Dec 29, 2011

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: a book review

Today I finished Susanna Clarke's debut novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I can say with no hesitation that I thought it was a masterpiece! Written in exquisite Regency-style prose, the novel spins an alternate history of England in the first decades of the 19th century, crippled by war with Napoleon. Magic is regarded as all but extinct, and even the study and belief in England's magical history wanes under the influence of the Age of Reason. Amid these currents emerge two practicing magicians, Mr. Norrell and Mr. Strange, built on restoring English magic to the the country's formative glory. Within the pages of the novel, Clarke weaves impeccable historical detail with traditional and invented fairy-lore to create a truly believable and enchanting alternative history.

Clarke's attention to detail and vivid portrayal of period accuracies is what really stole my heart in this book. Her writing style, despite being that of a contemporary author, fits seamlessly along side writers such as Emily Bronte and Jane Austin. Her descriptions of magic, both ritually and it's results, are convincing enough to make readers almost believe they could do the same (provided they could have a peak at some of Mr. Norrell's books!). The way she paints the realms and inhabitants of Faerie is refreshing and deliciously horrific, her version of the creatures falling somewhere between quaint traditional folklore and something out of a Del Toro film. Moody scenes atop Yorkshire moors and among the naked grey branches of winter English woods leave the book with a distinct flavor of the Romantic Gothic novel, finely tuned for a modern audience.

Being aimed at modern readers with similar persuasions, I think readers of this blog will delight in this book as much as I did! I highly recommend it!

Did I mention it has awesome illustrations?

Dec 26, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday! My family celebrates Christmas. Every year, everyone gathers in Florida at my grandparents' home on the ocean. Thus, I always associate Christmas with the sea, Spanish moss, and citrus fruit. Does your family have any holiday traditions you love?

Dec 9, 2011

Style Idol: Helena Bonham Carter

Hail to the Queen! 
The first in Carnivale Salt's style idol series is the illustrious Helena Bonham Carter. There are few public figures with personal styles as exciting as this 45-year-old actress. A little bit grunge, a little bit gothy, a large dose of Victorian opulence, peppered with an unmatched sense of humor.

Photos by Gustavo Papaleo

I am fascinated by Helena's look: she's not conventionally beautiful, and has never tried to fit into an ideal for the media. On the contrary, she is well known for appearing as-is in public, flaunting her physical imperfections and her eccentricities of style. She refuses to use a stylist for red carpet events and  Her rejection of convention only serves to make her more beautiful and inspiring!

Campaign for Marc Jacobs s/s 2011
(As an aside, I'm really obsessed with these hats)

Mostly for Marc Jacobs 2011 (and more of those wacky hats)

Photographer Unknown

Photographer Unknown (if you know, please tell me!)

I love this photo shoot especially because it simultaneously captures a romantic, kind of delicate Victorian beauty, while still being just a little bit grungy. I love her messy hair and her chunky docs underneath tons of ruffles and embroidery. So cheeky! 

Photographer Unknown

She appears a lot in high-fashion editorials and is well known for publicly supporting the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs among others. Off-camera, her easy going street style is thought of my many as pretty crazy, but I really like it. Somehow she manages to make looking like you just got out of bed pretty awesome. 

Helena likes pedicabs! Woo!

How does she manage to look classy even when 
looking a bit like a homeless woman? 

Random Paparazzi photoz from FYEAHHBC on Tumblr

On the silver screen, Helena rocks costuming so hard. The vacation scene in Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite bits of costuming/on-screen fashion of any movie. Obviously, HBC isn't responsible for these looks, but here are a few anyway for eye candy. 

As Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (2007)

As Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter

And what will undoubtedly be my new favorite costume moment.... 

As Miss Havisham in the upcoming adaptation of Great Expectations (2012)

What do you think of Helena Bonham Carter's style? Do you love it? Hate it? Comments are always welcome.
See you next time!

Nov 13, 2011

VooDoo Dolly Accessories Review

It always makes me happy to support independent crafters and designers in the gothic/lolita/neo-romantic community.... especially when their designs are as unique as VooDooDolly's. About a month ago, she listed a bunch of pieces on the EGL Community, and I fell in love immediately! It was hard to choose which pieces I wanted to get, but I decided on a cruxifix necklace and ring.

My haul! 

Everything came exceptionally well packaged in individual boxes customized with stickers and wax seals. Voodoo Dolly also included a cute thank you note, a business card, and even a free gift! Bonus points that the note was written on Sentimental Circus stationary,  which is my favorite Sanrio franchise <3.

Cruxafix Necklace

The first item I ordered was this antique gold rosary-inspired necklace. It features a really detailed cruxafix, a chain cluster of gold and glass beads, a bible locket charm, and a scarlett tassel. I don't have as much red as I'd like in my wardrobe, but the blood-red tassel sold me on this necklace!

Bisque Doll Ring

The second piece I ordered is a simple ring. It has a solid brass, non-adjustable base, and features a tiny doll. I'm not sure if the doll was just a pre-fab cabochon, but it looks and feels really old. It reminds me of something found on an archeological dig.

Free gift! Skull and lace ring

I only ordered two pieces from Voodoo Dolly, but she included this third for free with my package! It's a skull, skewed at a jaunty angle on an antique gold-finish ring base. The skull itself is a little atypical from skulls generally seen in gothy jewlery. Like a child's or something. The whole thing is set off by two leaves of venice lace. It's really cool! The plastic the skull is made of is a little waxy, leading me to wonder if Voodoo Dolly casted it herself. Overall its a great piece, and an even better free gift. 

My new rings together!

