Saturday, 22 April 2017

An Introduction to Vinyl

I've been collecting vinyl for many years now. Being in my 20s, vinyl was already on it's way out when I was a small child so before I began collecting it for myself I had no prior introduction to the format. I first began collecting vinyl around 7/8 years ago, and back then secondhand was the only way to go as modern repressings didn't exist which I'm incredibly grateful for as it's a trap I never fell in to. However I fully appreciate how intimidating collecting second hand vinyl can feel, so as I've transitioned from hobbyist to serious collector and have had to learn everything myself the hard way, I thought I'd share some tips for any new collectors or people wanting to get more serious about the hobby!

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I really want to point out that record collecting should be fun first and foremost! It should be a hobby you enjoy and not something you feel intimidated by all the "rules" for. Some people (particularly middle aged men in my experience) will act like gatekeepers to the hobby and act quite aggressively towards younger members of the community for "doing it wrong" and presume all younger people are automatically hipster posers. Pay them no mind and you do you, as long as you're practicing basic care of your records then there's no right or wrong, and remember that everyone had to start from somewhere! There's a difference between teaching someone how something's done, and trying act like the hobby is something "exclusive" that others are unwelcome to, and it's really unfortunate how prevalent that attitude is. Just because you weren't born in time to experience something the first time round doesn't mean you can't enjoy it now!

First up, a pet peeve of mine I just want to put out there immediately: the plural of vinyl is vinyl. Not vinyls. You don't go shopping for vinyls, you don't have a collection of vinyls, it's always vinyl whether you're referring to one or twenty.

When you first begin looking at vinyl you'll see that they come in a variety of sizes and play at different speeds. Your standard records and most of what you buy will most likely be 12 inch LPs (albums) which play at speed 33.3 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). Most records will state which speed they're supposed to be played at, but not all will and unfortunately you can't always tell by the size alone. Most singles and EPs are 7 inches and play at 45 RPM (which is why they get called 45s), but you can also buy 12 inch singles which usually also play at 45 RPM. You can also buy 10 inch records but they're much less common. Some records play at 78 RPM but these are pre-1950s, and shellac not vinyl, so probably not something you'll ever have to worry about.

Most vinyl is black, but it can come in just about any colour imaginable and some even have pictures on the disc. They can also come in all different shapes, but these are usually singles only as the shape will make it difficult to fit on your turntable otherwise. Colour and picture vinyl is very pretty, but the standard black is what actually sounds best which is why it remains the most common and some people can be a bit snobby about coloured vinyl.

Sometimes when you buy 7 inch records you'll see that they have a massive hole in the middle and might wonder how the hell you're supposed to play that. This is something that really perplexed me when I was starting out, and didn't understand why they differed as some of my 7 inches were normal sized. It's to do with the different record companies originally wanting you to use their machine to play it, and you'll also see jukeboxes require records with the larger hole, but the bottom line is it isn't something you have to worry about at all - you just use a 45 adapter which looks like this:

Just pop it into the centre of your record and it'll fit on a regular spindle!

Speaking of which, lets get on to the basics of record players. If you've looked around the internet you'll of no doubt seen that there's a lot of hate for Crosley record players, and I'm sorry to say that this hate is entirely valid. Crosleys can genuinely cause your records damage. You can't change the weight of the tone arm, and because it's too heavy it will gradually wear away at the grooves of your vinyl. Also, please believe me when I say that they do not sound good. I know, I used to have one! On many of my vintage stereo records the stylus (needle) couldn't pick up both channels of sound. So for example, when listening to A Day In The Life by The Beatles, I'd only be able to hear John's vocals and the drum beat, I couldn't hear Paul's vocals or any guitar...and that sucked! What's the point in even listening to vinyl if you can't hear it properly?

There's a myth that buying a Crosley is the cheap, affordable option and the usual defense of them is "but it's all I can afford!" They're really not that cheap though, the cheapest model is around £60-£70. For a little over £100 you could get a good vintage turntable, receiver and speakers for second hand and it won't sound tinny and will pick up all stereo channels. If you're going to do something, it's worth saving up that little bit more and doing it properly.

Please don't pick your record player on how "aesthetic" it is, it just isn't worth it and you'll really regret paying so much for it when you're listening to only half a song! Scout out car boot sales, your older relatives attics, eBay, and secondhand electrical stores (I bought my receiver from one of these stores for only £10!) You can still purchase brand new stylus' from places like Amazon. If you want to buy a brand new record player Audio Technica are the best brand to look at and cover a wide variety of budgets.

