Thursday, June 16, 2011

Artists You Should Know - Highwind Steamworx

It's a little-known fact that the Lad loves steampunk. Maybe it's the tiny hats. Maybe it's the monocles. Maybe it's just that he's a total drag queen and steampunk gives him an excuse. I digress. I met Dawn and Jeff of Highwind Steamworx at Clockwork Vaudeville's Gearbox Fantastique a few months back, and I fell in love with their work. They do steampunk in a totally wearable and effortless fashion, with immense attention to detail and outstanding craftsmanship. And their prices rock. If you're a dabbler, a closet lover of fantastical Victorian costuming, or a full-blown crazed zeppelin pilot, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

Come in! Make yourself comfortable. What can I get you to drink?

Hello! Dawn would love a traditionally prepared absinthe. I’ll stick with an iced tea. What a
lovely abode you have!

Keymaster Goggles
Tell us about yourself.

We have been married for about 9 years. We both went to Bradley University in Peoria. I’ve
been doing professional theater for 10 years in my day job, and am currently studying to be a
pharmacy technician, when we aren’t gallivanting about in our airship. Jeff has been teaching for the last 11 years, in a variety of subjects and grades. We both greatly enjoy the steampunk scene and all the aesthetics and personalities that go with it. We both sort of accidentally fell into this artist thing, after making a few items for ourselves. We started getting involved in the steampunk
scene and found we couldn’t afford a lot of what was available. After we started making our
own things, we decided to get into business for ourselves to offer more reasonable pricing on
steampunk jewelry and goods so that everyone could afford to have some!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

12 Hour Days Are Not for the Unprepared

You're sweating in unmentionable places. Vapors of grilling meats and various foods-on-a-stick swirl in the humid air. A film of sunscreen is beginning to form on your skin, you need an ice cold beer, and you check the clock. It's only 2pm. It's the season for outdoor festivals, what we artists and vendors call a full-time job. I was a n00b to the outdoor craft show circuit as of a month ago and desperately wish I could have found a balls-out, no nonsense guide to surviving the process. Sure - many artisans have created their own blog entries detailing tips and tricks to success in selling in the sun, but for me they're always a little...cupcake. Unpleasantness and gritty realism is abandoned for cutesy anecdotes and obvious tips that, honestly, any person with a shred of common sense could have figured out on their own. "Really YummyDeliciousCrochet? You're telling me I need to drink water when I'm in the sun? Thank crafting Christ you bestowed this information on me." It's the Etsy disease - something about crafting makes certain people go soft in the head.

So I've compiled a list (in no specific order) of smart and realistic tips to survive the stressors of working an outdoor festival, based on my own experiences.

Don't Be A Dumbass. It's Hot Outside
You're gonna need sunblock. Today is not the day to work on the tan. Put that shit on your knees, shins, and feet as well. 

You're gonna need water. Exercise common sense and bring a huge ass bottle of your own from home. Do you realize how fucking annoying it is to have to stand in line with festival-goers just to score $5 tepid water? If you don' will - right around the time the fifth inebriated frat reject cracks a joke to you about a frozen chocolate banana. And don't gulp it. Sip it. Unless you like fragrant Port-a-Potties.

You're gonna be here awhile, and while I appreciate that you want to look cute, today is a waste of makeup. No one's going to buy your flouncy upcycled hats if you have a lunar landscape of melted mascara and bronzer forming on your face. Just get some big sunglasses and stop being a hoor.

Eat breakfast. Your mom is right.

Park the car as close as you can manage to the tent. Unload quickly. If you have to, re-park the car on a meter-free side street adjacent to the festival ground. Getting in and out of there is going to be an exercise in frustration and heatstroke, so make sure your car is AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE.

Pack a Bag with Useful Crap
*Wet Wipes. It's filthy out there.
*A wind-up or battery-powered phone charger OR a second phone battery. Once that phone dies, say bye-bye to credit and debit card purchases, which are becoming the norm for your customers. I know, I know - you think Starbucks will let you plug it in. They won't.
*Snacks. Street-fest gyros, chocolate-covered cheesecake, and french fries all seem like happy-time-fun-food, but they should be called "Try Not To Touch Your Ass to the Port-a-Potty Seat While People Steal Your Merchandise". Practice some forethought and buy a damn box of Cheez-Its. 
*Alcohol (if you're a drinker - if you're not, I'm not sure how you found your way here). Liquor travels lighter than beer, and trust me - around 3pm you're going to need it. Don't forget a mixer.
*If you're the kind of person who might conceivably use a lighter, bring more than one.
*A cooler or insulated bag for your booze and/or food. If you can manage to get ice for it the day of the festival, all the better. Keep the ice in its plastic bag and you can munch on it and use it for drinks during the day.
*Galvanized wire and cutters/duct tape. I can't express how much I've required these things for a hundred little annoyances: my displays blow over in the wind; the tent walls are flapping too loudly; tablecloth and signage isn't secure; I need to quickly garrote the person who asks me, "Do you have any rings that are MORE SIMPLE?"
*Light scarf/jacket, a change of shirt, and a pair of real shoes and socks. One minute its beautiful and balmy, and the next everything you have worked so hard on is drenched in city rain, including you. That's not going to make the rest of your day pleasant, so plan for it.
*Deodorant. Hello.
*Burt's Bees Lip Balm. All that talking to strangers is going to chap your lips, so lube up! And it's minty, which is just delightful.

