My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dundee City

For New Year's/Hogmanay, I went to stay with some friends in Dundee. I think it was either New Year's Day or 2nd January, but one of the days of the trip, Raven and I went for a wander around the city. There's a lot of very pretty architecture there, and an interesting cemetery in the city centre. Raven and I were on a quest to find a specific restaurant, so most of the pictures were just snapshots, and I didn't get a chance to look at what they actually were, and with this being exam season (and with me having been generally extremely busy with college this spring) so there's not my usual historical and architectural context.

Quiet Dundee Streets

The one place I have some context on is the Howff Burial Ground. It is urban, bordered on two sides by walls and roads, and on the other two by the rear walls - and windows - of tall Victorian buildings, including the former newspaper offices. There's a windowed tourelle on one of the old newspaper offices that seems to be firstly an afterthought, and both leaking and leaning precariously, which seemed expected - the whole cemetery seemed like a bubble within the city that was in a different time and a little bit like a different world. Even the trees there were tangled, winding and strangely shaped! The burial ground was originally part of the grounds of a Franciscan monastery, and I think the wall with the arches dates from 1601!

Tangle-wood tree

I don't know if this is is a specific species of tree that grows like this, or the result of some kind of pruning technique, but this tree just grew in knots and tangles and lumps and snags. I've never seen a tree like it, but there were at least two in Howff Cemetery. There were no leaves or flowers on it so I, who am no expert on trees, didn't even have that to go on to identify them.

It is possible to do a virtual cemetery tour if you look up 'The Howff' in Dundee, Scotland, on Google StreetView. Apparently it was uploaded by a Google user (a Kevin Reid) - I didn't even know that was possible! It looks like it was done with one of those 360° image cameras or something, as a series of "image spheres" at locations all around the cemetery paths. I don't know how you link to a specific place in Google StreetView, so I won't add the link here, but I do recommend looking it up. 

Neoclassical tower

Near the cemetery was this rather large and fancy Neoclassical building - I didn't catch what it actually was, as I was walking within the cemetery walls, not without, and didn't actually walk past the exterior of whatever it was to see a sign or anything. Whatever it is, it's a very ornate and grand building, and the light on that wintry day caught it beautifully. I looked it up on Google StreetView, and it looks like a concert hall or theatre. 

Church tower, one of a pair

I liked this church, but it was hard to get a god photograph of it because there is a bus stop right in front of it. It is on Panmore Street and has two of these towers and a charming rose window. I thought I'd take one of its 'witches' hat' roofed spire. I love the vents - possibly to help the sound of bells escape. 

McManus Galleries

I had a walk around the McManus Galleries - an amazing Gothic Revival building. I didn't get to go inside them as they were shut, but I took several photographs of the exterior. I would love to do a photo-shoot on the fabulous steps - I wonder if that could be arranged! I also think the steps - in Baroque swirling design - work really well with this otherwise very Gothic design. It's an altogether fabulous, magical-looking building... 

Steeple under rainy skies

This is the steeple on a rather interesting building. In the centre of Dundee is a building that, at first glance, would look like a cathedral. It is huge, old, and Gothic and very definitely the size and shape of the average cathedral. However, it is not a single-purpose building. It has been subdivided, and done so historically. There is the steeple, shown above, which I think is a municipally run clock tower, and at least two churches and a youth group using the rest of the building, with the spaces subdivided for these uses. Apparently subdividing the building became a necessity centuries ago, as there have been several serious fires in the building. The history of the site is very long with the earliest church on the site being from 1192 - a time-line of history of the building can be read ::here::. It's currently surrounded by a shopping mall!

The observant will have noticed that some of the photographs -specifically the ones of  buildings and monuments - are watermarked 'Architecturally Gothic'. This is one of the two Tumblr accounts I run. ::Architecturally Gothic:: is  my architectural photography Tumblr. It's mostly my own work, but I reblog a lot of other people's architectural photography too. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Hair Adventures 2: Feeling Blue

As I mentioned at the end of my previous post, my new hair was meant to be a purple a pointed fringe, but the rest pine-green. The hair-cut, done by my friend Melody, turned out well (even if I am still learning to manage it), and initially it seemed that the dye - which I did myself - had worked out, too. I was really happy with my hair for a short while...

