Trying to put my thoughts & ideas down somewhere and give another outlet to my creativity. It's all connected, so I can't say it's a blog about just this or just that. Dolls. Fashion. Art. A little bit on travel, whatever... let's take it wherever it goes...


Remembering Jordan - or what the pillow revealed

There's other things I've been wanting to blog about, but yesterday two things almost simultaneously bumped me back to a week pretty much exactly 10 years ago. It almost seems these things had to happen so I would be thinking back to it just now.

10 years ago, I went on my first "big" trip, completely alone. And to Jordan, no less. Petra had been sort of a dream for a few years, and that autumn I had decided to make it real. It was during that trip that I got the news that I would get my own apartment within a few months of coming home. It was also the week the second Intifada started and in which former Canadian prime minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau died. It's funny the things one remembers, but all of this has a reason.

But first things first. It started with a pillow. After the last few weeks, which somehow had left me with just the time to take of care things happening right then, but left both my doll collection and my apartment in, simply speaking, a total state of disarray, I managed to get it all tidied up and sorted out this weekend. After rearranging a few things in my living room, I decided that four pillows on one sofa were a bit much - and decided to reduce that to three. I had bought all of these pillow covers on said trip to Jordan - after being told on the phone by my parent that I'd get that apartment. The pillows left on my sofa are the ones I bought at the hotel in Amman. Sadly, the colors are a bit faded from the sunlight, but I still love them, and they're authentically Jordanian, even hand-embroidered.

The other cover I bought together with another one at a big souvenir shop on the way from Amman to Aqaba. They're made in India, but they didn't cost much and I liked them. But now I decided this green one was one too many...

So I took the cover off... and there appeared...

A vintage 1994 piece of "art" by yours truly! I think I must have made this during the silk painting workshop at school. I admit, it makes me cringe. But at that time, I decorated pretty much everything with my "cartoon" characters. And underneath the silk? Yet another cover! I believe it comes from the sofa we then had at home (look at those creases!).
I probably just grabbed any pillow I had then, or that my mom gave me, and never bothered to remember what was inside them. I guess I grew up a bit in-between and what I had made a few years before had become uninteresting.

Then I wanted to change the pillow within one of the other covers, and look what turned up there... an even older piece of work from school! From my "draw a peace sign everywhere-hippie-phase".

And as if that hadn't been enough, there was another reminder of this trip in the shape of an article on wellness hotels in Jordan in the Sunday newspaper. And all I thought was - okay, so they wax poetically about all the great hotels that have been built on the shore of the Dead Sea and in Aqaba, but they haven't seen a dot of the country. I had loved it - dodgy hotels, crazy traffic and all, and I could never imagine going there just to spend a week at an expensive hotel and to never see anything from the country!
Yes, not far away, just across the border, the second Intifada broke out, but we never felt anything but safe. The food was great, the people were friendly, and it was a fun, varied group that I traveled with (two of them being Canadian - thus the reference to Trudeau - of course they heard of it on some hotel TV). I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Eating by candle light at a "beduin tent" restaurant because of a power outage, drinking hot tea in the greatest heat in Wadi Rum, the most reliable wake-up service in the shape of the 5 a.m. call to prayer (and in Wadi Musa even in stereo!), a unique beach panorama in Aqaba with mountains on one and freight ships on the other side, plus Turkish pop music from the beach bar and another prayer call as the soundtrack, a hotel in Wadi Musa (Petra) that would put Fawlty Towers to shame service-wise (they didn't even get the change to daylight-saving time correct and woke us up at 4 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.), a 12 kilometer walk through Petra and to a place called "World's End" in more heat, visiting a traditional (meaning non-tourist) hammam and being kneaded through like never before in my life, three women riding a taxi alone through Amman with an enthusiastic Palestinian taxi driver who barely spoke English - just to visit a mosque - and to top it all off, riding through the empty streets of Amman late at night with 6 other people in a sedan (no, strictly speaking, that's not legal either in Jordan...). Now that's real life! All those fab hotels this newspaper talks about didn't exist at the time. I think there was just one hotel in Aqaba with a private beach that allowed women to wear just a swimsuit. Not that I minded! I could easily have spent another week or so there.

