Thursday, November 19

Don't eat the face mask!

Don't eat the face mask!

As soon as I indulge in my wardrobe a lot I try to make up for this extravagance by keeping my bathroom shelves free of unnecessary Product.

I'll get tempted by pretty packaging and outrageous claims as much as the next girl. After all pearl-extract sure sounds glamorous. Maybe it will magically turn me into a supermodel like the airbrushed lady with the rictus grin on TV assures me. Then again, probably not.

When I see adverts for this season's recipe for eternal youth I can't help but picture the boardroom meeting that led to the creation of just that miracle cure for all our imperfections. Remember when some smart-ass decided we ought to be brushing our tongues as well as our teeth? Comedians Mitchell and Webb envisioned that glorious moment of marketing finesse something like this:

Sure, sometimes a bit of pretty packaging can act as a pick me up but the placebo effect wears off swiftly and buyer's remorse sets in as soon as I read the list of ingredients.

Recently I've been getting amusement out of listening to skin care adverts and translating their preposterous claims into plain English. It is no surprise these commercials fall foul of advertising standards so frequently:

Whatever it is, it is sure to make your skin "appear" younger and more luminous and how about that glorious "re-plumped effect"? When I hear the word "de creased" I can't help but imagine the model taking a steam-iron to her face until it is flat as a pancake.
It is not just the preposterous pseudo-science though, looking at the frequently employed "look, we are telling the truth, see with your own eyes" before and after shots puts a lemony smirk on my face: Sad uglified super-model is invariably lit to show every last imperfection and shot at an unflattering angle to boot. Proof of the brilliance of Super-beauty-miracle-extract shows her in bright, well controlled lighting and they've changed the lens to a focal-length more suited to portraiture in between shots of course. I am not even getting into the post-production on that modern-day medicine show.

That said, here goes my glamorous skin-care regime, for that revitalized "appearance" and that 10-years-younger "feel":

I have fairly sensitive skin, so I use the best kept secret since nano-shmano particles to wash my face in the morning: Water.
Face-scrub gets a look in as and when required (usually 2-3 times a week): The soft "feel" and re plumped "effect" stems from oatmeal "technology" mixed with warm water and a little bit of sugar.
Oatmeal also holds up as a face mask pretty well when I feel like pampering myself. Just mix with warm water, leave to stand for a couple of minutes and leave to dry on your face before washing off.
At £ 4.41 my daily moisturizer (Nivea Visage Oil-free facial moisturizer) is the most expensive part of my skin care.
Fleur of Diary of a Vintage Girl recommended cold cream and distilled Witch Hazel B.P. on her blog. I only use cold cream occasionally, but the latter has been my every-day cleanser for quite a while now. It sure "helps promote healthier skin".
I'll indulge in a fragrant body lotion occasionally, but generic baby lotion works just as well.

Adventures in Pseudoscience:
The sceptic's dictionary
Salto Sobrius on the scientific breakthrough of nanosphere complex
Article in the Scotsman by Fiona McCade
Bad Science

Tuesday, November 17

The Other One

I have been looking forward to taking some creepy Doppelganger images ever since I ordered fabrics on Etsy to use as backdrops. Here are some preliminary shots. Sadly no finals today, as soon as I was so eager to get going I paid no heed to the fact that I was dead knackered and looked it too, so rather than a creepy expression my face just looks melty (or maybe a bit of both?)
I think I will re shoot these on the weekend. I was thinking it might be nice to "hold my own hand" as well as doing the old clapping game.

I am really pleased with the cotton background though, it turned out to be everything I was hoping for.

A glimpse just at the edge of your vision, a harbinger of ill-health, bad luck or even death. Just plain creepy is what it is.

There are many variations on the Doppelganger mythos, my favourite being that the Doppelganger copies you, until gradually it transforms, turning into you. Sucking the very essence of your being into itself.
This concept used to fascinate and freak me out something chronic when I was little: I'd lie awake at night wondering if I was really myself or just a copy, so immersed I'd forgotten my true identity. I'd look in the mirror struggling to recognize myself, staring at the stranger staring right back at me.

This concludes this evening's creep-fest. Have sweet dreams you all! ;-)

Sunday, November 15

Make do and mend: The hardcore edition

Make do and mend:  
The hardcore edition
It was early one autumn morning. I was seven years old, standing on a chair brushing my teeth. Mom was doing her hair when she suddenly broke out in tears. The bathroom radio was to blame for her uncharacteristic outburst: The fall of the Berlin wall had just been broadcast.

