Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation

Happy… almost not summer anymore.  I’ve been plugging away at various projects, but really, all I’m here for today is to show off photos from my summer vacation.

Every year since… 1989?  1990? My family has made the trek three plus hours north of Detroit to our family cottage in Oscoda.  The house belonged to my uncle, but he eventually gave it to my parents when I was in high school.  It sits in the middle of the Huron national forest.  We think the cabins out there were railroad cabins from the 20’s.  Someone else suggested they might have been part of a Greyhound bus waystation in the 40’s.  Either way, our house started life as a one-room cabin built on a foundation of sand and, almost a hundred years later, is still sitting there, slowly sinking.

I take one week vacation, over the fourth of July weekend, and go back to Michigan to spend a week in the woods.  I spend more time at the cabin than I do my childhood home.  But, I guess in a lot of ways, it is my childhood home.  It’s certainly where my heart lives.

(Cameo by my dad)

 

The thing about northeastern Michigan is that it’s nothing like northwestern Michigan.  Northwestern Michigan has Traverse City and huge houses and hipster bars and tons of money.  Northeastern Michigan has aging hippies and tumbledown shacks and a town that still looks like it’s waiting on the return of the lumber industry.  I like it that way.  (We did get a hipster bar this year, and they have KILLER chicken and waffles.  But it’s kind of an albatross.)

The other thing about northeastern Michigan is that it’s the only place I still take photos.  I’ve been a photographer for a while and, while I still shoot Vaudezilla’s student showcases, the only place and the only subject matter that really gets me going is the north woods.  It’s where I shot my first pictures on my first ever camera. (I shoot the same photo every year, it’s this one:)

It’s where I went, driving halfway across the state and back in one day, when I needed photos for my college art classes.  It is a place that I wish could exist eternally as it is in my memory, and I make sure to preserve it as best I can.

Most of these photos are either from Iargo Springs or Sturgeon Point lighthouse in Harrisville, MI.  The hats and antiques are from Penny Lane antiques in Tawas City.  Penny let us in as she was closing up shop on Sunday afternoon.  I was wearing the little velvet dress from the 20’s that I bought last year, and my brown crocodile Florsheims.  We were enthralled by each other.  She invited us out to her house to dig through her vintage collection, but I had to decline, which is something I regret somewhat deeply.

Hat and high chair

Fur House label

green glass bottles

Zenith radio dial

 

Oh, and I was going to keep this a secret until I got photos, but I also obtained a pristine Lilli Ann jacket from the 40’s.  For $40.  (She did not come from Penny Lane.  I’m not giving up the source of this one, sorry not sorry.)  I promise I’ll take photos soon.

The Last Cold Day of Spring

The Last Cold Day of Spring

no mink this time

2018 has been a banner year for me.  In 2017, I made $12,337.  (Yes, that’s an exact figure.)  In 2018, so far, I’ve made $9,264.  It’s May.  In my terms, I’m doing really, really well.  I could tell you what the contributing factors to that are, but that’s probably a different post.

The point is, I’ve been making a ton of money, as far as my life goes, but I’ve also been working like an absolute crazy person.  So I thought I’d get myself a little present to be nice to myself after all the prodding and late nights and hot glue burns.  So I bought this dress from Dethrose Vintage on Etsy.

full-length view of the dress

The irony here is that Dethrose Vintage is based here in Chicago, and I probably could have sent her a message going “Hey, so I live in your city, and I really love this dress, can I just, you know, meet you somewhere and pick it up and save myself $10 in shipping?”  But I’m heady with the promise of a full bank account and… also kind of an introvert, so I didn’t do that.  I plunked down $10 shipping for her to put it in an envelope and mail it… probably next door.