Drunk People Everywhere
Don't argue with drunk people at outdoor festivals. Just don't do it. There are going to be dozens and dozens of Cro-Magnon protohumanoids whose full-time gig it is to guzzle beer and bark at each other. The women aren't much better - instead of barking, they go, "WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and take photos with cheap cameras. When they step to you or say something derpy about your art, just ignore the comment, and, if you can't, just pretend you're in on the joke until they stumble away. Suggest they go look at something you think was "awesome". Drunk assholes love "awesome" things. If all else fails, find security. They ARE there and it's their job to protect your investment. Don't let the scary lushes get you down. While you're out there making money and risking your ass and putting your art into the world, they're going to be throwing up in alleys and contracting STD's from strangers. You win.

It's probably okay to drink. Unless you're contracted with some puritanical, conservative group showcasing at the festival, having a few drinks throughout the day isn't something anyone cares about. Just don't overdo it. Not only can it make your customers uncomfortable, but it makes you smell bad, makes you sleepy, and makes you forgetful. Drink to relax if you want to, but don't drink to party. You're working today.

Bring a Friend. Hell - Bring Three Friends
This is a really, really, reaaaaaally important tip. You do not want to hang out alone, relatively sober, all day long at this thing. Bring someone you like and instruct them in the basic information about what you're selling. You're going to need someone to cover the tent when you pee or have a cigarette. If you're lucky like I am, you have friends who really support you and believe in your work, which makes them amazing salespeople. But make sure you make it worth their while. Cover all the expense of the festival for them if you're able (drinks, food, whatever), give them a ride, and at the very least, gift them something from your line. Friends who sit with you at shows are the best kinds of friends to have, so make sure you reward that love.

Nobody Likes a Bitch, So Get Out of the Damn Chair and Show Me Some Teeth
This really shouldn't be something that requires mentioning, but unfortunately, there are just some crafters/vendors in the world who think their handpainted clown resin bottlecap jewelry is going to sell itself. They sit at the back of the tent, read a book, and wait out the clock. And everyone who enters their space leaves empty-handed and thinks to themselves, "Wow. What an uncomfortable situation with that awkward hipster girl and her unwearable crap." I'll keep it brief:

Get out of the chair. Spend time in front of the booth, just chatting up people who walk by. Find something on which to compliment everyone who checks out your stuff. Smile. Be nice. Be funny. Talk about the gorgeous weather. Ask about the rest of the festival. Hell, complain lightheartedly about the festival. Above all things - ENGAGE THE PEOPLE. It's just more fun for everyone that way.

I promise if you take my advice, you're going to have a better day at the fest. There's no getting around it - outdoor shows are hard. fucking. work. But they're also the most fun of all the shows you're ever going to do, and just being smart about the situation is the best tip you can get. Have fun out there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet the Lad!

Where can you shop amazing local artisans, hear fantastic music, get drunk, AND schmooze with the Lad this summer? Check out the fabulous festivals and shows below for the current list!

Urban Folk Circuit @ Quenchers Pub, Chicago IL - Saturday, May 21st

The Urban Folk Circuit is a simple practice:: we bring an old-fashioned awareness to a hip, urban market. We exist to support local livelihoods and reconnect mindful buyers to modern handmakers. The Urban Folk Circuit, a traveling craft market series, was initiated by two Chicago women, veterans of the independent craft community, as a means to promote fellow, local artisans and neighborhood establishments in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to both.

Do-Division Street Fest 2011 - Saturday, June 4th
Kicking off fest season with a bang again this year is the annual Do-Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale, Saturday, June 4th through Sunday, June 5th. This signature Chicago street fest pits great shopping, live music and family entertainment together under the summer sun! Spanning an incredible 10-city blocks on Division from Ashland to Leavitt, the bash features the Family Fun Fest as well as the best food, music and crafts from the surrounding ‘hood. The Do-Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale gives attendees each year a taste of what makes West Division one of the hottest destination streets in Chicago!

Midsommarfest is Andersonville's annual summer street festival, now entering its 46th year. Each year, nearly 50,000 people throng Clark Street from Foster to Catalpa for two days of music, dancing, kids' entertainment, and delicious food. Vendors from around the region sell their wares to passers-by, while ethnic dance troupes and cutting-edge bands keep the party going.

