Corset Rehab

First of all, thank you to the fallen on this Memorial Day. Below is a print from an antique post card I’d bought at the Gypsy Caravan a few years ago:

  
Last week was crazy busy. Today’s feature, corset rehab. I finished a corset panel for a client. The corset she’d bought had some tears which I’d fixed. Then I created the panel, cutting the leather from good pieces I already had. 

 
The trim came from a year old purse I’d loved but was falling apart.  

Trim cut and measured:

 
I hand stitched the edges of the panel. This is not for the faint of heart. It took a strong needle and almost three hours to complete.  

Added the grommets and trim to the existing corset and panel, done! 

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

I like to take a moment to thank my British readers yet AGAIN! I hope you are enjoying Strax and the Widow and The Vampire’s Little Black Book series!! I hope to return to your lovely country soon.

As always, thank you for reading!

-Victoria
-Upcoming shows:

-Saturday May 30th Corvid’s Cafe, 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

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-Fine Art America-store coming soon

The Art of the Proposal and Yes, I’m Really an Artist

Yesterday I wrapped up my last art proposal out of twelve. A couple more opportunities had popped up since my last blog and I couldn’t resist the challenge to create more art. I’ve had one refusal, but so far, three acceptances/shows, including the AKC Art Show at the Dog Show that is happening right now in Wichita, KS. I will have a weekend show at the holy grail of dog art, the AKC Museum of the Dog in July 25th and 26th, and I will again have a piece in the Stray Rescue Urban Wanderer’s show this summer. And something I’ve been working on for so long, the main reason for this blog, my steampunk art, A Midsummer’s Night Steam Steampunk Art Installation will commence on June 5th and run through the month of June at 1900 Park, Creative Space. I am so thrilled to have all kinds of my steam art available in one spot. I have begun to collect more fabric and pieces to put some great works together.

I have been chomping at the bit to get creating, but the proposals took quite a bit of my time, almost a month. Each submission had it’s own paperwork, rules, standards, ideas and formatting. My creative writing skills were well utilized, but I was really hoping to get back to the adventures of Kate Church or designing more hats. I won’t lie, I whined about it in social media more than a few times. I had to remind myself to be grateful that so many artistic possibilities were out there to begin with. Which brings me to part two of this blog.

Last year I walked away from corporate America much to the surprise of friends and family. I had already lost my full time job last spring. I found a new job in the same industry (media), but quit after a couple months. I was burnt out and my heart was screaming “do what you love”. So I decided to work part time to pay the bills which allows enough time for my art. I’ve had a website for my dog art for years and have been blogging about my steampunk art and writing for over three and half years now.

What’s funny though is I still get questions. Are you really an artist? Really? How do you find the time? Do you live in a loft? Can you make money doing that? I have to laugh at all of them. Yep, I’m an artist. I was basically a prodigy. I remember drawing before I could talk. I was gifted and had a super imagination as a kid (I still do). I’ve participated in several huge public artworks. I did move from the suburbs to the city and my view is spectacular, although it’s not exactly a loft. But I do leave the accordian door to the bedroom open which gives the apartment a nice airy feeling. Yes, I am making money, not as much as I had hoped, but things are really starting to happen. My Etsy store has over 8,000 views. I get commissions and now monthly royalties from amazon. Life is getting good.

But I have to wonder, why people ask? I mean, I have the talent, shouldn’t I use it? Maybe I don’t look like your typical female artist (whatever that is). Maybe people expect piercings and tats, a mohawk, an unconventional lifestyle? Well, I do color my hair however I like it, I wear what I want, and I am a cougar (that’s for another blog), but I pretty much have a family and buy groceries like everyone else does. I did notice that after a recent bout of eye strain and wearing glasses instead of contacts got me a lot of interesting looks and unexpected respect. I know all kinds of female artists and wonder that in the post feminism/re-charging feminism world of #HeForShe why women artists STILL aren’t taken seriously.

I recently did a small craft/art show with almost all female artists, and most of them happen to be my part time co-workers. One of the younger gals stepped away from her table for a while after her boyfriend arrived. He watched over her work so she could take a break. After she returned and they stood together, much to her chagrin, almost everyone that approached assumed that he was the artist. I confess I’d be a bit miffed too.

Beyond the feminist aspect, I also get a little angry that art isn’t taken as a serious profession. The days I’m not working the part time job, I work at home. I might post a couple posts on social media, but then it’s off to the races art wise. I can’t tell you how many times I get interrupted by all kinds of requests, general building noises, etc. I feel the pain of anyone else that works from home. I’ve gotten in the habit of turning my phone off completely when I create. Art is my passion, but it is work that I do get paid for, and it needs to be done. Sometimes there’s research and inspirational materials I need to review. And I deserve time away like everyone else. I don’t have vacation time like a corporate job, but I need a break too. Sometimes even a walk to the convenience store or a glass of wine is a small bit of heaven.

