Millenery Boomerangs.

Some time ago I was fortunate enough to receive a box full of magnificent vintage hats from old college chum Rebecca Strzelec.  This was just weeks after embarking on my twenty4twenty project and I’d sent out a few of my hats with no response whatsoever.  Seeing this giant box of beautiful hats on my doorstep reminded me that everything, every intention you put out into the universe comes back to you , but rarely in a form you’d expect.

These pieces had been sitting in her home, I believe, for years, and once she arrived at the conclusion that she had no use for them they became mine.  All she asked in return was that three hats make it back to her: two for her daughter and one for her.

Let’s start with mom:

I chose this base since it was just misting (dripping would be too much) with class and elegance.  Very proper, like my friend.

For her child, there were two smaller hats.  This first one I bent the brim to give it a more formal feel but the actual material was so delicate that it proved quite challenging to work with.

I added miscellaneous feathers and sourced gems:

This base was much easier to work with.  Plus I have a huge sift spot in my heart for bonnets so it was a natural fun piece.

I added chicken wings, a chicken foot and switched out the white button for a pearlescent pink bead in the talon and on each side, plus a poof of white fox fur for good measure.

So that’s that.  I was very touched to be given such a magnificent gift from Rebecca.  She is an amazing, talented and accomplished woman whom I am honored to even associate with.

Also I am short on words today because sometimes life beats the vocab out of you.  More soon.

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Brandywine Polo Season Opener

This past Monday brought us a dreamy mix of sun and clouds for the Brandywine Polo season opener.  I rounded up the lovely Bell ladies and we set up a picnic under a tree to celebrate birthdays, America and ponies.  It was a fantastic match and got the whole gang excited for the 2012 season.

I wish all anthems were presented so regally:

Have you tried Spodee yet?  What are you waiting for?

I could hardly see anything with these tiny binoculars.

There’s my friend Sharilyn bringing water to her polo playing beau, Juan.

Does it seem like I don’t have much to say?  That’s because I spent all my word-power writing this article for the Brandywine Polo Magazine.  Please give it a read if you like:

And that’s really all she wrote.

Good night!

Radnor Hunt Wrap up, 2012

 

The annual Radnor Hunt Cup was this past Saturday, and an exceptional day it was, as one might expect.  This time around I didn’t take any pictures since I’m not really on speaking terms with my phone.  I think my new modus operandi is to just be photographed as much as possible and then hunt for those images online. It’s fun and I highly recommend it for any fashion conscious gals and guys out there who hate carrying cameras and prefer to leave their hands open for cocktails and shaking other hands.

One tip: Wear the biggest, brightest, loudest thing you can find. This vintage dashiki  I’m wearing is like a brightly burning light,  attracting shutter-bugs to my flame.

 

That’s my agent Erika to my left and our body-guard who shall remain nameless a few steps behind. photo compliments of Malvern Patch.

 

The theme for the Radnor Hunt was “Islands, Large and Small” so I went with Cuba.  I basically channelled my inner Santeria Priestess and also this woman:

Sure a dashiki is an African garment but there are plenty of Cubans of African descent, and isn’t that where it all started anyway?  I hope my loose interpretation of the cultural melting pot isn’t offensive to anyone; I just want a piece of it all.

World Clique, y’all.

My hat is a series of rooster wings and tail feathers gathered around a visor with a vintage cat brooch and other embellishments.  A millinery masterpiece by no means, it was a last-minute confection whipped up just for fun and FUN IT WAS. I rolled in four deep with some polo friends, old and new and upon entering the Philadelphia Style tent dove headfirst into the oyster table, forgetting that whole 6 days of food poisoning that ravaged my internal organs just two weeks ago. We had already enjoyed some Spodee (have you had it yet?  Le duh.  Try it!) and now it was onto the race-themed cocktails.  I enjoyed a Finish Line with champagne and berries.

Soon enough I was chatting away with all my pals who I hadn’t seen since last Summer and watching the races.  They got off to a rough start, with several riderless horses running the course after having thrown their jockeys,  In another entry I’d like to explore my thoughts on the complicated world of horse racing when I can articulate it better, because it’s much more emotional and complex than on might think from first sight, but for now I will focus on the fun stuff.

