Mardi Gras, Pet Parade St. Louis Style 2015

Last Sunday was simply gorgeous in St. Louis and a perfect day for a parade. I marched in the Beggin’ Strips Pet Parade in the Soulard neighborhood with a bunch of cake lovers/hunters from the stl250 Cakeway to the West project. I met these lovely folks through Facebook after completing my cake sculpture for the project, “The Spirit of St. Louis” (details in my earlier blog). I got a costume from work and decided to Ren it for the parade, where the dogs are more often dressed up than the people.

Although this post is not directly steampunk related, the neighborhood in which the parade runs through was built during the Victorian era. You’ll see a hint of the era’s architecture in some of the photos. The area was founded largely by French and German settlers which make it an excellent location for Mardi Gras and any German heritage celebrations like Oktoberfest.

St. Louis celebrates the second largest Mardi Gras in the U.S. after New Orleans. Of the three parades held during the season, the pet parade is probably the most family friendly. For a $10 fee, you and your pet can walk in the pet parade and your pet is entered in the costume contest. Donations go to the Open Door Animal Sanctuary with $1 going to Petfinder Organization in St. Louis. Or you can simply watch for free. The Weiner Dog Derby is immediately afterwards, with dauchshund dogs competing for prices in an exciting short race to the finish. Relatively new, is a concert after the Derby. This year’s band was Blues Traveler who provided an excellent musical soundtrack to the street party. I hope you enjoy the pics, I got inspired to do a little vamping up (in the 2nd part of this post). The temperature got into the low 70’s, and I even got a little sunburnt. Fun was had by all two and four legged friends.

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The Barkus Pet Parade cake.

 

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Let them eat cake. Doing my best queen pose.

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Our banner carriers.

 

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One of our canine cake “walkers”.

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Even this pot bellied pig got in on the action.

 

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On the throne, appropriately dressed

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Someone had a little too much parade…

 

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Our cake “mascot”, made of balloons.

When I got home, I didn’t want to waste the use of the costume, so I went into Ren cosplay, Lady Woodbridge mode (from The Vampire’s Little Black Book series perhaps?).

First a close up of the eye make up of golds, greens and purple, then the haughty queen came out:

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But knowing, with a smirk and a seductive smile. Sometimes thoughtful, even sweet.

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Always watchful and peeking over her shoulder…

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Later at night, becoming more of a saucy wench than a lady. Strong and coy, she knows how to defeat her enemies..

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..yet regally seductive.

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Thank you for indulging in my Ren silliness that ended up with some great photos. I might put some in the Etsy store, speaking of which…

Please remember the sale in my Etsy store, 25% off with code LUVMASKS through Valentine’s Day.

Thank you for reading,

Victoria

______________

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

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Mardi Gras Madness Begins

In my hometown of St. Louis, we have the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the US. Right now, the costume shop that is my “day” job, is hopping with customers ploughing through beads, masks, and decor.

I’ll be attending at least one parade, the Beggin’ Strips Pet Parade this Sunday, as long as the weather holds out. There’s also a Weiner Dog Derby race and band/party afterwards.

And I’ve added some great pieces (including the mask below) and a SALE in the Etsy store to perhaps help you celebrate. Use code LUVMASKS25 to get 25% off through 2/13 to celebrate both Valentine’s and Mardi Gras. The store link is here:

Haute Hen

So I created a new mask with some steampunk syle:

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I started with a basic plastic form (to keep the mask light weight) and painted it with copper and gold paint to give it a metallic feel.

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I added lace and my own scroll design which was hand cut before adding to the ears. I then added hand painted roses, embroidery, ribbon and gears for additional steam style.

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I was really pleased with the results and shot the pics for the store yesterday. Lipstick via Clinique, Shadows via Avon, Ben Nye.

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More goodies coming to the store soon. Thank you as always for reading!
Victoria

______________

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-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

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

Day of the Dead 2014

It’s been an insanely busy Halloween season. I managed to squeeze in some new creations, all with a Day of the Dead/Halloween theme. My last creation first, a Dead of the Dead, Mardi Gras bunny mask, now available in TheHauteHen Etsy store.

I built this on a pre-existing black mask, a template I have used before in “The Heroine” series.

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After hot glue, some embroidered trim and roses, I got the result I wanted. A sassy bunny mask that’s perfect for any costume occasion.

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Add a little makeup…

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And let the photo fun begin…

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Then on to business…I had a great buyer in my Etsy store who bought my Day of the Dead Groom Hat with a few modifications…

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And then she commissioned a voodoo belt for her husband, which was really fun to put together. I sent her a sketch, bought some neat pieces including a beaver skull from the Etsy store (and friend) Guiditta Testa.

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And Elizabeth Rios and her husband looked fabulous in their creations!

Rios 1 Rios 2 Rios 3

So much more happened last month, but that is for the next blog. Thank you for reading!

