Saying "No" to Photoshop


I have recently begun modeling my hats and fascinators in the product photography for my etsy store. One thing the experience has brought home to me–in addition to the fact that I have a tendency to react to a camera like a deer caught in headlights–is just how easy it is to internalize media images of female beauty.

I do not look like the average fashion model, who is about 5’8 and 108-125 lbs. I’ve got the 5’8 part down, but at 160lbs I’m forty pounds heavier than the women who appear on magazine covers. I’m admitting my weight on the internet because I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not likely to die of malnutrition. But of course one of the main problems with the advertising industry is that fashion models don’t look like the women on magazine covers either, as the recent Ralph Lauren scandal attests.

I know all this. I’ve read the blogs, taken the courses, and even helped teach a course on Beauty Myths to college students. And yet, looking through the shots of me in my hats I find myself tempted to pull up photoshop and do away with the shadows under my eyes, the places on my face that are just a bit pinker than the rest, or the creases in my clothing that prove that I do, in fact, have a body under the dress.

In the end, I resisted. I said no to photoshop. I am beautiful and I know it.

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Fiber Friday– Spinnning silk yarn

I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying my drop spindle and a bag of roving with me wherever I go. This past week, the back has been full of a delightfully soft bombay silk roving in a perfect wintery white, and a small bag of sparkly blue nylon icicle roving. Spinning the silk was like working directly from a cloud. It took me a while to get used to the staple length, which is different from the wool I have worked with in the past, but it was worth the effort. Here is the resulting yarn:


For more fun with fiber, head on over to Alpaca Farm Girl for the Fiber Friday blog carnival!

Wish List Wednesday–A little book for your thoughts

Several years ago I bought two large sketchbooks to use as journals thinking “this will be great! These books are huge! They will last me forever.” And they have. Primarily because I never write in them. Every few months I make a resolution to start journaling again–every night before bed! Everyday first thing in the morning! Daily at 1:11 PM! And invariably after a day or two of fervent thought recording, I fall back out of the habit. I’ve decided that the culprit is my huge sketchbook journal. It sits there waiting for me to have time to come to it, when that isn’t how my brain works. My thoughts and ideas come at bus stops and cafeterias, when I’m walking between classes or sitting on the train. All the mental notes in the world can’t induce me to remember to journal about them when I get home. I need a journal that can live in my purse or bookbag so when I have that burst of thoughtfulness hits me I can be ready. Preferably I need lots of small journals so that I when I fill them with my new rapid journalling habit, the next one is waiting for me.

This beautiful journal from BlueToad fits the bill exactly:


At 5×6 inches I could slip it into my purse, but with 120 pages it will hold all my random thoughts. I love the tree art on the cover.

This little journal from UsefulBooks practically has my name on it (Celeste, not Elephunk):

The pages are a mixture of Italian Velata, graph paper, and found pages and are sure to give me plenty of journaling inspiration!

There is no reason that a small journal can’t be large in charm, like this miniature leather journal from TeoStudio:

This gorgeous little book is made from recycled leather and hand stained paper.

I can get a whole set of tiny books to save the day from parksideharmony:

Each of these super hero books measures 3 1/2 inches square. You can’t beat that for portability!

She wore a Raspberry Beret

Last month I did a giveaway for a custom beret or sun hat on the Team NorGA blog. The winner, by happy coincidence, was my friend Stockannette from TeamSNEAK. After going back and forth a bit, she realized exactly what kind of hat she wanted.

“Ooh! Can I have a Raspberry Beret?” she asked me. I raised an eyebrow.

“As in a beret with raspberries on it or a raspberry colored beret?” I asked.

She said either one would work. I admit I found that a bit odd. She was so excited about getting a raspberry beret, and yet didn’t seem to have any idea what it should look like. So I scoured the internet for fabric with raspberries on it (there is surprisingly little to choose from–strawberries are all over the place, raspberries: not so much). And because she wanted the beret to be a bit warmer for the winter, I told her I would do the lining and band in raspberry colored flannel. Once we had the particulars worked out, I came back to the Sneak Attackers UNITE! thread, and there was Stockannette, singing away:

“She wore a Raspberry beret The kind you find in a second hand store Raspberry beret And if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more Raspberry beret I think I love her”

A light went off in my head. That’s why she wants a Raspberry Beret! Because of the Prince song! Although, the raspberry beret she’s getting is not the kind you find in a second hand store:

I plan to make another raspberry beret to list in my etsy shop, so stay tuned!

Wishlist Wednesday–This is What a (Handmade) Feminist Looks Like

To counter prominent stereotypes of feminists as dumpy middle-aged spinsters, feminist organizations initiated “this is what a feminist looks like” campaigns to illustrate the wide variety of women (and men) who are proud to call themselves feminists. Today I bring you a Wednesday Wish list full of my favorite handmade feminist goodies.

This is what a feminist looks like on the inside:

This Frida Kahlo Uterus Plush from VulvaLoveLovely will help anyone channel the creative power of the uterus within. Be sure to check out VulvaLoveLovley’s shop for vulva jewelry, reusable menstrual products, and custum vulva portraits.

Somethings that should go without saying, sadly still need to be said:

This “Women aren’t Hoes” button from Beanforest is a playful way to make a statement pajorative terms for women.

Looking for some inspiration from strong women of the past? Look no further than anagrampress!

