The Starfish Chair

This is one of the last posts featuring the creation of my playhouse “Under the Sea”. I’m hard at work on “A Midsummer’s Nights Steam” but I wanted to share the creation process of the starfish chair.

It started with drawings, an ottoman and some wood provided by another crafter and friend Jon Sanfilippo:

   
          

Then I braced and “stuffed” it: 

  

  

  

  

  

  


Then added the cover (hand stitched mostly) and legs: 

       Please follow at #RaisetheRoof, #RTR, #FOW for progress on the “Under the Sea” playhouse. It will be picked TOMORROW!

I like to take a moment to thank my All of my readers yet AGAIN! I hope you are enjoying all my works. The sale ends soon!

As always, thank you for reading!
-Victoria

-Upcoming shows:
-THIS Saturday May 30th Corvid’s Cafe, 6-9pm, Cakeway To the West Artists Show
-Friday June 5th 1900 Park Creative Space, A Midsummer’s Night Steam, a steampunk installation, open the month of June.
-Thursday June 25th The Heavy Anchor Art/Craft Fair
-TBA July Stray Rescue’s Urban Wanderers dog art show
-July 25-26th The AKC Museum of the Dog, solo weekend dog art show
-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle. Sorry for the delay, working out a few kinks and have sooo many irons in the fire right now.
-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle AND IS ON SALE FOR $.99, extended THROUGH MAY! Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon! All of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series stories are on sale for only $.99 as well. My amazon author page link:
http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-L.-Szulc/e/B00CDFDIBI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1428805315&sr=8-1

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

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen/store currently “on vacation” during the next few weeks.
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-Fine Art America-store coming soon

 

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Derby Time, Works In Progress

Another from my series of WIPs, Works In Progess. These are going in the Etsy store, where I just got another 5 Star review! The Derby hats below are here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/186882497/kentucky-derby-baseball-cap-with-horse?ref=shop_home_feat_3

Ready for the Derby? It’s just a few weeks away. Just refreshed these in the Etsy store, had to remake one of these beauties after one sold. Please take a gander:

  

As always, thank you for reading,

Victoria

Upcoming events/sales:

-“A  Midsummer’s Nights Steam”, a steampunk art installation opens Friday June 5th, 6pm, 1900 Park Creative Space, St. Louis, MO

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle. Sorry for the delay, working out a few kinks.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle AND IS ON SALE FOR $.99 THROUGH MAY 1st. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon! All of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series stories are on sale for only $.99 as well. My amazon author page link:

http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-L.-Szulc/e/B00CDFDIBI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1428805315&sr=8-1

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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

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

Works in Progress

Dear Readers and Friends:

Creativity is on fire right now.

First some good news, I am featured on the Over 30 Cosplay page on Facebook today. Please take a gander here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Over-30-Cosplay/1411617909131524

Also, as promised in my last blog: Today is the first in a series of “works in progress” or in other words, pieces I’ve tried to finish or new ones I’m working on for my steam show this summer.

First up, a look at a pile of pieces in line for work:  

Next up, I’ve just reclaimed a water damaged piece and framed it.

  

“Radishes” will be going in the Etsy store soon.

Next, “Heart in Hand” an old embossing I’ve been meaning to frame. I created the embossing and used hand made paper.  I really like this piece in that it reminds me of old fashioned letters, when Victorian writing was truly an art. I mounted it in a frame but it can be easily removed should someone want to take the card and put down their sweet thoughts on elegant script.

It too will go in the Etsy store with this Butterfly Shadow Box I finally finished today. First, I had to reconstruct a real butterfly I’d found in my parking garage (I’m assuming it died in the heat somehow; it was a pretty hot day).

    I then added at to a shabby chic college of press type, dyed paper, an illustration and cloth flower.

  

Then into a shadow box it went. Another piece for the Etsy store.

I’ll have more works in progress including many more steampunk items popping. Watch this space for some awesome things! Listed below are some updates and as always, thank you for reading!

-Victoria

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle. Sorry for the delay, working out a few kinks.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle AND IS ON SALE FOR $.99 THROUGH MAY 1st. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon! All of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series stories are on sale for only $.99 as well. My amazon author page link:

http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-L.-Szulc/e/B00CDFDIBI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1428805315&sr=8-1

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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

 

Another Vampire Birthday and a Book SALE!

