What Is Past Is Prologue: Five Years of Violet Folklore

Today is Violet Folklore's 5th anniversary! It was on September 19th, 2008 that Sasha and I, after weeks of talking about how we'd work it all out, plunged forward and set up our Etsy account. We had met at a local herb class the previous year; I remember noticing Sasha right away on the first day of class because of the beautiful prairie dress she was wearing. What a sweet sign of what was to come! Violet Folklore

This was our first attempt at taking an Official Marketing Photo. It was a very serious endeavor. (And apparently we were twelve years old).

Sasha went on to found her own Etsy vintage shop called Astral Boutique. She has carried her wild-eyed, golden-hued, flowers-in-her-hair vision forward with her and has been very successful with her shop, even being Etsy's Featured Seller back in July! Sasha is responsible for many of the early photos featured below.

I thought I'd celebrate today by posting a retrospective of some of my favorite vintage pieces, shot on a dozen different cameras over the years in some of the most beautiful locations in and around Nevada City and worn by (almost) every model Violet Folklore has ever featured. **I have deleted tens of thousands of photos off my computer over the years, so I know there are a few girls missing from this post. I'm sorry ladies, and I love ye dearly and thank ye endlessly!**

Carabeth

Carabeth modeled the first piece we ever sold. We felt triumphant!

Sarah

Sarah has been killing it with every pose all throughout these five years.

Cynthia

Cynthia is now Sasha's bandmate in Mt. Whateverest. CHECK THEM AND THEIR AMAZING OUTFITS OUT.

Sethy

Sethicus was VF's one and only male model. All the ladies swooned.

Alela

 Alela wore a Daughter of the Sun necklace on the Winter Solstice.

Maria

Maria was red hot.

Lucia

Lucia channeled Eve.

Bette

Bette channelled Little Red Riding Hood.

Candace

Candace modelled one of the prettiest Gunnies ever.

Sasha

Along with the one Sasha modeled in this self-photographed moment of crystalline sweet pea reverie.

Toni

Toni (of Moonchild Vintage) struck a pose at one of the many local Gold Rush historical sites- Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley.

Amber

I breathed in the big sky in Nevada (the actual state).

Lily

Lily managed to remain earthbound.

Suuzi

Suuzi looked down, smiled, and created one of my favorite photos ever.

JenJen

Jen offered her beauty & grace to the world.

Mycelia

Mycelia brought the kid's vintage to adorable new heights.

Annie

Annie's playfulness was perfectly captured by Simon Weller's photographs in the Little Town of Washington (he took the following five pictures as well...)

Ariella

Ariella didn't even have to pretend to be a magical woodland nymph.

Kate

Kate embodied a ghostly miner's widow at Malakoff Diggins.

Alli

Alli lounged in between rounds of Bloody Mary's at the famous Willo Steakhouse.

Chia

Chia (of Out of the Mystic) was the Golden Queen of the Summer Solstice.

Erin

And Erin radiated her calm beauty out into the sunlit pines of the Sierra foothills...

LadyPower

I'll leave you with yet another early Official Marketing Photo attempt. I'm pretty sure we were going for a Lady Power! vibe with this shoot- you can use power tools, be a mother, and rock out all while wearing pretty vintage! And you know I've learned in these past five years- IT'S TRUE.

"The Past Is Never Dead. It Isn't Even Past"

(This William Faulkner quote has run around in my mind constantly since I first read it sometime last year.) A few days ago Sarah and I scurried down to the Miner's Foundry (home of the Nevada City Bizarre and the place I saw the secret Red Hot Chili Peppers show) to bust out a quick photo shoot in front of a gorgeous stone & ivy wall.

The Foundry is less than half a block away from us, but we drove my van anyway so that we'd have a semi-private place to change ;-)

All of these items are already listed in the shop.

I realized that our booth at the most recent Bizarre was on the other side of that window on the right. Heather's was behind the window on the left!

This car is somewhat infamous around town, and I cracked up when I looked to my right while snapping shots of Sarah and saw this little scene. Curious cat!

Crazy story about this dress- I found a similar one in black last month, and Kerry bought it at the Bizarre as a secret xmas gift for Nicole before I ever had a chance to list it in the shop...

