Beyond the Pale

Modern Fairytales: The Whimsical Art of Chiara Santillozzi
September 26, 2012, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Art, Etsy, Fairytales | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ever the head-in-the-clouds romantic, I always fall for modern portrayals of Fairytale or mythological themes, so am quite naturally head-over-heels in love having discovered the work of Dublin based Italian artist, Chiara Santillozzi.


There is something to particularly admire in artists who convey characters while still retaining a modern simplicity, I think. That clean sweep of a brush or bold line can say so much in the right hands.


I especially like her use of mainly black and white with a great swathe of perhaps one vivid colour bringing the picture to life.


She really manages to capture personality, don’t you think? I really love this portrait of Frida Kahlo, proving that she’s equally able to portray people in the real world, as well as fantasy figures. Her work manages to be both gently humorous while poignant and completely conveys the mood of each scene or person within it.


They all look like they could be the illustrations from a lost book of Fairytales, I love them all and would certainly like to have some gracing my home. They truly are stunning, and at under £11 for an A4 print, I think they’re absolute bargains, too!


I definitely think this artist should be snapped up for all sorts of book covers and immediately commissioned to illustrate new additions of Angela Carter’s entire back catalogue, don’t you agree?


Chiara, though born in Italy and living in Dublin, has traversed afar, having also made her home in Venice and Japan. I really think she is very talented indeed, and am sure you’ll agree. You can see the work currently available in her online shop, Makissima.

[NOT a Wedding Dress] Wedding Dress Ideas #2: Floaty silk chiffon maxi dress by Idea 2 Lifestyle

If wafting around in a floaty silk maxi dress, clutching your pearls and pretending you’re in some undiscovered Jane Austen novel or an overblown Gothic melodrama are your sort of thing – and frankly, if they’re not, you’re reading the wrong blog, sweet cheeks – I definitely think this next dress will appeal to you.


Designed and made by Idea 2 Lifestyle, I wanted to show it as part of my [NOT a Wedding Dress] Wedding Dress Ideas series, as it perfectly encapsulates the sort of thing I’m looking for: something that could be easily worn again, has the possibility of being styled in various ways and isn’t too $pendy, for the Bride on a Budget.


The dress is £64.10 in GBP, which I think is an absolute bargain, considering what some people pay for a dress that has that magical money-quadrupling word of “Wedding” attached to it! Idea 2 Lifestyle will also work with you to change the look of the dress slightly (making it longer, shorter, and to your size), which may incur a further cost, but that cost is $10 or so depending on what you want changed, so hardly anything to quibble over.


I love the silver-grey version as an alternative Bridesmaid dress, or even black worn with bright pashminas and flowers woven through their hair – so pretty! I like the loose, unstructured body of the dress, too. I think it would lend itself well to being worn with a really pretty under bust corset over the top of it for that Wench look, or perhaps a simple thin belt worn high on the waist, for more of an Empire line, all the better to woo your Regency gent.


I rather fancy myself in the white version, dancing about in a meadow eating homemade bread and cheese from a nearby farmhouse and proclaiming giddily over bunches of wildflowers while wearing my Marie Antoinette-ish huge straw ‘peasant’ hat… but we all know the reality would be me treading in a cow pat, being chased by by wasps, stung by nettles and noisily attempting to retrieve the blasted hat from the tree into which it’s been blown.


Ah well, a gal can dream… ;)

Perhaps it’s better – after The Big Day – to save it for wafting about in town on hot, sticky days (like today!) or with a roughed-up denim jacket and studded gladiator sandals for that off-duty rockstar look. Just not worn with cowboy boots while canoodling with someone else’s husband, okay? Because friends don’t let friends get mistaken for Sienna Miller.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Gift Ideas for Chaps
September 15, 2011, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Chaps, Etsy, Gaming, Geek, Gift Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Mostly my blog is full of girlie whimsey and fripperies, I know this and I am not apologising for it because it’s my blog and I’ll post whatever I like (mostly whimsey and fripperies).

Very occasionally, though, I force my head from the clouds and cast my thoughts to wondering what the flippin’ hell I can get my delightfully geeky fiance for Christmas/birthday/Valentines/Hallmark Occasion du jour, and I scavenge through Etsy looking for things he might like.

I thought I should make a Treasury out of some of the things I found (most of which I want myself, so maybe I am purely selfish), and wanted to share it with you.

If you click on the word ‘treasury’, above, you can be whisked to the page it lives on and from there can click on pictures to be taken to get a closer look. Have fun exploring the rest of the items in the shops I’ve featured, too!

I usually type out the name of each item & shop and add links by hand, but today is just a quickie, m’dears, as I am Otherwise Occupied. Enjoy!


Wild Embroidery
July 10, 2011, 1:33 pm
Filed under: Embroidery, Etsy, Jewellery | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In a lazy Sunday morning browse, I came across a recently opened shop called Wild Embroidery, based in London and run by a very talented lady called Lu, who embroiders beautiful designs onto pendants, making them wearable little pieces of art.

Wild Flower Hand-embroidered necklace by Wild Embroidery: £15

There is something very pleasing about their simplicity, and also for the fact you are wearing a little picture that someone has hand stitched, I think.

