Masks I Have Worn Pt. 3

Welcome to Pt. 3 of this blog. My Mardi Gras inspired mask wasn’t ready for the big Fat Tuesday parade, but it did turn out quite nicely. The process started simply enough; I had a base mask, I added more feathers and started adding embellishments. About halfway through, I realized I needed to add more silver to balance out some of the embroidery. So I added some silver paint to the “a bit to yellow for me feathers” and some silver gears.  I was pleased with results. I sealed all the gears and paint with two coats of Polymer Medium Gloss. Those sweet pieces won’t come off unless you break them off. I finished the back side with some simple gold duct tape to protect the back side of the feathers and wiring for the lights. From the drawing board, lights on, and mask alone shoot:

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I was then ready for the real shoot. First, the standard makeup, wig and lighting tests. I did want to wear a really unusual color wig wise to make the mask stand out after testing my makeup “glam shot” style first.

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Tested the weight of the mask and then some silliness ensued:

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Then for the serious shots for my Etsy store. A first few without the wig:

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Then add the sharp contrast wit the wig:

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I really enjoyed working with this series, I hope you enjoy the photos. The next mask for Pt. 4 was previewed a bit ago and took me in a whole different direction. I’m wrapping up the final touches on it and it’s story now. Bookmark this blog for the update. 🙂

A few quick notes on some great upcoming works:

1. The whole “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series on amazon/kindle will be FREE to download this weekend, March 22-23, 2014. New adventures of Will the vampire are forthcoming, but enjoy catching up on my favorite vamp’s past. Please share with your friends. My amazon link (please copy and paste into your browser):

http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-L.-Szulc/e/B00CDFDIBI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1395190463&sr=8-1

2. CORRECTION: In my “Let Them Eat Cake” blog I noted that my “Spirit of St. Louis” sculpture was going to be at Creve Coeur Lake. I was given the wrong location information unfortunately. My piece will be placed at Soldier’s Memorial in downtown St. Louis instead. I have to say, despite the error, I am actually more satisfied with this location. It’s only ten blocks from my apartment and the Memorial should make for a perfect backdrop for the photo session I have in mind.

3. Coming soon to my Fine Art America and CafePress shops, the best of my steam works on cosplay cards, tees, etc.

Thank you for your support and reading!

-Victoria

______________________________________________________________________________

The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc is now available on amazon/kindle.

Product Details

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP -On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz) -Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tuumblr, CafePress and Fine Art America-coming soon

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Let Them Eat Cake, From St. Louis, Pt.1

During this adventure into Steampunk as an art form, I’ve been lucky enough to use it as a theme for some interesting public art projects. Last year I did the “Clockwork Cat” for The Harry and Hanley Project. A couple years ago, I did a steampunk corset and hat coupling for Soulard Art Market’s “Fashion Art” show. I featured both works in previous blogs.

Late last year, I was selected to participate in the stl250.org “Cakeway to the West”. My hometown, St. Louis, MO, the city I love, is celebrating its 250th birthday this year. stl250 is the community group promoting different events surrounding the city’s anniversary. “Cakeway to the West” is the visual component of this project. 250 fiberglass cakes were supplied to artists for “decorating”. Artists provided a theme and worked with the Regional Arts Commission and the Contemporary Art Museum on execution and placement in the St. Louis region.

My love for the machinery aspect of steampunk led me to choose Charles Lindbergh’s flight over the Atlantic in “The Spirit of St. Louis” which also became the name of my cake. Not only is the wonderful airplane featured on the cake, but a portrait of Lindberg and two airlines which started in Missouri, Ozark and TWA, are featured as well.

The top of the cake is painted with a faux propeller. Painted clouds form the icing. An oversized pair of goggles rests on the backside, while a flight scarf is draped around the two layers of the cake. I used one of my favorite mediums, soft acrylics and medium gloss sealant, to complete “The Spirit of St. Louis”.

I hope you enjoy some of the “in process” photos. My cake was placed at Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis County. I can’t tell you exactly where, as stl250.org is doing a bit of a scavenger hunt. So please. feel free to look at the stl250.org website to see the Cake Leaderboard and join in the hunt. And just like the “Clockwork Cat”, I’ll have a steam inspired photo shoot as soon as we have some better weather.

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Please note: I had difficulties with my hautehen.com website in January and February. It is under reconstruction with a new host and I’ll let you know as soon as it’s back up. I’ll also have the new parts of the Mardi Gras mask series in the next couple blogs.

Thank you for reading and your support,

-Victoria

______________________________________________________________________________

The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc is now available on amazon/kindle.

