This is the first of what will probably turn out to be several installments based on this book, because I absolutely love it, and it has had a huge influence on my work, and is becoming an ever-increasing one upon my wardrobe…!
Le Cirque des Rêves, The Circus of Dreams, The Night Circus – a magical challenge, a magical circus, a magical love story. Flitting back and forth in time (sometimes, admittedly, a little confusingly – but then, confusion is what many of the book’s characters are feeling at some point or other), weaving a sparkly spell, Erin Morgenstern’s book grabbed me and scattered me with sparkle, and left me wishing it was all real. Part of the fun is the tantalising notion that, with proper instruction (and a lot of dedication!) it might just be possible to do magic!!
If I attempt to give more than the vaguest of plot outlines I might be in danger of giving away too much, so I won’t. It’s one of those books that has characters I’d want to meet, and it really did make me ache to find out what happened, whilst not wanting it to end. The reader is in the curious, and privileged, position of being aware that the ‘illusions’ are real, but also of being able to experience the wonder of it all - the sights, smells, tingles and tastes – as if we were unsuspecting visitors to the Circus, falling under its spell. In the WH Smith edition of the paperback is a ‘bonus ride on the carousel’, titled ‘Around and Around (and Around)’, which is actually a rather lovely addition, rather than something tacked-on. It’s an extra dose of wonder for those of us in danger of going cold turkey from the end of the dream.
‘The Night Circus’ gives the lie to the phrase ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’ The cover illustration - by Vania Zouravliov - is stunning, and captures the spirit of the book beautifully. I’m fairly sure I wasn’t obsessed with black and white (and red) before encountering this book, but I am now! Some of the first things I made that were based on it were felt flower brooches, inspired by the original rêveur, Herr Friederic Thiessen (and his buttonhole/boutonnier). I ended up making a purple and white/ivory one too, as an ‘alternative rêveur’ colour scheme, because I prefer purple to red… My long-standing fascination with showgirls, and lifelong love of beads and trimmings also means that this book and I were probably destined for each other! It makes me want to build model tents (like Marco – but without the magic), and wear glamorous gowns and a top hat (like Celia), and buy a sugar rose and carefully wrap it up in tissue to keep as a memento. One of the stranger effects of this fixation is that I currently have quite a few Mini Lalaloopsy dolls at various stage of being turned into (among others) Poppet, Widget, Celia, acrobats, a fire-eater, and a balloon-seller!
If ‘The Night Circus’ really existed (and if they sold such a thing) I would buy a season ticket! I would be a rêveur. I am a rêveur.
So, this is the start of my blog. "Does the world really need another one?" you may ask. Possibly not, but Instagram (much though I love it) doesn't allow for going into great detail about things in one entry. So here we are. This blog is a bit of a mishmash, because that's how my mind works; some of it will be about millinery and headpieces; some of it about doll clothes and customising (Blythe and Monster High in particular); parts of it will be about books and films and flower photos and anything else that takes my fancy, because all sorts of things tend to end up being inspiration and influences for my work. So be warned: if you can't cope with a mixture of ribbons and re-rooting (of doll hair); feathers and face-ups (doll repaints); beading and body-mould comparisons, or flowers and fashion, this blog may not be for you!
I've had a bit of a thing for headwear for as long as I can remember. I also love feathers, ribbons, beading, small things, and sparkle. And I have a love of renaissance fashion and showgirls; so when I make headpieces those elements tend to make themselves known. I love making petite, detailed pieces, that are like little treasures. Sometimes I'll base a whole piece around a particular type of fabric or ribbon, other times I get fixated on something and it just seeps into whatever I make. A few years ago I fell in love with a book called 'The Night Circus', by Erin Morgenstern, and that's been such an influence that it's spread from headpieces to brooches to doll clothes and Mini Lalaloopsy makeovers, and requires at least one separate blog post all of its own! I love colour and texture and vintage-esque glamour (without slavishly following the style of any particular era), and flowers, and sparkle - sparkle is good.
The doll-collecting thing crept up on me over the last few years, and I only really came out of the doll closet last year, when I started posting on Instagram. As a child, I was more fond of teddy bears; I had Sindy and Barbie dolls, but found them rather uninspiring. I was always making miniature rooms and things, and loved sewing. In the back of my mind was the thought of finding interesting dolls to make clothes for - and then, by chance, I happened upon Monster High, and that led me to Blythe and Pullip. I'll save the voyage of discovery for other posts, but I've ended up with various different dolls, some of whom are customized (or in the process of being customized), and all of whom are inspiration to make doll outfits. I'm starting out with dressing gowns - because a girl needs something to wear when she's in-between outfits, or is having a spa session - and then trousers (Sadie, my first Blythe, likes wide-leg trousers), and intend to indulge my love of gorgeous fabrics and sparkle with skirts, dresses, capes, and whatever else I fancy. Oh, and hats! Doll hats: it seemed a natural progression from human headwear to doll headwear; so far it's witch's hats, and top hats, but I have a feeling that bonnets will be putting in an appearance sooner or later... So future posts will cover a crash course in Blythe for beginners - because it's a bit (as in VERY) confusing to the uninitiated, well me, anyway(!), work in progress on clothes and hats, Monster High doll re-roots, and all sorts of other things.
Enough for now, I think. I'm aiming to post once or twice a week, with future posts dealing with just one thing at a time (less confusing all round). I hope you've found this interesting/diverting/promising enough to visit again. Happy Sparkles to you!
Sparkle Malarkey Spritzer is a place where I can go into more detail than on my Instagram about work in progress, current obsessions, past projects and anything else that takes my fancy. All photos ©Tonya Robinson unless otherwise stated.
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