Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Check Out My Etsy Shop!

Today I launched my very first Etsy shop, TheEmporiumMechanica. There aren't a lot of items up as of now, but more are in the making. The main theme of the shop is steampunk jewellery and "inventions" (non-functioning items of fantastical imagination), but I also plan on making hair accessories and items of gothic design (made with lots of black lace, yay!). So far, I have listed the gear ring and the screw earrings I made and posted about previously.

I will make posts of any new listings in my shop as a special heads-up for all of my fabulous followers. Remember to favourite anything you like!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hair Post: Autumn Colours

Lately, I've been getting a bit bored with my hair. Turns out, I don't like to have the same hair style/colour for too long and after a few months of having the same thing, I need a change. Previously, I had been dying my hair permanent black (bad choice on my part, more on this later) and decided that I'd had enough. For a while, I've wanted to dye my hair lavender but couldn't since I had to work this summer. Instead, I worked on growing out some of the black in my hair so that at least part of it would be easier to bleach. Okay, enough premise, here come the pictures of my hair transformation that turned out a bit differently than I expected/hoped.

Crappy before pic, don't ask me why I'm derping so much

This is the bleach I chose to use. Actually, before the bleach I tried using Colour Oops on my hair but it wasn't too effective. I guess dying and redying it permanent black over many months makes it hard to remove, which is why I'm never going to do permanent dye ever again.


And after the first bleaching. My hair is stubborn (the first time I bleached my hair to dye it burgundy, I had to bleach it twice too), but I had hoped that more black would have been bleached out. Oh well, what to do but bleach it again...

And the second bleaching. Still not enough to dye my hair lavender unfortunately :( There was absolutely no why to convince myself to bleach it a third time. I really do want lavender hair but I don't want a large portion of my hair to fall out trying to achieve that.

Here it is dry. Looks much better. After a couple of days, I did get used to it and now I even like it. Definitely not what I had planned or hoped for, but I plan on making a second bleaching effort around the holidays. And right now, my hair is making it feel like it's autumn. I'm like the leaves, changing with the season.

Side view

Top view

Different top view

Cute little bat clips I got earlier this summer from Gothandgeekery on Etsy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bizarre Curiosities: Premature Burial

I don't know about you, but the idea of being buried alive is terrifying. It's not so much a problem these days, but in the past there were many stories about unfortunate people awaking in their own coffins. The history behind premature burial and preventions against it is incredibly fascinating.


Once again, this topic was discussed in the book I'm currently reading, A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities by Jan Bondeson. Apparently, before the mid 18th century, the issue of premature burial was all but ignored. The opinion on death was that you either were alive or you were dead. There was no middle ground. If a person looked pale in the face, felt cold to the touch, didn't have a pulse and did not appear to be breathing, it was assumed they were dead. However, physicians began to publish accounts of terrifying tales of people being mistakenly proclaimed dead, bringing awareness to the matter. One such Parisian physician, Jean-Jacques Bruheir d'Ablaincourt, believed that if people read horrifying and memorable tales, the dangers of premature burial would circulate throughout the public knowledge. He was correct.

Now to give you a taste of some folk tales about premature burial:
  • For one, not all premature burials of the past were unintentional. Execution by burial was used in ancient China during the Warring States Period. Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi ordered 400-700 scholars buried alive after saving classics, which the Emperor had placed an imperial ban upon. After the emperor's death, Qin's armies lost in battle to warlord Xiang Yu, who ordered the 200,000 survivors buried alive.
  • Although not exactly premature burial, Vestal Virgins that were suspected to have broken their celibate vows were walled up in an underground chamber. Vesta would save the virgins who were still pure and leave the tainted ones there to die.
  • One of the most popular folk stories surrounding premature burial is the lady and the ring. This story has popped up in multiple versions in Germany, France, and Italy. The wife of a rich man dies and she is buried with a large gold ring upon her finger. During the night, one of the servants digs up her grave in order to steal the ring, however he is unable to pry the ring off. As he attempts to cut off her finger, the woman awakes with a  scream.
  • This one is probably my favourite. A young lecherous Frenchman is forced to become a monk by his religious parents. While he travels to the monastery, he goes into an inn. The innkeeper begs him to watch over his deceased daughter in order to determine whether or not she is truly dead. She is very beautiful and the monk, who cannot contain himself, has his way with the corpse. Once he leaves, the girl awakens. None months later, the monk visits the inn and surprised to see not only the daughter alive and well, but also a newborn child in her arms. He immediately tells her parents the truth and offers to leave the monastery in order to marry their daughter. Her parents gladly accept, even though their new rich son-in-law is a necrophile.
There were some interesting "tests" conducted to determine that the deceased was actually dead. In Germany in 1670 (before premature burial was a public threat), Theodorus Kirchmayer and Christophorus Nottnagel advised that the funeral should take place several days after the death if there was any doubt. Most physicians claimed that absence of respiration and heart beat were not enough to base an assumption. Instead, only putrefaction and the presence of livid spots could establish death. When a person was suspected to be still alive, it was advised that the suspected deceased should not be treated as such; instead of lying in a coffin, they should lie in a warm bed and others should vigorously try to revive them. If the deceased did revive, the soles of the feet were cut with razors and poked with needles. Attempts of this manner did remain in practice very long.


