Monday, May 30, 2011

My Favorite Still Life; and, A Brief Lesson in Art

The White Peacock, by Dutch master Jan Weenix.

I almost paid a Chinese art company to paint a replica of this one for me (and honestly still might resort to it, eventually.) I've been working in some oil paints lately, however -- as evidenced by the cover for the Beaumarchais Eugénie -- and hope I might eventually get up to the point where I'm capable of copying something as pretty as this.

The main trick I find with imitating old paintings is to be very reluctant in the use of the artificial pigments (the ones with names like "Leaf Green" and "Lemon Yellow.") Before the middle of the 19th century paints were all made from ground up minerals, thus we have paints with names like Zinc White and Yellow Ochre -- these were mineral colors. Red was apparently a very very difficult hue to achieve, and I actually tend to just use the Burnt Sienna in places where red would normally be called for, for best effect. Blue, meanwhile, was attainable but very expensive, requiring Lapis Lazuli to be powdered up for paint. Reportedly, the cost of a painting could be greatly effected based on how much blue was going to be required for it -- that's how expensive it was.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Quack Remedies: Against the Plague

A Capital Remedy Against the Plague.
Take a vial or another kind of glass vessel, and fill it one third with fine molasses, and the next third with Aqua Vitae, and the final third with the urine of a male baby who is clean and in good health. Combine these together well and give one glass of this to the patient to drink upon awakening each morning, for three days. This has been proven in the city of Venice, in the year 1504.

-- from "Les Secrets du Seigneur Alexis Piedmontois."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Unique Steampunk Wedding Drinks


Lisa Wilson Otto

Creating unique table pieces for your steampunk or alternative-theme wedding can be a challenge. You want to do something original, something that will leave a statement. You may also want to create something useful and eye- catching.  How about creating a ‘black tincture\' drink that will turn heads, draw lots of ‘oohs and ahhs\' and ‘what the heck is this stuff\' from your guests? Steampunk wedding drinks should fit the theme and feel of the atmosphere you\'re creating!

An alternative to traditional wine or champagne is to upcycle used jars or bottles and fill them with ‘black tincture\'. Gather sturdy, washed mason jars, old wine or alcohol bottles or any jars and bottles of your choice. Ensure they have tops or that you can get tops for them. Depending on the size of your guest tables and amount of guests you\'re expecting, you may need two to four jars or bottles of ‘black tincture\' per table.

Your ‘black tincture\' drinks can be made a variety of ways. You may choose alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. One fun recipe mixes one envelop each unsweetened grape and orange drink mixes, two cups white sugar and three quarts cold water. Blend until drink mix and sugar are dissolved. You\'ll end up with a sweet, black/purple drink. For a ‘black tincture\' cocktail, combine one bottle vodka, seven to eight cups orange juice and a two liter bottle of Dr. Pepper soda. Combine well; the mixture will appear more brown than black. To darken, add several drops of black food coloring and mix well.

Once you\'ve created your own ‘black tincture\', fill bottles and jars with it. To complete your theme, add a steampunk-theme Poison label to each jar or bottle. A vintage, grubby label makes your idea here really pop and come to life.

To decorate your table, set out your completed ‘black tincture\' jars and bottles along with drink glasses of your choice. Enjoy and have a giggle or two at the reaction of your guests!



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About the Author

Lisa Otto creates vintage and theme-style labels for non-modern weddings, steampunk theme events and unique, primitive home decorating. You may visit her store at

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Gothic Sweet 16

This post at Steff Metal helps out a teen who wants to throw a goth/metalhead Sweet 16, but her parents are rejecting her ideas.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Poppius Z. Britus?

Well, I'll be! Beloved author of the subculture Poppy Z. Brite is having a sex change operation! Here is his/her (at what point does one reassign the pronoun?) blog. But, I guess he's helped us by declaring it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: The Decadent Mission of the Earl Lavender

The Wonderful Mission of Earl Lavender by John Davidson seems to be best known not for its actual text, but for the frontspiece by Aubrey Beardsley. Unfortunately, this has led many people to a somewhat unreasonable expectation as to just what it is that the book is actually about. I myself was rather horrified to go visit the Wikipedia page and, at the time, find the book "within the scope of WikiProject Pornography" and categorized under BDSM and British Erotic Novels. Now, BDSM and British Erotic Novels are all fine and dandy, but to describe Earl Lavender under such terms is like calling Forgetting Sarah Marshall a hardcore porno about pregnant vampires. There are precisely two scenes of whipping in Earl Lavender, both presented in a religious context, but for the sake of humor.