I bet on a horse named “On the Corner” for the second race but he mostly stayed on the corner and didn’t win me any money.  No matter; just being there enjoying my health, my friends, the food and sunshine was all the winning I could have asked for.

My friend Jaun, who plays polo, is also apassionate photographer. He is the best as covering these events, photo-wise.  I ran into him and the lovely Sharilyn, plus their wonderfully engaging daughters, under the tent but didn’t have much time to chat- saving it for the  Brandywine Season Opener next week, suppose?  Can’t wait.  Anyway, I can’t steal any of his pictures to post on here so please go to his site and check them out.  He’s got it call covered: Juan Vidal Photography.

Other folks who have the Philadelphia social scene on lockdown are Susan Scovill who is a perennial delight and one of my fave rave folks to run into at these venues; (check her out here: Susan Scovill) plus Hughe from Philly Chit Chat who never remembers my name but gives me love nonetheless.  In fact he threw me some of that on yesterday morning’s episode of Good Day, Fox 29’s morning news show.  I took the liberty to upload a video of just the segment relating to MOI.  Turn up your volume for the chuckles:

 

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For full video go here:

Was Jenn Fred At The Radnor Hunt?: MyFoxPHILLY.com

We had to wrap it up and head out a wee bit earlier than last year (no rest for the wicked Mole Street crew) but it was just the right amount of fun and revelry.  Oh!  The hat contest.  By the time I mosied up to the judges stand, the women were piling into a gold cart to hand out the prizes to winners whom they’d already determined.  One shot me an exasperated look and I just shrugged.  Another one managed to hand me an “honorable mention” ribbon as a consolation prize.  Familliar scene?  Perhaps, except this time around sans heartache.  I’ve realised that sometimes it’s best not to be judged.

 

 

Rogue Recap

I treated my husband assistant and I to a little weekend jaunt out to Los Angeles last week to attend the opening reception of the biennial Rogue Taxidermy Show at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, and while it’s been written up, tweeted, and shared in many places I can find online, I do feel it is my duty to at least jot a little down here in my own blog about it (even if it’s mostly links to other sites who did a much better job than I documenting the experience).

We flew out on Virgin America which was a delight after having endured too many multi-part flights to LA.  Direct flight?  Cheapest airfare in town and multi-media players for each seat?  SOLD!  So that was pretty neat, and then we landed and it was time to try my hand at driving in LA for the first time.   One word comes to mind: AGGRESSIVE.  It seems like there are just no “Streets” in LA ,even the smaller thoroughfares are four lanes wide.  It’s quite efficient though and I noticed an abundance of bike lanes which was encouraging.  It’s just a little more difficult to navigate.  The entire system felt like a series of swirls, whereas Philly is a grid.

We got to my friend’s house in one piece, however, albeit a little jet lagged.  She came out with us to a Mexican restaurant where I proceeded to throw my ethics out the window and have my first red  meat in months in the form of an all beef enchilada.  I think I was punished for this and other offenses, but more on that later.

The next day we took a drive down Mulholland and looked at all the giant houses. I really don’t have the words to adequately describe how I feel about these structures.  It just seems like a dream; I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of wealth.

After we descended back down to the land of mortals, we headed to Amoeba records in Hollywood where I purchased the soundtrack to “Blow”.  It proved to be an excellent CD for driving down all the long trafficy strips in LA.  Just listen to that Stones song I posted above right now and tell me you wouldn’t feel like  a total badass cruising down the Sunset strip in your sexy Ford Fiesta.

That night was the opening reception at La Luz, so I slapped on my finest drag and we all headed out to a French restaurant beforehand for dinner.  This is where A) I stood inches from Erin of The Office after mistaking her for my friend and almost telling her about how we’d be waiting 20 minutes before getting a table, and B) Jim and I ate some raw oysters that I’m pretty sure changed everything.  More on that later.

