Dr. Sketchy’s for E.A.S.T.

“The East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) features dozens of creative events each year, but we couldn’t help being especially intrigued by psychedelic taxidermy, neon Marie Antoinette wigs, vintage clothes, and pop grunge illustrations all in one space. We stopped by the Maison d’Etoile building (2109 E. Cesar Chavez) during installation to catch up with Allyson Garro, Hope Perkins, and Bradley Wilkinson to learn more about their EAST offerings.”
– Tracie Chan, Austinist

On Sunday, November 18th, Maison d’Etoile hosted a Dr. Sketchy’s anti-art class where I  posed as a love-child mashup between the two featured artists, Hope Perkins and Bradley Wilkinson. Do you know about Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School? I’m the director of the Austin branch – come and sketch some time!

I made these gigantic pink antlers and attached chandelier crystals between the points. What outfit would be complete without matching necklace and Pop Art paint-dripped crystal pasties?

I was so, so excited to meet Hope Perkins after seeing her artwork in different Austin venues for the past few years. What a sweetheart! Dressing for this event was a fun extension for me – how else would I have incorporated velvet and arrows in to the same ensemble?

These antlers were much smaller, and thus, I wore them for longer during the modeling sessions. They are covered in velvet, pearls, and are gold-tipped. This outfit featured glittery arrow wounds that emerged from my chest and ribs. I took cues from Kahlo’s The Wounded Deer, and also vintage hunting scenes.

Bradley Wilkinson made me a special character head to wear for a few poses:

And one of his sketches:

A sketch of me by Heather Joy:

Check out Dr. Sketchy to see if there is a branch in your town and then GO and DRAW!

Phonograph Portraits, or, how I climbed into a bell

This summer, sat for a tin type photo session with Heather Curiel. I brought my Victor Monarch phonograph from 1901 to the shoot, and sat with it for the first photo. When I went to school for photography in Oregon, I was always drawn to tin types and wet plate methods: they are laborious, fickle and very reverential medium. There is a lot of room for error – dust specks in the collodian, defects in the plate, and problems with development. Also, this is what makes the photograph so special.
For the second portrait, I wore a phonograph horn as an Elizabethan ruff. This was an idea that I’ve been working on for about a year, in fact, you can see a picture of me hacking through the metal on my first post of Old Fashioned Way in August of 2011. A few years ago, I bought a cheap reproduction phonograph from ebay for about $100 bucks. The machine was so terrible, but it was my foray into the world of phonograph collecting. After the spring broke in the machine, it sat, collecting dust on my armoire. Essentially, the only function it had was to house my iPhone, which I would turn on and stick into the bell to amplify music.
I had this idea that just wouldn’t leave. What if a siren lived inside of the phonograph, and the bell encircled her head like a crown? What if her slender fingers could be the reproducer, the pointed nail the needle? I began doodling the image everywhere. This chalk drawing was up at the cafe where I invented my vegan ice cream recipe.
In 2010, I was lucky enough to land an appointment with Nick Baxter, who is probably the most amazing tattoo artist on the planet. It took a lot of explaining on my part as to exactly how my tattoo should look. He had never seen a phonograph up close, so I printed him off sheets and sheets of reference material that I found on ebay. The result was an enormous tattoo that covers my ribcage and most of my hip. I love his details: the wood grain, the spinal column Art Nouveau flowers, the rusty spots on the metal.

Last week, this obsession with climbing into the phonograph has come full circle. I sat for Darla Teagarden, a photographer known for creating paintings come to life. I brought my phonograph ruff, my Victor Monarch, and a freshly painted set of nails. She strapped me into the ruff, I turned the crank, and looked into the spotlight.

Volk: New Year’s Eve

I rang in 2012 in a snowy pine forest, surrounded by white wolves, champagne, and some of my dearest friends. Hosted at Justine’s, Volk: How did you come to be lost? was the theme of the evening. With Russian folktales at the core, the Brasserie was transformed by the addition of 200+ pine trees and snow machines that pumped over 20,000 lbs of snow on the scene. Real and taxidermy wolves lurked in the shadows. All photos in this post, by the amazing John Leach.

There were two white wolves in attendance. Actually, they are a special breed of dog called a Gibler dog, which is a hybrid of rescued wolves, Akita, and Malamute. There is a very lovely family here in Austin who raises them, and their daughter came to a Vintage Vivant for Easter with her wolf, Winter, in tow (read a little about Winter and his cute characteristics here). They are so patient and sweet! This one’s name is Snow, and I petted him at midnight.

Gina and Kitty with the wolf!

Miss Sassy Delure in the snowy forest. On NYE day, the weather in Austin was a brisk 70F! When I walked towards Justine’s, I could feel the temperature dropping because of the snow from the snow machines. It was 6 inches thick in some areas, but was forming a slick layer on top. I had to walk with a firm heel-toe heel-toe step through the trees, lest I trip and impale some poor fellow with my antlers. Hidden in the back of the forest was a vodka tent & a photobooth.

Mistress Stephanie & her snowy footprints.

My duties as Snow Nymph included filling the champagne tower with fellow fairies, including Kitty & Raven.

Me and Angeliska – supreme Queen of Snow

Me, Sassy & Liz. Snackface, Sassy!

Although I looked at the lookbook for the event quite extensively (which was a mix of Galliano makeup & Russian princesses) I still managed to look like a flapper babydoll underneath it all, with a little bit of drag queen thrown in for good measure. These white antlers are for sale in my etsy store, as well.

Dreaming In Color

Photo by Devaki Knowles of Fun Loving Photos

This weekend, I designed an outfit for a fashion show called “Dreaming in Color,” put on by Vitamin Water and Coco Coquette, a local wig & makeup shop known for sparkle and customized, amazing wigs.

