If you go down to the woods today…

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…you might just catch sight of a curvy faery taking flight.

The first (quick) edit from an impromptu series of self portraits I shot back in August in a quiet moment at my auntie & uncle’s house. The family thought I was stark staring mad but I was chuffed with the results – artfully fuzzy (because it’s nearly impossible to catch a faery being still) and definitely with fae potential.  I’m hoping to get some more finished in the lull between Christmas and New Year – and when the weather warms up, I have some more shoots planned.

I’m generally in the mood for wings and the fae and alter egos at the moment, as my current major project is creating stacks of material for Unfurling Your Wings. Come and join me – it’s going to be ridiculously fun when it’s finished!

With love and unicorns,

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Wordsmith or witch?

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My jewellery has always symbolised what’s important to me – a birthstone, my Aes Sedai ring (the books the ring is inspired by changed my life), friendship rings, and most recently one reminding me of my intentions to photograph more of life. I create my talisman jewellery so that other people can do the same – keep their beliefs or dreams or hopes close by, always.

For day to day wear, I have various charms representing parts of my life or intentions which I wear separately or together on a silver chain – inspired by my Mum, who wears her cross, her evil eye protection, a camel and some other significant charms all together on a gold chain. I love that her beliefs and superstitions sit so easily next to each other like that.

As 2014 draws to a close, I’d like to add to my charms. A pentacle, for my spiritual side and for the witches in Discworld; a hare, for my connection with nature and also for Tiffany Aching (another Discworld reference) and the courage I hope I too have; and cats, to symbolise my two fluffy con artists who have so quickly become so central to my world.

talisman jewellery by Carla | carlalouise.com

But almost every online shop which sells charms goes on at length about pentacles being a Wiccan symbol, and the Wiccan rede or tradition. Which is fine, but also quite annoying, as I’m not Wiccan. I don’t particularly identify as a witch in the traditional sense, either – only that an amalgam of the pagan/hedge witch/nature/druid traditions is what most calls to me from all the religious and spiritual paths out there.

And then that got me thinking – I have always, always been fascinated with magic, witchcraft, spells, the fae, the Other. I am unusually intuitive and more than usually aware of how others are feeling and the potential or actual impact of words and actions – mine and those of others. I feel other people’s pain in a way that is draining – my heart quite literally hurts for a friend who’s suffering emotionally or physically. I’m instinctively aware of the moon’s phases and their effects on me (if not perfectly versed in all their names), and I have a collection of crystals and tarot cards which I use fairly regularly. (I sell them, too – I wouldn’t do that unless I believed in them.) All of that makes me Carla, not Wiccan, or any other particular religion.

But words – now words have incredible power. I love, and I firmly believe, in words working magic. As spells, manifesting, crystallising intention or just putting yourself out there – whatever you call it, you will have noticed at some point in your life the power of declaring what you truly believe, voicing your dreams, giving life to that which you most crave through words, whether spoken or written. (It’s said that millionaires write their goals down every day, and billionaires twice a day.) And symbols like the pentacle or the hare (or a typewriter, a flower, whatever works for you) are just as powerful – they create words and associations in your mind. Which is the first step to making your dreams real.

And though I’ve never particularly thought of myself as a witch, I do use words and symbols and rituals, every day, to create my magical life. A life which I’m told inspires others (a concept I find humbling and exhilarating in equal measure). A life which is an evolving creation in itself – a journey, not a destination. A life made out of words.

So am I a wordsmith, or a witch? Or a little bit of both?

Traditionally, witches have a terrible reputation. The definition usually involves evil spells and an ugly old crone. In my life, as with all women, I’ll be maiden, mother and crone – in age if not in actuality. Beauty is subjective – but while I don’t for a moment believe I’m ugly, neither am I about to claim the alternative title of enchantress – the dictionary definition of “captivatingly attractive” is not something that could be consistently said about any human being I’ve ever met, and especially not me first thing in the morning. Plus I don’t put spells on people.