Fern embroidered necklace by Wild Embroidery: £18

Pretty but not at all twee, the embroidered pieces are made to order and presented in chunky vintage-toned bronze frames and fob-like chains.

Daisy embroidered necklace by Wild Embroidery: £12

I must admit to hankering after the daisy…I love daisies – and they happen to relate strongly to one of my favourite books ever: The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea. Oh! And the dandelion one, too. Daisies and dandelions represent two of the characters, and it calms me to see them. You can only really understand this if you have read the book. Sorry. ;)

Dandelion embroidered necklace by Wild Embroidery: £16

Of course I also have a special liking for the Nightingale necklace, too (for obvious reasons). :)

“the nightingale is in love with the plum blossoms
she sings for them every night.
she can only peck once in a while, but never touch…
such is her punishment.”

Nightingale & plum blossom embroidered necklace: £16

Until next time, my lovelies,

Miss Nightingale



Being an eclectic magpie by nature, one of the features I most like about Etsy‘s website is the ‘Add to Favourites‘ heart button. It basically serves as an “OOOOH! SHINY THING!” bookmark. Once you’ve registered, you can set about quickly building up a list of stuff you , with time to go back later and peruse at your leisure.

Recently, I took the [protoype] Taste Test and found a whole new batch of tasty morsels to smack my lips over.  I found the most successful way (after taking it a few times) was to keep hitting the option to “show different items” until I found something I loved, rather than just liked. It’s not fail safe, but I think it’s a fun way to browse and was really impressed with the choices it threw at me. I made a Treasury (curated selection) of some of my absolute favourites, and shall explain what drew me to them, below…

You Are My Favorite mini print in red, by Fifi du Vie: $9.00 (£5.77)

I often tell DT (the fiance) that he’s my favourite. And you know what? He really is. I think this would splendid over his desk, and would be something for him to look at, smile and feel grateful for every day. By the way, Fifi du Vie‘s shop has loads of great prints. I especially like the “Darling, let’s be adventurers” one.

Dalia jacket by Laura Galic: $120 (£89.71)

Just exquisite tailoring, very feminine shape but with a nod to masculine style – I was obviously going to love the Victorian inspired shape, but I also really like how they’ve styled it here. I posted a comment on Twitter that I wanted one of everything in Laura Galic‘s shop – and I do! Totally my cup of tea.

Ampersand Wedding Decor by Old New Again: $32 (£20.50)

Not only would this be cute at as a top table wedding decoration (in between the bride & groom) but this wooden ampersand could be put anywhere in the house for that shabby-chic style statement ‘not trying too hard’ look. On a shelf, in a window, hanging from a plate rack – I really like having letters/typography characters around. They have a certain geeky charm.

Juliet shoes by Palmy: $74 (£48.06)

These Juliet shoes by Palmy are sturdy but sexy. I love the retro look to them – quite 1940’s-ish I think – and the fact that they look comfortable. This is the major factor for me buying shoes these days, I’m afraid, dear hearts. Having been in retail for the last 15 years, and spent more hours than I can count on my feet, the ol’ tootsies aren’t at their best. Most of the styles at Palmy are made with heel and arch supports. Magic words to those of us who stand all day, I tells ya! Palmy is a talented graduate of the Footwear Diploma of London College of Fashion course, and I have added lots of their items to my favourites!

Hand Stitched Shawl by Crochetelle: $135 (£86.16)

This hand-stitched shawl is something of an heirloom for the future, though I would certainly wear it over a maxi dress or just slung over jeans and a camisole to add some instant elegance. Crochetelle learned to crochet when she was a little girl, then picked up the hobby again.

“I recently was living in a very stressful, dirty city and felt the need to create something beautiful and I picked up crocheting again. Basically, it’s like learning to ride a bike – you never forget it! And after searching around on the internet and seeing all the beautiful, modern patterns that are available now I plunged right into it again and have been going non-stop.”

The shop really has some really beautiful designs and Crochetelle also welcomes custom orders.

Vanitas print by Kate O'Brien Creative: $75 (£47.87)

Look closely at the above picture. It’s obviously inspired by Old Master’s still lives, but if you can believe it, it’s actually not a painting at all – it’s a photograph! I love everything about this photo – the lighting and the layout of the props just perfectly capture the mood of those old paintings. Kate O’Brien explains how the picture came to be:

“I got to thinking about the works of the Dutch masters and the kinds of fruit they used in their paintings. I live in a tropical climate, but for obvious reasons, they weren’t painting a whole lot of Mangoes and pineapples back in the middle ages. So I set off to my local fruit and veg store in search of some more “classical” choices. This image is the result of that trip!”

Kate is a professional photographer and stylist from Australia, and looking through the rest of her shop, I’m really impressed by Kate’s work, the way she uses colours and plays with historical imagery. Definitely a new favourite!

Waiting for You Necklace by Garden of Sypria: $24 (£15.32)

There’s something quite plaintive about the little bird waiting on a wire – you can put any picture you like in this circular glass locket, but I’d be quite tempted just to keep this one in it, it’s very sweet but sort of heartbreaking. There, that shatters my ice-queen image once and for all. Not that I had an ice queen image – I can be turned into a blubbering wreck at the drop of a hat and am really quite awfully sentimental. Hard to believe, I know.