Violet fringe, pine-green hair... all seems well
I liked this colour combination - I had gone for a bluer, more violet purple and a green with cool tones so that together they would look better than a yellow-green and a pinkish purple, and I used a different dye for my hair than I normally did - the green was Directions Alpine Green with streaks of Crazy Colour Pine Green. I liked this, and I liked the Crazy Colour Violette. I didn't like how it washed out, though! After a couple of washes my hair was two-tone blue! 

My hair turned blue!
I don't actually know why this happened, either. Before I re-dyed my hair I had bleached my extensive roots, and had spent a while washing (not bleaching) the faded green from my hair until it was very pale mint. My fringe had been bleached to nearly white, and most of the top of my head bleached to pale blonde, so it wasn't from there being a lot of blue underneath. I did, however, dye it in two stages, as the first time was a bit patchy, and I did notice that after the second coat the colours seemed bluer. With the second coat I had also mixed conditioner in with the dye to try and deep condition my hair as I dyed it - something one of my friends recommended to me, and she has had no problem with it, but she uses Arctic Fox rather than Directions dyes.

Freshly done
I have had green dyes fade to bluish before - when I had my multicolour hair, which included actual blue, it definitely faded more towards the blue tones, and the greens became bluer. The picture on the left is how my multicolour hair started out - note that I used actual blues in the middle sections, and only green at the top  - and then it faded to mostly blue. 
After a few washes
However, this took a few washes, and didn't dramatically change colour the first time I washed it. It was also clearly a case of the green at the top fading to turquoise, still with hints of green, as well as blue from the middle section leaching into the purples. The blues remained pretty constant, and just faded a little - not dramatically.  

I don't actually know what has gone wrong with my hair, or how best to fix it. I don't want to bleach my hair again, as it's already brittle and a bit fried - and it needed quite a bit chopped off the bottom to deal with how much I had already damaged it. I'm trying to wash out as much of the blue as possible, and I've bought both some of my usual Directions Apple Green, and some Stargazer UV Green to re-coat the bulk section of my hair. I've also bought some Stargazer UV Pink to put over my royal blue fringe, hoping to make it look purple.

I don't know how well this is all going to turn out - the dye is ordered, but I have an exam on Tuesday, so I probably won't get any dyeing done until Wednesday - after which I will post a 'Hair Adventures 3' instalment to show you all how it turns out. 

Shiny blue lipstick.

I don't think the blue is an objectively bad colour - it's just not right for me. I don't even think I look necessarily bad with it - it suits me a lot better than my natural brown, and a lot better than that time I tried to have lilac hair, and I think it's better than the mint colour my green fades to, but it just doesn't seem right on me - I've had green hair, or at least mostly green hair, for so long that I just can't get used to my hair being a different colour. I look at my reflection and it just looks off - like I'm wearing a wig when I'm not. Plus I just like the colour green more than the colour blue. I think if it had been on purpose, that might also have given me a different outlook on it, but it being unwanted, some mistake I made in the process, really doesn't help. I've tried to make the most of it, and used it as an excuse to play around with blue make-up, but I definitely want it green again. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Hair Adventures 1: A Paean To Green Hair

My hair was green for over 3 years, and now it's blue. I wish it was green again.

I tried to give myself pine green hair with a violet fringe and it went wrong... Well, it went fairly well until I washed it and now I have aqua blue hair with a royal blue fringe... I've had blue hair before, and I didn't mind it then, but this time around I just don't like it. I want my green hair back, and I've tried washing out the blue, but it just fades to lighter blue, and I'm scared to try stripping out in case I fry my hair. I'm just going to let it fade to a really light blue, then try and cover it over with a rather yellow green, and hope that the two together make the sort of mid-green that I love. In the meanwhile, I'm making this retrospective of pictures from when my hair was bright green and I loved it.