(Here's the other side of that window!) I can't believe I found a slightly different sequined Egyptian dress by the same maker only a few weeks later.

I oughtta make a folder just for shots of behind-the-scenes laughter at photo shoots. Flared nostrils and all.

I almost hope this dress doesn't sell, it would be sort of perfect for my upcoming trip to Big Sur(!!!)...

AMAZING red suede corset boots. Size 7.5.

Forgive me for being such a tease all the time, but I am, as usual, having a Keep Or Sell crisis with the following two pieces:

Royal blue is kind of my color, and I've been looking for vintage overalls like these for years. But I am much more likely to wear the dress than the overalls. Hmm...

Later that day Mycelia and I decided to go on a walk. Someone had told me about a trail down behind the Miner's Foundry, so I set off down that-a-ways for the second time that day.

The trail wasn't really there, but there was an abandoned house with Deer Creek running behind it. We decided to go for it, the sound of the creek was so sweet and inviting...

Green moss, green cedars, green sprouts, green irises...

I'm always trying to capture the beautiful colors in her eyes when we are out in the sunshine.

Sitting there, eating seaweed snacks, I noticed this very rusted horseshoe hanging on the little tree in front of us.

I swear, everywhere you turn in this town you are surrounded by what once was.

We had to climb up a treacherous, dry-leaves-and-pine-needles-covered hillside to make our way back up to the street. When we got there we were greeted by this beautiful hawthorne tree. I wish I could make a career out of photographing hawthornes at different times of the year.

The little white flowers that blossom in May are delightful in a fresh and hopeful way, but there is something so compelling about these overripe, bordering-on-decay winter berries.

We walked back by the Foundry...

And Mycie decided she wanted to play (and SING) around the 19th century equipment before heading home. This is an old wine press at the Nevada City Winery, mere feet away from the Foundry.

You may have noticed I've been adding a lot of videos to my posts lately. That's because my new camera has that option on it, while my previous one didn't. It's so fun being able to capture little moments like this on the fly, moments that I will treasure forever even though they'll break my heart. I recently watched this adorable video of Mycie when she was 3, and I cried my eyes out with sweet sadness over the fact that that little girl is gone, that that moment in history, when she had her little curls and she called her dad "papa" and she pronounced her words that way, is irretrievable.

I have always been lucky enough to live within walking distance of some sort of historical landmark, from Empire Mine to the Foundry to St. Joseph's Hall (which, like the Foundry, is a building from the Gold Rush days that now bills itself as a "Cultural Center" and always has cool events going on).

I really do appreciate living in a place where there is such a palpable sense of the past. There was no such feeling where I grew up in South Lake Tahoe, CA (despite its entanglements with such historical giants as Kit Carson, Mark Twain, and John Steinbeck). And I have been to places (like where my cousin lives in Prescott Valley, AZ) that literally didn't exist 20 years ago and that are made up of nothing but strip malls and housing developments. I suppose one can always find a sense of history out in nature, but I have a feeling that people who live in such places prefer to spend their time at Kohl's and Cost Plus instead.

Geez, I was just saying that I feel like I've been gushing lately on this blog about how cool my town is, and I want to try to tone that down a bit. And here I am doing it again! But I just can't extricate my life and my daily experience from this place, it's all around me. And the feeling and personality of Nevada City/Grass Valley really do infuse each moment in a way unlike any other place I've ever lived. Every house I've lived in here in the foothills has been over 100 years old and has felt very much like it. Aside from the odd layouts and scrappy single pane windows and antique keyholes and doors that hardly fit in their frames anymore, they were/are all on a slight tilt. This is due both to settling over the century and to the fact that there's hardly a lick of level ground in these parts. Most every step you take is either up or down an incline. When I cook eggs in the morning in bacon grease or butter, all of the liquid fat pools to one side of the pan, and I have to nudge it over before I crack the eggs in. When you sit on our toilet, your whole body slides slightly to the left and you can't help but just rest your head against the wall right there and be grateful for a moment of rest. Having lived in the level bowl carved out by an alpine lake in the High Sierras (Tahoe) and in the great central valley of California where there isn't an incline for hundreds of miles around (Sacramento), I must say I prefer the charming quirks that askew foothill living (right in between the other two) has to offer. And I have come to believe that it has something to do with the profuse creativity that has poured out of here and given this area such a distinct personality. (In fact it was just listed in Lonely Planet's list of top ten travel destinations for 2012).