Anyway, yes, this necklace by Garden of Sypria is very much my sort of thing and I like the battered looking silver frame, it looks like it has survived a few things. Maybe the bird has, too.

Heading Home print by Philippe Fernandez, philippesarts: $18 (£11.49)

I was immediately drawn to the style of Philippe Fernandez‘ work, it has that fairytale quality of being darkly foreboding yet simultaneously comforting – a soft-edged air that is often found in children’s story books, as, indeed, this picture shall be.

I painted this painting for a very special children’s book that I plan to be published late this year. This specific painting is when Ponteia found her dear Mr. Kats very weak. Ponteia knew something was wrong. “My goodness!” she exclaimed. Ponteia was outraged that anyone might of hurt him. “Who did this to you, dear Mr. Katz?” With great care she scooped the cat up. Very gently, she raced home with him snuggled softly in her arms.

Wicked Witch Bookmark by Ianscafe: $5.75 (£3.67)

This is one of those really simple ideas, beautifully executed, and it works so well. What an absolutely perfect little gift for a fan of the Oz or Wicked books, too. Your book becomes Dorothy’s house, and those iconic black & white striped legs and ruby shoes stick out helplessly, beneath. “Things just haven’t been the same since that HOUSE fell on my SISTER!”

Hyphae Ring 3D-printed nylon, by Nervous System: $28 (£17.87)

3d-printing is one of those jaw-dropping we’re-living-in-the-future technologies, don’t you think? I love that artists and designers are exploring the use of this technology beyond that of engineering, for which it was originally designed.

Nervous System is a design studio that works at the intersection of science, art, and technology. We create using a novel process that employs computer simulation to generate designs and digital fabrication to realize products. Drawing inspiration from natural phenomena, we write computer programs mimicking processes and patterns found in nature and use those programs to create unique and affordable art, jewelry, and housewares.

The studio consists of Jesse Louis-Rosenberg and Jessica Rosenkrantz who met as undergraduates at MIT where he studied math + computer science and she studied architecture + biology. They live together in a house by a stream in a forest in Western Massachusetts.

These pieces of jewelery by Nervous System are at once strikingly modern and very organic in design – like pieces of coral or the model of a cardiovascular system. The story of how the designers met and what they studied totally makes sense when you see these wearable pieces of art. It’s the symbiotic relationship of nature and modern technology. Gorgeous, I love them all. P.S: I’d just like to add how very well done their photography is, and how beautiful the model is! I want to look like her. :(

Losing My Way skirt by The Simpson: $48 (£30.63)

There are so many designs of clothes I would like to own in this shop – they look so cool and comfortable, and all of them look to be partly inspired by historical designs, which I like very much, as you can imagine. These are simple, clean-cut pieces to wear and love every day, and this red maxi skirt is particularly appealing. I’d wear it just with a little silk chemise top and beaded sandals for the summer, and with Victorian style boots and velvet jacket in the winter. Something which is both very ‘now’ and yet trans-seasonal.

Vintage Eagle Industrial Lamp at Earth Sea Warrior: $120 (£76.58)

Now you might find this odd, but I am very drawn to rusty things. Slightly decayed looking salvaged items that look as though they have been pulled from a ship wreck. When these items are placed in the context of a modern setting, together with the comfort and clutter of everyday objects around them, they take on a certain beauty – like museum pieces placed on a breakfast table, but in reverse, if that makes sense? Their ugliness is made beautiful by the oddity of their surroundings. That applies to two pieces in my selection of new favourites – the industrial lamp (above), which I love because it looks like something from Bioshock; and the old wooden/metal drawer, below.

Vintage Wooden Metal Drawer at Glass Panic: $28 (£17.87)

This drawer is pleasing both for its battered exterior with mysterious wording “half surface” stenciled on the front, and the fact that it can still be jolly useful. I see this in a kitchen, enjoying its later years in the comfort of a home, used to store balls of twine, kitchen scissors, favourite cookery books or pots of fragrant herbs.

Ember necklace by Therapy: $55 (£35.10)

Now, this little necklace probably isn’t going to cut the mustard as a perfect bridemaid’s gift (depending on your choice of bridesmaid, of course) or something to hang on the Christmas tree for your future Mother in Law; but I happen to adore these pieces made from reproductions of old brothel tokens that would have been given to their best customers. Certainly a talking point at dinner parties, I think we can agree. :)

Vintage Printers Blocks at Salvage Nation: $87.50 (£55.84)

Again, my liking for these old printers blocks stems from my love of typography and to be surrounded by words and letters – appreciating them as works of art in and of themselves, not just the means to an end. These would definitely have pride of place on the mantelpiece, or on a shelf along with my favourite books.

Art Deco Inspired necklace by C Henry: $130 (£82.97)

This necklace by Caroline Henry is just breathtakingly beautiful – I gasped when I saw it as a suggestion in the results of my Taste Test – it’s just so perfectly balanced, simple, elegant yet with a real dramatic presence. I would certainly wear this on my wedding day – it is very Deco in design, but timeless, too. Totally lust-worthy, as are so many of the pieces in this talented designer’s shop.

