Category Archives: costume

Eggs and Introverts

Two quick things today.

First, my black cooper maran hen started laying last week! I didn’t expect this to happen so soon – but when she started “squatting” whenever I reached out to touch her, I knew the egglaying was going to commence in about a week. Squatting is a sure sign.

She lays wonderful dark chocolate eggs…although not quite so dark as I was hoping for.  In the below pic, hers are the two small dark ones (the first eggs a hen lays are very small, and increase to a normal size later on). The lighter egg is a pale brown, laid by my cochin, I think?

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Isn’t it interesting how one is spotted and one plain? This is one of the many reasons I love having chickens. Grocery store eggs are so boring!

And for those of you that have been reading this blog for a long time, you remember that I used to sew costumes and attend yearly costuming conferences. I no longer have the time or inclination for that anymore, but I did just finish a new Edwardian 1912 costume. If you’re interested, you can go check out more pictures and information on my costuming blog.

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I made this dress for a Downton Abbey Celebration my library workplace was having, during which I did a presentation on post-Victorian undergarments, called “What Did They Wear Under There?” It was so much fun to do. I’m an introvert, and so many people have this mistaken idea that all introverts are all shy and socially awkward, and hate talking to people. Not true! Introverts are on a spectrum like everything else, and the only thing that all introverts have is a desire and need for alone time, to recharge. We get our energy from ourselves, and being around people drains that energy. But many of us still love being out…we just need time alone afterward. For myself, I adore public speaking – as long as it’s on a subject I love and am knowledgeable about. Costuming and historical fashion definitely fits those two requirements! I was told afterward by three different people that I should ‘take that show on the road’ it was so good, and one attendee (speaking of the entire evening) said that she’d never been in the library before, and didn’t know she could have so much fun there on a Thursday evening! It was also super fun for me…demonstrating how to walk in a hobble skirt, dispelling the various corseting myths, and even talking about how to use the toilet while wearing a full bustle skirt! I think I’ll be doing more of these…but first I have to do the two-part presentation I’m going in October on natural gardening and natural animal keeping.

New Book Release!

We all of us have monsters inside our heads: the folklore of that inward country, the things that frighten us when we are alone in the darkness. People not just of England, but across the world, find themselves haunted by thoughts of the same unearthly beings: vampires, ghosts, fairies, and gods. And if enough people have thoughts of the same monster, the magic will be given power to manifest itself in the image of what is feared. And thus the monster will be given teeth to bite, and will ravage across the land until it is destroyed.

When the newly-crowned Queen Victoria announces an expedition to India, Miss Winnifred Sebastian-Veals volunteers by joining an elite all-female group: The Society of Queen’s Own Monster Hunters. To her dismay, the other members are rather middle-aged, and more interested in knitting needles than sorcerous spells, vile manuscripts, and iron-bound doorways to hell. But after the Queen’s airship is attacked by an evil djinn, she discovers there is more to the ladies–and herself–than she ever imagined.

Warning: contains horrible ghosts, mermaids, gigantic worms, ghouls, sea monsters, pirates, and incredibly silly Victorian fashions. Also several attractive men who may–or may not–be of possible Romantic Interest.

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Now for sale on Amazon.com. And starting tomorrow – this first volume will be FREE for one week!  Also, if you sign up for my author newsletter, I’ll send you another free book: An Intelligence of Zombies. It’s the prequel to this new series.

Also available on Amazon.com is the second book in this new Society of Queen’s Own Monster Hunters:

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Books 3 & 4 will be up for sale very soon!

Interesting fact: the dress on the covers is actually designed and created by me.

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Universal Hollywood Wizarding World

I have so much to write about the garden and the animals, and I’ll get caught up on that very soon – but first I just wanted to blog about a quick little trip I took to Los Angeles. I primarily wanted to visit the FIDM museum’s exhibit of Hollywood costumes (I’m completely obsessed with this one canary yellow dress from Crimson Peak) but since Universal just opened a Wizarding World in their Hollywood park, of course I had to visit!