Victoria

And then some style. Day of the Dead Indeed

And then some style. Day of the Dead Indeed

Will has returned in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book series, “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers” on amazon/kindle. Volumes 1-8 are also available on amazon/kindle. They are always FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads!

Image

-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

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

Random Thoughts on Being Sick

This is a short one and not what I expected to blog for October. My car got broken into about a week ago, but they stole nothing, just busted a lock. I’ve been working like crazy. Hopefully the next blog will be filled with Halloween and costume happiness. Meanwhile, enjoy these random thoughts on being sick:

-I absolutely hate being sick. Period.

-I have now returned to my classic pre-summer vampire white skin.

-Of course we have two of the most wonderful Fall days in St. Louis. The Cardinals lost in the playoffs, but the Rams and Blues won this weekend. Yet I am stuck on the couch or in bed.

-Why does everything look so good on tv, yet I have no appetite?

-I wanted to at least severely reprimand the guy (an adult mind you) that picked his nose in the fitting room line. OK, I wanted to kill him, but I can’t afford to go to jail.

-The part I hate most about going to the doctor (besides cost, I don’t have health insurance), explaining my low body temp. Today at Urgent Care I checked in at a comfortable 97.7. Yep. I feel like dirt and have the temperature of a reptile that runs through it. But my neck is swollen like a chipmunk. I’ve had strep and the flu and not run a fever. OK, at least my blood pressure was awesome.

-This time it hit pretty fast. Went from a slight headache Friday afternoon, to not sleeping that night because I felt like I’d gargled with razor blades.

-Sleep is my friend at last. When I did finally fall asleep on Sat. morning I had to text in sick to work. Got some OTC meds and gatorade and went back to bed. Watched some tv and did a little work on my costume. Took another nap. More tv. Bed early. Slept ten hours. Text in sick again. Urgent Care and pharmacy about 3.5 hours. Home and another nap. As of 3:30pm today, I’ve slept almost twenty-four hours. Sad to see most of my waking hours were at the doc’s office or getting meds.

-Surreal sick moment of the day, got my windows open and wake up from nap to people yelling and stuff. Turn on the tv to see that the Rams won. Lookout to notice the happy traffic of fans and the leaves changing color on the Arch grounds. Another beautiful day wasted. Cursed flu, but at least it’s a pretty day.

-The Countess is having tea and a bit of a lie down as they say in the UK. Stupid f’n virus, as we say in the US.

OK, will stop groaning now. What’s coming up?

Will the vampire returns soon in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series, “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers”. Since I really don’t feel like doing anything else, I will be writing a bit later on. Keep a watch on my social media links for its release.

Stay healthy my friends, and thanks, as always, for reading,

Victoria

___________

Will returns soon in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book series, “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers” on amazon/kindle. The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc and volumes 1-7 are also available on amazon/kindle. They are FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Product Details

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads!

Image

-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

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-stores coming soon

Hats Off for Dia de los Muertos!

As Halloween approaches, I wanted to do a little more Dia de los Muertos style and autumnal hats. This blog celebrates those who have left us with some Day of the Dead creativity done in photo essay style. The hats and many other unique items are in my Etsy store, https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHauteHen  Please enjoy!

First off, a simple sun hat for fall festivals and wineries….

Autumn Hat 6 Autumn Hat 3 Autumn Hat 1

Next up, a classic Day of the Dead Katrina Veil. I decided to go with traditional “less perfect” sugar skull makeup for this shoot and focus on the hats.

DOD Veil 1 DOD Veil 2 DOD Veil 3 DOD Veil 4 DOD Veil 5 Veil Full

Then a beautiful bride’s top hat, complete with a long veil and light up sugar skull!

IBride Etsy 1 Bride Etsy 2 Bride Etsy 3 Bride Etsy 4 Bride Etsy 5 R Bride 1 R Bride 2 R Bride 4 R Bride 7 R Bride 9

Finally, the Groom’s hat, a sweet little topper, also with a light up sugar skull on top!

Groom Etsy 1 Groom Etsy 2 Groom Etsy 3 Groom Etsy 4 Groom R 1 Groom R 2 Groom R 3 Groom R 4 Groom R 5

Thank you for this quick little visual foray into the Day of the Dead. Thank you for reading.

Victoria

________________

Will returns soon in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book series, “Svetlana Red” on amazon/kindle. The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc and volumes 1-7 are also available on amazon/kindle. They are FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Product Details

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads!

Image

-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

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-stores coming soon

Why I Love Halloween and Whip It Pt.1

I love Halloween, even more than Christmas; not that I don’t like getting gifts or celebrating the birth of Christ with family. Although Halloween and the day after both have their roots in religion (All Hallows Eve, Day of the Dead, Druid beliefs and traditions to name a few), it’s the combination of those roots with a more modern horror, fun and wackiness twist that make it special.

