Freaky Friday

Welcome to Freaky Fridays where I post links to the odd and the fantastic. Thank you to my friends, especially Sally and Susan, who provided me with pure gold this week. Have a weird news story? Send it to dearmisshavisham@gmail.com

Cameos carved from Oreos by artist, Judith G. Klausner. Delicious.

Mugshots of female criminals of the Edwardian period as found on Dangerous Minds. These ladies will cut you.

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Want to sleep in the Paris Catacombs? I mean, who doesn’t? It was listed on AirBnB as a contest (I didn’t win).

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A pony dressed like a unicorn leads police on a wild chase near Fresno. I love everything about this story.

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Then there are people bending over and filming themselves as creepy round creatures. I hate everything about this story.

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Folk art from the golden age of secret societies? Yes. On display at the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan until May 8.

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18 rare catbreeds you’ve maybe never heard of. I like cats, shut up.

Who hasn’t done a thing or two out of spite? Would you build a house just to infuriate your neighbors? Explore the concept of the spite house as found on Hyperallergic.

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You just have to love the British. Giant walking porcelain dolls spotted all over London. Brilliant.

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Likewise, a pack of Miss Havishams took to the streets and subways to promote the BBC’s version of Great Expectations. Flattering, dearies, flattering.

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May your weekend be filled with mirth. xoxo

Go Ask Alice

Alice in Wonderland has captivated readers for decades. Written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, it was published in 1865. Three years earlier, Carroll rowed a boat up the Isis section of the Thames river with three young girls and Reverend Robinson Duckworth inside. The three young ladies were the sisters Liddell,  daughters of Henry Liddell (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church): Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13); Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10); Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8).

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Alice Liddell, far right.

While on the river it’s said Carroll entertained the girls with a story that was so beloved by Alice that she asked for it to be written down for her and thus Alice in Wonderland came into existence. Carroll approached the artist John Tenniel to illustrate the manuscript.

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In 1998 Lewis Carroll’s own copy of Alice, one of only six surviving copies of the 1865 first edition, sold at an auction for US$1.54 million to an anonymous American buyer, becoming the most expensive children’s book (or 19th-century work of literature) ever sold, up to that time. Alice Liddell’s copy of the manuscript sold in 2009 for $115,000.

The relationship between Alice and Carroll is a murky one. She posed for Carroll often and those photos have been cited as proof that the nature of their friendship was less than appropriate.

This past June The Morgan Library in New York held an exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication. The exhibit included original drawings by Carroll and Tenniel as well as a number of photos. I was surprised that there was no mention of the question of Carroll’s relationship with Alice. You can view a number of the illustrations online at The Morgan Library’s site. There is an interesting article on the subject of their relationship here.

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Character development sketches between Carroll and Tenniel

We may never know the truth about Carroll’s proclivities as Richard Cavendish writes here:

“The friendship between the Liddells and Dodgson (Carroll) had broken down in 1863, for reasons that are not clear – the relevant page in his diary was cut out by one of his descendants – but it may be that Mrs Liddell was uneasy about him and Alice. Polite relations were resumed after a few months, but the earlier warmth did not return. ”

Alice grew into an adult and married a cricket player at the age of 28. They had three sons. She became quite the society hostess. After her husband’s death in 1926 she found the upkeep of their household to be draining. Facing financial difficulties, she sold her copy of the manuscript for £15,400. She died in 1934 and is quoted as saying, “I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland.”

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Alice as an adult.

Alice in Wonderland has been the subject of songs, art, and numerous films, one of my favorites is the stop motion film by Jan Svankmejer.  You can watch the trailer online.

There are no shortage of Alice themed events. Don’t forget to attend The Victorian Tea and Dance Society’s Alice in Wonderland themed social Sunday, March 6.

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Should you find yourself in London, you must go to The Madhatter’s High Tea at the beautiful Sanderson Hotel. I left with diabetes but I also left happy.

Want to throw your own tea party? I have several pieces of the Alice in Wonderland collection from Fishs Eddy in New York. I love them. Not sure if they still have the dinnerware but they also carry the prettiest cake stands.