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I was a little concerned that it would be too crazy busy since it just opened on April 7th, but since we bought our tickets in advance, we were given admittance to the park an hour before the general crowd was allowed in. This made for a lovely visit.

It was just my friend and I – and a small handful of others.

The amount of detail was astounding. And you really had to pay attention to see it all. For instance, the hog’s head in the Hog’s Head Tavern was animatronic, but only sporadically.

There were animatronic owls in the Owl Post.

And this is the sort of thing I adore – there was fake owl poop underneath them on the floor!

Some of the shops lining the street were genuine, others just fronts, but all of them had fascinating displays.

This picture didn’t turn out well because of the reflection, but that’s a cat. Made out of a measuring tape!

The icicles were completely believable. Even though this was Southern CA.

Hogwarts Castle was fantastic, inside and out.

It was really too dark inside to take good pictures, but the detail and fantastic whimsy continued flawlessly.

And the rides were wonderful. The hippogriff roller coaster is worth riding, even though it’s pretty tame and clearly for the kids – you are taken past a recreation of Hagrid’s hut that isn’t to be missed. And the Journey to Hogwarts 3D ride is the best of it’s kind. So much fun!

While we were at the park, we also rode almost all the non-wizarding rides (the Transformers ride is particularly good) and took in the shows. I enjoyed seeing a trained chicken as part of the animal actors show.

We stayed at the Millennium Biltmore hotel for most of our stay in LA, and it was gorgeous.

And perhaps our favorite part of the entire trip, was seeing A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder live on the stage.  I can’t even tell you how witty and fun this was – and it had the most brilliant staging I’ve ever seen.  If you get the chance to see it, absolutely do!

And if you have seen it, and wonder how the lead does all those amazing quick changes into different characters…watch this! Amazing costuming!

Cardiff and the Doctor Who Experience

From Bath, it’s a short train ride to Cardiff, Wales. And from the Cardiff train station, it’s a short walk to Cardiff Castle.

Cardiff Castle is, hands down, the most ornate place I have been ever inside. It’s mind-blowingly beautiful.

Literally every inch of the place is decorated. Look at these ceilings!

And the walls and floors are equally splendid.

Some of the details were so whimsical. Like this fish.

Cute little animals were sculpted in everywhere.

Stained glass, too.

I think you could live in this castle for years and not notice all the details.

The library was beautiful.

They have a small collection of birds of prey, too. I was especially taken with the owls. As I always am.

During WWII, the exterior castle walls was used as bomb shelter. They have a fantastic walkthrough, with it set up just like it was.

Canteens,

and metal bunkbeds.

Plus, they had sound piped in, of bombs falling, and sirens, and period music, and other things. I spent a long time in here, it was so deeply evocative for me.

Afterward, I walked along the Animal Wall. The story goes, that the owner wanted to put in a zoo, but the townsfolk refused to allow it, because of fears of the animals escaping. So he built a wall with stone animals perpetually in the act of escape. Some of them have glass eyes, and they are pretty creepy…in a completely awesome way.

This wall and its animals are definitely making it into the next book series I’m going to write.

Cardiff has several Victorian-era shopping arcades, with lovely little shops under a glass roof. This one, Castle Arcade, was my favorite. Largely because of the button shop. I bought a bunch of cool hobbit-y buttons there.

When I finished shopping, it was time to grab a cab to Cardiff Bay, and the Doctor Who Experience!  After you travel with the Doctor through an interactive experience, you get turned loose in an immense warehouse filled with costumes, props, and sets.  Nothing is behind glass – although they do have the occasional guard to make sure you don’t actually manhandle the treasures.

The TARDIS set was particularly cool, because you could walk around inside it.

There was creepy stuff.

And you always need to remain on your guard…

But I was thisclose to Ten. His suit, anyway. Guys, you don’t know the struggle it was not to reach out and touch…

It was awesome being able to get so close to all the costumes.