The dress is a 50’s wool dress, tag reads “Gracette”.  She’s got a little green overall pattern, not dissimilar to atomic fleck (but not actually atomic fleck).  She’s in pretty good condition, with a tiny hole/snag/place where the threads have just pulled away from each other a little bit, near the side zip at the waistline.  She makes my boobs look fantastic.  My boobs make her look fantastic.  I’m living out my Arlene Francis-casually-flirting-with-Bennett-Cerf fantasies.  (…forget I said that.)

another full length view of the dress

When she appeared on my doorstep, it was approximately .05 seconds from the time when the temperatures suddenly decided “oh, it’s summer” and somehow after 6 months of 30-degree temperatures, Chicago was a balmy 85 degrees.  But on Friday, the mercury plunged below 60 and I literally yelled “Now’s my chance!   If I don’t wear it now, it’ll sit in my closet til September!”

Photos taken by my never-patient-enough-with-a-camera partner, Monterrey Jacques.

Raven Gemini and Monterrey Jacques, together again for the first time.

Shoes are 1950’s Florsheims (bought specifically because Florsheim manufactured shoes in Chicago) from Racked Vintage on Etsy.  The vintage mink stole was a gift from my mother.  The hat was a gift from Red Hot Annie, and is ambiguously vintage 1950’s also.  The setting is the courtyard of my apartment building, which was built in the 20’s, and you can see the cute little Orientalist-inspired pavilion at the head of the courtyard.  (It’s maybe my favorite part of the building)

I look pensive, but I just wanted to show off the hat look at that courtyard Raven Gemini in vintage mink

HAAAAATS (AKA: Sometimes I care about people who are not me)

HAAAAATS (AKA: Sometimes I care about people who are not me)

I look like the guy from Caps for Sale

We can probably all agree that my schtick is that I really don’t give a damn about anyone else.  I’m an only child, an alternative-genre artist, self-employed and simultaneously self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating.  It’s an easy schtick to have.

It’s also kind of a lie.

I tend to keep my own emotions and feelings about people and situations very close to my chest.  Partially, probably, to keep my poor, battered, chronically mentally-ill soul from being injured any further.  Partially because I really feel that it’s nobody’s damn business how I feel about anything.  But occasionally something will sneak through that minefield and burrow its way into my cold, dead, jaded millennial heart.

I have a friend named Audry.  Audry is a sculptor, and I’ve modeled for her classes and open sculpting sessions a few times over the years.  She was the first teacher at the Palette and Chisel to hire me in 2015, and I came back and started working for her again this past January.

When I traipsed into the studio on one of these occasions, I was wearing the brown corduroy hat I made a few years ago.  (Simplicity 9644)  She told me she really liked it, and was pretty excited when I mentioned I made it.  I like Audry, I liked her pretty much immediately when I met her, which… cold, dead, jaded heart, so wanting to be someone’s friend immediately doesn’t really come naturally to me.

Anyway.  I thought about it, and I thought maybe I’d like to make her a hat.  I had wanted a new one for a while anyway, and I had a ton of black stretch denim in my stash from this obnoxiously huge black denim goth duster I made myself as part of a school project.  I also had the bottom half of an extremely cheap prom dress just begging to be made into lining.  So, I thought, I’d make a hat for Audry, and a hat for me.

She lost her mother at the end of March.  That’s really the thing that turned the “I should do this nice thing for someone” into an “I’m going to do this nice thing for someone.  Like, right now.”  See, I’m really not good with emotional platitudes, but I can make people things and give them stuff and show them that I love them and I’m thinking about them in all kinds of other ways.  My love language is stuff.

three iterations of Simplicity 9644

Pattern pieces for Simplicity 9644 laid out with finished hat shell

So I made two hats.  One for Audry, one for me.  This was the first time I ever made two of something at the same time.  It took me about six hours total to finish both, which must be some kind of land-speed record for me.  The brims are made of buckram, because the instructions want you to use heavyweight interfacing but if you did that it would literally just crumple up in your face.

Every time I wear mine, I feel slightly like I just fell out of a Tom of Finland illustration.