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Cakestands for days.

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And who’s ready for a garden party? Alice always is.

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Need to make a pillow? A skirt? Find all the fabric you need on Etsy:

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And let’s not forget shoes. Wow.

From Elusive Rabbit:

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Or these from Irregular Choice:

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Care for a scarf?

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An entire tea set? Egg cup? Gift wrap? Check out The Alice Boutique.

I find The Hudson Hotel in New York to have a very Alice in Wonderland feel. Much of the furniture in the library bar is oversized and the lobby is really something. It’s a fun place to take a client for a drink.

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Or this acrylic chandelier from Vinci Living. Plenty more Alice interior design ideas on Lace and Ruffles.

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And I leave you with a great Queen of Hearts from Popsugar:

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Curiouser and curiouser!

Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey

The king of creepy himself. The duke of dainty death. He inspired a generation of illustrators and storytellers. He thrilled and terrified children across the globe. The one, the only, Edward Gorey.

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He had a lot of cats.

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I’d bake him a cake if I could.

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Kafka had nothing on him.

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I bet he knew how to treat a lady.

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He looked fantastic in fur.

People like really really looove Edward Gorey. There was an Edward Gorey Ball in LA. It was before I moved here. Let’s have another!

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He loved Halloween. He inspired Tim Burton.

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What are these creatures? I love them.

Check out 13 Facts You Didn’t Know about Edward Gorey

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I hope he is in heaven covered in cats, drinking tea, and eating cake just as I shall be this evening.

 

Freaky Fridays

Welcome to Freaky Fridays where I post links to the odd and the fantastic. Thank you to my friends, especially Sally and Andrea, who provided me with pure gold this week. Have a weird news story? Send it to dearmisshavisham@gmail.com

Breaking News (hardly): George Washington’s teeth weren’t made of wood says Smithsonian.

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Curbed wants you to party like the Bauhaus did and so does Miss Havisham.

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If you ever find yourself in Budapest, you simply must go to Memento Park which is essentially where all communist statues go to retire. After the fall of communism most of statues and monuments pertaining to that period of history were immediately removed from around Budapest. Here they now live for your viewing pleasure.

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The controversial practice of sin eating existed from Medieval times up through the early 20th century. Believe your sins can be consumed by another person leaving your soul free to enter the kingdom of heaven? The church sure didn’t think so.  Read all about it here.

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I am obsessed with this story. Read about the Russian family who lived alone in the Siberian wilderness for over 40 years then watch the video by Vice of the last surviving member of the family. They had no idea WWII ever happened.

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Love taxidermy, hate the idea of dead animals? These beautiful pieces by artist Kelly Jelinek may even be better than the real thing.

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And another:

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I’m not going to lie, I hate this furry nail trend as reported by Bored Panda. No person who actually needs to USE THEIR HANDS could have these. It has to be a joke or some runway fashion gimmick, right? Very teen wolf, baby.

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Only slightly less practical are the Guinness Book famous nails of Lee Redmond who owned the longest natural lady nails in the world. Sadly, Ms Redmond lost her nails in a car accident. She tells of her tragic loss here.

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Want to stay young forever? Try the vampire line of cosmetic procedures where blood is injected into your various body parts for a youthful undead glow. I’ve been bathing in the blood of doves for centuries, dearies. How do you think Elvira stays so young?

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And I leave you with some real life haunted houses for sale.

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May your weekend be fantastically fanatical.  xoxo

Let Me Eat Cake

Today we’re going to talk about cake. I love cake. I love art. I love cake art.

How about this octopus cake rendered in the vivid tones of my nightmares from Karen Portaleo of Highland Bakery in Atlanta, GA.

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Behold his tower of wedding terror from Sweet Lakes Cakes.

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Or this one by the same folks.

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Here is what we believe to be the world’s oldest wedding cake. Baked in 1898 and still standing. Read the full story at the Daily Mail.

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Love Poe? How about this one from Blue Note Bakery in Austin?