By the end of the 18th century, premature burial was the biggest fear of all. There were pamphlets, books, and articles everywhere all across Europe describing the horror. This led eventually to the creation of special coffins designed to combat premature burial during the 19th century. The most famous of safety coffins is the Bateson's Belfry, which had a bell mounted on the top of the coffin attached to a cord that was placed in the deceased's hand. Twenty-two safety coffins were patented in the United States alone between 1868-1925. The simplest of models had a hollow tube and rope ladder attached to the coffin. The top was a sliding door so that either the captive could climb out or others could easily check for signs of either life or death. Many later coffins were able to detected any slight movements from the individual inside. However, the detection devices were often too sensitive, picking up on the slightest movements associated with decomposition. One of these coffins was created by Count Michel de Karnice-Karniki, chamberlain to Tsar Nicholas of Russia. When the coffin registered movement, a tube on the top of the coffin would let in air, as well as flail around a white flag and emit a loud ringing. The gravediggers were none the least happy when the majority of coffins they dug up were filled with a half-decomposed corpse.

The fear of premature burial has long been persistent throughout history and is present today even when the possibility of unintentional premature is negligible. Still, we find the theme of alive burial in popular culture, from classics like Poe's Fall of the House of Usher to modern day example, such as Kill Bill Volume 2 and The Girl Who Played With Fire. Chances are, people will continue to find the idea of being buried alive terrifying. I know I will.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Make Up Post: Gone Batty!

Some I was perusing my favourite place on the internet to get inspiration/ideas for make up and came across a delightfully spooky Halloween look! Yes, I know it's still a bit early for the holiday, but I like pumpkins, black cats, ghosts, and bats all year round. I decided to try out this great tutorial for bat eye make up. It's by no means perfect, but for a first attempt with limited supplies (most of my make up is up at school...) I think it turned out reasonably well.

Please excuse the blotchiness of my face. I had no other make up on >.>

I used Maybelline ExpertWear Eye Shadow in Amethyst (I've had it for several years, not sure if they still make it) for most of the purple and Sephora MicroSmooth eye shadow palette in Ultraviolet (the medium purple for the outer edges and the dark purple for the crease). Really, you can use any combination of colours you like! I definitely want to try this again in the orange colour scheme once I have access to all of my eyeshadows.

For the bats, I used gel eyeliner but you might get a better result with liquid liner. Do not try this with pencil. Pencil is highly inaccurate and too soft to draw precise shapes (unless you're magically skilled in it, in which case you are amazing). It also helps if you're good at drawing in general, which I am not.

All credit for the tutorial goes to the lovely bloodsexsugarmagik at Reddit's r/makeupaddiction.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Make Up Post: Autumn is Coming

Don't know about where you are, but here in Northern California the weather is still acting like summer (that darn Indian Summer, grr!). I am completely ready for fall. All that cold weather, warm sweaters, and cloudy skies. But sadly, I get none of those for at least another couple of weeks, so in the meantime, I've been consoling myself with fall inspired make up looks. If autumn isn't coming to me, I may as well bring it to myself.

Here I used a copper shadow for about half the lid, then blended in some black on the outer edge. Same on beneath my eyes. Pretty simple, but definitely gets that "fall leaves" feeling going. I put on some coppery lipstick just to add some more autumn feel (and because I love the colour).

Sorry, I don't have a full face picture of this (turned out blurry). Also, ignore the red eyes, the store I was working in had terrible ventilation and was really dusty (a huge terror for my allergies. I was sneezing all day long). For this one, I wanted a bit of winter (it was in the 80s all that week and I was desperate for some chill). I put a dark, blackish purple all over my lid and then smudged in some light lavender in the crease. I lined the bottom lid with lavender, too. I love purple, there is something magical about the colour, and using a dark purple really brought that wintery feeling to me.

