Wednesday, 25 December 2013

DIY: Gingerbread Dinosaurs

As I mentioned in a previous post, me and my friends are spending the Yule/Christmas together and were planning to do less traditional gingerbread installation. Unfortunately we did not buy enough gingerbread dough and before we had the chance to plan the whole installation with the meteor and a volcano, the dough was no more. So all we got is some dinosaurs.

The inspiration came from two little molds I found with a friend, but since they really were tiny, we needed to make some more from cardboard. Unfortunately I did not remember to take a pic of them. But I do have some photos from the edible dinosaurs.

Carefully placing the T-Rex 

After the oven

Above you can see the T-Rex with some not that impressive sugar frosting. I think this is a great evidence of the unfortunate fact that I am not an artist, or at least my skills are not that good. :D The idea of Jurassic Park scene or the Apocalypse of Dinosaurs was good, but the competence of the makers was not.

Merry Christams and happy Yule!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Gothic Art in Spotlight: Paul Delvaux

I happened to see an art program in a TV the other day. It was High Art of the Low Countries by BBC and it introduced some of the artists of Belgium and Netherlands. Thanks to this TV-show, I found out more about one particular artist: Paul Delvaux (1987-1994).

When art history happens and categories are created, Delvaux is often seen as a surrealist and that definition describes his work quite well. I also see much of macabre in his paintings. The paintings are often creepy in a more modern way, with a lot of maidens and allusions to the popular and macabre theme of "Death and Maiden". On the other hand, some Delvaux's works refer to older macabre art, like deathbeds from the Middle Ages.


Also the macabre art from 15th century to 16th century have a lot of surrealistic themes and situations, so I guess it once again comes down to context. One of my favorite artists from that era is Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516). There is a huge similarity between Delvaux painting in the second picture and these two:


Although these paintings of Delvaux and these details of Bosch's paintings are similar, the context was different when they were made and the word "art" did not mean the same thing during the 16th century as it does during the 20th century. When Bosch painted, the Renaissance was slowly kicking in, but his paintings are more medieval in theme, which is about christian beliefs of Hell and Sin and other things that were important themes during the Middle Ages when life was hard, there were many wars and pestilence. Delvaux's art was created in a different atmosphere. He lived both of the World Wars, but the knowledge of Medicine escalated during his lifetime and an ordinary cold could not kill that easily and therefore the meaning of Death in the culture was indeed different and that makes the macabre art of the Middle Ages and the 20th century different from each other.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

4 easy ways to goth up the Holidays

In this post I am going to point out four easy ways to goth up the celebrations that occur in the latter half of December. One reason for this post is that I am going to spend my Christmas with some friends and we are going to do all kinds of funny things, since we all represent the darker subcultures. I shall make posts about them in the end of December. 

1. The Gingerbread House
Instead of the traditional gingerbread house you could try to make the house of The Addams Family as a 2D background for example and then the characters in front of it. Or, if you have to spend Christmas with people who are not going to allow you to do anything too bold, just add two little gingerbread men to the traditional installaton and call them Hansel and Gretel. Me and my friends are probably going to make an installation of the final days of the dinosaurs or a dramatic Jurassic Park scenario.

2. Snowman
I saw one with devil horns in a park the other day. Too bad I did not have my camera with me. So the tip is, why not make a really sinister looking snowman next to the gates of your garden? See if any Christmas carollers dear to knock your door.

3. Candles
This time of the year is mostly dark and all celebration is concentrated around the day when sun is starting to shine a bit more, basically all celebration in the end of December is about celebrating the turning point of winter towards spring and summer. Generally people tend to burn more candles when it is dark and cold, but some people claim people used to burn a lot of candles and torches during the winter solstice to encourage sun to "win the darkness".

I am not going to say goths are the children of darkness or anything that cheesy, but I'd like to point out that a lonely candle makes the darkness around seem even more dark. Candles seem to be widely accepted decorations in goth subculture and so they are when it comes to christmas ornaments. But those candles with happy little elves and reindeer are not that goth-y. On the other hand I think those candles with an elf or an angel decoration are a bit perverse and sadistic. I mean, you burn them. The little happy elves are going to melt.

4. Special Christmas decorations
There are a lot of little enterprises who make all kinds of decorations and I am quite sure a goth can find a lot of creepy and kooky ornaments online. I myself bought some silver hand grenade ornaments for the spruce. First of all I think they are pretty in a very disturbing way. Secondly, I do not believe violence is productive way to solve conflicts and I think these ornaments can be seen as a joke or a twisted way to reflect how people have through out times justified a lot of violence, death and war with religion.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Gothic Art in Spotlight: Human Anatomy since Renaissance

It has again been an awful long time since I have posted and the reason is that I am under a lot of stress at the moment. But now I would like to introduce to you a book I bought a long time a go at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.