Me plus pattern envelope

Also of note:  This hat (both of them, really) is my first make for the 2018 make nine challenge.  Took me long enough.

 

Bonus:  When you’re making this particular hat, but haven’t put the brim on yet, you alternately look like the Bishop of Canturbury or a 14th century peasant.

I look like a peasant

The Little Christmas Dress that Could

The Little Christmas Dress that Could

Raven Gemini by SaiSiv

Remember in 2016, when I marathonned my way through sewing that white dress for Christmas and, outwardly, I probably said I’d never be that stupid again, but inwardly I knew that somehow this would become some kind of perverse, masochistic holiday tradition?  Well, I started this dress approximately 48 hours before leaving for Michigan for Christmas 2017.  Of course I did.

Raven Gemini by SaiSiv

Raven Gemini by SaiSiv

The pattern is (totally unspecified) mail order pattern #4526 (It’s probably Anne Adams, but it doesn’t say that on the envelope.)  It came to me in an estate-lot of patterns (read:  a giant, unwieldy box that I bought off eBay) and when I pulled it out, it simultaneously excited and TERRIFIED me.  It just looked so difficult, with its color-blocking and peplum shaping and weird, gathered neckline.  I put it away so I didn’t have to think about it too much.

I pulled it out again last year because I was riding the high of having completed three of four semesters of fashion school.  Just kidding.  I was exhausted and overworked after balancing three semesters of fashion school with being a full-time freelance creative who makes most of her money by sitting naked on various art schools’ model stands and being drawn/painted/sculpted.  But I had just finished three semesters of fashion school, and so I decided I wasn’t allowed to be afraid of this pattern anymore.  So I made it up.

First things first:  this pattern is from the 40’s.  It’s unprinted.  Just a series of cryptic dots to tell you where things are supposed to line up.  Second:  it’s a blouse and a skirt, but somehow the entire instructions for putting it together take up less than a page.  They’re quite sparse, if you’re not used to the general process of garment construction.  It’s a size 18, which, in 1940’s terms means “STILL INCREDIBLY TINY” which is fine, I’m totally comfy traipsing around in a corset.

Raven Gemini by SaiSiv

I didn’t finish this pattern for Christmas.  Hell, I don’t think I finished it in time for Easter.  (Honestly, I can’t even remember when Easter was this year.)  …Google tells me I must have finished it before Easter, because we took these photos in March, and Easter was April 1.  I completely screwed up the top buttonhole, because for some reason I couldn’t remember in which direction my trusty Husquvarna sews buttonholes, and didn’t think to test it on something else first.  But it exists, and it’s finished.  The shell is a lightweight black rayon twill and aqua/gold brocade from Mood.  The lining (I completely lined it, even though that’s NOT EVEN IN THE INSTRUCTIONS.  I JUST DID IT FOR FUNSIES.) is gunmetal grey rayon lining, also from Mood.   Someday, I’ll tell you why I have an obsessive tendency to make all my clothes out of rayon.  It’s positively literary.  I did not bag the lining of the top, I lined each piece individually and French seamed the entire thing, because I spent most of my three semesters of fashion school being very interested in couture construction methods.

Raven Gemini by SaiSiv

These photos are courtesy of SaiSiv, from Model Mayhem.  We shot in late March on North Avenue Beach.  On the beach, in March, at dusk.  Because I like being cold.  But also, I was practically desperate to get photos of the thing finished.  My shoes are true vintage, 1930’s green velvet, from Hollyland Vintage on Etsy.  You can barely, barely, barely see it, but I’m also wearing my absolute favorite, most worn hat, a tiny little low-profile skeleton hat with little velvet bows on the sides and a mink front rim, which I purchased from my absolute favorite, most visited antique shop, Uncle Winnie’s in East Tawas, MI.  (When you’re good to mama…)

Raven Gemini by SaiSiv Raven Gemini by SaiSiv Raven Gemini by SaiSiv Raven Gemini by SaiSiv  Raven Gemini by SaiSiv Raven Gemini by SaiSiv Raven Gemini by SaiSiv  Raven Gemini by SaiSiv

Once again, these photos were released early to my Patreon patrons.  I love chatting about the platform, whether you’re looking to start a Patreon page of your own, or you’re interested in subscribing!