My parents actually acquired visas to travel to the GDR in the early 80s, but I was too small to remember much of this visit to relalitves. Every Christmas the Dresdner's would send Stollen (yumm.. Dresdner Stollen just has to be the best) but when I was little parcels would also include cloths my great-cousine, one year my senior, no longer fitted. A pair of blue dungarees with red buttons used to be my favourite until I in turn grew out of them.

So this year, as another anniversary of that morning passed, I had a lazy little look around the web to see what I can find out about East German fashion.

"Sybille" a fashion magazine dubbed the "East-Vogue" really stuck out for me. I was particularly taken with the work of Sybylle Bergemann featured in the magazine (see some of her fashion photography here).

In print from 1956 to 1994 Sibylle was published two-monthly but due to limited availability of paper there were never quite enough copies printed to go around and the magazine was much sought after.

Editors had to take care to taylor content to the ideology of the regime. Blue jeans for instance were seen as an embodiment of capitalism. An issue was cancelled due to the inclusion of the devilish leg wear, but in 1978 the ministry for light industry finally gave in to popular demand and ordered one million Levis jeans from the USA. No where near enough to cover demand, long queues and even brawles over the coveted garment were feared. To avoid this, they were sold in the workplace during lunch breaks rather than in regular shops.

It wasn't only jeans though, the cloths pictured in magazines were not usually available in the shops, so women took to making their own. Even so, fabrics, buttons etc weren't easy to come by and there wasn't a lot to choose from. The GDR was actually a market leader in the building of textile machinery, but these were almost exclusively exported. Fashion inspiration, tips, patterns and instructions on how to re-use and dye fabrics, came from magazines such as Sibylle, but also "Praktische Mode" (Practical Fashion) and the quarterly magazine "Guter Rat" (Good Advice).

There is lots more info out there, but I thought I'd keep it short and sweet. For more Praktische Mode covers, pay the DDR Presseshop on a visit.

KunstMachen-das Blog (in German, but with lots of photographs)
Ostkreuz Photography Agency (in German & English)
Mode in der DDR (German)
Zwischen Weltstadt und Isolation (German)
Jeans sind eine Einstellung und keine Hose (German)
Sibylle, die Zeitschrift fuer Mode und Kultur (German)
DDR Presseshop on eBay (GDR Fashion Mags on

Thursday, November 12

I assure you it 's a handbag

I assure you it 's a handbag.

For a while now I have been keeping my eyes open for a light blue bag.

At first I thought I wanted it to be a kelly style bag, but when I saw this "duck egg blue" overnight case I realized my search was at an end.

Trust me, it is just masquerading as a tiny suitcase, it really is a very large handbag (I bent reality to make it so, like that time I found a really cute nighty that looked like and soon transformed into a light summer dress).

You 'd never have guessed blue is one of my favourite colours, eh? To top off the colour madness I even cycled to the blue bus stop inbetween bouts of pouring rain (it 's been taged with small pink and purple scrawls since my last visit) . Once again I am the bus stop boxer..

Dress: Lipstick Vogue
Jacket: Topshop
Tights: Primark
Bag: Cooey via eBay (there are still more available)
Shoes: Vintage K's

By the way, the first lot of cotton backgrounds I ordered arrived this morning so I am ready for lots more rain now. won't faze me a bit (I am lying of course. I get well grumped up about the wet, cold weather. Chills you right down to the bones *brrrr*).

Wednesday, November 11

Hair: The hare-brained edition

Hair: The hare-brained edition 
or: a case of not at all simultaneous invention

Yesterday evening I earned the title of 'Inventor'.
Drum roll please - moments like this only come around once in a lifetime:

Let me introduce the Hair Zapper 3000 (there has to be a number at the end, right?). The other half was all for calling it the Zappy Cappy. Trust him to poke fun at this well thought out, easy to use, absolutely SAFE device. Ahem.

Right, I was slouching on the sofa at midnight with my wet hair in curlers: Beginning to get tired I grudgingly faced up to the fact it wouldn't dry in time for bed. Late of night in a terraced house with wafer-thin walls the hair-dryer was not an option, but I really didn't fancy sleeping in curlers either. That's when the solution hit me: An electric blanket for your head.

