Sunday, July 31, 2011

Come and Shop with Me: Isabella's Art

Just when I think I have all of my product categories sorted out for featured
vendors, someone comes along and challenges me to find a new way to describe their
work. Isabella's Art is one of those wonderful shops that has succeeded in doing just
that. While I did come across her work on Etsy, I was delighted to find she also  has
her own website and blog where she features work not show on Etsy, including books. I
have included links to her sites at the end of this feature for your perusal and
Now to the fun of sharing a bit of Isabella's work with you. What originally caught
my eye was the collection of laser-cut shadow puppets depicting characters from
tried-and-true children's tales, very true to those that would have been found in a
Victorian Era nursery.
I immediately noticed an adorable cottage cut-then realized it was the Candy House
belonging to the witch in Hansel and Gretel. And what would you know, right next to
the wonderfully-detailed house, were Hansel, Gretel and the Witch, themselves.
Isabella does a beautiful job of illustrating the smallest features of the
characters, from the bow in Gretel's hair to the witch's long, warty nose and the
pattern of her apron, worn, of course, to bake up and serve wayward children lost in
her woods and consuming her home.

And so, in keeping with the theme of munchies, I chose two more pieces drawn from
childhood favourites, only with a bit less cooking, screaming and fleeing. The next
is an adorable depiction of the Teddybears' Picnic. Again, the detail in these well-
dressed and oh-so-civilized bears and their tea party picnic table is exquisite. From
the steam rising from Ms. Bear's tea cup to the lace table cloth trimming and the
rims of Mr. Bear's glasses, these shadow puppets are sure to cast a wonderful shadow,
making the characters come to life with the slightest move of a light source.

Then there is my favourite tea party: none other than the Mad Hatter's. Isabella does
a beautiful job with Alice's dress and the adorable mouse peeking from the tea pot as
always, makes this a lovely trio for tea time fun.

Getting back to picnics, no one can forget fairytale time's favourite picnic basket-
wielding heroine, Little Red Cap, as she was originally named. Many these days
remember her as Red Riding Hood, although I have no idea where "riding" came in, as
she was always skipping through those spooky woods. This pair of shadow puppets
includes a well-done big bad wolf, who looms menacingly over Red.

Take some time to peruse Isabella's sites and enjoy a wonderful stroll down memory
lane to a time when entertainment involved imagination and required no electricity.
In addition to the wonderful shadow puppets, she has also developed a stage just the right size for a creative puppeteer to hide behind, while a window provides the perfect backdrop for any story they can possibly imagine. Or purchase the puppets, find a bare patch of wall and break out the candles for backlighting. Enjoy remembering the folklore we all grew up with and many had forgotten with time and the demands of everyday grownup life. And for all the parents and grandparents out there, just imagine being able to introduce your children and grandchildren to these old
customs of storytelling while spending quality time building the next generation of dark Victorians.
As for me? I am already looking for a spot to clear on the wall and a hanging candle holder in preparation for my own little Hallowe'en theatre night.
Until next...
Etsy shop:

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Little Fun: Men of Period Films Montage

This is probably the first of many things I will share from Victoriana Magazine online. I highly recommend this site to anyone with an interest in all things Victorian, from clothing to customs to film and literature. There is something for everyone. So when you get a moment, be sure to visit

In the meantime, I hope this adds a little fun and a lot of romance to your day.
Via Victoriana Magazine and Youtube.. It's Rainin' Men.:


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chivalry is Not Dead

It should be curled up in the fetal position in a corner mumbling incoherently
because misguided liberated members of the feminine gender have beaten it down with a
firehose, leaving men dazed and confused and wondering when good manners and respect became offensive behaviour.
However, it BEING Chivalry, it is sitting back patiently, appreciating the occasional
act of good faith, good manners and gracious appreciation. It understands that change
brings good and bad, and that the old addage "You don't miss the water 'til the well
runs dry" makes a very good point. Chivalry has faith in the hearts of humankind and
knows it is not entirely forgotten. (Why else would I be doing this blog and finding
wonderful individuals who inspire me to keep going?)