Well, I do hope you have enjoyed this amble through my latest favourites – perhaps in exploring their shops, you may find some to add to yours, too…

If you want to see all the items grouped together in my Treasury selection for Etsy, please click on the pictures below to be whisked to that page.

Until next time, dearies,

Miss Nightingale


Giveaway: WIN your very own handmade designer Le Muse top!
June 20, 2011, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Competions, Etsy, Fashion | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I am very excited to tell you that up-and-coming European design label Le Muse (about whom I waxed lyrical in my previous post) are very generously GIVING AWAY one of their fabulous Asymmetric Tops – in any colour/size available that you choose – to one of my lucky readers!

Black Asymmetric Le Muse top

This competition is open to all readers, worldwide and now closes at 19:00 GMT, MONDAY 4th July. Continue reading for how to enter…

I happen to know first-hand how wonderfully comfortable and stylish these tops are, having purchased one for myself last month, having lusted after various Le Muse designs for simply ages and finally taking the plunge. I’m so glad I did – it’s one of the most practical yet unusual and completely cosy items I own.

Black Asymmetric Le Muse top

I plumped for black – ‘coz, y’know, it goes with everything but I would probably choose the Violet Muse next, as it’s such a gorgeous, deep colour. The catwalks were filled with deep reds, burgundy, purples and violets – all the rich berry hues (which I adore). Mouthwatering.

Violet Asymmetric Le Muse top

Each Le Muse piece is individually handmade by the designers, and can be altered to your exact specifications or you can choose from a range of standard sizes. This means they take a little while to arrive to you, but are absolutely worth every minute of waiting!

Violet Asymmetric Le Muse top

To enter this competition, I’d really appreciate it if you posted a link to this page on Facebook or Twitter, with the phrase: “WIN your very own handmade designer @LeMuseTweets top!” and simply say something (that can be anything from a description of your favourite Le Muse piece; how you’d wear the Asymmetric Le Muse top if you won it, or just saying “Hello, I’m [your name]!”), below, in the comments box, so I can put your name in the hat (so to speak).

Le Muse Official Website

The winner will be drawn at random & announced on here, Facebook & Twitter. Closes at 19:00 GMT on MONDAY 27th of JUNE. Good luck! And remember, even if you’re not lucky enough to win, it would be well worth your while to browse through their whole range – I think it’s a gorgeous collection and very good value for money, too, for handmade designer pieces!

Le Muse

Supreme comfort is, I think you will agree, very rarely combined with sublime sexiness; and yet that is exactly where fashion label Le Muse completely excel. I have lusted after several of their pieces since discovering them on Etsy, and finally plumped for the Asymmetric top as my first purchase.

Black asymmetic top by Le Muse: $65 (approximately £40.61)

I never thought I will start creating clothes for others, even though I made clothes for myself for ages. I guess I was influenced by my grandmother, who was designing and making clothes all of her life. And now I have started too. It all started with the fabric… I bought a wonderful cloth. It was so cozy and beautiful, that I didn’t need to do much with it. I started to drape it in different ways and I’ve noticed that it falls in wonderful waves. Every time I moved, it changed and curved adapting to the lines of my steps and gestures. I kept on wondering how could I catch those curves and flux of the fabric… Well, I believe I did it. And that’s how LeMuse was born. ~ Lina, Le Muse.

You can see the shaping a little better in the violet version of the asymmetric top.

Oh, my top is just fantastic – a heavy, fluid jersey that just drapes beautifully and everything cut & stitched to perfection. With Le Muse, simplicity is the key feature, along with fabrics which drape without clinging. You can wear it ruched-up as a top (and off one-shoulder or draped at the front), or pulled down to its longest length, it could certainly be worn as a short dress or as a tunic with leggings.

Black asymmetric Le Muse top

Hailing from Vilnius – the capital of Lithuania – Sophia & Lina are the talented duo behind Le Muse, and in my package I received a rather unique postcard: a handwritten message on the back of a large, foil-wrapped packet of flavoured loose tea, urging me to “…always feel the most beautiful & unique muse in the world!” which I think is utterly charming. :)

Forest Muse dress: $75 (approximately £46.86)

I tried it on as soon as it arrived, and only wish I had ordered from them months ago! Now, of course, I am making up for lost time by compiling a list of Things I Want To Order Next. Top of that list is, currently, the Forest Muse dress. I should also take a moment to mention the wonderful photography of some of Le Muse’s clothes – they just look so incredibly appealing and effortlessly elegant.

The front of Le Muse's Forest Muse dress

Now, who could possibly not want to run through fields with armfuls of magazines or drape oneself in the grass with a foamy pitcher of fresh milk, having browsed through their styles? I would certainly be throwing myself about with abandon in a meadow, were it not raining and were I not full of a Sunday roast.