Chicago Green Music Fest 2011 - Sunday, June 26th
The brainchild of the West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce, the Green Music Fest is where thousands of people who care for the environment will unite to enjoy high quality music and discover new ways to go "green." There will be local retail, art and craft vendors, plus a green vendor village. With the support of the City of Chicago Department of Environment's Chicago Center for Green Technology, who is sponsoring the green section of the event, an estimated 60-plus vendors and sponsors will participate in the second annual Green Music Fest. The event will also be produced in the most eco-friendly way possible with bio-diesel fuel operated generators, biodegradable plastic cups, recycling and composting options, free bike valet courtesy of Active Transportation Alliance and Special Service Area 29, and much more.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gimme, Gimme, I Want, I Want

Scoring one-of-a-kind custom pieces from Lad Named Felix is easy. Forget bouncing from shop to shop, trying on "traditional" pieces that just anyone can have. And forget bridal shop jewelry with the same old stuff - acrylic rhinestones, plastic 'pearls', less-than-precious metals. Shopping for the perfect wedding jewelry can be an exercise in frustration and boredom, and if you're a Lad Named Felix fan, you're anything but boring. Learn how simple it is to commission Lad Named Felix!

Commissions start with an idea. Email the Lad at to introduce yourself and get the conversation started. By answering a simple questionnaire about your personal style, details about the wedding, and your ideas for your custom pieces, designing it is a snap. If you'd like, include any pictures of other pieces you're inspired by, your wedding colors, flowers, pictures of your dress...or just a plea of "HELP!". Mention if you're looking for the perfect bridal set, gifts for bridesmaids, cool accessories for the guys, or any combination - tailoring the wedding party's jewelry is the perfect finishing touch to any wedding. Also include the date of the wedding, and the date you'd like to receive your pieces. Commissions take a minimum of 2 weeks to complete and ship, longer if materials have to be special ordered.

Once the bridal ball is rolling, we'll discuss overall look and materials. Lad Named Felix uses only the best components and materials. Want Swarovski crystals for the ultimate in sparkle? Don't really care if the pearls are glass or cultured? Gold, silver, bronze, or other? All the details will be covered.

Once the pieces have been decided upon, you'll receive a quoted price. This price includes cost of materials and the creation of the pieces. Priority Mail shipping for commissions is always FREE, and all pieces will arrive in beautiful gift boxes. Once the price and terms of the commission are agreed upon, a deposit of half the total cost is due. You'll receive regular updates from LNF, with photos of your pieces, and the second half of the total cost is due upon completion of the commission. Once paid, your pieces will ship!

It's that easy! And it doesn't stop at one-of-a-kind bridal pieces. Need something special and sparkly for an event? Mother's Day gift? Graduation (a stylish grad is a Lad Grad!)? Something specially designed for you? Just email the Lad and let's get started!

LNF Custom Bridal Jewelry

Lad Named Felix has been gracing the throats, lobes, and wrists of brides since its inception. From crusted crystal bracelets to sleek necklaces to simple and elegant pearl earrings, LNF custom-designed wedding jewelry elevates every bride's special day to a stylish and one-of-a-kind event. Check out some past designs from fabulous Chicago weddings!

Swarovski crystal, sterling silver, and cultured pearl encrusted bridal cuff

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Artist Date 26 April

There come times when you need to revisit an old friend. A conundrum has presented itself as spring unfolds its dampness around me: I have nothing but time to run my business...but creative blockage is preventing it. My head of late has been focusing on anything but creating and furthering my dream of LNF - money worries, ego trouble, mild depression, too much time alone to ruminate. All the spirals of life are dragging me down, and it has manifested in a profound sense of fear. So, like picking up the phone and dialing across the country to unload on a friend, I'm starting the process of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Follow the link to familiarize if the curiousity is there, and I won't bore with the details (though I could - I'm like a groupie for this chick).

Morning pages are going well. Every morning I'm up at 6am. I make tea by whatever light is available through the clerestory windows of my loft, and sit down with...well, with myself. Three pages every day, written by hand, of anything and everything that is swirling around the drain in my head. Its an exorcism, really. Purging my psyche of bad dreams, fears, worries, insecurities; letting the Censor (read: ego) talk without interruption; scribbling down my goals for the day; or just writing grocery lists and writing "fear" over and over again. Amazing how cleansing it can be to pour it all onto a page you'll never see again and get the fuck on with it.

Second basic tool: the Artist Date. Julia describes this time weekly set aside to spend conscious time with onesself as an artist as "a block of time set aside and committed to nurturing the creative consciousness; a play date with your inner artist". I've been needing this - time out of my house in which I spend quality time WITH MYSELF. I have a lot of alone time, but I'm not consciously using it. Cabin fever be damned. No one else in invited on Artist Dates, and its to be defended bravely against interlopers. Play is at the heart of all good work, and let's face it: it can be fun to play with yourself (only without the hairy palms). Today, in spite of dark grey, glowering clouds and imminent rain, I set out with my camera and walked the few miles to the always beautiful Lincoln Park Conservatory.

