Monday, September 6, 2021

Long Weekend Wrap-Up: Party and Art Projects x 2: That Outrageous Eye Dress and Snake Jacket Part III

Hello, my friends! Ah, a long weekend...I completely lost track of time after Saturday, including missing a booked birthday Zoom call with Elaine (we rescheduled), my bad, due to sleeping in on Monday. 

L and I played boardgames on Friday after work, then were up early for a rousing game of Ultimate Frisbee on Saturday morning. We played for over two hours, and were all aching and sore for Vero's 45 birthday party that evening. I skipped brunch out so that I could work on my outfit for her party on Saturday night.

Vero also celebrated her retirement from her government job - inspired by Karen, Vero chose to retire early and pursue her passion in the fitness business. She's an amazing woman, and has already built a company from the ground up. Live life to the fullest! No regrets! 

In this spirit, I spent my Saturday afternoon working on a new Art Project, which I am calling "That Outrageous Eye Dress."
I had a back-up outfit ready to go in case I f**ked up the dress [but I didn't!] and this is indeed what I wore to party in style with about twenty of my closest friends. 

  • Dress - Cherry Velvet, thrifted; purchased here for $8.50
  • Boots - Groovy Husymans, Fluevog; last worn here in April for a Mental Health Shop
  • Cape (below) - Coracle Clothes, vintage 60s, pass-along from Sheila A; last worn here in November 2020

People! It was scary...and thrilling! 
This was the First Indoor Party of the pandemic - all of our friends are fully-vaccinated and gosh-darn-it, it's time to live again! 

This is my first wearing of this stretchy, unlined cotton blend dress - it clung to my tights but was otherwise fine for a party. 
I did a lot of standing around, talking and laughing, and not a lot of walking. 

Some of you may have forgotten that I like to go over-the-top for parties, sartorially. Heh, heh - surprise! 
I had many admirers of my dress - especially once my friends realized that I had customized it! I saucily told most of them to "Kiss my a**."

A simple dress plus gloves and top hat is a look I used to do back in the late 90s/early 00s when we used to meet our gang o' friends at Swans Pub every Friday night. 
I took a quick look through our photo albums and found an example. 

This was taken at Swans, probably around 2000. That's L in his top hat and me in the middle (we had both just acquired our hats: his at Roberta's Hats, me from his boss's car trunk). Nick is the only other person I know in this picture, aside from the backside of our friend Norm's head in the foreground. Those other people are all strangers we met that night - I think they were all from Australia?
I'm wearing the same top hat - I've had it for twenty years! The dress is a classic basic short sheath style (very 2000), in a purple burnout velvet. I likely have a pair of basic black pumps on, and I still have those velvet gloves, which I bought at Fairweather. 

Returning to my outfit, I wore my other lovely Welsh cape in the cab there and back. 
I pinned Mom's lobster brooch on it, as it was a nod to my designer inspiration, which I'll explain shortly. 

Pockets! My dress also had big pockets, which you can see in the first pic below the stairs shot above.
I also wore this cape to show it to our friend Mac - this belonged to his mom, Sheila, in the 1960s. I got it via his sister Sarah, who used to be in my Book Club. 

Rear view. 
As this was a house party, I didn't carry a purse. 

Masked up for the cab. 
We shared with Nick there and back. 

  • Mask - Lazy Susan's

The stuff: 
I am surprised I haven't worn these booties in so long! My legs were so sore from all the sprinting at Ulti that morning; I could not wear anything fancier/higher. These are practically flat! 

  • Top hat - Le Chateau, vintage 80s, retrieved from L's former boss' car trunk (it belonged to former boss' wife)
  • Gloves - Dent, vintage 60s, vintage expo
  • Lobster brooch - Mom's (acquired here)
  • Ear-balls - thrifted

The gloves are vintage and were found at the local vintage expo here in September 2014. I still have the muff and the bronze ring, but everything else I bought then is long passed-along. 

The party started in the late afternoon, but we headed over in the early evening after feeding Vizzini. 
"What do you mean, you're going out? What about meeeeee...?"

Here's L's ensemble - sorry, it's a bit dark. Try to look less grumpy, L. 
He's wearing floral and leather Fluevog boots, dark jeans, a rattlesnake belt buckle (vintage fair), an embroidered shirt (it also has a big design on the back, consignment), and a black satin-lapel-trimmed red velvet jacket. 

The Winesday Women gave Vero a Fluevog gift card for her birthday - I picked up a card for all of us to sign too. 

I added an illustration to it from me. 
I drew this while I waited for the paint on my dress to dry. 