As a kid, I was lucky enough to be in a neighborhood full of families where almost everyone went trick or treating. As soon as the sun went down about a hundred kids would be out knocking on doors and ringing doorbells. Only the most curmudgeon of neighbors would turn out their lights and not give out candy. We had some great houses to visit; one house gave out McDonald’s gift certificates, another whole candy bars, not the cheap penny jawbreakers or bazooka gum that was harder than the jawbreakers. This was a time before plastic grocery bags were widely used. My mom let us use pillow cases; yes durable, ever fillable pillow cases. After hitting up our neighborhood, the one or two conjoined blocks and possibly my grandparent’s neighborhood nearby, my siblings and I would each have a sack full of candy and stuff that would make even the best dentist shudder. Our cases full of sweet delights would often be dirty on the bottom because they were so full that they dragged the ground. Way to rock Mom, although she probably got tired of one of us puking every year from over indulgence. And as we got older, mom would let my older siblings take us further out to other neighborhoods and we could fill two whopping pillow sacks full of goodies. It still seemed to disappear fast though; at least until I was old enough to realize my parents were eating some of it from each of us.

Some of our neighbors had haunted houses and almost everyone had jack o’lanterns out on their porches. My personal favorite was the house that had seven or eight teen siblings. They’d do the old witch routine urging you to feel the spaghetti guts and grape eyeballs. And when you’d leave their haunted garage, one of the older boys, dressed as a werewolf, would jump off the roof and land on a couple mattresses in their front yard. A little “redneck” perhaps, but effective; it made kids cry. I know the first time it happened I screamed and peed in my pants a little bit.

Costumes were simpler then too; a lot of gypsies, tramps and thieves as Cher would sing. Throw in some clowns and princesses and you had a party. I do remember one standout costume in middle school. One little red haired freckle faced boy did Dolly Parton, complete with the blond wig and Nerf ball boobs. It was shades to come of my favorite holiday as an adult.

I still love costumes and revel in Halloween happiness. I more than welcome the opportunity to dress up and be someone else for a few hours. In the past I’ve been a wide range of people and things: Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Octomom, a Pirate (twice, one a la “sexy” and one buccaneer), Marie Antoinette, the Fly, Evita/Eva Peron, Glinda the Good Witch (as part of a group Wizard of Oz), Amy Winehouse (last year’s) and a Flying Nun (my male companion was a priest, naughty, naughty we were).

Sure you can cosplay anytime or make a trip to any “Con” expo, but it’ll cost you some cash and what if you can’t get away from work? I’m not degrading any conventions, they’re fantastic for people who appreciate the genres they support. It’s just that there’s something magical about All Hallows Eve. There’s an all-encompassing variety and something for everyone. For kids it’s the mad dash for candy or the more family friendly “trunk or treat”. For teens there are some truly scary haunted houses. For adults it’s “Hookerween”, drag queens and real haunted house tours.

In the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, at an annual “adult” Halloween street party, they regularly draw around ten thousand people. And participants don’t just “Halloween it”. I’ve seen costumes that rival the best on Broadway. The costume contest usually has around a hundred participants. There are classic horror vampires, werewolves and ghosts. Dirty adult fantasies include Catholic school girls, Playboy bunnies, and any female cop, construction worker or nurse. And not just the ladies; I’ve seen demons with realistic ahem, equipment, that ejaculated silly string, flashers and some hot male superheroes. Then there’s always the current topic costumes like a Chilean miner who stepped out of a rescue capsule, Sarah Palin (both men and women), and a gal from Avatar wearing a loincloth and um, body paint, I think. I just know that people next to the costume contest stage were salivating, she won first place and no one had a clue who she was on daily basis and didn’t care. And Elvis is always in the building, or neighborhood.  The party has even expanded to family friendly daytime events with kids and dog parades and costume contests.

Currently I am collecting pieces and creating this year’s Halloween fashionista extravaganza. I am fortunate enough to work at a year round party and costume shop (Johnnie Brock’s Dungeon and Party Warehouse) that goes bat shit crazy at Halloween. To me it is the retail/creative equivalent of crack; I can’t quit it and I really don’t want to. I have already gathered some pieces I can’t make but can embellish, including an eight foot bullwhip. But I’m not going to be a lion trainer, it’s something more current and relevant to this blog. I’m working on a whole creative Steampunk theme including my costume and a series of books. One of my book characters is talented with the whip. It starts as a symbol of her oppression but ends up as a piece of her salvation and revenge. I’ll update with another blog on my progress in learning how to crack it. The whip also reminds me of my love of Indiana Jones. I’m thrilled that it’s been rereleased in IMAX and I can’t wait to see it again.  I still have the one of the authentic replica fedoras from the early 1980’s. It reminds me of the spirit of Halloween; you can be anyone you want with the right accessories.

I’ve always wanted to be Indy.

I’ll post complete pics and blogs about the creative process later but feel free to “Like” my page “The Countess” on Facebook for updates and snippets of what’s to come. I hope for the first book to be published later this Fall.