That's it for make up posts for now! There will be another Curiosities post coming up, as well as a big post about my next hair colour journey (it's a big change, I hope it turns out well).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Make Up Post: Inspired by Steam

Hello everyone! This summer, I've been working full time at a small department store and as a result, I've had loads of fun with my make up to keep my spirits up (standing on your feet for 8 hours straight is hard work). I'm only going to post two looks here, but as I am leaving my job this Friday (yay) expect a few more looks in the near future.

Anyway, this summer, I've rekindled my love of steampunk and these two looks are inspired by the subculture. To all of those silly people who say that black and brown don't go together, I say that they should rethink that arguement. In my opinion, they go together quite nicely.

Here, I'm using EsteƩ Lauder gel eyeshadow in Bronze (which I sometimes use as an eyeliner). The lipstick is also EsteƩ (in Burnished Bronze). The lipstick does look more bronze-y than in this picture. Ah, the perks (or drawbacks from my wallet's point of view) of working right next to the cosmetics counters.

I'm a big fan of the "haunted" look, so that's what I went for here. I'm using some Mary Kay eyeshadow my friend gave to me (she doesn't wear make up much). For my lips, I washed them out with foundation and then dabbed a bit of Burnished Bronze in the centre.

Stay tuned for more make up posts and at least one outfit post in the next few days!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bizarre Curiosities: Spontaneous Human Combustion

I've always had a fascination with the odd and unusual. Currently, I've been reading a book called A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities by Jan Bondeson, which talks about strange medical occurrences that have been documented both in folklore and in official medical records throughout history. Some are believed and mentioned often today. I found the history, the stories, and the theories behind these medical curiosities very interesting and have decided to share some of what I've learned with all of you. Hope you find it as fascinating as I do!

A scene from Charles Dickens' Bleak House. Illustration by Phiz, 1933.

The first topic in the book was spontaneous human combustion (SHC). This abnormal event has been documented since the sixteenth century. The theory was that if a person drank too much liquor and strong spirits, the alcohol in their stomach might suddenly ignite. This was one of the main arguments for temperance, used through the nineteenth century. However, now the most popular theory is the candle or wick effect. In this theory, there is no real spontaneous generation of a flame. Instead, a person might have dropped a lit match or gotten cigarette ash onto their clothing, which then ignited. The person's fat would then act as a fuel and as it melted, would seep into the clothing, which would act as a wick. Since many of the tales of spontaneous human combustion involved drunken or old individuals, it would seem likely that they would have been unable to put out the fire on their clothing due to either weakness or unconsciousness.

Now for the stories. First, many of the tales surrounding spontaneous human combustion involve many of the same details. The body of the victim is always either fully or mostly incinerated. Sometimes a single part of the body, such as a foot, would remain behind. Also, the clothing was not always reported burned. In many stories, the clothing is untouched, as well as the surrounding environment. There is usually no evidence of a source of fire, thus leading the witnesses to believe the fire ignited spontaneously. Finally, the victim is almost always alone at the time of combustion.

Comic from A Perfect World

Spontaneous human combustion had actually been present in Scandinavian folklore very early on. There was even a "cure" for it: human urine thrown into the flaming mouth of the victim would quench the fire. However, the first account of SHC was in the sixteenth century in Norway. A parson of the village of Telemark was leaving a Sunday service when he came across a unconscious drunken man lying on the ground. A blue flame was burning inside the man's mouth. The parson quickly urinated into his mouth to stop the fire, but the man awoke and thought the parson was insulting him as a non-churchgoer. The congregation supported the drunkard and the parson was beaten to death with an alter candlestick.

Possibly the most famous account of SHC took place in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1951. An obese elderly widow, Mary Reeser, had not come out of her apartment. When a landlady tried to open the door, the door knob burned her hand. Once she had broken into the apartment, she found Mary's burned remains in an armchair. All that was left of the widow were part of her backbone, a foot, and what resembled a shrunken head. After investigation, it was theorised that Mary had dropped a cigarette on her very flammable rayon-acete nightgown after taking sleeping pills.

SHC is a very intriguing topic. Literary minds, such as Charles Dickens and Herman Melville, were intrigued enough to include it in their writing. To this day, it is unproven whether or not SHC is a real phenomenon. Who knows if this mysterious curiosity of science will ever be solved?
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