Art Project: That Outrageous Eye Dress

So, here's what I did all afternoon! As you might recall, I thought the boobs of the dress looked like eyeballs when I bought it - I even did an illustration here

Inspiration: Elsa Schiaparelli [pronounced "SKAP-uh-relly] and the Surrealists

"In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous." - Schiaparelli

I enjoy checking out haute couture runway collections, and was very much charmed by Daniel Roseberry's designs for Schiaparelli for 2021 (link here* to Vogue's slideshows), particularly Spring 2021 (here), Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear (here) and Fall 2021 (here), especially the use of body parts, including eyes, in the jewelry.

I remembered reading that those collections' inspirations came from Elsa Schiaparelli's archives, and her work with Salvador Dali in the 1930s and 1940s, when they collaborated on clothing and jewels (excellent article here, and where I borrowed the name of the dress). "Schiap" ("skap", as she was called) was a bold pioneer; Coco Chanel referred to her as "that artist that makes clothes," and one of her most famous designs is the Lobster Dress (pic here) which she did with Dali. She also worked with other surrealists, like Jean Cocteau. The lobster brooch I wore was a nod to the Lobster Dress - so perfect!

*All links 'cause I love.

Mom had asked me a few weeks ago if I wanted some fabric paints (I was thinking about my white t-shirt), and picked up a few more colours for me recently - thank you, Mom! The brand is Setacolor, and I have red, blue, black, white and a purple shade. 
The pictures on the left are images from the interwebz. The "Lips Brooch" in gold, pearls and rubies is by Salvador Dali (c. 1960s), inspired by Mae West's smile, the eye above that is called the "Eye of Time" (article here with both of them pictured), and there's another pic of the Lobster Dress there). The eye above that is "A Brooch in the Shape of an Eye" created by Jean Cocteau in 1937 for Schiaparelli.

Using these images as inspiration, I determined to make an eye on my dress. I lightly sketched the eye with a white eyeliner pencil, then started painting. I decided not to try to attempt Roman numerals on the iris of the eye like the Dali brooch. Too hard! 
I didn't have a lot of time, so not many progress pics. I stuffed newspaper inside the dress, as the fabric paint went right through it. It dried quickly and didn't stiffen up or crack. 

The red of the lips didn't cover well, so I had to add some white to it. 
This is not the final look of the lips, don't worry, just an "in progress" shot. 

The finished dress! I set the fabric paint with my hair dryer on high, as I don't have an iron, and didn't have time to steam it properly. 
My dress is a little wrinkled here - I took these pics on Sunday after sleeping in. 

I positioned the lips right on my bum. 
A few of my friends delightedly smacked it. Oh, I have missed parties!

A close-up of the eye. 
I pinned the "lid" piece so that the flap would stay up. 

Here's the finished lip. 
I even did teeth (better than on the skull), and added highlights to make the lips look shiny.  

I had so much fun chatting about my painting and my dress at the party. And then on Sunday, I finished up the back of my leather jacket while L washed the car (and napped). I've really been enjoying the Mental Health boost that doing these creative endeavours has given me. 

Snake Jacket Art Project, Part III: Back Panel Finished

Here's where we were, as of Part II (here). If you missed Part I, go here

I shaded in more of the snake scales - I missed the coil on the left and had to catch that up later. 
The shading on the snake helped make it look more twisty. 

Then...deep breath...I added colour. The pens (being alcohol-based) blur the black lines, so I was really careful with the colour not to scribble or go over my lines more than once. 
I used the darker red in the "shaded" parts, then did the lighter red on the edgings of the rose petals. 

The paler olive green was the base colour for the leaves. 
I used the wedge edge (vs. the paintbrush end) of the markers to give the leaves extra dimension as the fat lines overlapped each other. 

I then coloured over the stems with the darker olive (paintbrush tip), outlined the leaves and added shading where they overlapped. 
I also coloured in the snake (see the head?), and I'll show more of that shortly. 

I added the palest grey over the skull shade lines, which I'd thickened up with more black - that caused a lot of blurring, so I kind of just rolled with that ("there are no mistakes").  I also did some shading adjustments to the jawline and the teeth to make them look less wonky and more balanced. 
You can see I finished the black shading on the missed coil, and I've started doing the snake's scales on the bottom right side. The roses, leaves and skull are finished here. 

And...the snake is all finished! It looked much less cartoon-y once it was coloured. I used the pale olive, then a slight outline on some scales with a more emerald green, and ensured that I left "white space" (the original colour of the leather) to create highlights, and so that it didn't get too dark. 
I added a gold tooth to the skull's grin, just for fun. I'm really happy with how this turned out. it finished? Well, the back panel is! 