We mangered and then walked over to the Gallery.  Here are some photos from the opening I borrowed from Lee Joesph’s flickr page which is pretty amazing so go check it out.

Those are my hats, standing at attention waiting for Dita Von Teese to come buy them all.  Or Kat Von D.  Or anyone, actually.  These ladies are too beautiful to not have a home.

This was probably the highlight of my evening: meeting these two.  Sarina Brewer I’ve admired from afar since I first realised other people were doing what I was doing, which is toiling away behind locked doors doing unconventional things with dead animals.  I am a total fangirl; she was basically the trailblazer for chicks doing cool taxidermy.  Plus she’s as kind and delightful as one could imagine.  In the center is Vega, who was also showing some pieces that night.  She’s super kind and very present in a way that can only be described as West Cost.  They are a different breed of human out there; I often muse about it when I visit and wonder if it all can really be chalked up to differing climes. When I find myself face to face with a West Coast breed, I used wish I could just relax a little, and chill.  Like them.  It’s an admirable way of life and a wonderful energy to have.  I am however, a Philly girl.  Born and bred and full of defenses.  It’s taken me 34 years to accept it but I wouldn’t have me any other way.

After the gallery closed a few of us went to the bar across the street for a nightcap.  When we got back to my friend’s house to call it a night, I felt sore and achy.  And freezing cold.  I dismissed it and went to sleep, only to wake up sore all over and still chilly.  Jim was sore as well, plus we both felt like we had the hangover of the century.  This was strange, considering I only had three or four drinks over the course of five hours.  Soon came the stomach cramps but we decided to ignore it and head out for some early morning adventures, like coffee and yardsaling in Silverlake.  I scored a pink Christian Dior turban for $2 and Jim got himself a nice Pyrex bowl for $1.  Not too shabby.  Later on we hit up the MOCA to catch the exhibition curated by Mike Diamond of the Beasties before it came down that night.  We both still felt seriously hung over but kept it up-this was our vacation dangit!  We drove to Malibu and laid on the beach for a few hours which was about all I could do at that point.  Like idiots, we drank more alcohol (hair of the dog?) and felt no better.  We both passed out at 7pm and that was the end of it.  Enter stomach issues too grotestue to describe, made worse by the fact that we were guests in someone’s house with only one bathroom.  Needless to say, the flight home on Sunday was almost unbearable.

We were pretty much laid up for that whole week, unable to keep any food in our stomachs long enough to actually digest, until we finally saw a doctor on Friday who put us on antibiotics.  A bacterial infection from the oysters seemed to be the popular theory, but I can’t help but wonder if it was the universe punishing me for casting aside the moral high ground I’d declared just a few weeks ago in regard to not eating meat unless I am familiar with its source.  Message received, universe.

Food borne illness aside, it was a great trip and LA is a wonderful town.  I look forward to going back.  Jim took some great shots of the beach and other stuff:

check out his recap here: SNAP BAM SPLAT

Up next: My new studio!!!!!!

2012 Biennial Rogue Taxidermy Exhibition: Truly Outrageous

I’m almost done packing my bags and headed off to bed to get some beauty sleep before I hop on a sexy new Virgin America airplane for a direct flight to LA. 

I’m almost as excited for the flight as I am for the purpose of my entire trip, which is this:

I’m over the moon to be showing with some folks I’ve been admiring from afar for quite some time now.  It’s truly an honor to be in their company.  I still have pangs of self-doubt here and there as I prepare for this trip, wondering how my pieces will measure up in person when displayed next to everyone else’s.

And yes, I know it’s not a competition and I know those aren’t pretty feelings but it’s me giving you the truth.  I also know that everything I fret about always turns out fine in the end so I’ll cross my fingers, kiss my elbow, and enjoy my mini vacation.

Speaking of crossing fingers, you may recognise that gal above from such things as your childhood, saturday mornings, or recent forays into tv nostalgia.  It’s Jetta, from the Misfits.  My three submissions in the show are hats of course, all made from chickens sourced at my dear friends’ farm.  As the pieces came together and I listened to MIA’s “Bad Girls” song on repeat (I cannot stress enough how much of an inspiration this video has been on every single facet of my life) , these identities started rearing their naughty heads.

