newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
So I managed to get myself to Chicago to see 'Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity' at the Art Institute before it closed, and am majorly glad I did. So many of my favorite paintings in one place, along with actual period clothes, makes for pretty much the best thing ever. :-D

Morisots and Berauds and Bazilles, OH MY! Time to squee over paintings and dresses! And dolls! )

So, a crazy trip (I was running late, it rained, and I was all dressed up in my pretty dress and shoes, need I say more?) -BUT- an awesome, geek-tastic, art history and fabric-loving doll collector's dream trip. (And if I can just recover from it soon & get back to sewing my Doctor Who cosplay projects for Chicago Tardis, I'll be all set for another crazy awesome trip. Yay!)
newmoonstar: (little dorrit (spaceyplum))
I never like to talk about politics on LJ, but I'm just so miffed by the idiocy of the media over the mid-term elections I just have to rant. Everywhere you look they're all squaking about 'the Republicans will win, blah blah blah' on the premise that everyone must hate the Democrats because they haven't managed to fix in only two years all the problems the Republicans took eight years to make in the first place. Is this not the stupidest, most flawed logic ever? Anybody with half a brain obviously does not agree with that analysis, and anybody who doesn't have half a brain will be duped into believeing it, thereby unfairly creating the edge for the Rebublicans that you say is already there. So either way, stop saying it, and then pretending you're just innocent, impartial media reporting the truth. Arg!!!! I hate politics. I hate political ads. Just re-elect Feingold for the love of god, because he's the only honest politician in the history of ever, and has at least proved he knows what he's doing, and if we the people of Wisconsin are stupid enough to let that go, then maybe we just deserve to rot in hell with the Republicans. Thank you very much. ARG!!!!

Okay, now I've got THAT out of my system...On to fun things! About the rest of my Milwaukee trip, the Charles Allis Museum was also most awesome. Even though it's an Edwardian house and therefore architecturally much more boring than a Victorian house (in my opinion!), it was stuffed full with amazing art and antiques. The ancient Greek artifacts were just spine tingling, to see a water jug that someone had used thousands of years ago still in one piece(!). And there was a Duncan Phyfe table and chairs and sofa which were very drool-worthy, and I was more drawn to those than all the paintings! Even the Gainsborough landscape, I really only care about his portraits! (Can you tell I'm a costumer? Teehee.)

So that was a fun adventure, and I hope I'll get to see more museums and historic houses next year! This was definitely my last trip till spring, because now it's getting too cold! Seriously, where is the hot chocolate and electric blanket?? Brrr! I need to move to a warmer climate!!
newmoonstar: (beatles (theboxingbutton))
Whew! Been busy lately. Today is my birthday, so hopefully I'll be able to at last stay home and do nothing! (With the exception of going out for lots of ice cream and other junk food items!)

I didn't count on any more traveling this year, but the weather was so unseasonably warm that I decided to go to Milwaukee on Friday, and I went to all the museums and had myself a history-and-art filled fun time. The Pabst Mansion was my favorite, of course, since overly exhuberent and cheerfully overstuffed high Victorian architecture and interiors are my favorite things ever! The Ladies' Parlor was my absolute favorite room, all pink and gilded and flowery Rococo revival, I think I nearly keeled over of happiness when I walked in! That is exactly the sort of room I want! The tour guide was really good, and it was neat to hear about all the little tidbits of Victorian life that you don't get in most history books. The reason some of the chairs in the same set have different heights on their arms? High armed chairs for the gentleman, and low armed chairs for the ladies, so that they could drape the skirts of their huge dresses over the arms rather than having to try to squish them in between. Makes perfect sense now! Only one of the rooms on the second floor is fully restored, so I hope to go back again someday when they get the others done!

Villa Terrace Museum, buildt in the 1920's in the style of an Italian Villa, was also beautiful, it's best feature in my opinion being the enclosed center courtyard garden, because you can look around, and there's nothing you can see to tell you that you're not in Renaissance Italy. So pretty! Would be great for taking pictures in Italian Ren costumes too!

Eek, no more time to type now! (Plus my arm still hurts from that tetanus shot I had to get after scraping my knee on a rusty metal kitchen cabinet.) Will have to go on about the rest of the awesome houses and art I saw later!
newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
Had an adventure over the weekend. It was raining where I live, so I decided it would be an excellent day for a trip to Villa Louis, a beautiful Victorian country house that was once the retreat of a wealthy family, and is now a museum.

The drive was two hours through endless country roads with nothing but cornfields for scenery, but at the edge of a tiny rural town like any other, there was the lovely riverside estate, along with lots and lots of horses and carriages who were there for the weekend for a Carriage Classic Pleasure Driving Competition. The weather was perfect, all sunny and lightly breezy, and we watched the pony carts (too cute!) compete in the enclosure before going on to see the house, which was absolutley stunning.