I still have plans for the rest of the jacket. I know some of you are thinking I should leave well enough alone (and I totally get that), but I'm pushing on - I still have the sleeves, the waistband, the hem, the lapels...wherever my inclination and daring takes me! I really want this to be a work of art. was your weekend? Been to any parties? Drawn any snakes or eyes?


  1. Where do I start? Thank you for sharing your Mental Health creative endeavors as they motivate me and I truly enjoy hearing your process. I loved your eye dress and it reminded me of a small exhibit I saw as a girl of Dali’s jewelry. It was exquisite and besides the surreal jeweled pieces there were many that moved. One of the most easy to describe was a throbbing ruby encrusted heart.

    1. Thank you, Chalotalo! I'm so glad that this motivates you - I am truly benefiting from doing this. The focus and concentration lets my mind take a break from the hamster wheel.

      How cool you got to see an exhibit - I know exactly what you mean about the movement - I've seen pieces that vibrate like that!

  2. The eye dress is outrageous indeed, but I was amazed to see that you've painted the eye and the lips. How amazing is that?! Well done!!

    1. Thank you so much, Anca! My friends were stunned when they realized I'd painted them. *bows*

  3. I love seeing this Sheila! It's nice seeing the ways you personalise your wardrobe even more and really make it you - that dress is so perfect and what a fun piece for the party! I'm glad you can have parties again too, I can't imagine not having them for so long. But I also can't imagine what it's like to be in a room of people all fully vaccinated, we are not there yet. Thankfully they brought in a new vaccination centre nearby so my husband could move his appointment up - although I'll still be double vaxed like the rest of my family before he gets his first dose.

    I also really love your jacket, it looks better every time you add to it and I always think it could never improve any more as it looks so good each time!

    1. Thank you so much, Mica! It's another instance of letting go of the fear of failing and taking an artistic risk. It made the party so much more memorable for me, and oh, what a party that was! It's been over 18 long. I hope you all have your double-shots soon!

      Thank you so much!

  4. I salute your creativity and artistry, your research into designers, your willingness to be bold, and your patience and perseverance. Love the way you customized the dress! Yup, it's outrageous, but it's also fabulous and, like the jacket, testament to the qualities noted in the first sentence of my comment. :-)

    How special to celebrate with friends in the style you were accustomed to pre-pandemic! We actually attended an outdoor gathering of 10 people on Friday, and then an indoor birthday lunch with more people (all vaccinated) on Saturday. Both were across the street. Had to laugh at my illogical caution - I wore a mask to the outdoor gathering and then didn't wear one to the indoor gathering. Truly still figuring this out! (Plus how does one eat lunch if wearing a mask.)

    Here's to slow and steady forward momentum when it comes to rekindling habits and making new ones, all arising from the pandemic.

    And here's to creating and calming. :-)

    1. Thank you, Laurie! This was really an intersection of my love of fashion, history, workmanship and artistic impulse. And it was so good for my mental health.

      It was amazing to be in a room with all of our friends again. There was much hugging! We've had many outdoor gatherings, as you know - ha ha at wearing masks outdoors. Funny how our levels of comfort can change so much in different settings.

      Hear hear, my friend. We will rise from the ashes!

  5. The eye dress is fun and reminds me very much of Clockwork Orange, especially with the top hat!

    1. YES! Love that - what a fabulous idea for a Hallowe'en costume!

  6. Gosh, where to begin!
    I am absolutely in awe of your creativity, adventurous flair and your work on this great dress. It is both fun and stunning.
    What an entrance you would have made to the party…I can only imagine the reactions from your friends when they spotted your outfit. x

    1. Thank you so much, Phyl! My friends are pretty used to me by now, but I did surprise them when they found out I painted the dress.

  7. I love how you customized that dress you wore to your friend's party. Adding an eye to it makes such a difference. I also love the added lips...a detail that is both cheeky and fun. Great tip about putting newspapers under when using textile paints. I do that as well, it keeps the paint where it is supposed to be. Love your top cape as well....amazing it is 20 years old. Spectacular outfit. The illustration you did on your friend's card is a nice detail as well.

    As for the jacket....I'm speechless! I thought it was great already but you took it to next level with colouring and all the details. The snake looks so alive. The jacket is already a piece of art but if you want to push it further, why not? Go for it.

    1. I meant to write top hat but yes the cape coat is awesome too.

      P.S. I remember the fashion collabs with Dali, I love him.

    2. It was so much fun doing it, but even more fun to wear it, Ivana! I love my curvy top hat - it's very Dr. Seuss! Thank you!

      Oh, I so appreciate your comment as a fellow artist, thank you. I am going to go for it!