Orange Tulip muse dress by Le Muse: $89 (approximately £55.60)

Every time a woman would dress in LeMuse, I would notice how differently it looked. It adapts to individual body and moves with that person in its own unique and beautiful way. ~ Le Muse

Front view of Orange Tulip muse dress

The styles on offer at Le Muse aren’t afraid to show a little flesh – a bare shoulder here, a daringly low-cut back there – but are gently provocative without leaving the wearer feeling naked or uncomfortable in that awful constant re-arranging frenzy that comes upon one if you happen to feel your dress is too short or too tight and so remain clamped to a mirror, pulling at bits of your outfit and constantly re-checking it throughout the day. That way madness lies, as many women will surely agree! Even if you think a lady looks fabulous in a piece, if she isn’t comfortable in it, you can tell immediately, and nothing is more off-putting than someone who obviously feels out of place in whatever they are wearing.

Black Silk muse dress: $125 (approximately £78.09)

This black silk open-back dress is just stunning, I love the fluidity of the silk – it looks like it would be a dream to wear against the skin, too.

Night Blues silk muse dress

This is also available in a deep blue – the colour of the sky at dusk, which is quite lust-worthy in and of itself.

Back view of Black Silk Le Muse dress

I also really like the fact that – as with many Le Muse pieces – from one angle it may look quite ‘proper’ and slightly subdued, but from another it can be quite racy, that sensuous swathe of open space at the deeply cut back. Gorgeous!

Roman statue depicting the Four Seasons

Le Muse use the natural curves of the body to drape their pieces in a manner that puts me in mind of Roman togas or the artfully gathered fabrics used in ancient Greece that, in turn, have influenced designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Rick Owens.

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania 'Priestess' dress

Rick Owens draped dress

When you consider that each item of clothing is individually made for the wearer (there are standard sizes, but Le Muse can also tailor each piece exclusively to your requirements), I think the value for money is excellent. There is a little bit of patience involved, as your item is crafted for you, but they keep you up to date with the process and the waiting is definitely worthwhile!

I really think there’s something for most ages and sizes in Le Muse’s collections, they have a definite and recognisable style to them, but are quite diverse for all that. From tops to dresses, with some coats and jackets in the new range and all manner of coziness to snuggle into, or sensuality to swathe yourself in, you should definitely go and check out their full range.

Cozy Muse sweater: $99 (approximately £61.85)

Go to the Le Muse website to learn more about the label and to view the incredible collections in full, or to their Etsy shop – just click the picture below to be whisked there right now…

Blackadder to KISS, Ab Fab to Clockwork Orange – the Bizarre & Wondrous World of Bo Bo Babushka’s Matryoshka Dolls

There are some sellers on Etsy who deserve their very own post – millions of them, actually, though I sadly don’t have time to even list all my favourites, here! Bo Bo Babushka is one of those sellers, and if the pictures of her wares don’t warm the cockles of your heart, or at the very least make you smile, I think you must likely be dead inside, m’dear.

Blackadder (series II) Matryoshka Dolls by Bo Bo Babushka

Just gaze in wonder upon the brilliance of her Blackadder (series II) set, for example. The facial expressions are a joy, and I love the synchronicity between the various characters and their relative sizes to each other.

KISS Matryoshka Dolls by Bo Bo Babushka

If anyone can look at these KISS Matryoshka dolls and not fall instantly in love, they have a harder heart than I.

Irene is the lady behind Bo Bo Babushka, and uses her amazing painting skills to bring each set of Matryoshka (also known as ‘Russian Dolls’ or ‘Nesting Dolls’) to life. You can read more about her and the inspirations behind the various designs, with sneak-peek behind-the-scenes previews of her wondrous creations by going to the Bo Bo Babushka blog.

Absolutely Fabulous Matryoshka Dolls by Bo Bo Babushka

Here’s a set dedicated to Absolutely Fabulous (another of my favourite TV shows, back in the day). It’s the little details I love – the bottles of Bolli are a scream!

Clockwork Orange Matryoshka Dolls by Bo Bo Babushka

Cult shows and geeky references abound. Surely you must know someone who would simply adore some Clockwork Orange Nesting Dolls on their mantelpiece?

Lady Gaga Matryoshka Dolls by Bo Bo Babushka

Or perhaps music’s more your or (your beloved’s) thing? In which case, those Lady Gaga dolls are just the ticket.

The Young Ones Matryoshka Dolls by Bo Bo Babushka

People of A Certain Age [*ahem* - me] will especially love references to golden oldies such as The Young Ones. How darling that there’s a rat as the diddiest one!

This is definitely a shop to browse through in order to cheer yourself up – and definitely a shop to look at if you’re after a present for your resident geek/fangirl/boy. I want one of every set I’ve seen, so far. :)

Which ones would you choose, for yourself or as a present?

The Crimson Petal and the White: BBC2, Episode 2 (Spoiler Free)

Last week I breathlessly began watching the BBC’s four-part adaptation of Michel Faber’s epic novel, The Crimson Petal and the White.

Vintage Shoe Pin Cushion: $20 from Sweet Love Vintage - There's something eerily beautiful about this pin cushion. I'd love to have it on my dressing table with 'To Do' lists secured to it with hatpins, or just to display brooches.