It's an 1870's brick Italianate that sits on a little hill overlooking a pond, weeping willow trees, and the Mississippi River. And inside it's stuffed full with gilded age gorgeousness. You can look at books with pictures of Victorian houses all you want, but nothing really prepares you for the massive scale of the furniture in a proper Victorian mansion. With 12 foot ceilings, a floor-to-ceiling gilded mirror in the entryway really makes an impression! Can you imagine being a child and living in a house with an enormous life-size marble statue of yourself in the parlor? The William Morris wallpaper, the velvet curtains, the monumental wooden bedsteads with half-testers festooned in drapery, the chippendale sofas, the stained glass windows! It was like a candy store for history geeks! But I think I actually preferred the little girls' room, with it's pastel colors and dolls and toys all over, it reminded me of Samantha's from the American Girl books!

It was all very lovely, and I only wished I could have gone when it wasn't so crowded, with a group of friends in period costume, maybe, so I could have made the whole fantasy complete, if only for a minute or two! Maybe next time! The day rounded out with a ride in a horsedrawn carriage along the river, which was unbelievably lovely, and then back to modern reality with a stop for a hamburger and donuts before heading home. All together, a very sucessful day, and I hope to travel to more historic houses next summer! (If only they were all so opulent and luxurious!) *sigh*
newmoonstar: (georges barbier (m_icons))
Okay, Costume Con is finally over. Whew! I wish I could say it was totally awesome, but mostly it was just exhausting! But I did see some pretty cool costumes, and I even won a ribbon in the doll contest! I didn't end up wearing any costumes myself, so I don't feel so bad about leaving it all to the last minute any more, but I do wish I wouldn't have done so much marathon sewing in the last few days, because it made my eyes hurt all week for no reason!

I tried to wear the medieval dress that was supposed to only be the mock-up for the pattern I was drafting, but after three hours in a hot, dark room listening to a lecture, I totally gave up, and tripped on the over-long hem a million times in my rush to change back into real clothes! I did finish my 1790's dress, which is very white and floofy, as 1790's dresses are supposed to be, but I worried it would make me look like a marshmallow and chickened out about wearing it, which I now regret, because I felt very left out at the Historical Masquerade, which was the only place where EVERYONE dressed in costume. Otherwise NO ONE dressed during the day except the Steampunk people.

The most totally disappointing thing though was that my brand new digital camera did not work in low light AT ALL, and the hotel had heinous low lighting everywhere. Honestly, you could barely see your hand in front of your face in the hallways and the ballroom. Seriously, Hilton, can't you afford a few light bulbs??? Or is all the money going directly to Paris Hilton's shoe & miniskirt fund? So I didn't get any pictures! *cries*

But there were a few good lectures and workshops, and I found out about a nearby living history event I might be able to attend in a few weeks, and I bought some most awesome fabric and patterns in the Dealer's room. $6 a yard silk twill, for crying out loud! I just wish I'd have got the $6 silk brocade that matched it! My mom talked me out of it, for which I have not yet forgiven her!

Also, I had two entries in the doll contest; I used the whole day the night before finishing the dresses for a pair of dolls to represent the Binney sisters from John Smart's 1806 portrait, and didn't have time to do their hair at all, but I figured since I'd killed myself making the dresses I'd enter them anyway! I also entered a doll wearing the 1820 pink fleur-de-lis dress I made a year ago, and it got me an Honorable Mention! I won an award at Costume Con! It's an actual Masquerade ribbon with a certificate and everything! I couldn't believe it, since all the other entries were really well done; one guy did a Jedi outfit on a ball-jointed doll that was unbelievable in it's minute detail, and he totally deserved that workmanship award!

But I think the best part of the weekend was stopping by the Milwaukee Art Museum, where I saw Raphael's Donna Velata in person! *squee* I couldn't believe what luck that it was there right when I was, because it's my favorite Raphael painting and it almost never leaves Italy. Her dress is a much lighter and more delicate pink in person than any photograph can show, it was just awesome. And I did a mad dash through the rest of the museum like a kid in a candy store trying to get through it in time to get back to the Con. Living as I do in the middle of nowhwere, it was the first time I'd ever been to a proper art museum, so seeing all the stuff in person that only existed in books for me before was just too cool. I nearly cried standing in front of the Caillebotte painting there. He used such large canvases that standing in front of one is more like looking through a window. You could totally imagine being right back in the scene he painted, what the grass and the wind all felt like, what the water sounded like as the boats floated toward you. And then there was his signature, clear as day in the corner, and it dawns on you that a real human hand made these images, standing where you stood a hundred or so years ago, and it gives you a little thrill down your spine. Very cool. Also saw a Sofonisba Anguissola painting I'd never seen before (yay!) and drooled over the furniture displays, and couldn't believe how Art Deco a lot of the Biedermeier furniture looked. I wondered for a minute if I was reading it right, and if it was really 1920-30 instead of 1820-30! I wish I'd have had more time to take it all in!

I also had the best beer-battered cod I've ever had in my life on this trip, so between that and the art and the costumes, I guess it was a pretty successful weekend. :)

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