On the flip side, I leave this blog on a positive note. There is nothing like having someone see your work and marvel at it’s beauty. Or the person or client that buys a piece and doesn’t bat an eye at its price. For this, I am so grateful. And as always, thank you for reading.

-Victoria

P.S. So much good stuff coming. I am going to do many more short visual posts from my phone as I finish pieces for a Midsummer Night’s Steam. Please share and keep your eyes peeled for my vision of Victorian retro-futurism.

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

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-Fine Art America-store coming soon

Fruition

The main character in my book “Strax and the Widow”, Kate Church, has a moment in which she cleverly escapes her nemesis in very crafty and surprising fashion. It’s the main plot twist in my steampunk adventure. Obviously, I won’t give it away, but Kate’s plans had come to fruition. A phase in which I’m enjoying right now.

2014 was a pretty tumultuous year. I was finally fired from an agonizing job I’d tried so hard to leave. I ended up finding employment in my field within a few short weeks, doing almost the exact same position. I left after about three months, taking a leap of faith to really pursue my art, with a full time job at costume/party shop for back up.

But with all the hard work I’ve put in, I’ve created a solid foundation on which to continue pursuing my passion. Dreams are being put into action. Books and art are being created and sold. Manifestation is becoming my middle name. I’ve got a list of plans and ideas a mile long. I believe that they too will come to fruition.

I’m cutting out what’s not working. Have had a cafepress store for years and like Facebook, they kept changing rules, commissions, etc. Not a single sale all year, so good bye. Google+? I’m on it, but I never post there.

What is working? WordPress of course, but I am getting rid of the actual Scoop from the Coop blog. One art blog is enough. Mysteampunkproject celebrated its second anniversary and I’m well into my third year of blogging.

Etsy is the best place to find my art (in The Haute Hen store). I am experimenting with a few others, but for now, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the 7,000 views in my Etsy store. As promised, I’ve just added some photo prints and more unique steampunk and gift items are on their way.

I will remember and savor other good things from 2014:

I finished my first full novel, “Strax and the Widow” and completed the first ten volumes of “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series.

I had a juried piece in the superbowl of dog art, “The Art Show at the Dog Show” and had two pieces selected for the prestigious 2015 Washington Dog Park Calendar.

I did some set design for an indie movie “I Remember Me” from a talented writer and director Chelsea Zotta. I’ll let you know when it’s released. It should be awesome.

I was selected for another public, large scale art project, stl250 Cakeway to the West. My cake, “The Spirit of St. Louis” was displayed at the Soldier’s Memorial in downtown St. Louis and was later auctioned off for charity. It’s currently on loan to Patti-Ann’s Exchange, a unique art and resale shop.

The only promoting for this blog is my Etsy store. Again, thank you for 7,000+ views! So to celebrate Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day, there’s a 25% off code LUVMASKS25 in the store for ALL items. The link to a fabulous mask and the store is here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/182900579/steampunk-gold-mardi-gras-light-up?

As always, thank you for reading,

-Victoria

UPDATED 75% OFF-So Out with the Old, in with the New

SPECIAL UPDATE-I wanted to update this blog with a quick thank you to the HUNDREDS that downloaded my free books AND to announce that through 12/30/14 ALL items in my Etsy store are 75% OFF with code NEWYEARS75. Please feel free to share it. I have everything from steampunk fashion, art and antiques that MUST go in order to make room for new items I have ready to add, including photo prints, more steamy and fun hats, and of course more dog items.

Thank you as always for reading and your patronage!

Victoria

______________

I hope that you are having a most lovely holiday season! If you aren’t, I hope things get better soon.

And maybe some FREE downloads will help? OR 50% OFF in my Etsy store? Read on!

Today, 12/26 only, the whole Vampire’s Little Black Book Series is FREE for the last time, for volumes 1-10. The covers are redone and I am working on a compilation to be released next year. I hope you will share this with friends and feel free to comment/critique on amazon and goodreads. My link to my author page (and all my titles) is here:

http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-L.-Szulc/e/B00CDFDIBI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1419620251&sr=1-2-ent

10 The Vamp Hit List

Not a big reader? Like to shop, like dogs, unique fashion and jewelry? Use code XMAS50 for 50% in my Etsy store. Offer good for a limited time, so please check out the store, link below:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHauteHen

K7

As always, 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:

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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