Friday, 12 November 2010

Expecto Patronum!

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This week I went on a tour to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. I had been there a few months ago, just before they opened the new Harry Potter section. Therefore, the plan this trip was to do a cursory walk around of the other areas, then spend the day submerging ourselves in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We were not disappointed!

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Hogwarts from the village

A friend of a friend works for Universal and told us that they spent $300 million on the new section of the part. It shows! The attention to detail is spectacular and makes the experience an unforgettable one. As you walk into the section from Jurrasic Park you are greeted by the formidable form of Hogwarts castle. Cross the bridge and you are in Hogsmeade village!

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Entering Hogsmeade

Our first stop was to try some Butterbeer. We had heard very good things about its taste, once again we were not disappointed. In our opinion the butterscotch flavoured beverage is best served frozen (you can choose frozen or regular servings) but the best part is the cream on top! I also tried pumpkin juice while I was there, equally delicious!

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Delicious pumpkin juice and Butterbeer

As we walked around Hogsmead we were greeted by well known Harry Potter landmarks - The Three Broomsticks, where we ate lunch, The Hogs Head, where we drank more Butterbeer, Gladrags, Zonko's where you can buy extendable ears, sneakoscopes and puking pastilles and of course Honeydukes! Here you will find all the sweets you might want to try including Chocolate Frogs with Wizard cards and Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans.

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The Three Broomsticks

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The window of Zonko's

At one point we were actually in line to go into one of the stores (we thought it was amusing too!) - Dervish and Banges is the main gift shop and is attached to Ollivander's Wand Shop and the Owl Post, complete with roosting owls inside. You are given the opportunity to purchase Harry Potter postcards which can then be postmarked with the Hogsmead stamp!

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The Owl Post

Throughout the day small performances take place near Hogwarts. Students come out and sing a selection of school songs with frogs. You are also greeted by students from Durmstrang and Beauxbaton who put on a little show, then pose for photos. I think I might make myself a Beauxbaton uniform for next Halloween :-)

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The ladies of Beauxbaton

Our two favourite moments of the day were the main Harry Potter ride and Ollivander's Wand shop. I don't want to spoil Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey for you, but lets just say you get to play Quidditch, meet the Whomping Willow and see some familiar faces. We went on it twice! Ollivander's is a small show within the shop where a member of the the audience is chosen to find their wand. My friend was lucky enough to be the chosen one - and we haven't heard the end of it since! The wands are very beautiful and you can even buy replicas of the wands used in the movies.

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My friend with Ollivander finding his perfect wand

If you are in the Orlando area you really need to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I would go back for the Butterbeer alone, let alone the atmosphere, rides and cool merchandise!

I may be MIA for the next couple of weeks as I have cast changeover on the ship, so I will post as soon as I can, promise :-)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Alicia Ross - Hot Mess

Phrenology Study of Miley Cyrus

I haven't been very far out of Manhattan - I've gone as far as Union Square and the Guggenheim! - but when I saw the post on Mr X Stitch for an embroidery exhibition in Brooklyn, I figured I had to go.

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Black & White Gallery

It was well worth it! The work of Alicia Ross is phenomenal. I was the only one in the Black & White Gallery this Sunday morning, which gave me the opportunity to really look at and scrutinise the pieces.

Phrenology Study of Lindsey Lohan

First displayed are Ross's portraits. They range from densely cross-stitched pieces that look like photos, to more simple offerings they use colour to express their form. I was taken by the use of stitches and thread that Ross exhibits. Most of the piece is executed in regular cross stitch but texture is added with areas of single line stitches, sometimes even long strands of thread stitched from one area of the composition to another. Her portrait pieces, displayed in oval frames reminiscent of mirrors, made me look at femininity and it's link to needlework. All the portraits were of women, as if the medium were depicting that which it represents. However, each woman was different, showing the real diversity of our sex.