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Who doesn’t love a red velvet? This recipe from Say Yes will make you say yes, yes, yes, oh yes!

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Here’s a tutorial for a do-it-yourself Miss Havisham’s wedding cake from Craft Hubs. The mice are a nice touch.

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Be still my heart. This one is from Erin Gardner of Wild Orchid Baking Company and Erin Bakes. There isn’t an ugly cake on this woman’s site.

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Baby head cake pops from Conjurer’s Kitchen. She started out as a taxidermist. Heaven.

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And more taxidermy crossover: This past weekend I went to Break Bread at the Think Tank Gallery in downtown LA and saw these masterpieces by Scott Hove.

Last, but certainly not least, Christine McConnell who is one part baker, one part photographer, one part pinup girl. If you don’t know her, get in the know. She bakes the cakes, styles the photos, stars in the photos, and takes the photos. Pre order her book, follow her on instagram, invite her over for tea (Come on over, Christine).

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I leave you in diabetic shock and awe. xoxo

 

Miss Havisham’s February Appointments

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I can’t hide it, I love Martha Stewart. I’m not even ashamed really. Maarfa’s got great recipes that I will never end up cooking but think I will, her garden is transcendent, and her Halloween issue has me giddily flipping the pages searching for what her costume will be this year. Oh Martha, come over and have a slumber party at my house. We can stay up all night, mosaic our nails with fine china shards and knit some pashminas from all that extra cat fur flying around my house. The next morning we can sip homemade absinthe, plant 7000 black tulip bulbs in my backyard, and design a miniature animal barn for all the teacup pigs we’re going to rescue.

No matter how much I love me some Maarfa, there is one section of her magazine that causes me to stop and really reconsider my life choices and that’s her monthly calendar. However does she do it all?

Ever striving to approach the majesty of Martha, I humbly submit my own schedule for your eagle eyes. Here are the LA events I will be attending in the next few weeks, maybe I’ll see you there, dearies.

Miss Havisham’s February Appointments:

Los Angeles Art Book Fair February 12-14th

Come get your pretty book fix and support artists from near and far.

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Break Bread Opening Night February 13th. Events through March 13th

There’s a whole month of events at Think Tank Gallery from February 13th through March 13th which include culinary treats, sexy acrobats, and…a whole room made of cake by Banksy collaborator, Scott Hove.  Cake, guys! They had me at cake.

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John Waters-This Filthy World: Dirtier and Filthier, February 13th

The great and benevolent Prince of Puke will be orating at Luckman Fine Arts Center. I have my tickets, do you? I met John Waters when I was in college and it is one of the few times in my life I have felt star struck (the other being Eddie Izzard). I was so nervous and tongue tied I couldn’t say a word, he just patted my arm and said, “I know sweetie. I know.”

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Queen Mary’s My Vintage Valentine’s Day February 14th

Go on, drive down and stay over. The ghosts want you to spend the night on the boat with them, they told me.

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Idle Hour Valentine’s drink pairing menu February 14th

Drive to the porn capital of LA, The Valley, and drink in a building shaped like a barrel. They’re offering food and special drink pairings to make you forget where you are and who you’re with.

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Rose Bowl Flea Market February 14th

Don’t let love day get in the way of your true calling.  I bet we’ll be the only ones there, right?

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Atlas Obscura’s “The Art and Science of Perfumery” February 18th

Craft your signature fragrance, darling.

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Atlas Obscura’s “Retreat to Rockhaven Sanitarium” February 20th

Because Atlas Obscura has all the fun, come tour an abandoned insane asylum with them. Think how tranquil it will be!

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Long Beach Flea Market February 21st

If you didn’t get your fill at the Rose Bowl, there’s always Long Beach.

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First day of Beekeeping Class February 21st

Did you know that you can take beekeeping classes for free? Well you can and you should.

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So many things to do this month, so little time. xoxo

 

An Auction to Remember

I was in fifth or sixth grade when our teachers trucked us all out for what has to be the oddest school trip combo in history: The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Football Hall of Fame. There I was pale, skinny, bookish, all knees and elbows and just dreading going to the sports portion. Some things don’t change. In fact, I actually just had to look up what sportball hall of fame is in Ohio while writing this because clearly I only have a real memory of the museum. Needless to say, I was in the minority on that trip.