No headphones. Smartphone turned off. Just me and whatever awaited. I photographed plants, raindrops, paving stones, flowers - anything that my inner artists pointed at to say "HEY LOOK!". Every time I found myself getting annoyed at stray drops of rainwater leaking through the conservatory roof to hit me in the head, I stopped and took it in. When kids screamed like bastards and I couldn't take it...I stopped and took it in. When I got caught in a sudden torrential Chicago downpour...I stopped and took it in. No annoyance, no predetermination. Just...listened and observed.

And a lesson about growth was right in front of me. All around me, really. Once I quieted the ego and told myself to just play...well, the photos speak for themselves. I'm not into churchy, preachy, hyper-inspirational tripe that greeting cards and "spiritual" people use like a sledgehammer, but I recognize when the Universe is speaking, and today's Artist Date was about listening to the message.

To see the whole set of photos, click here!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Chance to Help

I'm big on helping others, and ever since April Winchell over at Regretsy helped my shop sell out two months ago, my drive to pay it forward is even stronger. I joined a fabulous Etsy team called April's Army, a group of dynamic and amazing artists from the Regretsy sphere who are gathered together in solidarity to pool their resources in an effort to provide funds for people in need.

The last week of every month, April's Army will open a shop filled to the brim with items donated by team members - some of them gorgeous, some of them snarky, some of them just plain fun - and all proceeds from sales in the shop go to a different recipient each month.

The inaugural recipient for all proceeds from this month's April's Army shop is Jason Williams. Jason is a young man from Alabama who, with the help of his fiancee, Robin Lynne, is fighting pancreatic cancer. Jason is enrolled in a promising clinical trial at Johns Hopkins but he needs help to pay for his expenses. All profits from April's sale will go to Jason for his treatment.

Here's how you can put some good back into the world and help out someone in need:

Robin, Jason's fiancee, is raising money through her For Jason Etsy shop. To make a direct donation or to meet Jason and read about his progress, check out his blog. Or, you can click over to April's Army Shop and purchase something fabulous. I bought this April Winchell Lego minifig keychain, because, well, HELLO:

The shop has been open for a scant few days and already there are 116 sales and counting. There are still some items available for purchase, but the response from the Regretsy/Etsy community has been overwhelming. Join the April's Army Facebook page today to receive word each month when the shop goes live with all new items - there is always someone in need, and this shop will be there to help. There is way more love in this world than we all think, and no one said we can't have a bit of fun while spreading it around. Please help if you can, or at the very least, share this link. I call this "Click-tivism" and it costs you absolutely nothing but a few taps on your mouse.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Artists You Should Know - Annie Nygard

Scouring Etsy for the items I would include in my "30 Days of Play" blog project a few months ago, I searched "Star Wars" and stumbled delightfully upon Annie's shop, Spiffing Jewelry. You can imagine the shriek of pleasure I emitted. A geeky genius, a whiz with a bench block and hammer, and a balls-to-the-wall entrepreneur, it's very possible that Annie and I are fraternal twins separated at birth by the machinations of an evil galactic Emperor. Her work is smart and accessible, her energy positive, and her business sense savvy. I don't purchase jewelry from many designers, but I hit up Annie's shop if I need something unique and amazingly well-constructed. Read her cheeky interview then pop over to Spiffing Jewelry on Etsy and check out her shop!

Come in! Make yourself comfortable. What can I get you to drink?
I'd love me a long island...but it's not quite 10am. Mimosa? Easy on the OJ, please.

Tell us about yourself.
I'm a huge nerd. (Star Wars, Disney, Harry Potter, TrueBlood... and that's just to name a small few.) And I'm married to an even huge-r nerd. (a comic book reading, Star Wars figure collecting, sports-stat retaining viking, who's also an artist). We've been together since I was 15, we watched Star Wars on prom night.

What's your sign?
Oh, I'm a Virgo, of course. The personification of Type-A, I am forever making lists, thinking of things I need to do, and controlling situations. Everything I own has a very specific home, and my closet is organized by sleeve length, formality and then color. I stopped getting birthday parties when I was 9 after I made other little girls cry... I might be a little bossy.

Postcards from Bedlam

A mad collection of style and stories inspired by LNF pieces. Because at the asylum, we all sparkle on the inside.

About the Blogger: Erin Vargo will still tell you she’s a redhead even though she recently dyed her hair black - but she’s not a liar. Her style icons include Pris from Bladerunner, John Waters, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, and Agnes Moorehead as Endora. She is deeply envious of people who are synesthetic and she won’t drink without a straw. Erin writes, reads, and eats in Seattle with her husband and their ill-behaved French Bulldog, Tallulah. 

Visit Erin Vargo’s food blog:
Twitter: @EVargo

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wherein the Lad gushes about sauce

And I'm not even talking about "the sauce" this time. Seriously - this weekend was a big gay bender in the sun, and now this week calls for detox. I need to conserve cash, cause bitch...cocktails are expensive. Today I decided to do an impromptu ONE DAY 10% OFF SALE at the Etsy shop, so that's keeping me busy. I will also be beginning my stint as Creative Director for a huge steampunk extravaganza at Navy Pier this week. This means the guy who works from home (me) has to find a way to get dinner prepared for the guy who works in the suburbs (him) with minimal trips to Whole Foods, because not only is it exhausting, but I inevitably buy stupid crap when I'm there, like bath salts or tins of tea. It must be something that can cook slowly today while I attend to the hundred tasks that demand my attention, something versatile that can be applied in many dishes, and I need it to freeze well. Enter: marinara sauce.