    3. I figured it out. :)

      Me too, he's one of my first artist loves - I used to have some wonderful prints when I was younger, and I've been to the Dali Museum in Monmarte, Paris.

  8. Did none of that! Not went to a party, not drawn a a skull or snake. Does that surprises you??🤣🤣🤣 that jacket will be unbelievable beautiful!!

    1. Lol, that's okay, Nancy! We live vicariously through each other, right? Thank you!

  9. You are so amazing and talented! Thanks for not being scared to make mistakes, and for sharing what can happen because of it.

    1. Fear of failure has always been one of those things that's held me back, Charlotte. Thank you for this lovely sentiment.

  10. the eye dress is fabulous. A real piece of art. And your jacket is out of this world. Can't wait until you can do this full time. The world needs more of your art Sheila. from Judith in Ottawa

    1. Aw, thanks so much, Judith! I so appreciate your kind words on my work. Full time is probably not going to happen (not till I retire, at least!).

  11. Just how amazing are you! Rock on Sheila!

  12. Wow! I'm totally blown away by your amazing talent! The "Outrageous Eye Dress" is so cool and I love the whole outfit with the top hat, cape, awesome booties and everything. Your jacket is looking incredible! Love the awesome snake!!

    1. Thank you, Cheryene! I am so happy that the dress turned out - I loved revisiting my old top hat formula from the 90s.

      I'm really happy with how the back panel of the jacket turned out, thanks!

  13. And, the winner is…that set of lips! They made me laugh out loud! Love the Lobster dress, too. And, the jacket? Truly, when you did your shoes, I was amazed. But this jacket back (can’t wait to see what you do with the other areas) is breathtaking! And, you work quickly. I would be sitting there contemplating where to start for days just so I wouldn’t have to start! Fabulous, my friend, absolutely fabulous!

    1. Hee hee, glad you got a kick out of them, Marsha, thank you!

      I am really happy with the jacket, and I'm looking forward to doing some more work on it soon, perhaps this weekend. Part of getting over the fear of f**king up is to just do it! Thanks so much!

  14. OMG that's insane—you're so FREAKING TALENTED!!! I love what you did with the dress, it's amazing. And the jacket is out of this world! I bought a new dress yesterday and it reminded me of you!
    Suzy xx

    1. Thank you so much, Suzy! I had a blast decorating my dress, and am so happy with how the jacket turned out.

      Oh, that's awesome! I'm with you in spirit! :)

  15. I went to a four-day long party with 15000 people and didn't have time to draw a thing (not that I could if I tried!)
    That dress is fantastic, I love the eye. The jacket is so good it takes my breath away, you are so talented! xxx

    1. Well, I did do this before the party, not during! But 15K people is a LOT of people, Vix! Thank you so much. Aw, that's really lovely of you to say.

  16. Oh, I LOVE what you did with the dress! How much fun is that? Schiaparelli would be proud and honored, I'm sure! (And Dali would be a tuna fish tin- surrealist to the end, and all that, lol)
    Needless to say, I continue to be absolutely gobsmacked by the jacket AND your talent...
    can't wait to see more! I hope your endeavor is as wonderful for you as it is for us- thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Rita! It was so fun to do. Yes, this is very soothing, as well as being artistically fulfilling for me. Yay!

  17. What a fabulous EYE-dea to embellish the dress like that. I really enjoy working with fabric paint on clothes and it can turn a basic piece into wearable art. I did a collaboration with a Toronto screen-print artist this summer to turn a denim jacket into a tribute to my favourite Canadian authors.

    Now I have to go and read Part 1 and 2 of the Snake and Skull jacket. I love the work you've done on the back.

    1. Isn't it fun, Shelley? Oh, how awesome, I would love to see your jacket!

      I hope you enjoyed the earlier work - thanks so much!

  18. Sheila, what a creative eye and talent you have for putting your own stamp on clothing! I'm in awe of your vision and how well you've executed it.


    1. Thanks so much, Rena! It was hard to get past my fear of failure on this, but I'm so glad I risked it.

  19. The dress is brilliant - I love how you've customised it. And the jacket is a real work of art.

    1. Thanks so much, Mim! I had a lot of fun with both pieces.

  20. Your are my sartorial muse, sweet Sheila. This is the coolest, most rocker chick chic, fabulously glam look imaginable.

    Autumn Zenith �� Witchcrafted Life

    PS: The awesome design that you added to your blue dress is giving me serious Schiaparelli vibes.

    1. Aw, that's so sweet of you, Autumn, thank you. I LOVED getting all dressed up!

      That was totally the intent! I wrote all about that, and her collaboration with Dali!


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