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

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-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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-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

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-Fine Art America-store coming soon

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Revamping the Vamp, Get to Know Will

When I was writing my first steampunk novel “Strax and the Widow”, I got distracted by whole different genre and character. I wondered what would it be like for a modern day vampire searching for “the one” in modern times. What do you do with eternity on your hands? Could you really fall in love with one person? And if that person were human, could you avoid killing them? Would you tire of an endless life?

I know that this theme is not exactly unique, but I wanted to write a series from the view point of the vampire. Climb into his mind and share his story. And thus my character Will and “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series was born.

I like the short story format for this series. Each one is written like episodic television; a new adventure or peek into Will’s past. The first in the series “The Long Moonlight” might start off a little mushy, but read it all the way through to discover what’s at the heart of Will.

I like Will. For a vampire, he’s still pretty human. He loves women, but like most men, even after being alive over 600 years, has yet to completely figure them out. He has tremendous powers and desires. He is tempted, and sometimes can’t control his undead yearnings. Will’s made some serious mistakes and like most of us, his past still haunts him. He’s sweet, dirty, passionate, smart, dangerous, sexy, and sometimes a jerk, but always complex and charming.

I’ve just released V.1o “The Vamp Hit List”. It will be available to download for FREE on Wednesday November 19th on amazon/kindle. Remember, you don’t have to have a kindle to get the ebooks. You can download the Kindle app to almost any electronic device.

The whole FIRST ebook series will be FREE FOR THE LAST TIME EVER on 11/30, 12/1, and 12/26. After that you’ll have to purchase them or the upcoming compilation of all the stories, “The First Ten Bites”. I hope to have it available in hard copies/paperbacks by late spring.

Will is going to go away for a bit for a revamp as I wrap up my second steampunk novel in “The Society Series”, “Revenge and Machinery”. Some of the titles will have new artwork and new formatting, so be sure to download on the FREE dates. More of Will’s new adventures will arrive later in 2015.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series. Please feel free to share the free download dates and rate on amazon and goodreads. I’d love to see your comments.

As always, thank you for reading,

-Victoria

The Vampire’s Little Black Book series is 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! 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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

Getting Wiggy With It and Changes

I have eight wigs, none of which of are real human hair. Now that I’m working for a costume/Halloween store full time, I have access to even more strands of colorful delight.

Last month I decided I was done with the rat race, the nine to five.  I quit a new day job I’d only had for six weeks. Although the pay was good and it was in my field,  some things I was promised at the onset didn’t evolve. I had just been through seven years of that madness in my previous employment. I’d decided I wasn’t going to go through another seven years of not being happy and broken promises.  So I quit and went full time to a fun job that will also allow me to write and create more. I was ready to make a leap of faith, ready to change.

It’s put another delay in finishing “Strax and the Widow”, but I am much happier and less stressed.

I find inspiration everywhere in the shop, in all the fun costumes and accessories.  I love the endless styles of wigs.  They too help me to change. I’m happy to share a bit of the selection here. Enjoy, I’ll keep you posted on the nifty things coming soon. And note I have reduced prices for a pre-Halloween sale in my Etsy store, so please take a gander.

CCB2BMy newest and second favorite wig, in Mardi Gras colors. A little steampunked Joker cosplay.

 

GM 9GM 4My oldest wig, over 15 years old, first worn at Cardinals games. Used most recently for a mask photo shoot.

 

 

A bit pensive.Wig test and a smile.I have to say this is now my favorite wig. I love the antique blue look and the ringlets.

Steam White

 My real hair, although heavily lightened in these two pics.

Cover of Everyone Looks Better Undead.

Cover of Everyone Looks Better Undead.

 

And then some style. Day of the Dead IndeedAnd some roses.A black wig under the veil and under the hat below.

Fire Feather Hat 1

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Doing my best Foxxy Cleopatra at the premiere of Austin Powers “Goldmember” in a fine afro.

Amy

An Amy Winehouse bouffant black wig.

Viscious

The second use of the red bob wig. I jumped out of that coffin for three hours.

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective of my wigs. 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 available on amazon/kindle.

Product Details

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

-“Strax and the Widow” will debut this summer on Amazon/Kindle.

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

When Worlds Collide in a Most Pleasing Way

I starting calling myself a multi-media artist because being just “an artist” didn’t quite encompass all the works I create. I draw, paint, write, sculpt, dance, sing, and create jewelry. I participate in a lot of other activities that could be considered arts of their own, including yoga.

Until I starting exploring Steampunk as a theme, my artistic “go to” was dogs (and other animals) in charcoal and pastel. I’ve done dozens of pet portraits, have competed in national competitions and shown my work in galleries. I’ve branched out into other visual art and illustration by will and necessity. At my first full time job, I illustrated construction equipment, which included everything from screwdrivers to the huge bridge cranes that build skyscrapers. I didn’t like it at the time, but this previous experience soon proved to be handy in drawing works for the covers of my books.

