Have you watched any episodes of The Hour yet? Wow, I love this show. I don't know what I was expecting when C told me it was about a news show in 60s Britain, but I was initially hesitant to watch it. I'm glad I did because this show blends in an unexpected twist of cloak and dagger to make a really intriguing plot.
Let me first admit that I gave this show a chance for the pure eye candy. Oh, you think I mean the vintage goodies and scenery. No, I mean Dominic West and Ben Whishaw. Two men who are easy on the eyes in two very different ways.
Whishaw's character, Freddie Lyon, was one of my favorites, as I think he is meant to be. His integrity and fight to the tooth attitude is what drives this entire story for me. For some it may be Bel's fight to be taken seriously as a producer in a man's world, but I wasn't really captivated by how this story line was portrayed. Freddie's relationship with his father and how his past intertwines with the mystery at the heart of the plot is what got me sucked into the show.
Oh yeah, and his outfits. I adored Freddie's outfits and am dying to knit a vest like the one shown above. What can I say, I guess you can't stop a knitter from dreaming, even when she is embroiled in a mystery.
I am surprised at how apt this 1960 editorial and interview about media and its change on society is for us right now. I especially liked McLuhan's metaphor of media being like drums:
"Where everyone gets the message all the time. A princess gets married in England and boom boom boom goes the drums; we all hear about it. An earthquake in North Africa, a Hollywood star gets drunk, away go the drums again." - Marshall McLuhan (3:50, "The World is a Global Village," CBC TV)
I don't think the internet or social media is evil or anything like that. I just think everything needs to be taken in moderation. If we rely on one thing too much, other aspects of ourselves get lost. We become one dimensional. Sometimes we forget and lose ourselves in media, but this is completely fine. Just be self aware and pull yourself out of it and go experience something completely different. Close the laptop, have thoughts, hang out in real time.
I just got my wedding photos back from Simply Jessie. While I sift through those to compile a post about the details of the day, here are some photos and a story about my dress. More specifically, the train of my dress. (Get ready for a bum-load of pictures, folks!)
Oh, how I love this damn train, and it was something that happened somewhat by accident. (If you want the full story behind the dress, click the break at the end of this post.) I am so happy that all these odd road blocks kept getting in the way to fit these pieces into the dress I finally wore.
I had the dress custom made for me by Dame Couture (which, shockingly was much much cheaper than any off-the-rack stuff I saw) and then my sister-in-law (fiber artist extraordinaire) made the silk train lining. I really wanted a rose window design (as in, church stained glass), because I've always loved stained glass and because of my art history background.
The right image shows the back of the train. I love those pleats so darn much!
I originally went into my Art History MA for Medieval Art, but switched to Contemporary Art because I became obsessed with Street Art and just couldn't stop write papers on different projects. Either way, Medieval art is still close to my heart and I wanted to express that love in my dress. I also loved the idea of having a shock of color in my dress that changed depending on how I moved.
When I say she made the lining, I mean she drew out the rose window pattern, transferred it onto silk, and hand batiked the design herself. Yes, melted wax and dye. The white lines you see in the design are actually negative space; they are the white of the silk that was resisted from the dye she used.
The train itself is removable, which was a huge deal for me. I wanted to be able to display Nicki's awesome work after the wedding and I also wanted to not have to worry about tripping over it during the reception. So, I found a lovely bakelite buckle on Etsy and had Holly of Dame Couture make a lovely 30s style belt for me to wear.
I'm wearing the belt with the shawl I made for myself. It is the same pattern I used for my bridesmaids, but I made mine in a steel gray color rather than the blue I used for them. All in all, I was so comfortable in that dress and so happy that I will be able to wear it after the wedding (after it gets the chop). Below is an image of my lovely ladies wearing their shawls right after I gave it to them.
So, there is the awesomeness that is my dress & train. I will make a post about the actual day itself as soon as I get my crap together. If you want to know about the gory "How I got the dress" details, click on the break below. There are a couple more images in this section, but it is mainly just me being honest and cursing, and who wants to read that?
