Yes, Snarklings, the long-promised Gothic Charm School post about where to find supplies for gothy crafts and to embellish your wardrobe of gloom! Plus a tangent about finding other Goths in your area. Why the tangent? Well, you see, the letter that prompted all of this asks about both things.
A very charming Snarkling by the name of Monday Mourning asked:
Dearest Madam Whom I Regard in the Highest Esteem,
I am quite possibly one of your most devoted fans, following you with a most vivacious earnest. Lately however, I have come into a point in my life where I have felt uncertain and out of my element as a goth.
I used to be a gloom and doom babybat, but now I am at a point of a more sophisticated goth. I have, as I put it myself a Neo-Victoriental Classical Romantigoth Steampunker with French influence, think over the top Addams Family with brocade vests and metallic tophats.
And while rewarding, I very rarely get the chance to augment this peculiar wardrobe. could you please be a dear and tell us adoring Snarklings where one could find sturdy, reliable fabrics to produce custom works that make one happy?
Well, the first place to look for “sturdy, reliable fabrics” is at places that carry upholstery and home décor fabrics. Brocades, velvets, interesting patterns … just make sure to avoid anything with a plastic or rubberized backing to it, and you should be fine. If you’re looking for slightly lighter-weight fabrics, take a look at stores or websites that specialize in quilting fabrics. (You there, in the back, stop shaking your head. Not all quilting fabrics are tiny floral prints or cartoonish images of shoes. There are some absolutely lovely Halloween-themed prints, not to mention skulls, bats, antique maps, and just about anything else, really.)
There are websites such as Fashion Fabrics Club and Fabric.com which carry a dizzying array of fabrics, including décor and quilting fabrics, in addition to “fashion” fabrics (which, as near as the Lady of the Manners can tell, means anything that was intended for garments, not curtains or quilts), faux fur, lace, silk, vinyl, and just about any other sort of fabric you may be yearning for.
Of course, there are chain store fabric and craft stores across the land, such as JoAnn Fabrics and Michael’s Crafts. The Lady of the Manners will admit that she has found the fabric selections to be a little … well, not anemic, but certainly heavily weighted toward whatever might be fashionable at that moment. But! Both of those stores are excellent places to pick up notions (thread, needles, buttons, ribbon, glue, and so on), and to look for inspiration. Yes, the Lady of the Manners is quite serious about the inspiration bit; just go wander through the aisles with the scrapbooking or jewelry-making supplies, and try to look at things with an open mind. The assorted knick-knacks that are available to fancy-up someone’s scrapbook can also be turned into interesting ornaments, embellishments for clothing, or jewelry. Fake flowers originally intended for bouquets and floral arrangements can be turned into all sorts of accessories; in fact, almost any small (or not-so-small) decorative object can be turned into an accessory of some sort. (One of the Lady of the Manners favorite things to do during the winter holiday season is to look at ornaments and décor items and ask herself “Can I wear it on my head? How would this look on a hat?”)
Of course, because you are clever Snarklings, you all know to go forth and investigate your local thrift stores and flea markets for clothing and jewelry; but do you stop to consider if you can turn an item into a completely different item? Vintage curtains can become petticoats, full-skirted formal dresses usually have enough yardage to become, well, just about anything including skirts, vests, spats, or scarves, and thrift-store hats can be used as the form to make an entirely different, more elaborate hat. The trick is to look at an item and see not just what it is, but what can be made out of it. But! The Lady of the Manners is honor-bound to give this warning: always try to make sure you have an idea of what you can turn something into, or what project you’re going to use an item for. Otherwise you run the risk of accumulating bags and boxes of things you’re sure could be used for something in the misty future, which leads inexorably to losing track of what you have stashed away, and very very quickly running out of storage room. (If you listen very closely, Snarklings, you might just be able to hear the Lady of the Manners’ husband muttering about the need for organization.)
But then dear Monday Mourning also has the following dilemma:
I have also had a problem in that I live in “fashion-forward” California, and I am never quite sure as to who is, and who is not, a member of our darkly romantic social circle known as Goth. It seems like every time I meet someone who dresses or acts the part, they most vehemently deny the accusation.
It would be simpler, I feel, if I could associate via the internet. However, I have yet to find a chatroom or blog specifically for goths in my area of California. How can I find persons who share my views on the world without clubs or known associations to join?
If you could help a wayward Victorian such as myself in any such way, I would be eternally grateful, perhaps to the point of naming a child after you, my most brilliant Mistress.
Monday Mourning Esq.
Oh … dear. The Lady of the Manners assumes that you’ve done something as straightforward as search the Internet with your city name + Goth? Because that’s the very first thing she would suggest. If that doesn’t work, then perhaps try searching on Goth + the name of the largest city nearest to where you live? That, the Lady of the Manners hopes, would give you some results that might include links to local posting boards or mailing lists that you could check out, and then ask the participants there if they knew of any other Goths in your area.
The Lady of the Manners wants to commend you for asking people who look like they are part of “our darkly romantic social circle”, because she firmly believes that the best way to meet new people is to go talk to people. So she’s very glad to read that you are doing just that. Of course, the Lady of the Manners is also saddened to read that the people you have been talking to seem to uniformly reject any sort of Goth label, and wonders how much of that is due to those people not wanting to have any sort of label applied to themselves, and how much of it is due to a perhaps less-than-clear understanding of what Goth is. The Lady of the Manners isn’t really sure what you can do to avoid the vehement declarations of Not A Goth from these people, especially since you are looking for other black-clad romantics to socialize with. You could just not ask them about Goth at all, and see what sorts of interests you have in common with these Goth-looking types. Who knows, they may be the sorts of people you are looking for, and just don’t realize that there is much, much more to Goth than moody teens shopping at mall chain stores.
With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to go read some rather exciting emails that have arrived here at Gothic Charm School. With a bit of luck, the next post here will have all sorts of interesting news for you, including events for the forthcoming Gothic Charm School book! Until then, as always, feel free to write!