They say everyone has a book in their head or wants to be a writer. That’s true for me, except I probably have at least five or six novels and a couple of trilogies just chomping at the bit to be written. I began my writing by telling fantastical stories as a child. I loved to read and became a Narnia and Star Wars fan which fueled my creative brain further. I know my yarn spinning seriously worried my mother when I started telling my best friends I was an ethereal fairy. I so convinced one of my besties that I was grounded for a week as punishment by my strict Catholic mom. I journalled my wild dreams and took advanced literature classes in high school. In college I took a couple creative writing courses. I was also playing viola and tinkered with a little fashion design. So these different media, combined with the visual art, caused a bit of heartache as I had several muses pulling me apart. Each wanted and needed attention like a small toddler going through the terrible two’s.

Visual art eventually won, but every once in a while I got a story idea and would write the basics down. I worked day jobs while trying to pursue my visual art. After the housing and economy crash of 2007, I got the passion to never work a day job again. I rebooted my art business image and started writing a bit. I’d looked into journalism, but I’m really too emotional for serious reporting. Instead, there were several characters ready for birth. Then I found Steampunk.

The storyline for the books came easily. Time to get it all down hasn’t. I still work a day job and create dog/pet art. But fortunately, all of my creative juices fit into the Steampunk theme. I’m creating hats and jewelry. The first book will be published in a few months. I’ve got some sketches related to the books ready to turn into full blown pieces. And I’m living vicariously through my main Steampunk character, learning and practicing what she knows/does, via whip cracking, poker, fencing, chess, and manners. Hence this blog journey of my exploits. Where these collective talents have most recently and pleasantly collided is at the “Clockwork Cat”.

I was honored to be chosen as one of the artists for Animal Protection Association’s “Harry and Hanley Project”, a fundraiser for the APA through a regional public art exhibit. There will be 10 dog and 10 cat sculptures cast from originals of a nationally known sculptor Harry Weber. I recently finished painting my piece, the “Clockwork Cat”, done in Victoriana/Steampunk style.
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It will have its public summertime placement shortly. More pics and my artist’s statement will be posted on my pet art website, http://www.hautehen.com and the http://www.harryandhanley.com site in the next few weeks. If you love any of the works and want to support the APA you can text APAMO to 20222 to donate $10.

I’d love your comments, on “The Clockwork Cat” or any of my other pieces, so feel free to like me on Facebook at The Haute Hen (for the animal art) or The Countess Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc (for the Steam art). And the “likes” contest is still going on at The Countess page; please like and share or follow so I can start giving away some fun Steampunk/Victoriana/Sci-fi goodies. I’m also on Twitter and Pinterest. Welcome to my collision of creative worlds.

All Tied Up (In a Corset) and Releasing the Hounds

My life has taken a stunning turn of events in the last year. When I started this blog, I had hoped certain things would happen.  I wanted to explore a different vein of my creativity and use Steampunk as a theme. Little did I know how this project would evolve and how I would change. I completed some of my initial concepts in quick fashion. One of them was a Steampunk costume I made and wore on Halloween.

I recently updated the hat and corset from the costume for a gallery show, FashionArt at Soulard Art Market (SAM). While they didn’t win prizes, the pieces were well received.

FashionArt Show Pic FashionArt

I shared my hat making process in another blog recently and wanted to do the same for the corset work. This begins with my old couch. I bought a huge buttery soft brown leather couch for $99 in the discount section of national chain furniture store. I’d come to this shop often to check the sample and damaged pieces. One fine day, a beauty of a sofa practically called out “buy me”. The frame was slightly damaged, but the original price had been over $1,000, so it was a steal.

Thanks to help from one of my brothers and my dad’s pick-up truck, that brown baby was soon in the living room of my shot-gun bungalow. Fast forward to five years later, after I’d sold the house and moved to a high rise apartment, my brown leather friend had barely survived the move. The jimmied fixes I’d made to the frame had come undone and the movers had caused further damage. I had the plush couch propped against a wall for a while, but when one of the arms had started to come off, I knew it was time for it to go.

Being the good recycler I am, I decided the milk chocolate leather was just too awesome to part with. I carefully cut it from the frame and kept it. I donated all the interior cushions to Goodwill.  Alas the frame was so busted that I simply broke it into smaller pieces and left it at the dumpster. Had I still been in my house, I probably would have bar-b-q’d over it, redneck style in the backyard.

I wrapped the large leather pieces and stored them in an extra strong trash bag in my closet. I found a replacement couch for only $49. Apparently I have a penchant for finding cheap leather brown couches. It is while working from this couch that part of my old brown friend rose from the ashes like a Phoenix in the form of a corset.

Using another corset I’d bought as a pattern, I cut a couple good pieces and hand stitched my virgin attempt at corsetry into being. I’d found some awesome chains, a pocket watch and wired ribbon to decorate my newly created beauty. I left out the boning. That will be a future endeavor I’m certain.