Instead, I believe in magic like most people believe in the sun rising each day. I refuse to let being an adult dull my imagination and sense of wonder. I listen to people and I share stories and I create words and symbols and images – in the hope that these things will encourage other people to live out their own dreams.

I am not a Wiccan. I am not an enchantress.

But I am magic, I am creative and I love words. And so I suppose I might just be a witch… by my own definition.

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With love and unicorns,

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P.S. Want to find your own alter ego, witchy or otherwise? Hop over to Unfurling Your Wings and get your name on the list – the list for early access closes soon!

 

A treasury of unicorns

With unicorns being my signature these days (and yes, my spirit animal is almost definitely a unicorn or a blackbird. Probably a unicorn), I figured it was high time I made a themed treasury on Etsy from my new shop.

Which was lovely – and really dangerous, I want to buy All The Things.

Without further ado, here are some of the gorgeous unicornified things in the world today (and don’t forget their underwater cousins)…

‘Unicornity’ by unfurlingyourwings

Unicorn goodness 🙂


Unicorn Nymph Horn and Ear H…

$205

Magical Unicorn Wedges

$100

Dollhouse Miniature Blue Nar…

$26

Whatever Bitch Unicorn Cross…

$3.5

Narwhal is Unique: Illustrat…

$20

Magically beautiful Unicorn …

$6.72

Unicorn Friendship Bracelet …

$2.99

Small Gold Unicorn Ring

$10

unicorn stamp. unicorn hand …

$9

Papercutting Template – Unic…

$4.5

Narwhal Plush – with Mustach…

$48

Steam punk pegasus Unicorn p…

$15

unicorn bag handmade by morg…

$29.99

Michael Miller Rainbows and …

$9.5

Snowflake Unicorn nursery gi…

$31.96

5 pack of Mini Unicorn Chris…

$4

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Popping my (Hogswatch) cherry

The last weekend in November is Hogswatch.

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(for the uninitiated: Hogswatch is Discworld’s equivalent to Christmas. Discworld is Terry Pratchett’s alternate universe. Wincanton (a real town in England) is twinned with Ankh-Morporkh (a fictional city in a fantasy universe) and every November, a bunch of, in Terry’s words, bloody loonies descend upon Wincanton to celebrate Hogswatch. Clear as mud?!)

Though some of my friends go regularly, I’d not made it last year as it was my parents’ 40th anniversary. This year I was nervous but exc;ited – and hadn’t put a whole lot of planning into my costumes. I knew I was performing twice, and one of those involved chip packets.

So after a 3.30am alarm, staggering out of the house (watched by some very confused cats) at 4.20am and a 3 and a half hour drive, I arrived in Wincanton. Threw myself at my Travelodge room and slept and slept and slept.

At 10am, I found myself at the Memorial hall with Annastasia, surrounded by fellow loonies in outfits and costumes  varying from mild to extreme, and I couldn’t stop grinning.

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We taught a burlesque workshop to seven brave ladies and one extremely brave gent. Our chosen music, to match the theme of Going Postal, was… no, not Return to Sender, or any of the usual suspects. We went for Postman Pat.

Then I could wander to my heart’s content (and also packed in meeting Anna’s parents, the Boggises (who have long been heavily involved with Discworld and Hogswatch), long chats with new friends and some shopping, as well as a sneaky nap after lunch.

Come 5pm, I was in the green room, taking fuzzy but excited pictures of myself:

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And then we got up on stage and danced. And oh, I had forgotten how much I enjoy performing. 2014 has been so busy and so manic (pfft, so much for my word of the year of “balance”) that I haven’t had much of a chance to dance at all, and it is still an unmatchable feeling to come off stage to appreciative applause (and sniggers, in this case).

Also got to sing the Twelve Days of Hogswatch (harder than you’d imagine, when you’re standing at the front holding up the words but you can’t actually read them yourself… it goes something like “On the FIRST day of Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, a mumble mumble blah blah blah. On the SECOND day of Christ-Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, TWO something mumble…” And that’s entirely sober!