A reminder of Wadi Rum. This scenery has nothing to hide from the Monument Valley. It was also nicely un-touristic. Bumpy 4WD trucks and beduin guides wearing their traditional long white garb - and who climbed these rocks in their sandals like they were just walking up a hill. One really has to see it to believe it...




I think sometimes - what would all these incredibly creative people out there (especially those on a small budget) do without the internet?

It's incredible what one finds... sometimes I stumble upon something on Etsy, sometimes I get sent a link or quite literally one thing leads to another.

Today's Etsy newsletter didn't have an exact theme - it was in fact a colorful mix of all sorts of creative things. One thing sprang to my eye immediately: Margaux Lange and her Re-membering Barbie Fondly jewelery. There's more, and even more incredible stuff, on her website as well. As much as I am a Barbie doll collector and love my dolls to bits, I have nothing against people who find other creative uses for dolls. And I think her saying "re-membering Barbie fondly" shows a love for our gal too. Margaux gives her a new "life" as jewelery that will be cherished to by the owner, whilst I sometimes give played-with old dolls a new life by way giving them a makeover or at least cleaning them up and re-doing their hair etc. (which is something I really, really love to do). Seeing this jewelery also reminded me of an exhibition a few years ago at the Froschlocke art gallery here in Zurich. They had all kinds of works made from or inspired by Barbie doll(s) from several artists. There was jewelery too - charm bracelets with Barbie shoes, a cigar cutter made out of Ken's butt, or loose Barbie legs packaged like meat in the supermarket. A bit of digging unearthed a few pictures that I took then:

The "Barbie-Q"

I had fun there and a good laugh at the ideas some people have about what one could do with a Barbie doll. And yes, of course some of these people have also thought about how they see Barbie, or about things like materialism, body-image and so on, while other things were just plain tongue-in-cheek. Whatever. It was interesting, funny, inspiring - I have no problem with this.

Further browsing in the "archive" of my time as editor of the Fashion Doll Club Switzerland's archive also led me to the photos of the works by the Austrian artist Andrea Holzinger, whose exhibition I visited in Vienna in May 2003 (I reported on it in the same issue as on the Froschlocke exhibition). She did a series of photo-realistic oil paintings of Barbie dolls and accessories. My ultra-favourite was this very colorful, very pop-artsy (and, sadly, very huge and way beyond my budget) painting:
Isn't it gorgeous? I guess it shows my love of pop art and bold & colorful things.

Here's another one:
The one painting that I did buy (and could afford) now hangs in my living room:She did a whole series of these small portraits, which were all very pretty. Those who know my Facebook avatar might have started to wonder about that one now... now, that one's by me, a small experiment which was of course inspired by this portrait. Mine's a bit smaller though, and I used acrylic paint:I googled Andrea Holzinger, out of curiosity - and she still does gorgeous, colorful photo-realistic paintings, which can be seen on here website. I really like these other paintings too. If I ever happen to have big, white, empty walls wherever I may live in the future, this is the kind of thing I would want to have hanging on them, I think. Well, I can dream, can't I?

A fun blog showing another way of turning something old into something new is New dress a day, which my friend alterted me to. What fun! It's all about seeing something in a dress that one would probably usually not look at twice at the thrift shop. I admit there are quite a few that I would honestly just pass over without thinking twice ;-). Her ideas are just so clever.

As for myself, I have recently done another Willy-nilly, though this is a personal one - a card to accompany a wedding present. I cut up the vouchers for the things I had picked from the wedding gift wish book (gifts for the honeymoon in Florida) and added vintage brochure cutouts and pictures and scrapbook-stickers. I spent a fun afternoon cutting, puzzling and gluing. No kidding, this is a serious business - cutting things up, putting things together in the right way, finding the right mix, the right look...
So, now I'm off to sew a vintage slip down to my size (yes, it was my size considering the measurements that were given, but it turned out to be still too big...).



What goes around comes around

As loud, colorful and neon-full as they get - voilà, the super duper top I picked up at Humana in Vienna 2 weeks ago on our surprise weekend from work! It had shoulder pads too (did anyone say 80s here?), no kidding!