I toyed with the idea of cooking through Barbara Lynch's Stir last winter, but I'm no Julie Powell. I'm not even Erin Vargo. That project died before it saw the light of the interwebs. Stir is my favorite cookbook, hands down, which is saying a lot as we have a few dozen piled up everywhere. Modern, intelligent, fresh Italian cooking - nom. Everything I've prepared from the pages of this slick (and spatter-covered) tome has been a knock-out. If you're a home chef and think you know about Italian cuisine - BUY THIS BOOK. You can start with Barbara's recipe for Odd Fellow Marinara, a tried and true basic. I slap it on fresh pasta, pour it over polenta, use it as a dipping sauce for fresh breadsticks, slather it on pizzas, stuff it in calzones, smear it over crostini, pile it into meatball sandwiches and sausage and pepper rolls...seriously, make a triple batch like I do and freeze it in 1-cup portions. 

Odd Fellow Marinara Sauce
Makes 4 cups

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
½ cup dry white wine (Hmm - I use a strong red wine here, like a Syrah or a Zinfandel, which is beautiful)
One 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, preferably imported San Marzano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 basil leaves

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic
and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just tender but
not browned, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the wine, increase the heat to moderately high and cook for a few minutes longer,
until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes with their juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer
for 5 minutes, stir in the basil and season with pepper and additional salt, if needed.
The sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring at Lad Named Felix

So the sun finally decided to stop being an isolationist hoor and come out to play. I actually have my windows open, and I've been waiting to release what I'm lightly referring to as Lad Named Felix's Spring Trend! I say lightly cause you bishes know me, and I'm all over the place. Still - I think I'm onto something here and want your feedback.

I was cleaning my studio space (read: drinking red wine and listening to Grooveshark) and I found a discarded bag from my fave place, Caravan Beads. Peering inside, I found some satin ribbon tangled in silver chains, and my mind went "HOLY BALLS. That's cute." Ribbon and metal - it says Lad Named Felix Spring Trend all over it. I'm not into ultra-feminine, cutesy garbage. If you want that, head to Etsy and type in "flower necklace" and get the hell out of my sight. But I love the hard edge of metal chain juxtaposed against the softness and sleek texture of satin ribbon. So...voila. Here's the first four, and if they do well, you'll be seeing more along these lines. Customizable, wearable, colorful, and totally LNF.


Now go buy some.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Postcards from Bedlam

A mad collection of style and stories inspired by LNF pieces. Because at the asylum, we all sparkle on the inside.

Check out the piece

About the Blogger: Erin Vargo will still tell you she’s a redhead even though she recently dyed her hair black - but she’s not a liar. Her style icons include Pris from Bladerunner, John Waters, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, and Agnes Moorehead as Endora. She is deeply envious of people who are synesthetic and she won’t drink without a straw. Erin writes, reads, and eats in Seattle with her husband and their ill-behaved French Bulldog, Tallulah. Now you know everything.

Visit Erin Vargo’s food blog:
Twitter: @EVargo

Artists You Should Know: The Lad

The mad Lad himself. Er, myself.
"Artists you Should Know" profiles other artists populating the Lad's sphere. They're painters, writers, handmade artisans, fashionistas, craft show organizers, rock stars, even other jewelry designers - anyone out there being fierce and formidable could be put to the questions (compiled from fans the world over). Today, for the first time EVER, I profile...ME.   

Come in! Make yourself comfortable. What can I get you to drink?
Grey Goose martini, extra dirty, bleu cheese-stuffed olives, shaken til frosty...if it's not too much trouble.

Tell us about yourself.
I'm the worst kind of evil, your nightmare in a tailored suit, a supernatural knockout, endlessly resourceful, undeniably charming, the Brat Prince, post-Renaissance, post-20th century, trans-modern, insatiable, unforgivable, shameless, unrepentant, sly, magnificent. I am also a canonized saint, the chupacabra, a vampire, and a total smart ass.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Evolve with Me, Won't You?

With time and careful consideration (as well as innumerable cigarettes and boxes bottles of wine), its time to take LNF to another level, and make my amazing fans a living part of the line. You've all been a part of an amazing evolution in my dream, and I want to reward your loyalty in spades.

Enter: Lad Rag.

If you'd like to be in on this extremely exciting new horizon, just hit "Subscribe" on the top navigation bar of the blog and enter your email address. If you're a fan of LNF, and want exclusive access to all the amazing things planned for the future of LNF, believe me: you'll want to subscribe. And guess what? It's free. FREE. I promise you won't be sorry. Click the button, pop the spigot on that Franzia, and watch your inbox. It's a new day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Under Construction!