Then the traditional sausage supper at the Bear, and on to the Pink Pussycat Club. Where we danced another number… dedicated to Rincewind the wizard, it involved a red pointy hat with stars on, three kimonos, doing some suggestive things with a potato masher and having a fight over some crisps. And the final reveal was…

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(photo credit: Paul Heyes via FB)

(if you don’t get it, don’t worry… it’s a long story. If you want to get it, read Interesting Times.)

Here’s another pic of us during Postman Pat…

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(photo credit: Tatyana Arbuzova via FB)

As cheesy as I know it sounds, the whole weekend felt like coming home. I didn’t feel like a newcomer (apart from when Nanny Ogg/Renta made me have a Hogswatch Virgin badge…), and as I’ve often found with my more niche hobbies (most notably model horsing – this felt a lot like that), there’s an instant sense of kinship. I even found some more stationery fiends (and friends) during our letter writing salon (an Ink Drops venture) on Sunday.

We were all letting our real selves out to play – our alter egos, but the ones we wish we could take back to everyday life with us. As so often recently, Lotta and I were perfectly in tune. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Having made so many new friends and felt so at home so quickly, coming back to the round world (not the Disc), and the prospect of the day job and doing housework were less than appealing.

I put this off by popping in on the way home to see my ex-headmaster and his family – which I know sounds weird, but my primary school was muchly special. Totally failed to get any photos of us all, but he did keep the sign when the school was demolished to make way for flats…

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And it was so lovely to catch up after more than a decade.

So I drove home to my silly kittens through the night, arrived at 10pm, fell into bed to dream of the Disc, and woke up still half there today. I spent this morning waving photos at anyone who would look, and am now settling down to the important work of planning next year’s costumes and skits.

Big thanks to Annastasia for giving me the chance to attend – it’s now an immovable fixture in my calendar.

Happy Hogswatch… I hope you’ve been naughty AND nice!

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PS for any non-Pratchett fans, normal service will resume shortly. If you’ve read him and don’t like it, fine. If you’ve never read him then for goodness’ sake go and borrow a book from your library and try one. You’ll never know if you don’t try…!

PPS You don’t actually have to be a fan to come to Hogswatch. I would love, love, love to see some of you there next year! Or at any of the various cons I hope to now attend in 2015 🙂

PPPS If you fancy creating your own alter ego, hop over and have a look at Unfurling Your Wings. It’ll launch a little later than planned due to some mad new VAT laws, but on the plus side, it’s now going to be a much more immersive experience, with goodies coming to you in the REAL ACTUAL POST.

How the EU ruined my November – and is killing microbusiness

What a month November has been.

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Supermodel cat is obliging, yet frowny. #sillykittens

A post shared by Carla Louise (@duckingfabulous) on

Starting off with an attempt at National Novel Writing Month, I had a wonderful time rediscovering my love for writing fiction (and Luna and Clover got starring roles in a story about how they became witch’s cats). Alongside that I spent some time working on Unfurling, which is beginning to take real shape, and is making me very happy.

I got a Ralph unexpectedly at the end of October…

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Ralph's first crochet lesson #essexralph

A post shared by Carla Louise (@duckingfabulous) on

… and spent a weekend wedding dress shopping with my best friend (for her, not me!). Which was glorious though I’m not allowed to share photos yet!

Completely differently but equally excitingly, on Sunday I appeared on my first live call, an interview by Vaska the Curious Cat, for Free Range Humans‘ storytelling tent. I am told I inspired people… and this is massive, as that’s all I ever really wanted to do. Show people that they too can live life their way, whatever that means to them.

There was a housewarming with wonderful friends from uni, and a christening with my closest friends at home in Essex – and the newest member of our group, baby Jessica (whose special day it was).

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Witchy portrait fun

My first Halloween/Samhain with my two familiars, and I thought I’d have a bit of fun.

In preparation for trick or treaters, I had positioned my broom by the front door, bought most of my local shop’s supply of miniature chocolate bars and dug out my pointy hat.

Luna-kitten was looking rather obliging, so I also made a Halloween picture while I was at it…

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Loving my new lens!

Thought I’d share the best outtake too – I’ve never seen her look quite so horrified at my antics.