This beautiful hand pulled letter press poster features a quote from Harriet Tubman:
“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

UglyBaby wants to get you fired up about women’s rights before you go to the office. This waterproof shower art reminds us that on average women still only make $0.74 for every $1.00 made by a man:

Dia de los Muertos Artist Feature–Verveinteriors

November first and second are celebrated as El Dia de los Muertos–The Day of the Dead– to honor friends and family members who have died. To celebrate, I am excited to share with you the work of one of my favorite artists: Kay Martinez of verveinteriors on Etsy. Her work is often inspired by the Day of the Dead and the Mexican folk art traditions that surround it. I have several of her ACEOs, one small square drawing, and I have my eyes set on getting one of her larger pieces someday.

Your art work combines inspiration from South Asian Mehndi and Mexican folk art. How did these two artistic styles from opposite sides of the planet come together in your art?

I grew up in university towns, so I was easily able to meet people from many different cultures. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was or the impact that would have, but it really gave me a deep appreciation for all sorts of cultural nuances. In college, and then working in post secondary settings, I continued learning from other people and developing this appreciation. I can’t remember when I first got into henna art, but I must admit the initial attraction was probably more the “temporary tattoo” part. Yet it amazed me how fast a henna artist could produce such intricate designs, and that fascination just sort of sat in my mind for a long time.

My mother spent time in Mexico before she married, so she probably initialized my interest there; as a kid, I loved looking at all the treasures she had collected. Growing up in Texas, I was fortunate to have Mexican culture surrounding me. I’m a particular fan of El Dia de los Muertos. I love the idea of embracing the concept of death as a natural part of life, and not hiding it under the rug until it inevitably sneaks back out to find us unprepared to deal with it. And, of course, there’s Frida Khalo. This might sound ridiculous, but the movie “Frida” had a spellbinding effect on me. The morning after I saw it, I walked into work in this sort of drunken, lovestruck state. It’s like I had forgotten what I was supposed to be doing all this time, and now I had all-of-a-sudden remembered. That’s the day I started thinking I needed to make some changes and follow what I had finally remembered to be my path.

Having never been a rule follower (can you imagine?), I just find it so natural to merge the two for my own sinister purposes. Muah ha ha ha ha!

When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Six. Hmmm. I remember picturing myself as the lady on the L’eggs pantyhose commercial, be bopping down the street with groceries in one hand and a briefcase in the other. She had a smart beige suit on, and lovely Farrah Fawcett hair. I thought, “That’s going to be me when I’m thirty!” Really, the first time I can remember wanting to be anything specific was when I was ten, and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” came out. I wanted to be a bar owner in Nepal, drinking all the men under the table. Just kidding. I have no idea why being a movie archeologist appealed to me- I don’t even like camping.

What do you think the importance of buying and selling handmade is, in the broader context of the society we live in?

Whenever I shop or obtain services from a B&M scene, I’m always concerned about the people involved. Are they paid a fair wage? Do they have health insurance? Is the company I’m giving my money to generally give a crap about their employees? Many times, I’ve asked employees how they like working at a place. If I get the feel it’s not a healthy work environment, I find another place to shop. Of course, I don’t just go by one snarky employee’s comments, or one lone media report, but it is possible to get an idea about someone’s business practices through multiple information sources. If I can help it, I only want to give my money to people who practice fair trade, provide excellent labor conditions, provide eco-friendly products, believe in quality, and certainly don’t engage in animal testing.

Along these lines, if the product is also handmade, what a bonus you’re finding, because you’re helping keep artisan techniques alive for the next generation to enjoy. If an artisan has no venue for his or her work, that technique is likely to die with the artisan. If we can encourage people to keep putting their best talents out there for us to enjoy, I think other lives besides just the artisans’ are sure to be enriched in some way. And when your life is enriched in some way, it’s likely you’ll put your best self forward, and so on.

That said, when you’re buying a product directly from the person who made it, such as you might do on Etsy, you’re keeping those techniques alive, and you can be reasonably sure the artisan has some control over his or her work life. I love supporting people who, despite what society might encourage to the contrary, have had the guts to make art their lives

What is one art form or craft that you have never tried, but would love a chance to try your hands at?

Oh, geez Louise- yes! I wonder if any artist would say no to that question. At this time, I’m really drawn to sewing and knitting. I can crochet in its most rudimentary form, and I really like it, so I think I’d like other fabricky and yarny activities. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve only tipped the iceberg of the art form I’m playing at right now, so I have a lot to explore with the ink and paint scene too. One thing I know, I’m horrible on a potter’s wheel. I took a class, and it was like I had lost all sense of touch, time, and space. I felt like I couldn’t control my own body. It was awful! I didn’t go back after the first day, because I was a big baby. I have a real appreciation for mudders as a result.

Besides drawing and painting, what kinds of activities do you enjoy? What are your hobbies?

Ha. I would love to say I have all kinds of interesting and exotic hobbies, and that I’m this really fascinating person who lives her life to the fullest, but I really can’t say that without giggling. TV, film, and trying to control my household- my hobbies, ladies and gentlemen. I love TV, and I could talk about movies all day long. As well, when we bought our house, I proceeded to tear it up completely, trying to paint every surface possible. As a result, everything is still disorganized five years later. I keep working on it, though. I have five dogs, too, so they take up a little time. Gee whiz- what do I even do with my time? Yikes! Of course, my hobbies used to include hanging out at the neighborhood bar a lot, so I suppose that’s progress.

If you were a candy bar, what kind would you be and why?

Ack! I wouldn’t want to be a candy bar, because I don’t want anyone to devour me. I’m trying, but I can’t seem to suspend reality for it. Perhaps it’s because I have such a personal relationship with candy bars, and I know how I relish them. I’m not going out like that.