I'm really happy with the pieces I purchased from Voodoo Dolly! I've actually been thinking about buying a few more pieces from her shop. Her Etsy seems to be on hiatus for the time being due to October conventions, but it can be found here when its up:

Oct 16, 2011

Anima portraits...

Today was a very special day for me.  I was invited to speak about my work at Stitchy! Sewing Workshop and Lecture program at Roxaboxen Exhibition Space in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. There was a pretty small turnout, but it was still really gratifying to talk about my art in a public setting with an audience of people I didn't really know.  Here are a few shots!

Oct 11, 2011

A quick craft idea....

My roommate has been frantically making things to decorate and organize our new apartment. October is always incredibly hectic for me, so I have only had time to muse on domestic crafts! This quick "terrarium" project I found on my Tumblr dashboard today is easy enough that I might even be able to make a few before its too late to find plastic spiders and skeletons. All you need is some curiosity-inducing specimens, craft moss and twigs from your back yard, and leftover jars.

Halloween Terrarium Project

STEP 1: First, wash each container and dry thoroughly. Choose a sturdy twig that's slightly shorter than the jar and hot-glue it to the inside of the lid, so that the twig sticks straight up.

STEP 2: Hot-glue plastic bugs to the wood — making sure the decorations are small enough to fit inside the glass when you seal the terrarium.

STEP 3: Spray-paint everything but the jar — twig, bugs, lid — white or black.

STEP 4: Once the piece has dried, hot-glue green floral moss around the base of the twig. Carefully place the jar upside down over the lid and screw it on.

Original craft post can be found here:

Oct 5, 2011

Artist of the Week: Pablo Picasso (Rose Period)

Picasso probably isn't the first name to come to mind when thinking of Romantic art. The man is known, of course, for his frantic, bold, cubist compositions, and is often associated with the realization of modernism in the twentieth century. The public eye (and frequently those of curators and art historians) tends to overlook Picasso's preliminary stages, except in mention of his development. As you probably remember from highschool art class, Picasso's work went through many, many stages, and some of these are very relevant to the interests of a neo-romantic.

Picasso's Rose Period, which lasted briefly from 1904 to 1906, captures the moody melancholy of his previous Blue Period while allowing new color choices and new stylistic conventions to pull the viewer into an ethereal, and sometimes subtly uncanny realm.

Harlequin Seated before a Red Back Background (1905)

Harlequins and traveling performers were common subjects during Picasso's Rose Period. I love anything to do with circus folk, especially the antique variety. Traveling carnivals were popular during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, but they were often manned by those on the fringes of society. Picasso identified with these characters and their stories, and continued painting them throughout his career.

Mother and Son (1905)

A Boy with a Pipe (1905)

Unfortunately, Picasso abandoned this evocative style of painting quickly in favor of the more angular, modern style he has become known for. In 1907, Picasso debuted his opus Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, marking the end of the more subtle stages of his youth. The Blue and Rose Periods are very simmilar to late 19th century symbolism, though Picasso never aligned himself with that school of painting. Maybe you've noticed the similarity to Redon's later work!

Seated Female Nude (1905)

Style Lessons from Picasso:
+See your style through rose-colored lenses: I could hardly write a style guide influenced by Picasso's Rose Period without talking about the color rose! Add some warmth to your wardrobe with rose, coral, pinks, and reds. As Picasso proves, these colors can be moody and languid, not just girly. Try to evoke a similar mood for more somber looks with these typically ecstatic colors.

+A Clown's Flounce: Take some inspiration from the harlequins, clowns, and dancers that grace these canvases. Add a decorative collar or cuff to your coordinate. Detachable collars and cuffs were pretty popular until the 1960's, so its pretty easy to find them in vintage and antique stores. If you're feeling crafty why not make your own?

+A Center-Stage Headpiece: Many of Picasso's Rose Period portraits feature sitters with interesting headgear to set off the minimal details of their garb. I love the flower garland the young man in A Boy with a Pipe wears. Pair your statement hat or fascinator with simple, yet sophisticated clothing in rich colors for a powerful look. As they say, sometimes less is more.

A little bit of decorating...

I moved into my current apartment about a month ago, but I haven't had the time to really organize the place to a state worthy of decorating. My room seems to be the only place I can fit a bit of prettiness for the time being. Today I cleaned, and organized things to my liking. My decorating scheme has only just begun!


My nightstand... the book is "The Collector", if anyone is curious. An old roommate of mine found me the bowling clown print... It's really strange and sometimes I think about switching something else into that frame, but I can't bring myself to do it. I guess I've grown fond of him. I found the architectural photograph, and many others like it, today while exploring a closing photography studio.


The deer cranium I purchased at a general store in Arkansas, crested with a 1940's hair piece. It lives on my vanity.


Hat wall. I really enjoy the texture that the round forms of the hats lends to the wall. A few of my favorite shoes and the crown-shaped hat block I made live on the radiator.


My dressform displays some choice accessories including Monsieur Foxy Roxy and the rabbit headpiece I made. Other treasures include faux hydrangeas, dumpster'd lace, tassels, and a crochet reticule my grandmother gave me. I believe it's Edwardian. The tatted balls on it are so cool!

What are your favorite details in your room? What things for you make a space truly yours?

Ciao, bellas ~
Barbara Lynn
- the Lady Saltina

Carnivale Salt returns from the dead....

So, as it turns out, I am a terrible blogger. I haven't updated the site in over a year! I've updated/redesigned the layout to reflect my current interests and aesthetics, and hopefully push the blog in a more inspired direction. I plan to start using the blog in a more personal way, so expect a lot of things that are maybe related to my art practice, life, ect, and not nessecarily fashion-related. All things should be of interest to neo-romantics and/or kindred spirits. Stay tuned and enjoy!