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Clover was very sensibly snoozing on the back of the sofa, just out of shot. She’s a great witch’s cat but she doesn’t like to flaunt it.

And as Saturday was the start of NaNoWriMo, I have accidentally now written almost 5000 words of a story/book about how Luna and Clover came to be witch’s cats… it’s so much fun letting my imagination out to play!

Colouring in and desktop geekery

Ahem. So a couple of weeks ago I started an art journal. As predicted, I haven’t managed to use it every day (because some days are wordy days, and some days are illustrated days, and some days I’m just so tired there is no journalling at all).

But this week I have mostly been buying ADULT COLOURING IN BOOKS. Well. Actually, they’re children’s ones that I have commandeered, but that makes them no less valid for adults. Right?

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I am having so much fun… and it’s surprisingly therapeutic, especially since now I’m the grand old age of 28, there’s no pesky “art” teacher telling me I must colour inside the lines OR ELSE. (I never understood that – how are we supposed to stretch the bounds of our creativity if we have to keep inside pre-drawn areas even when we’re really small? But I digress.)

The “colouring for girls” did make me hesitate before buying it – but I really liked most of the images inside, so into my basket it went.

Other happy-making news this week:

Luna has learned to sit on my shoulder like a proper witch’s familiar. This is awesome…

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And I’ve finally organised myself into a proper, Photoshop and InDesign-friendly desk layout at home, thanks to a new screen and a cheap but pretty wireless keyboard. And I have a new barcode scanner – squeak!!

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Yes, my desk is always that messy and always contains Pepsi and cat treats. It works for me.

There has been cake and Pimms (spiked with vodka, as my mum gleefully informed me halfway through the afternoon), and my kittens’ first mouse, and beautiful skies and strange weather and wonderful conversations and new collaborations and an electric feeling in the air… excitement reigns in my enchanted realm!

I also launched my Magical Manifesto this week – I have more excitement up my sleeve on that front in the form of an email series, an online experience and a book. July is shaping up nicely after my horrible June. Which can only be a good thing.

Before I go and do some more colouring in (squee!), should you fancy brightening up your own desk, or sending some handwritten missives instead of emails and tweets, I refilled the Ink Drops Etsy shop today – pop over and have a nose 🙂

Discovering the perfect blue hair dye

It’s been a long journey of wanting, wishing and waiting, but in February this year, just after my 28th birthday, I finally booked an appointment to have my hair dyed blue.

Several hours of bleaching, foils, and inadvertently making both of my hairdressers look like they’d been busy murdering Smurfs, it was done. Eeek!

But because my hair doesn’t hold anything (colour, curls, shape), I found myself having to re-apply the dye twice in the first week. At £9.50 per tube for the (admittedly pretty) Fudge blue colour, this quickly became unworkable. So I did what I always do when I have a problem, and asked the internet for help.

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This pretty much summed up everyone’s advice from all over the internet – try Directions. It’s also, as far as I can tell, vegan, which means the lovely Annastasia at Not The Vegan Police will approve!

So I trooped into town, bought a pot each of Atlantic Blue, Midnight Blue and Lagoon Blue, and proceeded to re-dye my hair.

The results:

Atlantic Blue is by far my favourite, and caused more than one colleague to exclaim “Carla! Your hair! It’s SO BLUE today!” which I think can only be a good thing.

Lagoon Blue, while much lighter in colour, has actually lasted almost three weeks and has faded to a bright turquoise, which is absolutely acceptable and will probably be my summer colour of choice.

Midnight Blue I’ve not yet been brave enough to try, as I’m scared it’ll be too dark – but I’ll give it a go soon.

I’m yet to master decent lighting for photos, but here are a few:

I’m over the moon with my new hair – and it was summed up best by two of my friends. Josh told me it was “mermaid hair”, and Naomi’s is still my favourite comment – “it’s the hair you were always meant to have”. That’s definitely what it feels like!

 

 

 

Vintage Goodness at Goodwood Revival

Good-ness… see what I did there? Yep, ok, I was definitely not cut out to be a stand up comic.