I took a billion pictures, including closeups of most of the costumes. You can find them here, if you’re so inclined.

I really liked Cardiff. It’s definitely on my list of places I’d love to visit again.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour – Harry Potter!

One of the most amazing things I did was visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. It’s a vast, incredible collection of about every costume and prop used in the Harry Potter films, as well as many of the actual film sets.  If you’re in the London area, it’s a must-see.

This was one of my top five best experiences, as well. Before I even got inside, they started playing the film music, and my friend Bonnie and I just instantly broke out in goosebumps!

As a costumer, there were a few of the costumes I was especially looking forward to seeing in person…this one, the Grey Lady, is one I’ll be attempting to reproduce, as close to screen accurate as possible.

The detail on it is so beautiful.

I also got extremely close to Jason Isaacs.  Well…his hair, anyway.

The full sets were amazing – especially when you consider that these are the real thing, not a reproduction like in Universal’s Wizarding World.

The detail was astounding.

Look! There’s the sorting hat!

Voldemort is alive!!!

Some of the effects where amazing. This is not real fire, although it looked exactly like real fire. Light and vapor. Incredible.

So many things had animations.

The most surreal experience was Diagon Alley. So perfect, down to the smallest detail.

(The pictures of me were taken by Bonnie.)

The filming model of Hogwarts was immense.

But when you got up close, every detail was finished.

It left me wanting so badly to just run through onto Platform 9 3/4.

And board the Express to Hogwarts.

I had to settle for some Butterbeer. It tastes like cream soda, with a very thick, sweet, and mustache-making topping. Seriously, it’s impossible to drink without getting a ‘stache.

And some shopping. Even the store was immense. If it had anything to do with Harry Potter, it was here.

And it was decorated with wonderful things!

I took over 500 pictures at the Studio; if you’re interested, you can find them here.

Geeky Fun

Last Saturday, a friend and I went to Emerald City Comic Con.  Since we both had missing costuming mojos, we hit the thrift store and I went as a MiB agent, and Betsy went as as undercover alien tourist.

We also visited the EMP museum and the Star Wars Costume Exhibition.

More words (and pictures!) are on my other blog: http://www.dragonflydesignsbyalisa.com/apps/blog/show/43217191-emerald-city-comiccon-star-wars-costumes

On the Nature of Geeks

So apparently, the Seahawks won the Superbowl.  This is something I know only because my facebook wouldn’t let me not know it.  I am most decidedly not a Seahawk, football, or other team-organized-sports fan.  The only time I like sports is during the Olympics (individual sports only, like Snowcross or Ice Skating) or if it’s played on a broom.

I don’t have a problem with that.  To each her own, right?

What I do find…interesting…is that this is not considered geeky:

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Or this:

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While this:

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And also this, are:

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They are all cosplays.  They are all worn in support of a fandom, they all cost money/time to make, and they are all worn out in public.

Why is it socially acceptable to know (and be able to quote from memory) all the stats for your favorite sports team, but not acceptable to know Klingon or Elvish?

The tide is turning a little in favor of the geeks, and Comic Con is the New Cool Thing, but there’s still a feeling of geeky/not geeky among the general public.  My aunt, for instance, burst out laughing when she heard I’d gone to see the Doctor Who special in the theater in 3D.  I doubt she would have the same reaction had I paid big bucks for fancy seats at a football game.

I don’t get it. People who like football are football nerds, and they are just as nerdy as people who are nerdy about other things.  If you doubt that, just check my facebook feed.  Nerdy little geeks, the lot of them.  And that’s cool.  It just would be cooler if my ‘sport’ got the same positive reception from the world.

Personally, I think I’ve got the cooler fandom(s), but that’s just me.  😉

Whoo!!!!!  Way to go Downton Abbey!!!!  Grab that…er…tea cup!!!  And here comes the Dowager for the goal!!!!  Can you believe that save by Mr. Bates????