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I was particularly pleased when this word was brought up several times over the
course of just two days. To be quite frank, I was afraid that the word "demure" had
been bludgeoned to a bloody death some time ago and that only a scant few of us
remained who had any clue what it meant, much less its worth.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Come and Shop with Me: Immortal Visions

So we have established that I am already adamantly enamoured with a rapidly growing
number of talented individuals who continue to indirectly feed into my dark, lacey,
beribboned, mildly sparkly, hand-embellished, India ink-stained addiction. It makes
this part of the "job" just that much more fun. This time I am thrilled to be
featuring a local talent whose papercrafts leapt off the pages of Etsy at me,
whispering "Come. Look. Acquire. Share." Then there was something else about the many incredible uses for the unique and beautiful creations of Immortal Visions.

Imagine, if you will (I did), the following scenario. You are planning a lovely
midnight tarot tea party. My favourite kind. Your guest list is carefully chosen,
distinguished, brilliantly dark and always dressed to kill. No ordinary party store
invitations or "e-vites" will suffice. This event is indicative of the type of
host/ess you are and the level of high esteem in which you hold your would-be
attendees. Your invitations should be unique and reflect the spirit of the occasion.

Just because it is midnight does not mean the garden is asleep. These dark floral
notecards from Immortal Visions are just the thing for including a handwritten note
to your potential guests along with time, place and other pertinent information. The
lovely flowers are a graceful reminder of the event and ensure that they do not get
lost in a stack of other, far less important correspondences.

Perhaps you have another event on your social calendar, and this time you are the
attendee. Your hosts have indulged your senses with the soft glow of black candles,
red glassware, dark classically-inspired music and an evening of formal attire at the
Masque of the season. Several days later, after you have recovered and find yourself
reveling in fond memories and more than a few intrigues, you remember that you
absolutely must (MUST) thank your hosts. After several cups of restorative (tea,
coffee, etc.) you sit down to write an eloquent, yet to-the-point note of gratitude.

Of course, who can forget all of the wonderful gift-giving holidays: Birthdays, new
kinderspawn, (haunted) housewarming, Christmas, All Hallows. Presentation is
everything. It says "Thinking of you" and "I've known you too long to deny your
maudlin quirks now." What better than a lovely album for the hopeless romantic in
your life? Include a few lovely lines of poetry or photos to mark the event and
remind them that while "Love Bites"... that is not always a bad thing.

Or perhaps you have already aquired a small trinket of some sentimental or symbolic
value and wish to present it in the best wrappings. This trio includes a sweetly
decorated miniature coffin, matching gift card and note card to include your own

Now please do keep in mind that I am only scratching the surface of the beautiful
creations of Immortal Visions. As with each of the artists I have come across and
hope to continue to feature, I find myself wondering what inspires them, so, being
ever inquisitive, I ask. Immortal Visions creator, Melissa, was kind enough to share
with me her concern that the art of true correspondence was being sacrificed in lieu
of impersonal, and painfully unimaginative, greeting cards. I knew I had contacted
the right person. When she also shared her "borderline obsession" with "the three V's
- Vampires, Victorian and Vintage" there was no way I could pass up the opportunity
to do this.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I refuse to believe that there exist no more
people who appreciate, embody and long for the days of true romanticism. So, with
infinite pleasure, I give you another fine supplier of the necessities of a life
darkly, richly, indulgently, and well-lived with the refinement and joie de vivre et
la mort it truly deserves. So please, take a few moments (or more) to visit Melissa
at Immortal Visions and break out that quill and India ink.

On Etsy:
On Facebook:
While you're there, tell her Raven said Hello. Now I am off to find a fresh quill.
Seems they double well as cat toys.