My friend spotted it - we both loved the crazy graphics, but what do you do with it? The manni is my size (more or less), so you get an idea how big this thing is. Weeeell... she grabbed a belt and I made off to the changing rooms... ah... cubicle (oh how I love those curtains that never quite close!)...

Okay, maybe I can find a smaller belt still, but I think this is gonna make one cool look for next summer - which will hopefully last longer than 3 weeks! I did remove the shoulder pads though - the fabric around them was starting to disintegrate *yuk*. Besides, with them the shoulders really looked humoungus!

Speaking of shoulders & things that come 'round and 'round again... they are quite "in" again - shoulder pads, puffy or peaked shoulders... and thanks to my vintage jackets, I have really come to love shoulder pads. Having done that, I will try to master the "big shoulder"! The only question is - how new or old could it be?

a) ca. 1890s
b) 1940s
c) 1980s-power-dress-does-1940s
d) 2010-big-shoulder-revival-recycles-all-else

Stay tuned!



Just a short post in-between. The last two weeks or so have just been too bizzy with all sorts of thinks happening (not all of them happy events), and I caught an ugly cold too...

On the upside, I have found a gorgeous silk evening dress that's perfect for winter, another great Caritas find for almost nothing (photos coming soon!), incidentally in almost the same deep shade of purple as the Indian silk dress I found on our surprise weekend in Vienna (more of that later too).

What's been keeping me busy otherwise is getting something to wear together for my cousin's wedding next Saturday. Since the weather keeps doing somersaults, I've been keeping my options open - not only repairing a 1940s dress in case it's warm, but also getting the skirt for a 1950s-style suit finished, in case the weather won't play ball. Ah, well, it's almost finished... how can you tell that a sewing notions box belongs to a Barbie doll collector? All the snaps, hooks'n eyes etc. are only the smallest size! Duh, I realized I don't have any "normal" sized hooks and eyes *lol*. Ah well, that's not much of a problem to buy, but I did have a good laugh at myself!

Furthermore, after half a day of putting Ikea furniture together (and another half day buying the self same stuff) , my bedroom is finally starting to look more "put together". More on that, and on quick'n easy furniture renovation - coming soon. Just bear with me while I get things sorted out ;-).



Story of a scarf...

Now here's a story of coincidences as only life could produce it... I have this really great silk scarf, that I like to wear with my black 1940s jacket.

The scarf was a gift from a friend, and she knew I'd like the colors - plus it said "Swiss Made" on the label and she thought that was funny.

I love the color combination and the groovy pattern. So the other day I showed it to my mum - sort of "oh look, and that's the scarf that I like to wear with this jacket". She took one look a the signature on it...

... and on she went "Oh Fisba-Stoffels - I served old Mrs. Stoffels at the shop in Klosters!" (my mom worked summer seasons as a tour guide and winter seasons in ski resort shops). Would you believe it? It seems, the Mrs. Stoffels in question was quite a character, well-known in town. My dad, who grew up in Klosters, remembers her too. Apparently, the company mostly produced hankies - the old-fashioned lace-etched kind that my grandma liked and had. Aww, if the internet turns up nothing, just ask yer mum!

Anyway, I did some more research, though not with a lot of results. There's loads of ebay, Etsy etc. listings for Fisba-Stoffels hankies and scarves, but not much info on the company per se. I found some old trade register references, the company originally was founded in St. Gallen - which makes sense, as St. Gallen was a well-known center of lace production, and it seems the company was called Fisba-Stoffels Taschentuch AG from the beginning (Taschentuch meaning handkerchief). It also seems it was founded as early as 1895. In 1907, they built a factory in Elgg, in the Canton of Zurich, where apparently they got the land to build the factory plus houses for the workers and all else for - pretty much nothing! The only other bit I could find was that in 1988 they fusioned with the Fischbacher company, and the name Fisba-Stoffels disappeared. Fischbacher is a well-known brand, producing high-quality bed linens and fabrics for home furnishings.

I am again and again surprised about the stories vintage things can reveal!