Product Details

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP -On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tuumblr, CafePress and Fine Art America-coming soon

Masks I Have Worn (Well a Hat really) Pt.2

Hello and welcome to part 2 of this blog. I got pretty excited about this last hat, but I can’t keep it.  It’s available for purchase in my Etsy store. I wanted to make a matching mask in time for Mardi Gras but it’s still in creation mode. I did take a few more photos, this time with different lighting and makeup. And I did want to show off the blue wig. It’s now a favorite in my collection; how did I end up with seven wigs? That sounds like a future blog.
Anyhow, please enjoy this last set of photos, all taken selfie style with my iPhone 4s. First I did a make-up/lighting/wig test:

Eye makeup detail.Lip detail, gold gloss.Low light makeup test.Semi-low light makeup test.

Wig test and a smile. Side view wig test and another smile.

I think this group came out fairly well considering I had a bunch of pimples and a bit of a head cold. So then I brought in the hat and added some emotion:

Best shot of whole hat. Thoughtfulness. Gratitude. Baudy laughter. A bit pensive. That is one tall topper!

I hope to have this series and others from previous shoots available for purchase soon. I’ve also got some really interesting pieces in the works: volumes 9 & 10 of “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series, the aforementioned mask (an in process pic below), a serious blog on masks with yes, more pictures and a super awesome pictorial, and last but certainly not least, my first full steampunk novel, “Strax and the Widow” should go to press this summer.

The mask in process:

Gold Mask in process.

Thank you for your support and reading, Happy Mardi Gras!

-Victoria

______________________________________________________________________________

The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc is now available on amazon/kindle.

Product Details

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc
-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP
-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)
-Etsy-TheHauteHen
-Instagram-Steampunkcountess
-Tuumblr, CafePress and Fine Art America-coming soon

Masks I Have Worn Pt.1

As Mardi Gras approaches, I decided it was a great time to add a hat to my Etsy store. Actually I’m a working on a few toppers and I’ll be sharing each of them in the next few weeks. This time of year also had me thinking about masks; how wearing them can not only change our looks but our inside emotions as well. I’ll go into more depth on this in a future blog.

In the meantime enjoy the creation of this Mardi Gras Top Hat. Each hat becomes a little production with its own photo shoot. I like to mix in a unique hairstyle and makeup in the photos. This can sound a little vain, taking a lot of selfies. To me, it’s art. I create a character to match the fashion. First two pics are of the initial make-up I wore to work at the costume/party shop. I found the wig (California Costume) at the shop; it was a keeper. The mask is courtesy of Johnnie Brock’s.

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This second group was taken later that evening with the hat. The hat is really traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras opulent with a harlequin and his marching staff holding court from the top. A silver and gold mini mask sets on the front brim. An ornate fluer de lis and crown counterbalance the back side.

FrontFleur detail

Qtr View Back  Mask Detail

I touched up my makeup with kewpie doll cupid’s bow lips (OK, too much pouting on my part) and traditional Mardi Gras colors for t eyes: purple, green and gold.

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I really enjoyed the finished product. I hope you do too!

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Pt. 2 coming soon with more fun photos. Thank you for reading,

-Victoria

______________________________________________________________________________

The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc is now available on amazon/kindle.

Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

Etsy-TheHauteHen

Everyone Looks Better, I Wish

In the latest “Vampire’s Little Black Book” series, Will, the main character, jokes that “everyone looks better undead”. That phrase became the title of my new short story in which Will assists a newly changed Lycan. The good looks of the freshly turned male model do not go unnoticed by Will’s vamp cohort, Anna. In their world, the transformation to undead life is a ticket to not only eternity, but increased beauty as well.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be bitten just once and have all your perfections gone? But we don’t always have that option, unless you can afford a pro makeup artist or some pricey surgery. So what do you do when treatments and regular beauty days are out of your reach?

The answer is a choice, but you might not like either answer: accept what you see in the mirror, or do what is necessary to change it.

Recently I had one of those cringe inducing experiences that made me even more aware of our vanity or on a more basic level, the need to be accepted. This is a bit more personal, but please, hang with me for a while here.

A group of people came into the retail store where I work to try on some costumes. One young woman had picked out several pieces that were junior sizes and one plus size. These were the kind of costumes that basically fit a stick. She however, was a bit more than a curvy girl, so to speak. Now, I don’t judge. I am not a thin woman. In fact, my weight has gone up and down over the last twenty five years. I’ve gone from being super fit to borderline morbidly obese and back again. People will judge you no matter how you look. I learned to get over it. So I handed her the selections with a kind smile and tried not to worry.

She first tried on a deluxe princess costume that retails at over $225. I was respectful, didn’t say anything, until she complained loudly to her friends that not only was the costume it too tight, but she couldn’t figure out how to get it on.