Dreaming in Art Deco

Dreaming in Art Deco

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

I’m not really sure what I want to say about these photos, but I feel like it would be a terrible shame if I kept them to myself.  I mean, I guess I’ve kept them to myself for a year at this point, seeing as these were shot last summer, but…

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

I found Michael Cabrera on Model Mayhem.  I’ve had a Model Mayhem account since… 2009, when I was fresh out of college, dreaming of America’s Next Top Model, and had just finished revenge-losing 20ish pounds after an ex-boyfriend casually said he thought I was getting fat.  (We were still dating when he said this.  I lost 20 pounds, plus whatever he weighed, when I dropped his ass like a hot potato and moved to Chicago.)  I don’t get much work via Model Mayhem, probably because I don’t use it terribly frequently, but I shoot a few times a year, and I always meet such interesting people.  Michael is one of them.

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

Before we shot together, we met at the Nighthawk café, off the Kimball brown line stop, to discuss possibilities.  I remember I was drinking a bougie Irish Coffee… Michael told me he grew up in some sort of conservative-religious sect, but broke away from them and had been having delightful, vintage-tinged adventures among my burlesque friends ever since.  I was very enthusiastic about working with him.

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

We shot in his apartment, which doubles as his studio.  Without delving too into detail, as it is his personal space, he keeps a very curated, beautiful vintage home.  (It’s the kind of space I dream of living in, honestly.)

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

The costumes are mine, except for the headpiece, which is a part of his personal collection.  My dress and underthings are part of my 1929 stock market crash act.  (Yes.  I do a burlesque act about the 1929 stock market crash.  Of course I do.)  The net dress is a gift from a friend and makes me feel like a Ziegfeld Follies girl.  The fur (it’s real fox) and shoes are vintage.  I did my own makeup, and of course that’s a wig.  My hair does one thing, so if you don’t see me in victory rolls, I’m probably wearing a wig.

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

It took me nearly a year to get these photos out into the world because we shot for something like three hours, and I was given 400 photos, which I had to cull down into a collection I really wanted to share with the world.  Unfortunately, every time I looked at the folder on my desktop, I got overwhelmed, so I only just got around to it last week.

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

Raven Gemini by Michael Cabrera

 

Last, but certainly not least, you should know that my Patreon patrons were given early access to these photos.  If you’re curious about Patreon (whether you’re interested in starting one of your own, or you have questions about subscribing), I’d love to chat with you.

URTA and 8 days of vintage

URTA and 8 days of vintage

Every year, for the past 10 years, I have dropped literally everything to work a week-long theatre conference for the University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA).  This started back in 2009, before I formally lived in Chicago, when I was sleeping on the couch of the friend who got me this job, while I simultaneously looked for apartments and real (that is to say: full-time) employment.  The first two years of URTA, I wrote embarrassing posts in my Livejournal (because Livejournal was still a thing) about how urban and exciting the URTA people were, and how I could never be that effortless and cool.

Over the years, I graduated from working the four days of acting auditions to stage managing… basically the entire conference.  Eight days, four days of tech interviews, four of acting auditions.  The days are long, sometimes grueling.  I clocked seventy hours over the eight days this year, not counting the two burlesque performances I gave, the three hours of class I taught, or the sculpture class I sat for.  (I worked 90 total hours over the last two weeks, because I’m insane.)