This was the first time I’d been to a natural history museum and I stood there staring at the giant taxidermy dioramas frozen in awe. I had not expected this. I thought this museum would be all geodes and planetariums, which I would have also been fine with, but this…this was magical. I stood there so long it felt like time had stopped. I nearly missed the bus to the Football Hall of Fame and someone had to come find me and drag me out of the building. I loved walking through the dark rooms lit only by the lights in the nature scenes. I loved the painted backdrops behind the animals, I loved the theatre of it. I never wanted to leave. From that day on, I was enthralled.

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Taxidermy is a polarizing topic especially, I find, here in California so let’s be very clear on the subject: I love taxidermy but I don’t support killing for sport. Big game hunters make me sick. The taxidermy I collect is all very very old (mostly Victorian) and somehow that makes me feel better about it. I have no interest in actually creating taxidermy myself and I nearly faint when someone jokes about me stuffing one of my cats after they die, so my relationship with taxidermy is still a bit complicated.

For me, it’s about understanding the Victorian’s relationship with the natural world and their obsessive desire to preserve everything. They were fixated with death and mourning and I suppose I was/am too. I’m also obsessed with human mummies and funeral photos so I don’t really discriminate across species at least.

This past weekend I bid on a number of pieces at auction that were all Victorian pets. This was an exhaustive and fascinating collection of taxidermy, mourning jewelry, automatons, and antique erotica held by Treadway Toomey Auctions in Chicago. The auction was held to raise money to fund grants for contemporary artists. Here’s an excerpt from the program:

Treadway Toomey Auctions is pleased to offer items from the Estate of Candice B. Groot. This important single-owner collection spans much of the late 19th through 21st centuries and includes fine timepieces, erotica, fine taxidermy, automata and decorative arts in addition to exceptional modern and contemporary art and ceramics. The collection will be offered for sale in four auctions throughout 2016 with proceeds benefiting the Virginia A. Groot Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization.

Candice Groot was an artist, teacher, philanthropist and passionate collector. She established the Virginia A. Groot Foundation in 1988, named in honor of her mother. The Foundation awards annual international grants to contemporary artists who work in three dimensions to help allow for the development of their work.

But I digress, this collection floored me. Whoever had these mounts made back in the day clearly loved their pets and wanted them with them always and Candice A. Groot recognized their genius and procured them. Here are a few of them from the auction house website:

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Oh kitty, you are special.

 

 

 

And my personal favorite:

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The fact that they’re pets is what drew me to them. These weren’t wild animals killed for sport, they were members of the family put on actual pedestals, propped up on velvet pillows or worn on the heads of their humans.

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Probably the most famous of all Victorian taxidermists is Walter Potter. Well known for his anthropomorphic dioramas of animals, he is a classic example of the Victorian “whimsy” that quickly fell out of fashion in the twentieth century. Potter displayed his creations in his museum and they were well loved at first, then lost their appeal altogether for a time. His collection was sold off in 2003 piece by piece. Two of his pieces, quite large in size, were auctioned off this past Saturday and fetched the price of $100,000 and $140,000 so someone still loves them (besides me, of course).

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The auction also contained a fair amount of mourning jewelry of a similar type. All the pieces had paintings of the dearly departed’s eye in the center of them. They’re beautiful and haunting.

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I encourage you to have a look at some of the odd erotica pieces too, they’re quite something. There are canes with secret compartments, naughty pocket watches, and ladies compacts with secret paintings inside to name just a few of the choice items. The Victorians weren’t all high collared dresses and courting couches, believe me.

Lastly, I leave you with a few of the antique automatons that I coveted:

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And who doesn’t love a smoking monkey?

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Thank you, Candice B. Groot for having such exquisite taste and for setting up such a noble fund for artists. I just wish I’d won the pooch on the velvet pillow.