Shaped like a bath cap, the Hair Zapper 3000 plugs into the mains and leaves your hair to dry comfortably and silently. Available in four beautiful designs (Flower Meadow pictured above) you will soon be unable to remember how you ever lived without the Hair Zapper 3000 (no liability for memory loss). Contrary to what the brand name indicates, it will only rarely zap you. Not suitable for use near pace makers.

Introductory offer includes free hand-held generator so you can move about your home freely while your hair is set silently and comfortably. Don't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Order now!

Shortly after finalzing my amazing product I experienced what many an inventor must dread when they hit the patent office: I honestly wasn't aware that the Hair Zapper 3000 already exists and is easily available. I am decades late.

Testimonials for a Soft Bonnet anyone? It looks a bit sci-fi to me, but hey, as soon as I invented it independently I guess I should give this a try :-)

Am I the only Inventor here or have you too got patent pending on the device of the future?

Saturday, November 7


When drizzle turned into heavy rain yesterday evening I half-heartedly packed my photo bits but expected a morning spent in bed rather than in the woods. I was rather surprised to find first rays of sunlight shining through the curtains when the other half left for work at dawn.

At last another visit to the Country Park.

After taking a few pictures I returned home for coffee and then set off into town for an eye check-up. I got all excited about a new clothing super-store: Primark. I promptly treated myself to a belt and cardigan (there is no such thing as too many cardis!).

It was only on leaving Primark that I noticed Emporium 61 right next door, a new charity shop I heard about online a while ago. I didn't realize they'd been up and running for three months already. It s just as well I only found out today, turns out it 's one of those places I find impossible to leave empty handed. All things orange came home with me: A space-hopper and a skirt.

By the way, I am on weardrobe now :-)

Jumper: Mom's
Skirt: Vintage from Emporium 61
Tights: somewhere in Austria
Shoes: Vintage
Spacehopper: Emporium 61

Jacket: H&M
Brooch: Etsy
Skirt: H&M via eBay
Mask: Found

Wednesday, November 4

It is happening again.

It is happening again
When Twin Peaks was first shown it was aired well past my bed time so naturally my curiosity was piqued immediately (oh the wonderful things that must be happening after children go to sleep!).

I never did get a glimpse of it though until a decade later, when I finally stilled my curiosity and watched the box set marathon-style. It has been on my list of favourites ever since with its unique cinematographic style, saturated colour, uncanny undertones (alright, probably there is no 'under' about it) and frequent depiction of dreams and nightmares. Lynch's work has inspired many an artist, Gregory Crewdson's highly staged and uncanny tableau of suburban America to name but one.

When I think of Twin Peaks the first thing that comes to mind is the cunning Audrey Horne, but she is not the only one dancing in the town of Twin Peaks and by far not the most eccentric character either. There is the Log Lady for instance, who Anja of Clever Nettle turned into this Halloween; Nadine on her quest for perfectly silent curtain track gliders and the caffeine fueled federal agent investigating the brutal murder of a local teenage girl isn't too well balanced himself. Lynch's own character, Gordon Cole is a personal favourite.

The film-noir aspects of the series are underlined by the darkly beautiful musical score, written by Angelo Badalamenti. Sadly there are also a few horrendous vocals amongst the mainly instrumental tracks. I guess even the old masters Incorporated small imperfections in their work so as not to mock god.

And what brought on this fan-fest? Well, my blog header of course. This week the dolls house is decked out in Twin Peaks references. The owls are not what they seem..

Sunday, November 1

Fading into the Background

I have gone royally backdrop crazy.

Now that the sun is going down by the time I get home from work and weekends are reserved for rain I am getting a little photo stir-crazy. But fear not for my sanity, I have found a solution:

It all started with Mom's dollhouse. The garish living room wallpaper is etched into my brain and I am forever dreaming of finding bold, beautiful patterns like that for my shots. Sometimes I do, but reliant on public transport when the push-bike just won't do my location scouting capabilities remain limited.

However, thanks to lots of fabric browsing from behind my computer screen I 'll be decking out my living room in cotton costumes this winter.

From top left: Doll house wallpaper, Garden Maze Olive from Midwest Modern by Amy Butler, Imperial Fans in Forrest from Nigella Home Decor by Amy Butler, Bunny Damask
Hushabye by Tula Pink, Pop Garden Sway by Heather Bailey.