Because it was the first job I ever did in Chicago, I tend to measure time by URTA, instead of by New Years.  What I’ve done in the last year, what I gained, what I lost, what I gave away, what I’ve accomplished.  The first two years of URTA happened in a hallway at Roosevelt University.  I knitted at the registration table between check-in times and was too afraid to talk to anyone.  I really rooted for these grad-school candidates because I was them.  I was also barely 21, just out of undergrad.  It didn’t matter if they were good or not, I wanted to be their cheerleader, because the URTA recruiters were fucking terrifying.  More on that later.

Year three happened at the University Center for DePaul, Roosevelt, and Columbia.  This was the first year I could see the auditions because the room they were held in had a frosted glass door.  I simultaneously worked for Provision that year and remember logging into the UC computers to answer emails.

Year 4 was the first year at the Westin.  I was box office managing at Provision at that time, so Tim made me work something like 8-noon and then I’d have to run downtown to work one to five or some ridiculous time like that.  It was during this year that Tim fired Kenneth (or was that year 5?) and I threatened to quit until Joanna calmed me down and took me to drink in the hotel bar.  I had to go to Vaudezilla rehearsal that night, wasted on gin and tonics.

I don’t remember much from years 5 and 6.  I was still afraid of the recruiters, but I also knew that I wasn’t quite like the candidates anymore.  I had graduated long enough before them that we never would have been in school together.  I was probably lonely.

Year 7, Kenneth was living in San Diego.  I was enjoying being fake-single.  By this time, I was already working tech as well as acting.  I met Damon from the Academy of Art University, and… whoever the recruiter from Portland Actors Conservatory used to be, and we drank in the hotel bar.  I felt like I had made friends and couldn’t wait to do it again next year.

Year 8, Academy of Art University didn’t send a recruiter to URTA, and the gal from Portland Actors Conservatory had been replaced.  Back to square one.

Year 9, the only year I didn’t do acting, because I was in class at Columbia and couldn’t get the days off. Remind me why the hell I went back to school?

This year.  I finally got to go back to the hotel bar, this time with the recruiters from Portland, Pig Iron, Circle in the Square, and Guildford school of acting.  We were all women.  It was really glorious.  I can’t wait to do it again next year.  (Something tells me I’ve said that before…)

This year, to the point of this blog, I also challenged myself to dress up every day.  Not just dress up, but to wear something vintage or vintage-inspired every single day.  Partly because I wanted to accurately represent myself.  Partly because, as the person keeping time, I need to be the most highly visible person in the room and insane colors, corsets, and victory rolls will do that for you.

 

The Looks:

Day 1:

Jacket: 1960’s cropped blazer with mink collar- Carousel Vintage

Skirt: Emerald Green swing skirt- Unique Vintage

Stockings: Ribbed M Stockings- Sock Dreams

Boots: Phoebe Boots- Euro Soft

 

Day 2:

Hat: Simplicity 9644

Jumpsuit: Gigi Jumpsuit- Miss Candyfloss

 

Day 3:

Dress: Simplicity 4105

 

Day 4:

Blazer: BCX- Similar

Blouse: Vintage- La Loupe Vintage (I think!)

Pants: Editor Pants- Express

 

Day 5:

Dress: Voodoo Vixen Ella tea dress- Unique Vintage

Shoes: Vintage 1930’s green velvet pumps- Hollyland Vintage

 

Day 6:

Top:  Um?  It is a mystery!

Trousers: Voodoo Vixen Laura Suspender trousers- Unique Vintage

 

Day 7:

Hat: The return of Simplicity 9644

Dress: Vintage 1970’s shamrock dress- Dead Girls Vintage

Tights: Spanx (seriously)

Shoes: The return of the Euro Soft Phoebe boot

 

Day 8:

Jumpsuit: The return of the Miss Candyfloss Gigi Jumpsuit

Boots: Miracles Ascension Boot- John Fluevog

 

*whew*!  Thanks for joining me on my journey through URTA.  It might have been a busy week, but we finished it out in style!