Ross's portraits are really, for me, only the tip of her work. Further back in the space you find her bondage pieces. There were two very distinct types of these. Two pieces were stitched on black cotton and quite formally showed women's faceless bodies bound in painful looking positions. The bodies were densely cross stitched, while an un-parted strand of red thread was used to show their bondage. I particularly liked how the thread disappeared off the edge of the canvas so you could not see the captor.

The second set of bondage pieces were more subtle in their depiction, but some of my favourite pieces. A woman's head and torso, her arms raised in anguish, are shown in vivid tones, actual pins crossed through her wrists. Whole, red thread circles her womb and shoots off from it suggesting the pain only women can feel. In a second piece the woman is bound and apparently suspended in the air. However, she is only bound by a single six-strand embroidery thread. The emotions infused in the piece make this thread seem like leather bonds holding her in place. These pieces being to mind the constraints put on women by the 'feminine ideal'. Their depiction in embroidery shows how this medium is considered part of the constraints.

Section of Thank God for Science (Octomom Phrenology Study)

I found one piece intriguing. The meaning I found behind it is possibly not what the artist was trying to say, but interesting non the less. A woman's profile, her lips pursed, is surrounded by the portraits of young babies, each in different colours. This, to me, felt like another constraint. Women are expected to have children and become mothers. This woman is surrounded by babies - are they what she wishes for, or something that scares her?

Philosophy Devouring Uranus

Finally, my to favourite pieces in the exhibition were displayed side by side. A bird of pray stands over the naked body of a woman. The top half of the body is missing, a bloody ruin depicted by strands of red thread attached to the bird. In the second piece, the woman's body is again on the ground, the top half bloody and being devoured by a wolf. Such levels of violence shouldn't be seen in cross stitch. We should be stitching kittens and flowers.... but that's the art of it!

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Ross's pieces were breathtaking, I spent quite some time looking at which stitches she used, how she divided her thread to make textures and statements alike. I am inspired to be a better stitcher and a better artist after seeing this exhibition and will be keeping an eye out for more of her work!

Check out more of Alicia's work at
her website here

If you are in the area, I suggest you go check out this exhibition before it ends on 21st November:
Black & White Gallery, Brooklyn

Monday, 1 November 2010

A Truly Outrageous Samhain!

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Truly Outrageous!

Finally! Here are my halloween photos!

I made the Halloween costume I wore this year for last Halloween. Check out this post from last year to see what I ended up wearing and the story behind it.

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Next year I might have to make a Jerrica costume...

It ended up being a good thing that I pushed back wearing this year's costume as I was able to get the PERFECT wig! It is from the California Costume Co. and it is called the Truly Outrageous wig... for Jem from Jem & The Holograms! I am all about the 80s costumes right now :-)

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As Jem at the crew Halloween party

I made the dress and belt myself. The shoes are from Payless and were only $14. It took me a while to find just the right tights, but finally I found white glitter ones.

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Jem make-up test

I searched online for a Jem make-up tutorial and found a great one that used tape to get the right shape. I then used a bright pink blusher from Make-up Forever to create the geometric shapes she has. I added blue eyeliner and eyelashes. I had big pink ones but they were too much so I kept my usual diamante corner lashes instead.

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Jem Star earrings

The final touch was my Jem Star earrings. I made them myself from old Christmas badges with red flashing lights, red foam and glitter. I had them flashing for most of the night and they still work!

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Jem and Lady Gaga having a rock star moment

this costume! The wig really sets it off and I think I will be using it for years to come!

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Jem likes a good beer after a hard day rocking out

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With my Nickelodeon cast

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Jem hanging out with the drag queens!

We have two Halloween parties when working on cruise ships - a crew party and a passenger party. I wore the Jem costume for the crew party and then went as a vampire for the passenger party. I was a judge for the costume contest for both parties - who is more qualified to judge a costume contest than the wardrobe supervisor?! All in all Halloween was pretty awesome this year - in fact it was Truly Outrageous!!

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My vampire costume for the passenger party

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Lady Gaga falls prey to my vampire!

Happy Samhain everyone!