I missed an important birthday last month. Will, my vampire turned two on Valentine’s Day! How could I forget? Well I was in the midst of several large art project proposals, my first art show of the year and Mardi Gras madness.

Which reminds me, a big thank you to all who came out to The Heavy Anchor last week and bought art from all the artists and crafters. We really appreciate your business.

And thank you to all who’ve purchased my books and stories on amazon/kindle. Will the vampire is gearing up for new adventures as I prepare the next chapters of his undead life. I can’t believe it’s been two years since I’ve published “The Long Moonlight”, v.1 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series. I’m also working on the sequel to “Strax and the Widow”, the adventures of my steampunk heroine, Kate Church. I hope to have “Revenge and Machinery”, the 2nd of The Society Series trilogy, out before summertime and featured in my steampunk art installation. So while you for wait for my latest literary gems, I’m celebrating Will’s birthday with a $.99 sale on all my books through May 1st. So if you haven’t had a chance to download my tomes, please take a gander via the link below:

amazon.com/author/victorial.szulc

PLEASE NOTE: my hautehen.com website, phone number and email are STILL down for just a few more days as I upgrade my systems.

Another big THANK YOU, The Haute Hen Etsy store has hit over 8,000 views! I am humbled and thrilled. Thank you for supporting my art in all its forms. You can copy and past the link below to see my latest pieces in store. But don’t wait too long, after April 1st, I will be pulling some of the inventory to put in the steampunk show. Which brings me to my events. I’d love it if you could drop by…

Events:

I will have a steampunk art installation/show, “A Midsummer Night’s Steam” during the month of June here in St. Louis with opening weekend starting June 5th-7th at Create Space, 1900 Park, in conjunction with the Lafayette Square House Tour. Please watch this space for more details!

I have been selected as a featured artist at the AKC Museum of the Dog hear in St. Louis and will have an art opening for the weekend of July 25th-26th. Again more details are forthcoming.

Next blog will return to more adventures, artistic musings and creativity. As always, thank you for reading,

-Victoria

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A Proper Mardi Gras Topper

Note: edited again to include the new YouTube link for this blog here:

Note: I made a couple edits to this blog today, 2/18/15. I had a technical issue with the link that has now been fixed and this blog has been corrected. Thank you for your patience and as always, for reading,

-Victoria

For those that follow my blog, you know that I am absolutely crazy about hats. My newly finished creation is a lovely top hat with a definite New Orleans Fleur de Lis flavor and Neo-Victorian steampunk style.

I started with a basic tall black top hat. I added fabric from a jacket I bought and actually wore to work over 15 years ago.

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I found a nifty knob on a steep discount at a craft store. I liked the Fleur de Lis motif. I thought it would be fun to be able to pull the hat off and on by it. I choose another fleur for the backside.

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I added wired ribbon, tulle, plumes, and an antique key as elegant touches.

IMG_2575 Continue reading

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!

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

Shooting Steam

Part of my steampunk project has been photographing my art, fashion and book covers. I love this outlet for my creativity. I rarely pass up the opportunity to be a chameleon or show my work.

When I first starting looking at steampunk as an art form, I had an iphone 4s. Previously I’ve had throw away cameras, a 35mm and a Kodak digital. The camera on my phone blew me away. The ability to edit on the spot, send pics instantly and a long battery life suddenly made shooting pics exhilarating.

The cover for “Strax and the Widow” is a good example of this process. I already had a good logo from a graphic designer, I just needed a decent image. I was going to “play” my main character Kate Church, but after a while I decided I needed something powerful. An pic that would demonstrate Kate’s strength and the antique setting of the Wild West. I finally settled on some objects that represented key plots in the book which were assembled on a repro Victorian chair. One of the props is an eight foot bull whip that I actually know how to use. And somehow lost in my 600 square foot apartment. Fortunately I work for a costume shop and picked up a replacement. I shot it in color and liked the composition, but it just didn’t click…

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…until I filtered it to black and white. Then, magic:

cover

Add the logo, a graphic background and voila, cover done:

Strax Book Cover

Another benefit to all this self portraiture has been a tremendous morale booster. I’ve never been the thinnest girl in the room, but expressing myself through the characters in my book has been liberating, to say the least. When I started “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series, the covers had kind of cute illustrations of objects related to the book. As the series has progressed, I realized that the covers needed some sophistication. I had found a model/actor, Patrick Renfrow, to be Will, my vampire, and used him for a couple shots (one of which is Patrick’s own self portrait). Other than those two volumes that feature “Will” on the front, only one other “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers” is not me. Yep, I’m on the remaining seven covers, or parts of me. Wigs (I’ve now added 2 new ones to my collection), make-up and some ham acting have resulted in some really nice shots.