 

Roadtrip in Miss Candyfloss

Roadtrip in Miss Candyfloss

I’m a bit late on posting this (I’ll explain why in my next post!), but on January 21st, I bundled into Mama Disco’s sparkle wagon along with my partner, Monterrey Jacques, Mister Twister Maximus Sinsation, and Faye LaVerte (holy stage names, Batman), and headed up to Madison, Wisconsin.  Our mission?  To basically form half the cast of the Sunday Bumday burlesque revue.  I wanted to be comfy for the three hour ride from Chicago, but I also wanted to be super cute when we got there, because what can I say?  I like to make an impression.  So I made the natural choice and picked this delightful teal jumpsuit from Miss Candyfloss.

A little background on this jumpsuit first.  I’ve been coveting it for… about a year at this point.  When I was in Alaska last March for the Freezing Tassel Burlesque Festival, I was so blown away by Sailor St. Claire wearing this jumpsuit in the burgundy colorway, that I secretly took pictures of her butt in the audience.  (Sailor, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry.  But also not sorry.  Your fashion choices changed my life.)  I finally bought it for myself as a birthday present in October.

It took me a bit to get around to wearing it (probably December?) because I literally had to cut six inches off the bottom and re-do the hem.  Miss Candyfloss is Swedish designed and made in Transylvania, and my only explanation is that you central-European gals have *got* to be way taller than poor little 5’3’’ me.  In the end, I think I hemmed it just a bit too short, and so I might rip it out and re-do it *again,* but it’s good enough for now.

In any case, we drove up to Madison, pretended to be space people, took all our clothes off (well, I took all my clothes off.  Monterrey keeps his on for our duet.), and then hopped back into the sparkle wagon and drove back to Chicago.  And I was comfy the whole time.

 

The Look:

Hat- Simplicity 9644

Jumpsuit- Miss Candyfloss Gigi Jumpsuit

Boots- Euro Soft Phoebe boot

 

Bonus:  Performance stills from Sunday Bumday!  (Spoiler alert: NUDITY.  Partial nudity, but nudity nonetheless)      

Summertime on my mind

Summertime on my mind

Raven Gemini in white dress shot by Edgar Wang

I’ve been meaning to share these photos with you for a very long time.  I shot with photographer Edgar Wang in August, with every intention of getting them up on the blog as soon as possible.  But then I didn’t know what to say.  And then I went back to school.  And then I sort of stopped doing anything that wasn’t class, homework, driving to an art modeling session, or sitting on someone’s model stand for three hours at a time.

But winter has a funny way of slowing down, especially at the very beginning of the year.  January has been notoriously slow for me for years, thanks to being a full-time freelance artist.  No one buys anything in January.  No one goes to shows.  We’ve all just spent all our money and burnt ourselves out on Capitalism during the holidays, and with nothing more to look forward to, to make heading out into cold weather bearable, we all just hunker down and hibernate.

I’ve taken to my various social media accounts a few times this winter to say basically the same thing.  During this time of year, no matter how illogical it actually is, I always get that little anxious voice in the back of my head saying “You have no bookings this week.  Clearly, you will NEVER WORK AGAIN.”

Um.  No, little voice.  I have four burlesque shows this month, and eight art sessions.  I have my regular hours costuming and 8 whole days of U/RTA.  I’m pretty sure I’m working more this January than any January in my entire life.  Aside from the fact that, though I have bookings clear into April, but bafflingly ZERO things in March… I’m looking pretty solid for the beginning of the year.  So kindly bugger off somewhere else.

I’m fighting that little voice.  I’m fighting it by contacting every burlesque producer in Chicago, reminding them that I exist.  I’m fighting it by making work, even if it’s just upgrading my own costumes for my own gratification.  I’m fighting it by making this blog post.

Raven Gemini in white dress shot by Edgar Wang

We shot these photos on the campus of UIC, in a parking garage.  Anyone who wants to be a photographer, but is worried about finding good locations… worry not.  If you can take photos like these in a parking garage, you’ll be just fine.