The assignment was to design a look around a flavor of Vitamin Water, and I chose Energy, a sunshine school bus yellow and gold. I imagined my model suspended in a gilded cage of a hoop skirt, recalling an era of enormous, dramatic, impractical clothing of the late 1800s. Stripped bare to the golden bars, the model stands isolated inside of the contraption, yet is on display for all to see.

First things first: I used fabric stiffener to prepare 2 yards of gold lame and metallic gold fabric. Then I traced hundreds of hearts on the fabric with sharpie and cut them out, one by one. This was finished over several days of watching MST3K, Carnivale, and waiting in doctor’s offices.
The hoop skirt was borne out of hardware supplies and a thrift store belt. The white hoop part is actually sprinkler tubing, connected by brass hardware and metal crimps. Long strands of threaded bolt were drilled through the tubes to hold up the dress, secured by washers and bolts. The hoops sit exactly eight inches from one another. I found three leather belts at Savers, and cut them up to create the harness of the skirt. Reese drilled the holes for placement while the belt was on my body – just inches from my ribcage. Yikes!
I played with many a Tim Bird while working at the toy store, and thought to dismantle one for use in this project. You’ve seen these, yes? It’s a plastic bird that flaps when the dial under his tail is wound – also called an ornithopter! Little Tim Bird was dismantled, his wings and tail replicated in gold fabric, and body gilded.
Heavy with fabric and glue after his transformation, birdie still flapped, but could not fly. My original scheme was to have the model pluck birdie off of his chestpiece and fly birdie over the audience. 
I wish there was video that demonstrated how the skirt swayed – it was like a bell! Speaking of behemoth projects – I almost pulled a Henry Ford with this one, as we barely got it out of the house. I called a good friend with a truck and paid him in Jameson to transport the hoopskirt to the show.

Drew in full regalia. There’s something unseemly naughty about a man wearing pasties, no!? Photo by ATX Street Style
I did Drew’s makeup, right down to the gold lame eyebrows. I was inspired by Prince Poppycock and French Mimes. Photo by Jeremiah NewtonDrew is not a dancer by trade, but a magician! He constructed the fabric “wing” and created a levitating bird spectacle on stage! Photo by Keep Austin StylishThe dance went a bit like this: he takes stroll through the garden (set to Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks) and befriends a tiny yellow bird. The bird floats in the cloth wing, annoying him. He rips the bird’s head off and glitter showers the stage. Photo by John Leach.Oh, OH, and the gold bird flaps it’s wings as well. A very kinetic design with little surprises throughout! Photo, L, Miguel Angel — Photo, R, Ashley Newton

Designer and model together! Photo by Fun Loving Photos.
This was a new level for me, in terms of design. I have no skills or facilities when it comes to sewing, but I was still able to fabricate an outfit that was dynamic & full of twists and turns. Hope you like it, and would love to hear feedback. I am planning on adapting this for my Halloween costume, so it won’t be the last you see of the Gilded Cage!

Flapper Makeup How To!

The lovely Betty Amann – notice her very waxy eyelashes and downward sloping eyebrows!

When I was younger and not quite living as a full blown Vintage Vivant (that is, dressing in vintage styles every day) I used holidays such as my Birthday, New Year’s Eve and Halloween to dress in full vintage and emulate different glamor stars. Around this time of year, I would start mining different vintage fashion sites in search of 1920s flapper makeup tutorials. My favorite part of reading about vintage makeup is exploring the different tools and products that were used to achieve such theatrical looks. Unassuming items like kohl, petroleum jelly and rouge can send a face from a Plain Dora to Jazz Baby in a matter of deftly placed strokes of a brush. It’s all a matter of knowing where to paint!

The book shown above, Vintage Face: Period Looks from the 20s-50s, is fantastic – it’s a contemporary book but I believe it’s out of print. I find it very helpful that the materials/methods from the 1920s are juxtaposed with the current methods. Beseme Cosmetics, purveyors of vintage makeup, has some excellent video tutorials on how to apply blush, and cake mascara. Kevyn Aucoin’s Making Faces book also show flapper, gamine and Edith Piaf looks to emulate.

This video is from the Helena Rubenstein site and it’s quite amazing!

My favorite vintage product is cake mascara! I remember playing with my grandmother’s cake mascaras and eyeliners when I was a kid and using them to paint whiskers on my face like a kitten. It’s half wax, half pigment. You must dip the brush in water in order to activate the mascara. Paula Dorf Cosmetics and Lola Cosmetics both produce a cake mascara that I’ve tried. However, they are seldom sold in stores so your best bet is to find them online. Applying mascara with a little toothbrush seems daunting at first but it’s quite fun and more of a natural tint than real volume.

The Problem:
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No matter how closely I follow a tutorial I feel as if my look is lacking something. Here I am last Halloween as a silent film star. Literally, I was a silent film star, I didn’t speak a word! I watched about 9 silent movies through the course of October and photographed all of the title cards in the films. I printed out the title cards and carried them around all night. I would shuffle them up and then answer people randomly with the cards. It was like Mad Libs starlette! I put these two photographs up for you to see the difference in the look from color to black and white. In the color photo, observe how my eyes are heavily made up but how they look more plain in the black and white photo. I was discouraged with this result because it seemed like the more I made myself up the less it transferred to “Starlette” in the black and white version.

The Break Through:



Left: Here I am in my room before the last “Party Like it’s 1929” party. I had just gotten my new iMac with built in camera the week before, and as I was doing my makeup I had a revelation: why not turn on photobooth and do my makeup in the sepia setting? I tried it, and the results were amazing. I felt that because I stripped down the colors I was really able to focus on the shadows and highlights.

Right: Here is Angel and me at the big event – aren’t we sweet?