When it comes to storing your records, you've probably seen that most people store them on their side. It's really important never to store them stacked on top of each other, as the weight of the records on top of each other will put pressure on them and bend them out of shape, and if they're out of shape then your turntable won't be able to play them. Warping doesn't have to be drastic for it to seriously damage your record, so it's best to do all you can to avoid it.

Another care tip is to clean your records - even if it's a brand new one, it still needs cleaning! Even if it looks clean it still needs cleaning! Dust is the devil, and if you play a dirty record the pressure of the needle can embed the dirt into the grooves which will affect the sound. It's also important to never touch the grooves for similar reasons - your skin has natural oils, and you really don't want to spread that all over your record. Hold your record either by the centre label, or around the very outer edges where the grooves haven't started yet.

Cleaning records is really simple. It's best to use an actual cleaning solution - I use and recommend this stuff. It lasts for ages as you don't need to use much - just spray directly onto your disc a couple of times, and use a soft microfibre cloth to wipe around the disc. It's really important to go around the disc in the same direction as the grooves than across which can be damaging. There's all kinds of fancy tools you can get for cleaning records, but this is really the basics of all you need to do, anything else is optional. I also have a special little brush that I use to keep dust at bay, and I also have a little brush (which is actually a clean makeup brush) which I use to clean the stylus, but the cleaning solution and cloth are the most vital.

I'm going to create a Part 2 to this post which will be all about actually collecting records; what to look for, how to get started, where to buy it, how cheap it can be, matrix numbers decoded, and all of that good stuff. I didn't want to overwhelm and confuse this initial post with too much information, and I feel it's a broad enough topic worthy of a blog series.

If you have any questions about vinyl or record players/turntables, if something I've said isn't clear and you'd like me to expand on it, or if there's anything you'd like to see covered in a future post on vinyl, please feel free to ask! This can sometimes be a bit of a dry topic and I want it to be as accessible as possible. Vinyl is my absolute passion, and I love getting to share it with as many people as possible! ♥

(And happy Record Store Day!)

Friday, 14 April 2017

A day in the life

Back in the day on my old blog I used to occasionally do photo-an-hour posts, and it's something I've wanted to bring back for a while. I always love reading these kinds of posts from others, mostly because I'm nosy and love seeing what people get up to on the day to day, and also because it feels so intimate and personal. Blogging can feel very superficial sometimes, and I always enjoy any opportunity to get to know the person behind the blog better. I also enjoy creating these posts as it's a really fun way to document the little things of your day and try and see the beauty in the mundane.

8.30 - I always begin my day by getting ready first. I'm slow to wake up, and I just find the process of putting on my makeup and selecting an outfit a great bit of 'me' time before I feel awake enough to face the world.

9.45 - My mum and I headed out to a huge antiques centre for the day, and jumped in the car early to make the most of the day. (Disclaimer: my mum took this photo. Don't drive and snap kids!)

10.30 - We arrived, and first port of call was to admire the blossoming cherry trees edging the car park. I used to see these trees all of the time when I lived in London but I don't really see them up North so it felt a bit nostalgic.

11.30 - Still antiquing! We spent a good chunk of the day here. We were at Hemswell Antiques which I'm really lucky to live not too far from. There's about 7 huge sprawling antique centres all housed right next to each other, and it's absolute bliss! Some of it is a bit more expensive, but honestly it's fun just to look round.

12.30 -

1.30 -

2.30 -

3.30 - With my car boot fully loaded, we finally left for home. I'll show you the goodies in another post!

4.15 - Got home to see my Amazon order had arrived. I'd been meaning to purchase this on vinyl for absolutely years, but buying brand new vinyl never appeals to me much and is so overpriced I always put it off.

5.00 - Went for a walk through the fields before dinner. It's such an idyllic spot, it's one of my favourite things to do. I appreciate it all the more since moving away.

I got quite ill in the evening (that spoonie life) so stopped taking photographs and just chilled on the sofa. But there you have it! My days look pretty different when I'm in my student flat so that'll be a fun comparison. I'm looking forward to creating more of these posts from time to time.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Lying on an eiderdown

I'm currently back home for Easter, and my usual favourite haunts haven't let me down! I'm heading out to a massive antiques centre next week, so with luck I may have more wonderful things to show you soon. Vintage is so scarce where I study, it's difficult to even find records (beyond the usual Perry Como and the like in charity shops anyway) so it's always a treat to be able to come home where everything I love is so plentiful.