Mind the orange cones. Drive slowly past. Put on your goddamn hard hat. is under HUGE construction, so forgive the Lad his mess. It'll be shiny and new before you know it. 

In the meantime, enjoy this little morsel of amazeballs.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Crafting We Will Go...

The Universe knows when to light the fire beneath your ass to get you moving. With my international bugaloo fast approaching, the doldrums of winter bearing down upon me, and the absolute disarray of my work space, jewelry production has slowed to a crawl. It's fast going to change.

Lad Named Felix will be showcasing and selling at Urban Folk Circuit's show at Abbey Pub! Urban Folk Circuit is a big deal show. The philosophy of the creators of this amazing circuit is to bring awareness of local artists and artisans through shows that take the experience of a craft show and turn the amp up. The Abbey Pub show will feature three live acoustic bands, a fully-functioning bar (HELLO) and over fifty of Chicago's premiere handmade artists. It promises to be a diverse and extremely engaging experience, and I'm STOKED to be counted among the vendors. The show is March 19th - that's right, ten days after my return to the United States from London. Ten days to put a show together. Ten days to create and tag the pieces I plan to showcase. Ten days that will definitely be long, but filled with art and inspiration and excitement. Deadlines: I crave them.

Check out the Facebook invite and RSVP if you plan to attend, and invite your friends! Art shows are all about the energy of crowds, and, yes, bloody marys. I plan on offering a printable discount coupon to ALL Facebook fans of Lad Named Felix, so make sure you're among that elite cadre!

See you all on the other side of foggy London town!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


A massive thank you to my girl April Winchell over at Regretsy for this sparkling gem. If you're an artist on Etsy who has lost sales because of their complete lack of perspective and total abandonment of the handmade culture they purport to uphold, you'll love this. And Etsy is laughing, too, as they take our money and build their hipster staff another Tweet-room out of old phone booth parts and crocheted tea cozies, while sellers suffer from a lack of customer support and indeed, anything remotely resembling what Etsy tell us they're doing "for us". The fuckery seems never-ending, and yet they have us by the balls because, really - who the hell shops on Artfire?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Flaccid Return

I'm getting lazy. Instead of rushing back to my loft, head full of ideas, and strapping into my jewelry studio to pump out genius works of wearable art created to the soundtrack of today's Top 40 hits - now I just go home and eat a dinner high in salt, fat, and bread and lay there digesting it until it's time for bed. Seriously. The other night I made tallegio-stuffed agnolotti with a butter and parmesan sauce (read: pillows of fresh pasta filled with high-fat cheese, served in fat, drenched in fat, with some fat mixed in so you get just the right amount of fat). I walk around feeling bloated, which is no mean feat for someone built like me - 5'11", 155lbs, metabolism like a chipmunk. In other words, the winter doldrums have settled their gross, paunchy asses down in the middle of my life and, like Jabba the Hut, just lay there drooling and laughing at me while they pluck another Klatooine paddy frog and shovel it down their flabby gullets.

Winter also provides a lot of time to look up severely clandestine Star Wars references with which I pepper everyday conversation; also, I don't get laid a lot in the winter.

In short: production has been slow. Fortunately, sales have been high. If you've been a reader since LNF's inception, you'll know I'm one of those artists who experiences serious high-and-low states, creatively-speaking. When I force myself to sit in my studio and start tinkering with jewelry, I end up with a lot of ruined components and a pile of tangled mess and heartburn. No one wants to see me when I have heartburn.

So here's a list of awesome things I'm considering doing while in my "low" state:

Blink wildly and then close my eyes really tight for an amazing light show
Practice my karaoke standards
Invent a weird twitch to use in awkward coversation
Make a low buzzing noise to confuse my cat
Try not to think about penguins
Develop my telekinesis
Rate strangers' appearances near the train station with large poker cards
Send spooky emails to spammers
Deliver pizza with a Welsh accent
Learn an entire episode of "The Office" in Italian
See how long it takes to gargle water until it all gets swallowed (extra awesome if it's rum)
Pick up my cat so she can see the world from my point of view
Continue not shooting up heroin (28 years and goin' strong!)
Experiment with homemade fireworks
Eat food I bought on Etsy and time my food poisoning
Learn Elvish
Drop a marble in a public bathroom and say, "OH NO MY GLASS EYE"
Get a manicure somewhere new (maybe even have a white person do it...!)
Create new form of street art with mustard
Eat Spam while reading spam
Read the oldest possible computer magazine I can find
Take a hamster to the beach for some "quality time"

Or I could just go to London next week.