I was reading a P.G. Wodehouse book the other day and fell upon a part in the book where the main character Jimmy is in a restaurant and notices that a man at table near him has a bit of a "haunted look" in his eye. The story continues:
Given the time and the place, there were only two things which could have caused that look. Either the light-haired young man had seen a ghost, or he had suddenly realized that he had not enough money to pay the check. Jimmy's heart went out to the sufferer. He took a card from his case, scribbled the words, "Can I help?" on it, and gave it to a waiter to take to the young man, who was now in a state bordering on collapse.
The next moment the light-haired one was at his table, talking in a feverish whisper. "I say," he said, "it's frightfully good of you, old chap. It's frightfully awkward. I've come out with too little money. I hardly like to--What I mean to say is, you've never seen me before, and----"
"That's all right," said Jimmy. "Only too glad to help. It might have happened to any one. Will this be enough?" - The Gem Collector, P. G. Wodehouse
Calling a Senator [man presenting calling card at U.S. Capitol] Original source unknown; Image from Vangobot
After reading this section my first thought was to question why calling cards ever fell out of fashion. I still have one of my grandmother's calling cards from the late 60s, so they were at least still being used at that time. I absolutely love this idea of introducing yourself to someone, or sending a note to someone in person, via a calling card.
In the book, this reaching out via a calling card is the entire impetus of the storyline. One can't help but wonder what kind of events may unfold by just the passing of a calling card today?
I know some parents have been using calling card for play dates, but why not use them for meeting new people too, or for gaining new pen pals in real life? They can say as little or as much as you want. Just because we have many social sites online doesn't mean we stop meeting interesting people in real life. I can count a few times when I met a knitter out and about and later on wished I knew her Ravelry handle so I could check out the project we discussed. The same can go for so many other things - GoodReads, Twitter, paper letters...
I've been working on calling cards to announce our upcoming letter socials to those who attend the current one, or when we are at craft fairs. When I am done with those I'll show you all how I did them. I will be doing a mix of digital printing and hand stamping. For the right now, check out Paper Pastries DIY stamp calling cards; or for those who would like to order professionally printed one, The Well Appointed Desk has a great round-up post of calling card printers
It is interesting to see the food seller carrying that bundle of wood on the side of his cart. I am assuming it is for a small fire in the guts of his cart to keep the potatoes warm. It is easy to overlook that chimney because there is surprisingly little smoke coming from it. View more at here & here.
We're off to Milwaukee for the weekend, but I'll see you back here on Monday. Hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Reread this to remind myself to get the hell away from the computer and enjoy summer. The original zine is sold out, but it is available as a free pdf.
I mentioned a few posts ago how I am very aware that summer is drawing to a close, which means winter's death grip will be soon upon Chicago. I am trying to squeeze as much as I can from this lovely weather while it lasts and have been away from glowing screens as much as I can be. Here is some photographic evidence of the things I've been doing:
Finding and enjoying hidden pockets of nature in the city.
Exploring the library shelves and taking chances on new books. Reading them outside.
Embracing new-to-me technology with a nice cup of tea and coffee cake. The Hendrick's gin tea cup is a present from Donovan and is great for lazy afternoons. (I got a Kindle as a birthday present and love how many public domain books are available for it.)
Noticing interesting placements in the museum, such as this eternal conversation taking place between the two paintings on the far ends.
Taking advantage of member perks, such as lounging in the outdoor member's area reading and soaking in the sun during an art break.
Not shown (because I was having too much fun to photograph): Lovely picnic in the park with my husband, wandering around my neighborhood and discovering I have three small parks nearby I never knew about, and drawing odd architectural details that I find around Chicago.
The last activity makes it horribly evident just how out of practice I am with real-life drawing. But like everything, I just need to keep doing it and I will slowly get better again. Getting back to sketching has also made me realize how much my drawing style has changed. I'm lean less on graphic lines and am more interested in shadows carving out shapes for me.
While looking through some images of Arts & Crafts era interiors I found these two interesting images of a woman who had the luck of growing up in Wright's Robie House here in Chicago. The above image is of Jeannette Wilber in 1916 in the south aisle of the second floor of the Robie house. Below is Wilber in 1924 wearing a riding habit at front gate of the house
That gate is still in working order at the Robie House, which you can take a tour of on most days of the week. While I know they still have the famous dining set on the second floor, I don't think that interesting carpeting installed that the young Jeannette is standing on. (View another angle of the dining set and the house floor plans here.)
