no one else will notice.) After viewing the video, I gave myself a 7.5/10. Considering I spent a good 45 minutes before the show listening to the song on repeat, practicing in a mirror outside the dressing room and I'd only heard the final version of music the night before, I did pretty well (7.5) but could have done better.

"Dripping in Gold"

The finale was three excellent hoopers, each performance feeling like it was trying to upstage the previous one. I'm best with a fan in each hand and I had to make only one look as interesting as possible, yet try and turn off the bellydance (which is what I had been practicing, as of late, with my feather fans) and turn on the cha-cha of "Coco." ("Coco" is 1/2 of my burlesque noms de plume, while 2/2 I am still searching for. I'm hoping it will come to me when the time is right.) I should have had another drink before I went on, I think - at least I can see my nervousness come through in the video, though I am probably the only one.

Photo by Pix|elation Photography.

On a whole, I think the entire crew did an excellent job. Jexi and Michelle on the clothes and accessories (those feathers! My word!) and every single model looked professional, beautiful and pretty darn badass. The music was intentionally fitting for each segment, starting out with an ethereal goddess, female beauty celebration... moving into brassy, sassy Beat's Antique and Balkan techno jazz for the burlesque/tribal section, introducing the men finally with a snippet from PLF's Mr. Conway Jennings, and ending with this mix of Flight Facilities "Crave You" for the silver/gold goddess-ethereal hoopers.

Steampunk installations @ Dark Matters

I was supposed to take pictures of the Dark Matters show before I took it down. That never happened, but it's been two months nearly and frankly, I'm done with it. The real amazing part of that show was the experience of that night (despite death metal bands and a handful of people hanging their work literally after guests had started to arrive) and that included, for me at least, the gorgeous installations by two of my dear friends, Drew Rodkey and Fumé Noir's Jexime Icon.


Drew had crafted and installed probably about a dozen kaleidoscopes, of different shapes and sizes, some with glass jars on the viewing end filled with colored glass, semi-precious stones, gold leaf flakes and more suspended in oil. The casings were copper, various shapes and dimensions, varieties of imperfections in the metal tubing and wire only complimenting the aesthetic. As evident with the notion of the monthly event above (Dorian's Parlor) dedicated to the subculture, "Steampunk" has entered the dictionary as of late, gaining popularity across the country. His first kaleidoscope exhibition was, in its essential form, extremely Steampunk in nature without actually looking forced or overdone, perhaps even purposeful. And that's why I liked it so much - because it seemed natural and effortless to craft them in this way, because that's Drew's style. That's how he makes things. They were gorgeous objects to interact with, from the carefully collected particles inside the glass jars right down to the hand-written tags (not without a few corrections here and there - but it worked.)

Drew is currently on an adventure, so I have a few of his kaleidoscopes here at the house.

Just a few of Drew's kaleidoscopes that we're hanging on to for him.

While I took a few pictures, it doesn't really do them justice. During the show they were suspended from the ceiling by wire and string, allowing passersby to touch, examine, and experience each object rather intimately. While a few of the ones he displayed that night were NFS, having already had an owner (including me, though tragically mine plunged to the ground the Saturday after the show with no one in the bar even near the installation), I am happy to report that he sold several pieces. Thank you Drew, for your participation. You make beautiful things.
Close-up shots of Drew's handiwork.

Leathers and feathers/Jeximé Icon:

By day an event and floral designer, by night a performer, chic accessory craftsperson... Jexi's installation for Dark Matters was a little bit of all her manners of expertise rolled into one. She had a corner table, branches affixed to the wall above, and a Victorian-inspired table with fabric, feather hairpieces displayed inside an open suitcase, a natural colored feather fan, flowers and complimenting folliage. There were more items, but these had the most lasting impact. I was wearing one of her feather hairpieces that night as well, one that she had made for me earlier in the summer for the PEX Festival performances. As mentioned above, Jexi is one half of Fumé Noir and was responsible for the fashion show I was in last weekend.

Shot of Jexi and I from the fashion show.
The feather fan I'm holding was the one I performed with, and it was
also featured as part of her installation for Dark Matters.

Both installations were temporary and neither we kept up past the weekend of October 7th. Hopefully I can find some pictures of their work at the show from the artists to add to my review.

I don't know just what's next at the moment. I'm very close to but not completely finished with my epic commissioned painting (which was on display in progress for the show) and I've started a half dozen things in the meantime. Right now the holidays are looming and I'm attempting to make as many gifts as I can, which I of course just started. On that note, this is long enough, and I have some crafting to do. Till next month, if not sooner.

(First and last photo: Copyright All rights reserved by