Yeah, I'm gonna do that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It's been a long, long day and I'm spent. Please watch this video in anticipation of my return tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

30 DoP #23 - "It Gets Better"

Same Sex Wedding Cake Toppers

A week ago, I received this message on Facebook from my very first boyfriend (the only ex that I still consider alive):

"A friend of mine has a 14 year old son who just came out. He's going through a really rough time right now at school with bullies. His mother has mentioned that all the bullying and name calling is starting to take a toll on his health and well being.
The cast I am currently working with is putting together an "It Gets Better" care package filled with encouragement, and our own personal stories to help him though this tough time. If you'd like to share your story or provide words of encouragement, please email them to me or send them in a Facebook message. I will print out your story and send it with our package. We are going to get everything ready to be mailed by this Wednesday Feb. 9th! I would love to send as much as I can to help him out.

His name is Kurtie."

Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign is something the world has needed for a long time. I've always been an advocate of the "old" teaching the "young". Experience, being unique, is always the best teacher, wouldn't you agree? Shared experience is equally strong, and "It Gets Better" fosters that shared experience. It brings together the people of the LGBT community, and not just in an effort to stop bullying. When we share our stories, we're tapping into something primal to the human experience, and there's beauty and strength in that. So I woke up early this morning and sat to pen my contribution to Kurtie's care package, and found some catharsis. I found myself wishing this kind of global community existed for me when I was going through hell as a kid. I'd like to share my entry, even if it's a bit of an overshare. Perhaps in posting it here, someone like Kurtie will see it and find hope.

With Love, to Kurtie:

I had big glasses. My hair was always a mess – curls on the sides and straight as a pin down the middle. I played with the girls. Theatre, drama club, main tenor in chorus, an artist to my core. Something was different about me from my first memories, and because it was encoded into my genes, it exhibited its fabulous tendencies in my body, my movement, my pattern of speech. I was gay, and I was mocked.

It was scary growing up in rural Illinois. The town I was raised in was surrounded by corn and emptiness – no bright city lights for this one. It was all stock car races, county fairs, and football. Machismo was the name of the game, and because I was more interested in pretending to be a wizard, playing with Barbies, painting, and reading fantasy novels, I was picked on relentlessly. I remember the name of every person who called me a “fag” in school. I can recall their sneers and barking laughter in locker rooms and on gymnasium floors when I was asked over and over again, “Pike – are you gay?!” It was an exercise in torture and humiliation for me to attend classes every day, and though I had my strong contingent of family and freaks and geeks to bolster me, protection from the mental and emotional abuse a dorky gay kid in rural America was limited at best. I grew up feeling “less than”. I grew up being “other” I grew up under a magnifying glass.

Bully is the wrong word for what I went through. I was abused by my peers in every sense of the word – emotional, physical, mental, and verbal. They were abusers. They didn’t let me love me.

But it got better.

I grew into my big ears and long limbs. My muscles toned to fit my body, I got contact lenses, and by senior year – the year when people in my graduating class seemed to really realize the end of something was imminent – I had decided enough was enough. I wouldn’t hide any longer. People seemed to leave me to my devices more as I stood up for myself and my friends, and though the abuse didn’t cease, I ceased allowing it to define my existence. It wasn’t easy, nor was it sudden. Perhaps my confidence developed as my body finally developed; maybe the threshold had been reached. If anything, a switch had been flipped. I came out reluctantly, though it was more for my own understanding than to tell people some hidden fact that were unaware of. Small town politics and small-mindedness were still all around me, but I tried to carve out a niche in which I was able to at least survive quietly.

It got better.

I met my first boyfriend while waiting tables at a Cracker Barrel (an establishment famous for their “no gays” policies, if you enjoy irony as much as I do). I got bold and left my number on his table one afternoon. Call it another step in throwing a wrench in the mean gearwork of the region I lived in. I was nothing if not bold. By some odd and hilarious twist of fate, he also worked at that Cracker Barrel in off-times from college, and we started dating. It was butterflies in the stomach, it was exciting, it was…well, bold. I fell into the best kind of love with him. He taught me a lot of extremely important things about myself – that I was beautiful; I was interesting; I deserved love like everyone else. I remember taking lots of long naps that summer with him, meeting his family (though I’m sure we were both terrified), and kissing him. Kissing him, for as cliche and ridiculous as it might sound, solidified my knowledge of myself as a gay person, and it turned out it wasn’t as scary as I once thought. I wasn't the only one out there. My love for him turned a fresh page and began a new chapter in my life. It let me love myself, FINALLY.

That boyfriend was our mutual friend, Shain. I’m not surprised he’s put this all together for you, Kurtie. He’s the best kind of person.

He holds a place in my heart that's unalienable. He was a link in a long chain of love in my life - not just romantic love, but a respectful love that we all need in our lives, especially as gay people. Shain and I allowed our lives to take their respective directions, and before I knew it I had left that town for college. Those four years allowed me to reinvent myself as a more genuine version of me. I studied Theatre, met people who had no knowledge of the abuse I suffered as a dorky kid in the cornfields of Illinois, and crystallized into a more honest person, both in regards to myself and my emotions, but to the world at large as well. Doors opened. I was an artist, and it was a GOOD thing there. Encouraged by a professor whose love was only matched by the size of his personality, my life blossomed further. He’s still an extremely close friend, and growing through our lives, both gay men, has been the pinnacle of education. I know you’ll find people like that, too. Look forward to it!