The name of the book is Human Anatomy. Depicting the Body from the Renaissance to Today by Benjamin A. Rifkin, Michael J. Ackerman and Judith Folkenberg. It was published 2006 by Thames&Hudson.

Basically this book is art history, and there are a huge amount of pictures of human bodies. I believe one of the reasons the book starts from the Renaissance is that before that it was not socially acceptable to go and study human bodies. Basically it could have been a social suicide to dig around in a dead member of the society. But when the natural sciences got a steadier position, people started to examine human body and the paintings and drawings of entrails became more life-like.

In this picture above you can see how carefully the face and expression if it's face are drawn, even though the actual point of the drawing is to teach anatomy and show the entrails.

In the picture below you can detect traces of Medieval morality and the Dance Macabre. In the upper left corner is a skeleton, called to Judgement. In the lower right there is a bunch of dead interrupting a evening of idle play.

I consider many of the pictures this Human Anatomy contains to be suitable for a goth. I would take every single one of those drawings above and hang them on my wall!

By the way, I am sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, it seems to be, that something in my camera has been broken. No matter how I alter the settings, it keeps thinking that there is not enough light and the pics are blurred. I must check if the warranty is still on.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Samhain: a Party and a trip to the Graveyard

This is going to be rather a different post compared to the ones I usually make. I am going to tell about my ways of celebrating Samhain this year.

Yesterday (31st of October) I spent in solitude with a really important person in my life. We did things we enjoy and things that strengthen confidence between us and talked about some very personal stuff. This lovely evening was like rays of sun, shining into a dark room and all because somebody had the courage to peek between the curtains.

Today (1st of November) I am going to a theater with this friend of mine to see The Addams Family Musical. I really hope it is going to be indeed funny and not too farce-like. The beginning situation is that Wednesday has fallen in love with a normal male person and this creates a lot of drama, since especially Morticia thinks that is a bad thing. Or at least that is what the summary says at the theater's home page. Unfortunately the page is in Finnish only, so I am not linking it. But the play is an adaptation of the Broadway show. Apparently it is 'an original story' (of Charles Addams, I suppose) but as far as I am concerned, that sentence on the web page could also mean that it is an original story meaning that it (acceptance and kids growing up) is something everybody has to ponder in their life and has been for many centuries now.
Samhain: the door to the world of Dead is open!

I must say I am a tiny bit skeptical of this plot, because I have always seen Addams Family as a tolerant and open family, who (especially in the old TV-series) try not to judge anyone and most of all Morticia is the one trying to be the mediator. But we'll see how the play turns out!

2nd of November there is a goth club in my hometown, celebrating Samhain. I am attending it, but before that I have the most coolest lecture ever. Yes, I have a lecture on Saturday, All Hollows' Eve on a local Cemetery at 7 p.m.! I t is a part of a course in Literature Studies called The Traditions of Macabre and our university teacher is going to hold one of the lessons at a grave yard. After the lecture I am off to home, quickly change to party outfit and head to the goth club. I think it would be not that respectful for those other people, who might be at the cemetery, greeting their dear departed, if I was in a latex dress or something. Also, there is going to be really cold, so i would catch a cold if I'd wander around in a mini skirt!

Happy Halloween and Mysterious Samhain!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Books for goths with kids, or just for goths who enjoy picture books

After a small hiatus I am going to introduce two books of Stanislav Marijanovic. These are picture books for children, or people who generally enjoy picture books. They both introduce a cavalcade of monsters and House Monsters, who are lurking in the our world.

A Manual of House Monsters
The first book is A Manual of House Monsters. The story is, that the narrator has made a research about House Monsters, small monsters who could also be seen as little devils or fiends, who produce all inconvenient things in peoples lives, like runny noses, narcissistic behavior, or if somebody is being really impatient.

In this picture you can see on the left the monster who makes you feel impatient and on the right is the monster who makes you feeling like you do not want to share anything, whether it is candy or toys.

The second book is A Family Guide to House Monsters II, and it depicts some monster you could find in a ordinary household. I have the Finnish edition, so I have no idea what the names of the monsters are in English, but these monster try to affect peoples lives or make little tricks to make things inconvenient for human inhabitants of the household.

In this picture you can see the Sugar Sisters (Sokrusiskot) who have a sweet tooth and make you too crave for cakes and candy! Of course this book also gives tips how to handle all monsters and how one can even enjoy their company every now and then.

Sugar Sisters
In the picture below one can have a glimpse of a Stress Monster, who mainly attacks adults and from this book especially children can find useful advice, how to make the adults notice, that too much stress is not good!

