Friday, July 27, 2012

Festival Friday - Wedding of the Painted Doll

Yesterday I faced one of my biggest phobias at the 63rd Annual United Federation of Doll Clubs National Convention. I decided to push through the fear for two reasons. One, I'm considering starting up a line of paper dolls, and Two, vintage fashions!

Similar to Comic Con and other conventions, the event featured vendors from all over the country and around the world, selling dolls and all sorts of accessories and other paraphernalia. I had a marvelous time (despite my discomfort) and met some positively lovely people. The following photographs will do a much better job at describing the event than I could. If you're interested in any of the merchandise or vendors you see, click the images for contact information or websites.

The first booth we visited featured a variety of antique dolls, varying widely in origin, style, and period.

This stall featured delightful doll-oriented miniatures:

Here's a set of vintage Barbie Collection Dolls dressed for Mardi Gras!

Here's a delightful spice cabinet featuring all sorts of miniatures perfect for any doll's house.

Yes, that is an original first-run Barbie Doll on the far left. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced this vendor's information. If any UFDC members recognize this stall, please let me know so I can properly credit the merchandise.

One booth featured a series of doll houses, including this French schoolhouse with an automaton teacher! Note the intricate detailing of the schoolbooks.

I actually considered buying these Art Deco cloth dolls. They are absolutely adorable!

A pair of Emma Clears. Very popular at the convention.

This is a very rare and unusual reclining doll. I meant to take a close-up picture of her body under her skirt, since she looks a bit odd without her dress on. The lounge chair is assumed to be from the 1920s or 30s.

I do love doll houses and miniatures, so this booth was right up my alley, featuring mini books (some fully printed), glass and table ware, and jewelry.

This booth was probably my favorite. After the vendor's mother passed, she and her family found these collections in her house. Along with a large variety of children's and doll's shoes, they also discovered an enormous collection of rare paper dolls. The one featured below is able to open and close its eyes thanks to an ingenious flap. The second paper doll is a reversible doll c. 1913.


Something I learned at the convention: A lot of antique dolls had removable wigs to be able to change their hair styles.

This doll has a story and an entire trousseau to go with it! This picture didn't come out that well, but you can see better photos on their website.

The last booth I visited had two of the most striking dolls I saw that day. This vendor asked to be credited as Jackie Allington of the Bahamas but didn't give any contact information. The doll on the left is an automaton and you can see her in motion below.

Sorry about the video quality on this. It's taken me close to an hour to get it uploading and I just don't have the patience to keep dealing with Google products today.

So I ultimately had a good time and was able to get past my anxieties. There is one doll that I omitted from this post for the simple reason that the photo I thought I took of her vanished from my phone. You can see The Merry Widow Allegra here. She's a rather funny, very unusual doll, so do check her out! If you're curious about the UFDC, you can visit their website here. Have a great weekend, readers!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Witty Wednesdays -

This week's comic is actually closely related to Monday's article. If you read it, you'll understand why. If you haven't, well... Why haven't you?


Sleep tight.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Mondays - Sing-Along Songs

I'm a creature of habit. One of my habits includes obsesively listening to songs and watching movies over and over again. Of course, my favorite combination of these two was always the sing-along-song videos we always had growing up.

Of these, my all-time favorite was one set entirely in Disneyland - Disneyland Fun!

Along with some old Disney favorites such as "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" and "Whistle While You Work", the collection also featured several songs based on the theme park itself, like "It's a Small World" and "I'm Walkin' Right Down the Middle of Main Street U.S.A."

Even watching them now, these songs put a grin on my face that only politics can wipe away. These videos were probably some of my first bits of exposure to musicals and musical theater, and I think that Disney was a huge part of lives of anyone who grew up in the nineties. I remember that my visits to Disney World were some of my most vivid memories, despite the fact that most of the rides terrified me. I liked being completely immersed in a world of fantasy. I expect that's true of most children), so naturally this video drew in more than the others, as it brought back a lot of what I felt on those visits.

Among the numbers in this video were two that especially marked me as a child: "Makin' Memories" and "Grim Grinnin' Ghosts".

Now, I know why "Grim Grinnin' Ghosts" has stuck with me all this time - because it thoroughly and completely terrified me as a child. I literally could not watch it. I remember constantly having to fast-forward through it because I knew that watching it would give me nightmares.

Like this, but with a much prettier nightgown.
I guess it follows that "Makin' Memories" would be the other number I'd remember, seeing as it directly preceded "Grim Ginnin' Ghosts". I remember that I could never fully enjoy the song as I kept anticipating the moment I'd have to quickly press fast-forward on the VCR remote and avert my eyes so as only to read the lyrics so I'd know when it was safe to look again...

It's funny because though I almost always skipped it, I've apparently watched "Grim Grinnin' Ghosts" enough times to remember most of the lyrics. The riff at the beginning though, the ooooh ooooh ooooh ooooooooh... That would haunt my dreams. If I remember correctly, it became my trademark creepy song whenever I made up stories or games as a kid. It was the scariest thing I'd ever watched until "Signs" in sixth grade.

