Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's a fun fat turkey from my shop--a vintage postcard with embossed vegetables (my favorite kind). Makes me kind of sad about the bird we'll be roasting in a few hours, but I'll get over it.

I subscribe to Bon Appetit and each year scour bask issues for recipes (I always save the November issues). One year we brined the turkey--put it in a salt bath for a few days, changing out the water every so often--and it was absolutely fabulous but (like the year I made chestnut dressing and nearly killed my hands peeling chestnuts) something that's not to be repeated. The memory of that moist bird lives on; both my parents and my in-laws mentioned it.

So this year we're trying a rub with kosher salt mixed with herbs, put on the bird the day before. This is also a Bon Appetit recipe, from this year's issue--unearthed yesterday in our massive housecleaning effort and necessitating a trip to the store for kosher salt (along with eggs and other inevitably forgotten items from our list).

I'll post something later and let you know if it measures up to brining. I suspect it won't, but not having to bathe a turkey for two days will be worth it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mr. John: Milliner to the Stars

There aren’t very many biopics I’d like to see made, but I just found a character who’d be perfect for one: larger than life, incredibly talented and successful, flamboyant, and yet with a touch of humor, even irony, about himself.

I’m talking (if you haven’t guessed) about Mr. John, one of the glitterati among mid-century U.S. milliners. His accomplishments, in a career spanning almost 60 years, were legendary, yet today he is largely forgotten

Mr. John--John Piocelle, or John P. John as he dubbed himself--led a sophisticated, glamorous life in Hollywood and produced some of today's most sought after vintage hats. He was also noted for work, before their split in 1948, as half of the John-Frederics duo, whose most famous hat was the straw and green velvet bonnet worn by Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Often using pseudonyms, Mr. John designed Garbo’s hat in Mata Hari, Dietrich’s cloche in Shanghai Express, and Monroe’s headdress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Outside of films, Mr. John designed hats for everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt to Gypsy Rose Lee, from Jaqueline Onassis to Wallace Simpson. Even my mother owned a Mr. John hat, one with a bobbing flower similar to the one in my Etsy shop (pictured above), which she assures me was considered quite fashionable. His hats often showed his sense of humor—a bannana hat with a zipper, a hat for an elephant at the Republican National Convention, an Eiffel tower hat, an airplane hat.

This sounds like enough for a great movie, but his personal life was equally flamboyant. His Central Park West apartment had a white and gold d├ęcor he described as “Louis Unrecognisable” and had free-roaming macaws, cockatoos, and parrots. Once he visited a friend wearing a floor-length gold cape and with a bird on his shoulder.

Despite all this flash and glamour, Mr. John was known primarily for his flattering, wearable hats. Even with the bobbing flower, my mother said she always felt great in her Mr. John.

Now for casting that biopic: I'm thinking maybe Robert Downey Jr?


Much of this information came from a fascinating article by Drake Stutesman.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The park and John Waters

Yesterday I took a dozen pieces of my jewelry over for consignment at one of my favorite local museums, Laumeier Sculpture Park. It's a wonderful place where we frequently picnic or walk the dog, with trails through the woods dotted with hidden sculpture, as well as a vast expanse of lawn and massive constructions of steel. The picture above is of Ricardo Cat, which used to be in the children's sculpture garden, right next to where they hold the art summer camp that my boys attended for years. Behind that you see the museum building, where they have indoor exhibits and the gift shop that heavily features local artists (and that is, not coincidentally, run by a woman who used to teach my youngest at summer camp). Below is another of the outdoor sculptures, La Libellule.

The current exhibit--well worth the trip if you live in the St. Louis area--is by one of my favorite film makers, the very twisted John Waters (yes, the guy who made Pink Flamingos and Hairspray). And it's just as funny as he is. The only other people at the exhibit when I was there was a woman and her granddaughter, who was taken by the sculpture of Michael Jackson as a baby (with an adult face and hair), crawling toward another baby/man. The girl was amused by Michael Jackson but didn't recognize the other baby as Charles Manson (complete with beard and swastika on the forehead).

My favorite pieces, I think, were his photographs, often presented in a long series and taken from films or the news--photos of Jackie Kennedy in the pink suit she wore in Dallas, interspersed with pictures of various actresses playing Jackie Kennedy in a pink suit; a whole series of Lana Turner's back, showing her in various films turned away from the camera; and similar series of Grace Kelly's elbows and Dorothy Malone's collar.

I had planned to see John Waters when he was in town for the opening of the exhibit (and a series of appearances around town), but events conspired and I missed him. But the exhibit runs through January 11, so I do plan to see it again and drag my children (if not my dog) along. We'll check out the gift shop while we're at it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Catching Up

It has been so long since I blogged, a friend asked my husband if I was sick. A few other friends (who I didn't realize were regular readers) told me they missed me! Aw, so sweet. But blogging is like going to the gym--once you stop, it is so hard to get going again.

And I need to do that too--but one hurdle at a time.

My life has been pretty crazy lately (whose isn't?). But so as not to blow all my blog posts in one sitting, I'll just mention one project I've been working on: getting some jewelry together for Steam Powered, the California steampunk convention going on now in Sunnyvale. I'm not there, but my jewelry is! Some wonderful people from the Etsy Steam Team (a group of Etsy steampunk artists who work together) have several vendor tables where they're showing jewelry from team members who couldn't make it there themselves. This is my first art show, and I'm not even there! But I've seen a few pictures and know that they look better in costume than I would!

It was fun to get together a group of pieces of one theme, and while I was doing this I listed very little in the way of new steampunk pieces in my Etsy store. But who knows? Some of them may return to me and be available soon.