An old pair of brown and black striped pants circa 1994 added some nice panel blocking. Yes, I wore those pants from the Gap until I ripped the crotch. I had Steampunk leanings back then too I guess. I had saved the fabric to make some pillows, but they have instead made nice touches to the corset (and hat). And I still have some material left over; traveling pants indeed.

Corset Panel BasicCorset Front 1Chain detail

Finished Corset Panel 1

For its Halloween debut, I was in an incredible hurry, so I had to pin the back panels on to my blouse. But for the FashionArt show, it needed finishing. I learned how to use a grommet tool and used a gorgeous black satin ribbon to tie up the back. Ironically, this tie up reminded me that part of the reason I didn’t finish the corset on time for Halloween was because I got caught up reading the “50 Shades” trilogy. But I digress; the corset was completed at last. Enjoy the pics, and then please read on about how I feel about releasing art and writing.

Corset Back 1Corset Back 3Corset Back 4

Putting out any completed piece of work, whether it is music, visual art or writing can be fairly nerve wracking. I like to use the phrase “releasing the hounds”, famous from the old Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Hounds of the Baskervilles”. In an old movie version, the manor dogs are released and madness ensues. I often feel that way in the creative process.  The work is prepped for release, I’m running around like crazy trying to get frames, editing, delivering and making deadlines. And finally there’s the opening or show or publication, where I practically collapse in heap and try to enjoy the fruits of my artistic labor. I hope the work is well received, but comfort myself with the thought that those who can’t create usually criticize.

Right now I’m in a creative frenzy with several large projects happening at once. The aforementioned FashionArt launch went well. I was able to secure a mannequin for a reasonable price and the gallery is fairly close by, so delivery was easy. On the other hand, I have a large competition pastel piece (44” x 64”) on its way at this very moment to Wichita, KS in a freakishly bad Midwestern snowstorm. As of right now, it’s on a UPS truck, waiting for the roads to clear before leaving Kansas City where they received a foot of snow. Here in St. Louis I have successfully bitten off all my nails. Which is OK, because I have two other large visual art projects in the works and I don’t need my nails dragging over pieces. I haven’t painted my nails in years for this reason.

One of these projects is a fantastic community art sculpture project that involves my other creative passion, animals. I am looking forward to creating despite the craziness of my schedule.

My written works are fighting for equal time. I have been working on a Steampunk trilogy since last summer. Originally scheduled for release last fall, I realized that it needed major editing. I had to abandon it for a few weeks after I got a couple opinions and my system picked up a nasty virus. I got frustrated and other art interfered. Inside I was dying to “release the hounds” as the creativity came faster than I could write.

While the trilogy was in a holding pattern, I came up with whole different serial about a single vampire and his search for an eternal love. I thought I’d never write about vampires, but it would not wait. Within a couple days, the first installment and its accompanying illustration were published in the Kindle store on Amazon. Much to my delight, I had my first sale. My hounds have been released, more are coming and a happy madness has ensued.

-“FashionArt” runs through March 8th in St. Louis’ Soulard Art Market.

-“The Long Moonlight” by Victoria L. Szulc, the first of “the Vampire’s Little Black Book” series is available on the Amazon/Kindle store for Kindle and apps (copyright and TM Hen Publishing). The second story should be available this weekend.

-“Strax and the Widow”, by Victoria L. Szulc (copyright and TM Hen Publishing), the first of the Steampunk trilogy is slated for a June release.

Feel free to “Like” me on Facebook at “The Countess Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc”. I update frequently with teaser nuggets from the books and pictures.

Vanity Thy Name Is a Hat

I love hats, always have. Yesterday was National Hat Day in the U.S. I found out a bit too late about this special day to post this blog in time.  But I wanted to put it out to celebrate what the French call the chapeau and share how my collection has expanded to some fun Steampunk items.

I have a hat collection. It’s much reduced from the one I had over fifteen years ago, although I have started restocking. I’ve sold some at flea markets and others became just too beat up to even attempt repairs. My Cardinals baseball collection is embarrassingly massive, from the good old fashioned red and STL logo white to an odd space like silver (yes silver). Then to the others: top hats, fedoras, flat brimmed Andalusian’s (one is black like Zorro wore), cowboy hats and church lady like bonnets.  I like a wide range of fabrics: straw, wired lace, wool and satins. I definitely have a few favorites including my Indiana Jones “official” reproduction.

IndyBlueBrown Suede

I love to add to preexisting hats to make them more interesting or to celebrate a special occasion, like the ones here to celebrate the Kentucky Derby.

Derby

Horse Head Hat

The “horse head” paper-mache won a Derby Hat contest.

My latest work was part of last year’s Halloween Steampunk creation. I started with a basic black coachman’s satin top hat and added fabric, ribbons, lights, feathers and goggles to create what has become one of my favorites.  Enter vanity.

I liked it so much that I spent about an hour photographing it with my iPhone 4S. On Halloween, I must confess that I basked in a few compliments. I hope to be able to wear it again soon. But until then, enjoy the photos and please pardon my vanity.

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