"The Duck in the ghost costume... HE'S COMING!!!!!"
It's sort of an interesting contrast when you think of it - at least for the grown-ups watching - filling you up with nostalgia about happier times then WHAM a song that's basically a thinly-veiled reminder of your own mortality. Should this have been a Macabre Monday instead?

"Tonight, a commentary on our most ingrained fears." "Yaaaaaaaay!!!"
Did you watch Sing Along Songs as a kid? Did you watch them, perhaps, with kids of your own? Do you have any favorites?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Verse Vendredi - Pablo Neruda

In my attempts to diversify the topics discussed here on Nostalgically Yours, I'm looking for topics that I've never discussed before. One such topic is poetry.

I guess I'm just picky, or I haven't really explored the field enough, but I've never really been especially keen on poetry. It isn't that I don't enjoy it, I guess I just really don't expose myself to it enough. It's one of many things in my life I'm trying to work on. Of the few poets I do know, though, there is one to whom my mind wanders more than the rest, and that is a certain Pablo Neruda.

Neruda in his early Twenties
Neruda, born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, in Chile at the turn of the 20th Century became famous for his poetry from a very young age, having his first work published when he was all of 13. "Pablo Neruda" was the name he used to avoid being found out by his father, who did not approve of his son's writing aspirations. This pen name is believed to have been a combination of Czech Poet Jan Neruda and French Poet Paul (or Pablo) Verlaine. Despite his father's disapproval, Neruda continued to write under his pen name, and eventually adopted it as his legal name. His illustrious and varied career not only included verse, journalism, and other writing, but also diplomatic office, political leadership, and international negotiator and peace-maker.

Neruda after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1971.
His poetry, obviously, is what he is most remembered for, and rightly so. Gabriel García Márquez, author of "Love in the Time of Cholera" has called Neruda "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language." Of course, there's no language like his original Spanish. I've gushed about Spanish before, and in a previous attempt t translating Spanish verse I've said how so much of the beauty gets lost. If you have no other reason for learning Spanish, do it to hear Neruda's poetry in its original language.

"Si tú me Olvidas" (Original)

(English Translation)

Of course, the words still retain their meaning when translated, but the rhythm and the song of the words are lost in the English version. There's just something about Spanish that gets me. The most mundane phrases can be filled with music to me when they're spoken in Spanish... I really do believe it is the most beautiful of the Romance Languages, if not all languages.

"Poem 20" (Original)

(English Translation)

To me, the challenge of writing poetry is creating that subtle musicality that can't be achieved with any other medium. In most songs, the melody carried the words. In poetry, the words must speak entirely for themselves, making it a very vulnerable medium. It's naked music.

"I Like For You to be Still" (Original)

(English Translation)

I encourage you all to explore the works of Neruda both in print and video form, though I find that listening to spoken words is more my style. Who are your favorite poets?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Food For Thought - Funeral Dress

WARNING: This post contains images of bones, mummies, and other death-related things that some readers may find disturbing. If you'd like to read this post without pictures, please click here.

Everyone dies, and we've all probably thought a bit about what we want our loved ones to do with our remains. However, of all the arrangements we think about, furthest from my mind would be the clothes I'd be buried in. Even further from my mind would be the idea of being disinterred for the purposes of historical studies.

Of course, most of us are probably nowhere near as famous as, say, Eleanor of Toledo, who married Cosimo I de' Medici in 1539, effectively paving the way for the Medici's reign and is credited with being the first modern First Lady. She died in 1562 and was buried in this dress:

When the Medici tomb was opened in 1857, this was one of the artifacts recovered. You can read more about it and other 16th century funeral dresses here.

The extant dress, complete with lovely liquefied flesh stains.
Of course, we have always turned to burial sites and tombs as insights into cultures past. In some cases, these sites remain some of the last undisturbed sources of historical artifacts. However, when disturbing the rest of the dead, what (if any) rules should be followed? Is there a time limit before it becomes creepy? Is it ever okay to dig up the dead for the sake of posterity?

"This is totally for posterity. We swear."
I suppose that in the presence of plunderers and grave robbers it's better for archaeologists to do it methodically and respectfully. If it will be done by hoodlums better to have the items preserved in a museum and used to learn new things about cultures past. I guess if you decided to be buried with all kinds of crazy riches, that sort of thing is to be expected. There's bound to be at least person who adopts the "You Can't Take it With You" way of thinking. In countries like Peru, the sacking of tombs for pottery, jewelry and other artifacts is pretty much commonplace. This industry is sustained by a black market of private collectors and tourists who, despite countless warnings against the destruction of cultural heritage, still buy the stolen goods for the sake of owning a piece of history.

peru 086
The results of grave robbery in Peru
That brings up another point; museums. Is it wrong to display the personal belongings (and even the bodies) of ancient and not-so-ancient peoples? At what point does it cross over from interesting to macabre to show corpses in glass cases? The mummies of Egyptian pharaohs don't seem to bother us too much, but what about the bodies of regular people, mummified naturally and were disinterred between 1865 and 1958 if and when family members were unable to pay the please don't dig up my dead relatives tax. Apparently the bodies were dumped in a warehouse, and the mummified bodies attracted enough attention to eventually warrant the construction of a museum for the corpses. No, seriously.