I had been concerned that, for want of a better expression, they would bugger it up, and wrote in my last post about the unique type of fear that ripples through you when you discover they’re filming a book you’ve really enjoyed. I know not everyone feels the same, but I happen to think they’ve made a pretty good stab at adapting a novel which mainly consists of richly detailed descriptive passages of narrative – surely a difficult task by anyone’s standards.

Let the Light In, photograph: $12 by 3 Lambs Design - This is just stunning, I love the way the photographer has captured the light on the petals of this peony, and the shocking splash of red at the heart of the white petals.

(By the way, if you missed the first episode of The Crimson Petal and the White, catch-up by watching it here)

In the first episode we spend more time at Mrs Castaway’s house of ill repute, learning about the inhabitants and their various vices. We meet Sugar, just as the narrator introduces us to the cast of characters in the novel, and we know just as surely we’re in the wrong side of town.

Burlesque Red Hat: $155 by Order Abandon - People don't wear hats enough these days, do they? I think this is just darling and would make a welcome change to the usual creations one sees at weddings, Ascot and so forth. Great photo, too!

In my previous post, I squealed about how gorgeous the pictures of the costumes and sets were; having watched the first two episodes, I’m here to tell you the pictures don’t do them justice. I could gaze for simply ages at the way the sets have been dressed, that overarching Gothic gloom that shrouds both the worlds of the velvet-clad upper classes and the ghastly wretches in tatters.

Victorian Drawstring Bag: $12 by Giddy Now - This is an original Victorian bag, with the cutest little button bottom. Perfect for the next Gin & Whores event (see earlier posts!) or just as a unique evening bag. I love wondering who owned objects like these; how often they used them, what happened in their lives...

Even the filth and mire of the notorious St. Giles Rookery area of Victorian London is lovingly realised, with the raucous dens of iniquity thrown into sharp relief against the lusciously opulent interiors of the upper echelons of society.

Private Collection Victorian Tile & Pearls Bracelet: $75 by Wickedly Good - This is from the artist's private collection, unique items not previously available to the public. I always enjoy pieces which celebrate beauty and decay, and this bracelet perfectly encapsulates that theme

In the second episode we see the two worlds colliding, the velvet besmirched as the rot sets in. It’s wonderfully vivid stuff and, despite critics’ fears (hopes?) that it would be wall-to-wall rumpy pumpy; it’s really not that filthy, considering the subject matter and how salaciously titillating it could well have been!

Hand Blown Glass Perfume Bottle: $165 by Kiva Ford - There are so many utterly stunning hand blown bottles & glass objects in Kiva Ford's shop that I hardly knew where to begin. This one really caught my eye, though. I think it's those vivd splashes of red against the white background. Sinister and beautiful.

I think Romola Garai makes a wonderful Sugar – I especially liked the way she kept her facial expressions entirely free of emotion – except perhaps of sheer boredom – as she, um, welcomed her clients. So to speak. Until she knew they could see her face again, at which point it lit up like an overly decorated Christmas tree.

Oriana Ruffled Victorian Shrug: $165 by Countessa - Utterly delectable in every way, this shrug/jacket is just the sort off thing I'd like to have in my own wardrobe. Adore the rich colour and just the right amount of ruffles - pretty without being too frou-frou to wear in reality without feeling like the Sugar Plum Fairy.

All of this is nectar to me, as you may imagine, and very inspiring. Even before the first episode, I began building a collection of seedy Victorian items for use in an Etsy Treasury. The layout of that treasury may be seen at the start of this post.

Infatuation Antique Repurposed Tintype Necklace: $36 by Luminoddities - Old photographs are always engaging, aren't they? I wonder who this handsome chap was, if he was in love when this picture was taken, if his heart had been broken, or if he was a disreputable cad. Luminoddities has some wonderfully imaginative pieces, I love their style.

I hadn’t had time to finish that before posting previously, but it’s now been published (linked above), and I thought I’d share its contents with you here.

London Fog Fine Art Photograph: $12 by Keri Bevan - Gorgeously murky colours, here, that sickly yellow and the violet tinging, like a bruised sunset.

Pictures from my treasury are scattered throughout this post, or click the link to go to the full-sized treasury list, and browse from there if you prefer.

Red Curled Feather Hairclip: $13 by Midnight Boudoir - Release your inner harlot and wear red feathers in your up-do, I say. Make sure a few curls are escaping and that you recently rumpled, or it could look too prissy. And we don't want that. This clip is gloriously decadent - don't just save it for weddings!

Anyway, yes. It’s right up my street (or St. Giles alleyway), really, this tickling of the seedy underbelly of Victorian London. A look right up the lacy petticoats at the seething moral dichotomy which Victorian society so loved to wrestle with. Wonderful stuff.

1880's Stranger's Guide to London: $8 from sandp1 - This antique guide looks fascinating, I wonder how many of these places still exist, if any?

If you read my previous post on The Crimson Petal and the White adaptation, you will have seen that some people got all hot under the collar, they felt it was “gaudily over-painted” and full of “Victorian Gothic Melodrama” – as though they’re BAD things. Well, anyone who thinks that would put me off obviously hasn’t cast an eye over the rest of this blog, and we doubtless wouldn’t see eye-to-eye. The gaudier and more melodramatic the better, if you ask me!