Raven Gemini in white dress shot by Edgar Wang

 

Raven Gemini in white dress shot by Edgar Wang

 

I even got to play with the photographers’ Petzval lens.  The Petzval lens is an art lens, a replica of a piece of 250 year old photography equipment.  Modern photo lenses correct for optic aberrations created by using circular pieces of glass, but the Petzval lens embraces those same “flaws.”  If you look at the photos above, taken with the lens, you can see the way the background swirls around me.  It’s a beautiful effect.  The Petzval lens was a limited edition item, and is no longer being manufactured, but it is one of the dearest (and most pointlessly expensive) things on my life’s wishlist.

Raven Gemini in white dress shot by Edgar Wang

The Look:

Dress- Simplicity 4105, from 1952

Petticoat- Vintage- Gifted

Shoes- Rampage- similar

 

I never blogged about this dress when I was making it because… it’s the first of my yearly panic holiday dress projects.  I mentioned it in this post, wherein I also mentioned that I decided, on a whim, to make a holiday dress on approximately December 21st, and then helpfully also decided to choose the pattern with 12 (or is it 16?) buttons and buttonholes.  Don’t judge me.  I almost did that again this year, before reminding myself that that was insane.

In any case, the dress was a surprisingly easy make, with only neckline and armhole facings, and the rest of the seams (aside from the hem) finished with bias binding.  The buttons are deadstock vintage, from my favorite antique shop, and inspired the whole dress.  I’d love to make another, as the pattern also comes with a short-sleeved option.  The next one has to be done in some sort of lurid color combination though, because I love color.

Raven Gemini in white dress shot by Edgar Wang

Hopefully, the winter is treating your psyches a bit more kindly than it has been treating mine.  Are you dreaming of summer yet?

New Year, New You

New Year, New You

How did we ever get to 2018?  I feel like last year just flew by, and in many ways, it really did.  Last March, I was in Alaska for the Freezing Tassel Burlesque Festival, and since then, life has been an absolute blur.

I finished three (of four) semesters of a second BA in fashion design at the end of last year, but I’m calling it quits on that final semester.  I just couldn’t juggle my life as a full-time, freelance artist and a more-or-less full-time student.  (I know, just saying it out loud sounds insane.)  I’m literally one of those people that poses for art classes to pay the bills, and while that was a viable living in 1963 (when Dorothy Kilgallen asked a woman on What’s My Line? if that was her job), it’s a little tough to hack in 2018.

Nonetheless, I’m still here, and I’m still making my living from posing for art classes and taking it off on burlesque stages across the country.

I have a fairly wide swath of the beginning of each year dedicated to thinking about where I’ve come from and where I’m going.  I get swept up into it at the end of the old year, when everyone else is doing it, but it continues for some time for me.  The first job I ever worked in Chicago was as stage manager for U/RTA, a weeklong theatre conference that I’m still working, 10 years later.  I lived on a friends’ couch that first week, looking for jobs and apartment hunting in between shouting the names of some 500 potential graduate school acting students to a panel of auditors.  It marks the beginning of my life as an adult, and because of that, the lead up to the first week in February is full of reflection for me.

Because 2017 passed me by so quickly, and was so full of panic, anxiety, and procrastination, I’ve been thinking a lot about slowing down and being more mindful in 2018.  I juggle a lot of things. (So many jobs, so many hobbies, and a heaping helping of major depressive disorder and anxiety that make those jobs and hobbies very difficult to do, much less enjoy.)  I spent numerous years hoping that the solution to feeling so overwhelmed and anxious was just to run away from it, as fast and as hard as I could, but the result of that is that I wasn’t managing my life at all.  I felt like I was always working, or always supposed to be working, and in reality, I was just spending 80% of my time desperately scrolling Facebook and Instagram, looking for the magic thing that would make me feel better.   To no one’s surprise, I did not find it there.

