Daily Outfit, March 23rd, 2013

  • This little crown of flowers is from a 1930s wedding dress that shredded & disentegrated
  • 1930s lace dress with matching peach slip, from Nobody’s Baby, Eugene, OR.
  • Vintage green belt, Decade’s Vintage, Portland, OR
  • Green knee socks
  • Remix vintage reproduction shoes

IMG_5876IMG_5865IMG_5866My pledge to wear more lipstick is easier now that I have found these lipsticks that do not feather at the edges and last for hours and hours. This one is called Hour Glass in Raven. Stila and Kat Von D also make them. Here is my Art Deco compact of a lady sipping a martini. LOVE!
Spring is here early. I have been relishing the early blooms and light rain – the long hot Texas summer will be here all too soon.

Dan & Tabitha’s Wedding

Last year, when I launched the kickstarter for Austin Phonograph Company, one of the first couples who backed the project were Dan and Tabitha. They got married last weekend in Austin in a lovely 1920s style ceremony, complete with Paper Moon photo booth, flapper dress, and my pals in The White Ghost Shivers performed after the cake was cut! Here are some of their engagement photos taken at my favorite bar, East Side Show Room. Photos by Julie Cope:

148508_10101063010505517_1777757854_nThe wedding day at Women’s Federation Hall:


Here is what my phonograph set up looked like:

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.

DJ Phonogray at the East Side Show Room

This adorable 1930s dress came from Charm School Vintage here in Austin. The bone white tstrap shoes are by Dollhouse, and are from a trip to Providence, RI, a few years ago.

The East Side Show Room has become my most favorite spot in Austin to have a cocktail and listen to music. With all of the phonograph units Reese and I have been accumulating, and all of the time we spend listening to records together, I suggested that he start doing a DJ’d happy hour before his regular piano set at the Show Room just to show this love to the public.

With our two suitcase models, a 1925(?) Puritone and Silvertone (1950s), he played hot jazz for three hours while patrons continually approached us to see what in the world we were doing up there. I worked on embroidery while Reese flipped the records.

Here’s a close up of the portable Puritone phonograph from the mid-20s. Isn’t it cute!! Reese has completely restored it to full working order, and it sounds very good – and pretty darn loud for a portable. There is a certain charm in listening to the 78 RPM records of the era on this machine. It just sounds meant to be.
I love the Fleur de Lis detailing on the reproducer. Inside the lid is a box to keep records in while traveling. There is a man playing saxophone in the middle and a couple dancing on the outside. If you look really close, you can see nipples on the lady. Oh! Oh! Oh!
If you’re in the Austin area, please come out to see Reese play! He’s at the East Side Show Room on Mondays and Thursdays.


Violinophone & Poppies

Here’s a fancy little get-up starring a darling dress that I scored for free at a clothing swap about a year ago. It’s a crepe-like material with a sheer striped panel on the bust. After 75ish years, I love that these garments can still be in such incredible condition. There are only a few snags & holes, which never really bothers me. Perfection in vintage is only a temporary state, anyway.
The unbearable heat of 100+ days of temperatures over 100F has finally broken! While it’s still very very warm, I’m looking forward to fall, which can only be around the corner. I’m not quite to the point of unpacking my berets & sweaters, but I’m thankful to have the chill of 70 degree evenings.

Black lace headband with 1920s embellishments – Louise Black
1930s poppy dress – clothing swap
1960s? floral tapestry purse – Buffalo Exchange
Pointed black shoes – traded with a friend

This headband has beaded details that hang down and make tinkly sounds in my ear. I’m test driving So Chaud lipstick from MAC, an orange lipstick that straddles a thin line between avant guard & old lady chic.

The newest franken-project involves Reese retrofitting my gigantic phonograph bell to a Stroh violin. We wheeled this monster horn through the hardware store testing out fittings & tubes.

Photo from Wikipedia
The Stroh violin, also called a violinophone, was used a lot in early days of phonographic recording, as the sound is multi-directional and thus was better received by the acoustic-mechanical recording method of the early 1920s. The Stroh has a phonograph reproducer in the body. When played, the strings over the wooden bridge vibrate a tiny nail connected to the metal reproducer below and projects the sound through a trumpet shaped plug-in.

Victor Orchestra as it looked in 1925 with Stroh violins and cello on a riser.

The newly-born circus horn made a test run at the White Ghost Shivers show last night. It looked so neat on stage! Reese has a few more adjustments to make, but we were so pleased that it was SO loud on the test run! Also, it was mistaken as a beer bong on more than one occasion. Please, nobody drink beer through this thing. I’m sure the 100 years of dust and metals would render one hell of a hangover.

Luna Moth Phonograph

Outfit for a special day of dinner parties, phonograph repair & ragtime piano viewing:

1920s cloche hat with leather fern pattern – Avalon, PDX
Sea urchin earrings – made by me
St. Joan of Arc necklace – given to me by Natalie Ribbons
1930s sheer dress with scalloped collar – ebay
Bow belt that goes to a 1950s dress
Straw purse – Amelia’s Retro-Vogue, Austin
T-strap shoes – Target

My spit curls have a way of looking like beetle antenna. This St. Joan of Arc medallion is one of my most special possessions, Natalie brought it back from Paris on her last European tour.

I haven’t been doing that much home repair (107F! Too hot!) so I’ve been hiding inside and mostly doing gadgetry at night. This particular morning glory horn was unearthed at a flea market in San Antonio, with the intention of turning it into a light fixture for my ice cream parlor. Reese retrofitted the end with some foam to attach on to his Victor II from 1907, and it actually sounds really great for being so old! The sound is full and wide, and reproduces bass, piano and high horns quite well.

From the looks of it, this was a much longer horn at one time, and has been sawed off at one point (most likely so that it could fit a more “contemporary” machine). This horn has a place to hook a crane stand, so it probably went to a very early machine.

In a true archeological experiment, Reese used different grades of steel wool on the surface of the horn, and it was phenomenal transformation right before our eyes. Layers of dirt, rust, and 100+ years of age were buffed away to reveal a luna moth green, sky blue, white, and golden pinstripes. These photos were taken before the cleaning, but I will be sure to post the results. 
Here’s the horn from the side. I’m not sure my love for the morning glory bell has quite reached the level of objectum sexuality, but what a sight to behold!

Reese has been busy fixing portable suitcase players, and I’ve been watching intently to learn how they work. I was never very gifted with mechanics, but then again, if someone takes the time to show me step by step how something operates and what tools to use (as Reese does), I’m much more likely to understand it. This is my favorite kind of mechanics: one part engineering, one part craft, and a lot of improvization to find substitutions for obsolete machines.