Antique Postcard Couple, by Old Tyme Notions: $3.00 - I have a small collection of hand-coloured vintage photographs, they're fabulously romantic and tacky, but in the good way. Yes, there is "good tacky".

I find it rather amusing that sniffy people peering over the tops of their glasses are declaring it rather declassé, and in doing so, have completely and utterly missed the point. The Victorian public adored high Gothic melodrama, and both the book and the television adaptation are tipping the wink to this era in the form of an affectionate pastiche. As for gaudy, well, the Victorians could hardly be called minimalist, and thank the Lord for that.

Antique Velvet Photo Album, by La Petite Abeille Ruche: $21 - Gorgeously faded cover, just waiting to be filled with photos and scraps from your own life. I think an empty photo album is very poignant, somehow. Lonely, forgotten, mysterious. I wonder what images it once held...

Indeed, you could say it’s the decadence and the “pantomime characters” that serve as an attraction for me, in this austere age of dowdy realism and dull, lifeless, clumsy ‘re-imaginings’ of novels. I dare say that if you loathed the novel, you wont enjoy the BBC adaptation – just as if you detest mandarins, you should probably steer clear of mandarin flavoured sorbet. My advice is: Go for the lemon, old bean! Don’t put yourself through hours of torture on anyone’s behalf. I loathe Hollyoaks. I watched it once and hated it, and decided never to watch it again as it wasn’t at all my thing, but I shouldn’t dream of saying it should be banned, or criticising others for liking it.

Red Geranium Petals, dried, by Pleasant Hedges: $6.00 - These would be heavenly scattered over a table as the finishing touch to a decadent dinner party. Or strewn on a bed, as a change from rose petals (yawn), if you like. I have no idea what you lot get up to in your spare time, and prefer to keep it that way. Even the description of these is blowsily romantic: "I grew these flowers in my garden, here on Larkspur Hill, and dried them to be preserved until your special day..." How lovely Larkspur Hill sounds! Let's all don straw hats and eat strawberries whilst running through the fields at Larkspur Hill! It could be an industrial estate for all I know, but it sounds beautiful so I don't care.

I am here to tell you that television producers very rarely have my taste in mind when they make programmes. They practically never consult me before spending millions on their latest project. But neither should they, because I do not consider my taste (or lack of) is more or less important than anyone else’s. If I dislike a programme I may give it another go, or I may choose to switch it off and never let it darken my life again.

Turkish Mocha Victorian Teardrop Soap, by Stockwell Cottage: $2.00 - I'm a huge fan of handmade soaps, particularly those with goat's milk in, as they seem kinder and more moisturising to my skin. I have always hankered after a huge conch shell filled with exotic soaps, but instead make do with a Victorian looking wrought-iron cakestand, on which I place soaps, perfume bottles and other assorted nick-nacks. Again, I should stress that I'm not generally in favour of mimimalism... ;)

One thing I will never do, is apologise for liking gaudy melodrama. Never. I’m really quite awfully proud of it, as you can possibly tell by the merest glance at the rest of my blog! I rather suspect that persons who are troubled by things being too over-the-top and showy will have found their entire (albeit fleeting) visit to my blog to have been jolly upsetting…

Early Victorian Skate Cape, from Petrune: $750 - Now, there are probably very rare occasions when you could wear an early Victorian skate cape (except perhaps in an early Victorian skating party, of which there are shockingly few), but this is so colourful and jolly, in a sort of toothpaste stripe way, that I just had to include it.

Nurse! The smelling salts!

I do hope you make a full recovery, dearhearts. Don’t forget to loosen a few stays, put your head between your knees and breathe deeply into a paper bag.

If all else fails, have some gin!

Until next time,poppets

Yours Gaudily,

Miss Nightingale


Dark Road to Darjeerling by Deanna Raybourn: Reader, I cried…
March 4, 2011, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Authors, Etsy, Victorian, Writers | Tags: , , ,

Last night, Deanna Raybourn made me cry.

I was going to say “not deliberately, of course”, but it was deliberate! Quite purposefully done, indeed. Disgraceful behaviour.

I finally got to finish reading Dark Road to Darjeerling – Raybourn’s fourth book in the Lady Julia series, which, to date, has been the most gripping series of novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I say ‘finally’ finished, as it’s been sitting beside my bed, looking at me in a disappointed manner, for the last few weeks. Tsk.

Vintage Coalport Indian Tree teacup & saucer from Elmstreet Market: $39 One of my favourite things is to cosy up with a cup of tea & a good book. This would be a fabulously extravagent way to enjoy a brew, I love the bold pattern & colours.


Organic Darjeerling Tea by Peacelovetea: $10 I drink both tea and coffee, but forced to pick, it would be tea every time. Tea, chocolate and a good book is my idea of Heaven.

It certainly hasn’t been lack of interest keeping me from reading it – I’ve practically been slavering to get my hands on it since finishing the third one – but I’ve had so much work reading to do (for various articles hither & thither) that I’ve had no time for pleasure-reading. For shame!