I gently suggested that she try something else; that the brand of designs she had chosen were cut very small, which is absolutely true. I would not sell one of these garments to just make a sale to someone it didn’t fit. I just prayed she didn’t ruin the piece.

When the second small cut costume didn’t fit, I offered up the plus sized costume. I honestly don’t know if it would’ve fit her, because she didn’t try. Instead she left the fitting room without a word.

Please note: in no way did I bully this young woman. I didn’t use the word fat, which would’ve made me a hypocrite. I tried to be as kind as possible when suggesting she find a plus size, I didn’t raise my voice and I didn’t harass her. When she left the fitting room, I instantly knew that there would be trouble even though I was only doing my job. Sure enough, the next day, one of the guys that had been with her, called the company to complain for her and of course I had to listen to a small reprimand from a manager. His calling immediately told me that this woman was feeling badly enough that she was too embarrassed to do it for herself. Fortunately the manager understood my predicament and nothing further was said.

At first I questioned whether I’d done the correct thing. I’m an adult; I don’t feel the need to torture anyone on purpose. But after a few moments I realized I can’t fix how she felt about herself OR how she felt others perceived her. This brings me back to the choices we have to make in regard to how we feel about our looks and how we handle others reactions.

I wish the world was a more loving, thoughtful place. And having been in her shoes, I know how it feels to not have your pants zip up without a muffin top spilling over or maybe not go up at all. To have other people stare at you because of your size. But in this world of unrelenting wild opinions from a 24 hour cycle of endless forms of media, it can be a challenge to filter out a genuine honest opinion from the “someone” who has out for you. Or even worse, there’s the trolls who just want to start a war because they just feel like commencing a landslide of unhappiness. And more than likely, they blister others because they don’t like themselves.

I wanted to tell this young woman to learn to love herself, grow a thicker skin, and own it or change. The options aren’t easy. Anyone who has been a minority, has had gender/sexual orientation issues, been disabled or is in any way different from the “norm”, has been down one of these well-worn roads.

If you can like who you are, “forget the haters, cause only God can judge us” as Miley sings, you will be rewarded with unyielding confidence. Some will stare. Dare to smile back at them. People will say rude things; they don’t know you. Ignore their comments and only let positivity into your wonderful brain. Happiness is your best defense. Find others like you. There is empathy and strength in numbers. It won’t be easy, but with time and practice people will see your beautiful soul and not the shell of a body that carries it. Recognize constructive criticism. This is a dodgy one. Someone could be looking at your chest because you spilled a few bits of your lunch on it. Your fly could be down. A dress might be way too tight for the office. When someone corrects you in these kinds of situations, be grateful. The suggestions probably come from someone who genuinely cares.

Or you can change. But if you decide to go that route, do it for yourself. Don’t do it to attract someone you have a crush on. You’ve invested in yourself. Don’t blow it on anyone that’ll waste your time. This choice could be hard too. You might spend hours working out and dieting to get thin. You might get surgery that could be painful or have a long recovery time. You might have to save money and work two jobs to get a procedure done. People might try to talk you out of it; they may have liked the old you for nefarious reasons. And once you’ve reached your goal, whether you get a nose job, lose fifty pounds, or get breast implants, you’ll need to adjust to the attention. Some may not recognize you. You might be invited into groups that really aren’t that cool after all. Just know to be true to what you want to be, don’t continue to be swayed by others. They’ll just find something or someone else to pick on.

There is actually a third choice available, the worst one, which is to do nothing. Yep, to have no desire to accept who you are and/or don’t choose to change your “in the now” to a pleasurable place to be. Keep in that negative frame of mind and your life will be hell.  You’ll draw fake friends, users, abusers and the like. This small incident really got me thinking and of course creating. The next day, I did a whole series of masks with a variety of different emotions behind them. I’ll debut them with another blog shortly, but here’s a sample to hold you until then.

Iconic image of how a hero "should" be.

Iconic image of how a hero “should” be.

But for now, life is what you make it; it’s too damn short to be unhappy. It is not wrong to like yourself. You will be a better human being because of it. I do a lot of costuming, and cosplay, then share with anyone who’ll look or listen. I don’t see it as vanity. I make art, throw it on me, photograph it and in the process create more art. I’ve used self-portraits for the covers of my books. In the last couple years in working on mysteampunkproject.wordpress.com, it’s been a great adventure. I actually forget the negative parts of me. The true beautiful soul rises to the surface.

I wanted to tell that young woman in the fitting room to come back, try on another item that fits her size and wear it proudly. I hope she gives herself another chance at acceptance, to stand strong and be herself. Spread your wings and fly darling. I hope we all do.

Thank you most kindly for reading,

-Victoria

The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc is now available on amazon/kindle.

Product Details

Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

Etsy-TheHauteHen