Here we have the very first thing I found in the Cancer Research shop, a 1970s maxi dress by Richard Shops. It was hidden away amongst the most drab selection and I'd definitely of missed it had I not been looking through every item on the rail. It looked a bit sorry for itself and I wasn't sure if I'd keep it at first, but with a good clean and bit of TLC I think it's come up just lovely! I love how the sleeves puff out just above the elbow, and I'm pleased that it still has it's original ribbon belt. It's a nice gauzy cotton so will be perfect for the upcoming summer.

The patterned eiderdown in the background of most of these pictures was another find, it fits a double bed and was still in it's original plastic packaging. I've wanted an eiderdown for the longest time, but they're usually terribly overpriced. This one was found in my favourite junk shop, right at the very bottom of a massive pile I don't usually make the effort to dig through as it's mostly overpriced curtains. It was marked down cheap "for a quick sale" yet it must have been there years! I hung it out on the washing line for a freshen up and it's as good as new.

I found a few lengths of patterned crimplene, as seen in the background, as well as the patterns. The Women's Realm pattern in the centre features patterns for a dress, a tunic, a maxi waistcoat, and trousers so you could have a full wardrobe with that alone! I love the illustraion of the girl in the yellow dress on the Style pattern and want to try and recreate it.

This picnic kit was a rather incredible find, it cost barely anything and has all of it's original pieces intact. It has a waterproof vinyl mat, a checked orange cloth, two napkins, two cups and saucers, two tea plates, a metal sandwich box, a condiment pot, full cutlery, and a thermos. It was in quite grimey condition, but I spent hours yesterday deep cleaning and sterilizing everything and it's the most adorable little set. I noticed after it was cleaned that the outer case is made from the exact same patterned vinyl as my 7" record box.

This coffee percolator has all of it's original parts, and I got my stepdad who's a professional electrician to fix the plug so it's back in working order. I love drinking coffee and usually use my Tassimo, so I'm interested in giving this a whirl! My mum said that she received a percolator exactly like this one as a wedding gift in the '70s which makes me love it all the more.

The tray I'd been eyeing in an antiques store, but it was priced at £6.50 which isn't a lot but felt a bit too much for what it was just the same. So I was chuffed to find this identical one in the charity shop a few days later for £1! I love how well it matches the percolator, they look almost like a deliberate set.

I'd been looking at these little plastic and Pyrex cups in another shop, but they only had 3 which felt an odd amount so I left them. The next shop I went in I found this set of 6 with a tea tray still in it's original packaging for less than the previous shop had been charging for just the 3! I can't wait to unwrap it all, but I need to travel with them so I thought they'd be safer left in their wrapping for now. The '70s conserve pot was just a fun little addition for next to nothing. It has an orange peel design so was obviously for marmalade. I'm not a fan of marmalade so I might use it as a sugar pot.

And all of the records I've picked up! The Donovan ones were found in a record shop in Lincoln so cost a little extra at £5 each. I'm very close to completing my Donovan collection now! I'd never seen the Minstrel Boy compilation before but I don't own any 10" records so I picked it up more for the novelty. I'm glad the prices haven't increased for Bowie records around here like they have online, that's another collection I'm close to completing. I was thinking of Melanie Safka just the other week and thinking I needed to make more effort to look for some of her LPs, and just like that I found two including the one I wanted most. What luck!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Style Inspiration: Rosemary Woodhouse

Rosemary's Baby is my all time favourite movie, not only for it's wonderful plot and how magnificently creepy it is, but also for Rosemary's style which is such an integral part of her character. She mostly wears shades of yellows, blues and white, and wears very simplistic shapes and styles all which symbolise her femininity, innocence and youth and reminds the audience that she's just a regular young woman. This film is what drew me to wearing vintage clothing myself in the first place, and Rosemary has always remained my main style inspiration. I distinctly remember finding a '60s tent dress, this one, and thinking it felt like something Rosemary would of worn. Before that moment I hadn't realised that I could buy actual vintage clothes from the '60s without breaking the bank and it was the beginning of my long love affair. Slipping that dress on over my head felt magic and although I didn't have the lithe frame of Mia Farrow, it didn't matter. I'd stepped back in time and I felt more like myself than I'd ever felt before.