Here is my hair dyed with Directions Alpine Green - the colour my hair is currently meant to be! The last time I used it, it stayed very much like this, and I wonder what caused it to be so unstable this time - perhaps it's because I mixed in Crazy Colour Pine Green, perhaps its because I mixed in conditioner to try and repair my bleach-frazzled, hair... I don't really know. My last employers let me have green hair as long as it wasn't too vivid, so I dyed it this colour.
Spiky collar and short pine-green hair.  Selfies.
Below is another picture from early 2014, when my hair was short and green - although in this blueish lighted picture and with some fading, it looks a little more turquoise. This was around the start of me dyeing my hair green, and it's a colour I feel really suited me, hence why I have stuck with it for so long. 

Short dark emerald green hair, and a party outfit. Selfies.
As my hair started to grow longer, I started experimenting with more greens. For work I needed to keep it in darker greens and one colour, but for Hallowe'en 2014 I dyed it in this gradient effect. After the celebrations were over I dyed it all the darkest green of the very tips. 

Green ombre hair. Selfies.
Here is one from 2015, taken in my old apartment (I miss the pale purple walls in the hall-way). This particular shade of green ended up being "my colour" and I have gone back to it time and time again, even including it when I've had multicolour hair. I think this was summer time, hence the bright colour. I used to work at a school, so during summer I wasn't at work and could have my hair bright colours.

The start of the emerald green hair. Selfies. 
Even when I have dyed my hair in multicolour, 'mermaid' effects, I've always retained green as one of the main colours - on the top layer so it is the one that people can see most vividly. I don't mind having blues and purples in my hair - and I definitely liked it when all my hair was purple - but green has really become my favourite colour for my hair.

My first attempt at multicolour 'mermaid' style hair. Selfies.
This next one was from last summer. The weather was warm enough to warrant me wearing a white shirt instead of my usual all-black-everything, and my hair still had blue tips from when it was multi-colour. Blue is a fun accent colour, but I just don't really like my whole hair being blue. 

Summertime Gothic. Selfies.
Last autumn I pretty much settled into dyeing it the green that I want to stick with in the long run. I'd got into a routine with the Directions Apple Green, and it was looking very bright. I had fun doing matching makeup for it, including this angular look with iridescent green lip gloss over black lipstick. 

Bright green hair and matching makeup. Selfies
The photos below aren't selfies, they're a selection from the set that Raven took for me in January. The colour had faded out a little from washing, but was still quite bright. I wore a purple and black jacket with my green hair... as you can probably tell, my fondness for this colour pairing was building. 

Green hair in January. Photos by Raven. 
These pictures are from the same day - but are ones I took to focus on the make-up I did - green and purple like my outfit and hair. I rather liked this dramatic effect, and it is something I would like to repeat in future. 

Make-up for January photoshoot. Selfies.
This make-up made me feel like a fae-creature of some sort, and the green hair really does help with that kind of aesthetic. I filled my eyebrows in green and painted my lips to match. This is actually pretty recent - I think I did this make-up in March or April. There are a lot of good green make-up products available, so it's quite easy to find ways of co-ordinating green make-up for green hair. 

Green hair and green make-up.
I have had a lot of fun doing interesting make-up for my long green hair. I let it grow quite long - not as long as it was in my teens (I had it nearly waist-length once). The ends were getting a bit frazzled after repeated bleaching over the years, which means that I have since had it trimmed by about 5 or 6 inches. This purple make-up wasn't my neatest (the eyebrows came out a little uneven), but it was another pairing of purple and green. 

Green and purple once again in combination. Selfies.
This next make-up look was inspired by the idea of an 'evil dryad'. The great thing about unnatural green hair - not even leafy, or grassy green hair, but bright, vivid, artificial, green - is that it's good for looks that are based off distorted nature, because they're a nature colour, green, but not in a natural variation - well, unless it's in mineral form; malachite and emerald.  

Green hair and dark make-up. Selfies.
And this windswept picture (in which my new pointed fringe looks rather fluffy!) illustrates the colours my hair was meant to be - a violet fringe and an emerald-to-pine green for the rest of it... if only it had stayed these colours! Green and purple are my favourite colour combination, and this was the hair that my recently lace-on bat-wings were supposed to match.  