Stress Monster
I myself had these books as a kid, but I do enjoy them still. Actually I have found new things in them every time I read the books! The pictures of the books are extremely cute and one could see these imaginative characters as art, in the same way other novels are art.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Gothic Art in Spotlight: Hugo Simberg's Death and Devils

It has been a while since I posted about art, but no worries, I have not stopped my dear hobby called art completely. In this post I am shortly introducing Hugo Simberg's paintings, which I find to fit the idea of Goth I have.

Hugo Simberg (1873-1917) was a Finnish painter, whose work is mostly categorized as symbolism. Simberg's works are mainly from the era of National Romanticism in Finland and as I have mentioned before, at the same time in Europe decadence was rising, especially among Parisian art scene, where inspiration and role model for a nationality was searched. Finland was not independent during that time, the idea of Finnish people as a nation or at least something more than a part of Russia or Sweden was on the rise.

Simberg's art divided people, because there are some decadent aspects, or even touch of macabre, which was not wanted in the patriotic and romantic point of view. A huge problem was also, that some of Simberg's work did not go that well along with the traditional christian symbolism and way of depicting things.

For example The Garden of Death, which was painted for the cathedral of Tampere year 1896. As you can see, there is no traditional symbols of afterlife, the heaven or skyline. As a consent, there is a small path in the background, but the viewer can not see where it is leading. Therefore there is no christian salvation in the painting.

The Garden of Death is open for so many interpretations, one can see the skeleton characters maleficent, waiting to take the lives of those little flowers, or one can see them caring and loving those plants. Also, are those flowers souls of the living, which death harvests, or are those the afterlife state for the soul? What if the heaven is to became a flower in Death's Garden?

Simberg has many other fascinating artworks in which the skeletons dance and make people feel uncomfortable both in the painting and the viewers. I shall not talk about them, instead I am drawing the attention to another frequent motif in Simberg's work: the Poor Devil.

Simberg's devil is not a powerful and evil creature. He is more like a poor little wretch, trying to do his part as tempting people to sin, but failing. My personal favourite of Simberg's devil painitings is Piru ruusupensaassa (The Devil in a rosebush). It was painted 1907 and I believe it is at the moment in another famous Finnish artists atelier museum, at Ruovesi. It is the old atelier of Gallen-Kallela a painter who acted as a tutor for Simberg. At least I saw the poor devil in that building last summer.

In this painting I think the little poor devil is adorable, playing his little flute. But I'll leave further interpretation to you.

Monday, 2 September 2013

DIY: "Doctors & Drug Addicts" Party & Make Up Inspiration

Last Friday I had a party with my friends and in this post I am showing what snacks and other fun factors I made for the party. I also tell how some of them failed.

I had blood red punch, including an ice heart, which was also shown in a previous post. I also made a heart out of jelly. It was rather difficult to get the jelly out of the cast, but after some rude words and a tiny bit of violence it came out just fine.

I was also serving some other alcohol to the guests, but I replaced the bottles labels. On the other side is a sign of poison and on the other side reads "Tincture for Gout".

I had this great idea of making drug-like candy, but unfortunately my plans failed. As you can see from the picture below, I found some really colorful candy with the perfect shape and they actually were the original inspiration for this party theme.

First I tried to make a white frosting and dip candies so that half of the candy would be white and the other half some other color. The frosting was not concealing enough. Then I tried to saw candies in half and mix and match them.

They became more like Frankenstein's Creature, so I ended up serving candy and other "pills" the usual way. I guess some fancy cake paint from a special store would do the trick, but I did not have time nor money to go and get one at that point.

My other nifty idea for a party of Docs and Drug Addicts was to shop at an apothecary. I decided to make cocktail sticks, so what would be more macabre than to use hypodermic syringe!

I am pleased to tell that people thought they were really wicked and cool.

When having a theme party, it is no surprise people were wearing costumes. We had many addicts, a male nurse form an asylum, another nurse clearly gone psycho herself with blood all over her clothes and of course Doctor Who! I myself was just a heroin addict. An hour before the party was starting, I noticed my latex horror skin had dried up, so I had to improvise with make up.

This infected needle mark is made with wine red and black eye shadow, black eye-liner and skin color concealer. I have not done this sort of masking before, so I was really pleased with it. I have heard, that one can fix make up to hold better, if one sprays some hair spray on it. Well, I tried it and did not notice any difference on how my needle mark was preserved, but did not care that much, it was so fun a party. :) Of course some new people were moving to the block of flats that night, so my new neighbors saw me with this arm, since I had to go a few times down stairs to open the main door for my guests.

Monday, 19 August 2013

DIY: Edible Heart Transplant for a Party

This post is about a cool thing I found for parties. I was shopping in Helsinki with a friend and I ended up to the Heureka Shop which is a little shop of this Finnish science museum and exhibition place Heureka. I bought a cast of a human heart, not moulded with a help f a real heart, I would imagine, but it is still quite realistic.