This last couple of weeks, I had only three more covers to reshoot as I prepare to put all ten vamp stories in a compilation, “The First Ten Bites”.

First up, was “Emma” from “The Long Moonlight”. A week ago, on late Sunday eve, the lighting was perfect with dusk settling in with a mix of blue Christmas lights. Emma is a werewolf and the moon enchants her. She comes undone. I let my auburn hair fly. I really liked how this set came out, even with the light distortion. First the actual cover and cover shot, then other takes from this set:

1 The Long Moonlight

The Long Moonlight

Moonlight 1A Moonlight 2 Moonlight 4 Moonlight 5

Next up was a reshoot, just a couple days later, for “Mabel” and “Roarin’ 20’s”, two of the older stories in the series. “Mabel” became much more of a challenge than I thought. This episode of The Vampire’s Little Black Book is different from many of the others in that Mabel is not a raving beauty. She’s an older, plump woman, a shy and stubborn farmer in 1930’s. This character hits close to home for me.

Back in 2010, I hit an all time high with my weight. Despite working out and occasionally dieting, I was, quite frankly, enormous, bordering on morbidly obese. I started training harder. I did the trendy but effective Beach Body Insanity. I managed to keep most of what I lost off, but after a couple of back injuries I started to regain some of the weight. The good news is some of that weight was a non cancerous tumor/herniated umbilicle (I blogged about it here: https://www.google.com/#q=How+to+repair+a+herniated+navel+and+use+it+for+vampire+material ). After I had emergency surgery last year, not only am I lucky to be alive, but I am celebrating it by continuing to take care of myself and get more fit. I am almost 60 lbs. lighter than I was five years ago. Got a long way to go on getting super fit, but I’m on that road.

Mabel was easy to write. I’d been in her shoes. So back to the session and how to get that on film…

How do you shoot yourself, while not so pretty but still make a good cover? I thought that this would be easy. It wasn’t. I ended up taking about twenty shots until I was finally satisfied with one single piece. I didn’t save any others, here’s the winner:

Mabel

I needed to feature a locket (a key component to the story) and show the essence Mabel as a good hearted, plus sized woman. I think I succeeded, here’s the finished cover:

4 Mabel

In stark contrast, I shot “Roarin’ 20’s” cover immediately after Mabel, and it was easy to get into character. I had gathered up my props and costume. I darkened my make up and did test lighting with some LED Christmas lights:

 

20s 1 20s 2

With a new super white wig, and multitudes of pearls, I was ready to cosplay “Sadie” the poor little rich girl flapper of “Roarin’ 20’s”. Well, I thought I was. Part of the props were two real cigarettes which I’d bought from a coworker. I haven’t smoked since my teens. A bad episode of strep at sixteen pretty much cured me of smoking anything forever. So with one cancer stick placed in the cigarette holder, I started shooting. But it wouldn’t stay lit (after three relights) and I couldn’t get the smoky club feeling I wanted. Down went the holder and I lit up for real.  The noir filter worked incredibly well. I actually got a little nicotine high, and the good pics came quickly and easily. Here’s a sample:

20s 6 20s 11 20s 14 20s 17 20s 22 20s 25

And the winning shot and cover:

Roarin' 20's

2 Roarin' 20's

My cover redos for the upcoming compilation are complete. Soon I’ll have autographed prints available in the Etsy store and standard prints of the photos and covers on FineArtAmerica. Here are all ten covers of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series:

1 The Long Moonlight2 Roarin' 20's3 Esme4 Mabel5 Creating Anna6 Thirty Three Forever7 Can You Hear My Heart Beating8 Everyone Looks Better Undead9 Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers10 The Vamp Hit List

PLEASE DON’T FORGET! You can download all titles for FREE on 12/26 from amazon/kindle. This will be the last time I’ll offer them for free. Please share and feel free to critique and comment on amazon or goodreads.

A quick update, the steam trunk has found a home, a local steampunker bought it. My Etsy store is almost at 5,000 views! Thank you so much for your patronage.

And 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