Be well, be dark, and always be uniquely true to yourself. ;)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The More the Merrier; Let's Be Unique Together

While the title seems extremely tongue-in-cheek it is also a very sincere sentiment
that takes on two unique meanings. As a person who leans heavily toward the Victorian
Gothic side of things, I occasionally have people assume this makes me (and other
Victorian Goths) snobs toward the rest of the Goth culture. It usually takes less
than a minute in our presence around ANYone else, Goth or not, to realize how
ludicrous a notion that is. So here is the point of my statement, in two pieces.
1. We are each extremely unique, enjoying and appreciating knowing others different
from ourselves for the variety and interesting exchanges that brings.
2. Within every large group of unique individuals there are many commonalities, and
those commonalities lead to sub-groups under their own banners. These sub-cultures
within the culture create a wonderful sense of community support without detracting
from the member's individuality. It is an inspiring gathering of like-minds that is
more focused on the fashion, tastes and events particular to that group.
One of the strongest traits of any Goth, Victorian or otherwise, is a unique sense of
personal style. This transcends hair colour and clothing, to include preferences in
film, music, even television shows (and cartoons). While a person's primary style
influence may fall into a single category (Victorian, Industrial, Cyber, Lolita,
Perky, Romantic, etc.) they are never restricted by some unwritten list of rules
stating the can or cannot wear something(s) from other styles. In fact, Goths are
brilliant when it comes to blending styles and cross-accessorizing. At last check,
tastes in music, literature, film and events also create more common ground than not.
By sharing ideas, styles, experiences, the entire culture has become a pretty
cohesive collective under the umbrella of "Goth" while retaining and celebrating each
member's individuality, and their right to express it as mildy or extremely as they
Speaking of umbrellas.. I am off to do a little shopping for parasols.
Until next... Keep it real(ly interesting) =)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Less is More - The Simple Math Behind Mystique

No, I am not referring to a blue female character from the X-Men series. Just to
clear that up.
This topic has been brought up to me quite a lot lately, from several different
perspectives, so I thought perhaps I could do a (hopefully) brief post about it. Much
like the quote at the head of my blog: "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you
have to tell people you are, you aren't." Lady Margaret Thatcher was both. She was
also an incredibly strong, intelligent woman who used her words and her position
wisely. Through her actions and her sincerity, she became an icon, a role model to
many women of her time.
The same philosophy goes for the "air of mystery" or the "mystique" that some individuals seem to embody almost effortlessly. We have all seen them. We have, on some level, recognized that quiet beauty and unspoken magnetism that comes from true confidence and being comfortable in one's own skin, or even the hint of a dark secret that can be trusted to no one.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Come and Shop with Me: Nocturnal Nostalgia

Well, I am a couple days late on this one, but I feel it has been worth the wait to
have time to properly introduce this designer.
As any Victorian Goth knows, wardrobe says nearly everything. It is the first glimpse
anyone gets of the individual, so it should reflect their personal style, and fit
correctly, adding to their good carriage, healthy posture and general air of
confidence, refinement and flair for fun. Sadly, my own wardrobe is still far from
where I wish it to be. This led me on a hunt for clothiers and designers who
understand the genre, appreciate the beauty and whose pieces are attainable by
everyone without skimping one tiny bit on quality or originality.
All of that having been said, allow me to share a few creations from Nocturnal
Nostalgia. From corsets to gorgeously detailed chokers to her darkly dainty headwear,
Rose, the driving force behind Nocturnal Nostalgia, very obviously channels her talent and appreciation of the beauty of the Victorian era into every piece.
So let's begin with the first thing to catch my eye when I first visited her Etsy
store. These days ladies' top hats seem all the rage, followed by veils to maintain
that air of mystery, however, there is a very feminine, very unassuming accessory
that I feel deserves more "face time" at gatherings and in print. Most often seen as
part of a Gothic Lolita ensemble, Nocturnal Nostalgia's skull headpiece with lace and
ribbons is reminiscent of headwear worn to a Victorian Noir ladies' tea party, with
black bustle gown in a cozy parlour over a favourite tea and engaging conversation.
The same piece at a gathering is less austere than a top hat and accentuates rather
than shields the wearer's impeccably applied make up and naturally luminescent

Of course the staple of any good Victorian woman's wardrobe is the corset. There are
as many approaches to how a corset should fit as there are those who work to fit into
them. While it is this jaded old crow's attitude that it is there to accentuate what
one already has, there is also the fascinating challenge of some reenactors to
duplicate history by using brutally (and impressively) reinforced versions to squeeze
and shape the mid-section to unnaturally small measurements. Kudos to those who
attain that waspish figure without serious harm. I will, however, leave that debate
to the blogs geared solely to this particular undergarment. My goal is to share a
wonderful piece by Nocturnal Nostalgia, that, in this case, marries richly coloured
satin with my favourite coloured lace: black. There is no questioning the femininity
and quality of Rose's work. The handmade garment is a quality investment, and she
does do custom work to your measurements, making this a key element of your wardrobe that reflects your individuality at its finest.