It got still better.

Left college. Began a short-lived career as a Costume Designer. Traveled. Loved, with all its requisite ups and downs. Learned. Made art. Eventually found myself in Chicago, a National Makeup Artist for Sephora, the first of my kind. I spent a few years all over the map nurturing a new art and a new facet of myself. I met my current partner, whose patience and care has proved that all my frustration in love and life was worth every single second. I have huge legions of friends who are all examples of the good things the world can produce out of adversity. My family loves me (you and I share that). As a twenty-something, I’m as fantastic as I’ve ever been. I made another bold move, leaving a horrible job and beginning my own jewelry line which thrives today and is a constant reminder that I was right all along – I’m a hundred times more artistic and creative, interesting, beautiful, intelligent, successful, and bold than those abusers in school ever allowed me to believe. They were wrong.

It got better.

It keeps getting better.

You have that to look forward to. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Love your friends. Be thankful for your family. Make bold strides. Don’t be scared to be scared, but move through it and take notes. You’ll need them later when your life coalesces into a unique and gorgeous thing that only YOU can take credit for. It’ll happen, trust me. Self-confidence and self-love are vital survival tools. You’re a perfect version of yourself, and you owe it to yourself and the people you love to perfect that perfection. Above all things, love yourself as openly and beautifully as you can possible stand it. Love yourself so much it hurts.

We love you, Kurtie. We’re all in this together!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

30 DoP #22 - "Sweet Salvation"

Dear readers, I'm a mess. It's been days since I've shaved, the prickly stubble that only a few days ago subtly defined my square jaw and looked a bit sexy now just itches. The skin beneath it it slightly windburned, since I live on the ice planet, so I feel flaky on top of the itching. Walking to and from my office through dunes of greasy, sooty snow requires I wear a thick and warm coat, yet when I arrive I'm coated in a film of snow sweat - that insidious dampness that immediately freezes when you remove your coat. Can't tell you when my last real manicure took place. Elbows dry, feet scuffed. We won't even talk about my poor lips. I have an overall feeling of grime that comes hand-in-hand with this nasty winter. And that's not where it ends.

Trudging through this wasteland of forgotten bikes, half-ensconced in dirty snow, and gray puddles that resemble so much the solid sidewalks beneath them until you step through, and crags of ice between which is a narrow walkway only large enough for one foot in front of the other (a tenuous balance to strike in chunky duck boots) makes the joints grind. I fall asleep each night feeling odd pains in places of which I was previously unaware. While I'm stoked that my ass is getting a workout even when I'm not consciously aware, winter in Chicago just makes you HURT.

I need a spa trip. I want some Eastern European woman with one eyebrow and a bad attitude to pummel my entire body against a padded table while the sweet and slightly annoying sounds of Enya waver on the air. A soak in a tub full of chocolate and mud. Steam my pores so open I could serve dip out of them. Scrape this film of winter from my limbs and replace it with deliciously scented oils and salves. Balm me. Peel me. Polish me. Save me.

Monday, February 7, 2011


The overwhelming response to the 300 Fans and Counting Giveaway blew me away. Srsly - you guys are the Snowpocalypse of fans. Between private messages with hilarious captions, blog comments, and wall posts, last week was made a hundred times more delightful than I ever imagined. I wanted this giveaway to be a huge, uproarious thank you to the people who make LNF what it is, and I was not disappointed.

Hopefully you all won't be either. Because I think you all deserve a chance to rock some LNF as a way to express my serious gratitude to your comments, "likes", re-posts, and general fabulous fanhood, I've changed the stakes a bit.

I chose my overall favorite caption as the big winner. If you're a current Facebook fan of LNF, you were entered this morning into the drawing for your opportunity to win, and if you submitted a caption to to the photo in the original post, you were entered twice for each hilarious attempt. The virtual hat was spilling over, and I put to work to choose the winners below. So, without further ado (and before my lunch break on this cold and snowy day in Chicago is spent), THE WINNERS ARE:

1st Prize - my favorite caption entry, and winner of "Delinquent Citrus", a LNF classic: BRITTANY WIMMER!

2nd Prize - winner of "Stray Minx", a chic and sexy new pair of LNF earrings: MIRIAM ESTRADA!

3rd Prizes - recipients of a shiny 20% off discount coupon at Lad Named Felix's Etsy shop: SIERRA DAVENPORT, ERIN VARGO, TAMARA HOFFBAUER, KELLY MARIE SCHAEFER, and ANNIE NYGARD!

I get a little carried away with the giveaways, but I'm the boss and the boss thinks you're all rock stars. Congratulations to the winners! I'll need you all to send me your email addresses so I can follow up privately to get your mailing address, or to send you your coupon! Feel free to leave them as comments here, on LNF's Facebook wall, or send them as private messages.

I can't adequately express my thanks to each and every one of you for your unending support of my dream. If I hadn't had my tear ducts removed after all my clones died, I'd shed a tear.

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