So I’ve instituted a minimum number of hours within which I have to work.  It can be any work.  Posing and performing and teaching count just as much as keeping my website up to date, listing pasties and gloves on Etsy, or sewing.  At this juncture, I’m including sewing personal projects, since I don’t get many commissions right now, and the reason I don’t is because I don’t have a body of completed work that would get them for me.

I’m also finally buckling down about the way I appear in public.  I’ve tended to slum my way to the coffee shop in the same jeans that I’ve worn for the last 23 straight days (I wish this were an exaggeration), some random tee or sweater, and no makeup.  That’s fine, but I’m also kind of a public figure, due to my life as a performer.  (You can be a public figure even without being Dita von Teese, I tell my anxiety.  50 thousand Instagram subscribers does not a public figure make)  It’s kind of a pain in the ass, because I’ve gotten so used to my maintenance-free existence, but it’s now basically a rule that I have to put on makeup if I’m going outside.  I said it once, years ago, that there’s something to the Donna Reed pearls-to-vacuum-the-house mentality.  It makes you feel better about yourself.  And when you feel good about yourself, you get more done.

To that (lengthy) end, I finally appeared in public in 2018 wearing the Christmas-dress-that-came-to-my-rescue.

Raven Gemini in grey Voodoo Vixen Ella dress and vintage silver fox fur

 

Raven Gemini in grey Voodoo Vixen Ella dress and vintage silver fox fur

Somewhere around December 21st, I decided to jump in and make my long-dreaded Anne Adams 4526 and… well… I didn’t finish it.  (I will finish it!  It’s on my list!)  Fortunately, I had asked my mother for this dress from Unique Vintage for Christmas, sort of as a sneaky backup plan.  Which I totally ended up using.

On Christmas, I wore this dress with my 1930’s pumps and vintage overshoes, but since it was a balmy 14 degrees outside (I’m an American, that’s Fahrenheit) today, I paired it this time with some delightful M stockings from Sock Dreams and my trusty Doc Martens.  Barely visible is my favorite hat, a little skeleton hat with a mink front piece.  And, of course, a fluffy, warm vintage silver fox stole, so I didn’t freeze to death in the five minutes it took to shoot these photos.

Raven Gemini in grey Voodoo Vixen Ella dress and vintage silver fox fur

The Look:

Hat- vintage- Uncle Winnie’s

Fur- (real) Vintage fox fur- gifted!

Dress- Voodoo Vixen Ella dress- Unique Vintage

Socks- M Stockings in Charcoal- Sock Dreams

Boots- Doctor Martens.

(I’m also sneakily wearing an Orchard Corset CS-201)

(I’m also wearing MAC D for Danger lipcolor!)

 

I’d love to know what your goals and plans are for 2018!  I’m sure I’ve got more to say about making plans for the year, but I’m trying not to overwhelm myself for now.

 

 

…Also, here’s a bonus shot of me (…me?) while my partner was trying to figure out how to focus the fancy lens on my fancy camera.

Raven Gemini in grey Voodoo Vixen Ella dress and vintage silver fox fur

 

 

OOTD November…8?

OOTD November…8?

Yeah, I know.  It’s nowhere near November 8 today.  But this outfit was too good, and I was too proud of it to let it go unposted.

On November 8, I worked an extremely rare clothed art modeling session.  Rare because I got to wear clothes while I was working, not a rare modeling session.  (I did 64 of those this year!)  When I get to wear clothes during the session, I like to try to go all out with my outfit, and give the artists something fun.  Today was no exception.

This might actually be one of my favorite outfits, because I wear variations on it all the time.  The same leisure-suit pants and my hat, with a variety of button-downs. 

The Look:

Hat: Made by me!

Button-down: Vintage (from AST Salvage on Etsy)

Shell: Vintage (given to me by a friend)

Pants: Vintage (from Belmont Army Vintage)

Bonus:  Pretend that’s not my GIANT thumb in the corner, as I was trying to sneak this photo of an AWESOME (and larger than life-size) painting of me!