Green hair and purple fringe. Selfies.
I'm a little annoyed that the above colour combination was so shortly lived. I will try and somehow remedy the situation, but I am not sure how successful I will be. It really didn't work out as intended - even if the immediate results seemed successful. I think that perhaps at some point in the next two years, as it will be likely that I will need to have a more natural colour after I graduate in order to appease the professional job market, but now my green hair is (hopefully, only temporarily...) gone, I know that when that time comes, I will really miss it.

One thing I can say is that the pointy fringe turned out pretty well. It has faded blue, but it has a good shape. The picture above doesn't do it justice because I was literally holding it down against the wind. It was a rather bright but rather windy day when I took those, and you can see the trim on my sleeves! I have some more selfies of the new hair with the fringe better visible, but they're all decidedly blue!

The next instalment of my hair adventures is about my new hair... Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible hair, and my friend Melody who cut it did an excellent job, it's just that it's blue (which I dyed myself) and I just don't feel right with blue hair this time around, plus it is not what I had intended. However, I am trying to make the most of my blue hair. 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Bat/Dragon Wings from Madame Magpie: Review

I spotted an advert on FaceBook for some rather pretty lace-on bat wings, and immediately fell in love with them. They're hand-made by an independent crafter - Madame Magpie, who makes them for attaching to both roller-derby skates and regular footwear, and can be found ::here::. I agreed with her what design I wanted, but said I couldn't afford them until after I got paid, which she was amenable to. The discussions via FaceBook chat were really good for explaining exactly what sort of colours I wanted - and I used a selfie for colour reference so they would match my hair! (Although my turned turquoise-blue with royal-blue fringe after the first wash... which I am NOT happy about! But that is another story entirely).

Bat wings, keyring, and card.
The wings are leather, and are hand-painted in metallic paints with a touch of glitter. They have three metal grommets each where the laces go through - which is good as I wouldn't want them to wear or tear from friction where the laces go through. The colours are exactly what I hoped for. It's hard to tell from the photographs, but they are a lovely metallic effect, even the purple bits, and have a little bit of shimmery green glitter on them.  

A single bat wing 

The package was well wrapped, and also included a matching branded keyring. I'm not normally a fan of key-rings that are also adverts, but this one has a personal touch that makes it different, plus it's very sparkly. My keys have enough stuff attached to them already, but I will be hooking this key-ring on too. 

Free key-ring

I really like the bat wings, especially as I can use them with any pair of lace-up shoes or boots. Currently they're on a pair of black high-heeled brogues, but next they might end up on some granny-boots, or a pair of flat shoes - or maybe my roller-derby skates! They're tough leather, so they should withstand the rigours of what is a rather frenetic contact sport. 

Close up of bat wing, key-ring, and awesome skull-magpie logo.

I would rate this product as: 

Construction: 5/5
They're well made, with paint that hasn't cracked, peeled or flaked since I've worn them, and the grommets seem firmly in place. The leather is thick, and they seem generally well made and quite sturdy - which is important for something going on shoes or even roller-skates which will entail a pretty good chance of them getting caught or scraped on stuff.

Time: 5/5

The turn around for making them and despatching was just a couple of days, which I was really happy about. It took longer for the postal service to get them to me than it did for her to go from finalising the commission with me to sending them off. 

Communication: 5/5

Communication over FaceBook chat was really effective. We were able to clearly establish what I wanted, and she was very good at responding, and very clear and polite. She used one of my selfies as a colour reference, and it worked out pretty well. 

Packaging: -

I forgot to keep the packaging for my review, so there's no score for this one. It all arrived safely, though, and that's the important thing.

I have bat-wings that match(ed) my hair that I can pair with whatever shoes I want, and I think that's pretty cool - but maybe I'm a tad biased. I know the colourful, fun aesthetic isn't for everyone, but I love them (plus, if you have to have all-black-everything, she can do all black ones!).

Photos are taken on a grey skull adorned printed napkin I got at Hallowe'en from TK Maxx
This post is NOT sponsored, and I haven't had any renumeration or reward for writing this. I bought the bat-wings with my own money, and I don't expect any future recompense from Madame Magpie.