A little confession: I disliked the Robie House quite a bit until I saw it in person. In fact, during my Art History MA I wrote a thesis about Greene & Greene versus F.L. Wright and how I felt G & G got the shaft (to state it academically) in Arts & Crafts architecture. In this case though, you need to see this house in person to realize why it is the big deal that it is. So, while I now appreciate the Robie House, I still love the Gamble House (by G & G) in Pasadena much more. I'll leave these two images of it's interior below and let you decide.
If you like what you see in the two interior shots above I highly suggest you pick up a book about this home. I stress a book over internet images because you will want to see large full-print color images of this home in order to absorb it all in. The book that the Gamble House image came from has amazing photos and great plans of the house. The book I got the Robie House images from (cited under each image) is also a good read. It outlines the history of the house, from being built, to the various hands that owned it.
Here are some recent mail items I have worked on and sent out. I'm especially loving my customizable stamp, seen above. I bought a set from my local office supply store that gives you two hand stamps along with a collection of two different sized alphabets. I made my first one spell out "Official Letter Writers Alliance Correspondence" and the second one says "To get a letter, you must write a letter." I've been having fun stamping-up my letters.
While in San Francisco, Carolee told me a friend of hers had luck refilling her fountain pen cartridges with these plastic syringes (seen above). This is a helpful tip, considering many fountain pens don't have converters so that you can refill with a pot of ink. (And there are so many lovely colors that only come in pots rather than cartridges.) We decided to buy a pack of these ink droppers, and split them. I forgot to split the pack before I left, so I decided to cut-up a wax seal product box to send her back her items. It was funny how well these fit into the box.
I also had the honor of awarding the first Initiative Response badge. I can't wait to see the other submission items we get for this project! Below is a fat stack of responses to the Pen Pal swap we have available for LWA members.
Lastly, here is a stack of mail I was going through from the LWA PO Box at my local bar. It was funny the looks i got from some of the other afternoon drunks. What, you never seen a girl open a huge stack of mail in a bar before?
If you want to get your own ammunition to make your own mail adventures, stop by and see us at the Renegade Fair this weekend in Chicago!
Kathy here. I'm the history nerd behind this blog as well as one half of the stationery shop 16 Sparrows. I'm also co-founder of the member- based group, The Letter Writers Alliance. If you are new here, check out some of the most popular posts and work your way from there.
May 3rd (Sunday)
World-Wide Virtual Social
See our faces, listen to us nerd out on mail, enjoy the silence as we scribble letters, and ask us mail questions live. Live Video via Google Hangouts. Participate with #LWASocial on Twitter & Instagram. Video will be recorded and put on YouTube if you can't make it live. Event Page
May 28th (Thursday)
Chicago, IL Letter Social
Uncle Art Gallery 7-9pm
1359 N Maplewood Ave
Join us and our typewriters to write some letters together. We will have mail art supplies, stationery, and a few of our old-fangled typing machines available for your use. Free!
May 30th (Saturday)
Chicago, IL OBSCURA DAY 2015
Several time slots available
Enjoy exclusive access to the Letter Writers Alliance Club House in celebration of Obscura Day. You'll see the inner sanctum of operations for the letter writing organization and have an opportunity to write letters and postcards using vintage typewriters.
Your ticket includes free supplies and typewriter time. Donovan, the Letter Writers Alliance typewriter expert, will be on hand to answer questions, troubleshoot cranky machines and make pithy comments. Come join us and type a letter or two!
Tickets: $5 Purchase options available soon!
June 7th (Sunday)
Chicago, IL Mix & Mailology
L.W.A. Clubhouse at 3:30-5pm
Old Fashions and Wax Seals, two old-timey things we love. Learn the secrets of mixing an excellent Old Fashion and making the perfect wax impression on your envelopes. We will also have other wax-like experiments for your mail art pleasure. Our solutions, both alcoholic and artistic, will surprise you. All materials, including liquid forms, will be provided.
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July 12th (Sunday)
World-Wide L.W.A. Book Club
Join Kathy, Donovan, and a special guest Margaret Haas (of Paper Pastries) via live video while we discuss Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Discussion and further info can be found on the Goodreads book group page. Event Page
All images, unless otherwise noted, are copyright by me. Please do not use my images without asking. Artist images are copyright by the respective artists. Recipes, magazine spreads, and historical items are copyright by the respective owners/companies.