Think of all those theme parties I can host! Edgar Allan Poe's Tell-Tale Heart is on the list, but before that I am hosting a party in the end of this month and the theme is "Docs & Drug addicts" You know, like "Vicar & Tarts" but my party is about the practitioners and abusers of Medicine. I know that is not that gothic a theme, but I wanted to show my new heart-maker and later some other ideas, because one can use them in a more goth party if one chooses to.

In this picture I have tested the heart-maker with the help of juice and a freezer. I am very pleased with the way my icy heart turned out! The cast is not flat from the bottom, so it is a bit tricky to make it stay in a position to manufacture ice, or jelly for that matter.

I shall make a post about my other party tricks after I have hosted the actual party, but this was just a little peek about my plans and funny food I am going to make.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

DIY: Death Caps and Arsenic Cake

As featured in a previous post, I made death caps and arsenic cake for my Mad Tea Party. Now I'm going to reveal the recipes.

Death caps are made of eggs, covered with a carved tomato. The instruction said one should use mayonnaise to make them stick together and make the little white spots on top, but I forgot to buy it, so I just used pieces of cocktail sticks. I broke one in half and it kept the death cap in fine condition.

The middle layer
The arsenic cake is a lemon cheesecake-ish variation I made. To make it one needs a packet of some cookies (200g) and butter (100g or something), to mix and make the bottom part. One just crushes the cookies and melts the butter, mixes them and makes a flat layer in the baking tin.

Then 2 deciliters of whipped cream (before the whipping part) and two packs (2dl) of fromage frais / curd (do not know the terminology of baking in English) of lemon or another flavor one might prefer. and 4 leafs of gelatin. And of coarse, to make that beautiful color of imaginary arsenic, green food color. 
Candy worms
Not for least, I added some worm-shaped candy at the bottom. The maggoty wine gum tasted really nice. On top I added some skull-shaped candy too.

It is quite possible I added some freshly squished lemon juice in it too, but can't remember. But I did squish three lemons to make the darker green topping for the cake, and there I added some sugar and a lot more of the green color. I used about 5 gelatin leafs to it. Unfortunately the baking tin I used was one of those you can remove the bottom, so of coarse liquid like the topping just run down and on the table. -_- Luckily a part of it remained, so the cake was not completely ruined.

Cake, before the topping started to run away on the table.

Now, my main point with this post is, that if one has a basic recipe for something, one can alter it to be more gothic or to be suitable for a theme party. My basic recipe is the cookie bottom and the whipped cream + curd + gelatin. After that everything else is optional.

There is plenty of green color left over after this party, so I am planning on a next opportunity to use it. At the moment the party idea is something like "Decadence <3 Absinthe: Grab your top hat and hide a bottle of the Green Fairy in your pocket and join the frantic rampage on the edge of degradation!"

The cake, already half eaten.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Mad Tea Party 2013

This is a magical day indeed! A wonderful lady Vanessa from A Fanciful Twist is hosting her sixth annual Mad Tea Party. Tea and Alice in Wonderland are delightful things, even if it might be rather a jaded era we are living here. More accustomed are we with Edgar Allan Poe and his grim tales, so with a dash of The Black Cat and The Tell-Tale Heart of Poe mixed with Alice's Adventures from Carroll I sent some invitations to my dear friends.

You are cordially invited to Mad Tea Party
Please join me and enjoy 
Tea, hot and sweet as Death 
and Tender Arsenic Cake 
with some Luscious Death Caps 

So many friends came, some grinning like the Cheshire Cat. 

But alas, poor March Hare was not his talkative self that day! 

Many a young lady was wearing the fashionable color.

Other details of ornaments were too beautiful!

Tea was indeed sweet and hot, so warm golden color and velvety feel on one's tongue!

My dear guests were delighted with a new experience of Arsenic, the lemon-like freshness of poisonous delicacy! It was almost half eaten before I had the chance to exclaim "Off with their heads!"

Tea time passed, but Madness continued, so we opened a nice bottle of wine. 

Evening proceeded pleasantly and later, when everyone had had their death cap, we became a bit dandy and decided to gamble a bit. 

So off I went to fetch a game called Biribi, a lotto-like French game from the 18th century.  

Oh, the excitement! Winnings and losings were grand, but the rivals stayed benevolent towards each other.

We had such a nice little tea party, we did not stop to look at the time. Finally my old clock started to feel  abandoned!

So, with Lady Time irritated, we had to end our Mad Tea Party. With some good luck, we might get her on good humor again, hopefully before next year's Mad Tea Party!