I had another one of my trademark weekends, full to the brim with friends and exciting experiences. Life is definitely starting to be more about what I do than what I have, and these few days were enhanced even more by pretty cars and very little kittens!

Here’s Merlin, exploring my book bag when I arrived at Em’s house.

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Sunday morning, after a night with the kittens, and a 6.30am fight with victory rolls (patience, kirby grips, at least two people and a LOT of hairspray) I set off for Goodwood.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Revival, it’s a vintage event at Goodwood Motor Circuit, and visitors are encouraged/required to dress in period costume – in this case 40s, 50s or 60s. Rob and I chose a hybrid of late 40s/early 50s and though neither of us had a clue what the other was wearing until we met up at the gate, I think we managed to co-ordinate brilliantly!

Here’s me. Dressed more or less as I often do at weekends, only with the addition of proper hair and less ridiculous shoes. Huge thanks to Lou at Contrariety Rose who was utterly wonderful and got my dress to me just before she went on holiday – it will be forever appreciated!

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Here’s Rob doing an excellent impression of a vintage gentleman. Complete with pipe.

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Mobiles are strongly frowned upon within the enclosure, and everyone puts a massive effort into dressing up, so there was a real sense of stepping back in time – vintage heaven!

There was so much to see I actually took very few photographs, but was quite pleased with this shot of old bikes in the French quarter:

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And it chucked it down with rain as we walked the track, so by the time we returned to our cars (having nearly lost mine in the mud along the way) we resembled drowned rats. I’m pleased to announce that the victory rolls held!!

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

This was my 300th post on Ducking Fabulous, which made me happy and astounded in equal measure. Thank you for being along for the ride – here’s to the next 300 posts!

Onto today’s actual subject… Natalie Sisson is running a 30 day blog challenge over on the Suitcase Entrepreneur. Today’s question – If you woke up tomorrow and were free to do anything you wanted with your life, what would you do and who would you be?

What would I do, who would I be? What do I really want to do?

Once, I’d have said have a horse, and to dance. That was more or less the sum total of what I dreamed of.

Now? Now my dreams are more wide ranging. I’m achieving or on the road to achieving many of them, I’m happy with where I am and I have absolute belief that the others will happen somehow, someday.

But right now, if I could genuinely do anything I wanted? I’d…

… buy somewhere beautiful to live, in the countryside, with a kitchen big enough for a squidgy sofa, lots and lots of windows and light, space for crafting and photography and a huge garage/workshop for my fleet of beloved vehicles

…open it as a retreat to friends and family and likeminded souls who need to get their breath back from life, or who want to kickstart their own creativity

…have a camper van for weekends and a caravan in the garden as an extra spare room/studio

… surround myself with the animal companions I adore – horses, dogs and the occasional unicorn

… regularly travel somewhere warm – I love the seasons in the UK, and wouldn’t change my homeland for anything. But during the depths of winter, I often feel like I’ll never be warm again. The luxury of being able to feel sunshine whenever you fancy it is incomparable.

…ride out over the countryside daily

…write, photograph, dance, create at my own pace, in my own time, in my own space

…there would be a river at the bottom of the garden where my narrowboat lives

…and work wise, I’d help people along the journey to self-employment. The fiddly practical bits and the dreamy planning bits; the awkward conversations with friends & family and the incredible feeling of belonging when you find your tribe.

What would you do? What do you dream of?

Paper Dolls Burlesque at the Fling Festival 2013

Quick post today, but wanted to share the photos of our tent at the Fling Festival a couple of weeks ago – it was the most glorious debut for my burlesque troupe. And who knew, when we took that first class eighteen months ago, what it would lead to?

Here we all are with our fab stage kitten Lou:

Paper Dolls Burlesque | carlalouise.com

And here are the rest of the images – squeak!


Created with flickr slideshow.

 

The Fling always defies description, but to be there as a performer, helping to create the experience for other festivalgoers – it was a privilege, and one of the best days of my life.

Check us out – our troupe is Paper Dolls Burlesque, and we learned (and continue to learn) the art of burlesque with  Jem Ayres at Burlesque Jems.