Jetta is composed of a Brahma Hen mounted atop a vintage pillbox cap.

Sparkly embellishments abound, of course.

I’ll bet you remember most clearly Pizzazz, the leader of the Misfits.  Man, what a bitch.

This Polish rooster was just dripping with attitude  (wait until you see the spurs on this cock) and came to be Pizzazz quite naturally.

I see you!

This guy is also perched atop a vintage hat, this one an old mink pillbox.

Last and never least is Roxanne. Did you know she was from Philly?  Of course she was.  And I’ll bet she walked around with a razor blade stashed in her mouth, Goretti girl style.

Roxy is a Buff Orpington Hen with a bad-ass beak piercing, nestled firmly into another vintage pillbox hat.  I should mention that the brass sculptural elements are from a remarkable lamp I trash-picked one Sunday morning- a time which I never would have been out and about except for walking what was at the time a brand new puppy.  So thank you, Jonesy, for that.

So that’s that. In keeping with my theme I’ve whipped up a poultry themed ensemble which I will be tweeting and facebooking and blogging all about so stay tuned should you be so inclined.

Along with the show opening, I’m pretty pumped to catch some good comedy in LA (I’m a stand-up hound, did you know that?) and perusing some estate sales.   Or napping in a hammock and eating some stellar sushi.  For now, toodleooooooo!

Hats Off!

 

This past Sunday brought sheets of rain,  thunderstorms and my lovely friend Pearl to Diamond Tooth Studios for a shoot.  Ms. Bell is more than just a pretty face, she’s also a lifestyle and home enthusiast.  She can wave her magic wand over any home, wardrobe, or human and said item will emerge sparkling and wonderful.  Please check out her blog, 7pm.

Together with the talented and professional services of Diamond Tooth on-sote photographer, Jim Coughlin, we had a few flashy packed hours together.  He like to shoot, paint, spray, stencil, and make music.  Please check out all the wonderful things he does on Snap, Bam Splat!

 

I’ve been busy working with the materials from that load of vintage hats I received a few weeks back, mixing and matching the elements from each piece with other pieces from my studio alongside certain taxidermy ingredients that revealed themselves as an ideal match.  This Gothic Bridal Fascinator started out as a black cage veil with white fabric roses.  I dyed the roses a fade-into black and added two mounted wings from a fancy chicken.

 

 

I kept the original velvet ribbon and added some black fur.

Here is another bridal fascinator; none of these bridal pieces are white  as they are geared towards a less conventional woman who is looking for something unlike what she can find in traditional bridal boutiques. This results in a versatile piece that could be worn by the maid of honor or even the mother of the bride..or for an event that isn’t even a wedding!

I used the blue veiling from an antique wide-brimmed blue hat (shown later in its reincarnate form down below) and attached it, with the wings of a fancy chicken, to a wire fascinator base.  The feathers are hand curled to compliment the wearer’s hair.

 

This is my Blue Poof Quail Fascinator.  This quail has been worn in several ways, before I found the perfect base for it which is the vintage blue ostrich feather one you see below.  I switched the original blue veil out with an off white, Swiss-dot one from another vintage piece and added a strand of sea pearls around the quail to bring out the creaminess.  I think this piece would be perfect for a Winter wedding….or even Spring!

 

 

Behold the wide-brimmed blue hat I mentioned earlier.  It’s a strong, beautiful piece of millinery that stands  on its own without a ton of bells and whistles so I simply added the mounted and embellished cape of a chicken, some pheasant feathers and a few pieces of antique hand-tatted lace, all meant to compliment the shape and motion of this piece.

 

 

Hair Doin’!

Next up is the duck wing fascinator which Pearl has worn before.  I very much enjoy manipulating crinoline/horsehair, and look forward to making more of these.

 

It’s light and easy to wear, ideal for the individual who wants to express some fashion sense but isn’t willing to compromise her comfort level.