Embroidered Indian Slippers at Tati Tati Vintage: $25 Perfect for adding an exotic touch to your breakfasting or lounging-about ensemble, and far more stylish than fluffy bunny slippers, non?


50 Vintage Indian stamps at Precious Owl: $4.00 - The colours of these vintage stamps are amazing, I think they'd look really good grouped together as shown and framed, or for use in a craft project. They range in date from the early 1900's to the middle of the century. Little pieces of history.

For the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve had a trapped nerve in my back, and that has forcibly slowed me down & given me time to catch-up with some old friends.


Vintage Indian Cricket Box from Nonnie60: $18 Maybe I wouldn't keep crickets in it; I'm thinking more along the lines of perfume bottles on a dressing table, or scented soaps in a bathroom. I'm all for re-using beautiful and unusual objects in unexpected ways.


Decorative Peacocks Card by With an Indian Touch: $4.00 This card is designed by Radhika, a Textile Designer from India who's now settled in Canada. I'd be very tempted to frame this instead of giving it to someone!

I don’t want to say too much about Lady Julia Grey, Brisbane, Plum, Portia, Jane and the host of eccentric family members, friends and enemies that dog their every step, other than to say they are some of my favourite people to spend time with (in print). :)

Her Lover Returns, 1871 Illustration from Surrender Dorothy: $16:89 Another quirky illustration I couldn't resist. Don't buy utterly dull generic posters & mass-produced prints - source unusual pieces like this to frame. Love her wistful facial expression. She's waiting for some no-good bounder, I bet. This could only be improved by having her hand to her forehead, I think!

Vintage Anglo-Indian Hair comb from Elronds Emporium: $25 On Bad Hair Days (of which I have many), I'm a big fan of twisting it into a chignon or bun and shoving a pretty clip to hold it. You usually get the most compliments on the least you've done to your hair, don't you find? This comb is simply stunning.

You don’t have to have read the others books in the series to enjoy Dark Road to Darjeerling, but I would say it vastly improves (obviously) your understanding of the nuances between the various relationships, and merely for your own bring-out-the-smelling-salts swoonsome enjoyment of following the romance between Julia and Brisbane. Just go and read them all.

Temple at Dusk by Adix1977: $38 This is an original watercolour painting, signed by the artist, who was born & raised in Bombay. I love the feeling of mystery - wanting to climb over the wall and explore, and the beautiful way she's captured the light.

Whiting & Davis Mesh Snake Bracelet from Collectible Oddities: $47 I hate snakes, but have always loved snake jewellery - especially bracelets. Go figure, as our American chums would likely say. I can see this one worn high-up on the arm, with a floaty maxi dress. Adorable.

Dark Road to Darjeerling was certainly worth waiting for. All the elements were there – murder, mystery, murky family secrets, all in a wonderfully realised exotic location and laced with Raybourn’s eye for detail and that great balance of darkness and light I love so much.

Set of 100 Peacock Place Cards by Timeless Paper: $100 These are so pretty and unusual - great for a theme based around peacock feathers.

Peacock Print by Berkley Illustrations: $18 Another peacock-themed item - I just love Berkley Illustrations, they're full of so much character. This chap looks so dignified.

Some writers really struggle with one voice or the other, Funny v Serious, but Deanna Raybourn seems to glide effortlessly from one to the other, with great fistfuls of breathtaking plot along the way.

Oh, okay. About the crying, then.

Darjeerling Tea Silhouette by Barking Mad Arts: $15 This wonderfully eccentric silhouette really puts me in mind of a particular character, and I just love it. Would definitely give this wall-space!

Antique Crocodile French Doctor's Bag from Sally Luv Rose: $75 - I know it isn't as practical as modern luggage, but vintage pieces like this are so romantic looking. I wonder where this bag has travelled to and what it has seen?

Again, I cannot go into details for fear of spoiling the dénouement, but there is a particular scene in which Something Happens, and a short speech one of the leading characters gives in order to help another leading character deal with the aftermath [please forgive such convoluted ways of avoiding spoilering!] - and it was at this point I cried. The whole scene was handled with such overwhelming tenderness it just broke my heart.

Victorian Lady Photographs from Precious Playtime: $13 There's something that always fascinates me about old photos - wondering who they are, what happened to them, what they were thinking when the photograph was taken...

Mini Indian Spice Kit by Purpose Design: $12 A great gift for someone who loves cooking, perhaps to give alongside an Indian cookbook. My favourite flavours, hands down.

After reading the third in the series – Silent on the Moor – I was inspired to write a post in which I breathlessly exclaimed how much I loved the novel; and went on to specially create an Etsy Treasury based on it (a themed selection of items currently available from sellers on the shopping site, Etsy).

I really enjoyed putting that collection together, and thought I’d like to do the same for Dark Road to Darjeerling. So I did. If you click on that link, it will whisk you to the full-sized Treasury, which is a bit easier to browse through at your leisure.

Hope you enjoy my selection of goodies, which are scattered throughout this post, as you may have seen, and which are presented as the full Treasury, below. Do have a good ol’ rummage through the rest of the items the shops have to offer- I was quite spoiled for choice! :)


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