Perhaps with this backstory, it was wise to give the work a new title in this new edition as The Decadent Mission of the Earl Lavender
. The book itself is a comedy piece, and (maybe by Victorian standards) a wee bit raunchy but certainly not pornographic. Earl Lavender and his pal Lord Brumm are penniless, but are believers in Evolution and have faith that they will survive. Earl Lavender perceives himself to be the fittest of mankind and, thus, feels it is his duty to locate the fittest of women so he can mate with her. Now, it's never quite explicitly stated, but one gathers from the information gathered through the story, that Earl Lavender in fact has had what we would call nowadays a nervous breakdown -- on his wedding night, to a woman -- his cousin -- to whom he was apparently a bit reluctant to wed, he ran away and thus declared his new religion, mission and name. His wife, Maud, is chasing him; and also the fiancée of Lord Brumm, Mrs. Scamler, is on his respective tail. Mrs. Scamler was my favorite character in the book. She tends to speak in very long monologues that tell her amusing backstory. She met Brumm and decided at once that he was the kind of man she ought to marry, even though he didn't especially seem interested in her. She convinced him to allow her to dine with him in any event. One day he asked her, "You're not one of those women who cleans all the time?" This led to the discovery that his first wife was always cleaning and tidying, and it drove him insane. After her death, he set out particularly to marry a woman who would not be so; he located a writer, who was very untidy and seemed perfect for him. Alas, upon marriage, she too to straightening up and tending to her appearance. She ultimately died as well, but now Mrs. Scamler knows the key to Brumm's heart; she intentionally smears dirt around her house and bores holes in her clothing. Brumm is finally won, and will marry her provided she smears dirt on her face for the wedding.

Just why Brumm abandoned her was never quite adequately explained -- Scamler herself believes that he'd gotten word that she knew how to speak French, and that the thought of her knowing such a scandalous language frightened him away. Brumm himself claims to be a misogynist, and later a misanthropist altogether; though a whipping at the underground religious temple seems to help clear him of these follies. A happy ending is provided for all, though it is a bit forced and sudden (Earl Lavender needs more than a whipping to cure his mania, but a stern talking-to does the trick -- though how, I didn't quite understand. The arguments presented weren't all that clever in my view.)

In any event, the work is far from pornographic. Lavender's mission is decadent, but not erotic. The work itself has a character more akin to the works of Douglas Adams than any Lustful Turk type victoriana. Earl Lavender is worth reading -- but not for the frontspiece.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gothic Love - Why People Attract to the Gothic Subculture


Gothic Love

There are many people out there whom claim to be 'Gothic', but what does that really mean? Are their really any rules that a true 'Goth' lives by? I think not. In my humble opinion, the only thing that pertains to any supreme Goth of pure truth is 'creativity' and 'originality'. Those two words may sound alike, but really they aren't.

People are attracted to the Goth subculture for all sorts of reasons. Some are there because of their dark and brooding personalities, some because they really like the music, some because they like the clothes. I suspect that all of the above figure to some extent or other in most Goths. In order to show that one reason is somehow more authentic than the others, or that some Goths are more truly gothic than others, you'll have to import your criterion of selection from outside the gothic subculture.

For to the extent that there's an immanent criterion of being a Goth, it's a fairly flexible criterion, one that won't affect the radical purge of the gothic subculture of which you seem oddly desirous. And I should think that the homogenization of the gothic subculture that would result from the application of such an authenticity test would be the death of the subculture, a death that is in no interesting way gothic.

I think it's very true that Gothic love is a label often applied from the outside rather than from within. Part of it is because the Goth subculture tends towards valuing individuality (despite the outward appearance the black dress code sometimes conveys) and so tends to attract people who tend to reject labels as too simplistic.

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Gothic love - the best gothic dating site for singles to find there true Gothic love.

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