 

Here is another bridal piece, this one crafted with the base of a vintage fasctinator which originally was a simple green bow.  I took the fabric off, rearranged it and added a green cage veil from another antique pice.  Then came the mounted wings of a chicken and vintage charm in center.

The two wings are firmly pressed together in a way that makes the feathers pop out on the opposite side, not unlike what your fingers do when you clasp you hands.

 

Hold on!

OK, perfect.  This is my beloved montera hat, embellished with a mounted chicken head  that has been encrusted with jewels. This hat generates a very healthy dose of attention and makes for an excellent conversation piece. Ole!

It also opens up some fun opportunities for various hair-dos.  I like twisted locks around and under it, but a side pony tail or a combed out fro would also work just as well.

The last piece of the shoot was another fascinator Pearl had worn before, crafted from an antique base with a delicate off white veil.  I added the wings from a chicken which had been source mid-molt, so the spiny veins of the feathers are exposed.  This made them ideal for stringing beautiful beads on; I got these marble and pearl beads from two vintage necklaces.  I also hand curled some of the feathers.

 

 

Not to be outdone, our house model demonstrated his ability to work a chapeau.

 

And that’s a wrap!  For more info and pricing, please visit my website, Diamond Tooth Taxidermy, or my Etsy shop.

 

 

I Always Dress for Success

And that’s what last Sunday’s polo match was all about.  Us spectators were treated to a  beautifully played match (although I spent a good portion of it mingling in the VIP tent tasting amazing food and drinking Magners and champagne I really have to curb my socializing but it’s so hard with all the great people to chat with!) and we were cheering for a cause: Dress for Success.  Hit that link and familiarise yourself if you haven’t already.  It’s ok, I’ll wait.

OK, that’s hacky.  Sorry.  Anyway, it was action packed, and while Susan Scovill has all the great pictures of the people (including me serving champagne for the halftime divot stomp!), she is unfortunately (for us) on vacation so I cannot borrow her images.  In the meantime, I have a few fun shots of my own as well as some borrowed ones from Amy Dragoo and Milicia Stojancic.

The beautifully captured photos of the horse-action is all Amy.  I think I am her biggest fan.  I truly adore her work.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s a quickly blossoming chicken master, either.

There was a hat contest advertised, and yours truly was slated to be judge.  The wheels sort of fell off that bus early in the day however, which is unfortunate because there were some pretty hats.  I chose my three favorites, anyway, and below is Cecilia (a rep for Dress for Success, coincidentally, although I didn’t know if when I chose her!) who I deemed “Most Classic Hat”.

Look at that priceless reaction; clearly it’s in response to one of the flawless coast to coast hits during the match.  She can’t believe her own eyes!

“Most Creative Hat” would’ve gone to my new pal Milicia Strojancic.  She crafts these lovely fascinators with botanical themes.

Pretty ladies! That’s Milicia’s friend Christine with us; she had a sweet little bird on the back of her head but we thought it would be polite to take a picture of her front)

There were some pretty ladies on the field, too:

Duke & Winston set up shop outside the VIP area; Pearl and I had the extreme pleasure of tending to this charming little guy while his human did all the grunt work of setting up the merch:

(I borrowed this picture from their website…again, Susan has all the good pics.  Susan, come home SOON!)  I also picked up a shirt for my mister; the tees are made from a really high quality cotton and I could touch them for hours.  Oh, and there’s some pretty cool screen printed images on them too.

The winners!

The only time its acceptable to wear filthy white pants.  Well played, gentlemen.

I had seen another hat which I deemed “Best Vintage” but the wearer disappeared before I had a chance to get a photograph.  It was a beautiful white cloche-type chapeau with a large white multi-pleated ribbon hugging the back of it.  I did manage to catch a shot of this lovely gal, who I made a category up for:  “Best Dressed”:

She has a polo match on her dress!  I love it.  She’d also been dancing, as we all had.  Nobody’s shoes lasted too long after the music started.

Here’s myself and polo pal Pearl.  We got pretty silly, like we always do, and had plenty of laughs.

And then somebody whipped this stuff out and the rest is kind of fuzzy…..

See you next time!!!