Saturday, 25 February 2017

Craft Along with GIY: a goth luggage tag with initials

February is almost over, so it is time for this years second Craft Along with GIY (Goth It Yourself). This month's theme is letters and numbers, so I decided to make a luggage tag with my initials on it.
Logo of Craft Along with GIY: Goth It Yourself
Alas, I have been a bit ill during this month (I had a cold and a fewer for almost two weeks) so I did not have energy nor time to acquire materials for a really fancy luggage tag. So once again I used paper board and my imagination. I do realize my craft projects are of a rather small caliber compared to many others. >_>

The good thing about paper board compared to leather or such more lasting materials is that paper board is lighter and hence one can make more decorations. Well, at least a person with limited crafting skills like I can make more elaborate decorations on it (compared to my skills with leather).

What you need:

  • paper board
  • sticky back plastic to make the tag more durable
  • a string of some sort
  • scissors or some other object suitable for cutting
  • pens
  • a ruler (if you want to make straight lines)
  • glue
  • little cut-out pictures or stickers
  • or what ever it is you want to decorate the tag with.
There is no correct or best way to do these steps. Some prefer to make the decorations and write their contact details on the tag before actually cutting it. Some don't. Here is the way I do these steps:

First, cut or draw the outlines for a suitable tag. It doesn't have to be the shape of a traditional tag, it can be a circle or a raven or what ever you want. As long as it doesn't become excessively large or so impractical a shape that it will be easily torn.

Draw and/or glue the decorations on one side. The theme of this Craft Along with GIY was letters and numbers, so I made my initials on the decorative side. I searched for fancy and elaborate fonts and tried to mimic one of them. It was much harder than I expected! I guess I am just not good at drawing. After several attempts, I am relatively pleased with the outcome. I started by drawing outlines with a pencil and then finished it with a silver pen.
Then glue or write your contact info on the other side. If you want, you can make tiny decorations on that side too. Just make sure that the side with the contact info is easy to read. After all, these tags are useful only in the situation in which you've lost your bag and some unknown person (probably an airport employee) possibly in a different country tries to read the tag. So no fancy goth-y fonts!

When the tag is looking nice, cut a place for the string. After all, you need to attach the tag on your luggage. I prefer to do this before adding the sticky back plastic, because this way I do not have to cut through multiple layers. This is mainly because I have no idea how strong my little punch machine is.

Almost finally: apply the sticky back plastic on the tag, both sides. You need to get as much air out as you can, so after applying it, "scratch" it like a lottery ticket. In the next photo you can see there is still some air right next to the edge of the paper board. Also, you'll notice I did this example tag without my actual contact info. It is quite on purpose, because it's a privacy thing. :)
When cutting the sticky back plastic into the shape of the tag, make sure you are not cutting too close. You need to leave a little border so that moisture cannot get in and ruin the contact info unreadable.

Finally: add the string or what ever it is you use to attach the tag to your luggage. Make sure the string is not too long, otherwise it can easily get caught on something and the tag might be torn away.
Now it is ready to use! Make a firm double knot and a decorative bow if you like.
The problem with my easy to make luggage tags is that once you've written your contact info (usually name, address & phone) and then shielded the tag with sticky back plastic, you cannot alter the contact info. On the other hand, these are relatively inexpensive, So just making a new one is not a big deal, if you move or your phone number changes.

Thanks for reading and do check out what Bane from GIY and other participants crafted!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Goth tourist in Finland: Body Worlds – Animal Inside Out

Here is a tip for all darkly inclined tourists (and also residents!) in Finland: The Body Worlds – Animal Inside Out is displayed in the Finnish Science Center Heureka until 29th of October 2017.

This exhibition is about the anatomy of animals and features plastinated animal bodies. They are extremely fascinating! Though, for more sensitive people they might be a bit too much.

Before anyone gets enraged I must point out that no animal has died in order to be a part of this exhibition. The animals are donations from zoos and other places like that and the animals have died of natural causes.
I was most impressed by the entire body of a great white shark. It stood out because it was almost artistically positioned. All other specimens were featured by themselves, and often in static poses. The shark on the other hand was frozen in the middle of a hunt. It had just caught a seal.
I learned from a guide that actually this shark was not meant to be part of the exhibition. It is a replacement for another plastinated shark because this original shark was damaged in transportation. The original was the plastination of blood veins and blood filled organs, and would've looked a bit like this little pig.
The only thing I must criticize is that in the Body Worlds – Animal Inside Out exhibition the info signs next to the specimens were a bit repetitive. The same sentences featured in numerous signs which was rather annoying.