"Don't mind me, just acting out my last minutes of horror at being buried alive
for the price of admission."
How is this different from viewing the remains of a king? Does him being an important personage make it okay? I've always found museums to be spooky for this very reason: to see a person's entire life on display. Especially when so many different lives (and cultures) are crammed into one building. It must be at the very least bad karma.

"Nah, we're cool."
We don't really think about are adverse conditions in which our own bodies might be freakishly preserved and then put on display like the above-mentioned Mummies of Guanajuanto, so I assume we also wouldn't think about a situation where our entire city might become a walk-through horror show/monument. That's exactly what happened to the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79CE when Mount Vesuvius Erupted and buried large expanses of both cities with unbelievably hot pumice and ash. Those who were unlucky enough to be in the path of this terrifying torrent had their lungs with hot ash with had the charming effect of both burning their lungs like rice paper and suffocating them at the same time. The pyroclastic flow was so fast that most people didn't even have time to react to what was happening to them, and their last moment was preserved long after their bodies had smoldered away, since the very pumice that killed them decided that the awful way in which it killed them wasn't awful enough and decided that preserving their grotesque final expressions was the perfect salt to rub into wound created when their brains exploded from the intense and sudden heat.

When Pompeii and Herculaneum were excavated, one of the archaeologists discovered that by encasing the skeletons they found in concrete, they could fill in the negative space left by the skin and organs to re-create and preserve these people's most terrifying moment.

"Thank God I can stay this way for all eternity."
Then we have places like the Sedlec Ossuary in Prague where the remains of between 40,000-70,000 people who died during the Black Plague and Hussite Wars. Oh, but it gets better. When they remodeled the church in the 19th Century, they looked around the Ossuary and thought, "Gee, these bones are a bit of a downer. Hey you, František Rint, can you do something about these bones?"

"That's much better"
Yeah. They basically turned it into the death-obsessed Victorians' wet dream. I don't get it either, but the necessity for burial space during outbreaks of Plagues and other Epidemics seems to be the perfect fodder for horror fests such as these. I remember being coerced into visiting countless catacombs when I lived in Peru.

Of course, nowadays our history books seems to glaze over a lot of the bits about death and dying and how a good chunk of our historical record of Past Civilizations comes from their tombs. Though I like it a lot more than the outlook we had just over a hundred years ago.

Because we want to remember our daughter as she was,
a lifeless, cold, dead-eyed corpse.
I'm not trying to prove a specific point here, mind you. I'm not trying to say that all museums should be torn down or that studying ancient cultures is wrong. I'm mostly musing. In fact, I'd really like to hear your opinions on the subject. What do you think?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Financial Fridays - Open for Business!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have found myself without work in a time where such a problem is not easily remedied. Therefore, I must find a way (any way) to provide sustenance for myself and to help pay off my student loans... So, long story short, I'm going into business for myself! I'm starting towards turning Nostalgically Yours into the lifestyle company I had always intended it to be. Starting this week you'll notice a new tab entitled services with more information about the things I'll be going over in this post.

"A Merry Christmas and How Party ...

Party Planning
Are you planning a birthday bash or a high-class dinner party? Do you want to add some vintage flair to your special event? Look no further than Nostalgically Yours! We specialize in events hosted at home, providing music, food, and decoration suggestions, along with staging and some other event-related labor. We also provide custom invitations, place-cards, and other items to match the theme of your party. If you're interested in having your soiree designed by Nostalgically Yours, please check out the new "Services" Section for more information.

Vintage Fashion

Personal Styling
Tired of Tedious Trends? Want to add some classic flare to your wardrobe? Maybe you have a party to attend and you simply don't know what to wear. Let Nostalgically Yours be your guide! We offer everything from at-home consultations to personal shopping! Please see our "Services" page for more information.

Saul Bass - Henri's walk to paris c1962

Graphic Design
Do you have a t-shirt design you want turned into a vector drawing? Do you want a custom banner or set of buttons for your website? Tell us what you need and we can help you out!

Vintage Halloween

Costume and Fashion Design
We offer a variety of services in this field ranging from costume and wardrobe design for film, theatre or television, to personal fashion design, to custom dress-making, pattern drafting, and tailoring. Ask us about your next Halloween costume or a beautiful retro gown for prom!

1960s Window Shopping Storefront Vintage Photo Mannequins Fashion Dresses Womenswear

Etsy Shop and Clothing/T-shirt Line
Our Etsy store will be opening in August and we have a t-shirt and clothing line in the kilns. You'll hear more about these as they progress!

I can't wait to get started - all I need is the first phone call. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Have a great weekend, readers!