Now finally (for this entry, anyhow) and hardly least, is that key element to a
Victorian wardrobe. It is also one of my all time favourite accessories, and one of
the main ways most creators/artists show their individuality and eye for detail: The
As a varitable hoarder of chokers and choker-making supplies (that I never seem to
have time to play with), I absolutely fell in love with Nocturnal Nostalgia's many
designs.  I am happy to share two here for your viewing pleasure. Please, do take the
time to visit her Etsy store and her site to get a good look at the variety of neck
adornments that can both accentuate a long neck or draw attention from a porcelain
complexion to a beautifully-matched corset just below. Remember... Victorian Elegance
is Never an Illusion.. it is Illustration in perfect, lacey balance.

I hope you have enjoyed the pieces I have featured here.  These are only the tip of
the iceberg. For more visual indulgence and to contact Nocturnal Nostalgia, I have
included her links below.
Etsy Shop:

Until next... Keeping the light on.. (it annoys the shadows. = )  )

Friday, July 1, 2011

Come and Shop with Me: Nacreous Alchemy

I am thrilled to begin what I hope to be a long tradition of featuring the art,
jewelry and other creations of very talented individuals with this particular gem.
As anyone knows, a proper Victorian Gothic home should reflect the style and
eccentricities of its inhabitants. When a friend recommended this particular shop (or
as I prefer to spell it.."shoppe"..) on Etsy, I had to chuckle when I found it was
someone already in my list of favourites.
The name alone had caught my eye..Nacreous Alchemy. And when I read one particular
line on her site as Michelle, the mind behind Nacreous Alchemy, described her
approach to her art: "I’ve always found beauty in things most others consider dark,
depressing, or just scary," I bordered on giddiness. So with her kind permission, I
wanted to take a moment to share a couple pieces of her work, as well as links to her
Etsy shop(pe) and her site.
Now don't think this wasn't a major undertaking, just attempting to single out a
piece or two to share. Every piece is unique, with its own personality, and it is our
good fortune that this artist does not limit herself to one medium.
So I begin with a unique, and timeless, mantle clock, perfect for setting a homey
mood above your fireplace. This "clock" no longer keeps time, but instead seems to
convey a very kind message that at some point, time is irrelevant and nothing to
worry about. The stately old house in the background is no more concerned than the
smiling skull that peers out from behind the glass.

Now for a more nostalgic feel, one might tap their inner creature of the night by
gazing at one of many lovely shadow boxes. This one features the Father of all
Draculas, the ever-classy, perfectly Victorian Gothic Bela Lugosi and his vampire
brides. Not only does it make for a wonderful visual escape, it tells guests "This is
a house of tradition. And we do not drink... wine."  (Ok, so that was a tad camp, but
you must forgive me, I got caught up in the moment.)

Finally, (as I had to stop at three or else risk writing a book and featuring
everything) I had to share a lovely wall hanging for the true die-hard (pun intended)
Victorian Goth. It states succinctly, "I shall go to my grave in style." From the
lovely black roses to the lace cuff and vintage spider ring, this is clearly an
accent piece perfect for anywhere from the boudoir, overlooking a dressing table, to
the parlour, where this single hand can seemingly wave to visitors, as is only

So now that you have seen a few of the fine, and fun, creations at Nacreous Alchemy,
please be sure to visit her site and Etsy store, find her on Facebook and "Like" her
page, and wander lost for a while in the "beauty in things most others consider dark,
depressing or just scary." After all, isn't that just one more brilliant aspect of
the members of our Victorian Gothic little world?

Etsy shop:

Until next... enjoy, and scream if you need anything.

Raven S.