It's sort of like how everyone says they "have the best friends ever!", and how we all (if we're lucky enough, or are good friends ourselves) feel that way. We all have the best friends ever, and that's such a good thing! People are awesome. And I hope that everyone loves where they live as much as I do just like they love their friends as much as I do. Only I'm more self-indulgently and long-windedly vocal about it all.

Okay and seriously, if you haven't read Faulkner, you haven't lived...

“Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.”

“Wonder. Go on and wonder.”

The Hawaiian Collection: 70s, Peasant, Lovely

At some point in Violet Folklore's past I have posted something somewhere online about my love for 70s Hawaiian peasant dresses.

I'm thinking you feel the same way about these carefree relics of simpler days gone by.

And, like me, picture a dark-skinned earth mama puttering barefoot around her yard in a dress just like these gathering coconuts and mangoes and grinding taro and kava kava roots for an upcoming celebration.

When I came across these dresses in another Etsy shop recently I quickly hearted all of them.

And a few days later received a message from the shop owner. She had gotten all of the dresses from the estate of a friend who had recently passed on. But she and her husband were leaving Hawaii to move to the Middle East soon (I know, really?) and she needed to liquidate her stock. Would I be interested in purchasing them?

Her asking price was a little high, and it was hard to fully ascertain the quality of the dresses as they hung lifelessly on mannequins in the glaring mid-day sun. But I saw the potential. Oh yes, I saw the potential. So we haggled for a bit (I'm getting pretty good at that) and before long they arrived at my door step, all packaged up with pretty tropical leaves.

The ending of this epic tale has now passed into legend, as I begin to list these gorgeous dresses in my shop tonight...

Thanks to Suuzi's hella awesome husband Spencer Seim for taking these photos!

All In The Golden Afternoon

Suuzi and I had a big out-of-town photo shoot planned for tomorrow, but it turns out it's the one day in this whole month that looks like rain! So instead, Graham and I took the two minute drive up to historic Empire Mine- one of the oldest and most prolific gold mines in Northern California- with ten of the prettiest dresses I have scored for the shop in the last weeks.

What's inside this 19th century greenhouse you ask? Why, antique gardening implements, of course.

It is definitely my favorite photo shoot yet, thanks to Graham's keen eye and willingness to scale walls and sneak around in second story alcoves that are closed to the public :-)

I can't wait to start listing these dresses, and it looks like tomorrow's drizzle will provide the perfect opportunity to stay home and do just that!

The Cuckoo's Dress

Once upon a time I posted a blog entitled The Cuckoo's Nest: A History of Portland's Original Bohemian Boutique in which I presented stories and images from the glory days of what was undoubtedly the hippest little shop ever to produce unique handmade clothing.

As I reported there, the owner and visionary behind the boutique, Julie Safley, and I developed a cherished camaraderie through our communication concerning The Cuckoo's Nest. Julie now runs an Alpaca farm just outside of Portland where she produces fabulously luxuriant alpaca fibers.
Of the many wonderful and unexpected gifts to come out of this friendship was a package of eight glorious alpaca fiber and Pima cotton dresses...
Four of them are monochromatic (pink, blue, light olive green, and nude), very fitted and flattering, mermaid cut beauties...
And the other four are absolutely gorgeous and utterly unique dresses made of a perfectly blended synthesis of colors, materials, and patterns, each in its own special cut. These dresses were based on original Cuckoo's Nest patterns from the 70s (!), and their bohemian spirit shines brightly through.
Each of the garments is a sensual delight to wear. They are all lined in silky satin and are made of spectacularly well woven material from truly luscious natural materials.
These pieces were made in 1990 for a fashion show and have been awaiting their chance to reappear in public and find a loving home ever since...
And now their time has come. By the end of the week, quite likely sooner, each of these pieces will be listed in the shop.
Thank you Julie, thank you original Cuckoo's Nest designers and seamstresses, and thank you alpacas for giving me the opportunity to present these very, very special dresses to the world.