Plastination is a process of preservation in which all fat and liquids of a body are replaced with liquid plastic. The plastic gets solid after a while and then the specimen is ready. This preservation method was invented by a German medical expert and anatomist Gunther von Hagens. It aids us to study organs and for example, blood circulation, in a totally new way. In the following photo plastination helps us to examine the intestines of a goat.
In Heureka they have four other exhibitions too, not just those animals. They also have a planetarium movie theater with three science films and also rats that play basket ball. In a planetarium the film screen is a half of a huge ball, so watching a film in there is very impressive and immersive.

Their tickets might feel a bit pricey first (22 € for an adult) but when you consider how much you get with it, it is quite reasonable after all.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Creepy Reads Review: Matilda by Mary Shelley

This years first Creepy Reads Review is of a very creepy novel indeed: Matilda (1959) by Mary Shelley, the writer of Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus (1818).

The narrator is Matilda, a young woman who has secluded herself from others and is about to die. As a sort of a final confession she wants to write what caused her to retreat from human company and why her life has been miserable. She wants to write about her abominable family tragedy.
A portrait of Mary Shelley by Rothwell
A portrait of Shelley by Rothwell (1840) Source

A whiff of scandal

The situation of the narrator, which is revealed to the reader on the first pages, makes an interesting position for the reader. The reader is in constant anticipation, because she knows that something really awful is going to happen. And the cover text of the back cover copy actually gives away, what is that great tragedy. It's because Mary Shelley's father prevented the publishing of Matilda and it wasn't published until about a hundred years after Mary Shelley had died.

Mary Shelley's father's reaction made people suspect that there were some similarities between the story of Matilda and the life of Mary Shelley. So, the big secret in the novel became the actual selling point of the novel.

General review (no spoilers!)

Me and a friend of mine started our own little book club so these thoughts are from both of us. Matilda was the first novel we read and discussed about.

I very much liked the fact that the character of Matilda is not your typical damsel in distress but she thinks, feels, and acts more like a typical male main character in Gothic novels. Of course, we have to remember that the typical male hero of a Gothic tale is not the male hero of today.

In Gothic tales the male hero shows (almost exaggerates) his feelings and torments, and can be rather dramatic and sometimes superstitious. Often in Gothic stories the female characters like Matilda (a young virgin) are there to make the male antihero (aka. Byronic hero) to redeem himself. That doesn't happen in Matilda. 

Some people have criticized this short novel because they think that the characters and their actions are not believable and that the novel is not quite finished: they considered that the style was not perfect all the time and that there was a lot of repetition. I and my friend contradict both these interpretations.
In the view of modern psychology and research on people who have encountered situations similar to the ones in the novel, the characters are very believable. Their feelings, thoughts, and actions are almost textbook. Their way of talking and their deeds are also totally according to the traditions of Gothic novel.

In some reviews people point out that there is a lot of repetition in the novel and draw a conclusion that it means that Shelley did not have time to finish it properly. Again we disagree. The novel is a letter written by a traumatized young woman as her final confession. Of course there is repetition, that is how you try to get over a trauma when you get no professional help.

Also, the novel is mimicking a letter so of course its style is not as polished as in a novel that is not "pretending" to be a letter. Since it is a letter, there will be some mistakes and repetition by the writer (Matilda), not by the author (Shelley).

I thought that Matilda is a bit like Romeo and Juliet: everyone knows the plot but they still want to see it at the theater. So, before talking about my personal reading experience (with a spoiler!) I am saying that Matilda is a classic, it is gorgeously written, the language is beautiful and the story is flowing. It can be read for free online via Project Gutenberg.

My personal reaction

I read the back cover before starting to read the novel, so I knew what sort of a train wreak the characters would face.

Spoiler alert: the father feels an unnatural and incestuous love towards his daughter Matilda. He can't stand the situation and will eventually kill himself. After that Matilda secludes herself from the society and will face some more turmoil in her life, but of that I won't be spoiling! ;)

For me, the reading experience was super creepy. It's a bit like going to see the Jaws movie with the killer shark in it. As a viewer you know there will be a big shark that kills. Basically, the whole movie you are just waiting for the shark and it is thought to be entertainment.

It was quite disturbing to realize that I was sort of enjoying while reading about the agony and sorrow of the characters.

Especially the first 40 pages of the novel were causing some serious twistedness. The narrator Matilda tells how she as a young girl is worried why her father is suddenly behaving strangely and seems very distressed. The reader (in this case I) knows something that the character of young Matilda doesn't. So, when the young Matilda decides that she must find out her father's secret, I instantly had a movie sound effect in my head going "DUN DUN DUUUUN!!!" In a very twisted way it was hilarious.

I do not know how many of you wanted to read the spoiling part but whether you did or not, I hope this review got you interested of Shelley's novel Matilda!