Whenever I find myself getting a little lost on what to wear, I put on Rosemary's Baby and am immediately inspired. I can't really put my finger on what precisely it is about her style that calls to me so strongly, but it does. Her wardrobe is often in the back of my mind when shopping or sewing, and when I find something similar to her, oh what a wonderful day!

A simple navy and white striped shift with matching hair ribbon. She wears this same dress later in the film with a blue sweater and tights.

Puff sleeve shift dress. Most of the patterns she wears are very geometric and understated.

Nehru collared gold trimmed coat.

Yellow Hawaiian print muumuu mini dress. This is my favourite of all of her outfits, and one I've long been searching to recreate.

Bib collared blue floral dress with mary-janes

Navy turtle-neck with tartan maxi skirt

Yellow sweater with mustard gingham jacket

Poorly yet she still manages to look fab in her pea-coat with matching hat and scarf

Smocked yellow tent dress

Marigold yellow tent dress

The best anyone's ever looked at a funeral. I've collected all of the materials to sew a similar dress soon.

Square necked tent dress

Screencaps by Shadow of Reflection

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

1960s Dolly Eye Makeup Tutorial

Something that always seems to spark the most attention is my mod style eye makeup, and it's something I'm frequently questioned about. With the right tools, it's really a very simple style to achieve and doesn't take me very long at all - I probably spend a total of 5 minutes on my eye makeup so it's completely achievable for everyday wear. And I do wear this eye makeup for everyday, whether I'm going somewhere special or just to Aldi, and it perplexes me why people find this unusual. Why not have fun everyday?

I thought I'd show you step by step just how easy it is to achieve this style!

You will need:
✿ A black eye shadow (or brown if you're not feeling as bold)
✿ A white eye shadow
✿ An eye shadow a few shades lighter than your skin tone
✿ Black eyeliner
✿ Eyeliner brushes, as pictured below. Mine are by Barry M and Real Techniques (the slanted Barry M one is my favourite). The brushes really are the key to achieving this look, people often use brushes that are far too thick and wonder why it isn't working! I once read that girls of the day would  use fine artists paintbrushes to achieve the right look, which goes to show just how important it is.

First, apply the eye shadow that's a few shades lighter than your skin tone to brighten your eyelids and set any primer if you've used one. Apply the white eye shadow on top of this. This will give a brightened look to your eyelids without it being stark white. You could also use blue à la Twiggy, or green was also popular.

Next use your preferred eyeliner to simply line your eyes. Don't exaggerate the cat eye as it's not the focus, just extend your natural lash line.

At this point using a fine liner brush, I like to map out my cut crease with a brown eye shadow. This way if you mess up, brown is much easier to remove than if you went straight in with the black. Follow the shape of your eyeliner above your natural crease, making sure they don't meet at the outer corner. You want to be able to see the line when your eyes are open as the point of the look is to create the illusion of large dolly eyes.

Go over the brown with the black (or if you prefer to use brown, just smarten it up) using the slanted brush. Next, smudge the line upwards to blend it, ensuring you keep the underside of the line crisp. I'll often go over this a few times, smudging upwards then going back over the line to strengthen it. Don't worry if it doesn't look perfectly smudged out just yet, mine often looks a mess at this stage!

Taking a fluffy brush, go back into the eye shadow a few shades lighter than your natural skin tone and blend out the smudged upper line.

Next apply kohl on to your lower lash line - not the waterline as this will shrink your eyes. If you want something on your waterline, use a white or nude pencil. If you want a true Twiggy look, draw lower eyelashes on instead. I prefer to just line my eyes and use plenty of mascara as my eyes water so much it only lasts about 20 minutes!

If you wanted to use false eyelashes they're perfectly period accurate - Twiggy is said to have worn three at a time so go nuts! I personally dislike them so I prefer to just use copious amounts of a lengthening mascara.

The focus should be your eyes, so keep the rest of your makeup neutral (including eyebrows, they should look natural not the focus of your face like current trend). For lipstick, a '60s dollybird would wear a pinky toned nude - I like L'Oreal 235 which is what I'm wearing in these photos.

After that, you're done! That wasn't too hard, was it? I also filmed a get ready with me you can see below putting it all on in case that helps a little better. Like with everything, it just takes practice. It can pay to take some time to yourself when you don't have to go anywhere and just play with your make up, trying to create looks for yourself. That's how I learn best. Remember makeup is about self expression and creativity, there's no such thing as right and wrong so don't be afraid of it!

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